Patience Agbabi

Patience Agbabi is a sought-after poet who celebrates the written and spoken word. She read English at Oxford, has an MA in Creative Writing from Sussex and has lectured in Creative Writing at several UK universities. Her work has received a number of awards and was shortlisted for the 2014 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. Her fourth collection, Telling Tales (Canongate, 2014), is an exhilarating, multicultural remix of The Canterbury Tales. Mining the Middle-English masterpiece for its performance as well as its poetry and pilgrims, her boisterous and lyrical collection gives one of Britain's most significant works of poetry thrilling new life.

Photo: Lyndon Douglas


Five O’Clock Verses »

Reading: Patience Agbabi, Jim Carruth

Sat 4 March | 17:00 - 18:00 | £6.00/£4.00 | Parliament Hall, South Street

To Love A Country and Be Forced to Leave »

A workshop on movement and migration with poet Patience Agbabi

Sat 4 March | 10:30 - 12:30 | £6.00 | Public Library, Church Square, Meeting Room

Imprisoned Poets Reading »

Short readings from the work of imprisoned poets by Patience Agbabi and Magi Gibson, presented by Scottish PEN

Sat 4 March | 19:10 - 19:40 | FREE | The Byre Theatre, Abbey Street, Studio Theatre


Frankie Lynn

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them – Henry David Thoreau

To Denmark’s Freetown Christiania
my mind transports me when it’s overcast
when there’s a thunderstorm or night draws near
I close my eyes: the beady hit of grass
from hash stalls; houses honed from wood and glass,
one flaking door, its mirrored hall, the spiral
staircase: on that battered sofa – Arild,

his purple dreads engrossed in his own story,
Arild, who flew too close to gold, dropped out
and landed here, the tumble-down, three-storey
Sesame House, home of the down, the out,
who come to learn how to survive without:
to make do, make things, make things up, to dare
to fabricate a castle out of air

under a master, aka The Artist,
whose learned thoughts flow deeper than a fjord
and made of Arild’s mind a palimpsest
on which he wrote three notes that formed a chord
till Arild knew the world within a word
and one long night, through spelling out a spell,
cobbled a cabin made of cockle shells

with seven caves, each cave singing the sea
and when the sun came up his cabin shone,
everyone marvelled at his sorcery;
but Freetown states you can’t create a home
without consent: a clash, and Arild’s gone,
squeezed out, forced out, pushed out down Pusher Street…
now here we meet him, crossing Princes Street,

Edinburgh: now an actor, single, shaved,
who slept on someone’s floor two years ago
till luck ran out; homeless: then one night caved
a home inside the Mound, its walls aglow
with books, books, books, except for one framed photo
where you’d expect a mirror: Hogmanay,
Deirdre and Angus on their wedding day,

his dearest friends: Angus, bleached blond, well-built;
Deirdre, brunette, petite; she made his outfit –
bubblewrap jacket, seersucker kilt
to match her jeans bejewelled with pomegranate
seeds, her bubble shoes the perfect fit:
made for each other – Deirdre wears the trousers,
Angus, the kilt – they’re solid, safe as houses


Patience Agbabi

From Telling Tales (Canongate, 2014)