Days full of caves and tigers

If the branch caught among the boulders reached us
after a rough and stormy passage,
and you retrieve it
like a hunting trophy, to paint
in red and yellow,
colours of the tiger and the dragon;
if the stone’s flat surface
tells a story of grey
wolf skin
or of shipwreck on the shores
of the Lugano Sea, which they wrongly claim
to be a lake;
if really my intention was to write something else
about you that seemed so crystal clear,
but even in my mind
you manage to confuse it, and you are never
sensible and good as gold; it must mean
the world is more jazzy and exciting,
the nights long with shouting
and the days full of caves and tigers,
where great courage is needed to enter
in quest of golden bough or sparkling
gemstone, amethyst or tourmaline.

by Fabio Pusterla

‘Days full of caves and tigers’ by Fabio Pusterla, translated by Simon Knight, is copyright © Fabio Pusterla, 2012. It is reprinted by permission of Arc Publications from Days Full of Caves and Tigers (Arc Publications, 2012).

Notes from Arc Publications:

Fabio Pusterla (b. 1957) is of mixed Swiss / Italian parentage, teaches Italian literature at the cantonal high school in Lugano, and lives just across the border on the Italian shore of Lake Lugano (Lago di Ceresio) in one of the villages of the Valsolda. A poet, translator, essayist and scholar, he contributes to many Italian, Swiss and French literary periodicals. The collection Days Full of Caves and Tigers is drawn from six books which span Pusterla’s poetic career from 1985 to 2011. You can read ‘Deposition’, another poem from the book, on Arc’s site, and get an insight into the translation process by reading an interview with Simon Knight on the Arc blog.

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 find Arc on Twitter. 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.


A dark blue hourglass on the bookshelf fills
with evening light. I turn it over, watch
the sand slip through its waist, narrow as a wasp’s
& count the time it takes the sand to fall…

Outside, the Western Ocean cracks its whips
against the stacks of rock at Castle Point,
those hulking blocks of granite that once slipped
onto the sea, now ground to sand & quartz.

Inside, the Irish Theological
informs us there are two types of slipped disc –
‘hard’ & ‘soft’. The first hits suddenly,
the other’s slow, like the changes of our love.

Kept indoors by the rain our daughter laughs.
She points out to the bay & voices ‘blue’
& I can’t help but feel that we’re the halves
the sand of her young life now trickles through.

by Andy Brown

‘Slippage’ is copyright © Andy Brown, 2001. It is reprinted from Of Science, edited by David Morley & Andy Brown (published by Worple Press in 2001) by permission of Worple Press.

Notes from Worple Press:

Of Science is a sample of poems by contemporary poets who are also trained as scientists. The writers of this selection are drawn from the fields of freshwater ecology, mathematics, marine biology, neural physiology, ethnology, computing, phenomenology and biochemistry. The mode of selection is modelled on the 1802 Lyrical Ballads, in the spirit of Miroslav Holub’s notion of ‘serious play’, with the shared belief of Wordsworth and Coleridge that ‘poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge; it is the impassioned expression which is the countenance of all science.’ Read more about the book on Worple’s site.

Andy Brown is Director of the Exeter University Writing Programme, and was formerly an Arvon Foundation Centre Director. He collaborated with David Morley on the Worple Press poetry collection Of Science. His most recent book of poems is The Fool and the Physician (Salt Publishing). Other recent books are Goose Music (with John Burnside), Fall of the Rebel Angels (both Salt) and The Storm Berm. A selection of his poems appears in the Bloodaxe anthology Identity Parade. He edited two collections of correspondences with authors, Binary Myths 1&2, and is editing a book of essays on Kelvin Corocoran (Shearsman). He is also co-editing A Body of Work: Poetry and Medicine 1750-present with Corinna Wagner, for Bloomsbury/Continuum. Find out more about Andy Brown’s work from his blog.

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.


                                                                                  gods play
                                                                             on sanctus strings

                                                                                  fingers bring
                                                                                liquid upon you

                                                                                     down after
                                                                                 down cliff after

                                                                                   without plan
                                                                                to basin a
                                                                                   to rest
                                                                                to rust from

                                                                                   hour to
                                                                                 next in salts

                                                                                      scatter of
                                                                                  light and elect

                                                                                       is not
                                                                                 granted to us

                                                                                      thrives in
                                                                                 lit air O

                                                                                     spirits you
                                                                               walk up there

by Andrew Bailey

Many apologies for the fact that this week’s Weekly Poem is late. This was due to a server problem, and we hope to have resolved it for now.

Those of you following us on FacebookTwitter, or looking over the recent Forward Prizes shortlists, will have seen the exciting news that Brookes’ Creative Writing Fellow Patience Agbabi has been shortlisted for Best Single Poem for ‘The Doll’s House’. You can read the poem on the Poetry Society website (pdf), and find out on the Brookes website about how Patience came to write it.

The Poetry Centre and the Department of English and Modern Languages is also delighted to announce a PhD Studentship in Poetry. This is a three-year, full-time PhD studentship in any aspect of Poetry and Poetics. More details can be found here, and we would very much welcome your circulation of this news.

