The Painter Surprised by a Naked Admirer, 2004-05

—as he damned well deserves to be
after all these ticky-tacky years
soiling and being soiled
leaded and unleaded, head heavy with Cremnitz
living the life of a prize smear
staying up half the night with rags . . .

What woman wouldn’t go down—
be bare on the bare floor
sniffing his oily woodwork
keeping his thighs company
checking their health, their tree-stump
strength and protean quality?

Gallantly he pits her presence
against the mess he’s made of wall
his fury of backdrop
their crib of a love nest
his gloriously free comic routine
and her bliss, there’s no mistaking it.

Every other woman can go jump.
And the gormless feminist men, too.
Brave the fire that’s in submission.
See how ignitable she is—
like that bundle of sticks on the stool.
Brushes, some say, but they’re ready to burn.

He’s even made a clearing in the room.
They could swing a dozen cats.
The wall, every stab and jet, ripples with mirth.
And what does he say about what
he’s been doing with faces lately?
Those not hers, the wild golden ones—

I’m thinking of Ria, a naked portrait
a face that’s pitted, ecstatically roughed—
an attack that could be viscous
as if he’d break each atom open.
Yes, he says, wait and it will settle
paint abides by Egyptian rules.

Meanwhile all naked admirers
will cling to what they must—
what’s oily, hot, conflagrations of riposte.

by Barry Hill

The Poetry Centre is on Facebook and on Twitter – join us there!

‘The Painter Surprised by a Naked Admirer, 2004-05’, is copyright © Barry Hill, 2012. It is reprinted by permission of Shearsman Books from Naked Clay: Drawing from Lucian Freud .

Notes from Shearsman:

Barry Hill was born in Melbourne in 1943, and completed his tertiary education in Melbourne and London, where he worked as an educational psychologist and a journalist.  He has been writing full time since 1975, living by the sea in Queenscliff, Victoria. He has won major national awards for poetry, history and the essay. Penguin and Faber have anthologized his short fiction, and stories have been translated into Chinese and Japanese. He has written many pieces for radio. His libretto, Love Strong as Death was performed at The Studio, at the Sydney Opera House in 2004. 

Broken Song: T G H Strehlow and Aboriginal Possession (Knopf, 2002), Hill’s magnum opus on Australian poetics, which won a National Biography Award and the 2004 Tasman-Pacific Bi-Centennial Prize for History, has been described as ‘one of the great Australian books’; it was reviewed in the TLS in 2003. His poetry has been published in the Kenyon Review, The Literary Review and Agenda, as well as the major literary magazines in Australia, including the annual anthologies, Best Australian Poems. In 2008 he won the prestigious Judith Wright Prize for his reflections on revolutionary romanticism, Necessity: Poems 1996-2006. Along with As We Draw Ourselves (2007) this book also includes his responses to living in Italy, and his Buddhist travels in India and East Asia. Lines for Birds (2011) is a collaboration with the painter, John Wolseley.

Naked Clay: Drawing from Lucian Freud, is Barry Hill’s ninth collection. Read more about the book on this page, and sample several more poems from it here (pdf). An article about Hill’s response to nakedness in Freud’s work and the writing of the book, including further poems, is available to read here.

Between 1998 and 2008 he was Poetry Editor of the national newspaper, The Australian and between 2005 and 2008 he was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Melbourne. He is currently the recipient of an Australia Council Fellowship, which enables him to spend time in Kyoto and Calcutta while writing a book called The Peace Pagoda, about the travels of Rabindranath Tagore in Japan.

Shearsman Books is a very active publisher of new poetry, mostly from Britain and the USA, but also with an active translation list. You can learn more about the publisher here, and find Shearsman on Facebook.

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.

The Midnight Hare

Gold-foot, loping, leaping to light,
twisting to the smile on the silent field,
flying to the drum of the full moon dance,
hops the hedge, legs spread loose,
lank, then taut, tight, sprightly
springs, flips to her form, then:

           Spellbound, sleek, almost
invisible, low on dark ground,
inscrutable hieroglyph of being, seeing
secrets deep behind honey eyes,
old as time, cold as stone,
alone with night, a million stars,

           Up again, snatched from dreams,
darting to the mewse, the Old Ways,
pitched like a soft stone, silhouetted
on rising silver, high over water,
low across earth, drawn to the down,
the husk hushed, then wild, moonstruck,
shadow boxing things unseen.

by Oz Hardwick

‘The Midnight Hare’ is copyright © Oz Hardwick, 2010. It is reprinted from The Illuminated Dreamer by permission of Oversteps Books.

Notes from Oversteps:

Oz Hardwick, a York-based writer, photographer, lecturer and musician, has published widely, including two previous collections. He also writes on art and literary history, and is Professor of English at Leeds Trinity University College. As Paul Hardwick, he has recently published an impressive book about English misericords, English Medieval Misericords: The Margins of Meaning (Boydell Press, 2011). You can read more about Oz Hardwick at this link, find out more about his music here, and read a further poem from The Illuminated Dreamer at this page.

