UEA Poetry MA Scholars Amanda Holiday and Kirstie Millar

In 2011, IS&T publisher Kate Birch established the The Ink Sweat & Tears Poetry Writing Scholarship (MA) at the University of East Anglia (UEA); Kirstie Millar is its eighth recipient. Amanda Holiday is the first to be awarded The Birch Family Scholarship set up to support UK-based poetry MA students from the BAME community. Both Amanda and Kirstie will be reading at the Café Writers spoken word night at Louis Marchesi in Norwich tonight


Shipwrecked Portuguese soldiers battle giant crabs in the Indian Ocean 1601

The Crabs

The sea had been flat and still, barely lapping
And lulled by heat and rum
we lay back in the boats drifting
damp handkerchiefs on our faces
against the sun

and before long,
one by one badoom badoom
our pirogues thudded up on sand and pebbles
wedging us askew on the shore
Big Paul woke first and leapt out
shouting ‘Santos Caranguejos!’
Monster crabs; pink, ungainly
blinked back slowly and waved their claws

We grabbed oars and ran at
the crustaceans poking fleshy faces
beating hardened shells
driving them inland. Yet more came –
an army sideways from the sea
Soon we were surrounded:
flushed, hard-bodied hordes.

Paul ordered us ‘Pare!’ Lay down our sticks.
We dragged our boats to the
ocean edge and as we waited
for the moon tide and staved
off hunger, we sang songs to
the fickle creatures, who now
danced in lines across the sand.

When midnight came, we loaded up
And set sail


Amanda Holiday has read poems from her first chapbook at the PCA ACA annual conference in San Diego as well as Herstory4 Feminist Theatre, Nasty Women and FiliArt festivals in London – The Art Poems is published as part of New Generation African Poets chapbox set (Tano, Akashic Books (US) 2018).



There are so many different ways to be alive
that time those boys threw a donut at us
we were still alive then
busy stepping down the side of the highway
collecting in a plastic bag all the things we might find useful in adult life
how best to hold your body while alone on the street at night
how best to feel the sandy shape of words on your tongue and how to make
them pointed
when they need to be
how to paint a face on top of your less nice face
how to make that face a cold river without a single ripple
how to lie
how to use this cold placid face to project a promise into the world
a promise that says a sharp thought has never risen and pricked the thin layer of
pink skin drawn gently across your mind
how to scramble up yourself and be nothing but soft things piled up on other softer

I am only soft and agreeable things.
I found that thing so dull and blank but useful amongst the thin yellow grass and
cigarette butts and rusted cans of Sprite
on the side of the highway that day,
seconds before their sprinkles hit me
right between the eyes.

I boil these discoveries down like sweets
and push them through the pink mess deep into another pinker part of myself.

I am only soft and agreeable things.
I lie.
I move through the day like slime,
like green slick slime from Nickelodeon.

And I’m here to say
you’ve all just been slimed,
by me.


Kirstie Millar is a writer and poet based in Norwich. She edits Ache, a magazine by women exploring illness, health and pain. You can find her on Twitter @KirstieMillar.

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