I Know

You want to go away.
Because they kill all the rabbits here.
But you’re not a rabbit.
Try explaining that to them.

It’s the rabbits that make it impossible.
No, it’s you.
Why me?
Why the rabbits?

If charged by a savage rabbit,
act like you’re dead.
I know that, you know that,
but does the rabbit know it?

And then the sun stops shining.
After how long?
After four days.
Thank you, I thought for a moment you said three days.

Was that it or did it get dark?
What did you think I wanted?
The same story over and over.
I wouldn’t exchange you for anyone else.

by Nachoem M. Wijnberg, translated by David Colmer

The Poetry Centre recently recruited its first ever cohort of interns! Ten students, drawn from across the undergraduate year groups, have already begun work on a variety of projects. Much of their attention will be focussed upon this year’s National Poetry Day (2 October), for which they will be co-ordinating a series of events such as ‘pop-up poetry’ around the city of Oxford. There is more information about the interns on the Centre’s website.

One of the interns’ first events, the Brookes Poetry Slam, takes place this Wednesday 2 April, from 6.45 at Union Hall (in the new John Henry Brookes Building). All Brookes students are invited to take part, and everyone is invited to be part of the audience. It’s free! If you’d like to read, please contact Wolf Hounsome on brookesslam@gmail.com You can find more details on the Poetry Centre’s Facebook page.

‘I Know’ is copyright © Nachoem M. Wijnberg, 2013, and translated by David Colmer. It is reprinted by permission of Anvil Press from Advance Payment, Selected Poems (Anvil Press, 2013).

Notes from Anvil Press:

This selection introduces a major poet who is also a business studies professor, a combination which may explain his vigorous questioning of human values in poetry which asks ‘What is worthwhile?’ His poems are characterized by simplicity and clarity, narrative and reasoning: he claims they ‘at least promise to be about the important things in everyone’s life.’ The book from which this poem is taken, Advance Payment, Selected Poems, was a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation in 2013.

Nachoem M. Wijnberg, born in Amsterdam in 1961, has published fourteen volumes of poetry. A Law and Economics graduate, he became in 2005 the first Professor of Cultural Entrepreneurship and Management at the University of Amsterdam Business School. His poetry has won many prizes, including the Jan Campert Prize, the Ida Gerhardt Prize and the most prestigious Dutch prize for poetry, the VSB Poetry Prize. Nachoem Wijnberg will be appearing with Arjen Duniker and Anne Vegter, the current Poet Laureate for the Netherlands, at the Wenlock Poetry Festival on Sunday 27 April from 4.30-5.30pm. You can find out more about this event from the festival website.

David Colmer is an Australian writer and translator based in Holland. He was awarded the New South Wales Premier’s Translation Prize and PEN Medallion and is a two-time winner of the David Reid Poetry Translation Prize. His translations include Martinus Nijhoff’s Awater and selections from Ramsey Nasr, Cees Nooteboom and Hugo Claus.

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.

Wooden Bird

What about the soldiers?  What of them?
When the later ones came, how did they seem to you?
They were grown-ups.  I don’t know.
They had rabbit fur ushankas and heavy coats.
Yes, they sat in the square.  That’s it? 
They wanted bread.
Did you give them any?  My mother gave me some
to hand them. 
                       They were carving birds.
Out of lime wood, I think, because it’s softer. 
I gave one of the soldiers some bread
in return for a wooden bird.
I used to run with it, my arm stretched
high above my head.
One of its wings broke off. 
But all through the war, through grey sky,
over blue oceans, over green lakes and rivers,
red dots of capital cities, brown bumps
of the mountains around and around
the astonishing globe we flew together.

by Maria Jastrzębska

Ever wondered how the Weekly Poem got started? Find out by reading this article on the Poetry Centre website, and encourage your friends to sign up!

The Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre is collaborating with the Oxford-based mental health charity, The Archway Foundation, on an 18-month project funded by Time to Change. The project is aimed at reducing stigmas around mental health issues. The first of a series of multimedia creative arts events takes place this Saturday afternoon at the Asian Cultural Centre on Manzil Way, off the Cowley Road. Please feel free to come along. You can find more details on the Archway website.

