Bunny Says

I’m hovered by the gate post again, waiting for Bunny
with my bag full of sour bread, just like Bunny
wanted, and jimjangled, can’t see Bunny.
Have I come dog-keen too early
Have I worn the right red boots
Have I stopped you raging Bunny
and Bunny says Bunny says Bunny says

Now we’re chasing my sister and Bunny
is joyful, but trickster and thug he is, is Bunny
he loves the way the brambles bite, does Bunny
so does she love the scramble too
so does she cry for being alive
so does she gasp for young night, Bunny
and Bunny says Bunny says Bunny says

In the garage, we unjunk some purple paint but Bunny
is not in think of plans or undead dusk. No, Bunny
charcoals out his plans for an everyoung Bunny
Will he do this thing and name it servant
Will it lollop methodically, coughing out washers
Will you will it to kill me, Rust Commander Bunny?
and Bunny says Bunny says Bunny says

by Kirsten Irving

News from the Centre! We are excited to say that this week’s poet, Kirsten Irving, will be reading alongside Caroline Smith this Thursday from 7-9pm at our new venue, the Society Café in central Oxford. (We featured ‘Teenager’, a poem from Caroline’s book The Immigration Handbook – shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award – back in January.) All are welcome to the reading, and you can buy tickets (£4) via the Brookes Shop and also on the door. We hope to see you there! Next Thursday, the Society Café hosts another reading – this time with Siobhán Campbell and Kate Clanchy, and you can find tickets for that event here.

We would also be delighted to see you at our International Poetry Competition awards evening on Friday 24 November at Oxford Brookes. The event, which runs from 6.30-8pm in the John Henry Brookes Building, will feature readings from the winners and shortlisted poets in this year’s competition, and also a reading from our judge, Helen Mort. And cake. To book a place, please e-mail poetrycomp@brookes.ac.uk

‘Bunny Says’ is an unpublished poem and is copyright © Kirsten Irving, 2017. It is reproduced with the permission of the author.

Kirsten Irving is a poet, editor, copywriter, and voice actor. Her poems have appeared widely in various online and print magazines. She has published three pamphlets – No, Robot, No! with Jon Stone, What To Do, Riotous with Jon Stone and a debut full-length collection Never NeverNever Come Back (Salt Publishing, 2012). The poem ‘Bunny Says’ is from her forthcoming collection, tentatively titled Popgun. Kirsten is also one of the founding editors of experimental poetry press Sidekick Books. You can read more about Kirsten’s work on her website, follow her on Twitter, or come and hear her read this Thursday!

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.

Catullus 51 Noir

Ille mi par esse deo videtur,
ille, si fas est, superare divos,
qui sedens adversus identidem te
spectat et audit
dulce ridentem, misero quod omnis
eripit sensus mihi: nam simul te,
Lesbia, aspexi, nihil est super mi
vocis in ore,
lingua sed torpet, tenuis sub artus
flamma demanat, sonitu suopte
tintinant aures, gemina teguntur
lumina nocte.
Otium, Catulle, tibi molestum est:
otio exsultas nimiumque gestis:
otium et reges prius et beatas
perdidit urbes.

Catullus 51: Noir

Lesbia, smoking hot in shifting satin,
a red Schiaparelli number, cut-to-kill,
spaghetti strap artfully loose on one bare
white arm. Her hooks tonight are in
millionaire Crassus. He’s slavering,
luckiest grifter in Little Italy, Straight Flush,
Full House, Jack in the Hole. Rufus,
I tell the barman, hit me with another.
Lesbia. She was Clodia back then.
The shock when she walked through
my door. Like the sizzle that twitched
Antonius. I wired him up to the factory mains.
He went pasty, his legs shook, sawdust-mouthed,
he fizzed inside, talked, and blacked out.
Catullus, I tell myself, here’s the angle:
trouble comes when there’s time to burn.
Time on your hands, Christ, you’re an animal.
Flagrant time. It’s what got Philoctetes
the Greek wasted. It did for Babylon.

by Ian McLachlan

News from the Centre: next Thursday sees the first event in our poetry reading series at our exciting new venue, Society Café in Oxford city centre. The first reading pairs two distinct voices in contemporary poetry: Kirsten Irving (also one of the editors of Sidekick Books) and Caroline Smith (whose poem ‘Teenager’ we featured back in January). Buy your tickets here and join us from 7-9pm. For future events in our reading series, including details of our reading on 9 November with Siobhán Campbell and Kate Clanchy, visit our website.

