The Wash House

The turning on was slower done — the firebox stoked,
the wooden lid the copper had, gilded shine of its deep pan.
And side by side two great stone sinks
for suds and rinse, could hold a muddy child.

The place became a store — chook mash,
pig grits — housed a mat and dust of wares,
played host to mouse. Cat found a hide for bed
and laid her kittens there.

One small window choked with web,
light gave way across the floor; each step
softening to listen hard
though you could never say what for.

Warped tracks of tallboy teased, opened to a world of finds.
A jar of pennies turned to bank. Rust crept
along the blades of knives. And each oilskin coat, from its nail,
stiffened like a corpse impaled. The kittens ended in a sack.

The shedding held small lost endeavour, walls with cracks
poached by the weather, dissolved the meanest acts of time
where garden slept in seed sachets, the mewing
ghosts, the lynching strength of binder twine.

by Rhian Gallagher

‘The Wash House’ is copyright © Rhian Gallagher, 2012, and reprinted from the book Shift, published by Enitharmon Books in 2012.

Notes from Enitharmon:

Rhian Gallagher was born on the South Island of New Zealand. She lived in London for 18 years and returned to New Zealand in 2006. Gallagher’s first collection, Salt Water Creek, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for First Collection in 2003. She received a Canterbury History Foundation grant (NZ) in 2007 and the Janet Frame Literary Trust Award (NZ) in 2008. Feeling for Daylight: The Photographs of Jack Adamson was published by the South Canterbury Museum, NZ, in 2010, and her second collection of poetry, Shift, was published in summer 2012. In this collection she beautifully evokes a long-distance love affair as it blooms and ages, alongside the estrangement and joy of a life lived beyond national boundaries. In the three sections of Shift, home, love, and self are each explored in a different poetic style, each given a chance to live freely, for ‘[g]iving up on words is the final failure’. The book won the New Zealand Post Poetry Award 2012, and you can read more about it 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.

The mushrooms are born in silence

The mushrooms are born in silence; some are born in silence; others, with a brief shriek, a bit of thunder. Some are white, others pink, that one’s gray and looks like a dove, the statue of a dove; some are gold or purple. Each one bears—and this is the horrible part—the initials of the dead person from which it springs. I don’t dare devour them; that tender flesh is our relative.
      But in the afternoon the mushroom buyer comes and starts to pick them. My mother lets him. He chooses like an eagle. That one, white as sugar, a pink one, a gray one.
      Mama doesn’t realize she’s selling her own kind.

by Marosa di Giorgio

‘The mushrooms are born in silence’ is copyright © BOA Editions, 2012, and reprinted from the book Diadem: Selected Poems, translated by Adam Giannelli, and published by BOA Editions in 2012.

Notes from BOA Editions:

Marosa di Giorgio has one of the most distinct and recognizable voices in Latin American poetry. Her surreal and fable-like prose poems invite comparison to Kafka, Cortázar, and even contemporary American poets Russell Edson and Charles Simic; but di Giorgio’s voice, imagery, and themes—childhood, the Uruguayan countryside, a perception of the sacred—are her own. Previously written off as ‘the mad woman of Uruguayan letters’, di Giorgio’s reputation has blossomed in recent years. You can find out more about Marosa di Giorgio from her official website (in Spanish – or in English with the help of Google Translate!) here, and from BOA’s page 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.

Richard Branson

My love, I feel like this print of Rothko.
I am small and glassy and I want to impress you,
even if it means murdering one of your work colleagues.

You think if you stare long enough at your noodles
you’ll see the combination to the safe.
I don’t have the heart to tell you the truth.

Even the elephant on the 20 Rand note
you gave me for good luck back in 2009
will end up spent in the end.

You adjust my tie and I grow a little older.

On cold hungover days, the white sun follows us
through Jesus Green to the Carphone Warehouse.

Shrek watches from the electrical shop across the street;
seven Shreks, running in parallel across a burning rope bridge.
It’s impossible to root for any of them.

A millionaire’s hairstyle
is trapped in the era they first made their money.

The air turns green above the poles of the Earth.

by Ross Sutherland

The Poetry Centre’s latest podcast, featuring the poet Gill Learner (whose poem ‘About the olden days’ was the Weekly Poem on 4 June 2012), is now live! Visit this page to hear Gill read her poem ‘The power of ice’, and discuss it and her work in general. You can find out more about Gill’s collection The Agister’s Experiment on the Two Rivers Press website.

‘Richard Branson’ is copyright © Ross Sutherland, 2012. It is reprinted by permission of Penned in the Margins from Emergency Window (Penned in the Margins, 2012).

Notes from Penned in the Margins:

Ross Sutherland was born in Edinburgh in 1979. A former lecturer in electronic literature at Liverpool John Moore’s University, Ross works as a freelance journalist and tutor in creative writing. His first collection, Things To Do Before You Leave Town, was published in 2009, followed by the limited edition mini-book Twelve Nudes in 2010 and the e-book Hyakuretsu Kyaku in 2011. Ross is a member of live literature collective Aisle 16, and has toured solo and collaborative shows nationally and internationally. Emergency Window is his second full collection, and its ‘lucid observations, smart conceits and insight into the contemporary world’ have been praised by The Independent. Discover more about this latest collection at the Penned in the Margins site here, where you can also enjoy Ross Sutherland reading his poem ‘Liverish Red-Blooded Riffraff Hoo-ha’.

