Imp

On the bad days, I shooed her mews away
out of nothing but an absence of joy.
I never installed a back-door flap for her,
so she would patter all night to get in at the window
while I lay wide-eyed and sleepless, pretending not to hear.

I know it was a blessing
when she landed like a fly on my forehead
as I was trying to write,
her cicada rustle scribbling in and out
before the flick of my hand sent her to hide
in the plumbing, where she whined for weeks
until I found her, toad-shy and morning-blind
in the kitchen sink. I held her, for the first time then,
revived her with what has become her favourite wine.

It has often been her game
to go missing. It is where she thrives,
as if she delights in being imagined –
looked-for in the fading light,
or at the beck of a buzzard’s call.
In the garden, I would find her spraint,
stinking of rotten fruit and putrid grain,
the tang of iron and the fume of honeycomb.
She would announce her return with a black-out
bite through electrical cable, then creep in close, dab
my eye with a spider-leg to see if I was awake.

She could drive me mad
with her cuckoo blink –
then I remember how she would
pull me out of the O of a dream
when I couldn’t breathe
and make me a day-bed from her sloughed skin.
She would lap at whatever saltwater
leaked from me. It wasn’t right
for her to see me cry,
but she would tongue my tears away,
curl me a rabbit-fur snake
for a pillow and blow through my ears.
Her opalescent gaze could break
the world-egg open
over and over again.

Tonight, I will leave out a bowl
of blood and marrow to tempt her back,
fall asleep on the sofa, wait
for a child’s hand to touch my face.

by Gregory Leadbetter 

The Poetry Centre recently launched the Oxford Brookes 2017 International Poetry Competition, which is judged this year by award-winning poet Helen Mort. Poems are welcomed from writers of 18 years or over in the following two categories: English as an Additional Language and Open category. First Prize in both categories is £1000, with £200 for Second. The competition is open for submissions until 11pm GMT on 28 August 2017. Visit our website for more details.

Join us this Thursday lunchtime from 12.15-1pm here at Brookes in JHB 207 for the exciting opportunity to hear readings from our two newest members of staff in Creative Writing: novelist Morag Joss and poet Andrew Eaton. All from and beyond Brookes are very welcome, and refreshments will be served!

And later today (Wednesday), our Visiting Professor Michael Parker, and Aleksandra Parker will be in Oxford to launch their new edited and translated version of Andrzej Franaszek’s award-winning biography of the great Polish poet Czesław Miłosz. The event, which Andrzej Franaszek will also attend and at which copies of the book published by Harvard University Press will be on sale, will also include a screening of the documentary film ‘The Magic Mountain: An American Portrait of Czesław Miłosz’. Visit the TORCH website for more details.

‘Imp’ is copyright © Gregory Leadbetter, 2016. It is reprinted from The Fetch (Nine Arches, 2016) by permission of Nine Arches Press

Notes from Nine Arches:

Gregory Leadbetter’s first full collection of poems, The Fetch, brings together poems that reach through language to the mystery of our being, giving voice to silence and darkness, illuminating the unseen. With their own rich alchemy, these poems combine the sensuous and the numinous, the lyric and the mythic. 

Ranging from invocation to elegy, from ghost poems to science fiction, Leadbetter conjures and quickens the wild and the weird. His poems bring to life a theatre of awakenings and apprehensions, of births and becoming, of the natural and the transnatural, where life and death meet. Powerful, imaginative, and precisely realised, The Fetch is also poignant and humane – animated by love, alive with the forces of renewal. You can read more about the collection on the Nine Arches website, and find out more about his work on his website. You can also follow him on Twitter.

Gregory Leadbetter’s debut full-length poetry collection, The Fetch, was published by Nine Arches Press in October 2016. A pamphlet of poems, The Body in the Well, was published by HappenStance in 2007, and his work has appeared in The Poetry Review, Poetry London, The Rialto, Magma, The North, Agenda and elsewhere, including several anthologies. Gregory completed a PhD at Oxford Brookes University, and his book on Coleridge’s poetry, the transnatural and the dilemmas of creativity, Coleridge and the Daemonic Imagination (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), won the University English (formerly CCUE) Book Prize 2012. He has written radio drama for the BBC, and was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship in 2013. Gregory is Reader in Literature and Creative Writing at Birmingham City University, where he is Director of the MA in Creative Writing and the Institute of Creative and Critical Writing.

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.

