Episode One: Jamie Osborn – Borders and Intimacy

People need help. If someone comes and knocks on your door you try to help them… and people are knocking at the door of Europe.

In the summer of 2016 Jamie Osborn, who had just graduated from Cambridge University, went to the Greek Island Chios to work as a volunteer on a refugee camp. He found people not only lacking possessions and a home but basic respect and dignity. On this episode he talks about how he and other volunteers tried to give them their dignity back and shares some of the poems that came out of that experience.

He also challenges listeners to write a poem about borders and intimacy. Patrick shares his response inspired by an item on This American Life.

Please share your own responses to the prompt by leaving a comment on this post, emailing via the contact form or sharing on social media with the hashtag #poetrynonstop. Poems maybe published online or featured on future podcasts.

For more advice and resources on writing poetry and to support this podcast please consider purchasing Patrick’s book Poetry Non-Stop

Jamie Osborn is a poet and translator whose work has appeared in Carcanet’s New Poetries VII (April 2018) and in literary magazines including PN Review, the TLS, Poetry London, Blackbox Manifold, Perverse and elsewhere. His translations, together with Nineb Lamassu, of poems by Assyrian Iraqi refugees featured in the “Great Flight” issue of Modern Poetry in Translation and he is now a board member of MPT. He now lives in Norwich, where he works as a charity press officer and is a climate activist.
Facebook | Twitter

You can read more about Jamie’s time in Chios and more poems on the Carcanet blog.

Jamie recommends the following poems and publications:

Modern Poetry in Translation
PN Review
Yousif M. Qasmiyeh interview
Poems on poetrytranslation.org especially Fouad Mohammad Fouad
He strongly, strongly recommends reading and listening to In Lampedusa by Ribka Sibhatu and translated by André Naffis-Sahely.

Intelligentsia by Jamie Osborn

This poem by Jamie Osborn is part of a series written in response to working on a refugee camp in Chios, Greece. Tune into the podcast this Thursday to hear him talk about his experiences and share more poems from the series.

Intelligentsia

Suleiman, your breath stinks. Of smoke, of
drink. Though you’ve not a cent or dinar
to your name, there’s money burning holes
in your hands you peer through. You ask, so
I buy you hair-gel, and you eat it,
believing in the alcohol. It
will make you handsome. The sleepless nights
will darken your lids, make your lashes
seem less long. Come on, Suleiman, I’ll
buy you coffee and – though I know you
will not touch it, for your mother’s sake –
we’ll get stoned on pot, dance together
naked down the street. Set the textbooks
ringing – arm in ashy arm, we’ll be indi-
gents, two island-hoppers with nothing
left to revel in but Marlboros.

Originally published as part of the series Chios (a case of knives) in PN Review 246 (March – April 2019)