POETRY: The First Train to Liverpool, Jack Mapanje

This short video is a reading of Jack Mapanje’s “First Train to Liverpool” from an anthology “Of Chameleons and Gods”. There’s an interface between the train, it’s geography and society. Shot in Lyon, France, the musician plays his organ as the train station pumps almost heartlessly in silence compared to the energy and commotion described in the poem. By design, new questions about mobility could be relevant: but what do you think about the poem? As it stands, the organ sounds repaints the walls that are otherwise dull.

Tubes have stories at each station.

— Jack Mapanje
Recorded in Lyon, France, 2018.
(A Letter for Angela)

No last minute haggling about prices 
Of curry-chicken first at Balaka
No stinking Afro-wigs into your mouths
No leaping from bags of peanuts into
Baskets of tomato, cheerfully quarrelling
Nor finally sitting on half a buttock
Euston station contracts and dialogues
Through wires and innumerable papers
Only comfort welcomes aboard a sudden silence
That soon reigns, our eyes weighing and
Quickly avoiding each other between
The beverages and the local papers.

Runcorn station welcomes aboard a haunting
Quiet where men obviously build more paper
Walls against other men. No curios, no mats
No herbs sell through windows. No mothers
Suckle their crying babies. No jokes about
The rains held up by your charms this year!
At Lime Street itself, not even a drunk stagers
Out perhaps announcing his newly acquired
Cornerstones. Only recorded voices bid you
Come again before the engulfing impenetrable
Crowd. But the maddening quiet soon recedes
Locating a bright tarnished face once known.
- Jack Mapange, 1981, Of Chameleons and Gods 
Here is a full lecture, from Jack Mapanje, describing the underlying waves and ways in his work.

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