The Event

On the fifth day we sailed our frozen island out
into the shipping lanes. We counted all the evil things
and cast them in an ice-hole. They were only numbers.

On the fourth day we opened high-yield savings accounts.
The refugee camps were fast becoming commuter towns
encircling the crater. Jets of steam were seen from the tor.

On the third day we left our cars in short stay.
The air was pine-fresh. Pebbles nuzzled at our shoes.
We began to doubt the alignment of the trackway.

On the second day we shopped. You carried your foot
like a dead weight. Some youths got on TV
pretending to be trainee customer service assistants.

On the first day the fridge defrosted itself.
Wearing Halloween masks we made love and
you said something really evil about a mutual friend.

On the day before the first day we fell into geometry
like children. The sky was a chemical peel.
We slept alone and restlessly through the shipping news.

by Tom Chivers

The Poetry Centre recently launched its International Poetry Competition! There are two categories: Open and English as a Second Language. The winner of each category receives £1000, and second prize is £200. Our judges are Bernard O’Donoghue and Hannah Lowe. Find out more information about the competition, read the terms and conditions, and enter on the Poetry Centre website. Please spread the word!

‘The Event’ is copyright © Tom Chivers, 2015. It is reprinted from Dark Islands (Test Centre, 2015) by permission of Test Centre.

Notes from Test Centre:

Tom Chivers was born in 1983 in south London. His poetry publications include How to Build a City (Salt, 2009), The Terrors (Nine Arches, 2009), Flood Drain (Annexe, 2014) and, as editor, the best-selling anthology Adventures in Form (Penned in the Margins, 2012). He won an Eric Gregory Award in 2011 and has been shortlisted for the Michael Marks and Edwin Morgan prizes.

Tom makes perambulatory, site-specific and audio work for organisations such as LIFT Festival, Cape Farewell, Humber Mouth, Bishopsgate Institute and Southbank Centre. In 2009 BBC Radio 4 broadcast his documentary on the poet Barry MacSweeney. In 2011 this poem, ‘The Event’ was turned into an animated film by Julia Pott and broadcast by Channel 4. It has subsequently been screened at film festivals worldwide and viewed over 100,000 times online. You can watch it on Vimeo. There will be a special launch event on Thursday 14 May for Tom’s new book. Visit Test Centre’s site here for more details about how you might attend.

Test Centre’s first project was a series of spoken word vinyl LPs, starting with Iain Sinclair’s Stone Tape Shuffle. This was followed by Chris Petit’s Museum of Loneliness and Stewart Home’s Proletarian Post-Modernism. In 2012 Test Centre hosted a 12-week series of radio shows on Resonance FM, presenting a subjective history of spoken word recordings. Test Centre has published 5 issues of its fiction and poetry magazine, with future issues continually in the process of compilation. Other publications include a number of books and pamphlets by Iain Sinclair, including Austerlitz & After: Tracking Sebald and RED EYEGOOGLEmeGOD and House of Memory by Chris Petit; a facsimile edition of Derek Jarman’s rare and only collection of poetry, A Finger in the Fishes Mouth; the poetry anthology I Love Roses When They’re Past Their Best;  Within Habit by Oli Hazzard and The 9 Lives of Ray The Cat Jones by Stewart Home.

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.