Malcolm Administered

difficult     as in a black box in a dark bar     Malcolm
battles admin in the morning       unhappy rain sent
by data gods growing up bad business     their sick words

smudge Malcolm’s forearm misty in a solo     stagger him
till he fluffs his notes and stumbles in his lines
all he wishes     a sturdy bench at night in gardens

to sit and be like other people      lively and with ending
but something has happened somewhere        a hardy friend
may have swung a punch

Malcolm springs back     it must be stopped
made error     questing now      dark eyes
well darker in a violent light of thinking

by Nathan Hamilton

A reminder: Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre is on Facebook and on Twitter.

‘Malcolm Administered’ is copyright © Nathan Hamilton, 2011, and taken from the series ‘A Gang of Malcolms’, published by Egg Box.

Nathan Hamilton has had poetry and criticism published in The GuardianThe SpectatorThe Rialto, and The Manhattan Review. He co-edits the influential anthology series for emerging poetry, Stop Sharpening Your Knives, and will be compiling a new anthology of young poets for Bloodaxe. You can follow Nathan Hamilton at his blog.

Egg Box is a small independent poetry publisher based in Norwich. You can find out more about the publisher here.


Sand martins sea-stone black
gulls sea-foam white
you screech over the harbour
sweep over the churches
circle over the city walls
the breaking waves and me
birds city birds
what tales do you tell of Tallinn

You tell of
how the alarm bells were rung
how mothers ran with their children
when everywhere walls were in the way
and the Russian bombers kept coming and coming
from the east
when it was all burning screaming and crumbling
cracking and bursting

Even now I hear the weeping
this stony medieval beauty’s
this age-old city’s
black dresses rustling
I feel the wind
the soothing soft wind of the present
that makes feathers and sand fly

In the original Estonian:

Kaldapääsukesed merekivimustad
röövkajakad rannavahuvalged
kiljute sadama kohal
sööstate üle kirikute
tiirlete kohal linnamüüri
murdlainete ja minu
linnud linnalinnud
mida te pajatate Tallinnast

Räägite ju
kuidas siin hädakelli löödi
kuidas emad lastega jooksid
kui kõikjal olid müürid ees
ja Vene pommilennukid tulid ja tulid
ida poolt peale
kui kõik põles karjus ja varises
pragunes ja lõhkes

Kuulen praegu veel nuttu
selle kivise keskaegse kaunitari
iidvana linna
leinakleitide kahinat
tunnen tuult
vaigistavat pehmet olevikutuult
mis lennutab sulgi ja liiva

by Kristiina Ehin

A reminder: Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre is on Facebook and on Twitter.

This untitled poem, copyright © Kristiina Ehin, 2010, is taken from The Scent of Your Shadow, translated by Ilmar Lehtpere, and published in a bilingual edition by Arc Publications.

Notes courtesy of Arc:

Kristiina Ehin was born in Rapla, Estonia in 1977. She received an M.A. in Comparative and Estonian Folklore from Tartu University in 2004. She has published five volumes of poetry in her native Estonia and has won a number of prizes there, including Estonia’s most prestigious poetry prize for her fourth volume, written during a year spent as a nature reserve warden on an uninhabited island off Estonia’s north coast. She has also published a book of short stories and written a play. The Drums of Silence (Oleander Press, Cambridge, 2007), a volume of her selected poems in English translation, was awarded the Poetry Society’s Corneliu M. Popescu Prize for European Poetry in Translation in 2007.

The Scent of Your Shadow, from which this poem is taken, was the Poetry Book Society’s Recommended Translation for summer 2010, and features an introduction by the poet Sujata Bhatt. In her introduction, Bhatt describes Ehin as ‘a visionary poet with a discerning and distinctive voice, a voice resonant with genuine passion, close to the primordial world of spirits and myths, but also rooted in history and in contemporary life.’

You can read more selections from the book at this link, and find out more about Kristiina Ehin here.

Since it was founded in 1969, Arc has adhered to its fundamental principles – to introduce the best of new talent to a UK readership, including voices from overseas that would otherwise remain unheard in this country, and to remain at the cutting edge of contemporary poetry. Arc also has a music imprint, Arc Music, for the publication of books about music and musicians. You can find out more about Arc by joining them on Facebook or by visiting the publisher’s website, where there are discounts available on Arc books.

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.

Broken Dolls Day

June 3, Japan

The stitched would never
heal. Nor could the smallest finger

missing of a hand be glued to a pudgy
plastic palm. She lies on her back—bye-bye

It is over. Around her those of the lost
screws, stuck eyes, detached

wires, burnt hair, punctured torso;
brother work, dog work, left out

in the rain. Played out. Over the wood,
wax, plastic, porcelain, papier maché,

straw, leather, resin & cloth,
the four-foot hunchbacked monk

bows his ancient bald head.
O broken ones, we are

the careless world—forgive us
for we wore you as ourselves.

by Jeanne Marie Beaumont

‘Broken Dolls Day’ is taken from Burning of the Three Fires by Jeanne Marie Beaumont. Copyright © BOA Editions, Ltd., 2010. The poem is reprinted by permission of BOA Editions.

