In 2005, the Collins English Dictionary added (together with ‘chav’, ‘Asbo’ and ‘adultescent’) a neologism coined by noted wordsmith Sir Alex Ferguson: ‘squeaky-bum time’ was (and presumably still is) defined as ‘the tense final stages of a competition.’
With just four Poetry World Cup games remaining, we’re certainly into the tense final stages here. India and Laos go head to head today in perhaps the least predictable quarter-final: both countries have been impressive so far, but only one can make it through to the semis.
To ease the nerves, we’d like to offer up some extremely dubious lines of iambic tetrameter. Perhaps you’ll be able to spot the difference between the words we’ve stolen from Shakespeare and the words we’ve stolen from Sir Alex.
But soft, behold! Lo, where it comes!
‘Tis soon the time of squeaky bums.
So carpe diem! Strike now… You’re
About to lose to Singapore.
MEET THE POETS
India’s representative is Shikha Malaviya, the founder of The (Great) Indian Poetry Project. She also founded Monsoon Magazine, the first South Asian Literary Magazine on the web, and organised ‘100 Thousand Poets for Change — Bangalore’. Her first collection of poems, ‘Geography of Tongues’, was published in late 2013.
Bryan Thao Worra has previously represented Laos as a Cultural Olympian during the 2012 Poetry Parnassus, and was involved in the SatJaDham Lao Literary Project, promoting the work of Laotian and Hmong writers and artists. In addition to his poetry, he writes experimental fiction drawing on a variety of influences, including sci-fi and horror.
Although both countries have pulled in plenty of votes, India had to come through two very close matches to reach this stage, finishing 8 votes ahead of Nigeria and just 5 ahead of Indonesia. Laos, on the other hand, have notched up two relatively comfortable wins, beating Lebanon by 37 votes and Iran by 56. Surely this one will be tighter?
I turn my face with acute awareness not giving them even an eyelash
I give my phone unwanted attention
scanning numbers friends who don’t matter
I count down the traffic light 59-58-57 seconds then feign sleep
knuckles wrap against tinted glass…
~ Shikha Malaviya
Given a thousand nights,
Can you master even a single word?
Or a dream, a tool, a brain?
Open roads, discover ways,
Flow down a stream, slash at ignorance
With ink and a scrap of paper from a poet’s bag…
~ Bryan Thao Worra
RESULT: Laos won by 131 votes