Sweets

After dark she handed round the confectionery
and the rustle of the papers excited me.
As well as the comforting chocolate colours
there were staring greens, lumps of grainy yellow
and white fondant homunculi, whose feet
were the first items to be bitten off.
I would nibble my way up through the body,
thinking about the organs I’d consumed
and which had yet to come. The head when reached
was crunched between my remorseless milk teeth.

Now there’s unwelcome knocking at the door
and parents’ voices in the social mode.
No, I will not come home! This is my home –
from now on and forever. I have left you
and shall be colonising this chaise longue,
where Phyllis sits, warm thigh pressed against mine,
biting into dusted Turkish delight
with regular little ivory teeth
and squeezing the pieces against her palate
with a pink, unspeakably catlike tongue.

by Fergus Allen

If you are in Oxford or visiting the city soon, and haven’t yet seen the exhibition Where We Begin to Look. Landscape and Poetry, there is still time! Where We Begin to Look is a collaborative exhibition by the artist Zoe Benbow and the poet, Deryn Rees-Jones, and is presented by the Poetry Society and Small World Theatre, Ceredigion. It will be at the Glass Tank at Oxford Brookes until 5 November, and you can find out more about it on the Brookes web site.

‘Sweets’ is copyright © Fergus Allen, 2010. It is reprinted from  Before Troy  by permission of CB editions.

Fergus Allen is 92 years old. Educated in Ireland, he moved to England during the Second World War and ended his professional career as First Civil Service Commissioner. Following retirement he has published collections with Faber and Dedalus Press as well as CBe. Writing from a lifetime of rich experience, Fergus Allen offers poems of precision and fine observation, stripped of illusion yet deeply human in their affections and glancing wit. The confusions of abroad, of childhood and memory, of love and sex and identity, are rendered in  Before Troy  with a bracing clarity. You can hear Fergus Allen reading from his poems at the Poetry Archive.

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 been shortlisted for both the Forward Prize and the Forward First Collection Prize three times. 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 and this year, 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.

Holes

I pressed the button. No-one came. The police could not find me in
the dark. They were also afraid of death… it might come for them
instead. They waited behind a screen of trees, for the moon to
uncover itself, silver the edges of their sirens, their dark cars. The
pale pebbles in the driveway, left to imagine the river that used to
wet them-they must tire of always staring up, sightless and at the
mercy of everything. The police step on them. They creep only so
close, but no closer. My son is dead on the ground. Someone close
his eyes. But I am ignored in this as I have been with so many other
things. His blood is cold now, blackening, drying up, stiffening the
fabric of his jacket, soaking into the soil. There are holes in him I
know nothing about, nothing to do with the boy I delivered to the
world, my gift, small and pure. The dark is blue and cold. The trees
conceal susurrations in their high skirts, branches uplifted like arms,
wailing whispers… Black cars, old scars, my son’s open mouth,
empty shotgun shells whistling smoke white dancing up and out

by Ivy Alvarez

There is an exciting multi-poet reading taking place at the Jericho Tavern on Walton Street in Oxford tomorrow (Tuesday 22nd October). The evening will feature Fiona Sampson (former associate of the Poetry Centre), Patrick McGuinness, Jenny Lewis, and Claire Trévien, who featured in a recentPoetry Centre podcast. Tickets cost £5/£4 on the door, doors and bar open 6pm, and you are advised to arrive early! You can find more details about the event from thewebsite of Gareth Prior, who is the organizer of the reading.

‘Holes’ is copyright © Ivy Alvarez, 2013. It is reprinted from Disturbance, published by Seren Books in 2013.

Notes from Seren: 

Ivy Alvarez is the author of Mortal (Red Morning Press, USA, 2006), her first poetry collection. Her poems appear in anthologies, journals and new media in many countries, including Poetry WalesNew Welsh Review, Roundyhouse and Red Poets, as well as Best Australian Poems (2009), A Face to Meet the Faces (University of Akron Press, 2012), The Guardian (online, 2012), Prairie Schooner (US, 2012) and Junctures (NZ, 2010), with individual poems translated into Russian, Spanish, Japanese and Korean. A MacDowell and Hawthornden Fellow thrice-shortlisted for Best Poem by fourW (Australia), both Literature Wales and the Australia Council for the Arts awarded grants towards the writing of her second collection, Disturbance, which was published this month. Born in the Philippines and raised in Australia, she became a British citizen in 2010 after living in Cardiff, Wales since 2004. Disturbance is a book-length long poem, in multiple voices, that relates the devastating consequences of a true-life case of domestic violence that leads to murder. Writing about her first collection, Denise Duhamel commented that ‘Alvarez is an ambitious poet who challenges herself and her readers, while exploring the complexities of families through persona.’ You can read further extracts from Disturbance on the Seren website, and follow her work via her website or on Twitter: @IvyAlvarez.

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 Walesmagazine 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.