‘Wooden Bird’ is copyright © Maria Jastrzębska, 2013. It is reprinted from At the Library of Memories by Maria Jastrzębska (published by Waterloo Press in 2013) by permission of Waterloo Press.

Notes from Waterloo Press:

Maria Jastrzębska
 was born in Warsaw, Poland and came to the U.K as a child. At the Library of Memories (Waterloo Press 2013) is her third full length collection. She co-translated Elsewhere by Iztok Osojnik (Pighog Press 2011) and her drama Dementia Diaries toured nationally in the same year. She is co-editor of Queer in Brighton (New Writing South 2014). You can read more about her work on her blog.

Waterloo Press offers readers an eclectic list of the most stimulating poetry from the UK and abroad. We promote what’s good of its kind, finding a commonality amongst the poets we publish. Our beautifully designed books range from lost modernist classics, translations and vibrant collections by the best British poets around. Our translation list is growing to 25% of our output.

Waterloo Press brings radical and marginalised voices to the fore, mirroring their aesthetics in outstanding book design, including dust jackets; large font; and original artwork. With its growing list, Waterloo Press promotes at last a permeable membrane between contemporary schools, quite apart from archiving a few sacred vessels for good. WP fosters a poetics based on innovation with respect for craft, bloody-mindedness and as founder Sonja Ctvrtecka put it: ‘An elegant unstuffiness – a seagull perched on a Porsche.’ Now the major poetry publisher of the south-east, we also believe strongly in a community of like-minded independent presses. We’ve become a land.

Find out more about Waterloo Press via its website, or ‘like’ the publisher on Facebook.

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 Bindon Landslide

When the earth began to move, cracks daggering
the chalk cliff path, they thought nothing of it,
went home to their beds, the landlord’s Christmas
whisky still hot on their breath, bellies happy
with sweetmeats and pickle. They slept with deep,
dark dreams of the day, of the horse buckling
in the limestone quarry and heavy hods cutting
their shoulders, then darker dreams of sulphur
and sinkholes, dank pools of bitumen, rivers
of leachate, pipelines, convoys, midnight tankers,
and the sea roaring, agitated, an intolerable
stench that woke them, their tenements rending
and sinking, the moon in the window entirely ajar,
fissures gaping, they’d say, like the mouth of hell.

by Michael McKimm

Tonight at 5.30pm at Regent’s Park College in Oxford, Cindy Aalders will be giving a talk entitled ‘The Life and Hymns of Anne Steele’, in which she will discuss one of the most prolific hymn writers and poetesses of the 18th century. Free tickets can be booked at The Angus Library and Archive website, where you can also find information about an exhibition concerned with non-conformist women which accompanies this series of talks.

This week’s publisher, Worple Press, will be appearing at the Cheltenham Poetry Festival from 5-6 April. Events include a showcase of new and established poets on Saturday 5 April, including Stephen Boyce, Sally Flint, John Freeman (whose work featured in a Weekly Poem in June 2013), John Greening, and the author of this week’s poem, Michael McKimm. You can find more details on the Worple website.

‘The Bindon Landslide’ is copyright © Michael McKimm, 2013. It is reprinted from Fossil Sunshine by Michael McKimm (Worple Press, 2013 by permission of Worple Press.

Notes from Worple Press:

Michael McKimm
 was born in Belfast in and grew up near the Giant’s Causeway. He now lives in London where he works for the Geological Society Library. The poems collected in Fossil Sunshine are the result of a year-long collaboration with earth scientists, in a project funded by Arts Council England. A graduate of the Warwick Writing Programme, Michael won an Eric Gregory Award in 2007 and was an International Writing Fellow at the University of Iowa in 2010. His debut collection is Still This Need (Heaventree Press, 2009) and he is published in the anthologies Best of Irish Poetry 2010 (Southword Editions, 2009), Best British Poetry 2012 (Salt, 2012) and Dear World & Everyone In It: new poetry in the UK (Bloodaxe, 2013). You can read more of his poems on his website and on his poetry and geology 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 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. 

Hyas Araneus

All animals have a minimum space requirement, 
without which survival is impossible.
Bubbles overlap, social animals
need to stay in touch, it varies species to species.

