The Superpoem: Update from Inua Ellams!

Superhero-looks-away-5501Photo: JMV

Poet Inua Ellams talks about using Twitter and showcases some of the poems we have already recieved from his Superpoem workshop.

The best thing about Social Networking websites like Facebook, Bebo or Twitter isn’t that all your mates are on there. It isn’t that you can contact them easily – mobile phones provide the same thing. It isn’t even really that you can share videos, pictures and photos – that is a great factor, but not the best. The best, is that you can speak to a lot of people at the SAME time. In an instant. It is CHEAP, and they can reply instantly too. In Kenya in Africa, a website not dissimilar to twitter was created to keep track of violent rioters and based on the text messages sent from people on the scenes, the government could decide where to send peace-keeping forces.

Poetry is not a violent activity (in most cases), but the incident in Kenya got me wondering about how to use Twitter in my practice. From this, the Poetry Twitter Workshops was born. It is a way to suggest opening lines and turning points to writers across the world, who would respond, but create vastly different and individualistic work. As a young writer, I’d champion you to think about how to use your profiles on those websites to your advantage, how to make them work for you. Online, time is infinite and the possibilities are endless!

Our theme for the twitter workshop was ‘Superheroes – not being heroic’, poems about the in-between times: Superman making a cup of tea, Iron Man brushing his teeth. We had fantastic responses from a beer-swigging Wonder Woman, to a sofa ridden Spiderman. Here are a few and the rest will be published online soon.


Unable to change,
ribs cracked
as if birds from
his stomach
had finally flown free-
handles his key
unlocking the door
dizzy with adrenaline,
falls to the bar
attempts to numb the pain,
quiet his anger.
The leather grips his legs,
clinging to sweat
staining his skin.
Blood running black
on the verge of collapse
he attempts to un-peel
the layers of his disguise
his bruises-
their black-blue shine
against his pale skin,
indents of bats.

Tips the gin
into a bandage,
begins to clean
the cuts on his legs,
arms, lips and neck.
As he winces
notices the bruise
that bat-winged
stamp of failure-
holds his head
in his hands,
curses the heavens
blames God.

Awakes in the
darkest hour of night,
to another screaming boy
face, aghast- pale as the
ghost from his past-
Fox news reporting
an armed robbery-
boy nine, father and
mother shot dead.

Looks down at his bruise
flashing like the signal-
raised by the police
across Gotham City.
Rises to replace
his grey body armour,
his nocturnal peace broken,
fire in his eyes- bullet torn pain
reaches for the door
swearing to avenge the boy,
restore his own honour.

Katie Beviss


I slip in through the cat-flap,
no one home, the clock ticks,
the boiler moans to itself.

Unwrapped myself
a shine of gold and red
a hole in my boot
the superglue spits
I make the air turn blue.

Fug of steam, switching
off, my hands chop carrots,
super-speed, saucepan
splutters, I’m shifting
my feet –  too old
to get away.

Tories in power
What do you expect?
Let them march –
my invisible airplane
can’t be found. Not now.
12 and a half minutes left.
Not tonight.
I’m saving my cherry pie
and stroking the cat.

Saba Z


Walking towards me, head hanging low,
His steps have no purpose and he walks so slow,

His face is pale and it’s impossible to know
Where he’s been or where he’s going to go.

He opens the door and listens to it creak,
We both sit down but neither of us speak.

He throws off his coat and looks up at me,
Looks down at this wrist but won’t let me see.

Back to normal, he gets up and turns on the TV,
But we both know he’s not what he used to be.

He sits back down and seems to drift away,
What should I do and what should I say?

The TV flashes and someone’s almost dead,
His eyes go wide and his hands are on his head.

The victims laying there, the villain simply fled.
What will he do? Go or will he stay instead?

He sits there infront of me and closes his eyes,
His body breaks down and he simply sits and cries.

Sophie McCullagh

Published July, 2011

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