You’ve burnt me, bleach. Swollen my skin
until it squeaks. I trusted you and took off
my gloves. You left your red stubble touch.

I know you’re bad, bleach. I’ve read your label
and turned from the checkout before now.
I’ve sworn to give you up for good but

you’re so strong, bleach, when it comes
to the mould blooming across my bathroom
and my dreams. I needed you, called out

and you were there, bleach. Still, you must go.
Quick, no one will know. You’ve chewed my fingers
and swallowed my prints with your stink

so I’m blameless and raw as I tuck you in,
hide your face amongst the softer yet so much
weaker ecological bottles under the sink.

by Katherine Stansfield

This Thursday, join us at Brookes for a symposium about Witchcraft, Spiritualism, and the Occult. Featuring papers about Walter Scott, psychic detectives, and the use of the web to map stories of witchcraft and magic, this will be a lively and eye-opening event. It takes place from 5-6.30pm in room 207 of the JHB Building at Gipsy Lane. More details can be found here.

‘Bleach’ is copyright © Katherine Stansfield, 2014. It was published in Playing House, and is reprinted here by permission of Seren Books

Notes from Seren: 

Katherine Stansfield grew up on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. She moved to Wales in 2002 to study at Aberystwyth University where she worked as a lecturer in Creative Writing for several years before deciding to concentrate on writing full time. She is a poet and fiction writer. Her novel The Visitor was published by Parthian in 2013. It went on to win the fiction prize at the 2014 Holyer an Gof awards. Playing House, her debut poetry collection, was published by Seren in October 2014. Read more about her new book on the Seren website, and more about Katherine’s work on her own site. You can also follow her on Twitter and hear her read from her work here.

Writing about Katherine’s work, the Lampeter Review observed that: ‘Wit is a powerful tool that can be at once unsettling and disarming. It certainly imbues the virtuoso handling of tone in Katherine Stansfield’s poems, and her almost celebratory relish of the physicality of language.’

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.