Jasmine Gray

Diagnosing the Dead: A Collage Poem

For my final post, I wanted to revisit the last 12 months of The Writing Squad’s residencies with The Poetry Business. As Helen Bowell calls it, in her first residency post, I wanted to create a ‘patchwork poem’ – collaging my favourite lines from each Squad writer’s contribution & using them to build something new.

The result is a cursed little poem, a Frankenstein’s monster, which feels like a perfect amalgamation of 2021’s pandemic reality.

Thank you to the Squad for their wonderful lines & thanks to you for journeying with me this January.



Where to find your favourite lines

February – Helen Bowell

• ‘This was before everything started happening and not-happening’ 

Helen Bowell in collaboration with Lenni Sanders

• ‘Before these still and peach colour-evenings’
• ‘Romeo, I’m trying to teach you something here’

March – Lenni Sanders

• ‘Everyone there / was overwhelmed by something, nobody’s voice / rose above the water level, everybody’s hands / were trembling’ 

April – Lydia Allison in collaboration with Lenni Sanders

• ‘People ask how we survive and honestly
even if you have family members odds are they 
won’t even notice 
you may have 

May – Ila Colley

• ‘This thought-trip has been out-of-this-world, up there, and all about exits, then it’s been coming down,  unearthing, engendering, building worlds as critique, or building potentials.’ 
• ‘Sometimes we’re forced to do as our enemies do, or the enemy is in us, which is not down to lack of  integrity, but about available resource and strategy.’ 
• ‘I don’t know who is who. Are you the ground-stone and me the heart-starter?’

June – Hannah Hodgson

• ‘Every time you access a memory it will change slightly’ 
• ‘I’m still shielding even though legally shielding doesn’t exist’ 

Hannah Hodgson’s Digital Poetry Reading

• ‘sometimes it can feel like a continuous state of mourning’ 
• ‘people rewrite history within their heads’ 

July – Charlotte Wetton

‘it was not a nice area
and it was winter 
but not saying
what that means.’ 

‘I can’t keep fighting the fear’ 

August – Jessica Wood

• ‘I’m beginning to realise that life can only ever be lived in the knowledge and presence of many deaths’
• ‘There have been so many glazed eyes of death surrounding me’ 

Jessica Wood in collaboration with Nasim Rebecca Asl

• ‘I can almost pretend 
the families inside are happy, not hiding’ 

September – Nasim Rebecca Asl

• ‘we’re all at a campfire, we’re all around this burning brazier at the end of the world’
• ‘The end of the world may have never felt so close’ 

October – Ruth Yates

• ‘‘diagnosing the dead’ is a ‘legitimate activity’’ 
• ‘at home, in the wild, in my head’  

November – Prerana Kumar

• ‘I slowly sink into it; my body could be a filling bucket’ 
• ‘Distance has cemented the borders of my body shut’ 
‘When you grow, I will fold you into such a wonder’ 

Prerana Kumar in collaboration with Jasmine Gray 

• ‘January’s are plagued’ 
• ‘gaining control over desire’ 

January – Jasmine Gray

• ‘I watched men, watching me, watching myself become strange. / I became a ghost.’

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