Poetry Spotlight: ‘Ablutions’ by Nadia Saward

Written by Nadia, KCL English Literature alumna

The Creative Writing Poetry module at King’s offered me an essential introduction to the poetic tradition, in addition to learning about the diverse new voices and approaches in poetry today. Under the tutelage of the inimitable Ruth Padel and Declan Ryan I was able to experiment with new ways of writing, drafting poems that pushed me out of my comfort zone.

Declan’s guidance and brilliant critiques helped me to hone my voice and led me to apply for the MA in Creative Writing Poetry at Royal Holloway where I graduated with a Distinction. Since graduating I have won second prize in the Earlyworks Press poetry competition, third prize in the Brian Dempsey Memorial competition and have been shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize. After working in editorial for Macmillan Children’s Books I am now an Editorial Assistant for Science Fiction and Fantasy publisher Orbit. I am currently working on my first collection, Ablutions, and writing a middle grade fantasy novel.



I sat with her body until morning.

The blueblack cold mimicked

her blueblack skin.

I chafed her feet with lemon-scented lotion.

The corridors were quiet, a stillness only found early

on Sunday mornings, holy and soft.

The women will come, their white headscarves,

and we will wash her body.

Earlier, I left my place beside her,

the gravel bit the soles of my feet.

I tried to pray…

I closed my eyes and thought of water

and you God, and the sea.

A nearby pond, swarming with koi,

stared like her swollen eye.

I sat as they washed her. I couldn’t help.

They scrubbed her away with damp flannel towels

until she became a small, blessed, infinite thing.


Read More:

If you enjoyed this post, check out more poems by the English Department at King’s on their poetry website, Wild Court.

If you want to find out more information on the English BA at King’s, click here.

1 Comment

  1. That poem “ Ablutions” is a heart stopper in its simplilcity, plain language,
    It is an emotional journey for us the readers and the writers loss
    Did ms saward publish any more ??

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