It Won’t Be Anytime Soon

I need a man with enough sagacity
To wear a coonskin cap
And escort me and my party
Through the Cumberland Gap
A man sufficiently rough hewn
Not to see shooting a racoon
As serious crime
You need a man with enough powder and ball
To see that what lies behind a waterfall’s
The American sublime
Though you may one day track down your Daniel Boone
It won’t be anytime soon

I need a man with just enough gravity
To see how a dripping tap
Will bend the back of a levee
Until you hear it snap
A man sufficiently immune
To the broad strokes of the Times-Picayune
As might turn on a dime
You need a man with enough native wit to call
It like it is from the flood wall
Even as the waters climb
Though he may rise one day with the harvest moon
It won’t be anytime soon

I need a man with enough lucidity
To read a contour map
Of Zion or Monument Valley
Without the appropriate app
A man sufficiently attuned
To looking beyond buttes and dunes
Of sandstone and shale and lime
You need a man with enough old-fashioned gall
To tell you you look small
In geological time
Though that may one day strike you as opportune
It won’t be anytime soon

by Paul Muldoon

Poetry news! The inaugural Reading Poetry Festival runs from 5-9 June and promises to be a fantastic event. Speakers include Iain Sinclair, Bernard O’Donoghue, Leontia Flynn, Kei Miller, Zoe Skoulding, Peter Robinson, and Steven Matthews. There are also two exhibitions curated by Peter Robinson and Natalie Pollard. Many events are free but require you to book. Click here for the full programme and details about how you can book tickets.

‘It Won’t Be Anytime Soon’ is copyright © Paul Muldoon, 2012, and reprinted from his book Songs and Sonnets, published by Enitharmon Books in 2012.

Notes from Enitharmon:

Paul Muldoon was born in 1951 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. From 1973 to 1986 he worked in Belfast as a radio and television producer for the BBC. Since 1987 he has lived in the USA, where he is now Howard G.B. Clark ’21 Professor at Princeton University and Founding Chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts. Between 1999 and 2004 he was Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford. Apart from Songs and Sonnets, Muldoon’s most recent collections of poetry are Plan B (also published by Enitharmon in 2009), Maggot (2010), and The Word on the Street (2013). A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Muldoon was elected a Member of the American Academy in Arts and Letters in 2008. Among his awards are the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Irish Times Poetry Prize, the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the International Griffin Prize, the 2004 American Ireland Fund Literary Award, and the Shakespeare Prize.

Writing in The Guardian about Songs and Sonnets, Maria Johnston commented that ‘perhaps th[e] hyphenated category “poem-songs” best describes these songs and sonnets. They are complex, charged performances that vibrate in the interim between one thing and the other. They’ll rock your world.’ You can read more about Songs and Sonnets on Enitharmon’s site here, and more about Muldoon from his own website 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 Glorious Fellowship of Migraineurs

When we gather we greet each other
by lifting tentatively one hand to one eye.
We meet in darkened rooms, quietly;
share no wine. Nobody speaks
but often our voices join to moan
the migraineurs psalm, low and holy.

The hours before fizz brilliantly, scented
with burnt toast and oranges, petrol, sparking
fireworks, fireflies, stars. Everyone
dons a halo, everyone’s soul
shines out through their pores, whether unnaturally
small or wrapped in a skin of water.

We sleep the night together, slip off
one by one on waking from
a dream we pass between us, in which
the structure of the sky is revealed. We make
no dates, but palm to temple, salute
in a migraineur’s kiss, our transcendence.

by Polly Atkin

There are two events to draw your attention to this week. This week’s poet, Polly Atkin, is one of a number of scholars contributing to Shifting Territories, a conference on modern and contemporary poetics of place, which is taking place on Wednesday and Thursday this week at theInstitute of English Studies in London. As well as panels of papers responding to poetry and place, the conference features readings by Jo Shapcott and David Morley, a keynote paper by Eóin Flannery, a workshop by Steven Matthews, and an evening event in association with the British Academy and the Royal Society of Literature with Alice Oswald and Hugh Haughton. Find out more about the conference here.

Tomorrow at 7pm in Headington Hill Hall, Oxford Brookes, the Poetry Centre presents ‘”The Cheerful Companion”: Poetry, Music & Performance in Eighteenth-Century Poetic Miscellanies.’ The event will consist of a series of short talks, readings, and music, followed by an interactive session in which participants will be able to experience an authentic eighteenth-century sewing session hosted by Nicole Pohl from Oxford Brookes. All are welcome and you can find more information about the event here.