‘Hydrotherapy’ is copyright © Andrew Bailey, 2012, and reprinted from his book Zeal, published by Enitharmon Books in 2012.

Notes from Enitharmon:

In ZealAndrew Bailey honours the moments in which the everyday face of the world slips for a second. Dream, myth, faith or intoxication will lead you there; but these glimmers can intrude upon a life when they are least expected. With a poetic eye alert to these moments and roots in the work of Redgrove, Raine, Hopkins and Blake, Bailey’s writing follows an unselfconscious and fascinating path toward the more than quotidian. Penelope Shuttle called Zeal ‘[a] notable début’, observing that ‘[e]lements of earth, air, fire and water are the presiding spirits of this collection, poems that explore transactions between a strongly realised physical world and inward experience. Fluid tactile language is tempered here by stringent observation and wit.’ You can find out more about the collection on the Enitharmon site, and follow Andrew Bailey’s work on his blog and on Twitter.

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.

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 River Flowing Under The Bank of England Dreams of Power

Our slow-green hair has grown. Samson sings
in the loosening links of his brick chain,

ancient tunes of sewage, wave, and drains.
We abrade the runs they lace us through

we swell, we pound; soon otters, willow,
dace and cress below the human landscape

shall burst into their money rooms and break
their fishbone combs, their bead-pearl cufflinks,

coins duller than carp scales, empty wells of ink.
Bonds shall be broken, mussels prise the pyx.

Fish shall dine on floating boards, and silver-fixing
conclaves shall be lunch for oyster and clam.

City pavements tremble over our premature tomb;
the sky empowers us, we fatten, wax, grow bold.

We shall reclaim vaults, gild our snails with gold,
slew filth through their halls. We shall share nothing.

by Marianne Burton

‘The River Flowing Under The Bank of England Dreams of Power’ is copyright © Marianne Burton, 2013. It is reprinted from She Inserts the Key, published by Seren Books in 2013.

Notes from Seren:

Marianne Burton studied law at Oxford and qualified as a solicitor. She worked in the City specializing in advising Friendly Societies, and as a director on the board of a pharmaceutical company. She has a first class degree in Literature from the Open University and a Creative Writing MA from Royal Holloway where she studied with Andrew Motion and Jo Shapcott. In 2010 she was tutored at Ty Newydd by Gillian Clarke and Carol Ann Duffy who encouraged her to put together her first collection. Her poems have been widely published in top literary journals including Poetry WalesPoetry London, and the Times Literary Supplement. Her pamphlet, The Devils’ Cut, was a Poetry Book Society choice in 2007. She has won and been placed in many competitions including Mslexia, TLS, Edwin Morgan, Bridport, and Cardiff. Her work has also appeared in USA outlets such as Poetry Daily, the CSM and Broadlands: Texas Poetry Review. The book from which this poem is taken, She Inserts the Key, was today shortlisted for the 2013 Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection, one of the Forward Prizes for Poetry.

Writing about her work, Andrew Motion has observed that ‘Marianne Burton’s poems combine grace with intelligence, toughness with delicacy, and thoughtfulness with sensuality. This means her work is full of surprising challenges and reconciliations – all of which bring rich rewards to the reader.’ You can read further selections from the book on the Seren website.

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.

A British Summer

My boredom chock-a-block
with furniture – the desk
in bits, the sofa cushions
cluttering the bed, drawers
shoved beneath the dresser
– I stare at Wimbledon
while listening to the man
restretch then clean
the carpets in two rooms.
Suds rumbling in their drum,
the smell of pine detergent
creeping up to me.

Two hours of plucky Brits,
mauve clouds, the covers on,
or grim-faced teenagers
washed up before their spots
have cleared, then I descend
like Norma Desmond,
out of touch, magnanimous;
and all the little dents
where chairs and tables stood
have disappeared, as though
the years of being here
had never happened.

by Stephen Knight

From 1-7 July, this week’s Weekly Poem publisher, CB editions, will be running a pop-up poetry shop at 201 Portobello Road in London. The Shop will be filled with books (from CBe, Eyewear, Arc, Five Leaves, Flipped Eye, and more), photographs by Ken Garland, and other things, and an excellent selection of writers will be calling in to do brief pop-up readings through the week. You can find out more from Charles Boyle’s Sonofabook blog here.

‘A British Summer’ is copyright © Stephen Knight, 2012. It is reprinted from The Prince of Wails by permission of CB editions.

Notes from CB editions:

The Prince of Wails is Stephen Knight‘s first collection of poems since Dream City Cinema (1996), which – like its predecessor, Flowering Limbs (1993) – was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and was selected by Robert Potts in the Guardian as a Book of the Decade: ‘A masterpiece in miniature, packed with surprisingly enthusiastic and musical treatments of entropy, whether universal or personal, by a top craftsman with a quirky and disconcertingly loveable voice.’ Stephen Knight’s novel Mr Schnitzel (2000) won the Arts Council of Wales Book of the Year Award. Born in Swansea, Stephen Knight now lives in London. Read more selections from the collection on the CB editions website.

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.