For P & ZG)

I do not want to be made of blue velvet;
I want to be blue velvet. With a handle of silver
shot lace, made by a consumptive old
Romanov who sips her remittance from tall
thin glasses of sweetened black tea.

It is an understatement to say I wish
to shimmer; that I’m quietly reflective
of colour. Selective colour.
I do not want to reflect grey.

I want to be crafted with unprecedented
patience by a slender man who has no
English and fabulous hands. I want to stand
alone, without the icy compromise of a solitary
walk in St Petersburg. I want to lie; 

lie beautifully within the fabrication
of my fabric. I want to spread, not just my folds
but myself, on the edge of a shelf of mahogany or
a complex inlay of cherry.

I will be complete but not
undone by a ribbon of magenta. I will be warmed
by dry fired irons and the only creases that fall
from me will be creases that are not
part of the truest part of me.

I will be held by a thin frame of teak, picked
from a clearing in Burma. It has been
rosined with cinnamon and dipped in a resin
of smoked cane sugar.

I will hear the wind before it blows through
the gap in a sash window of a fifth floor
rent-controlled apartment on the west side
of Wenceslas Square. I will contemplate only
the nature of rain.

If I am left in the maze of second hand shops
that runs under Rue de Rivoli; if I’m thrown on a bonfire
at the end of no particular week, my combustion
will form a distraction of radiance.
I will show you the origin of red.

by Rosie Shepperd

Tomorrow at the Old Fire Station in Oxford, poet & theatre-maker Hannah Silva presents her solo show ‪‎Schlock! Produced by Penned in the Margins Schlock! sees Hannah rip up her copy of Fifty Shades of Grey and with the help of radical punk-pirate Kathy Acker, she attempts to put the female body back together.You can find out more on the OFS website .

The Poetry Centre has programmed two events at the upcoming Oxford Literary Festival . Helen Mort and Alan Buckley perform their show ‘The Body Beautiful’ on Sunday 3 April , and then Claire Trévien, Harry Man, and Sarah Hesketh will read on Tuesday 5 April . Come along!

‘Parapluie’ is copyright © Rosie Shepperd, 2015. It is reprinted from The Man at the Corner Table (Seren, 2015) by permission of Seren Books.

Rosie Shepperd’s debut poetry collection, The Man at the Corner Table , is a feast of delights. Its grace and precision charm us, and then beguile us into a world that is vital and unsettling. Sheenagh Pugh says: ‘Rosie Shepperd looks aslant at the everyday until it becomes uncommon. She explores sadness through humour and emotion via the silence of white space. Her voice is singular, engaging, unmistakable.’

Rosie Shepperd trained as an economist and worked in financial journalism and then banking in London and New York until 2004. She studied Creative Writing at London University’s Birkbeck College and at the University of South Wales and has a PhD from London University’s Goldsmith’s College. Her poems have appeared widely in journals and she has won a number of competitions and was shortlisted for the 2013 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem, which was read on stage by Juliet Stevenson. Stevenson observed: ‘Rosie Shepperd’s poems read like miniature films. The intensity of the moment she captures in each is framed with such vivid imagery, shot through with sensuality and wit. And her rhythms have the rigour and restlessness of really good jazz… Hers is a startlingly original voice. I so enjoyed reading this collection.’

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.