After the recent announcement of the winners of our International Poetry Competition, judged by Helen Mort, we would be delighted to see you at our awards event on Friday 24 November, which will feature readings from the winning and shortlisted poets and from Helen Mort herself. If you’d like to attend, please e-mail poetrycomp@brookes.ac.uk

‘Catullus 51: Noir’ is copyright © Ian McLachlan, 2017. It is reprinted from Bad Kid Catullus (Sidekick Books, 2017) by permission of Sidekick Books.

Notes from Sidekick Books:

Ian McLachlan was the Republic’s favourite tragedian. Due to an unfortunate incident involving Pompey’s son-in-law and the Cloaca Maxima, Ian now lives in remote Britain where he is a student of Stoicism and an assiduous writer of curse tablets. You can follow him on Twitter.

Gaius Valerius Catullus was Ancient Rome’s most notorious scandal-monger, filthsmith and lovelorn wretch. In this interactive handbook, Bad Kid Catullus, his famously sexy, savage, tender and scurrilous poems have been transformed and mutated in myriad ways: compressed, expanded, bricolaged, Catullus in six pulp genres, Catullus as playlist – even a Catullus karma sutra. And then there are pages for you, the reader, to fill in, in your own obscene fashion. You’ll never look at a sparrow the same way again.

Find out more about the book on the Sidekick Books 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.

This Is Not A Rescue

I want to tell you it will not be as you expect. For years
you have hammered in stakes, handed men the rope and said
consume me with fire. Most have run – one does not burn
a witch lightly. This one is water. He’ll unbind you, take
your hands in his and say remember how you love the ocean?
Come with me. 
You’ll go to the beach on a cloudy day, watch
foam rise from the sea’s churn until sun appears. In turn
you’ll say let’s go in and even though he hesitates, this man
will kick off his shoes and wade to his shins. Jellyfish,
shot with pink like satin dresses, will dance between you, flash
iridescent. His body is all whorls and planes like smoothly sanded
planks used to make a boat, his ears are pale shells you hear
the waves in, he smells of sandalwood and salt, his eyes
are ocean. He’ll spot the pebbles that in secret you have sewn
into your skirts and give you his penknife to unpick them.

You can’t swim with those
. He’ll teach you to skim. The pebbles
break the surface like question marks. You’ll throw each last one in. 

by Emily Blewitt

‘This Is Not A Rescue’ is copyright © Emily Blewitt, 2017, and reprinted from This Is Not A Rescue by permission of Seren Books.

Notes from Seren:

This Is Not A Rescue is a sparkling debut collection from Carmarthen-born Emily Blewitt, featuring poems on varied subjects from being a ‘woman poet’ to the heroes of Jane Austen. There are also some winning, unusual love poems and work inspired by crows and a couple of characters from ‘Star Wars’. Read more about the collection on the Seren website.

Emily Blewitt read English Language and Literature at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, and has an MA in Film and Literature from the University of York. In 2010 she returned to Wales to begin a PhD in English Literature at Cardiff University, where she specialised in poetic representations of pregnancy in nineteenth-century and contemporary women’s writing, graduating in 2016. She has published poetry widely, her work appearing in The RialtoProleThe Interpreter’s HouseAmbitPoetry WalesFuriesChevalNu2: Memorable Firsts, and in Brittle Star. The title poem from her debut collection, This Is Not ARescue, was Highly Commended for best individual poem in the 2016 Forward Prizes, and is published in  TheForward Book of Poetry 2017 . You can read more about Emily’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 and follow Seren 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.