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Roshni Gallagher: The Whitby

Roshni Gallagher: The Whitby

Roshni is a poet from Leeds. Roshni received a special mention of the Grierson Verse Prize in 2019.

She is a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Awardee 2022. Her work is published in Best Scottish Poems 2020, Gutter, Butcher’s Dog, The Scotsman newspaper and more. She has performed her work at Edinburgh Multicultural Festival, Counterflows festival, and others. At university, she studied English Literature and History.

Connect with Roshni and find out more about her work on her website.

I wrote this piece in response to the theme of ‘home’. This poem explores the emotions around loving and belonging to a place whilst confronting its colonial history. I wanted to explore what is forgotten, memorialised, and misremembered.

The Whitby

The moon is thin and poised like a curlew’s beak –
all bone. Hanging over the ocean, the abbey.
We watch the sea birds being swept by the wind
and I try to tell you about all my life you’ve missed.
There are still so many sentences I can’t reach.

I know that out on the water, welcomed home,
is a replica of the ship they took my ancestors in –
to sugar plantations for former slave owners.
The Whitby, sailing from India to the Caribbean,
a stale silence blowing in off the water to greet her.

Coming back here is like mutely looking down
on my own odd body as it moves without me.
Nothing is familiar. This loved, blank cliff
is a memorial stone with the names bleached out.




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