Identity and Imagination


Nour is a 21-year-old Sudanese writer and poet born and raised in Qatar and currently living in the Netherlands.

They identify with the third culture experience of being brought up in countries that are not their own, moving to places they didn’t belong & yet making homes out of shared experiences and relating beyond geographical boundaries. Their poetry collection ’emerge(ncy)’ explores the non-linearity of growing up and emerging from the constraints placed on our identity and imagination.


what is all this for?

“poetry is a lost language” “poetry is a dead language”

writing for commercial purposes writing for companies and the mass

writing as long as it’s consumable and fast

because the pace at which we read

does not match the pace at which we dance if only you could see

I would rather a few hum the tune

than a large crowd yell an empty sound

and the great works we hold on to with what focus were they written

and what flow, what beat, what rhythm?

there are no rules but openness the most violent act it seems

the bravest and most compelling but to them the most repelling

don’t you know?

the one we run away from whether person or poem

is the one that brings us home

don’t you know?

that fame is speaking in tongues to strangers

and poetry is speaking truth to the ones we know

moving out

I cannot run my life is mine

and mine and mine all those I evolve into this life is mine

I cannot run

not on the Eurostar train

not in the dark alleyways of Amsterdam not in the crowded London underground not at the bottom of a pint in woodhouse not in picture-perfect Utrecht

not on long bus rides out of town not in airports

not in the middle of nowhere not in the kindness of strangers

not in changing faces or new words not in you

not in not you

and never on planes

this heart is mine this blood is mine the rain may be hard

it may flood me till I’m unrecognisable but when I bleed, it is there

it is sand for miles and miles

it is scorching heat and the hymns of dervishes in prayer

it is that, but also a knot in my mouth all the words I want to pronounce

I take all the love of the Nile and its farmland I take all the love I cannot find elsewhere and I build a new home

but I cannot run

not in diaspora poetry

not in the fetishized image of “home country” not in the sweet words about my country

for the fertile ground and endless muse that she is from the way we steal inspiration from her

for the regal way she is here despite that and will not let you forget her

for the surge of magic that is

the passage from desert to Red Sea I take the way time stretches for me when I’m under her sun

but I cannot run away from running

warm waves

his heart is a blue sea in the middle of winter and I’m a fish

that cuts through the tide

I swim and eat everything in my way I say I love the sea despite,

I fill the sea with red

and it carries my body, dead it brings it to shore

I died here, I say

“yes, and that was your home” now I’m a man

standing on the beach

the sea both my enemy and friend the distant memories in my head I cry by the ocean and

the sea does nothing but make that sound


perhaps we did skip spring and go straight into summer

hurrying to get the year over with idealising strange climates

anyway, you’re still as much relief as the weather you’re like soil, something that’s waiting, constantly being watered

you have to show us at some point what the sun is smiling about

what the leaves are rushing into green for

this metaphor is far too artificial for what you’re going through

you’re the archaic times when nature was the well of similes poets drank from

long before the air was captured and moulded by human hands

frankly I’m worried about our future

and I remedy that with the pool of heaven resting on your cheeks

I wonder about you and me will we really bloom?

You can find Nour on Instagram and Twitter.

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