‘The Glorious Fellowship of Migraineurs’ is copyright © Polly Atkin, 2013. It is reprinted from Shadow Dispatches , published by Seren Books in 2013.

Notes from Seren:

Polly Atkin was born in Nottingham in 1980, lived in London for a number of years before moving to Cumbria in 2006 to research poems about place. Widely published in journals, various of her poems have been placed first in the Troubadour, and Kent and Sussex Competitions, been commended in the National Sonnet, McLellan, Basil Bunting, Wigtown, and Troubadour Competitions, and shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize. Her pamphlet bone song (Clitheroe: Aussteiger, 2008) was shortlisted for the 2009 Michael Marks Pamphlet Award. She currently teaches English Literature and Creative Writing part-time at Lancaster University. ‘The Glorious Fellowship of Migraineurs’ comes from Polly Atkin’s MsLexia prize-winning pamphlet, Shadow Dispatches. Writing about her work, the poet Paul Farley has commented: ‘Polly Atkin’s first short collection is shot through with wit and imaginative invention and an attractive acuity. For the approaching reader: this book is truly available.’ You can read more about Shadow Dispatches at Seren’s site here, and follow Polly Atkin on Twitter here.

Seren Books (‘Seren’ means ‘star’ in Welsh) is based in Bridgend, South Wales. Originally conceived by Cary Archard and Dannie Abse as an offshoot of Poetry Wales magazine in the latter’s garage in Ogmore-by-Sea in the early 80s, under Managing Editor Mick Felton the press has gone from strength to strength and has published a wide range of titles including fiction (which under Editor Penny Thomas has seen the Booker-nominated novel by Patrick McGuinness, The Last Hundred Days, and an acclaimed novella series based on the medieval Welsh tales from the Mabinogion) and non-fiction (including literary criticism such as the new John Redmond title Poetry and Privacy, as well as sumptuous art books like the collaboration between photographer David Hurn and poet John Fuller, Writing the Picture). Seren’s poetry list, edited by Amy Wack since the early 90s, has produced T.S. Eliot Prize-nominated titles by Deryn Rees-Jones and Pascale Petit, Costa winner John Haynes, and a large list of Forward Prize winners and nominees, as well as continuing to publishing classic Welsh writers. Most recently, Seren has also added Irish and American writers to its list.

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.

Natural Mechanical

See this boy – this Rocky.

At three years: the back door opened.
Out he goes. Prompted. Prodded. Pushed.
Squat body. Crew-cut. Short trousers. Green vest.
Little fists clenched into little pink rocks.

     He’ll be a hardy wee bugger this one.

His father. Nailing the child’s bedroom window open.
Four inch gap. Forever. No curtain.

The third of three children; the Benjamin.
Following the second sister by five years.
No more to come after.

     He’s been up and running
     for half his whole life.

His mother. Allowing the wind to slam shut the door.

     Let him play out where my legs
     are least likely to find him.

     And if he doesn’t come back when called
The father again:
     then it’ll be the webbing belt.

his Victorian ideals coming fifty years too late.

And this boy – this Rocky – takes to it, quick.
An t-Eilean Sgitheanach. The Wingèd Isle. Isle of Skye. His.

And when they later call his name
over wind, over heath, over burn, over bog

he doesn’t hear, and he doesn’t come.

by J.O. Morgan

This excerpt from Natural Mechanical is copyright © J.O. Morgan, 2009. It is reprinted from Natural Mechanical by permission of CB editions.

Notes from CB editions:

The above extract from J.O. Morgan‘s book Natural Mechanical comprises the opening lines of a book-length verse memoir of the childhood of a man – known to the poet – who grew up on the Isle of Skye in the 1950s. Dyslexic, he sought out his own education from the fields and streams around him; the many episodes recounted include a solo trip to France with just a few coins in the pocket of his shorts. (A sequel, Long Cuts, was published in 2011.)

Natural Mechanical – by a poet who had never previously published – won the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and was shortlisted for the Forward First Collection Prize. The book was widely praised both for the formal skill of its writing (Andrew Motion called it ‘a memoir written in language that is cannily involved with the ordinary miracles of childhood’), and for its appeal to a readership which might not usually engage with poetry: ‘If those who never touch poetry tried a few pages of this, they might become converts,’ said Rosemary Goring in The Herald.

