Bohdan Piasecki is a poet from Poland based in Birmingham. A committed performer, he has taken his poems to venues ranging from the upstairs room in an Eastbourne pub to the main stage of The Birmingham Rep, from an underground Tokyo club to a tramway in Paris, from a bookshop in Beijing to an airfield in Germany, from niche podcasts to BBC Radio 3 and 4. In the UK, he regularly features at the country’s most exciting spoken word nights, festivals, and readings. He enjoys the creative chaos of big field festivals just as much as the composed concentration of literary events.
Bohdan founded the first poetry slam in Poland before moving to the UK to get a doctorate in translation studies. He is the Lead Tutor for the Roundhouse Poetry Collective in London and Bellows Poetry Collective in Birmingham. Bohdan worked as Director of Education on the Spoken Word in Education MA course at Goldsmiths University, and since 2012 has been a regular Visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham, where he is a Teaching Fellow. He also held the post of Midlands Producer for Apples and Snakes, England’s leading spoken word organisation, for 7 years, and is now General Manager of Free Radical.
It’s almost certainly impossible,
To appreciate the sheer abstract beauty of an explosion, but I like to picture it
As an intricate game of pinball: a single atom suddenly propelled forward
Bounces back and forth, shedding electrons on the way,
And hurtles through the massive gaps in what we think is a solid thing, a unit, an unalterable whole, a grain of gunpowder, say.
Until suddenly – MULTIBALL! With a flash of multicoloured light, the others come alive, and then
Things become much too fast to follow
Everything turns restless, and frantic, and twitchy, and as they start moving faster and faster they leave behind them trails of light, pthey weave and turn together and draw an orchid, a fiery flower that you only see bloom once.
It’s almost certainly intolerable,
To try and hear the music in the noise of an explosion, but I like to imagine it
As that moment in a song when the bass line finally kicks in, after the introductory
Clicks and clacks of the drumsticks smack the edge of the snare and the closed hi-hat.
And you’ve heard too many songs not to know what’s coming
But when the obligatory muffled power-chord finally bursts out with overwhelming power
Triggered by the detonating kick drum,
The sound still reaches down through your throat and grips your stomach tightly.
You cannot be ready, you can never be ready for this.
It’s almost certainly immaterial,
What the weather was like at the time of an explosion, but in my mind,
I see an old sepia snapshot of a perfect summer’s afternoon, with the weather all the better
Because you have to supply your own blue for the sky, conjure up your own white for the clouds, your own faded red for the crumbling bricks, your own brown
For the strange stains on the pavement.
There are no people in the picture, the exposure was too long,
Maybe here and there a blur, the slightest hint of a presence:
A hand that lingered on a doorknob, a hesitating foot.
But no more.
It’s almost certainly irrelevant,
One life lost in an explosion; but I like to believe that somewhere, someone refuses to acknowledge numbers like two hundred thousand or eighty-five percent, and instead
They chronicle meticulously
The misplaced cobblestones, the frantic flight of startled birds, the words still legible on the singed letters spilled from a leather bag, the balletic grace of a body flying through the air, trailing blood like an afterthought, in a perfect summer afternoon.
They will know she was twenty-nine; that the day before, she had written a soppy love letter to her husband;
That she hadn’t seen her two sons for a week; that she woke up light-headed that day, believing
Against all evidence that things might just work out this time.
And I like to imagine that just before the shrapnel hit she stopped with her hand on a doorknob, balancing on one foot, thinking she had just heard
The beginning of a song.