There was this baby who thought she was a hand grenade.
She appeared one day in the centre of our marriage
– or at least in the spot where all the elements of our union
       appeared to orbit –
and kept threatening to explode, emitting endless alarm-sounds
       that were difficult to decode.
On the ridge of threat, we had two options.
One was attempt to make it to the bottom
of the crevice slowly, purposively, holding hands. The other
       was see how long we could stand there philosophizing
       that when she finally went off we’d be able to take it.
But then the baby who believed she was a hand grenade
       was joined in number: several more such devices entered our lives.
We held on, expecting each day to be our last. We did not let go.
As you might expect, she blew us to smithereens.
We survived, but in a different state: you became
       organized, I discovered patience, shrapnel soldered the parts of us
       that hadn’t quite fit together before. Sometimes when I speak
it’s your words that come out of my mouth.

by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

Two notes from the Poetry Centre: registration is now open for our contemporary poetry conference in London from 13-14 March, to which all are welcome. ‘New Generation to Next Generation 2014’ features academic panels, a poetry reading from Nick Drake and Helen Mort, and discussions about the publishing and reviewing of contemporary poetry. It will be an exciting two days. Full details of the programme are available on the IES website. The conference also includes a free public reading on the evening of 13 March by an illustrious ‘cross-generation’ panel of poets: Ian Duhig, Patience Agbabi, and Hannah Lowe, and you can register for that via the IES.The deadline for submissions to our well-being poetry competition isthis Friday 13 February. It is open to all members of the Brookes community. Find more details on the Poetry Centre website.

‘Boom!’ is copyright © Carolyn Jess-Cooke, 2014. It was published in Boom!, and is reprinted here by permission of Seren Books.

Notes from Seren:

Carolyn Jess-Cooke is a poet and novelist from Belfast. She has received numerous awards for her poetry, including an Eric Gregory Award, the Tyrone Guthrie Prize for Poetry, an Arts Council Writer’s Award, prizes in the Cardiff International Poetry Competition and the National Poetry Competition, and she has twice received a Northern Promise Award. Her work has been translated into over twenty languages. She is Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow. You can read more about Boom! on Seren’s pages, and more about Carolyn Jess-Cooke from her website. You can also follow Carolyn on Facebook and Twitter.

Writing about Jess-Cooke’s work in New Welsh Review, Georgia Carys Williams has commented that: ‘For any readers who sigh at the very idea of pregnancy writing, these poems are somehow unique, laying motherhood bare, written at the raw moment of pain and ecstasy at each strange and miraculous stage. We can only gain further insight from such vivid descriptions of how this experience affects time, identity and relationships.’

Seren is based in Bridgend, South Wales and was originally conceived in the early 80’s by then Head of English at Brynteg Comp, Cary Archard, on his kitchen table as an offshoot of Poetry Wales magazine. After moving briefly to poet Dannie Abse’s garage in Ogmore by Sea, the advent of Managing Editor Mick Felton has seen the press has go from strength to strength. We’ve 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 John Redmond’s Poetry and Privacy, as well as sumptuous art books like the collaboration between the painter Shani Rhys James and a number of poets and writers: Florilingua). Seren’s poetry list, edited by Amy Wack since the early 90s, has produced T.S. Eliot-nominated titles by Deryn Rees-Jones and Pascale Petit, Costa winner John Haynes, and a large list of Forward prize winners and nominees. Cary Archard remains on our Board of Directors and is a lively and influential presence. We mourn the loss, last year, of the wonderful Dannie Abse, also a guiding spirit. Find out more about the publisher from its website.

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.