Notes courtesy of BOA Editions:

Jeanne Marie Beaumont earned her Master of Fine Arts degree from Columbia University. Her first book, Placebo Effects, was selected by William Matthews as a winner of the 1997 National Poetry Series and was published by W.W. Norton. With Claudia Carlson, she co-edited the anthology The Poets’ Grimm: Twentieth Century Poems from Grimm Fairy Tales (Story Line). For seven years she was publisher and co-editor of the literary magazine American Letters & Commentary. She has also worked as a proofreader, a medical editor, and an advertising copywriter. She has taught at Rutgers University and the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, and she currently directs the Frost Place Advanced Seminar and serves on the faculty for the Stonecoast low-residency MFA Program.

Burning of the Three Fires, from which ‘Broken Dolls Day’ comes, shows Jeanne Marie Beaumont using her characteristic variety of techniques: dramatic monologues, lists, prose poems, nonce forms, object poems, and ekphrasis, to which she has added an exploration of biography, elegy, and rites. Among its layered themes, this book takes a multifaceted look at womanhood: there are dolls, historic and modern girlhoods, mythic retellings of characters from Goldilocks to the Bride of Frankenstein, emotionally charged domestic trinkets, and even a conversation with Sylvia Plath conducted via an 8-Ball.

You can learn more about Jeanne Marie Beaumont from her website, and read and listen to her poems read by Garrison Keillor here (though you might have to download the free RealPlayer first).

BOA Editions, Ltd., a not-for-profit publisher of poetry and other literary works, fosters readership and appreciation of contemporary literature.  By identifying, cultivating, and publishing both new and established poets and selecting authors of unique literary talent, BOA brings high quality literature to the public.  Support for this effort comes from the sale of its publications, grant funding, and private donations.  To find out more about BOA Editions, 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.

Sunflower in the Sun

Do you see?
Do you see that sunflower in the sun?
You see, it didn’t bow its head
But turned its head back
As if to bite through
The rope around its neck
Held by the sun’s hands.

Do you see it?
Do you see that sunflower, raising its head
Glaring at the sun?
Its head almost eclipses the sun
Yet even when there is no sun
Its head still glows.

Do you see that sunflower?
You should get closer to it.
Get close and you’ll find
The soil beneath its feet
Each handful of soil
Would ooze with blood.

by Mang Ke

© Mang Ke. Translation © Jonathan Stalling and Yibing Huang.

This week’s poem is taken from Push Open the Window: Contemporary Poetry from China, forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in Summer/Fall 2011, and reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.

The anthology, Push Open the Window: Contemporary Poetry from China, is edited by Qingping Wang. The translation co-editors are Sylvia Li-chun Lin and Howard Goldblatt. You can learn more about the new anthology here.

Notes courtesy of Copper Canyon:

Mang Ke, whose real name is Jiang Shiwei, was born in 1950. He began writing poetry in the 1970s, when, with the poet Bei Dao, he launched the literary magazine Today. He has published half a dozen collections of poetry, including Worries, Sunflowers amid Sunbeams, Time without Time, and What Day Is It Today? He has also published one novel, Wild Things, and a volume of essays. His works have been translated into several foreign languages. He lives in Beijing.

Translators’ biographies

Jonathan Stalling is an Assistant Professor of English Literature at the University of Oklahoma, specializing in Transpacific poetry and poetics, and is the co-founder and Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Chinese Literature Today. Stalling is the author of Poetics of Emptiness (Fordham UP), Grotto Heaven (Chax Press) and the forthcoming books Yíngēlìshī 吟歌丽诗 (Chanted Songs, Beautiful Poetry): Sinophonic English Poetry and Poetics (Counterpath Press, 2011) and Winter Sun: The Poetry of Shi Zhi 1966–2007 (University of Oklahoma Press, 2011). He lives in Norman, Oklahoma with his wife and children.

Yibing Huang was born in Changde, Hunan, China and inherited Tujia ethnic minority blood from his mother. After receiving his Ph.D. in Chinese Literature from Beijing University, he moved to the U.S. in 1993. He holds a second Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Los Angeles. Under the penname Mai Mang, Huang’s poetry has been published in China since the 1980s. He is the author of two books of poetry: Stone Turtle: Poems 1987–2000 (2005) and Approaching Blindness (2005). He is also the author of Contemporary Chinese Literature: From the Cultural Revolution to the Future (2007), a book that presents case studies of the generation of Chinese writers which spent its formative years during the Cultural Revolution and focuses on their identity shift from “orphans of history” to “cultural bastards.” Huang is currently an Associate Professor of Chinese at Connecticut College.

Copper Canyon Press is a nonprofit publisher that believes poetry is vital to language and living. Since 1972, the Press has published poetry exclusively and has established an international reputation for its commitment to authors, editorial acumen, and dedication to the poetry audience. As the preeminent independent publisher of poetry, Copper Canyon Press fosters the work of emerging, established, and world-renowned poets for an expanding audience. Copper Canyon Press publishes new collections of poetry by both revered and emerging American poets, translations of classical and contemporary work from many of the world’s cultures, re-issues of out-of-print poetry classics, anthologies, and prose books about poetry. Click here to visit the Copper Canyon 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.