Oversteps Books publishes some of the best in contemporary poetry, covering a wide range of established and new poets. There is a rigorous editorial policy, and the books are produced to the highest standards both in terms of editorial accuracy and the beauty of the finished books. Oversteps poets also give regular poetry readings at festivals and other events. Oversteps Books was founded in 1992 by the poet and translator, Anne Born. The poet and lecturer, Alwyn Marriage, became Managing Editor in 2008. You can find out more about the press and sign up for Oversteps’s mailing list 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.

The Ballad of the Moon, Moon

   The moon came to the forge
with her bustle of tuberose.
The boy looks and looks.
The boy is looking at her.
In the stirred night air
the moon sways her arms
and bears, lubricious and pure,
her breasts of hard tin.
‘Run, moon, moon.
If the gypsies come
they will turn your heart
into necklaces and white rings.’
‘Boy, let me dance.
When the gypsies come
they will find you on the anvil
with your little eyes shut.’
‘Run, moon, moon, moon
for I already hear their horses.’
‘Boy, let me be, do not step
on my starchy whiteness.’

    The rider came closer,
drumming on the plain.
Inside the forge
the boy’s eyes are shut.
Bronze and dream, the gypsies
came through the olive grove.
Their hands held high,
their eyes half closed.

    How the owl sings,
ay, how it sings in the tree!
The moon crosses the sky
with a child by the hand.

    Inside the forge the gypsies
scream and weep.
The air is keeping watch.
The air watching over her.

by Federico García Lorca

This translation of ‘The Ballad of the Moon, Moon’ is copyright © Jane Durán and Gloria García Lorca, 2011. It is reprinted from Gypsy Ballads by permission of Enitharmon Press.

Fascinated by the folk music of his native Spain, Federico García Lorca wrote two books inspired by gypsy rhythms: Poem of the Deep Song (on the world of flamenco and cante jondo) and the best-selling Gypsy Ballads, from which ‘The Ballad of the Moon, Moon’ is taken. In Poet in New York (written 1929-1930) he turns the American city into an image of universal loneliness, and in tragedies like YermaBlood Wedding, and The House of Bernarda Alba he takes the measure of human longing and of the social repression that would contribute to his early death (he was shot by right-wing forces at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War).

In Romancero gitano/Gypsy Ballads, carefully translated by Jane Durán and Gloria García Lorca (Lorca’s niece), the poet transforms into metaphor and myth the fantasy and reality of a marginalized people. Lorca described Romancero gitano as ‘the poem of Andalusia … A book that hardly expresses visible Andalusia at all, but where hidden Andalusia trembles.’ Seeking to relate the nature of his proud and troubled region of Spain, he drew on a traditional gypsy form; yet the homely, unpretentious style of these poems barely disguises the undercurrents of conflicted identity never far from Lorca’s work. You can find out more about this bilingual, illustrated edition here, more about Jane Duran here, and more about Lorca himself at the Fundación Federico García Lorca website here.

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. You can sign up to the publisher’s mailing list here to receive a newsletter with special offers, details of readings & events and new titles and Enitharmon’s Poem of the Month.

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.


Thick weave of winter. Skeins of brown
and dun. Wrapped in these

garments, the sky
heavy on our backs,

we stand in the rainfield
and make a covenant with the silence:

let us trample this trampled ground
as the long-eyed horses do,

go cross-field through rain
and ask for only

blue clouds, slow across
hilltops. Dark footholds of earth.

by Nina Bogin

‘Covenant’ is copyright © Nina Bogin, 2001. It is reprinted from The Winter Orchards (2001) by permission of Anvil Press.

Notes from Anvil Press:

Nina Bogin writes of her second collection that she has ‘drawn together poems that deal with the personal – family, friendship, love and loss; poems about landscape and place; and poems that try to come to grips with the larger world and its chaos. Uniting the poems is a common thread: the natural world and its impenetrable presence which, though threatened, remains a source of renewal and, therefore, of faith.’

Nina Bogin was born in New York City in 1952 and grew up on Long Island. She has been living in France since 1976. She works as a translator and as a teacher of English. Her poems have appeared in literary magazines in the United States, England and France. She received a National Endowment for the Arts grant in 1989 and published her first volume of poems, ‘In the North’, in the same year. A new collection, The Lost Hare, will be published by Anvil in April 2012.

Anvil Press, founded in 1968, is based in Greenwich, south-east London, in a building off Royal Hill that has been used at various points in its 150-year history as a dance-hall and a printing works. Anvil grew out of a poetry magazine which Peter Jay ran as a student in Oxford and retains its small company ethos. Visit Anvil’s website here, where you can sign up to their mailing list to find out about new publications and events.

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.