Inspired by Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Isaiah Hull created this poem for inclusion in A Poetic Declaration, commissioned for the Ripples of Hope Festival at HOME in Manchester.

Isaiah Hull is a poet from Old Trafford, who started creating poetry with Manchester’s spoken word collective, Young Identity. Isaiah’s poem was inspired by Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which codifies the rights to marriage and family. Isaiah said: “Marriage and family are changing ideals in my life and I felt it important to explore for myself.”

The Ripples of Hope Festival at HOME in September was held by the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights UK charity.

Rights to Marriage and Family

Are we marriage
If when I look at you
I see progeny?

Future afro-pickney
Songs: I couldn’t sleep so
Nana used to sing me

Knowing she was marriage more than once but felt so multiplied in distances.
Not something I whispered with was matrimone-arithmetic.

I am not someone 
with accessories, but at 18:
me, Jason and Japhet became seasonal mallrats.

Inside myself something became bare skinned at once, hands.

We hunted for rings,
Eye hungry for gold band,
no carat value,
a strong wipe of Au across maroon bridge. 

I married myself divorce-proof.

Like stone for its calcium,
batwing for its alchemy,
ginger for its healing properties.

Are we marriage 
If when you wake me awake
You are all-dream and no flesh?

All I know is that:

A handshake is
A car crash is a marriage

A divorce is
A cinema ticket is
a marriage

A bully is
An earring is a marriage

An agreement made over the telephone in haste is
A time and date is
A curtain draped over chest plate is 
An unmasked face is
A keyhole 
A window is
A recorded message is
A cave is a marriage

A memoir removal is
A baby tooth is
A pillow is
A thief is a marriage

A pig is
999 is
in the middle of the night is
someone coming to help is
the thinning of ice is 
debt is
A graveyard is
Fossil fuel is
A petrol station is
white people is
a marriage
nimbus is
castrata is
alto sax on spinning wax is
A bomb scare is
a marriage
A water fountain is
A fire alarm is
a marriage

A spiralling pilot is
A parachute is
A missing person is
a marriage

A reversal of good fortune is
A circle on your awful is
A burden on all authored is
a marriage

W.O.L.F is a marriage

Internet is
winter is
viral is a marriage

North is
North North is
Pineal is
Light-headed is
Hair bounced floor is

Upside down is a marriage

Red light is a marriage
Diet is a marriage
Laughter is a marriage

Smoking is a marriage
Quitting is a marriage

Hiding is a marriage
Naked is a marriage
Porn is a marriage

Crip is a marriage
Family is a marriage
Mother is a marriage

Your eyes on this is
and isn’t is
a marriage

Are we or are we not a marriage?

Love
Isaiah Hull
Isaiah Hull

Isaiah Hull

Is a noir maker from Old Trafford.

His early years of poetry are founded in Young Identity, a pivotal combined-arts charity, which he joined in 2010.

His career has taken him across the UK, performing alongside Kae Tempest, Saul Williams, opening ahead of Skepta as well as working internationally with Shirley May.

As of recent years Isaiah was featured in i-D ‘Class of 2018’, published his debut poetry collection Nosebleeds (2018) as part of BBC’s Contains Strong Language, co-written and performed in MIF’s theatre production Alphabus (2019), which joined New York dance with poetry.

As well as readings at Afro Punk, Tate Lates & Poets and Players, his work explores and challenges the extremities of self with image, word and soul whether on the page or stage.


First published in A Poetic Declaration, September 2021

On Human Rights Day, 1O December, a Poetic Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created by school children from Greater Manchester, to view it – click here

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Featured image: Tate

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