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A Black Day for Poetry

A Black Day for Poetry

It's like, how much more black could this be? and the answer is none. None more black." (Nigel Tufnel, from the film This is Spinal Tap)

There are 8 days left. Don't panic! It's not the end of the world, though that might happen four days later ... On 16th January it's the deadline for Sixteen Magazine's submissions for issue 5, on the theme of Black. Click on the link to read more about the theme and the rules for submitting — there aren't many rules, other than that shorter is probably better; only one piece per submission theme; fine to send works that have appeared on blogs and websites, so long as you retain the permission to do so, and include an author bio of up to 100 words. Poetry, prose and visual images responding to the theme are all welcome.

I didn't have any percolating poems that could have been tinkered with to bring out their inner blackness so, as I sat down to write something new I initially thought about writing a poem about the Aberfan disaster. On 21 October 1966 the colliery rock and shale tip collapsed onto the school in the village of aberfan, near Merthyr Tydfil in south Wales, covering the classrooms at Pantglas Junior School and killing 144 people, (28 adults and 116 children); a black day both metaphorically and literally.

As contestants on quiz shows are often heard to say, "It was before my time," but given Aberfan is only 20 miles away from where I live in Abergavenny, it has a lot of local significance. Without any direct connection to coal mining or the Aberfan disaster, I didn't think I could do justice to the subject matter, nor say anything that hasn't been said before in the 50 years since the disaster. So I put my thinking cap on and searched for something else black to write a poem about.

I turned my gaze (ok, let's not get technical ... I pointed my eyes in the direction) of the night sky and started to think about the blackness after a star has died or has shot across the sky. I thought about this curious dark energy that is haunting physicists, though came to the conclusion that dark was not the same thing as black. So my poem has been sent in and, without revealing specific detail, looks at love in space and, as Nigel says, "How much more black could this be? and the answer is none."

#SixteenMagazine #Black #Aberfan #Coal #Space #SpinalTap #NigelTuffnel

Published incompetitions and submissionsPoetry


  1. Nell Nelson Nell Nelson

    I specially relished ‘pointed my eyes in the same direction’. You are very funny. But this also makes you think!

    • Giles Giles

      thanks Charlotte, I haven’t read that pamphlet or the OPOI reviews, but I’m heading over to read your and Nell’s OPOIs right now 🙂

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