Extraordinary Rendition

You gave me back your frown
and the most recent responsibility you’d shirked,
along with something of your renown
for having jumped from a cage before it jerked

to a standstill, your wild rampage
shot through with silver falderals,
the speed of that falling cage
and the staidness of our canyon walls.

You gave me back lake-skies,
pulley-glitches, gully-pitches, the reflected gleams
of two tin plates and mugs in the shack,

the echoes of love sighs
and love screams
our canyon walls had already given back.

by Paul Muldoon

A collaborative work with photographer Norman McBeath, Plan B is an evocative set of visually-inspired poems from Paul Muldoon. Born in Northern Ireland, Muldoon is a world-renowned poet and academic. These lines are extracted from ‘Extraordinary Rendition’, one of the poems in the book. They display Muldoon’s verbal dexterity and uncompromising tone, and convey a visceral yet understated power – an effect amplified by their juxtaposition with McBeath’s stunning photographs. You can find out more about the book here, and more about Muldoon on this page.

Enitharmon Press takes its name from a William Blake character who represents spiritual beauty and poetic inspiration. Founded in 1967 with an emphasis on independence and quality, Enitharmon has been associated with such figures as Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Kathleen Raine. Enitharmon also commissions internationally renowned collaborations between artists, including Gilbert & George, and poets, including Seamus Heaney, under the Enitharmon Editions imprint. Discover more about Enitharmon here.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.

babel 6

we don’t know the name of the plant
we want to know the name of the plant
carroty liquid streams out when we break
the stem; strange substance of meaning
I would dip my finger into
to draw my hieroglyphs on your forehead
but there is no credit in the phonemes that pour out of my mouth
shrivelled cherries half rotten papayas not worth purchasing
ok I find diphthongs embarrassing to say the way you do
lips need to be elastic slugs in the act of androgynous love
but look at these unusually shaped fruits I dare you to eat them
roll them in your sinuses and spit the pips drawing accents
on a vowel bearing öszibarack or málna; say it little by little
say it and then take a look at the tiny boy
who sits in silence on the stone floor
in the garden near a pot of flowers
reaches out for a handful of soil from time to time
to chew and then to swallow smiling with black teeth

by Agnes Lehoczky

© Agnes Lehoczky, 2008

Agnes Lehoczky was born in 1976 in Budapest. Her work has appeared in a number of online and print publications both in Hungary and in the UK. Budapest to Babel, published by Egg Box in October 2008, is her first collection in English. A second is due from Egg Box later this year.

‘babel 6’ is from a sequence of poems entitled ‘garden dialogues’, which appear in Budapest to Babel, a lively and rewarding collection about the difficulties and joys of language. Often poignant, always inventive, the book explores states of confusion and chaos, playfulness and delight, with a freshness of style and tone. Find out more about the book at this page, where you can also watch Agnes Lehoczky reading from her book at the Hungarian Cultural Centre in London last year.

Egg Box is a small, independent poetry publisher based in Norwich, run by poet Nathan Hamilton. It is rapidly establishing a strong reputation for its freshness of approach and keen eye for talented newcomers. Click here to visit Egg Box’s website.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.

80

Imagine a small state with a small population
let there be labor-saving tools
that aren’t used
let people consider death
and not move far
let there be boats and carts
but no reason to ride them
let there be armor and weapons
but no reason to employ them
let people return to the use of knots
and be satisfied with their food
and pleased with their clothing
and content with their homes
and happy with their customs
let there be another state so near
people hear its dogs and chickens
and live out their lives
without making a visit

by Lao-tzu, translated by Red Pine

Translation © Red Pine, 2009

Bill Porter assumes the pen name Red Pine for his translations. He was born in Los Angeles in 1943, grew up in the Idaho Panhandle, served a tour of duty in the U.S. Army, graduated from the University of California with a degree in anthropology, and attended graduate school at Columbia University. Uninspired by the prospect of an academic career, he dropped out of Columbia in 1972 and moved to a Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. After four years with the monks and nuns, he struck out on his own and eventually found work at English-language radio stations in Taiwan and Hong Kong, where he produced over a thousand programs about his travels in China. In 1993 he returned to America with his family and has lived ever since in Port Townsend, Washington.

Lao-tzu’s Taoteching, from which this poem comes (Copper Canyon Press, 2009), is an essential volume of world literature, and Red Pine’s nuanced and authoritative English translation is one of the bestselling English versions. This revised edition includes extensive commentary by Taoist scholars, adepts, poets, and recluses spanning more than 2,000 years. You can read two more selections from the book here, and learn more about Lao-tzu here.

Copper Canyon Press is a non-profit publisher that believes poetry is vital to language and living. For thirty-five years, the Press has fostered the work of emerging, established, and world-renowned poets for an expanding audience. To find out more about Copper Canyon and its publications, click here.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.

Severn Song

The Severn was brown and the Severn was blue –
not this-then-that, not either-or,
no mixture. Two things can be true.
The hills were clouds and the mist was a shore.

The Severn was water, the water was mud
whose eddies stood and did not fill,
the kind of water that’s thicker than blood.
The river was flowing, the flowing was still,

the tide-rip the sound of dry fluttering wings
with waves that did not break or fall.
We were two of the world’s small particular things.
We were old, we were young, we were no age at all,

for a moment not doing, nor coming undone –
words gained, words lost, till who’s to say
which was the father, which was the son,
a week, or fifty years, away.

But the water said earth and the water said sky.
We were everyone we’d ever been or would be,
every angle of light that says You, that says I,
and the sea was the river, the river the sea.

by Philip Gross

© Philip Gross, 2009.

This poem is from The Water Table, a new collection by Philip Gross. It was published by Bloodaxe Books in November 2009 and won the 2009 T.S. Eliot Prize.

A powerful and ambiguous body of water lies at the heart of these poems, with shoals and channels that change with the forty-foot tide. Even the name is fluid – from one shore, the Bristol Channel, from the other Môr Hafren, the Severn Sea.

Philip Gross’s meditations move with subtle steps between these shifting grounds and those of the man-made world, the ageing body and that ever-present mystery, the self. Admirers of his work know each new collection is a new stage; this one marks a crossing into a new questioning, new clarity and depth.

For more information about Philip Gross and to see a video of him reading from The Water Table, click here.

Founded in Newcastle in 1978, Bloodaxe Books is one of Britain’s leading independent poetry publishers. Internationally renowned for quality in literature and excellence in book design, its authors and books have won virtually every major literary award given to poetry. Details of all Bloodaxe’s publications, plus sample video and audio clips of poets reading their work, can be found here.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.