Meteor

And this is how everything vanishes, 
how everything that vanishes begins, 
the hinged moment looking forwards and back.
Like that night when we sat with the back door open,
the summer distilled to the scent of jasmine, 
the scrape of cutlery, the chink of glass. 
A robin stirred in the dusty hedgerow. 
Clothes held our bodies as a mouth might a kiss.
Then the meteor brought us to our feet: 
a stripped atom, trapping electrons
to excite the darkness with its violet light.
I remember how it disturbed the heavens, 
burned against the air to leave no trace. 

by Deryn Rees-Jones

The Poetry Centre is delighted to announce the launch of this year’s Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition! We are also excited to say that this year our judge is the award-winning poet Helen Mort. With two top prizes of £1000 on offer, the competition seeks to celebrate the great diversity of poetry being written in English all over the world. Poems are welcomed from writers of 18 years or over in the following two categories: English as an Additional Language – for poets who write in English as an additional language, and Open category – for poets whose first language is English. First Prize in both categories is £1000, with £200 for Second. The competition is open for submissions until 11pm GMT on 28 August 2017. Visit our website for more details.

This Saturday, head along to the Albion Beatnik Bookshop in Oxford for ‘Nevertheless, she persisted: an evening of feminist/equality poetry in Oxford’. Presented by The Persisters, this event will encourage poetry, equality and empowerment for all. The headliners are Kelley Swain and Rowena Knight, and there will be an open mic open to all. Sign up from 19:00. Entry £4. Profits will be donated to Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre. You can find more details on the Facebook page.

‘Meteor’ is copyright © Deryn Rees-Jones, 2016. It is reprinted from What It’s Like to Be Alive: Selected Poems (Seren, 2016) by permission of  Seren

Notes from Seren:

‘Meteor’ is included in What It’s Like to Be Alive: Selected Poems from the highly-regarded poet, Deryn Rees-Jones. A milestone in the career of this author, the book includes generous selections from her previous individual collections including her debut, The Memory Tray; her subsequent Signs Round a Dead Body; her murder-mystery in verse: Quiver; her T.S. Eliot prize-nominated, Burying the Wren; and her long poem inspired by Edward Thomas’ wife, And You, Helen. A poet of intimate lyricism, of thoughtful speculation, close to the natural world, or ‘creaturely’ as John Burnside puts it, this is work which balances a singular musical quality with a profound intelligence as well as a deep emotional power. Read more about the book on Seren’s website.

DerynRees-Jones was born in Liverpool, and educated in North Wales and London. Her debut, The Memory Tray, was nominated for the Forward Prize, and her most recent collection, Burying the Wren, was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and nominated for both the Roland Mathias and the T.S. Eliot prize. Her other collections published by Seren include Signs Round a Dead Body; a murder-mystery in verse, Quiver; and a collaboration with the artist Charlotte Hodes, And You, Helen, that includes images alongside a long poem inspired by the wife of the poet Edward Thomas. She has edited the influential Modern Women Poets anthology and a companion critical book, Consorting with Angels, for Bloodaxe. In addition to being chosen as one of the Next Generation Poets in 2004, Deryn has received a Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors and was picked as one of the top ten women poets of the decade in Mslexia magazine. She is Professor of Poetry at the University of Liverpool where she co-directs the Centre for New and International Writing, and edits the Pavilion Poetry Series for Liverpool University Press. You can find out more about Deryn’s work on her website, and follow her on Twitter.

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.

THE POET ASKS HIS LOVE ABOUT THE ‘ENCHANTED CITY’ OF CUENCA

       Did you like the city the water carved
drop by drop in the centre of the pines?
Did you see dreams and faces and paths
and the walls of pain the air lashes?

       Did you see the blue crevice of a broken moon
that the Júcar moistens with crystal and trills?
Did your fingers kiss the thorns
that crown the remote stone with love?

       Did you remember me when you climbed
to the silence the snake suffers,
prisoner of crickets and shade?

       Did you not see in the transparent air
a dahlia of sorrows and joys
that my burning heart sent you?

 

by Federico García Lorca

‘The Poet Asks His Love about the ‘Enchanted City’ of Cuenca’ is copyright © the Lorca Estate, 2016. It is reprinted from Sonnets of Dark Love (Enitharmon Press, 2016) by permission of Enitharmon Press

Notes from Enitharmon Press:

In The Tamarit Divan and the Sonnets of Dark Love, written toward the end of Federico García Lorca’s brief life, desire and death come together in poetic chiaroscuro. In these dark and final meditations and flashes of passion, the poet pays homage to Spanish mystics, to Italian masters of the sonnet, and to the Arab poets of his native Andalusia. This poem appears in the bilingual edition translated by Jane Duran and Gloria García Lorca with essays by Christopher Maurer and Andrés Soria Olmedo. Read more about the poem on the Enitharmon website, and join Jane Duran for an evening of ‘Love and Resistance’, a salon event presented by Hope Road and Enitharmon Press, where she will be reading with author Leo Zeilig. The event takes place on Tuesday, March 28 from 6-8pm at Enitharmon Editions, 10 Bury Place, London WC1A 2JL. For more details, visit Enitharmon’s site.

‘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.)  

You can sign up to the mailing list on the Enitharmon site to receive a newsletter with special offers, details of readings & events and new titles and Enitharmon’s Poem of the Month. You can also find Enitharmon 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.