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A City Waking Up
'A City Waking Up' by Sue Wallace-Shaddad
Paperback, 14.8 x 21cm, 44 pages
Sue Wallace-Shaddad lives in Suffolk following an international career with the British Council. She has just completed the Newcastle University/Poetry School London MA in Writing Poetry. She has poems published by London Grip, Ink Sweat and Tears, Brittle Star and Dempsey and Windle. Sue is Secretary of Suffolk Poetry Society. https://suewallaceshaddad.wordpress.com/
Sue Wallace-Shaddad has been visiting Khartoum, Sudan since the 1970’s. The language, customs and slower rhythms of this city and country have been a constant refrain in her life. In 'A City Waking Up', she evokes memories of encounters, the sun’s heat, vibrant colours and the taste of local dishes. She shares day-to-day details of family life but also captures the tumult in the city as it struggles for political change.
Listen to the podcast of the session on 'A City Waking Up' that Sue took part in (Languages and Place) during Poetry in Aldeburgh 2020
Tamar Yoseloff comments on 'A City Waking Up':
Sue Wallace-Shaddad’s Sudan is a country of beauty, dust, jewel-bright colour, age-old tradition and bitter conflict. From a roadside fruit stall with ‘mangoes gold in the sun’, to a lavish wedding banquet where ‘oud and zither music fills the air’, to the painful 2019 uprising in Khartoum where protestors ‘gathered for weeks / in stifling heat’, Wallace-Shaddad guides us through the land with great generosity and love.'
'A City Waking Up' reviewed on Caroline Gill's blog:
and an interview with Sue here:
'A City Waking Up' reviewed in The Alchemy Spoon' (The Metal Issue) in December 2020
Extracts from Brian Docherty's review in 'London Grip':
"Hospitality, rituals, ceremonies and eating together, are portrayed as essential parts of Sudanese life, which makes all the more shocking the political violence that erupts in the book’s closing poems.
For this reader, the seven poems from ‘Toub’ to ‘Departures, Khartoum Airport’ form the centre of this collection. ..
...The mood of the book towards the close changes, we move away from the colourful clothing and food, the hospitality and shared events, to ‘Haboob, subtitled ‘Dust storm’, ...
It is at this point, as mentioned earlier, that the book introduces the reader to recent political events in Khartoum...
‘On the Outside’ is the story of a man arrested and locked up in ‘basic conditions’, but released and free. ‘River of Protest’ is a positive portrayal of of a mass demonstration where
Phones wave in the air, their torches
gleaming like newly woken fireflies
in a noisy mingling of sound and light."
Read the full review here: https://londongrip.co.uk/2020/11/london-grip-poetry-review-sue-wallace-shaddad/
The poems in Sue Wallace-Shaddad’s debut pamphlet are like miniature watercolours of the poet’s experiences from living in Sudan and her association with the country in the 1980s and 90s. These are delicate, evocative poems, filled with colour and heat – and mouth-watering foods, such as in ‘A Panoply of Sweetmeats’:
sugared almonds -
silver and blue pebbles-
on the wedding beach -
These colours evoke the opening poem, ‘Meeting Point’, of ‘The White and Blue Nile’ where Khartoum is located. In 'Treasure Trove' she described dates as 'necklaces/ of pale amber', oranges alongside 'emerald watermelon/ rind straining like skin-tight jeans’. Place name and phrases enrich the poems and cultural details add to the atmosphere of daily life. In 'The Fisherman' a net is cast 'spreading like the umbrella/ of a silent jellyfish'. as in the sequence about a Sudanese wedding, where, in ‘White Wedding Night’, the bride is ‘a shy girl’:
her skin softened and scented
by performing smoky dukhan
henna patterned on her limbs.
These quiet poems are of a life that continues beneath the daily bustle, and contrast sharply with a short sequence about the troubles in 2019 that brings us to the unsettled present-day reality in Khartoum. Yet in the closing poem, ‘Donkeys and Dust’ we return to that stillness, with a sense that there will always be ‘two boys racing each other … in the dust-filled plain,’ that hope is the talisman of the human experience. It ends with a vivid image of an empty bench, waiting.
— Mary Mulholland
The Alchemy Spoon: Reviews in Brief
Available from this page to buy in the UK. P&P is free.
International buyers, PLEASE DON'T SEND MONEY but contact Sue on her website: https://suewallaceshaddad.wordpress.com/