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Poetry with Clifton Pinnock

During Black History Month, poet Clifton Pinnock visited Spring Hill Library to share his favourite poetry and perform some of his own work. Here are two of his own poems giving alternative views of Handsworth Park written at different times in the area's history.



Handsworth Park

What is happening to you Handsworth Park?
In bygone days you were full of life;
Every corner had folk in store;
And still there was room for many more.

Yes, your gracious welcoming arms,
Gaped wide open to receive us all;
Black, brown, white;
All looking so bright.

The cracking of leather on willow,
And the thudding of football on feet was heard;
There, swarm of noisy youths huddled around cards;
And waddling toddlers playing, as if, ,in their backyards.

Oh, they looked so happy
Under the watch-care eye of the sun;
Blessing them with life-sustaining rays)
As they were nourished in various ways.

Your statues and monuments were not spotless;
Neither were your gardens shape-blessed,
Your green and brown turf was worn and rented;
Never-the-less we all felt so contented.

Your lakes and boats were shabby;
There were no squirrels in your trees;
No butterflies on your scanty flowers;
Yet you gathered vast throngs under your bows

Your carpet of grass is now an unending green;
Your statues are carefully tended;
Your flower-beds are dazzling;
My appreciation of you is amazing.

I surveyed your picturesque view;
But only pockets of sitters vacantly staring;
And a handful of hurrying travellers I could see;
Possibly , unaware of your beautiful history .

What is happening to you now?
Where are all your happy punters?
Where have they all gone ?
Why do you look so forlorn ?


A Handsworth Park Experience

Nature and I were at one:
There in Handsworth park,
Zenithal joy I had absorbing the pleasure;
Which was offered to me that day by Nature.

There were the giant brown trunk trees,
Which seemed to grasp for the heavens;
Having their fingers of green
Fusing with the vast ocean of blue above
As they stretched towards the ball of white:
Staring down through the vacant sky so bright,
All partied, imbuing me with a calm delight.
Never have I been enveloped by so much green,
It was broken only by an unwelcomed concrete sheen.
The shrubs were green,
Trees were green,
Even the lake was green
I made my bed from a grass shagpile:
And this emerald mat stretched for nearly a mile.

olomon in all his glory' was never blessed like me.
It was so halcyonic, so peaceful, so still,
My blissful solitude was heightened by my calling host
The Cuckoo,
Wilfully reminding me.
That there were other recipients
Of the Almighty's benevolence.
As if that was not enough:
A dove came,
Flowing down to the floor;
Exposing its apron of white
For me to adore.
I was not alone in my hotel of green,
Though my comforts were shared,
Yet my enjoyment was not lessened,
On remembering my green retreat,
Feeling pleased, fulfilled and replete,
I can truly remark;
ature and I were at one
There in Handsworth Park'.

Clifton L Pinnock

More of Clifton's poetry appears in the book Dis n Dat.
Reserve Dis n Dat

Some of the poets which Clifton featured during the session, including Valerie Bloom and Benjamin Zephaniah, appear in the book Moving Voices - Black Performance Poetry.
Reserve Moving Voices

You can reserve these books through the online catalogue and choose which library to collect them from. You will need your library ticket number and PIN. If you don't know your PIN you can ring your local library to find out.