Slow Rock

slow rock
being limestone
for rain
pockets springy needles
is not the sea
but sounding its breath
in an airy maze
where woodpeckers
up the tempo
& who’s that
red-capped, furtive
(other hand gripped
to his mobile)

shrinks him

shoals of bedrock
leaping mid-city
console our short-lived
you can’t ride out
on these smooth backs
for a while
(the skyline livid)

by Jennie Feldman

Two announcements! This Friday 28 June 2013, Oxford is host to an exciting poetry event: ‘Irregular Folk Does Poetry’, which features the talents of a number of visiting and local poets, including Jack Underwood, Amy Blakemore, William Davies, and Charlotte Geater. The event will take place at the Perch on Binsey Lane in Oxford, and begins at 7.30pm.

And Oxford Brookes is currently displaying The Booker Prize, 1969-2008: an exhibition. Visit Oxford Brookes University’s Glass Tank exhibition space in the Abercrombie Building on Gipsy Lane between 17 June and 14 July to see this new exhibition, which is both an introduction to the fantastic material housed in the archive and a reflection upon Brookes’ role as custodian of the archive for a decade.

‘Slow Rock’ is copyright © Jennie Feldman, 2012. It is reprinted by permission of Anvil Press from Swift (Anvil Press, 2012).

Notes from Anvil Press:

In Jennie Feldman’s second collection, Swift, the earth-shy bird of the title flies high above the territorial rivalries of its region. From the Middle East, Swift ranges across Europe to Scotland, always on the lookout for what coheres in the world and its telling encounters – with a Greek beekeeper, a cello maestro, lone figures on society’s margins, the Latin poet Lucretius in an East Jerusalem café. Buoyed by music as well as water, notably the Aegean Sea and the rare rains of the eastern Mediterranean, these poems combine delicacy and vigour in their pursuit of an elusive equilibrium.

Jennie Feldman was born in South Africa, grew up in London and graduated from Oxford, where she studied French. A Hawthornden Fellow, she lives in Jerusalem and Oxford. Her first collection, The Lost Notebook, was also published by Anvil, as were her translations from Jacques Réda, Treading Lightly: Selected Poems 1961-1975, and the bilingual anthology Into the Deep Street: Seven Modern French Poets 1938-2008, co-edited and translated with Stephen Romer and shortlisted for the Popescu Prize 2011. You can read another selection from Swift on Anvil’s website.

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. Visit Anvil’s website here, where you can sign up to their mailing list to find out about new publications and events.

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.

Theme and Invariants

So you see I’ve begun looking after you

looking for you

looking for you, who would not see
as relentlessly as I did
what we both meant
to end

So that you see just as long as you’re made
to listen
to this lyre’s
sedulous strain

Whose head severed in the river-current,
unlooked-at & still singing
all its way downstream to Lesbos

Not stopped looking after
you’d already begun to look twice
in every direction but ours

So I turned back too, back to
what we’d both been looking
away from, looking

looking after, in this
aftermath of whatever
we end up calling
what we ended

So you see
I’ve begun
so that you see

(pluck and pluck of the lyre)

So you see I’ve begun
under the eyelids,
silt on the singing tongue)

looking after you

by Bruce Beasley

The Poetry Centre hosted a special performance poetry event last year, and the video of the show is now available on YouTube! Watch it here, and enjoy sampling the talents of some of the finest Oxford poets.

‘Theme and Invariants’ is copyright © Bruce Beasley and BOA Editions, 2012, and reprinted from Theophobia (BOA, 2012).

Notes from BOA Editions:

Bruce Beasley’s Theophobia is the latest volume in his ongoing spiritual meditation, which forms a kind of postmodern devotional poetry in a reinvention of the tradition of John Donne, George Herbert, Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and T.S. Eliot. The book is structured around a series of poems called ‘Pilgrim’s Deviations’ and it forms a deviating pilgrimage through science, history, politics, and popular culture. Beasley interrogates the theological, metaphysical, scientific, and political worlds of our time in a continually disrupted catechism, a ‘catechismus interruptus.’

