The Things She Burned That Year

Whole nights claimed her on sooty knees,
worshipping the heat of a first open fire.
She tended it with the caution of a mistress,

offered her past and part of her future.
She kindled her half-filled diary; each curling
page exposed the inky, unburned next.

All afternoon it read itself to the blaze,
settled down at dusk to a soft grey bed.
She was watching someone she knew grow old.

Then she’d fed the fire a banquet of porn
that she no longer had an attic to store.
The printed bodies, the breasts and cocks

were nibbled off by a bright green flame
before the paper charred in the usual way.
And the final text that lanterned out

in the beige-tiled fireplace flared so fast
that the thing she wanted to erase
was lost: even its capsicum name is dust.

by Judy Brown

News from the Centre! This Friday sees the first of our lunchtime readings at Brookes for the semester, featuring Seán Street and Jennifer Wong. All are welcome! Please feel free to bring your lunch!

There are just a couple of places left on the workshop led by Tamar Yoseloff entitled ‘The Space of the Poem’ on Saturday 22 October. Inspired by the exhibition by Pan Gongkai running at Brookes’ Glass Tank, we will look at examples of Chinese painting, concrete poetry and text-based sculpture as a way of generating new poems. You can read more about the workshop on the Brookes website, where you can also book your place. There is a reduced price for Brookes students and staff.

Threads Across Water is an exhibition of painting, print and sculpture by Carola Colley inspired by the poetry of Usha Kishore, which is currently running at The Mill Arts Centre in Banbury, Oxfordshire. To tie in with the show, there will be a workshop and reading by Usha Kishore on Saturday 15 October. The workshop, entitled ‘Poetising Myth’, will take place at the Mill Arts Centre from 2.30-4 p.m on Saturday, and the reading will take place at 5.30pm. Email for details and to book your place, or visit the Facebook page for more details.

‘The Things She Burned That Year’ is copyright © Judy Brown, 2016. It is reprinted from Crowd Sensations (Seren, 2016) by permission of Seren.

Notes from Seren:

Driven as much by thoughtful speculation and metaphysics as by personal experience and relationships, Judy Brown‘s poems surprise and delight at every turn. Crowds and isolation, and city and the country collide in Judy’s second collection. Spells living in London and Hong Kong and the author’s recent residencies in Grasmere and North Wales provide key moments of inspiration. Crowd Sensations is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Judy’s debut, Loudness, was shortlisted for the Forward and Fenton Aldeburgh first collection prizes. Judy writes and teaches in Derbyshire and London and is a Royal Literary Fund Fellow. She was the Wordsworth Trust’s poet-in-residence for 2013 and was a 2014 Gladstone’s Library writer-in-residence. Judy won the Manchester Poetry Prize in 2010. Carol Rumens has described her as ‘a poet who instinctively sees the possibilities of defamiliarisation wherever she casts her penetrating, colour-loving eye.’

Seren has been publishing poetry for 35 years. We are an independent publisher specialising in English-language writing from Wales. Seren’s wide-ranging list includes fiction, translation, biography, art and history. Seren’s authors are shortlisted for – and win – major literary prizes across Britain and America, including the 2014 Costa Poetry Prize (for Jonathan Edwards’ My Family and Other Superheroes). Amy Wack has been Seren’s Poetry Editor for more than 20 years. You can find more details 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.