I’m a published poet
A poem about my immigration experience was published in the anthology ‘Poetry and Settled Status for All’. Here’s the story of how this came about and my poem.
How I got published
In June 2021, I saw a tweet from Civic Leicester calling for poetry and prose submissions related to the theme ‘Settled Status or Indefinite Leave to Remain for all’.
I’m not someone who writes poetry in my spare time. I did enjoy writing poetry for school assignments and even used to write song lyrics as a teenager. But it’s not something I’ve done as an adult.
When I saw this tweet, though, I thought about all the things I wanted to say related to that theme and was inspired to start writing poems about my thoughts and experiences.
I found the process of writing poems cathartic. I got to put on paper all the things I had been keeping in.
I had been publicly writing about the UK immigration system since October 2020 when I got indefinite leave to remain. But poetry gave me a bit more freedom in what I could say.
I felt like I could share more of my experiences in a poem, while still retaining some vagueness around areas I was less comfortable writing down.
The poem I submitted, ‘Temporary’, I wrote in the 15-minute wait period after I got my first Covid-19 vaccine.
I submitted it, not expected anything, and was pleased to received the email a few months later saying it had been accepted.
What my poem is about
‘Temporary’ describes my experiences at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
I had to submit my application for indefinite leave to remain in July 2020. Part of my application involved submitting income evidence for the 6 months prior.
In March 2020, the world was shutting down and people were losing their jobs. I started to question my own job security.
The thought of losing employment in a global crisis is scary enough, but what terrified me beyond everything else was that I might no longer have those 6 months of income evidence I needed for my application.
It felt like a real possibility that I could lose my right to live in the UK all because my application came in the middle of pandemic.
‘Temporary’ describes my feelings about how an arbitrary timescale and application procedure could have meant I lost my home.
My poem: ‘Temporary’
I am not temporary
But that’s the label you put on me
You tell me that 8 years and 6 months is temporary
But 9 years and I’m suddenly permanent
A global crisis isn’t happening at 9 years
It’s happening at 8 years and 6 months
If I lose my job you won’t help me
If I lose my job I can’t meet your income requirement
If I lose my job you won’t make me permanent
I met your stupid requirements this whole time
I never asked for help this whole time
Why does 6 months from the finish line make me less deserving of security
Hell, why should 6 years make me less deserving
Your arbitrary rules and timelines force me into a state of needless anxiety
You’ve made a choice to make me feel this way
To make every immigrant feel this way
Some of them aren’t living in a state of ‘if‘ though
They’re suffering and you just stand by and let them
All because you choose to define our existence as temporary
I am not temporary
I am not permanent either
I just am
We all just are
What happened in the end
The poem reflects my thoughts in March 2020. I thankfully did not lose my job. I had the financial evidence I needed. I got indefinite leave to remain.
The Home Office did eventually release guidance in June 2020 making a concession that if you did lose your job, you could apply with financial evidence from the 6 months prior to losing it.
So even if the worst had happened to me, I still would have had the evidence I needed.
But it angers me how long it took the Home Office to release such guidance. It angers me that they still did not scrap this financial requirement all together.
Every inch of cruelty in this immigration system angers me.
And now some of my anger has been published in a book. It’s nice when positive things can come out of negative experiences.
Buy the anthology
My poem is one of over 100 poems in the anthology. I have had a read a few so far, and reading them feels as cathartic as writing my own.
If you’re an immigrant, someone who is interested in migrants’ rights, or even just someone who wants to live in a world where we treat people decently, I think you’ll appreciate reading these poems, too.
You can buy the anthology on Amazon or find it at local bookstores.