If we lived in a different world
            or near enough to try
I would approach you, girl, and say:
            You won’t believe my eyes:
yours is the face I’ve loved for thirty years –
            your high forehead,
            that urchin-cut,
            old half-a-coconut shell.
But I’m not shooting a line.
            I know you’re someone else.

Somewhere out there’s the man I was.
            And still I hope you find him –
            perhaps you have,
and it may help to know
            he has kept faith –
            kept faith to thirty years of loss.
–        I mightn’t know her face these days
          if seen by chance.
          Nor yet would you,
          as like or not.
Goodbye, old girl, go far.

by Peter Dale

‘Face’ is copyright © Peter Dale, 2002. It is reprinted from Under the Breath (2002) by permission of Anvil Press.

Notes from Anvil Press:

Peter Dale‘s first full collection in over ten years brings together lyrical poems and monologues in which bleakness and tenderness alternate, conflict, and finally coexist. The bittersweet shifts of memory are evoked throughout with an understated tone, making the poems in Under the Breath compelling reading.

Peter Dale was born in Addlestone, Surrey, and worked as a secondary school teacher before becoming a freelance writer in 1993. As well as his selected poems, Edge to Edge (1997), Anvil has published his much admired translations of Jules Laforgue, François Villon and Dante’s Divine Comedy. His most recent collection, Diffractions: New and Selected Poems 1968-2010, was published by Anvil in autumn 2011. You can also listen to Peter Dale read from a number of his poems at the Poetry Archive.

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.

The Fact Remains

I’m heavier than some animals, lighter than others. Also, I’m more threatening than most animals, less threatening than a few; faster than some, slower than most. I don’t bite, though, unless provoked by desire. What I want to say is: I still measure distance in years. And swans mate for life. At least that’s what I believe. I want a pair of somethings to refer to when I’m trying to make a point. The point is this: I’m an animal who knows where he stands among other animals. I can outrun a snail and threaten a housefly. I can conquer an anthill and mate for life. But the fact remains: My favorite dog has bitten the entire neighborhood. Here, boy, I say, but he ignores me, intent on running down another frightened child on a bicycle. He’s mangy too. His collar’s too tight, and there’s no quenching his thirst. Raw meat’s the answer, but I’m too lazy to go to the store. This is the story of a boy and his dog. Though as far as I can tell, the dog ran off a long time ago.

by Christopher Kennedy

The latest Poetry Centre podcast, a discussion featuring Kate Clanchy, Jane Yeh, and Sophie Mayer which was chaired by Alex Pryce, is now available. Recorded at a recent symposium entitled ‘Sisters in Verse’, the debate examined the place of women within contemporary poetry and whether poetry itself is a gendered field. You can listen to the audio here, and your comments are welcome via our Facebook page, via Twitter (@brookespoetry), or via the website.

‘The Fact Remains’ is copyright © Christopher Kennedy, 2011. It is reprinted from Christopher Kennedy’s new collection Ennui Prophet, published by BOA Editions in 2011.

Notes from BOA Editions:

Christopher Kennedy grew up in a working-class suburb of Syracuse, New York. He received a B.A. in English from LeMoyne College and a M.A. in Creative Writing/English from Syracuse University where he is currently the Director of the M.F.A. Program in Creative Writing. He is the author of three poetry collections, Encouragement for a Man Falling to His Death (BOA Editions, Ltd.), which received the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award in 2007, Trouble with the Machine (Low Fidelity Press), and Nietzsche’s Horse (Mitki/Mitki Press). His work has appeared in many print and on-line journals and magazines, including Ploughshares, New York Tyrant, Ninth Letter, The Threepenny Review, Slope, Mississippi Review, and McSweeney’s. He is an associate professor of English at Syracuse University where he directs the MFA Program in Creative Writing.

The poems in Ennui Prophet, Christopher Kennedy’s fourth collection, range from deeply personal explorations of relationships with family and friends to examinations of the political climate in the first decade of the millennium. Whether personal or public, Kennedy gazes through a slightly distorted lens to better see the world around us. The novelist Dave Eggers has written that Kennedy’s work is ‘[s]ingular and deeply pleasurable. Christopher Kennedy’s prosetry is a lonely anarchic nation-state unto itself, half vacation funspot, half eerie purgatorial layover.’ You can sample a playlist that Christopher Kennedy put together to accompany his book at the Largehearted Boy music blog.

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.


We built our castles on the sand.
The tide came in, and there an end.

We built our castles out of fear.
Trust began to disappear.

We built our castles stone by stone.
Their shadow chilled us to the bone.

We built our castles far apart.
Twin halves of a broken heart.

We built our castles thoughtlessly.
No chance for you, no luck for me.

We built our castles in the air.
Nothing we hoped to find was there.

We built our castles. Let them fall.
Time disposes. Love is all.

by John Mole

‘Castles’ is copyright © John Mole, 2011. It is reprinted from The Point of Loss by permission of Enitharmon Press.

Notes from Enitharmon:

Born in 1941 in Taunton, Somerset, John Mole has lived for most of his life in Hertfordshire, teaching English and running The Mandeville Press with Peter Scupham. An extensive and diverse writing career has seen him publish, alongside many poetry books, the selection of essays Passing Judgements and a libretto for Alban, a community opera which premiered in St. Albans Abbey in the spring of 2009. Recipient of the Gregory and Cholmondeley Awards for poetry, and the Signal Award for his writing for children, he is currently poet-in-residence with the charity Poet in the City.

