top of page

Ilisha Thiru Purcell



the poet

A poet from Newcastle upon Tyne, and one of three to be chosen for the inaugural Poets of Colour Incubator 2023-2024, Ilisha Thiru Purcell was previously a Young Creative Associate with New Writing North. She performed at the 2023 Newcastle Poetry Festival, and is part of the group Brown Girls Write. Ilisha's work has appeared in Butcher’s Dog and the Bi+ Lines Anthology, and she was shortlisted for Nine Arches Press' Primers: Volume Seven.

the poems

Coast |

00:00 / 00:51

                                    I stand before

                                    the north sea

                                    and think that 

                                    a coast | is a lie. 

                                    I look for the definitive |

                                    separating the sea

                                    from the shore, water

                                    from land, wet from dry.

                                    Where is the cartoon |

                                    you see in children’s books

                                    dividing the yellow 

                                    from the blue?

                                    I search for a |

                                    or a _ or even a ----

                                    telling us what is ours

                                    and theirs, 

                                    but all there is

                                    is negotiation 

                                    between the land

                                    and the sea.

                                    Haven’t you seen

                                    a chunk of cliff

                                    plunge into the sea

                                    toes pointed?

                                    Or how the water takes larger

                                    chunks out of the sand,

                                    ignoring the white |s

                                    on a map saying stay?


00:00 / 01:05

            My shadow strikes out from my body/ 

            as if I'm announcing that now is the time the time is now/    

            I have been kept in time and now I am the keeper of it/

            Meeting my own gaze/  

            I expand like the lungs of the city I rest my feet upon/     

            I smile a wry smile/

            a 'you can’t even imagine' smile/  

            A man on a child’s bike asked me where I got it from/ 

            this crescent of grapefruit flesh/  

            and I replied my mother/      

            My mum/

            who shines brightest in a sea of saris/

            who circles my thumb with her forefinger/     

            like a planet in orbit/

            My mum/      

            dressed in black, absorbing everything, is everything/     

            a river running to and from everything/     

            If these images could talk they would tell you/

            that there is more than one way to pray/     

            more than one way to bless a journey/

Dust to Dawn

00:00 / 00:37

            The last night I spent alone 

            I couldn’t remember ever seeing daylight

            and all that came from my mouth was dust. 

            This time I beat back the thoughts like dust 

            off a rug, sank into this new shade of alone.

            I found within myself a light. 

            Soon I will not need lamplight 

            to protect me from the parts of my mind that have collected dust, 

            I will be content and unafraid alone. 

            Only alone can I watch the dust of my past dance in dawn’s light.

Publishing credits

Coast |: Bi+ Lines – An Anthology of Contemporary 

  Bi+ Poets (Fourteen Poems)

Germination: Sanctuary – Brown Girls Write Anthology 

  (New Writing North)

Dust to Dawn: exclusive first publication by iamb

bottom of page