Water

Since you, images of water. Dream
of a tidal wave, poised to annul me
while I waited in creaming waters.

Nights by rivers, white noise
that roared us to sleep, filled us
with liquid currents, pooled splendours, till we
were every mountain stream, all snow-melt, joined
into one broad irresistible water
breaking in silver fire.

Water at your feet that laps and idles
like a tide still undetermined
where the main pull is.

Downpour all day. Rain is all the verbs,
all puissance, rushing in lines.

by Elizabeth Cook

Two news items! Be inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites: the Poetry Centre and the Ashmolean Museum have just launched the 2014 Pre-Raphaelite Poetry Competition. Open to Sixth Form students in Oxfordshire County Council schools, students are encouraged to write a poem based on their response to one of the six Pre-Raphaelite paintings in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum. You can find full details about how to enter the competition and reproductions of the paintings on the Ashmolean site. Entries will be judged by Brookes Pre-Raphaelite expert Dr Dinah Roe and celebrated writer Kate Clanchy. The deadline is Monday 17 March.

Worple Press, our publisher this week, is holding a reading on Thursday 6 February. It will feature Stephen Boyce, Sally Flint, and Mary Woodward reading from their new Worple collections at Senate House Library, London. This is a free event with wine and nibbles, and begins at 6.30pm, with readings starting at 7pm. For more details, visit the Facebook event page.


‘Water’ is copyright © Elizabeth Cook, 2006. It is reprinted from Bowl by Elizabeth Cook (published by Worple Press in 2006) by permission of Worple Press.

Notes from Worple Press:

This poem is from Bowl, Elizabeth Cook’s critically acclaimed 2006 collection which has recently been re-issued by Worple Press. Elizabeth Cook was born in Gibraltar in 1952, spent her childhood in Nigeria and Dorset, and now lives in East London and Suffolk. She is the editor of the Oxford Authors John Keats and author of Achilles (Methuen and Picador USA), a work of fiction with a performance life, acclaimed on both sides of the Atlantic. Her poetry, short fiction and critical reviews have appeared in many journals including AgendaThe London Review of BooksPoetry LondonStandMoving Worlds and Tears in the Fence. She has been a Hawthornden Fellow and wrote the libretto for Francis Grier’s The Passion of Jesus of Nazareth, jointly commissioned by VocalEssence in Minneapolis and the BBC. She has since collaborated with him on a sequence of poems for a Vespers setting.

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 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. 

Town Show ’82

The photograph is all the colours of a headache;
muted, almost sepia, a khaki sleeveless jacket, a belt, a camera,
you smoking over my mother’s shoulder.
Hot blood collects behind my eyes.
Until my eleventh year you were dead. Not there
in the misplaced picture in your plimsoll shoes and fat silver watch
you probably couldn’t afford.
I want to be inside this frame, between the two white billygoats,
burn the show tent down, stand in the ashes and say
daddy, it matters not where you have been,
if you come with me now I will write you poems,
push you around in a wheelchair in your old age.
I will sit with you around hospital beds,
contract MRSA and light your cigarettes.
I scan every last centimetre now as though it holds a clue.
Joe, your name is Joe.

by Melissa Lee-Houghton

‘Town Show ’82’ is copyright © Melissa Lee-Houghton, 2013. It is reprinted by permission of Penned in the Margins from Beautiful Girls (Penned in the Margins, 2013). 

Notes from Penned in the Margins: 

Melissa Lee-Houghton was born in Wythenshawe, Manchester in 1982. Her poetry, short fiction and reviews have been published in literary magazines such as SuccourThe Short ReviewMagma, and Tears in the Fence. Her first collection, A Body Made of You, was published in 2011. She lives in Blackburn, Lancashire.

Beautiful Girls was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Writing about the collection, Chris McCabe has commented that ‘Beautiful Girls is not a book for the faint-hearted. The reader has been invited to a sleepover at the asylum, a night in which five-year old girls drift alone through the wards, where the mentally unstable do sit-ups when nobody is watching, and where heaven is a place between “the sky and the planets” reserved for those with personality disorders. This collection will be a home-to-home for sufferers and a journey through terrible night for those who’ve been fortunate enough to take the non-scenic route in life.’

You can read more about Melissa Lee-Houghton from her blog, and also follow her on Twitter

Penned in the Margins is an independent publisher and live literature producer specialising in poetry and based in East London. Founded in 2004, the company has produced numerous literature and performance events, toured several successful live literature shows, published over twenty-five books, and continues to run innovative poetry, arts and performance projects in the capital and beyond.

Their recent anthology, Adventures in Form, was awarded a Special Commendation by the Poetry Book Society and was chosen as one of 50 Best Summer Reads by The Independent. You can visit the Penned in the Margins website  here to sign up to the mailing list, and follow the publisher on  Facebook and  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.