Bruce Beasley grew up in Macon, Georgia, and studied at Oberlin College (B.A., 1980), Columbia University (M.F.A., 1982), and the University of Virginia (Ph.D., 1993). He is the author of six previous collections of poems, including The Corpse Flower: New and Selected Poems (University of Washington Press, 2007), Lord Brain (winner of the University of Georgia Press Contemporary Poetry Series Award, 2005), and Summer Mystagogia, selected by Charles Wright for the 1996 Colorado Prize for Poetry. He has won fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Artist Trust and three Pushcart prizes, and his work appears in The Pushcart Book of Poetry: The Best Poems from the First Thirty Years of the Pushcart Prize. He lives in Bellingham, Washington, with his wife the poet and nonfiction writer Suzanne Paola and their son Jin, and is a professor of English at Western Washington University. His latest collection Theophobia (BOA, 2012) is now available at BOA’s site here, where you can also read another poem from the collection, ‘From “Having Read the Holy Spirit’s Wikipedia”‘. You can also find out more about Bruce Beasley’s work from his website.

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.

Orpheus, Just Checking

I shouldn’t look back. I seem to come
perpetually out of the underworld,
and by feeling my way in the near
total darkness I have won back my
easily frightened away frequently dead
Muse, who follows me silently.
I’m never sure she’s there. The pupils
of my eyes dilated to catch
every glimmer of light, I inch my way
up the winding path, if it’s a path at all,
but upwards anyway to the world of life.
It’s as if I’m always at the same point
though always moving. How far have I come?
I look back. Where I had walked
alone, uncertainly, I see her,
silent still and other and dignified,
filling my eyes with light. But she stops.
I face forwards again, blinded, nonplussed.
Behind me she melts back to the dark halls.

by John Freeman

A reminder that the inaugural Reading Poetry Festival runs this week from 5-9 June. The impressive line-up of speakers includes 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.

‘Orpheus, Just Checking’ is copyright © John Freeman, 2007. It is reprinted from A Suite for Summer by permission of Worple Press.

Notes from Worple Press:

John Freeman was born in Essex, grew up in South London and studied English at Cambridge. He lived in Yorkshire before moving to Wales where he teaches at Cardiff University. A Suite For Summer is John Freeman’s ninth collection of poems. Other collections include The Light Is Of Love, I Think: New and Selected Poems (Stride), and Landscape With Portraits (Redbeck)Stride also published a book of essays, The Less Received: Neglected Modern Poets. The essay ‘We Must Talk Now’ appeared in Cusp: recollections of poetry in transition, edited by Geraldine Monk (Shearsman, 2012). In 2013 John Freeman won third prize in the National Poetry Competition. Of his work, Jim Burns has written: ‘The movement of John Freeman’s poems is always easy to follow. The ease and the warmth make for an attractiveness that is central to the poems. And because they never lapse into the merely anecdotal they retain their quality and stand repeated reading. There is a consistency in the writing that is impressive. The voice in the poems is constant and true.’ You can read more about the collection at Worple’s site here.

Worple Press was founded by Peter and Amanda Carpenter in 1997. Since then they have published a wide range of authors, including Iain Sinclair, Joseph Woods, Elizabeth Cook, Beverley Bie Brahic, Clive Wilmer and Kevin Jackson. They published the selected poems of the acclaimed American nature poet Peter Kane Dufault for the first time in the UK (Looking in All Directions); this was followed in 2007 by Kane Dufault’s To be in the same world. Peter Robinson’s The Great Friend and Other Translated Poems was the Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation for Spring 2002. This impressive backlist was augmented in 2012 by three significant titles: Passio: Fourteen Poems by Janos Pilinszky from Clive Wilmer and George Gomori; Riddance by Anthony Wilson; and the republication of William Hayward’s cult novel from 1964, It Never Gets Dark All Night. Over 2013 and 2014 new titles include work from John Greening, Michael McKimm, Peter Robinson, Mary Woodward and Sally Flint.  More information can be found on Worple Press’s new website and Facebook page.

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.