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Hackney Writers

13 / 20 Navel String: Daubeney Fields

'When all my baby born
I collected the navel string
and send it home to Nigeria,
to my mother-in-law,
for them to bury it home.
It could be buried
next to a coconut tree
or orange tree.
After that,
the tree belongs to the child.'

by Ngusi Thompson

Naval string was published in 'Every Birth It Comes Different' (1980), a collection of writing about childbirth by students and teachers from the Hackney Reading Centre at Centerprise. Liesbeth de Block recalls heated discussions about childbirth customs and the roles of men: ‘And the women saying, ‘Aagh! ‘We’re doing it; you can bloody see it, you can suffer too. You can get the joy too.’'

Like many of the pieces, Ngusi Thompson’s is laid out carefully in short lines: each line corresponds to a spoken phrase. The introduction to 'Every Birth It Comes Different' protests, ‘they are not poems’.


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