“You big ugly. You too empty.”
You big ugly. You too empty. You desert with your nothing nothing nothing. You scorched suntanned. Old too quickly. Acres of suburbs watching the telly. You bore me. Freckle silly children. You nothing much. With your big sea. Beach beach beach. I’ve seen enough already. You dumb dirty city with bar stools. You’re ugly. You silly shopping town. You copy. You too far everywhere. You laugh at me. When I came this woman gave me a box of biscuits. You try to be friendly but you’re not very friendly. You never ask me to your house. You insult me. You don’t know how to be with me. Road road tree tree. I came from crowded and many. I came from rich. You have nothing to offer. You’re poor and spread thin. You big. So what. I’m small. It’s what’s in. You silent on Sunday. Nobody on your streets. You dead at night. You go to sleep too early. You don’t excite me. You scare me with your hopeless. Asleep when you walk. Too hot to think. You big awful. You don’t match me. You burnt out. You too big sky. You make me a dot in the nowhere. You laugh with your big healthy. You want everyone to be the same. You’re dumb. You do like anybody else. You engaged Doreen. You big cow. You average average. Cold day at school playing around at lunchtime. Running around for nothing. You never accept me. For your own. You always ask me where I’m from. You always ask me. You tell me I look strange. Different. You don’t adopt me. You laugh at the way I speak. You think you’re better than me. You don’t like me. You don’t have any interest in another country. Idiot centre of your own self. You think the rest of the world walks around without shoes or electric light. You don’t go anywhere. You stay at home. You like one another. You go crazy on Saturday night. You get drunk. You don’t like me and you don’t like women. You put your arm around men in bars. You’re rough. I can’t speak to you. You burly burly. You’re just silly to me. You big man. Poor with all your money. You ugly furniture. You ugly house. You relaxed in your summer stupor. All year. Never fully awake. Dull at school. Wait for other people to tell you what to do. Follow the leader. Can’t imagine. Workhorse. Thick legs. You go to work in the morning. You shiver on a tram.
Ania was my poetry teacher in 2012 and 2013. No one had more energy and passion for the written word and all its creative potential. She mightn’t explain things like iambic pentameter in the course of a class but she’d convince you that you can make great things. Every student, and every piece of work they shared, was valid and worthy. She loved poetry and, if you spent some time with her, you would too.
I wasn’t one of Ania’s students for that long but she’s left an enduring impression on me as a writer. Every now and then, I question my approach to writing (and to poetry in particular) and I remember some of the comments she made about my work. I feel undefeatable.
Vale Ania Walwicz, 1951—2020.
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