The Snow Bunting

A mason times his mallet
to a lark’s twitter

            Basil Bunting Briggflatts

Big Voice Ben sings the Monday Morning song to Susie.
Finn Balor hits the coup de grace to pin Samoa Joe.
Chloe Sevigny is 41 years of age. I know Timothy Hutton
starred in The Falcon and the Snowman, which was directed
by Snow Bunting.

Two birds, one one legged, the other bipedal, sing.
One’s song operatic, the other popular.
I own no birds, and so feel terrible to find that worm
in the road, inching towards cars near Harlesden.
What waste, they need those nutrients in the Arctic.

The Snow Bunting holds a sign that says Don’t Leap.
It’s fire-born in a box, the enemy of salamanders
and as it enter the galaxy, its main thing is stolen
from the Black Library.

One day you’ll work for me says the Snow Bunting,
on the way out. So the other bird pursues,
and punches the Snow Bunting.
Why couldn’t it just have kept its mouth shut?

The Snow Bunting stars in movies with the most impossible
combination of words, like Black Dawn, Half Past Dead,
and Point Blank. It runs like a little girl covered in bees,
but you can’t say anything about that.

What’s the best cartoon to watch when you’re smoking
your home made cigarettes, Snow Bunting?
The call is the distinctive rippling whistle
of the monogamous snowflake, arctic specialist.
It’s not your friend. You don’t know anything about it.

by SJ Fowler

This weekend, three of our students will take part in The University Camarade, curated by this week’s poet, SJ Fowler. Jennifer Wong, Abigail J. Villarroel, and Christina Murphy have been paired up with other students from different universities to produce collaborative poetry that they will perform this Saturday 25 February at Rich Mix in London from 7.30pm. This promises to be a very exciting event and it is free to attend! You can find more information about it on the Rich Mix website.

‘The Snow Bunting’ is copyright © SJ Fowler, 2016. It is reprinted from Birdbook IV: Saltwater and Shore (Sidekick Books, 2016) by permission of Sidekick Books

SJ Fowler is a poet and artist. He has published five collections of poetry and been commissioned by Tate Modern, BBC Radio 3, The British Council, Tate Britain and Wellcome Collection. He is the poetry editor of 3am magazine, Lecturer at Kingston University, teaches at Tate Modern and is the curator of the Enemies project. He is a high functioning vegan bear, befriends birds and will protect their eggs with electric technologies. Currently he is writing an autobiography of the famous Hyde Park Mud Crow. Find out more about his work on his website.

Notes from Sidekick Books:

With this poem we continue our selection of poems from Sidekick Books’ four volumes of Birdbooks. In 2009, with two micro-compendiums under their belt, Kirsten Irving and Jon Stone, the editors at Sidekick, discussed the idea of a book of bird poetry – but one in which less well known species were on equal terms with the popular ones. There are dozens of poems about herons, eagles, ravens and nightingales, not so many about the whimbrel, the ruff, the widgeon or the hobby. Paper-cut artist Lois Cordelia was recruited to give the series its distinctive covers, and over 150 artists and illustrators were commissioned over six years to complete the series. The first volume is now in its second printing. Find out more about the Birdbook series on the Sidekick website.

Sidekick Books is a cross-disciplinary, collaborative poetry press run by Kirsten Irving and Jon Stone. Started in 2009 by the ex-communicated alchemist Dr Fulminare, the press has produced themed anthologies and team-ups on birds, video games, Japanese monsters and everything in between. Sidekick Books titles are intended as charms, codestones and sentry jammers, to be dipped into in times of unease. You can follow Sidekick’s work on the press’s website and via Twitter.

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.

Lip Service, or La Haine

Kiss you, take your children.
Riotous though it is, this shit’s not for kids.

La Haine is bloating through drive-in speakers, serenading ‘68
miasma, she and Humbert staring down the barrel of the same
animal gun, wincing.

I will cross you if you come over all drunk-like,
tarantella con dolcezza with your latest organ grinder.
Find Slovenia with your head full of black, black wine
— dim donkey piñata —
an industry of collagen in scapegoat giallo.

How can I follow the winters,
archangel of interns; doubting Thomas
and his motives. Intimate metastasis
intrigues the censor, his biting wounds
inwardly glow

and Venus infers her worth from a table.
Her onus, her offending isotopes,
eyes big as gum balls, swings rapidly,
a timeshare in blazing saddles and
neat little ellipticals.

I hope, I know as you do,
we’ll settle kindly out of court;
— you form –isms like Christmas —
sweet Mary shares her sweat with an ostler,
a meek swearing cross to milk.


by Charlotte Newman

Poetry news! Award-winning Danish poet Pia Tafdrup visits the UK this week in a short tour organized by the Poetry Centre. Pia will be in Reading on Wednesday, reading with Peter Robinson, will be in discussion with Fiona Sampson in Ledbury on Thursday, and will be reading withPhilip Gross in Oxford on Friday. For more details, visit the dedicated page on the Centre’s website. To coincide with Pia’s visit, the Story Museum is running two exciting workshops for primary-age children about the work of Hans Christian Andersen (a significant source of inspiration for Pia Tafdrup). The workshops, based on Andersen’s stories ‘The Ugly Duckling’ and ‘The Princess and the Pea’ take place on Friday 17 February from 11-12.15pm and1-2.15pm, and are suitable for children aged 5-8. Visit the Story Museum website for more information and to book places. Tickets are £6.

