Monday, December 14, 2009

Harvest Magazine


Below is a short extract from Railton Road, an edited section of my novel Black Lazarus. Railton Road has just been published in the Summer 2009 issue of Harvest magazine. If you like what you're reading, please track down a copy of the magazine and treat yourself for Christmas. This is one beautiful new literary journal that really deserves to make it.


His first night at the rebel squat Sonny dreamt he was ancient Africa, stretched out wide and deep centre-globe, cradling a people. On his lower left shoulder in southern Togo, with their mahogany faces caked with thick white clay-paint, the Anlo-Ewe people stamped thanks to the sky God Mawu-Lisa. The blood of young goats sank warm and iron-filled into the sandy earth of villages of his decolletage.

Sonny dreamt he was Africa, and the Songhay people were conjuring spirit Hauka which danced light-footed across the black earth ridges of his startled nipple, trapped inside the bucking bodies of taken tribes people. Village messengers, djembes slung across backs, gently drummed their cryings up and down his ribcage, rocking him back to sleep. Sonny dreamt he was ancient Africa, and his history had no beginning. He dreamt he was forever, remembering more than centuries.

The rebel hub at 121 Railton Road was inhabited by fiery likeminded black youth from all over England. The occupants of Railton Road were bell-jeaned, dome-afroed, Dr. Martened and muscle-T’ed: as bad and black as they could possibly muster themselves to be, with yearning amber eyes filled with each other and runaway tongues drooling with the chant of equality. A hive of activity, the squat’s many bedrooms were wall to walled with mattresses and tatty multi-coloured blankets. The shop in the property’s lower half was busy twenty four seven with placard making tables and the day and night thunder and the thud of an aging printing press. The cauldron-like pot in the informal cooking pit of the property’s small garden was always brimming with enough for everyone. So much so that almost half a thousand random brown folk with little aspiration toward black empowerment dropped by the place as if it were a soup kitchen, trading an hour’s work manning the printing press or distributing pamphlets for shelter on a particularly bitter night or a steaming hot meal.

As a result of ongoing police harassment and eviction attempts, the hand-painted sign permanently tacked to the front of the property read: LEGAL WARNING: THIS PROPERTY HAS BEEN OCCUPIED BY SQUATTERS. WE INTEND TO STAY HERE. IF YOU TRY TO EVICT US, WE WILL PROSECUTE. YOU MUST DEAL WITH US THROUGH THE COURTS. Time and again the Railton Road Panthers were arrested for squatting in the property but despite double deadlocks, police barricading and barred windows, they inevitably scaled, fought or burrowed their way back in after their release...

7 comments:

  1. Let me see if I have this right.

    Railton Road, is like a chapter from your book, Black Lazarus. And it has just been published in the Summer 2009 issue of Harvest magazine?

    Also, help me out, what does this.. "Village messengers, djembes slung across backs, gently drummed their cryings up and down his ribcage, rocking him back to sleep"... mean?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah, that's right Carey. The explanation is a little bit mixed up isn't it? My bad:( It all makes sense in my head :)

    Well, I guess Sonny literally is dreaming he is the continent of African, and as part of this dream, can see/feel/hear village 'messangers' (or maybe griots) carrying drums and crying out whatever truths they have to cry over his soil. And that the image is a comforting, soothing one to him, rather than an awakening or chaotic one.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wow Maxine, that little bit is fantastic! Some great images there. Really nice.

    ReplyDelete
  4. *lol*

    Doesn't our writng always make sense to us? That's the easy part. But when I think about my writing, I think about my dance moves... UGU-a-bubba! I think I am really getting it on until I look around at other dancers and then realize, I am not perfect. In fact, my dancing sucks.

    Hey, one more question. What is a djembes?

    Btw, I am warming that seat :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Again, I am liking it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Should I be suspicious that since Alec defended the political content of my writing a few posts back, you've mysteriously come around...or is that too cynical, Kate?

    Thanks Lauri!

    Carey...hold up, I'll be there in about 26 hours LOL

    ReplyDelete
  7. Yes, this is fantastic! That first line, "His first night at the rebel squat Sonny dreamt he was ancient Africa, stretched out wide and deep centre-globe, cradling a people," is one of the most beautiful lines I've ever read, and I don't say that lightly. Just beautiful.

    ReplyDelete