CB editions publishes no more than six books a year, mainly poetry and short fiction and including work in translation. Since 2008 its poetry titles have twice won the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and have twice been shortlisted for both the Forward Prize and the Forward First Collection Prize. In 2011 CBe put on Free Verse, a one-day book fair for poetry publishers to show their work and sell direct to the public; the event was repeated in September 2012 with over 50 publishers taking part. Find out more about the publisher from the website, where you can also sign up to the CB editions mailing list, or ‘like’ the publisher on Facebook to keep up-to-date with its activities.

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 Necktie Quilt

After his death at eighty-three, which she believed was premature
and the fault of paramedics who’d ‘taken their time’ to arrive,
she set about thirty years of his neckties, the gifts of grateful clients
whose grubby affairs he’d settled in and out of court,
while she’d looked on, applauding his victories, folding away ties.

Now she selected only the silk ones, unpicked them with meticulous
care, pressed them under a damp cloth until every crease was smoothed,
arranged them on the dining room table: the bold paisleys, their backs
curled against regimental stripes, the gaudy florals, which had made him smile,
but were never worn, cheeky polka dots, a couple of sombre knits
she suspected were synthetic.

Day after day, the old Singer hummed and whirred as she tacked
the strips together, and when the backing was attached, the borders
feather-stitched by hand, she found a place for every scrap left over:
trim for a dresser scarf, appliqué for scatter cushions, a white curtain
tied back with a sash of hand-painted peacocks, an old dressing gown
with a new belt, flaunting wild geometrics.

Swathes of unexpected colour cropped up in unexpected places,
the fallen-fruit silks of mulberry, gold and plum, a splash of scarlet
in an inner sleeve, reminding her of the flash of a whore’s petticoat—
a certain woman she saw once, slipping out of his office.
When it was finished, she shook it out, flung it across her single bed.

by Wendy Klein

There are some exciting creative writing and poetry events happening in Oxford over the next two weeks. From 7-11 May, the Pegasus Theatre hosts Oxford Brookes’ Amazing Acts festival, which this year features, amongst other events, a creative writing showcase hosted by Philip Pullman; ‘Visions of the Future’: pieces of writing born from collaborations between the sciences and humanities; and ‘Poetry and Business: Risk, Recession, Recovery’, in which MBA students and established poets collaborate. Find out more about the festival and how to buy tickets on this page.

This week’s poet, Wendy Klein, will be reading at the Albion Beatnik Bookshop in Oxford with Dorothy Yamamoto on Wednesday 15 May at 8pm. You can find more details on our Facebook page.

‘The Necktie Quilt’ is copyright © Wendy Klein, 2013. It is reprinted from Anything in Turquoise by permission of Cinnamon Press.

Notes from Cinnamon Press:

By turns raw, tender, and humorous, Anything in Turquoise takes us on a lyrical and emotional journey from an American childhood filled with ‘Bebbe Meises’ (old wives’ tales) to points east – Mongolia, from where ‘Having failed and failed to grasp lessons/about cultures in varying states of disrepair/having walked away even sadder’, we are moved to Vietnam where not only an American helicopter, but the poet is ‘caught and pinned’, and to Cambodia, where a school-turned-Khmer Rouge holds ‘a single framed image/for each grisly death, galleries/or portraits … half a holocaust /under my feet.’ Moving West we are caught in ‘Hurricanes and other Storms’, ‘the tilted headstones and bones left by Katrina … they know how to bury their dead’, before finding ourselves in California where a slippery past intrudes on the present and the poet’s mother is sharpening ‘her Semitic tongue’ to ‘lacerate the soul-less goyem’ before ‘lurching towards incarceration, divorce,/death.’ Finally we find ourselves ‘Elsewhere’ in the company of Jackson Pollock repainting the cave until we stand, ‘blinded/by this orgy of naked colour, already pining for our past.’ You can find out more about the collection at Cinnamon’s site here.

Wendy Klein‘s poetry has appeared in many anthologies and poetry magazines. A retired family psychotherapist, she is a regular reader at the Troubadour and Poets’ Cafe in Reading. Her first collection was Cuba in the Blood (Cinnamon Press). She enjoys belly-dancing and the curative company of dogs.

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.