Gboyega Odubanjo – Aunty Uncle Poems (The Poetry Business)



Judges’ Comments

There is a sense of constant displacement in these poems, the dialogical struggle between the ‘here and now’ and the ‘there and then’, the real of apparent incommensurability of languages that ‘translate poorly’. This merges into a specific formal experimentation where Odubanjo’s own written words refuse to take the shape of capital letters, a kind of subversive statement. Kinship – as is clear from the very title of the pamphlet – becomes the scaffolding for the poems and a constant reference for the reader. A daring and delicate, bitter and yet funny touch in describing the ordinary, distinguishes this pamphlet as being a powerful achievement.


There Is Joy Breaking Here


and uncle is drunk already. uncle has his nephews

his special brew holding him up and happier

than the rest of us this bloodshot day of meat

and gisting. uncle grills burgers in knock-off birkenstocks.

plays coquet for aunty long since tired of his face

and fatuous self. uncle deep in meniscus. uncle cracks

the bone and swallows marrow. does not sweat or spill

a sip. uncle of independent means. clapping on the ones

and threes. jiving. got the old lady and the home office

and type 2 diabetes and maze and frankie beverly

clapping on behind him




The 2021 Shortlists

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