October Spotlight: Lalah-Simone Springer
Updated: Oct 12, 2022
Lalah-Simone Springer is a poet and speculative fiction writer from Dagenham, Essex (she/they). Lalah was part of the first Rewrite Academy cohort in 2020-21. During that year, their poetry was long-listed for the #Merky New Writers Prize and they were one of the recipients of the Community Engagement 2021 Artist Grant - for artists that reimagine our shared spaces and stimulate social engagement, creative expression and collective empowerment. Lalah has been published in SHE magazine, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Onyx Magazine, on the ANTHEMS podcast and more. Previous collaborations as a performance artist have been staged at The Barbican, Whitechapel Gallery, Folkstone Fringe and Almanac Project Space.
About the piece
I was at a workshop led by the wonderful poet Deanna Rodger as part of an Arvon hosted by Apples and Snakes and we were working on 'boasting sonnets' - subverting a pretty old school form usually used for poems about love and romance.
I wanted to write something which mirrored the riotous and celebratory sense of strength in the midst of change Maya Angelou conjures with the rhythm and cadence of 'And Still I Rise'; applying it to a world I'd had the privilege to peek into through reading Kathleen Jamie's excellent poem 'What the Clyde said, after COP26'. Jamie personifies the river Clyde, sharing the river's experience of climate change.
In this world where large water masses can speak and express opinion and outrage, I considered the horrors that the Atlantic Ocean has seen wrought in the name of profit particularly with relation to the Middle Passage, and wondered: What would the Atlantic say, if it could speak?
Once I had the cadence, the voice and the question, the poem flowed. When my pen stopped moving what remained was a promise that even though we are surely in dire straits, all systems created by humans - from borders, to capitalism, to white supremacy - are bound to pass like the tides.
What the Atlantic said, after capitalism
After Kathleen Jamie & Maya Angelou
I rise across the pebbles, slowly inching up my tides
I swell your plastic towards shore, I suckle at your tires.
I rise over abandoned boats, the loved ones lost to fires.
I rise across the channel, sinking schools and ending lives.
I drink the politician’s brew of oil and gold and lies
And brewing in my stomach is the end we all surmised.
Float away sea navigators seeking more, seeking to thrive
Land a coral reef all splendour where the righteous all arrive
When the parliament has sunken and the pigs silence their cries
Softly sow yourself in Drexciya
Where you my love, will rise.