Poet’s Flip riff

A surprising and delightful “first” for me down in London this week when I witnessed the performance of a poem inspired by Flip. The poem was one of four specially commissioned as part of the launch event for Undercover Reads, Walker Books’ new teen and young-adult website, and which scored a notable hit with the audience of teenagers and folk from the world of YA publishing.
Picking up on the novel’s theme of identity, the talented young writer Dean Atta produced an outstanding poetic interpretation of Flip.

Click here for a link to the audio of Dean reading the poem, courtesy of The Guardian online.

And here’s the text of the poem:

Shadow Boxer by Dean Atta

Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself,
everyone else is taken”
but if I found your life vacant,
I might take it
because I believe
I would make the better you.

But who’s to tell?

Who was the better Batman,
better Bond or Doctor Who?

Like you’re Smallville
and I’m Superman 2;
the prequel to my sequel,
my not quite déjà vu.

I walk in scuffed shoes
that are new to you,
speak in tired clichés
that are news to you.

I look at my reflection
and I see you,
an instant vintage kind of guy,
a J Dilla kind of blue note
revisited – with new hope.

Yours is a heart that’s only just broke,
a mouth that only speaks the truth.

After the gold rush of your youth
will come a time to harvest dreams
but you journey through the past
trying to make each moment last.

Your poems
we all know,
even though
none of us
were there
to see the girl
with a lamppost for hair.

Time fades away
but your visions of love
are here to stay.

If I woke up wearing your t shirt
would I feel the same way?

Would I miss my own four letters
or embrace your name?

Would I know the names
of more super heroes?

Would I know more about
70’s West Coast Folk or
80’s and 90’s Hip Hop?

Would my talent grow?

Would my confidence drop?

If I could see through your eyes
maybe I would know why
you could not walk away
from the games she played.

‘cause when your shadow boxes back
you can’t bob and weave that for long.

When you’ve shared a bed with kryptonite
no wonder you feel weak at night,
wear a costume and pretend it’s alright;
the joker dressed up as the dark knight.

The spy with no mission,
just sharp suits and women,
drinking scotch on the rocks,
looking suave with no money
and no clue
of just how awesome you are.

I look at my reflection
and I see you
standing there, next to me,
and it’s the perfect view.

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