Selina Nwulu

Selina Nwulu is a writer, poet and essayist of Nigerian heritage who is based in London.

She has written for a number of outlets such as the Guardian, New Humanist and Red Pepper and has toured her work nationally and internationally. She has also been featured in Vogue, ES Magazine, i-D and Blavity amongst others.

She was Young Poet Laureate for London 2015-6, a prestigious award that recognizes talent and potential in the capital. Her first chapbook collection, The Secrets I Let Slip, was published in 2015 by Burning Eye Books and is a Poetry Book Society recommendation.

From 2017- 2018, she was ‘Writer and Creator in Residence’ at the Free Word centre and Wellcome Trust, looking creatively at food and how it connects to our health and matters of social and environmental justice. She is currently working with Somerset House on a project around loneliness and climate change.

Too Much

“I’m tired of complaining about not getting book[ed] as a black model and I’m definitely super tired of apologizing for my blackness!… Why can’t we be part of fashion fully and equally?” – Nykhor Paul

We’re not hiring any black girls this season too much sass. bad attitude. jezebel. ink blot. too much chunk. ratchet. coming for you. too much They just don’t have the right aesthetic. too much spice. thick lip. nappy knot. ink blot. baartman bounce. suffocating you. too much. We’re following what sells. too much temptress. jungle fever bite. secret crotch creep. silent shudder. wet. too much bruise. an ink blot spoiling the clothes. too much. We’re going for a very specific look. too much choke. rage. hip jut. grit. overspill. cheap sell. spoiling the clothes. an ink blot spoiling the clothes. too much European. These girls tend to have fewer curves. Keep it Simple Keep it Straight Whip Straight Flowing Keep it Clean Uniform Pure Keep it Clear Understood Keep it Chic Keep it Current Keep it Perfect Keep it Now. Keep it.

Half written love letter

I often imagine my parents came here
after hearing the sea of the British isles
as if they put their ears to its shell
and the waves threw themselves tipsy
against conch, willing them to come over.

Then there were the things
we understood without words;

how sun in these parts is a slow swell,
the coastal path walks of Dundee,
graffiti hieroglyphics, damp shoes
against Sheffield cobbles and
the tastebud clench of a tart apple.

We learnt this country fiercely
my father felt its knuckles crush his jaw
my mother delivered its children
I have been kissed deeply by its tongue
it has licked Yorkshire on my vowels, left me
with the blushed cheeks of a first crush.
I am a half written love letter
it does not know where to send.

So when go home becomes
a neighbourhood war cry, we understand
we are not what you wanted, have been
clean written out of your folklores.
But we have built here, loved here, died here,
already wear the heartache of leaving.
When we go home we go back reeking of you.

Unspeakable things

The physio has stopped asking me

how I am. My pithy platitudes only

make mockery of the chaos

she has found raw in my body.

Every week she finds new ways

to massage unspeakable things

out of my frame. The whiplash of,

You’re so angry! a crick in my neck,

the thud of another black death, a shawl

of lead knots weighing on my posture,

where his love should have been, a walnut

fused between the crests of my shoulders.

His last breath continues to crack

in the physio’s hands at the base of my spine,

vertebrae clinging onto its memory

she keeps coming back to its vibration.

Each session feels like a marathon.

Though it is hard to name exactly

what I am running from, the floor

shimmers from sinews of grief.

I lie breathless, cold body

on a slab under forensic light

too afraid to move.