The critical distance is so precise
it can be measured in centimetres.

The English have characteristically demonstrated
that they are not afraid to plan.

In the spring, each male stickleback
carries out a circular territory.

Social distance in man has been extended
by telephone, TV and the walkie-talkie.

In the cold waters of the North sea
lives a form of crab, Hyas Araneus.

At certain times in the life cycle,
the individual becomes vulnerable to others.

Do we grasp because we have hands
or do we have hands because we grasp?

Crabs are solitary crustaceans –
This is 1966. Look at the advantages

held by those that have a territory, a space
of their own. Look at the advantages.

by Hannah Silva

‘Hyas Araneus’ is copyright © Hannah Silva, 2013. It is reprinted by permission of Penned in the Margins from Forms of Protest (Penned in the Margins, 2013). 

Notes from Penned in the Margins: 

‘Hyas Araneus’ is from Forms of Protest, the debut collection from Hannah Silva. Previously a performance-based poet and a theatre writer, this is the first time Silva has translated her highly experimental work for the page. These poems and experimental texts oscillate between sense and nonsense, meaning and music, always testing the limits of language to represent the lived world.

Hannah Silva’s performance piece Total Man has recently been nominated for the prestigious Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, and you can read more about Hannah Silva’s work from the Penned in the Margins site. There you can also hear Silva discuss the relationship between poetry and performance with Penned’s director, Tom Chivers. You can read Hannah Silva’s thoughts on her blog, and 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.

from Soon

There is a woman. Sitting by the door. It slides loudly. She wears a blue
jumper. A beaded necklace. She looks out the window. Her features look
fragile. She’s thinking of her husband. He’s away on business. She doesn’t
trust him. She crosses her arms. The train doesn’t move. She turns her head
towards me.
I know her. I’ve seen her before. At a party in Chelsea. The waiters were
Portuguese. Everyone was rich. Everything was expensive. Even the noise. Even
the smells. Air clogged with entitlement. She wore a long black dress. She
laughed loudly. Her legs were long. You found her pretty. Some music came
on. She swung her hips. So did the others.
Let’s leave, you said. A man came towards us. He was drunk. He spoke of
birds. You enjoyed him. We stayed. You mentioned buzzards. Then marshes.
The sea, I said. No one heard.
We went home.
Your hand was warm.

by Alba Arikha

Two competitions seek entries: for the Dylan Thomas International Poetry Award poets from around the world are invited to submit a single previously un-published poem of a prescribed length in response to the word ‘Harmony’ by 31 March 2014. An award of £2000 will go to the winner and a copy of the poem will be displayed for the next year at the Dylan Thomas Centre. For more details, visit the Prize’s designated website.

And the Poetry Centre and the Ashmolean Museum are still accepting entries for ‘Picture This!’, their Pre-Raphaelite poetry competition, open to all Sixth Formers studying in Oxford. More details can be found on the Ashmolean’s website.  The competition deadline is Monday 17 March.

from Soon’ is copyright © Alba Arikha, 2013, and is reprinted from Soon (CB editions, 2013) by permission of CB editions.

Notes from CB editions:

Alba Arikha was born and grew up in Paris, and now lives in London. Major/Minor, her memoir about growing up in Paris (where Samuel Beckett was her godfather), was selected among the ‘Best Books of 2012’ by The New Yorker; she has also published a novel and a short-story collection, and has recorded a CD of her songs, Dans les rues de Paris. In Soon, the book-length narrative poem from which the above extract is taken, a train comes to an unscheduled stop an hour outside Paris, and while the other passengers bicker, confide and flirt, the narrator remembers – lovers, disappointments, childhood, marriage. You can read further excerpts from the book on the CB editions website.

CB editions, founded in 2007, publishes poetry alongside short fiction and other writing, including work in translation. Its poetry titles have won the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize three times (in 2009, 2011 and 2013), and have been shortlisted for both the Forward Prize and the Forward First Collection Prize. In 2011 CBe inaugurated 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 2012 and 2013, with over 50 publishers taking part, and has become an annual event. The next fair will take place around Easter 2014.

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.