Poems to share

On Brighton Beach

I let my breathing
catch the timing
of the waves;

I don’t swim,
surf or paddle.
I don’t set foot
in the water at all.

I need to breathe
I sit
on Brighton Beach.

I love to know
I live on an island.
I know my people
are island people.

I am an island.
Boy becoming a man.
I am at university
discovering my identity.

I see wide open sea
stretch out before me,
but I know the big city
is where I’ll return.

When I sit here
on this beach I
close my eyes,
picture my position

on the coastline;
see the whole country,
continents and planet,
feel reassuringly small.

© from The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, illustrated by Anshika Khullar (Hodder Children’s Books, £7.99)

With kind permission of the author

Dean Atta

Dean Atta’s debut poetry collection was shortlisted for the Polari Book Prize. His poems deal with themes of race, gender, identity and growing up and have been read on BBC One’s The One Show, on BBC Radio 4, the World Service and Channel 4. Dean was named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday. He regularly performs across the UK and internationally. His latest book, The Black Flamingo, is a verse novel for young people.