Emily Andersen


Emily Andersen is an Australian poet living in London, whose work is inspired by pop music, politics and place.

Emily was mentored by the late, celebrated Australian poet Dorothy Porter between 2004 and 2005, and made her Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut in 2012 with her one-woman spoken word show Love in the Key of Britpop. She has performed her poetry on the BBC 6 Music breakfast show, as well as at festivals and spoken word events in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Email: emily@emilyandersen.ink

Website: www.emilyandersen.ink

Twitter: @emmygrrl

View as PDF: Emily Andersen - Poetry

Love in the Key of Britpop [an extract] 

When we met


I was on another planet,

you were an alien,

and our twenty-fourth exchanged word was a kiss.


My earth was a sticky Melbourne disco floor.

The new year’s moon might as well have been the sun,

the fans were doing nothing,

and my feet were trying to carry me home.


Then you turned up.


To this day, my drink-cloudy brain

remembers only fragments of the words

falling out against the indie notes.

But you, my belated midnight kiss,

came complete with a southern British accent,

three lions on a football shirt,

and the requisite floppy hair;


I couldn’t have written your character better.


When I go swimming in that moment,

blissful chaos, bar-room passion,

I can’t make out the song that’s backing us

but I like to imagine it’s Jarvis

crooning for lives changed in a day.


This is our Disco 2006,

our pop anecdote swapping and UK anthem bopping

making a lie of anyone that tells you that Britpop is nearly a decade dead.


Hours of shout-in-ear, alcoholic dancing later,

kisses sprawling from beer tap to DJ booth,

we’ve got ourselves a soundtrack

for the start of



You wish me a happy new year and

in the darkest nightclub corners,

sequined lights across your face,


I am ready to rip up every calendar

I’ve ever known.





There are things you can get away with

in the long days of a Melbourne January

that colder and later months won’t allow.

Like fusing yourself to a wide-eyed Brit

on a tourist visa

who’s only three weeks off the boat.

Deciding, after the third beer,

that from now on your fates bleed together.

A second date has never felt more like a twenty-second.


I buy you famous Carlton coffee

and walk you to Brunswick St, scenester paradise,

where every pub window opens out to balmy possibility.

I am going to leave my car in the city,

say, “take it,” to the opportunists trying handles,

and drink this night away with you.


We buy pints to lubricate lips while we clutch for our similarities.

I buy chips and you buy crisps

and we talk about our families.

You speak of your mother with the most tender-heart words

and you’ve been taught by only sisters, as the best boys are.


Our taste is compatible, that is no quandary;

We share a favourite film and of course it’s a Gondry.

We worship the Beatles and much of the music made in their thrall,

though you are pro-John and I am, controversially, pro-Paul.

And we meander for hours around the Britpop canon,

and debate whether the later works of Supergrass are in or out,

and like me, you were at first with Oasis, when we were young and brash

and too impatient to get the creep-up genius of Blur.


And I try to be gentle when I blunder a question about the scars on your arms.

Unfazed, you tell me of never-ending nights in the emergency room

where they’d stitch you up

with impatient sighs and not-again eyes.

And you tell me with such vulnerability to kiss better

but such strength to hold hands to

that I so badly want to go back in time and make everything okay

for the 19-year-old wayward rockstar you.


And when the unthinkable happens,

and some charlatan who peddled endless beers only hours earlier

calls last drinks at the Royal Derby,

there is no bed for us,

just the Carlton Gardens.


Entwined on grit and gravel,

fingers sieving useless bark as we enmesh,

my only excuses being

it’s summer

and I am well past smitten.


Anglophile me is downing pints with glee

in the function room of a Surrey pub

and this “Oh my god, you got married!” party is for us.


Scotch eggs and vol-au-vants are spiked with paper Union flags

and street party bunting hangs off every beam around the gaff

and it’s all so tender-heartedly naff.


Your working class uncles are getting raucous in time to Come on Eileen.

There are nieces and nephews getting tired and suddenly I’m an aunty.

And my new mother-in-law is perfect,

acts young, acts wise, is kind;

I only just know my new family

but I’m itching to know them more.


And I’m trying so hard to look and act like a girl

worth throwing all your caution off the M25 to move across the world for.


Your closest friends’ eyes are still shining with surprise

even though it’s been three months since you told them.

Your boys with their collars up are just, “‘avin’ a larf”

and I’m so happy

I’m prepared to write their ‘jokes’ off as good-natured misogyny.


I’m the only Australian in the room and I’m rising to the occasion.

Was all set to sip champagne

but I’ve been coerced into gulping lager by your mates

‘cos I’m an Aussie bird,

at least, I think that’s what they slurred.


I’m getting drunker than everyone because unlike these Brits that seem to live at the bar,

my liver has not been steadily tamed to a sozzled foie gras.

I tell all and sundry about my embarrassing and fraught love for their country

but these imperial, quaint invaders don’t seem to understand.


You, meanwhile, are stunning.

You mock up a groom speech and sandwich lovely words about me

between convict jokes;

You know your audience well.

And everyone approves of this new, sparkling, stable you

and my heart is testing out its increased capacity to elatedly swell.


And the DJ does what all good DJs do

to avoid dancefloor strife,

he plays Parklife,

and everyone starts swaying and singing as one

and they are

all the people, so many people,

and this is what I always wanted;



make sense

in England.


None of the

“Blur? Who? Blur? Oh, ‘Song 2’,”

I put up with at home

where the indie pop kids were outsiders at school.


And I used to cringe at twenty-firsts when drunk men embraced me,

only joined in wailing, “The last plane out of Sydney’s almost gone,” ironically,

but here I link arms and hearts unselfconsciously as

we all go hand in hand.


And I see why you make more sense in Melbourne.

Your jokes have a lefty edge that your friends don’t seem to get,

and they are content on the work-house-marriage-kids bent,

but you, a globe jump later,

know there are side-steps that probably couldn’t be described as sensible,

but, are



And dancing, laughing, smiling, I’m having illicit levels of fun,

and three of your best friends ask me,

“What have you done?

He has returned a different person.

Since he’s been back I haven’t once seen him frown

and his mum tells me his dosage is down.”


And I am referred to as your saviour,

And I say,

“Oh, but he

is mine.”


And it’s a dull sweet reminder that here live the things that helped cut up your arms.

Across the party, shirt sleeves rolled up, I can just make out your scars.

But this time around you seem able to sit with your ghosts.

Sad memories are not spirals and weights but

only ice your mind for moments.