Read the poem about a foster family that won the National Poetry Slam

Unorthodox Beginnings is an uplifting poem by rapper-poet Solomon OB about his foster family. In 2016, his performance of the poem at the Royal Albert Hall won him the title of National Poetry Slam Champion.  The poem also features in Welcome to Fostering: A Guide to Becoming and Being a Foster Carer.

She graces stages

West End bound, best friend found in a sibling who

chauffeured her halfway to crazy when we were younger

My sister


She called me baby

As soon as I arrived through those airport doors, she

came charging, screaming, she hugged me with a force

you would expect from a lady who had not seen me

since 10 years before

My mother


He held down swaying relationships at home, light

anchors gripped to sea beds

He sped from Brighton to Bristol and back via London

Picked me up when I was man down behind the enemy

lines of my mind

Before I self-destructed

My brother


He sits across Christmas dinner tables from me and I

wear his family name with pride

And with rose red eyes he told me:

‘I love your mother now more than the day we got


50 years together a testament to the strength they’re both


My foster mother

My foster father


And yes, he calls my foster mother my mother but with

no intent to disrespect my mother

I mean what else would you call your lover?

The woman who raised these kids, bathed these kids,

takes them in like her own

Told them everything will be OK, told them they could be

anything they wanted to be one day


What would you call her?

Saint? angel? magician for making ends meet when others

may not have been able?

Many names from which to choose but I guess on this

occasion mother will do

So yes we are fostered

And when I say this the lines on people’s faces crumble up

like discarded pages of paper laden with mistakes

But we are not mistakes on pages

We are simply awesome novels

With unorthodox beginnings


We are not mistakes on pages

We are simply a crooked introduction straightened out by

proofreaders Pat and Vic

Whose love and guidance set the foundations for straight

lines for us to write the rest of our story on

No we are not mistakes on pages

So this Christmas past I took your last name as a present

to you to show you now that I can give and take


Victor Roy, Patricia Anne Brooker

I love you.


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