Loie Fuller’s Dancing School

I am terpsichorean
a figure in burlesque.

Sometimes Miss Pepper stranded on the prairie
sometimes Buffalo Bill’s navvy
sometimes a soubrette.

Imagine my surprise at the spectacular
a bijou opera house.

An alien in melodrama
Aladdin-girl in melos.

In the cave of the fire of life,
I am Ayesha of two thousand years

finding a silhouette
within slimness.

Such methods of the divine
becomes a gal from Chicago.

by Nerys Williams

‘Loie Fuller’s Dancing School’ is copyright © Nerys Williams, 2011. It is reprinted from Sound Archive, published by Seren Books in 2011.

Notes from Seren:

Originally from Pen-y-Bont, Carmarthen, Wales, Nerys Williams has been a recipient of a Fulbright Scholar’s Award at UC Berkeley and a winner of the Ted McNulty Poetry Prize. She gained a DPhil at Sussex in 2002 through research focused on a reading of error and the lyric in contemporary American poetics. Nerys has lectured in American Literature at University College, Dublin since 2003. A native Welsh speaker, she has also worked at BBC Wales and as a care assistant on psychiatric wards. Nerys has published poems and critical essays widely and is the author of A Guide to Contemporary Poetry (Edinburgh University Press, 2011) as well as a study of contemporary American poetry, Reading Error (Peter Lang, 2007). She recently published her first collection of poetry, Sound Archive (Seren 2011), which was shortlisted for the Forward Prize’s Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection and the Michael Murphy Prize. Of her first book Poetry Review wrote that ‘a certain other-worldliness combines well with a vigorous realism to tease the reader into putting two and more than that together to perceive something rare and beautiful.’

You can read more about the collection and watch Nerys Williams read from her book here, and follow her thoughts on her blog here. Nerys was interviewed on RTE 1 about her collection, and you can hear the discussion at this link. You can also follow the poet on Twitter; search for @archifsain.

You can find out more about Loie Fuller, the subject of the poem, at Susan Gillis Kruman’s page about the dancer and (possibly?) watch her in action here.

Seren is based in Wales (‘Seren’ means ‘star’ in Welsh) and recently celebrated its 30th birthday. Begun as an offshoot of the magazine Poetry Wales by Cary Archard and Dannie Abse in the latter’s garage in Ogmore-by-Sea, the press has now grown and employs a number of staff. It is known for publishing prize-winning poetry, including collections by recent Forward winners, Hilary Menos and Kathryn Simmonds, as well as books by Owen Sheers, Pascale Petit, Deryn Rees-Jones, and many others. The fiction list features a new title by Patrick McGuinness, The Last Hundred Days, that was longlisted for the Booker Prize. The high-quality arts books include the recent collaboration between the poet John Fuller and the photographer David Hurn, Writing the Picture.

For more details about Seren, visit the publisher’s new website, where there is a blog about Seren’s news and events. You can also find Seren on Facebook, on Twitter, and on YouTube, where there are videos of a number of poets reading from their work.

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.