As Shamshad Khan explains in the Moving Manchester Writers’ Gallery, ‘Pot’, from the collection Megalomaniac, “has a direct link with Manchester. It was written as a commission for the Manchester Museum. The poem is written in a conversational style as though I, the performer/poet am speaking directly to the pot. In writing the poem I imagined how the pot might have felt being taken from its home in Nigeria and being and brought to a strange place (the Manchester Museum). I speculate about how that journey might have been made, and the lack of choice the pot is likely to have had. I use the plight of the pot as a way to comment on the issues of identity, colonial practices, migration and the slave trade. There is a sense of tenderness and empathy towards the pot’s fate. I identify with its pain and dislocation, drawing on the experiences of my parents who were born in Pakistan and my own as a second generation British Asian…” Read more…
so big- they said you shouldn’t really be moved
so fragile you might break
you could be from anywhere pot
styles have travelled just like terracotta
you could almost be an english pot
but I know you’re not.
I know halfof the story pot
of where you come from of how you got here
but I need you to tell me the rest pot
did they say you were bought pot
a looters deal done the whole lot sold
to the gentleman in the grey hat
or did they say you were lost pot
finders are keepers you know pot
or did they say they didn’t notice you pot
must have slipped onto the white sailing yacht
bound for england.
somewhere will have missed you pot
gone out looking for you pot because
someone, somewhere made you finger nails pressed
snake patterned you pot washed you pot used you
pot loved you pot
if I could shatter this glass
I would take you back myself pot.
you think they wouldn’t recognise you pot
say diaspora you left now you’re not really one of us.
pot I’ve been back to where my family’s from
they were happy to see me
laughed a lot
said I was more asian than the asians pot
I was pot
the hot sun on your back
feel flies settle on your skin
warm grain poured inside
growl if you can hear me
pot? pot? pot.
Dedicated to all museum artefacts, in particular a Nigerian pot currently incarcerated in The Manchester Museum, Oxford Road, without charge or access to legal representation.
Shamshad, who is a highly successful performance poet, writes (Moving Manchester Writers’ Gallery), “It is interesting to note that in performance I usually make the dedication before performing the poem, so the audience is able to contextualise the poem and the ending is lighter. In publication it seemed more appropriate to end with it, the opportunity to re-read the poem being there for the reader.”
You can hear Shamshad reading one of her other poems, ‘Heart Wrap’, on The Poetry School site, which includes a video of her performance.