Welcome to birmingham.gov.uk

Welcome to birmingham.gov.uk

We like heroes here

Part two

I often bumped into the poet Roi Kwabena - a former Birmingham poet laureate - and in 2009 I recall him quite often with a smile as I walk along New Street, like he used to.

Roi Kwabena

Two hundred years on

my heroes walk the firm streets of Birminghum,

the soft arteries of memory dance

in summer shoes,

in poetry, in these stories we tell,

retell and spell out

shout out and celebrate like the loud, joyous peel of bells -

from Saint Martins sing song, bell chambered heart of the city.

Far from water and salty, brave adventure of Nelson’s fleet

I recall, Roi Kwabena

A hero from over the water -

from Trinidad to Birminghum

he came singing,

always singing his way out of central library

“Peace and love my brother,”

“Peace and love my sister”

The obeah man, a griot

I tell you

I tell you so

He sang


How he sang!

My hero.

I loved to know him and

hear him, at home in Birminghum.

The Caribbean sang and blew through him

His Brer rabbit friends, delighted the children

That sat and shared time, and stories, with him

In my faulty memory

In Waterstone’s, in the library,

I remember my brer Roi Kwabena


An awkward English, half Irishman,

I remember Roi and salute him

With my little rhythm,

My little line,

And my own sense of time

well spent with him.

© Adrian Johnson