Black bird, black voice,
almost the shadow of a voice,
so kind to this tired summer sky,
a rim of night around it,
almost an echo of today,
all the days since that first
soft guttural disaster
gave us ‘apple’ and ‘tree’
and all that transpired thereafter
in the city of the tongue.
Blackbird, so old, so young, still
happy to be stricken with a song
you can never choose away from.
by Anne Stevenson
There are only a few places left for our next poetry workshop this Saturday! It will be led by poet and teacher Sarah Hesketh and is entitled ‘“more than skin can hold”: Writing People’. The workshops runs from 10.30-4.30pm in the John Henry Brookes Building here at Oxford Brookes University, and will consider the questions that arise when we attempt to represent and remember others in our writing. All are welcome! Visit our website for more information and to sign up.
Alongside poet Kelley Swain and Claire Hamnett from the Oxfordshire Science Learning Partnership, Niall Munro (Poetry Centre Director), is one of the judges for the Oxfordshire Science Festival poetry competition! If you know pupils in Oxfordshire schools aged 7-16, please encourage them to enter! Full details (and information about prizes!) are available on the OSF website.
This Sunday, as part of the Oxford Literary Festival, actor Toby Jones talks to Oxford Brookes’ Professor Simon Kövesi about his life and career and how he interprets the written word in his performances. You can book tickets for the discussion on the OLF website and hear Toby read Blake’s poem ‘London’ at this link.
‘In the Orchard’ is copyright © Anne Stevenson, 2016. It is reprinted from In the Orchard (Enitharmon Press, 2016) by permission of Enitharmon Press.
Notes from Enitharmon Press:
In the Orchard is not so much a collection of poems about birds as a book of memories and rare moments in which a number of familiar birds have played a spark-like role in bringing poems about. They are chiefly lyrical in character and range in time from ‘Resurrection’ written over fifty years ago to recent poems like ‘The Bully Thrush’, but they are not ordered chronologically and shouldn’t be associated with events in the poet’s private life. The etchings by Alan Turnbull are the result of his patient and painstaking study of each bird as it relates to the poem in which it appears. You can read more about the book on the Enitharmon website.
Anne Stevenson, an Anglo-American who has lived in Britain for many years, published eleven collections of poems with OUP before Bloodaxe Books brought out two further volumes incorporated into her Collected Poems 1995–2005. Her Selected Poems were published by The Library of America, after she won The Poetry Foundation of America’s Neglected Master’s Award in 2007. In the same year she received the Lannan Prize for a Lifetime’s Achievement in poetry. In recent years Bloodaxe has published Stone Milk (2007) and Astonishment (2012). Find out more about Anne Stevenson’s work and hear her read from her poems on her website.
‘William Blake dreamed up the original Enitharmon as one of his inspiriting, good, female daemons, and his own spirit as a poet-artist, printer-publisher still lives in the press which bears the name of his creation. Enitharmon is a rare and wonderful phenomenon, a press where books are shaped into artefacts of lovely handiwork as well as communicators of words and worlds. The writers and the artists published here over the last forty-five years represent a truly historic gathering of individuals with an original vision and an original voice, but the energy is not retrospective: it is growing and new ideas enrich the list year by year. Like an ecologist who manages to restock the meadows with a nearly vanished species of wild flower or brings a rare pair of birds back to found a colony, this publisher has dedicatedly and brilliantly made a success of that sharply endangered species, the independent press.’ (Marina Warner.)
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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.