Wednesday 17 November 2021

Carol Leeming, "Song for Guests"


Carol Leeming, photo by Hana Kovacs

Carol Leeming MBE FRSA is Leicester born, of Windrush parents from Jamaica and Antigua, and grew up partly in Jamaica. She received her Queen’s honour as a playwright and poet, and for her contribution to Leicester arts and culture. Carol is a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, a Cultural Olympian of 2012, and is featured on the University Grassroutes Writers' Gallery microsite here. Carol’s choreopoetry is highlighted by Corinne Fowler in the Cambridge Companion to Black & Asian Writing 1945-2010, ed. Deidre Osborne. In 2018, Carol’s poem ‘Molly’ was displayed across a Leicester University Campus building, as part of a centenary celebration week for the British Suffragettes Movement. 

Other notable work includes Carol’s debut chapbook The Declamations of Cool Eye published by Dare Diva. A film poem, entitled Enchanter, featured the poem 'Drawing' from the chapbook. You can see it here. Some other plays produced include Storm, & The Twisted Plait at Haymarket Theatre, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Diva, and Love the life you live … Live the life you love at Curve Theatre, also published in the book Hidden Stories Anthology, published by Leicester University/Phoenix. 

Carol’s poetry features in a number of anthologies. These include 'Valley Dreamers' in  Out of Bounds, ed. Jackie Kay (Bloodaxe), 'Some Things that Never Failed Me' in Covid 19 & Poetry Anthology, ed. Anthony Caleshu and Rory Waterman (Shearsman Press), ‘Song for Guests’ (translated into ten languages) in Welcome to Leicester, ed. Emma Lee (Dahlia Books), Overland, Oversea, ed, Kathleen Bell, Emma Lee & Siobhan Logan (Five Leaves). A recurring feature of her work is to give voice to the voiceless, untold diverse stories, or magic realism in narratives, compelling diverse characters, with distinctive voices. 

Carol recently debuted at A Time to Breathe Festival curated by Greta Mendez MBE, London 2021, in a performance of her new choreopoem play, entitled The Dreadful Dance of Ms. Iniquity. Carol also has a major collection of writing, poetry and choreopoetry entitled The Eclipse of Dread, in preparation for book publication, along with writing the final part of her choreopoem trilogy, ‘Go Where the Songs Are.’ 

Carol works freelance, in literature performing arts and digital media. She is a multi-award award-winning author, published poet, director, playwright, dramaturge, performer and tutor. She was dramaturge and director for Harley, Scholar & Stateman by Pamela Roberts. She previously worked full-time as Resident Assistant Director at Curve Theatre Leicester, on theatre productions My Beautiful Laundrette by Hanif Kureishi, and West Side Story by Laurents/Sondheim/Bernstein.

Carol currently is part-time lecturer at De Montfort University, BA Performing Arts, Guest Visiting Lecturer on the MA Creative Writing at Nottingham University, and Guest Visiting Lecturer Writing for Performance at Derby University, in addition to mentoring prisoners, to create poetry for the NO BARS II Project Anthology launched in 2021. Carol is also Patron of East Midlands Women Awards. 

See more about Carol's work here and hereBelow, you can read a poem by Carol. 

Song for Guests

           'The new arrival of a guest is reason for a feast' - A North African Bedouin Custom

and hate 
Is flung
it weights down 
a tar-paulin night as
folk crowd fire warmth 
dreaming of dark tunnel  
escape with luminous
hands of friendship 
held aloft ready to catch…?

Welcome us 

We welcome you all
Come … to us 

Sleepless knots of men
crouch into bush hides  
waiting for smoky vehicles
stowaway with stony 
grey lips of newsprint words 
pointed to goad or reject? 

Welcome us 

We welcome you all
Come … to us

Skeins of women children 
hold emotions like nets with
wounded screams as
running tears hearts salt
human streams across earth 
its seas would it wash away
foul slimes cruel indifference
a dirty din from a baited polis 
Is that blood on their hands?

Welcome us

We welcome you all
Come … be with us
Our table is full 
Yet empty missing you

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