Penned in the Margins is an independent publisher and live literature producer specialising in poetry and based in East London. Founded in 2004, the company has produced numerous literature and performance events, toured several successful live literature shows, published over twenty-five books, and continues to run innovative poetry, arts and performance projects in the capital and beyond. Their recent anthology, Adventures in Form, was awarded a Special Commendation by the Poetry Book Society and was chosen as one of 50 Best Summer Reads by The Independent. You can visit the Penned in the Margins website here to sign up to the mailing list, and follow the publisher on Facebook and Twitter.

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.


Blow after vertical blow severed you from the rock-face
in the abandoned quarry

the impact shatters the crystals deep inside you

and renders you opaque, lying there like a stunned space warrior,

oversized, grey-speckled feet pointing seaward
above the rooftops, while your double, sprawled in a grove

on the other side of the island, is having his torso

tickled by overhanging branches. – Imperturbable

youth, who once strode forward smiling, hands clenched
at your sides, undeterred, provides a seat

for the span of an hour. I hadn’t realized the long descent

from the village-that-makes-verses on the mountain slope

would tire me so, leaning against your foursquare
frame, I doze, and wake, and doze again,

while the industrious ant, mistaking me for the figure

I’ve come to admire in its gritty silence, must about-face

as my right leg shudders and twitches involuntarily,
as if to say, behold the man.

by Gabriel Levin

This Thursday (11 October), Steven Matthews, the Director of Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre, will be launching his collection of poetry, Skying (Waterloo Press, 2012). The launch will take place at Blackwell’s Bookshop, Broad Street, Oxford, and will begin at 7pm. Steven will be reading from this new collection alongside Helen Farish, whose own recent collection, Nocturnes at Nohant: The Decade of Chopin and Sand, is published by Bloodaxe Books.

‘Kouros’ is copyright © Gabriel Levin, 2012. It is reprinted from To These Dark Steps (2012) by permission of Anvil Press.

Notes from Anvil Press:

Gabriel Levin’s fourth collection, To These Dark Steps, moves from the Mediterranean world that has engaged his imagination for the last thirty years, to the sombre title sequence written in the shadow of Israel’s bombardment and incursion into Gaza in 2008. These striking poems and their prose commentary (The Fathers are Watching) navigate between the depredations of war and the mind’s need to disengage itself from its surroundings. The final section of this articulate and compassionate book is a fifteen-sonnet cycle dispatched from the shores of an unnamed island, which could be everyman’s abode, in search of what might lie yonder.

Gabriel Levin was born in France, grew up in the United States, and has lived in Jerusalem since 1972. He has published three earlier collections of poetry and translations from Hebrew, French and Arabic. His translation from the medieval Hebrew of Yehuda Halevi, Poems from the Diwan, also appeared with Anvil (2002). His essays on the geographical and imaginative reach of the Levant have appeared in literary journals in England and the United States.

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.


It feels nearer the sun up here.
The stony track struggled up
through dark of trees towards
a growing disc of light, which swelled, broke
into majestic brightness.
Now the path levels, the valley opens.

Across the river one farm spreads yard and barns
in shadow against light. Above it rises
bare mountain, a final wall that flanks
the upper valley, curves round its distant head,
in a strange visual accord
with the valley-floor’s sharp green
of re-seeded garths, proclaiming
work, settlement, fertility.

Alongside a fence that dwindles
towards the far-off valley-head, unseen
high passes, into barren distance
runs a green road. On it, down
from hidden solitudes, a dark dot
gleams and grows, zooms into a phalanx
of mountain-bikers, black-clad, impassive,
hissing dizzily past. Unmoved,
a fat ewe suckles her twins
under a track-side thorn.

In this domain of sun,
so all-encompassing, so royal,
only the traitor mind creates
in the shiver of sun on skin
a shudder of ice-wind, subverts
with a sly imagining of snow.

by Ruth Bidgood

UPDATE! Matthew Jarvis, author of the book Ruth Bidgood mentioned below, has written a blog post in response to ‘Treachery’, giving some very valuable context about the setting for the poem. You can read it here, and find out more about Matthew’s book here.

‘Treachery’ is copyright © Ruth Bidgood, 2012. It is reprinted from Above the Forests by permission of Cinnamon Press.

Notes from Cinnamon Press:

In Above the Forests, perspectives of ordinary life, rendered with this poet’s effortlessly questing precision, serve as means of further discovery. Her writing has always shown ‘how different is real/from ordinary’. As she says, ‘to feel bounded is our only way of being with things, because we have fewer dimensions than actually exist…but we can feel the boundary sometimes being transcended.’ In these poems, the lie of Welsh land, local and family history, social pressures, the promptings of dream and of scientific speculation are all evoked, serving to draw the reader, often literally step by step, into processes of questioning, self-questioning and an intuitive crossing of boundaries. (Anne Cluysenaar.)

Ruth Bidgood was born of a North Welsh father and a West Country mother in Seven Sisters, Glamorgan. Educated in Port Talbot and at Oxford University in the 60s, she later returned to Wales and settled in Powys. Her second collection received a Welsh Arts Council award; the sixth and seventh were shortlisted for the Welsh Arts Council Book of the Year Award in 1993 and 1997 and Time Being was a Poetry Society Recommendation and won the Roland Matthias Prize for 2010. Above the Forests was launched to mark Ruth’s 90th birthday in conjunction with a critical appraisal of her work by Matthew Jarvis: Ruth Bidgood (University of Wales Press, 2012).

Cinnamon Press is an independent publisher run by a family team and based in North Wales and the Midlands. We select books that we feel passionate about and concentrate on a list of poetry and fiction titles into which we put maximum effort at every stage of development. We also run regular writing courses and writing competitions, including major awards for poets, novelists and short story writers and a series of mini competitions. Find out more about the publisher and join their mailing list here. You can also find Cinnamon on Facebook and on Twitter.

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.