Come to Me

    I was bringing you a little cheese sandwich. It was two in the morning, everybody sleepy, shops closed but in the I Love You bar they gave me a little cheese sandwich.

    I was in a taxi bringing you a little cheese sandwich ’cause you were lying there sad, perhaps even ill, and there was nothing good to eat in the house. Was real expensive, around one lat, but that’s OK.

    So I was in the taxi with my little iluvu, all squished, practically cold. But for some reason I didn’t make it home. Somehow I ended up where all were merry and witty, and starving. So I drank, I sang, but I saved my little sandwich.

    Must have been the third day when I could finally treat you to it, you were so angry, you ate the sandwich hardly looking at it. Had I had more courage, I would have said: but you know I love you, you know I admire you. Don’t make me say it again.


by Kārlis Vērdinš, translated by Ieva Lešinka

Tomorrow (Tuesday 27 October) at 7pm in the John Henry Brookes Building at Oxford Brookes, the prizegiving for the Poetry Centre’s Wellbeing Poetry Competition will take place. All are welcome. The event will also feature a reading from Dan Holloway, celebrated local poet, novelist, and publisher. You can read the winning poems now on the Centre’s website.

‘Come to Me’ is copyright © Kārlis Vērdiņš, 2015. It is reprinted from Come to Me (Arc Publications, 2015) by permission of Arc Publications.

Notes from Arc Publications:

Kārlis Vērdiņš has published five books of poetry, which have been received with great critical acclaim and garnered top literary awards. He is a renowned poet, translator, and critic, living and working in Riga. Vērdiņš has an MA in Cultural Theory and a PhD in Philology. In addition to his innovative poetry, he has published many essays on literature as well as translations of European and American poets (including T.S. Eliot, Konstantin Biebl, Georg Trakl, Joseph Brodsky, Walt Whitman), and has also written libretti and song lyrics. 

The poems in Come to Me show us what’s most noble in human relationships, alongside the basest fears and anxieties. Irony and sarcasm somehow never seem to obscure the warmth of Kārlis’s voice and his attention to intimate details. This book represents Kārlis at the peak of his poetic power: it is gripping, vivid and not a little romantic. Read more about the book on the Arc website.

Translator Ieva Lešinska-Gaber (Ieva Lešinska) studied English at the University of Riga. From 1978 to 1987 she lived and worked in the USA, studying at Ohio State University and the University of Colorado. She now lives in Riga, working as chief translator at the Bank of Latvia, and as a freelance journalist and translator. She has translated the poetry of Seamus Heaney, Robert Frost, D. H. Lawrence, Ezra Pound, Dylan Thomas, T. S. Eliot and various American Beat Generation poets into Latvian, and has published numerous English translations of poems and prose by Latvian authors in periodicals and anthologies in the UK and the US.

Since it was founded in 1969, Arc Publications has adhered to its fundamental principles – to introduce the best of new talent to a UK readership, including voices from overseas that would otherwise remain unheard in this country, and to remain at the cutting edge of contemporary poetry. Arc also has a music imprint, Arc Music, for the publication of books about music and musicians. As well as its page on Facebook, you can find Arc on Twitter. Visit Arc’s website to join the publisher’s mailing list, and to find full details of all publications and writers. Arc offers a 10% discount on all books purchased from the website (except Collectors’ Corner titles). Postage and packing is free within the UK.

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.

Esther Alone


I remember my birth as a dream,
Voices beyond the give and wrench
Of my mother’s bone-tunnel,
Pulled, pulled into the world,

The reddening, vein-thin last look,
Drench of fluid and air the length
Of my body as it fell feet first
To hang by the umbilical.

When I was two I found the company
Of cupboards, made friends
With dust in corners, a hidey hole
Between two rooms

Where I learned to sing
In the first language: mammal clicks
And growls, mouth pictures,
Before there was speaking.

On my fifth birthday I made a peg doll,
Crayon eyes and nipples, pink tissue skirt,
Married her to another peg,
Jammed their legs until they split.

I’d seen my father to my mother do it
And after, her thigh’s black marble.
By forty she was papering folds
Of her face where the powder gathered.

When I was seven I changed: thing
To girl back to thing; then a doubling,
One skin inside another.
At fourteen, my baby girl

By my father still-born in the woods,
Her eyes one long stitch in linen,
White as milk, white as the cut
That opened then sealed.

I grew into stone that could stand
The rain, the cold, the driven wind,
That would be an age in the weathering,
Speck of me a fossil eye watching

In the heart for the time to waken.
The train made the first crack, but deep,
Inaudible, then a fissure from that kiss
It’s taken three months to notice.

I grew out from there with every touch,
Eyelash reaching into leg then pubis,
The spine’s knuckling a whip
All the way to the pads of my fingers.

