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Elaine Tibbatts

 

Today in English, my teacher said “words can have more than one meaning, depending on their context”.

16-year-old online Harrovian, Aditi Banerjee, has had her poem, Homonyms, published as part of National Poetry Day.

Featured by Ink Sweat and Tears, Homonyms is centred around the National Poetry Day theme of choice.

National Poetry Day aims to start conversations and encourage a love of language, and we are immensely proud of Aditi’s contribution to the artform’s most visible moment as it showcases the ways in which poetry adds value to society.

Beyond their academic work, we encourage Harrow School Online pupils to engage in a wide range of activities that develop character, foster friendships and promote leadership and personal fulfilment. Aditi is dedicated to inspiring societal change not only via the written word but as a spoken word artist on her YouTube channel: SaveOurWorld. She has performed on local stages, livestreams, nationally at ‘UK Youth Inspiring Hope Awards’ and at international events such as ‘Art and Conversation’.

In addition to this recognition, Aditi has also been listed as one of 85 commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year.

Run by The Poetry Society, the 23rd year of The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award received an amazing 14,408 poems from 6,775 young people. Entries were received from 109 countries from as far afield as Argentina, Egypt, Kenya, South Korea and the Seychelles, and every corner of the UK.

The Award finds, celebrates and supports the very best young poets from around the world and is firmly established as the leading competition for young poets aged between 11 and 17 years old. We couldn’t be prouder of Aditi and look forward to sharing her poem once it is published.

As part of her commitment to the Harrow School Online community, Aditi will me making regular contributions in the Online Harrovian and will feature in the Harrow School Creative Writing Anthology.

Aditi’s full poem Homonyms, can be found below. 

Homonyms

Today in English, my teacher said
“words can have more than one meaning,
depending on their context”.
This lesson sounded familiar.
Similar to learning how an object
can have more than one purpose,
relative to survival.

At 5, we learnt a lollipop
can be a sweet or a Trojan horse,
depending on the hand it occupies.
Age 10, a key can be a key or a weapon,
depending on the shadows
and how quickly they approach.
Headphones on a jog
can be a vehicle for music
or vehicle for easy capture,
depending on the time of day.
Most days, assume a compliment is bait.

I wonder if there is a name
for this survival manual.
If you can purchase it on Amazon,
with enough apologies
to be granted a discount voucher.
Smile politely and silently for free delivery.
If we can fit it in our pocket or our purse,
next to our pepper spray. 

Or, if it only exists through the generational tongues
of mothers warning daughters
of all that lurks between the cracks in the pavement,
and how sometimes danger
comes wrapped in a friendly grin.
Women warning us to watch where we’re going
and that it’s worth changing route
if it means we will make it home.
This is our morse code.

Every day, we go to war,
armed with a whispered battle cry
of survival tactics sung into a lullaby.
We recite the lyrics as though our life depends on it.
Our life depends on it.

When my teacher asked
for an example of a homonym,
I said “song”.
I said “sometimes a song is about music.
Other times every lyric is a guide, a map,
a means for surviving the walk home”.