More than I’d seen before, more
than a rabbit, skinned by the sleight
of a butcher’s hands, much more than
the deft red of his wrists. More than
a plucked bird on a hook like a capital
ess in a copperplate book and more
than a grandmother’s mouth stripped
of its keyboard, its click and grin, more
than the gloss of her chopperless gums.
More than his startled skin, its gooseflesh
and quiver, the gristle that made him boy,
more than his ears without their pink wires,
more than all that, lacking their circles
of glass, the blur and fuzz of their squint
looking back at me, more naked than Adam
after the apple: the boy in the bathroom’s eyes.
by Susan Utting
Notes from Two Rivers Press:
Fair’s Fair, the third full poetry collection from Susan Utting, has been described as ‘joyous, heartbreaking, ramm’d with life’. In these poems dead creatures (a stuffed bird, a taxidermist’s zebra) and people (a lovable, garrulous old man, a strange, moon-faced woman) come back to life. The graveyard dead join in the partying and after-hours drinking in the village pub; a lament becomes a celebration of life. Jane Draycott has described the poems in this book as ‘[e]legiac and sensuous, pressing and haunting in their almost hallucinatory narrative detail’. The founder of Reading’s acclaimed Poets’ Café, Susan Utting has won a number of awards, including a Poetry Business Prize for the pamphlet Something Small is Missing and the Peterloo Poetry Prize for Under the Blue Ball. She has been shortlisted for the Arvon Poetry Prize on two occasions, runs poetry workshops, and taught Poetry and Creative Writing at Reading University. You can read another poem from the collection at the Two Rivers site here, and find out more about the poet from her website here.
Two Rivers Press was founded in Reading in 1994 by Peter Hay (1951–2003), an artist and enthusiast for the town and its two rivers, the Kennet and the Thames. In nearly two decades of publishing and with over seventy titles since its inception, it has been described as ‘one of the most characterful small presses in the country’. It focuses on local poets and a significant part of its work explores and celebrates local history and environment. Bold illustration and striking design are important elements of its work, used to great effect in new editions of classic poems, especially ones with some Reading connection: for example, Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol, and in collections of contemporary poetry from local poets such as Reading Poetry: an anthology edited by Peter Robinson. It has recently published A Mutual Friend: Poems for Charles Dickens, an anthology with a very distinguished list of contributors, also edited by Peter Robinson. The Press is strongly rooted in the local community and has close links with the University, Poets’ Café, RISC, Museum of English Rural Life and other local groups. Its contribution to Reading’s culture won for it a Pride of Reading award in 2008. You can find more information at the press’s website, and on its Facebook page.