Film and photograph only show
how it was. You’re seeing how it is,
now, this moment. A moody sunrise
bruising the nimbus above Hammerfest
to a nacreous flush that will never outlast
the next refresh. The very townsfolk
will miss it, unless they chance to look
now, right now. Can you catch his attention,
the man crossing the Torg, head down;
can you make him see one moment of sky
unlike all the others you and he
will walk under today, unlike the moment
passing in Padua, Jaipur, Tashkent,
that you don’t happen to be watching now?
by Sheenagh Pugh
from Long-Haul Travellers, Seren (2008)
Some of the journeys in this collection can be found on maps. But some travellers are journeying from one self to another, like those strange adventurers Murat Reis and Tristan Jones. Some, like Adwaitya the tortoise, have traversed time as well as space. Some travel in dreams. And the longest-haul travellers of all are the dead, like Josephine, whose memory returns to haunt our consciousness and remind us that not all places can be found in the atlas. (Sheenagh Pugh)
Elisions, displacements, journeys, dreams: this new collection of poems by Sheenagh Pugh has a pervasive, elegiac quality. Known for her intriguing narratives, many of these new poems work more by implication than explication. Typical is ‘The Unconversations’ which is a beautiful paean to the shorthand of private references used by a long-married couple. A longer poem, ‘Murat Reis’, chronicles the life of a man who was Dutch, Algerian, Christian, Muslim and many other things according to circumstance and his own whim. History provides vignettes such as ‘Victor’ which mourns the life of a young freed slave in Roman times, via the words and images carved on his gravestone. ‘Webcam Sonnets’ capture the subtle, sometimes poignant, sometimes sad, illusion of intimacy given by webcam contacts.
Sheenagh Pugh is a poet, critic, essayist, lecturer, and author of several works of fiction, non fiction and translation. The winner of many awards, including the Bridport Prize and the Forward Prize, she has published twelve individual collections of poetry, most recently The Movement of Bodies, which was a Poetry Book Society recommendation and also shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize.
Seren is an independent literary publisher, specialising in English-language writing from Wales. Our diverse and eclectic list has something to offer anyone with an interest in excellent writing. Our aim is not simply to reflect what is going on in the culture in which we publish, but to drive that culture forward, to engage with the world, and to bring Welsh literature, art and politics before a wider audience.
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