Quick March

Geraniums stood in ranked red rows
inside Victoria’s railed parks
where servants took their Sunday walks
without an aphid on the rose.

My grandfather in brisk young life,
hunched in dugouts, ironed Majors’ clothes,
spotted ‘dead Jerries’, when dawn froze,
then edged his lawns sharp as a knife.

My father kicked down Hamburg’s doors
when they pursued the last SS.
He grew, in ground raked fine as dust,
long beans, parsnips, small potatoes.

The white musk roses bend your border,
bees bumble, where dusk’s crickets trilled.
They marched; from rigid files, fell killed,
so you may garden, in disorder.

by Alison Brackenbury

This Thursday 2 October is National Poetry Day (the theme of which is ‘Remember’), and the Poetry Centre will be marking the occasion with the launch of three projects: a wellbeing poetry competition open to all at Brookes, a Memorable Poem video project in which members of the Brookes community talk and write about the poems which mean the most to them, and a series of pop-up poetry events around the Brookes campuses and across Oxford. You can find out more about all of these on the Poetry Centre website, and will be able to follow our activities on the day via Twitter and Facebook.

‘Quick March’ is copyright © Alison Brackenbury, 2014. It was published by Two Rivers Press in the anthology The Arts of Peace in 2014, and is reprinted here by permission.

Alison Brackenbury’s eighth collection is Then (Carcanet, 2013). New poems can be read at her website, and a new collection will appear in early 2016. You can hear Alison read from her work at the Poetry Archive, and read her reflections on The Great War on her blog entry for April 9 2014. You can also find Alison on Facebook and Twitter.

This poem is taken from The Arts of Peace: An Anthology of Poems, edited by Adrian Blamires and Peter Robinson, and published by Two Rivers Press. The first of August 1914 saw the beginning of the war that was to end all wars and which, instead, ushered in a century of armed conflicts, two of them described as global. This anthology’s title is borrowed from Andrew Marvell’s ‘Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland’, in which he deprecates ‘the inglorious arts of peace’. With this gathering of newly composed poems, and against that grain, this anthology looks to celebrate all that is left behind in times of conflict and which conflict is so often evoked to defend. The more than fifty contributors include Fleur Adcock, Fred D’Aguiar, Gerald Dawe, Jane Draycott, Elaine Feinstein, Roy Fisher, Philip Gross, Allison McVety, Bill Manhire, John Matthias, and Carol Rumens.

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.

Looking At Late Rembrandts After Leaving Dad At The Nursing Home

Bodies strained upright
in upright
straight-backed chairs;
struggle to stay
              clawing hands
grappling arm rests to brace;
their skin-shrunk 
by some inexpressive

the life that has lived them,

the eyes stunned
by seeing the what
is not there,
the foreseeable
that has happened
                            to them;
the eyes in the
struck faces
of the painter’s sitters

with a titanium

glint of light.
by Steven Matthews

‘Looking At Late Rembrandts After Leaving Dad At The Nursing Home’ is copyright © Steven Matthews, 2012. It was published by Waterloo Press in Skying  in 2012, and is reprinted here by permission.

Notes from Waterloo Press:

Steven Matthews’s first book of poetry, Skying, emerges from an engagement with the landscape and seascape of North Essex and the Suffolk border, where Steven Matthews was brought up, and which he has always been drawn back to. It combines moments of illumination with voices remaking family and local stories, and so tunes into oral histories of place. The book’s often local voices associate themselves with, but also diverge amazingly from, national versions of trauma and threat. There are also poems here about childhood, being a father, and about grief and loss. 

But the collection also sets those particular voices within and against the history of poetry and art which has been similarly engaged. A sequence, ‘Places of Writing’, and related work, explore the relation of a gallery of writers to their locale. As the title of the collection, which uses a word coined by the artist indicates, the painter John Constable stands as presiding spirit behind Skying’s related concerns.

Steven Matthews was born and brought up in Colchester, Essex. Various of his poems have been published in magazines and journals including StandVersusKunapipiOxford MagazinePoetry and Audience, and Moving Worlds. He has been a regular reviewer for Poetry Review, and Poetry Editor for Dublin Quarterly Magazine. The former Director of the Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre, Steven Matthews is now Professor in English Literature (Modernism) at the University of Reading.

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.