Like leaves of wind surprised in a sudden gust
they peel away from the dense huddle,
one child, two, then several, more,
they take flight and ruffle up the street,
blown towards each other, impelled into merging,
unravelling the group they were in,
seeking it out again, finding their place.
A magnet drives them apart and tugs them back,
it scatters them first toward the street,
then brings them together once more. It’s very strange
the way they fill out, make themselves be.
As though they don’t know who are they are unless pursued.
They chase each other, touching, colliding.
There’s no giving way, except in a challenge
that blocks them one by one.
There are two or three who have already crossed over,
two or three more who are starting to break away,
until, as if the motive were spreading,
the curl escapes, flies free, tucks itself in,
and they cross the street en masse. A breath
of air lingers, a gentleness that rocks,
that wraps itself round the stragglers, making them
see that they’re not there, they’re not there yet, that the group
is on the other side. All
as natural as a kindly wind,
without violence, like a pattern,
a compact group once more
finally, after movement, calm and still.
by Pedro Serrano, translated by Anna Crowe
A reminder that the deadline for the Poetry Centre’s International Poetry Prize is 31 August. There are two categories: Open and English as a Second Language, and First Prize in each category is £1000. The competition will be judged by Bernard O’Donoghue and Hannah Lowe, and you can enter by visiting this page.
As part of the MCS Arts Festival Oxford (20 June-5 July), the highly-acclaimed poet Roger McGough will be reading on 30 June. You can find more details on the festival site. On 27 June, the festival will also host a youth poetry slam, featuring a wide range of students from across Oxfordshire. More details about that are on this page.
Pedro Serrano has published five collections of poems. Among these are titles such as; El Miedo (Fear) (1986), Ignorancia (Ignorance) (1994), Turba (Peatlands) (2005) and Nueces (Walnuts) (2009). Many of his poems have been translated into English and have been published widely in the UK and abroad. His work has recently appeared on The Verb on BBC Radio Three, presented by Ian McMillan.
The poems in the first full-length collection to be published in the UK by the acclaimed Mexican poet Pedro Serrano, Peatlands, are taken from Desplazamientos, a volume which draws on all his collections since 1986. Chosen by both the poet and his accomplished translator, Anna Crowe, these poems are wide-ranging, passionate and linguistically thrilling.
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