The Woolwich Epic – Rasheeda Page-Muir

Our blood pulsates through the veins of this old town,
history has seen us ravaged by fire and flood
some say this is what happens to places when they’re left to rot
but like empty bottles, there are some things that just can’t drown

our tale is one that splits at the mouth
competing tales of empire and migration
division and displacement
plantation and salvation

but I’ve always seen runways in the pavements
heartbeats in the gullies and gutters
possibility shine through the windows and the shutters

Storefronts and faces that life would seem strange without
The names of roads and places that make latent memories vivid somehow

These are the streets from which our after school memories were born
The memories from which our values and characters were formed
Laughter and connection
juxtaposed with arrests and insurrection
Fireworks and flames
On these streets, we played some of the most dangerous games
games that could have fundamentally reshaped our fate
Those that retitled us with names that we later found we could never escape
the souls of feet that pave the street with the gold
The tales of meek and mild and strong and bold

I’ve always loved how she would always watch and listen
And to our detriment, we didn’t do the same
So like the children we were, we always missed when she had something to say

Her alleyways were filled with stories
And her architecture abreast with histories unknown
And prior to her consideration as an opportunity zone
very few wanted to call her home
from her throne, she oversaw cooperatives and violence
Protest and silence
Riots and defiance

The kind of metaphors we could’ve utilised for our own guidance
So when she looked out to the horizon and the horizon looked back
She was able to remark at a reflection that didn’t cower under centuries of attack

Laid bare before her, was her own rise and fall
A history that grew and changed with the waves
at once a place of black dust, sewage and decay
to the heartbeat of empire, industry and military
a buzzing local economy hosting international stars
Rescinded to a wasteland that many would simply discard

But still, we remained held in her arms
The arms of a community, who would hold the hands of the most vulnerable when they were in need
Who didn’t possess the world but from what they did have, always gave a little piece
Youth workers giving their lives to redirect the likes of mine
Labouring overtime to make contributions that would have effects long after their own lifetime

Small business owners, constituting the fabric of our very constituency
Activists and revolutionaries standing up for the least of these, habitually
These are the coats of arms
the arsenal and the firepower
The gravitational pull directing our waves
The life that lives on long after the sealing of graves

Her history is woven throughout ever-changing storefronts
And curated in the internationalism of her food stalls
And whilst she is haunted by the death of her future and the destitution of her halls
She has never faltered in taking up the call
She may have overseen unbelievable change
But her spirit always remains



The Woolwich Epic poem was written by Rasheeda Page-Muir and inspired by conversations with local residents. These conversations were set up and facilitated by youth-led social enterprise RevolYOUtion.
Rasheeda Page-Muir is a 23-year-old poet, public speaker, writer and community organiser from South East London. After serving as a member of the UK Youth Parliament for 2 years at 17 years old, she founded the organisation RevolYOUtion London providing a platform for young people to discuss social and political issues whilst also supporting new youth organisations in the area. Rasheeda has spoken on the world-renowned TEDx stage twice, discussing the importance of rap music, feminism and masculinity within contemporary culture. In 2018 she won the SOAS Social Activist of the Year Award.

Rasheeda is on Twitter.

RevolYOUtion London is a social enterprise designed to facilitate debate within communities, run for young people, by young people - will be leading the way, reaching and and talking to people and communities.

RevolYOUtion London is on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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