from Lives of the Poet


He remembers lunchtime readings at The Swan,
The Dove, The Mermaid; ‘the girls were all gazelles’
and among them sat that lovely, dutiful daughter . . .
He loved her. He began to write ghazals
to her eyes that reminded him of the sea . . .
He stepped out to sun that glittered on the water
beyond shop-girls and typists, suited types
and he felt, not that they were ‘free bloody birds’
but that happiness might still be caught, endlessly –
a salt-wet happiness in which there were few words,
in which she lay naked with that just-fucked look
and oleanders rustled in the breeze that shook
a leaf-shower down outside, while on
her shoulder shuttered moonlight fell in stripes . . .


Immoderation, intransigence, exorbitance,
a feeling of being out-of-this-world
or better-than-this-world, the prizes coming
at the wrong times to the proper people
and vice-versa, the protestations
of cheerfulness, the all-pervasive insecurity,
the chronic lack of commitment, the lifelong
dependence on others – for hospitality,
money, love – the simultaneous contradictory
impulses to be adored and alone, connected
and adrift; the brief passionate flare-ups, the long
epistolary retreats, the ecstatic arrivals,
panic departures; ‘agonizing reappraisal’,
disavowal; severe gloom, habitual dejection.

by Alan Jenkins

Poems ‘9’ and ‘20’ from Lives of the Poet are copyright © Alan Jenkins, 2013, and reprinted from The Palm Beach Effect: Reflections on Michael Hofmann, edited by André Naffis-Sahely and Julian Stannard (CB editions, 2013).

Calling all poets! The Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre invites all members of the Oxford community to join us in celebration of National Poetry Day on Thursday 2 October 2014 by performing poetry in our Pop-up Poetry event.

The performance will be a part of a series of Pop-up Poetry events featured around Oxford exclusively for National Poetry Day. Should you wish to take part, we would need you to have around five minutes of material to perform. We encourage you to read your own work and/or the work of other poets. If you would like to participate, please send us an e-mail at including your name and a sample of the poetry you would like to read, by Friday 5 September 2014. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

Notes from CB editions:

Alan Jenkins
, deputy editor of the Times Literary Supplement, has published a number of poetry collections, among them Harm (Forward Prize, 1994) and A Shorter Life (2005). The second poem here, in italics, is from the prose of the poet and translator Michael Hofmann – himself the subject of the book in which the poems are included, a collection of memoirs, poems and criticism published by CBe under the title The Palm Beach Effect.

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 on 6 September at Conway Hall in London.

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.