Simons to represent Bermuda in poetry Olympics

Hurricane Season –(July-November)
I Emily
there are dogs in the wind.
i am waiting for them to
die, circling around outside.
i hope they’ll find
holes deep enough in
the earth to feed and bark
there are dogs in the wind,
i am waiting for them to die,
i’m waiting for them to howl
and bite back.

II Katrina
she was black with teeth
and knew how to use both.
depending on the task
she would choose the sharpest.

III Fabian
a hurricane is
a gentle thing
when in the cen-
tre of your lover’s
eye nothing s t i r s

Andra Simons has been selected to represent the Island at an event in England coined the poetry Olympics this summer.

It is expected the Poetry Parnassus will be the biggest gathering of poets in the world — a panel is now searching to find one poet from each of the 204 competing Olympic nations.

A series of events have been organised by London’s Southbank Centre from June 26 through July 1, in advance of the Summer Olympics to be held in the city this year.

So far 23 countries have yet to secure a representative.

According to Mr Simons, who has no clue who nominated him, being selected to collaborate with artists of such calibre is “an honour”.

He said he was contacted by an event organiser on Facebook, but didn’t see the message until two weeks later.

“I said I would love to be a part of it.”

He was eventually sent a formal letter, which stated that 4,000 names had been submitted worldwide, before researchers narrowed down the top picks. They then went through his work and determined his poetry was “strong enough” to be included in a collective anthology.

“When I first found out I was very excited and felt very privileged, but it wasn’t until I read through an article in The Guardian and online, and I went to look and read about everyone that was going to be involved that I felt incredibly humbled,” he said.

Other poets include Ireland’s Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney, Albania’s Luljeta Lleshanaku who grew up under house arrest after her parents opposed the communist regime and Cambodian poet Kosal Khiev who was born in a refugee camp in Thailand and escaped to America following the Khmer Rouge war.

Mr Simons said he was “extremely proud” to represent Bermuda, despite emigrating to England in 2004.

“Anyone that knows me here knows I am extremely connected and all my work centres around being an Island person.

“When I first moved here several people were saying to me I need to write about London and the Brits if I want to be embraced in the literary community here and I never did.

“I just felt I didn’t have the images or the words to do that, all my images and languages and stories are rooted in Bermuda and I have stuck with it and I have been included. This is the ultimate proof of that.”

He said he has received an outpouring of support from friends on Facebook, but added: “I will be quick to say any number of writers in Bermuda could be in this position [because of their talent].”

In addition to his own poetry, Mr Simons was a guest lecturer at the University of Greenwich for two years.

He started writing around the age of 11, encouraged by his mother Coralita to explore his creative side. He said he has always been inspired by Greek myths and mythology.

“I remember once writing a short story about Gina Swainson who had won Miss World. I created a whole series; she was this goddess that had come into the form of a human woman.

“I used to read quite a bit and write quite a bit, especially after high school. I went to Berkeley Institute and there was a few teachers that were quite encouraging.”

Though details about the event are still quite scarce, he expects more information to come forth in the next few weeks.

He has submitted ten poems for organisers to choose for an anthology of the poets’ work, but said none are overtly about Bermuda.

“At first I thought I was going to have to present something about my country and there would be this sort of flag-waving type of event.

“But it’s turning out to be more of using poetry to really examine who we are as a collective global society, looking at marginalised and oppressed people.

“People were asked to not shy away from darker elements of their own community. They want a full-rounded experience so it’s not about being patriotic, but about art as a three-dimensional expression. They want you to look at all sides of yourself and your community.”

Mr Simons was a co-founder of the Flow Sundays Open Mic event when on the Island and was also one of the front runners during the early years of spoken word in Bermuda. He is currently working on his latest poetry collection, which is partially supported by Bermuda Arts Council.

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Published Apr 26, 2012 at 7:52 am (Updated Apr 26, 2012 at 7:51 am)

Simons to represent Bermuda in poetry Olympics

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