A CITY WAKING UP by Sue Wallace-Shaddad
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/ She 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.
'A City Waking Up' reviewed on Caroline Gill's blog:
and an interview with Sue here:
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."
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 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
'A City Waking Up' by Sue Wallace-Shaddad
Paperback, 14.8 x 21cm, 44 pages
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