After Terrance Hayes

If it wasn’t for your constant moaning,

I may have taken you seriously. You ask me if oiling

engines would have been more worthwhile. There is still so long

for you to go, and you’re stuck trying to be honest and plain

in your work, wondering if your lamp

is worth the match that failed to light it, mapping

your way through your mental list of excuses. Your peers are icons

not because they are valuable and you are a failing coin,

but because they are good at carrying on. Yet here you are, nailing

yourself to a spaghetti stick cross, impaling

your loins with a toothpick. Child, behave. Stop pretending your task is the mouth of a lion.

by Gabriel Àkámọ́

News from the Poetry Centre: one of our recent ignitionpress pamphlets, Ripe by Isabelle Baafi, was selected as the Poetry Book Society’s Pamphlet Choice for Spring 2021! You can read more about the pamphlet, hear Isabelle talk about it, and buy a copy on our websiteRipe was launched alongside two other pamphlets: Lung Iron by Daniel Fraser and Kostya Tsolakis’s Ephebos – they are also both available from our site.

‘COMPLAINING’ is copyright © Gabriel Àkámọ́, 2020 and is reprinted here from At the Speed of Dark (Bad Betty Press, 2020) by permission of Bad Betty Press. You can read more about the pamphlet and buy a copy on the Bad Betty website.

Notes from Bad Betty Press:

In At the Speed of Dark, Gabriel Àkámọ́ pits the mind’s chiaroscuro against the many shades of grey that make up our reality. These questioning poems hold empiricism and faith, gravity and progress in the balance. Formally expansive, they play on the equivocation of white space, its ‘faux-quirky false irony’. Like an epiphany lost on waking, they entreat us to slow down, ‘reclaiming time, clawing back at the clearness of sky.’ Read more about the pamphlet and buy a copy on the Bad Betty website.

Gabriel Àkámọ́ is a Nigerian-British poet, actor, facilitator, and creative producer. He has worked with organisations including Rich Mix, Roundhouse and WIRED Next Generation, been commissioned by institutions such as the Southbank Centre, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Royal Academy of Arts, and been a speaker at Gresham College. Festival performances include Lovebox and Bestival, and Festival Kometa in Riga, Latvia. He is a proud Barbican Young Poet alumnus, National Youth Theatre alumnus, and a former Roundhouse Resident Artist (2016-17) with Spit the Atom Poetry Collective. You can read more about Gabriel’s work on his website and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Bad Betty Press is an independent publisher of new poetry, founded in 2017 by Amy Acre and Jake Wild Hall. We love writing that is bad (in the Foxy Brown sense) and beautiful (‘a Betty’ in 90s slang). We love the strange, raw and risk-taking. We believe strongly in art’s capacity to challenge its own definition, to curve away from the norm, making space for more and varied voices. Find out more about our books on  our website and follow Bad Betty on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.