Muriel

We are sorting her chest of drawers—
This for me, This for you, This was so much hers—
‘I’ll never have a friend like that again.’
We are meeting the jaunty lawyer
And signing his forms and discussing the weather.
‘I’ll never have a friend like that again.’

She used to play cards at this table,
Now it’s covered with cake-crumbs after the funeral.
‘I’ll never have a friend like that again.’
We wash cups in the broken sink
And it’s time to go and she rings me. ‘I think
I’ll never have a friend like that again.’

And now it’s winter and snow,
She’s no light, she’s no heat, she is ill, did I know
She’ll never have a friend like that again?
She spent Christmas with cousins, she died there.
I cannot remember her face, but I hear
‘I’ll never have a friend like that again.’

by Ruth Silcock

from Biographies etc.
Anvil, 2006
Copyright © Ruth Silcock 2006

This is from Ruth Silcock’s third collection. She brings a sharp yet compassionate eye for the oddities of human behaviour to her poems about the extraordinary lives and deaths of ‘ordinary’ people: children, senior citizens in residential homes, doctors, orphans, nurses, grannies, social workers at a dance. A lifetime’s accumulated wisdom, and the experience gained during her career as a social worker, enrich these cheerful poems that frequently address uncheerful subjects such as ageing and death.

Born in Manchester in 1926, Ruth Silcock studied at Girton College, Cambridge before devoting herself to social work. She has written several children’s books. Anvil has published her previous collections, Mrs. Carmichael (1987) and A Wonderful View of the Sea (1996).

Anvil Press Poetry was founded in 1968 and publishes English-language poetry and poetry in translation, both classic and modern.

Female Nude, circa 1916

North of the Somme, the birds stop
Singing, sensing silence is the anthem
Fit for no-man’s-land, for foetal
Bodies drowned in mud, draped
Like weekend washing across lines
Of viper wire.  Spent shells

Nest in craters, nothing blue
And speckled waiting for a tapping break
But everywhere the litter of limbs
And bayonets red with stranger’s blood.
In frontline trenches, lovesick
Soldiers pencil notes as time

Ticks towards the whistles
For over-the-top commands, about
The time a police commissioner
On the Rue Taitbout is
Tearing down Modigliani nudes,
Affronted by full frontal pubic hair.

by Tim Cunningham

from Unequal Thirds (Peterloo, 2006)

Tim Cunningham’s poem “Female Nude, circa 1916” comes from his second collection Unequal Thirds (Peterloo, 2006).  His first collection was Don Marcelino’s Daughter (Peterloo, 2001) which was favourably reviewed in the TLS by Peter Reading.  Adrian Mitchell has written “Tim Cunningham’s poems are as various and fascinating as the animals in Noah’s Ark.  He has a most musical ear, a keen eye and an open heart.”  Tim Cunningham was born in Limerick in 1942 and has lived in Limerick, Tipperary, Dublin, the U.S.A. and London.  At present he lives in Billericay.

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

(Untitled)

When the sun’s rays appeared
that day
in my head they shook up
the seasons, all four
and I found the way, my love
in the midst of May
into your arms once more.

We had taken the same train
to the same station
but I don’t know why
today it’s from behind the window
that I see you pass by.

Your train winds, unwinds
infernally
will you ever stop one day
to stand on the same side
                                              as me?

by Rachida Madani

From: The Other Half of History: Francophone African Women’s Poetry.
Edited by Georgina Collins.

Rachida Madani was born in Tangiers, Morocco in 1951 and still lives there today. After working as a teacher for thirty years, she decided to dedicate her time to writing. Rachida has published several collections of poetry, including Blessures au Vent and a novel entitled L’Histoire Peut Attendre.

Georgina Collins is a PhD researcher at Warwick University, focusing on francophone African women’s poetry. Prior to a career in global marketing, she travelled the world as a journalist with BFBS Forces radio.

The Heaventree Press is an independent poetry press based in Coventry. For more information on Heaventree and to buy The Other Half of History: Francophone African Women’s Poetry, please visit the Heaventree Press website.

Lieserl Einstein

That summer waiting to hear about my GCSEs
I worked in an ice-cream kiosk on the beachfront
and met a boy expecting to study maths in London
who had a way of putting Mr Whippy in cones,
and away from the children dripping lollies along
the promenade, I let his fingers do sums on my skin.

Come September I was counting back the weeks,
trying to predict when the multiplication we had been
working on would be noticed, and I could understand
what my new physics teacher meant about the cat
in the box that’s just been poisoned which you can’t
be sure is dead until you lift the lid and take a look.

Throughout October there was morning sickness and
the cat was running around the house to the screams
of my mother, who called me a slut loud enough
for Mrs Evans and her hard hearing, while my father,
too stunned to remind his wife about the neighbours,
tore up my postcard of Saint Paul’s Cathedral.

Now it’s September again and I’m back at my desk,
my mother at home with her own second chance,
another summer gone, a new law of motion learnt,
comparing hair and eyes, the way we sometimes cry,
and the boy from the kiosk comes home when he can
and demonstrates that he also has a way with bottles.

Tonight, when you finally slept, I read about Einstein
and how even he with his head for figures could make
the classic miscalculation and get his girlfriend pregnant;
but they gave their daughter away, a wrong answer.
We will work this out. You are simply someone new
among our number that we need to take account of.

by Lorraine Mariner

from I am twenty people!: A Third Anthology from The Poetry School, edited by Mimi Khalvati & Stephen Knight (2007)

The third of an ongoing series of anthologies, I am twenty people! celebrates The Poetry School’s tenth anniversary in style. Adventurous, unorthodox, playfully serious and seriously playful, these new poets explore their different worlds with confidence and panache. Nothing, it seems, is off limits, neither political engagement nor experimental audacity. From the intimate lyric to the historical narrative, the poetry gathered in I am twenty people! is more than simply a promise of future achievement.  Offering, from each of its twenty poets, selections from a mature body of work that will surely lead to outstanding first collections, here is an anthology that stands in its own right as a hallmark of the best of new writing in Britain today.

ALICE ALLEN · LINDA BLACK · JEMMA BORG  · CAROLE BROMLEY · CLAIRE CROWTHER · PATRICK EARLY · LUCY HAMILTON · LOUISA HOOPER · VALERIE JOSEPHS · JENNY LEWIS · MARY MACRAE · LORRAINE MARINER · BARBARA MARSH · KAREN MCCARTHY · DAVID PENN · DERRICK PORTER · SHAZEA QURAISHI · KATHRYN SIMMONDS · SARADHA SOOBRAYEN · KAY SYRAD

Founded in 1967, Enitharmon Press publishes fine quality literary editions. While specialising in poetry, we also publish fiction, essays, memoirs, translations, and an extensive list of artists’ books.