I entered a poetry competition in 2011 where I had to write a poem about Wolverhampton City. I wanted to write something compelling, catchy and clever. Many ideas about Wolverhampton entered my head. Surprisingly a thought came to mind, ‘What is it that makes Wolverhampton? It’s the people. What gives the people a sense of belonging to the city?’ It’s the dialect and the diversity.
I wrote a humorous poem which I submitted to the Wolverhampton Archives Poetry Competition 2011. It was judged anonymously.
An Interpretation Of Wolverhampton
I heard a friend from Birmingham say,
"If yow thought Brummies sounded funny,
man, wait'll yow get ta Woolverramton, t’ay
y’naa, them am tekkin the piss an it aye!”
English? I believe it’s an interpretation thing.
Once I met an old Indian woman at a bus stop,
“Bulbulhamtan noo jaandi hai bus?” she asked.
Smiling, I nodded, “Haanji, it’s only a short hop.”
Chuckling to myself, “My entertaining city, it’s top!”
Punjabi? I believe it’s an interpretation thing.
A Black-Caribbean man stopped and enquired,
“Ary yu dat ‘umaan hoo work in di counceel?”
Confused, I asked him to repeat what he required,
“Hulvahaamtown Counceel, mi dear gal!” he fired.
Patois? I believe it’s an interpretation thing.
Every category of human being all within reach,
A specially formulated city; a hint of prejudice.
Engaging everyday life; diverse tongues, speech,
An accidental evolution; an awareness to teach,
Wolverhampton? It’s an interpretation thing.
When I wrote this, I remembered the numerous conversations I’d had and heard while traveling on the buses, on the streets, in the market place, at work etc. I wanted to give my work some humour and wit.
I could hardly believe it when I was told that my poem had been selected as a winner in the competition. I had never won anything in relation to my writing before. So, as you can imagine, I was very excited and pleased to have my poem chosen as a third prize winner. I felt privileged to be among the top local poets like Jane Seabourne, Peter Hill and Win Saha. Wow!
As a winner, I was asked to collect my prize at a presentation event and read my poem out to an audience at Wolverhampton Archives, where we were to be photographed for the local newspapers. I thought, “OMG!” how was I going to read it out in public. I asked if someone else could read my poem for me, as I knew my speech would not give it the justice it needed. It was performed by my friend Daljit Bains.
Being a winner gave me pride in myself as a writer and poet. Now my poem, along with other winners is archived in Wolverhampton City Archives for future generations to see.