Why

Because
he sweet-talks her in places
she doesn’t want to be where her fingertips
turn bloodless from the rhythmic
pushing motions with her hands away away
because
the tea he serves are wills and wonts she never hears him
breathe at night
beside him her dreams are tumbleweed and tell her I am only one
over and over
because
she chews time he hangs her love out to dry and oil paint takes
a minimum of thirty years to dry she can never remember
exactly this dream
because
she has read somewhere six new planets orbit a star five
in a liveable zone only
they are light years from earth and already what we love is time
they spent is slipping
because
why is for Wyoming and weather and cross-eyed it is weightless
and welcome
and also for wasp and for where
because
their love is finding a view she is sick of this small miracle
under the clouds
where he gets in her hair cajoles her outdoes her outwits her
because
she may be an orange peeling itself under a desert sun
when he can’t get over how beautiful yellow is!

by Astrid Alben

‘Why’ is copyright © Astrid Alben, 2011. It is reprinted by permission of Arc Publications from Ai! Ai! Pianissimo (Arc Publications, 2011).

Astrid Alben is an Anglo-Dutch poet who grew up in Kent and the Netherlands. She read English Literature and Philosophy at Edinburgh University. Since 2006 her poems and reviews have been published in magazines such as The WolfPoetry ReviewDrunken Boat, TLSStand and Shearsman. Alben has translated the poems of several Dutch contemporary poets, including the complete oeuvre of F. van Dixhoorn. Ai! Ai! Pianissimo is her first collection. She lives in Amsterdam and London. In 2004 Alben co-founded the Pars Foundation. Pars collects the findings – such as architectural sketches, articles, music scores, research data, journal excerpts – of renowned and emerging artists and scientists and binds these in a publications series. Findings on Ice (2007) and Findings on Elasticity (2011) were published as part of the Atlas of Creative Thinking. You can read more poems from Ai! Ai! Pianissimo here, and listen to Astrid Alben read her poems on her website.

Since it was founded in 1969, Arc Publications 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.

As well as its page on Facebook, you can now find Arc on Twitter; search for @Arc_Poetry. Visit Arc’s website to join the publisher’s mailing list, and to find full details of all publications and writers. Arc offers a 10% discount on all books purchased from the website (except Collectors’ Corner titles). Postage and packing is free within the UK.

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.

Moment

To the woman who handed over
a folded note, I have enough time
—on a thin slip of pinkish paper,
no name or address—you’re first
in mind this January 1.
Where did we meet?
You smiled shyly, stepped away.
Do you pass that note often?
Was it a singular moment?
Maybe you’re a friend dropping lines
when you detect a listener.
And what am I?
There’s a fine soup
to be made of every minute.
A way to stand and stir
so no one catches what you’re doing.
And there’s a sea of gloom
so close under the skin
that loves the taunt of a crisp new year.
Here, this fresh morning
and every to follow,
cabinet of stacked white
bowls, shines wide and plenty.
Each square of calendar
opens its hungry mouth.

by Naomi Shihab Nye

‘Moment’ is copyright © Naomi Shihab Nye, 2011. It is reprinted by permission of BOA Editions from Naomi Shihab Nye’s latest book of poems Transfer (BOA, 2011).

Notes from BOA Editions:

Naomi Shihab Nye, poet, essayist, anthologist, has been a recipient of writing fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation and the Witter Bynner Foundation/Library of Congress. Author or editor of more than thirty volumes, her most recent collection of poems, Transfer, was published by BOA Editions, Ltd. in September of 2011, and is a Finalist for the Helen C. Smith Memorial Award (more details here). She has read her work on National Public Radio’s Prairie Home Companion. Poetry editor for The Texas Observer, Nye has worked as a visiting writer in schools at all educational levels. She is currently serving on the Board of Chancellors for the Academy of American Poets. She lives in San Antonio, Texas.

You can read another poem from the collection here, learn more about Nye’s work in a 2002 interview with PBS host Bill Moyers at this link, and watch her read her found poem ‘One Boy Told Me’ here.

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. In 2011, BOA celebrated its thirty-fifth anniversary. To find out more about BOA Editions, click here. You can also sign up for the publisher’s newsletter here, find and ‘like’ BOA on Facebook, and follow the publisher on Twitter by searching for @boaeditions.

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 Bird-Ghost

Like winter breath on a pane of glass
sprayed with fixing medium,
like a burglar’s greasy handprint
or white ectoplasm trace,
that bird of prey had hammered hard
against the built environment.

You could pick out its bent beak’s blunted face
and from a slow-motion film,
the flicker of that wing feather stain.
A smudged bird, arrested in headlong attack,
its output of energy equal to its impact
on the unseen or unforeseen
(our bedroom window pane),
it had made such a stunning mark.

by Peter Robinson

‘The Bird-Ghost’, is copyright © Peter Robinson, 2012. It is reprinted by permission of Shearsman Books from The Returning Sky .

Notes from Shearsman:

Peter Robinson was born in Salford, Lancashire, in 1953, and grew up mainly in Liverpool. He co-edited the magazines Perfect Bound and Numbers while helping organize various Cambridge Poetry Festivals and a Poetry International at the South Bank Centre. His many volumes of poetry include a Selected Poems (2003), Ghost Characters (2006) and The Look of Goodbye (2008). He was awarded the Cheltenham Prize for This Other Life (1988). Both The Great Friend and Other Translated Poems (2002) was a recommendation of the Poetry Book Society, and The Greener Meadow: Selected Poems of Luciano Erba (2007) received the John Florio Prize in 2008. Other publications include four volumes of literary criticism, the most recent being Poetry & Translation: The Art of the Impossible (2010), various edited collections, anthologies, and The Complete Poems, Translations & Selected Prose of Bernard Spencer (2011). The poetry editor for Two Rivers Press, he is Professor of English and American Literature at the University of Reading.

The Returning Sky is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for the first quarter of 2012. You can read more from the collection at this link (pdf), and find out more about Peter Robinson’s life and work from his website and this interview at the Poetry Kit website. You can also hear him read from his work at the Archive of the Now website (search for Peter Robinson).

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.

Bonfire on the Beach

Tragedy was short-lived:
where the pine log had split its sides

dying, a spider elbowed out
and flared a brief nothing.

Old as planets the four faces
round this sun. A smudge

on the sand, like a mistake,
will mean we’ve gone.

by Jennie Feldman

‘Bonfire on the Beach’ is copyright © Jennie Feldman, 2005. It is reprinted from The Lost Notebook (2005) by permission of Anvil Press.

Notes from Anvil Press:

Jennie Feldman was born in South Africa, grew up in London and graduated from Oxford, where she studied French. Her translations from Jacques Réda, Treading Lightly: Selected Poems 1961-1975, are also published by Anvil. A former award-winning radio producer and presenter, she is married with two children and lives in Israel. Her new collection Swift will be published by Anvil in April 2012.

In her first collection The Lost Notebook, from which ‘Bonfire on the Beach’ comes, visually arresting and subtly musical poems range from Scotland and the Hebrides to Paris, the Mediterranean and Israel, capturing resonant details and moments and shaping them into a quizzical coherence. Like the small ghost that circles into lamplight in ‘Moth’, the poems are on the wing, “sourcing the radiance of things” in response to the dark. A lost notebook inspires a sequence that interweaves themes of sea, music, memory, love and the charge of language.

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.

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.