Poet and critic Sean O’Brien is giving the Weidenfeld Lectures at St Anne’s College here in Oxford over the next few weeks. Tomorrow his lecture is entitled ‘Displacement: Irish poetry and poets of Irish descent in Britain.’ The events takes place at 5.30pm in the Mary Ogilvie Lecture Theatre at St Anne’s College. He will also be giving a reading with Patrick McGuinness at The Albion Beatnik on Sunday 26 February from 6pm. All are welcome to these events, and you can find more details on the St Anne’s website.

‘Lip Service, or, La Haine’ is copyright © Charlotte Newman, 2016. It is reprinted from Trammel (Penned in the Margins, 2016) by permission of Penned in the Margins.

Notes from Penned in the Margins: 

Trammel is a radical book of poetry for an uncertain future. Voracious in her critique of modernity, Charlotte Newman ranges across the spectra of social and sexual politics – from Brexit to the Bechdel Test via Renaissance art and vintage computer games. These poems are stylish, muscular and linguistically agile. Always driven by a musical engine, Newman weaves the hard language of politics, technology, finance, science and the law into a new lyric texture. Urbane yet uncompromising, Trammel is the powerful debut collection from a voice that demands to be heard. You can read more about the book on the Penned in the Margins website, and read a further sample here.

Charlotte Newman was born in Surrey in 1986. She read English at Selwyn College, Cambridge and holds an MA with Distinction in Modern and Contemporary Literature from Birkbeck, University of London. She won the inaugural Sabotage Award for Best Poetry Pamphlet in 2013 and was featured in The Salt Book ofYounger Poets in 2011. After a brief stint indexing the entire back catalogue of The Erotic Review, she worked as a journalist and publicist for a leading family law rm, writing articles for national newspapers while also contributing freelance reviews to The ObserverThe New Statesman and Poetry Review, among others; she was shortlisted for The Scotsman’s Allen Wright Award for theatre criticism. Charlotte lives in London with her husband, the poet James Brookes, and works as a political communications consultant, specialising in healthcare. Trammel is her first full collection. You can follow Charlotte on Twitter.

Penned in the Margins creates publications and performances for people who are not afraid to take risks. The company believes in the power of language to challenge how we think, test new ideas and explore alternative stories. It operates across the arts, collaborating with writers, artists and creative partners using new platforms and technologies. Read more about its work on its website. You can also follow Penned in the Margins on Twitter and 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.

To Kill a Robin

Come January, the pair of us clarted out to pluck
the morning, feet bound in brushwood – plumage
flying out of my Mother’s mouth. It was us
or the birds. If you kill a robin on New Year’s Day,
give a feather to a rodman and he’ll always sail clear.
She would not be a widow, not yet. You could say
I had a mind for the birds, the hunch of me
hunkered in spitting distance of the river, so still
and part of everything in my brown coat, I wanted
to grab my cold breath and pull it back in.
Ma stood listening for the tek tek, a cough hanging
frayed streamers over our heads. I caught the robin
in nithered fingers I barely dared open. There,
the bird perfectly refused to have its neck snapped.
It simply stopped in the cave of my grasp, one
last trill like water rolling a silence over my hands.

by Angela Readman

News from the Centre: leading Scandinavian poet Pia Tafdrup is visiting the UK from 15-17 February in a tour organized by the Poetry Centre. She’ll be in Reading (reading with Peter Robinson), Ledbury (with Fiona Sampson), and in Oxford (with Philip Gross). More details about the tour are on the Poetry Centre website, and there are only 10 tickets left for the date in Oxford. Book via our Shop now!

Be sure to tune in to 
BBC Radio 4‘s In Our Timeprogramme this Thursday to hear our colleague Prof Simon Kövesi discussing the poet John Clare with Prof Jonathan Bate and Dr Mina Gorji. There’s more about Simon’s research on his webpage.


‘To Kill a Robin’ is copyright © Angela Readman, 2016. It is reprinted from The Book of Tides (Nine Arches Press, 2016) by permission of Nine Arches Press.

Angela Readman’s The Book of Tides is a treasure trove of luscious, visceral poems that are delightfully risky, utterly thrilling and always close to the bone. Readman’s poetry teems with the rare and beautiful, the dark seaweed sparkle of a particular strand of skewed folklore; here we encounter fishermen and mermaids, a man with a beard of bees, a Tattooist’s daughter, Joan of Arc, and Beatrix Potter’s bed – a rich swell of voices with an irresistible and peculiar power.

Salt-speckled and sea tinged, these poems possess a distinctive eye for disconcerting and uncanny details – from notes in bottles and knotted handkerchiefs, to sequin fish-scales and drowned rats. To read Readman’s poetry is to be simultaneously unsettled and enraptured, and to encounter witchcraft, murder, love and loss. As The Book of Tides unfolds, will you dare to put your ear to its seashell, tune into its siren song and cast yourself adrift on its strange and alluring current? Read more about the book on the Nine Arches website.

Angela Readman’s stories and poems have appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines, including London Magazine, Staple, Ambit and Mslexia, and she has won awards including the National Flash Fiction Competition. In 2012 she was shortlisted for the Costa Short Story Award for ‘Don’t Try This at Home’ – an award she would go on to win in 2013 with the story ‘The Keeper of the Jackalopes’. Her previous collections of poetry include Strip (Salt, 2007). The Book of Tides (Nine Arches Press, 2016) is her third collection of poems. You can read more about Angela Readman on the Nine Arches blog, and follow her work on 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.

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.