John Betjeman at Trebetherick

A mile of sunny, empty sand away
A boy sits by the surf and clasps his knees.
‘Don’t care. Don’t care. Don’t care,’ the breakers say;
A mile of sunny, empty sand away;
Joan, Tom, Ralph, Alistair and Phoebe play,
But Biddy whispers to the foam-flecked breeze,
‘We’re sorry, sorry, sorry. Come back please.’
A mile of sunny, empty sand away
A boy sits by the surf and clasps his knees.

Red Admirals basking with their wings apart;
Up on the links it’s been like this all week.
Plus fours and baggy caps look very smart:
(Red Admirals basking with their wings apart)
As serious golfers make an early start;
The niblick and the mashie and the cleek
Where light and dappled shade play hide-and-seek.
Red admirals basking with their wings apart
Up on the links. It’s been like this all week.

Then the cool silence of St Enodoc,
Her spire bent like a crooked witch’s hat,
A grave, a stile, a dandelion clock
Then the cool silence of St Enodoc
A clergyman attends his little flock:
The Psalms, the Lesson, the Magnificat,
The Creed, the Prayers, the Anthem, all of that
In the cool silence of St Enodoc,
Her spire bent like a crooked witch’s hat.

by John Whitworth

The Wantage (not just) Betjeman Festival gets underway this week, and the programme for Sunday 20 October features a number of poetry events, including readings from former Poetry Centre Fellow Fiona Sampson (some of whose poems you can read on the Poetry Centre site); an event entitled Now as Then: Mesopotamia-Iraq, which includes work by British poet Jenny Lewis and Iraqi poet Adnan al Sayegh to mark the 10th anniversary of the 2003 UK/US invasion of Iraq; and a collaboration between Peter Wyton, former Poet Laureate of Gloucestershire, and Cheltenham Poetry Festival Co-Director Robin Gilbert, celebrating history in verse. In the evening, there will be a poetry slam. You can find out more about the Festival and book tickets for it via the Festival website.

If you are a poet yourself, you may be interested in the Troubadour International Poetry Prize, the winner of which receives £2500. The judges this year are Deryn Rees-Jones and George Szirtes, and the deadline for entries is Monday 21 October. More details and the rules are to be found on the Coffee-House Poetry site.

‘John Betjeman at Trebetherick’ is copyright © John Whitworth, 2012, and reprinted from his book Girlie Gangs, published by Enitharmon Books in 2012.

Notes from Enitharmon:

The first line of each verse of ‘John Betjeman at Trebetherick’ is from Betjeman’s poem ‘Sunday Afternoon Service in St Enodoc’s Church, Cornwall’. Cornwall was, unsurprisingly, the first of the Guides to English Counties he edited and in some cases, including this one, wrote for the Shell Oil Company. Names in the first stanza are of children he knew from holidays at Trebetherick, Biddy [Walsham] not quite the first of his freckled, boyish blondes.

John Whitworth has published nine books of poems, edited two Faber anthologies and written a book on writing verse. His work has appeared in Poetry Review, the TLSLondon Magazine and the Spectator among many others. He has been awarded the Cholmondeley Prize and The Silver Wyvern, Poetry on the Lake. You can read more by John Whitworth at the poetry pf site.

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 on the Enitharmon site 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.

Wingprint

the colour of power hanging in the air
                      is a word for sun on warm stone
made transparent

as sky and trees
           repeat leaves in flame
                      on the other side a flight path

where finches throw their outlines
                      wings etch themselves on windows

in the stun of what stops them
an identified span
of feather grease and dust

                                            a curve of passageways
glazed over a bird
                      flies in
                                 lost in exits
           and entrances                      a tongue silent
                      behind a mouth that moves through glass

when the door is locked it is alarmed
                                 somewhere between G4 and E7
or what I know and and how it’s different from X

a restless wish for    what can’t be googled
           and if so is it knowledge
                                            or the lost keys
that apple F won’t retrieve

by Zoë Skoulding

The Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre warmly invites you to attend the opening of the exhibition Where We Begin to Look: Landscape and Poetry on Friday 11 October at 6.30pm in the Glass Tank, Abercrombie Building, Oxford Brookes University. Where We Begin to Look is a collaborative exhibition by the artist Zoe Benbow and the poet, Deryn Rees-Jones, and is presented by the Poetry Society and Small World Theatre, Ceredigion. The opening event will feature a discussion about the exhibition by Benbow and Rees-Jones, and readings by Rees-Jones and Sarah Corbett, whose work appears in the show. You can find out more on the Brookes website. If you would like to attend the opening, please reply to this message with your details. The exhibition runs until 5 November and is open to all.

‘Wingprint’ is copyright © Zoë Skoulding, 2013. It is reprinted from The Museum of Disappearing Sounds, published by Seren Books in 2013.

Notes from Seren: 

Zoë Skoulding‘s previous collections of poems include Remains of a Future City (Seren, 2008), and The Mirror Trade (Seren, 2004). Her work as a poet also encompasses criticism, translation and cross-media performance; she has been involved in several projects combining poetry with music or experimental soundscape, particularly as a member of Parking Non-Stop. She lives in north Wales, where she is Senior Lecturer in the School of English at Bangor University and Editor of the international quarterly Poetry Wales. You can follow Zoë’s work via her website or on Twitter.

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.