Oystercatchers

We were too far away
and walking too slowly
to have spooked them.
So then why did they rise,
flicker to life,
like something uplifting
for the butler to see,
with a crow in their midst
like a small dog with many small masters,
shuffling their repertoire
with a conjuror’s flair,
slow flurry of arrows,
falling in sprinkles
on the skin of the shore
further away?

And then why rise again,
and then handbrake turn
not screeching like swifts,
to swirl their way back
to return to exactly
the point where they started.
To settle again,
piping down, down, down?
Why else but the sheer
species élan
of being alive?


by Phil Madden, with illustrations by Paul L. Kershaw

‘Oystercatchers’ is copyright © Phil Madden, 2015, and the illustrations are copyright © Paul L. Kershaw. It is reprinted from The Amphibious Place (Grapho Editions, 2015) by permission of Grapho Editions.

Phil Madden has worked with Paul Kershaw on two other limited-edition works: Wings Take Us (2009) and Paths (2013). Both are published by Grapho Editions. He has also produced limited-edition works with the engraver Peter Lazarov: The Urban Moon (2009) and The Puppeteer and the Puppet (2012), published by Pepel Press. Phil has had exhibitions of concrete poetry in Brussels and the UK and won the Cinnamon Press Concrete Poetry Competition in 2012. The Tea Way (Gean Tree Press) was published electronically in 2012.

After many years as a printmaker specialising in wood engraving, during which time he has become recognised as one of the country’s leading wood engravers, Paul Kershaw has extended his interests towards the design, printing and publishing of handmade books in small editions. The three books created in collaboration with Phil Madden have been printed using hand presses, on fine-quality paper and display a variety of graphic techniques to find new ways of combining text and image. Paths received a Judges’ Choice Award at the 2013 Fine Press International Book Fair in Oxford. The Amphibious Place was also chosen for this award in the 2015 Book Fair, as well as receiving the Toby English Prize for the most original book.

The Amphibious Place (215 x 175mm, 20pp, published by Grapho Editions, October 2015; price: £125, plus postage & packing). The book is printed on Atsukuchi and Kozuke paper, using an Albion handpress and a cylinder press. There are 60 copies in the edition. The setting is Magma. It is cloth bound with a stab binding and housed in a matching slipcase. This book has as its theme the seashore, the space shared by sea and land. Both text and image are centred horizontally along a single line, and the in/out cycle of the tides has inspired various structural pairings and dualities. The binding style, which doesn’t allow the book to lie open, is in part intended to suggest restless motion.

Phil Madden’s poem ‘Oystercatchers’ is divided between two pages, a recto and the following verso, using one sheet of thin paper folded at the fore edge. The inner face has been printed as well as the outer one so that is possible to see through the paper to the layers underneath. To learn more about the book and see further pages from it, visit Paul Kershaw’s website.

You can also get in touch with Paul via e-mail: plkershaw@mac.com

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.

In That Year

And in that year my body was a pillar of smoke
and even his hands could not hold me.

And in that year my mind was an empty table
and he laid his thoughts down like dishes of plenty.

And in that year my heart was the old monument,
the folly, and no use could be found for it.

And in that year my tongue spoke the language
of insects and not even my father knew me.

And in that year I waited for the horses
but they only shifted their feet in the darkness.

And in that year I imagined a vain thing;
I believed that the world would come for me. 

And in that year I gave up on all the things
I was promised and left myself to sadness. 

And then that year lay down like a path
and I walked it, I walked it, I walk it.  


by Kim Moore

News from the Centre: the Poetry Centre’s International Poetry Competition awards event took place last Friday. If you couldn’t make it, you can watch the ceremony (and hear readings from the winning poets, local poets, and by Hannah Lowe) on the Brookes website . The event begins about 14.30 into the film.

Dr Niall Munro, Director of the Centre, appeared with Prof Langdon Hammer on the Dan Schneider Video Series to discuss American poet Hart Crane recently. You can watch the discussion via YouTube .

‘In That Year’ is copyright © Kim Moore, 2015. It is reprinted from The Art of Falling (Seren, 2015) by permission of Seren Books.

