Ben Fagan is a spoken word poet and producer from Te Matau-a-Maui / Hawke's Bay, and has shared his work across the UK, USA and NZ. Ben has taken two poetry shows to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and until recently was a producer for Apples and Snakes, the UK's leading spoken word poetry organisation. He is a TEDx performer and organiser, and recently ran Hawke's Bay's first regional poetry slam.
Ben is part of the team behind the annual New Zealand Poetry Slam and Poetry in Motion Wellington. His first poetry collection 'Some Traveller' was published by Burning Eye Books' imprint Bx3 in 2017. In 2018 he co-founded Motif Poetry, a kiwi production company.
A5 - Up in Smoke
Every colony knows the worst of its motherland. From far away our families look back at the island of coins, the giant with friendly shoulders and dark past. Kids sit at the back of the bus with 50c, slowly scratching progress into the glass, afraid of the cracks but scratching anyway. We know the power of small change.
Building a fire is like climbing a mountain, she told me,
looking down in boots and blazer.
You gather the things you need, to the best of your ability.
Begin at the base and take meaningful steps,
the warmth comes slowly as you ascend.
She taught me mountains are built in ink, sketched and planned.
With a finger she underlined the skyline with a red zigzag.
If you compare a student to clay, it is sweet and hopeful.
If you compare a student to a brick, it’s insulting.
The only difference is heat.
By the end of the day she has built a bridge of me
and has enough left over for a brazier on the other side. Now that's planning.
Suddenly, always, the sun is setting and we don’t get a chance to write poetry,
instead we sit side by side and stack single lines like kindling,
fan the flames until we are glowing outlines of ourselves.
She is the best of the city. Barely noticing the paths are burning.
Finding the summit against all odds.