Theophilus Kwek has published three collections of poetry, as well as a recent pamphlet, The First Five Storms (2017). He won the Martin Starkie Prize in 2014, the Jane Martin Prize in 2015, and the New Poets’ Prize in 2016, and was recently placed Second in the Stephen Spender Prize for Poetry in Translation, 2016. Having served as President of the Oxford University Poetry Society, he is the Co-Founder of The Kindling and a Co-Editor of Oxford Poetry.
Our two June poems by Theophilus Kwek borrow wisdom from the spirit of children for withstanding life’s unpredictable losses. “Fifty-One” paints a portrait of grief’s quiet monotony, which manifests as the morning spent “tending the fire in the urn downstairs” and resigning to chores. The poem’s contemplative, nostalgic tone echoes in “The Gamble,” which begins as a lively account of a children’s game before unfolding as a metaphor for “our longer hours… spent / In fruitless pursuit” and for “our hands’ imperfect work.”
— Eugenia Leigh, Poetry Editor