Black History Month: Week 2

This week, children at Angel Oak Academy have been studying the poem ‘A Portable Paradise’ by Roger Robinson.

Robinson is best known for writing poems about post-Windrush Britain. ‘A Portable Paradise’ explores the concept of Robinson’s own personal safe space and how he keeps it to himself – “that way they can’t steal it.” This could be a reference to the treatment experienced by some of the Windrush generation, which included threats of deportation by the British government.

Click here to listen to Roger Robinson recite the poem himself.


And if I speak of Paradise,
then I’m speaking of my grandmother
who told me to carry it always
on my person, concealed, so
no one else would know but me.
That way they can’t steal it, she’d say.

And if life puts you under pressure,
trace its ridges in your pocket,
smell its piney scent on your handkerchief,
hum its anthem under your breath.

And if your stresses are sustained and daily,
get yourself to an empty room – be it hotel,
hostel or hovel – find a lamp
and empty your paradise onto a desk:
your white sands, green hills and fresh fish.
Shine the lamp on it like the fresh hope
of morning, and keep staring at it till you sleep.

This week, pupils are encouraged to create their own poems describing their personal paradise!