Theresa Lola is a poet of considerable achievement. A few months ago, she became a joint winner of the 2018 Brunel International African Poetry Prize. Her writing seeks out intimate spaces where pain but also beauty lies. On June 30th, she will perform at the 2018 Africa Writes Festival with the Octavia Poetry Collective. In anticipation of her performance, we are sharing some of her new writing (exclusively) with the Brittle Paper family. “Psalm 151” is Lola’s addition to the Book of Psalms. In it, she looks at what connects us as individual beings to the great powers of life and divinity. Later today, Lola will be available on twitter (@brittlepaper) to talk about the poem. Time: 4pm GMT. Stop by!


Psalm 151

1 I was born crying

at the first sight of the world,

begging my mother to push me back in,

because the darkness of the womb is

holier than all the light in the world.


2 The chances of living untainted

are as small as

the chances of skin surviving

direct contact with the sun.


3 O God have mercy on me

for what I have become.

An infinite well of excuses

for why I grew distant from light.


4 I am a staggering disciple.

A Red Sea searching for Moses

to grant it a new face.


5 Call me typical human

tripping on mistakes.


6 God do not judge me for what I have become.

I signalled my fear of being conquered

by the things I was created to conquer.


7Ask my mother for evidence,

 she’ll tell you I cried at

the first sight of the world.


8 I could see evil trolling in the air,

a cigarette lodged between its fingers.

It tried to poison my oxygen,


9 I fought it off with a strength

I prayed my fists into.


10 From then I knew I was unprepared for this

world of fighting darkness.


11 But a baby’s cry is seen as nothing more

than lunch breaks from cuteness.

No one ever realises they are trying to

communicate with God.




About the Author:

Theresa Lola is a British Nigerian poet, workshop facilitator and accountant. She is the joint winner of the 2018 Brunel International African Poetry Prize and has been shortlisted for the 2017 Bridport Poetry Prize, the 2016 London Magazine Poetry Prize, and her poem “Portrait of Us as Snow White” was highly commended for the 2016 Charles Causley Competition judged by Andrew Motion.  She won the 2017 Hammer and Tongue National Slam after a two-day finale at the Royal Albert Hall. She has performed across the UK and internationally.