By Ambrose Musiyiwa
In May 2020, George Floyd’s murder was captured on mobile phone video by active bystanders. The video showed a white policeman pressing his knee against Floyd's neck and keeping it there for close to nine minutes until Floyd died. The murder triggered months of mass protests in the United States and around the world.
The protests have been taking place in the midst of a global pandemic that, in Europe and the United States, is also disproportionately killing people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds.
An entry on Wikipedia highlights how "Black Lives Matter," "Hands up, don't shoot," "Am I a threat?," "I can't breathe," "White silence is violence," "No justice, no peace," "Is my son next?," "Get your knee off my neck," and more, have become rallying calls against the killing of Black people by the police and against racism, racialised inequality, discrimination, violence and oppression.
Around the world people are demanding justice and change.
Black Lives Matter: Poems for a New World (CivicLeicester, 2020) came out of a June 2020 call for poems and short prose on the theme, "Black Lives Matter."
We were looking for submissions exploring any of the images, issues, histories, lives, demands and outcomes that are being highlighted by Black Lives Matter and current and past protests. We were interested in submissions from writers of all ages and backgrounds, based anywhere in the world.
We received close to 500 poems from over 300 writers around the world. Black Lives Matter: Poems for a New World presents 107 of these poems from 95 writers. The poems were selected for how they respond to the theme and for how they speak to others in the anthology.
I commend the poems to you and hope they will also encourage you to keep insisting that Black Lives Matter in your village, town, region and country and in the places from which you get your livelihood, goods and services.
Writers featured in the anthology include (in alphabetical order): Peter A, ‘Funmi Adewole, Mayo Agard-Olubo, Sandra A. Agard, Jim Aitken, Nick Allen, Rosalie Alston, Judith Amanthis, Adrienne Asher, Mellow Baku, Sharon Cherry Ballard, Panya Banjoko, Tanisha Barrett, Lesley Benzie, Conor Blessing, Tim Bombdog, Richard Byrt, Julian Colton, Mark Connors, John Cooper, Tracy Davidson, Giles Dawnay, Martins Deep, Sara Eliot, Blake Everitt, Ravelle-Sadé Fairman, Mike Farren, Paul Francis, Michelle Fuller, Harry Gallagher, Mike Gallagher, Moira Garland, Kathy Gee, Rachel Glass, Lind Grant-Oyeye, Prabhu S. Guptara, Nusrat Haider, Jean Hall, Roger Hare, Samantha Harper-Robins, Deborah Harvey, Jem Henderson, Kevin Higgins, Arun Jeetoo, Hamdi Khalifa, Kihwa-Endale, Tom Krause, Laurie Kuntz, D.L. Lang, Charles Lauder Jnr, Adriano Timoteo Llosa, Rob Lowe, Paul Lyalls, Margaret Mair, Isabella Mead, Lester G. Medina, Maureen Mguni, Jenny Mitchell, Leanne Moden, Cheryl Moskowitz, Hubert Moore, Loraine Masiya Mponela, Ambrose Musiyiwa, Linda Nabasa, Russell Nichols, Chad Norman, Selina Nwulu, Sarah Nymanhall, Revd Dr Catherine Okoronkwo, Nasrin Parvaz, Tracey Pearson, Alexandros Plasatis, steve pottinger, Judith Prest, Marilyn Ricci, Bethany Rivers, Jenny Robb, Caroline Rooney, Eddie Saint-Jean, Chrys Salt, Barbara Saunders, Joel Scarfe, Lily Silverman, Suzan Spence, Gerda Stevenson, Laila Sumpton, Samir Sweida-Metwally, George Symonds, Deborah Tyler-Bennett, Cheryl Vallely, PR Walker, Patricia Welles, Michele Witthaus, and Kathy Zwick.
Black Lives Matter: Poems for a New World is available here.
Ambrose Musiyiwa coordinates Journeys in Translation, an international, volunteer-driven initiative that is translating Over Land, Over Sea: Poems for those Seeking Refuge (Five Leaves Publications, 2015) into other languages. Books he has edited include Bollocks to Brexit: an Anthology of Poems and Short Fiction (CivicLeicester, 2019) and Leicester 2084 AD: New Poems about The City (CivicLeicester, 2018). He is the author of The Gospel According to Bobba.