Poem: Zadie Smith at The Southbank Centre


Hello, on Thursday I went to the Southbank Centre and I saw Zadie Smith in conversation She was talking about Swingtime (her new novel) but also about being a writer and also being a human being, I guess I found it really inspiring and I wrote this poem in response to that the title line and also the quoted line are both direct quotes from Zadie and it’s all just kind of influence by things she said, with a little bit of absurdism in there I hope you like it. It’s called “It’s Not True, But Why Couldn’t It Be True” and it goes like this Zadie Smith walks towards the audience and
trips on her own modesty Apologises for “the fall”, corrects herself
to “the descent” Treats her mouth like a place of worship,
lays flowers with the precision of fingernail and eyelash She rises like the ghost of a rain storm,
the way wind makes wilted plants come alive. Zadie spreads herself over the front row, she smells like expensive honey Zadie speaks but there’s a child in her
throat, it sits cross-legged singing the songs that innocence named anthems
Here, home is not a place. It is a time of day,
or how strangers speak on benches The child inside is now a teenage girl
To be a teenage girl is to be scared of the ways you want,
is another skin sold to you each morning The tongue of a teenage girl is a continent
which she cannot enter Zadie does not swallow this, keeps the rage
in a warm place beneath her tongue Like all teenage girls, Zadie Smith is magic
The house lights listen to her eyes, the chairs adjust
until every eye line is equal. Then Zadie becomes peckish,
so the spaghetti straps of her black dress become actual spaghetti
The pasta, like skilled prose, multiplies in the minds of everyone present We are feasting. Southbank is a well-seasoned metaphor
Literary critics, once fussy eaters, stuff themselves with symbolism
Zadie has made enough for everyone We flip over our forks like pages
We lick our lips in praise We misremember tragedy
We rewrite it as joy We are a crime scene of nostalgia,
bolognaise stains like evidence Then Zadie weaves a tightrope between the
upstairs balconies, names this her shadow. Another structure to build sense upon
Poised mid-air, her body echoes Beyoncé and Astaire Whispers, “this is part of the warmth of life Everyone hears the angles of her voice
She is curled up in the quietest room of my stomach Tonight I am a character I wrote myself In this scene they are smiling, like they
never forgot how to Thank you! Thank you so much for watching! I hope you’re having a nice day, wherever you are If you have the ability, do try read some Zadie Smith. I’m currently reading N.W. This one. Which I’m really loving Thank you for watching, bye! I hope Zadie Smith enjoys pasta but I have no idea. So, not a factual video Oh well

1 thought on “Poem: Zadie Smith at The Southbank Centre

  1. "The house lights listen to her eyes." I loved that line. I loved the imagery you had all throughout this piece. I liked how you showed your admiration through emotion. Well written and nicely performed.

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