Now there is Iain I bend him to me.
We are tightening, we are softening,
Our bodies muscle of the other
Until we are more alike than different.

I stand in the wardrobe mirror,
My silvered scar, my silvered belly.
I look for where he has entered me,
And a slit opens an eye in my rib.


by Sarah Corbett

This is the second poem drawn from the new collections of Eleanor Rees and Sarah Corbett and published by Pavilion Poetry. We featured Eleanor Rees’s poem ‘The Cruel Mother’ last week, and you can read it on the Centre’s website. Both Sarah and Eleanor will be visiting Oxford this Friday 23 October – a super opportunity to hear two of the most exciting voices in contemporary poetry. The reading will take place at the Albion Beatnik Bookshop in Jericho from 7.30pm, and all are very welcome! You can get more details on our Facebook events page or by e-mailing us.

‘Esther Alone’ is copyright © Sarah Corbett, 2015. It is reprinted from And She Was: A Verse-Novel (Liverpool University Press, 2015) by permission of Liverpool University Press.

Sarah Corbett has published three collections of poetry with Seren Books: The Red Wardrobe (1998), The Witch Bag (2002) and Other Beasts (2008). She received an Eric Gregory award in 1997 and her work has been shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Forward Prize, as well as being widely anthologised and translated. Her new book, And She Was: A Verse-Novel, was published in April by Pavilion Poetry. Sarah has a PhD in Critical and Creative Writing from Manchester University and teaches on Lancaster University’s Distance Learning MA in Creative Writing. She regularly collaborates with other artists, writers and filmmakers, and runs the monthly poetry reading series in Hebden Bridge, poetrynites@thebookcase. You can read more about And She Was on the LUP website, and more about Sarah’s work on her own site.

Pavilion Poetry is a new contemporary poetry series from Liverpool University Press, edited by Deryn Rees-Jones, which seeks to publish the very best in contemporary poetry. Always international in its reach, Pavilion Poetry is poetry that takes a risk. Whether by new or established and award-winning writers, this is poetry sure to challenge and delight. Launched in 2015, Pavilion’s first three books are by three exciting voices: Sarah Corbett, Eleanor Rees, and Mona Arshi. Pavilion has already enjoyed considerable success, with Mona Arshi’s book, Small Hands, winning the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection at this year’s Forward Prizes. You can read more about the series on the Liverpool University Press 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.

The Cruel Mother

after the ballad


Amongst the leaves I lie
teeth-bared,

raw as the sundown.
Scattered skins hang on the trees

like prayer flags – I am demon,
I am the bad-one.

I am the wild, edible bark.
You bit my tongue and made me roar.

I will barren you, bust up your eye,
scratch at damp dirt with these claws.

Where are you? Nest of twigs,
den in the woods,

hut with smoke at the door.
The home burns its riches.

My young slide onto the forest floor like eels.
They writhe –

branches hold them. Swaddle
small forms with dirt. They call

on into the blistering night.
Sky bubbles and caws.

Trees like dogs lick at the sun,
wide as horizon, large as moon.

The oak I lean on leans back,
bark like a spine.

Over the fence on the well-kept lawn
I hear them talk –

O there is nothing to be done,
Nothing, nothing to be done.

And hear him say
It is not his fault.

And they all agree
it was all up to me.

In the green wood
I sing to hope of rain.

I sing to blood
which falls and pours;

in the garden they sit, drink wine
and thunder, wonder

where I have travelled towards
but don’t stand and search

but talk, and worse they sigh,
O there is nothing, nothing to be done.

I will eat these babies,
cook them one by one.

The green wood says I should stay the night.
The green wood casts a curse

on those who say nothing can be done
and leave me, a wild cat, to run

into their sleep in hot damp beds,
into their eyes in the dark.

I am a clawed mother
and he will not have them back.

O the cruelty he weighed on me.


by Eleanor Rees

Over the next fortnight, we will be featuring two poems drawn from the new collections of Eleanor Rees and Sarah Corbett, and published by Pavilion Poetry. Both Sarah and Eleanor will be visiting Oxford on Friday 23 October – a super opportunity to hear two of the most exciting voices in contemporary poetry. The reading will take place at the Albion Beatnik Bookshop in Jericho from 7.30pm, and all are very welcome! More details can be found via Facebook.

The Poetry Centre has announced the winners of its Wellbeing Poetry Competition! Thank you to all who entered. You can see the shortlist and read the winning poems on the Poetry Centre website.

‘The Cruel Mother’ is copyright © Eleanor Rees, 2015. It is reprinted from Blood Child (Liverpool University Press, 2015) by permission of Liverpool University Press.

