Safe Metamorphosis (2nd edition)

Otis Mensah

Theo Inglis (Design) TJ International (Printer)




ISBN: 9781913513023


Publication date: 15 June 2020



Safe Metamorphosis is the debut poetry collection from Hip-Hop artist and spoken word poet Otis Mensah, Sheffield’s first Poet Laureate.

Mensah’s work challenges dominant modes of masculinity, and disrupts the elitism of poetry through its accessible, honest, raw and intimate language and rhythms. Free from the constraints of convention, Mensah writes in his own, unique voice, layered with rhythm and surreal imagery, unified by its fearless commitment to emotional honesty and its openness about the power and cost of creativity.

Safe Metamorphosis explores the transformations experienced in everyday life and the unspoken traumas caused by the uprooting of self as we are thrusted from one identity-building state to another. The trauma of leaving school, ‘growing up’, the demise of a romantic relationship, the loss of faith in a purpose: common, formative experiences too often dismissed. The poems in explore metamorphoses at different points of our journey into adulthood, addressing the ways in which the associated upheaval of change and lost identity alters our sense of self and relationships with others.

For Mensah, poetry and Hip-Hop are a stimulus for philosophical reflection and introspection, and the poems in Safe Metamorphosis welcome us into the imaginative and highly observant mind of an artist committed to the healing and unifying power of communication.

‘Mensah’s voice orbits the poetics of hip-hop and spoken word, moving through modes of story-telling, social commentary, reflection and meditation. In the poem ‘Daydream’ he writes “Our dreams are worth much more than the attention we pay them.” Here we find the beginnings of an urgent and dynamic new writer who brings to the page an innovative and acute sense of self, along with the wider world he embodies.’ – Anthony Anaxagorou

‘Emerging from outside of the London echo-chamber, Otis Mensah’s work has an old soul, but feels fresher than anything I’ve read this year. Complex and conscious yet accessible, it stands on the shoulders of all your favourite multi-syllabic emcees and vigorous poets from the last thirty years.’ – Johny Pitts, author of Afropean 

‘Otis represents all that is great about Sheffield, he’s dynamic, skilful and radical.’ – Magid Magid, former Lord Mayor of Sheffield

Otis Mensah (recipient of a Jerwood Arts Live Work Fund & Arts Council England’s Developing Your Creative Practice grant) is a writer and musician exploring the intersection of poetry and experimental music(s). Taking influence from the rhythmic and expressive freedom of Jazz, Otis’s work uses aesthetic language as an instrument to solo through themes of identity and existence. Since being appointed Sheffield’s first Poet Laureate in 2018, Otis has shared stages with the likes of Moor Mother, Benjamin Zephaniah and Little Simz.