Places of Poetry: a northerly aspect by Kayo Chingonyi

Places of Poetry is a project which aims to use creative writing to prompt reflection about national and cultural identities by inviting contributions to the website, until 31st October. The project is open to all writers. This year Places of Poetry is holding events across England and Wales, each site hosting a poet-in-residence with each poet contributing a poem from their residency to The Clearing. Kayo Chingonyi’s poem a northerly aspect was inspired by Hadrian’s Wall.




we flew south —

and, though



banished howays

from my diction,

still my heart

has a northerly aspect


(quite apart

from this voice

that divides opinion

when I carry it

far from home).


How to gesture

towards tall ships

grace darling

bottles of pop

bobby shafto

the part of me

lost to the realm

of ledgers

of legend


the part

that ascribes

to darkness


here where the landscape

is a long conversation

and the breeze

a list of the missing

and of the dead

read from the surface

of these stones

that do not forget.






Kayo Chingonyi’s latest book, Kumukanda (Chatto & Windus, 2017) was a Guardian and Telegraph book of the year and won the Dylan Thomas Prize  and a Somerset Maugham Award. Kayo was a Burgess Fellow at the Centre for New Writing, University of Manchester, and an Associate Poet at The Institute of Contemporary Arts, London. He has performed his work at festivals and events around the world, is Poetry Editor for The White Review, and an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Durham University.


The illustration is by Benjamin Bowen of Union Studio.


Places of Poetry is led by the poet Paul Farley and the academic Andrew McRae. It is based at the universities of Exeter and Lancaster, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England. It is underpinned by national partnerships with the Ordnance Survey, The Poetry Society, and National Poetry Day.

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