swallow is hirundo rustica
sings adeste, fidelis in season
swallow is a long tail streamer
has spent 20 years on the wing
swallow on intercity
not red or black but biro
swallow as fork of
erskine and brunswick
swallow feeds geraniums, tomato plants
sparrowhawks, hobbies
(beware of the sparrowhawk)
swallow on diet of bees, hoverflies
brandy butter, jelly cubes, gas mark eight
swallow as spanakopita
foraged at spar piccadilly
swallow draped over
lady chapel altar
swallow is a charm to a sailor
swallow is the mermaid of the sky
swallow on waiting room wall
swallow gave the V to me
swallow as a frozen piece of
hair snapped blue in the morgue
swallow loathes the winter
swallow will not come back

by Sarah Crewe

The Poetry Centre’s International Poetry Competition, judged this year by award-winning poet Helen Mort, is open for entries! 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, and feel free to forward the link to friends and colleagues.

‘swallow’ is copyright © Sarah Crewe, 2015. It is reprinted from Birdbook III: Farmland, Heathland, Mountain, Moorland (Sidekick Books, 2015) by permission of Sidekick Books.

Notes from Sidekick Books:

Sarah Crewe is from the Port of Liverpool. Her work deals with working class feminist psychogeography. Her previous publications have included sea witch (Leafe Press, 2014) and flick invicta (Oystercatcher, 2012) She is one third of Stinky Bear Press.

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.