Thetford Forest

Frozen mud-pelt of early morning,
the air bristles with frost-shine.

Our winter breath hangs
in the air before us.

We walk into deep grey
where the trees crowd in,

their pine needle smell

There is faraway bird-call,
the startled flap of a fresh waked pigeon,

A deer eye appears,
and vanishes back into shadow.

We emerge into the stark-limbed skeleton
of the deciduous forest.

The sky opens out − a gap of relief
after the inky conifers.

We gulp lung after lung of early winter,
see every third tree marked with a cross:

a yellow smear
where the saw will bite,

flaking jackets of bark barely
covering pale bodies.

by Julia Webb

A reminder that our 2016 International Poetry Competition is now open for entries! This year’s judge is the award-winning poet Daljit Nagra, and you can find details about how to enter on the Poetry Centre website. There are two categories: Open and English as a Second Language, and the winners of each category will receive £1000, with both runners-up receiving £200. The deadline for entries is 31 August. Please feel free to pass the word along!

‘Thetford Forest’ is copyright © Julia Webb, 2016. It is reprinted from Bird Sisters (Nine Arches Press, 2016) by permission of Nine Arches Press.

Julia Webb was born in London and grew up in Thetford – a small town in Norfolk. She left school at sixteen and spent nine years living in a rural commune before settling in Norwich. She has a BA (Hons) in Creative Writing from Norwich University of the Arts and she graduated from the University of East Anglia’s Poetry MA in 2010. In 2011 she won the Poetry Society’s Stanza competition and in 2014 she was shortlisted for the Poetry School/Pighog pamphlet prize. She teaches creative writing in the community and is a poetry editor for Lighthouse Literary Journal. Bird Sisters is her first collection of poems. Writing about the book, Moniza Alvi has commented: ‘Beset by the dark instability of a particular family’s life, Bird Sisters exerts a powerful hold, as if to read it is to be haunted by things one half-remembers.’ Read more about Bird Sisters on the Nine Arches website, more about Julia’s work on her website (including her current writer-in-residence role at Norwich Market), and follow her via Twitter.

Since its founding in 2008, Nine Arches Press has published poetry and short story collections (under the Hotwire imprint), as well as Under the Radar magazine. In 2010, two of our pamphlets ( The Terrors by Tom Chivers and The Titanic Cafe closes its doors and hits the rocks by David Hart) were shortlisted for the Michael Marks Poetry Pamphlet prize and Mark Goodwin’s book Shod won the 2011 East Midlands Book Award. In 2012, Nine Arches launched the Debut New Poets Series of first collections and the press has now published more than 30 collections of poetry and 10 issues of the magazine. We continue to build a reputation as a publisher of well-crafted and innovative contemporary poetry and short story collections. Follow Nine Arches on Facebook and Twitter.

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