The Crow

No, he’s not. He’s just a crow,
doing his crow thing:
black garb, harsh cry,
stiff strut. Yet it’s his lot
to appear less bird
than myth. Descending
on the ridge of a roof,
he becomes his own
heraldic logo, gothic
silhouette, till he tires of that
and releases himself
with a lavish, all-elbows show
of up-floundering aerodynamics.
You’ve heard a sky
full of his ego-strife
and bullying panics.
Courtship for him
is arranging his feathers
askew and doing a truculent
war-jig in front of the object
of his desire; and yet they say
he mates for life. Even so,
you mustn’t forget:
he’s just a crow.
by Christopher Reid

Three pieces of news from the Poetry Centre: firstly, we invite you to join us on Wednesday 17 May for an exciting lunchtime poetry reading with Jodie Hollander and Jane Spiro from 12-1pm in the Special Collections Room of the Library in the John Henry Brookes Building here at Brookes.

Next, we would be delighted to see you at ‘moments/that stretch horizons’: an international poetry symposium for practitioners, a collaboration between the Poetry Centre, the University of Reading, and the International Poetry Studies Institute (IPSI) at the University of Canberra. We will explore one theme current in contemporary writing, poetry about the environment, and two concerns of poetics: prose poetry and the lyric and poetry and publishing. Each panel set up to discuss these issues will be composed of a mixture of UK-based academics and writers and academics/poets from IPSI. The symposium will take place at Oxford Brookes University, and places will be limited. Tickets for the day (including refreshments and lunch) cost £10 (£7.50 for postgraduates). All are welcome!

Finally, 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.

‘The Crow’ is copyright © Christopher Reid, 2015. It is reprinted from Birdbook III: Farmland, Heathland, Mountain, Moorland (Sidekick Books, 2015) by permission of Sidekick Books.

Notes from Sidekick Books:

Christopher Reid has published books of poetry for both adults and children. ‘The Crow’ is included in his 2015 collection, The Curiosities, published by Faber & Faber. His recent collections include The Song of Lunch (2009) and A Scattering (2009), in memory of his late wife, Lucinda. A Scattering was shortlisted for the 2009 Forward Poetry Prize (Best Collection) and the 2009 T. S. Eliot Prize, and won the 2009 Costa Book of the Year.

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.