Notes from Liverpool University Press:

Eleanor Rees was born in Birkenhead, Merseyside in 1978. Her pamphlet collection Feeding Fire (Spout, 2001) received an Eric Gregory Award in 2002 and her first full-length collection Andraste’s Hair (Salt, 2007) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Glen Dimplex New Writers Awards. Her second collection
was Eliza and the Bear (Salt, 2009), and her most recent, Blood Child (Liverpool University Press, 2015). Rees has worked extensively as a local poet in the community and has a PhD from the University of Exeter in this practice. She often collaborates with other writers, musicians and artists and works to commission. She lives in Liverpool. You can read more about Eleanor’s book on the LUP website, on her own site, and follow her on Twitter.

Pavilion Poetry is a new contemporary poetry series from Liverpool University Press, edited by Deryn Rees-Jones, which seeks to publish the very best in contemporary poetry. Always international in its reach, Pavilion Poetry is poetry that takes a risk. Whether by new or established and award-winning writers, this is poetry sure to challenge and delight. Launched in 2015, Pavilion’s first three books are by three exciting voices: Sarah Corbett, Eleanor Rees, and Mona Arshi. Pavilion has already enjoyed considerable success, with Mona Arshi’s book, Small Hands, winning the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection at this year’s Forward Prizes. You can read more about the series on the Liverpool University Press 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.

Razorshell Wreck on Barleycove Beach on the Eve of All Saints’ Day

A small wreck is a large wreck when a species is in retreat,
undertow and wave-sets soothe and stress between slate hills:
the rise & fall, the artwork re-inscribed in sand which will
gradually wash away, the full weight of the Atlantic.

So attuned, so sensitive, so determined to pull themselves down –
foot anchored hydraulic pull to start again down down down –
razorshell feedertube sucking low tide sweet and sour
into the glasses-case body, enrapture, huddling organs

snug against a cutthroat world’s predators, the larger shifts
making small changes massive, prescribe low-tide second-sight,
test hope as St Jude’s day swell ripped the world apart, a mass
of brethren exposed to make detritus of selves, the soup of origins and excrescence sharply in bands of shifting light,
dozens scattered on this earthquake beach, this harbour wave jewel
where corpses cut bare feet to bone or sinew, ghouls and gods
make sense of spring water bottles and plastic ropes binding
‘best kept secrets’. So many starved here, and razorshells make
discrete sub-fences that will briefly hold the residue of Lisbon’s collapse,
a history divined in shell, its dead reflections, separations along
vaguely perfect faultlines, what fate saw from below the sand.

by John Kinsella and Alan Jenkins

News! On Friday 23 October, poets Sarah Corbett and Eleanor Rees will be visiting Oxford to read from their exciting new books in an event organized by the Poetry Centre. It will take place at the Albion Beatnik Bookshop in Jericho, and all are very welcome! More details can be found via Facebook.

The Adam Phillips seminars at Keble College continue. Seminars focus primarily on American poetry of the twentieth century, and at the meeting Phillips will introduce the material and lead the discussion. For more details about the series, and forthe link to the reading material, please visit: https://tinyurl.com/nbgwdwb The next seminar will be on Robert Hass’s ‘On Teaching Poetry’, and will take place at 4.30pm on Wednesday 21 October in the Pusey Room, Keble College. All are welcome.

‘Razorshell Wreck…’ is copyright © John Kinsella and Alan Jenkins, 2015. It is reprinted from Marine (Enitharmon Press, 2015) by permission of Enitharmon Press

Notes from Enitharmon Press:

John Kinsella’srecent works of poetry include Armour (Picador, 2011) and Jam Tree Gully (W.W. Norton, 2012). Picador published Sack in November, 2014. He is editor and the author of anthologies, works of criticism, fiction and poetry. He is an Extraordinary Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University.Alan Jenkins’s volumes of poetry include Harm, which won the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 1994, A Shorter Life (2005), Drunken Boats (2008), and Revenants (2013). He is Deputy Editor and Poetry Editor of the TimesLiterary Supplement. He is a Fellow of the RSL. You can read more about his collaboration with John Kinsella on the Enitharmon website.

‘William Blake dreamed up the original Enitharmon as one of his inspiriting, good, female daemons, and his own spirit as a poet-artist, printer-publisher still lives in the press which bears the name of his creation. Enitharmon is a rare and wonderful phenomenon, a press where books are shaped into artefacts of lovely handiwork as well as communicators of words and worlds. The writers and the artists published here over the last forty-five years represent a truly historic gathering of individuals with an original vision and an original voice, but the energy is not retrospective: it is growing and new ideas enrich the list year by year. Like an ecologist who manages to restock the meadows with a nearly vanished species of wild flower or brings a rare pair of birds back to found a colony, this publisher has dedicatedly and brilliantly made a success of that sharply endangered species, the independent press.’ (Marina Warner.)  

You can sign up to the mailing list on the Enitharmon site to receive a newsletter with special offers, details of readings & events and new titles and Enitharmon’s Poem of the Month. You can also find Enitharmon on Facebook

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.