The Art of Falling is Kim Moore’s keenly-anticipated debut poetry collection. A young poet from Cumbria, she writes with a compelling directness and power, as inspired by her life as a music teacher, as she is by the lives of ‘my people’ ancestors, poets and musicians. A case of domestic violence features in the cathartic central section. ‘In That Year’ is the opening poem of that section and was nominated for the Forward Prize for Best Poem of 2015. 

Poetry London has commented that ‘there is a real menace and a compelling sense of the narrator’s urgent struggle to escape her abuser in this sequence, with the cycling back of repeated words reflecting the circular non-logic of a woman trapped in a violent relationship.’

Kim Moore lives in Barrow, Cumbria. Her poems have been published in the TLSPoetry ReviewPoetry London, and elsewhere. She regularly appears at festivals and events, and her prize-winning pamphlet, If we could speak like wolves (Smith-Doorstop), was chosen as an Independent Book of the Year in 2012 and was shortlisted for other prizes. Moore won an Eric Gregory Award in 2011 and the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize in 2010. You can read more about her book on the Seren website, and more about Moore’s work on her own site. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Seren is an independent publisher based in Wales. Founded in 1981 to publish poetry discovered by the then-editor of Poetry Wales magazine, Cary Archard. Under Managing Editor Mick Felton the press now publishes a broad range of fiction, non-fiction, and criticism. Amy Wack has been Poetry Editor at Seren for over 20 years. During that time, poets published by Seren have won or been shortlisted for the Costa, Forward, T.S. Eliot and Aldeburgh Prizes. ‪You can find out more about Seren on the publisher’s 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.

Studio Flat

Socks hang like bats from a skylight.
They may be dry in time for the moon.
The camp site owner’s water-feature
drains more blood from the sun.

Cars queue for the narrow bridge.
Birds catch their pulses and fly.

I am suddenly old. What’s an attic
but a bungalow in the sky.

And where are you, my sons?

I heard your voices in the bells

of snowdrops pulled by the wind.
These tulips have lost their smell.

Perhaps I could tell you, one day

where the snowdrops went, why old men
dry their socks on the moon, and what
darkened the skylight, just then.

by Paul Henry

This Friday from 6-8pm in the John Henry Brookes Lecture Theatre, the Poetry Centre presents its inaugural International Poetry Competition awards event, which will include readings by the winners and by the judge, Hannah Lowe. More details can be found on the Centre’s website.  All are welcome, but RSVP asap please to poetrycomp@brookes.ac.uk

‘Studio Flat’ is copyright © Paul Henry, 2015. It is reprinted from Boy Running (Seren, 2015) by permission of Seren Books.

Boy Running is the artful new collection of poems by Paul Henry and the first to follow his widely praised: The Brittle Sea: New and Selected Poems. Also a singer-songwriter Henry is known for his precise lyricism, intimate tone and a cast of characters inspired (like Dylan Thomas) by his childhood by the sea in Aberystwyth, West Wales. Commenting on Henry’s work, Hugo Williams has written: ‘With the purity of a sixteenth-century poet, Paul Henry lets fall his beautiful lyrics like cloaks in the mud of every day. Effortless epiphanies and images gradually break open, releasing a strange power, a dark ocean of longing and loss. His poetry deepens our perception of the world.’ Read more about Boy Running on Seren’s site, and more about Henry on his own website.

Paul Henry came to poetry through songwriting. He has read and performed his work at literary festivals across Europe, Asia and the USA. A popular Creative Writing tutor, Henry has lectured at the University of South Wales and led courses at writers’ centres in the UK and France. Also a broadcaster, Paul Henry has written and presented arts programmes for BBC Radio Wales, Radio 3 and Radio 4.

Seren is an independent publisher based in Wales. Founded in 1981 to publish poetry discovered by the then-editor of Poetry Wales magazine, Cary Archard. Under Managing Editor Mick Felton the press now publishes a broad range of fiction, non-fiction, and criticism. Amy Wack has been Poetry Editor at Seren for over 20 years. During that time, poets published by Seren have won or been shortlisted for the Costa, Forward, T.S. Eliot and Aldeburgh Prizes. ‪You can find out more about Seren on the publisher’s 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.