In his most recent book, The Point of Loss, from which ‘Castles’ is taken, personal memories are explored with a sharpness which avoids sentimentality while the seriousness of many of his subjects is addressed with a blend of affection, sardonic humour and a characteristic lightness of touch. Political, intimate and exceptionally readable, The Point of Loss engages with its subjects in a variety of verse styles, ensuring that every poem is memorable in its own right despite the range of Mole’s interests. As John Clare, Herod and Billie Holiday rub shoulders with figures from the writer’s own life, it is the significance we have to one another which is fleshed out here without pretension.

You can hear John Mole read from a selection of his work at the Poetry Archive here, and read a poem he wrote as part of his work with Poet in the City 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.

Crime of the Century

Burning up inside, Ethel Rosenberg gets dressed
as if she’s going to a gala. For one bright moment
everything forgotten: her brother’s lies, evidence –
typewriter, console table, notes burning in a frying pan –
as flimsy as her nylons. She remembers only Julie’s touch,
his pencilled love letters, the arias she sung him
from an adjoining cell. And then he’s there, her husband,
and the room has no screen and they charge and grasp,
mouths, hands, flesh. Prised apart by guards. Julie’s face
so smeared with lipstick he looks as if he’s bleeding.

That last hot evening, their fourteenth anniversary,
they finger kiss through wire mesh, blood trickling
down the screen. At 8.06, just before the setting sun
heralds the Jewish Sabbath over Sing-Sing, Julius is dead.
Minutes later, Ethel, in a green print dress, settles
tight lips into a Mona Lisa smile. Says nothing,
winces as the electrode cap makes contact with her skull.
It takes five shocks to kill her, the oak chair made
for a man, Ethel so petite the helmet doesn’t fit, so fried
witnesses see coils of smoke rising from her head.

She dreamed of being an opera singer but who was she
to have such dreams, product of the Jewish Bronx,
a mother who belittled her, said she brought it on herself?
Anyway, her mouth would never open wide enough,
except to kiss him, her beloved Julius. His crime?
Handing over minor secrets. Hers was finding love
one New Year’s Eve, just before she went onstage to sing.
He cooled her flaming nerves. Never having known such caring
she hurled herself into her role – loyal wife, so insignificant
to the KGB, she didn’t even have a code name.

by Lorna Thorpe

‘Crime of the Century’ is copyright © Lorna Thorpe, 2011. It is reprinted by permission of Arc Publications from Sweet Torture of Breathing by Lorna Thorpe (Arc Publications, 2011).

Lorna Thorpe was born in Brighton where she lived for most of her life until relocating to Cornwall in 2011. Before turning her hand to poetry she worked as a tour operator, social worker and barmaid. Her debut publication Dancing to Motown (Pighog Press, 2005) was a Poetry Book Society pamphlet choice, and her first full collection A Ghost in My House was published by Arc in 2008. As a fiction writer, her short stories have been short-listed for awards, and appeared in magazines and anthologies. She works as a freelance writer and has published features in the Guardian. You can read more selections from Lorna Thorpe’s work at Arc’s page here, and follow her work via her website here, which includes more examples of her poetry and video of Lorna reading.

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.

The Black Guitar

Clearing out ten years from a wardrobe
I opened its lid and saw Joe
written twice in its dust, in a child’s hand,
then a squiggled seagull or two.

                                                      Joe, Joe
a man’s tears are worth nothing,
but a child’s name in the dust, or in the sand
of a darkening beach, that’s a life’s work.

I touched two strings, to hear how much
two lives can slip out of tune

                                                  then I left it,
brought down the night on it, for fear, Joe
of hearing your unbroken voice, or the sea
if I played it.

by Paul Henry

‘The Black Guitar’ is copyright © Paul Henry, 2010. It is reprinted from The Brittle Sea, published by Seren Books in 2010.

Notes from Seren:

Paul Henry is one of Wales’s leading poets. Described by the late U.A. Fanthorpe as ‘a poet’s poet’ who combines ‘a sense of the music of words with an endlessly inventive imagination’, he came to poetry through songwriting. The Brittle Sea, New & Selected Poems has recently been published by Seren in the UK and by Dronequill in India, under the title The Black Guitar. A popular Creative Writing tutor, Henry has read his poems and performed his songs at festivals across the UK and Europe and also in the USA and Asia. He recently presented the ‘Inspired’ series of arts programmes for BBC Radio Wales and ‘Do Not Expect Applause’, his celebration of the Scottish poet W.S. Graham, for BBC Radio Three.

As well as portrait-poems set against the Breconshire villages where Henry lived from his mid teens, the book collects poems about the undulating river Usk and the post-industrial cityscape of Newport, Gwent. The Brittle Sea also includes the three poems Henry was commissioned to write for BBC2’s ‘Poetry in Motion’, which celebrated the Welsh national rugby team as they prepared for the 2007 World Cup.

You can read more about this new collection at Seren’s website, read more from Paul Henry’s work at his own website, and hear the poet read ‘Daylight Robbery’ and ‘The Black Guitar’ on Seren’s YouTube channel 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 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.