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Borderliner by Hannah Lowe and Writing Prompt by Ben Rogers

Writing prompt – False Memory by Ben Rogers

History can be a difficult thing to pin down, and the fallibility of memory can be one of the challenges in determining what actually happened when.  Take a journey into the False Memory Archive, a collection of vividly recalled personal accounts of things that didn’t happen.  You can read a selection from the archive here.

Memories include an individual believing that their brother was a neighbour, and another muddling up a trip to Russia with a visit to Norfolk.  Take one of the false memories listed and then create an alternative version of the memory (this could be more or less plausible than the first).  Write a poem that conveys these two versions of the memory.  How these contrary histories are presented together (intertwined or separate) is up to you.

Borderliner by Hannah Lowe

Next Generation Poet Hannah Lowe‘s latest collection, Chan, deals with issues of heritage, race, identity and prejudice. Read our interview with Hannah Lowe here. The collection includes a sequence of poems employing a new form called the ‘Borderliner’ (a derogatory term which denotes someone of mixed race), also the title for today’s poem.  The form places two separate poems side-by-side so they can be read both individually or as one poem, creating a disorientating effect as the reader keeps “slipping from one side to the other”.

At Poetry in Aldeburgh: Hannah Lowe will read at the Rialto Autumn Launch on Saturday 5th November, 4-5pm in the Peter Pears Gallery


I’m skirting the bold lines of the map border-liner, might mean white girl
neither here nor there, but home in the border places with corkscrew hair
Tijuana, where rich American boys slam tequila or brown girl with flat hair
or controlled drugs, or down the fence slipping from one side to the other
where a veiled woman clutches her baby always looking for the right light
in the thin shadows Passing, hoping the old world wouldn’t catch her up
always waiting to cross a good day or hey girl in the wrong hotel or store
I’ve always loved sea-swimming some fool too loud, not seeing the signs  
but sometimes these waves carry That kind of stuff could put you back in
make-shift rafts bobbing empty of their cargo chains or end with the blade
below my feet, the sea-bed but ever notice how green eyes in yellow skin
cross-hatched with bones look so good, how some faces have no borders
There were times when these borders had no fixed abode?  You can sketch
no barbed wire, and even now not all borders are a pretty rainbow diagram
so hard.  There are places nobody cares to pass or use faux scientific words
Think of that frozen mountain trail where only a tin sign to classify, or slang
tells one snowy Nordic edge from another, or miles relating to nation states
of rough green march-lands chocolate bars or animals – mongrel or mule
where I have wandered for days But I say it’s only when you are standing
That I’m home on the border doesn’t mean on the border that you are free    
I don’t think about who took the world and carved it up to look both ways  

from Chan (Bloodaxe, 2016)

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