Child Development

I am concerned we are making this mother
not like her son
by bringing to the surface in a rush
all his faults
to find out why he won’t sit still
and does what he does.

He looks fatter recently,
and turns his toes inwards
in a way that I’ve always liked but know
is aberrant, or will lead to aberrations.

And he looks over his shoulder often.
We have talked of how
he will escape
to the safe middle-distance
where ground-down words become music,

and how he will look for your eyes.
We have been told
we should not hold his gaze
in case he gets in and draws from us
what he thinks he needs,
what we are advised isn’t helping.

I saw the thinnest slice of a moon this morning.
Tomorrow, it will be melted and gone.

by Graham Clifford

Registration is still 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.

‘Child Development’ is copyright © Graham Clifford, 2014. It was published in The Hitting Game, and is reprinted here by permission of Seren Books. 

Notes from Seren:

Graham Clifford was born in 1973 in Portsmouth and grew up in Wiltshire. He studied Fine Art and then Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. He has been published in numerous literary magazines such as: Poetry WalesThe RialtoMagma, and London Magazine. Graham has been commended in many competitions including The Arvon International and the Bridport Prize. Two short collections won first prize in the 2006 New Writer Poetry competition and the Biscuit Publishing Prize in 2008. He has also performed at venues and events including Hay on Wye, The Troubadour Café and the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. His work is featured in the Forward Prize Anthology for 2014. He has recently had two poems chiselled into the pavement near Walthamstow train station as part of a sundial project for refurbishment of the area.  He works as an Assistant Head Teacher in East London. The Hitting Game is his first collection. You can read more about the book on the Seren website, and find out more about Graham’s work on his own website.

Commenting on Graham Clifford’s first book in Mad Hatter Reviews, Charlotte Barnes noted that: ‘A poetry fan to my very core, I was eager to delve into Graham Clifford’s recent collection, The Hitting Game. It was clear from the opening poem, “On the Dispersal of Water”, a nugget of intricate description and thought-provoking imagery, that this was going to be an interesting collection, and the rest of the publication certainly lived up to that initial judgement.’

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.