Ather Crossing tells the stories of an individual life, of a family, of the communities of Chapeltown and Harehills, and of crucial moments in the making of Leeds as a place where cultures meet. In poetry that sings from the page, Ather Crossing recreates places that have been swept away by time, like the house on 56 Cowper Street where Kadijah Ibrahiim's Jamaican grandmother captured her from time to time, where there was black pride and Victorian respectability, where there were aunts who gave the young girl a cultural education, where her grandfather entertained his friends in the sanctum of the West Indian front room - and where there was a forbidden attic whose religious significance only became clear long afterwards. Or there was her mother's house on Gathorne Mount, a place that moved to the looser beat of reggae, where there was strict discipline, love, good food - and blues parties in the cellar. The poems tell of the days when youths were excluded from school for growing their locks, of the bonfire night riots, police harassment and overt racism. But they were also the days when black people in Leeds were creating their own culture in music, dance, dress - shaped by influences from the Caribbean, from Black American music, and from British punk, into something unique. In rhythms that draw from the music being celebrated, with an unerring eye for the details of style that catch a moment, Ather Crossing both recreates the recent past, and uses that recreation to ask questions about the present. Where has that political fire gone? Where the energies that danced to a political beat? But if there are tes of regret for a lost clarity of vision, there is also celebration of times that continue to inspire.
Khadijah Ibrahiim was born in Leeds of Jamaican parentage. Hailed as one of Yorkshire's most prolific poets by BBC Radio, she has appeared alongside the likes of Linton Kwesi Johnson, Lemn Sissay and Benjamin Zephaniah. She is a literary activist, researcher, educator and Artistic director of Leeds Young Authors. Educated at the University of Leeds, she has a BA Honours in Arabic and Middle Eastern studies and a MA in Theatre Studies. In 2013 she was amongst several poets invited to Buckingham palace, where the Queen and Duke honoured the work of Contemporary British poetry. Her writing has been supported through Inscribe, a national writer development project housed at Peepal Tree Press.