In Praise of Aunts

I conjure Aunts, sly laughers,
Aunts not of the blood
but of the spirit; invite
from their cold cots for scones and tea
Aunts who could cheat
and fib for fun, playing Old Maid
in silent riot, keeping a card
up a knickerleg; Aunts who would never
hurt a child to do it good;

Aunts without men, good sports,
bachelor Aunts eternally retired
who liked dogs, who could whistle,
Aunts with pockets, pocketsful
of small timely treats,
and not wincing at stickiness
nor at blood as they strode
through the war, through the wards,
voluntary servant goddesses.

You women long at peace,
rooted in sycamore scrub
beneath St. Peter’s topsyturvy stones
without memorial: I will praise
your names, your dented hats and bulging shoes,
who pedalled across my dream
last night with shining spokes and hubs
and cracked halloos and glimpse of knees,
old children in your upright childless bones.

by M.R. Peacocke

from In Praise of Aunts (Peterloo, 2008)

M.R. (Meg) Peacocke’s poem “In Praise of Aunts”  is the title poem of her new collection (Peterloo, 2008).  Her previous volumes are: Marginal Land (Peterloo, 1988), Selves (Peterloo, 1995) and Speaking of the Dead (Peterloo, 2003).  All her volumes have received exceptionally favourable national review coverage.  Reviewing her first volume for London Magazine, Stephen Knight wrote “Like Larkin, Peacocke has that all-too-rare gift of knowing how to make a memorable poem”, and reviewing her second volume for Stand, John Lucas wrote of her “truly inventive elegance, wit, and immaculately-controlled feeling” and described Selves as “a gem of a collection”.  Her third collection received full-page coverage in Guardian Saturday Review. 

Meg Peacocke was born in 1930 and grew up in South Devon.  She read English at Oxford and after teaching, travelling, marriage and bringing up a family of four, a training in counselling and work in a children’s cancer unit she moved to a small hill farm in Cumbria where she still lives.

Peterloo Poets was founded by Harry Chambers, still the Publishing Director, in 1976. Its masthead is “poetry of quality by new or neglected poets”. Peterloo publishes between 8 and 10 volumes of poetry a year, runs an annual poetry competition – the 2008 competition will be the 24th – and, since 1999, an annual International Poetry Festival.

“From time to time it has seemed to me that the Peterloo Poets series is a haven of poetic sanity in a world of modish obfuscation.”
Michael Glover, British Book News