Learning Swedish (A Poem For Agnes Torok)

Hey Readers

This is my first feminist poem in a wee while . I write it in honour of one of my favourite poets on the spoken word scene the wonderful Agnes Torok. I do so not only because I admire Agnes as a writer, poet, and performer but also in the spirit of sisterhood, solidarity, and defiance.

The sisterhood and solidarity I give to Agnes as unconditionally as I do to any woman, the defiance however is not for Agnes it is a clear message to some of shall we say her less enlightened would be critics that poets will never be silenced and to issue death threats against a poet because she writes her truth is to declare war on culture and it’s a war you can’t win. For those who don’t know the work of Agnes Torok I say get to know it at the earliest opportunity you’ll see why I believe she is the most talented Swede since Henrik Larsson and coming from a Celtic fan that is a complement and a half. For obvious reasons I’ve given the poem the title Learning Swedish but this isn’t really a poem about Sweden or even Abba or Henrik it’s a poem about friendship and I hope you enjoy the read.

Learning Swedish

I’m learning Swedish one word at a time
in honour of a friend of mine
it is not for Abba , Borg or the spirit of 74
you have to understand even as a Celtic fan
it isn’t all about Larsson
it is Agnes who makes me smile
when I think of this Nordic nation
some might say that your early
are a bit young to be an inspiration to others
but they have not discovered
a thinker, a poet, a  feminist, and campaigner
who uses words to speak her truth to power
I would love to claim flower of Scotland
as her song
whilst wrapping her in Saltire blue
but that would be wrong
her view of the world was shaped
in another land with a liberal tradition
not the cold grey conservativism
which restricts my country
stops it from moving on
framing the past as the only future we will know
this poet talks of growth, happiness, and personal development
unwilling to stop at destination contentment
or  worse still end the journey at apathy
in a land where nobody cares
Agnes wears her principles
like badges of honour
this is a woman who will never
give in to despair
no matter how much the bullies
might say
this is a fighter they can’t just wish away
Agnes is strong it is in her DNA
her values are like mountains
they will stay with her
and people will say
it is good to be made of rocks not sand
you must understand for me as a Celtic fan
it isn’t all about Larsson
it is for Agnes a woman who is fighting her own personal revolution
she seeks solutions to problems
in Scotland Sweden and the world 
she wants fairness for women and girls
and if some try to silence her
It’s a risk she is prepared to take
she has art to make
there are rhymes waiting to be placed
in her latest poem
she lives to create
to give a voice to those society ignores
she has heard platitudes before
and rejects them as meaningless
daring to believe in a better human race
I get knowledge of her tongue from her Facebook page
as the internet offers language translation
I gain new skills
from this force of inspiration
I am proud to call a friend of mine
it is for her I am learning Swedish
one word at a time.

@ Gayle Smith 2016


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