St Jerome and the Chaffinch

More usually with a lion he can’t shake off,
and always with a book – but,
sometimes, he appears with a chaffinch. 

Animals love him. And it’s a symbol
of celibacy to be accompanied by a chaffinch.
The colourful male winters less far away than his mate. 

He becomes known as the bachelor bird
and also the harbinger of rain.
But only sometimes does he sing for rain, 

other times he sings for sun, or for his mate.
The French say gay comme un pinson
but we are not always so gay 

or so serious. Bosch paints him this way.
I cannot say why he sings, only that
the chaffinch, sometimes, appears with St Jerome.

by Emily Hasler

News from the Centre! We have a number of exciting poetry readings coming up over the next couple of months, including a reading by Peter Raynard and Richard Skinner on 3 May; Kei Miller on 22 May; Sinéad Morrissey on 23 May; Clare Pollard on 24 May; and Richard Harrison on 1 June. We’re also helping to organize Stanza and Stand-Up on 25 May where poetry competes with comedy and the audience decides who wins! You can book tickets for all of these events here.

And if you haven’t yet seen copies of our ignitionpress pamphlets, including work by Lily Blacksell, Patrick James Errington, and Mary Jean Chan (whose pamphlet A Hurry of English is the Poetry Book Society’s Summer Choice), visit our website. There you can find sample poems as well as audio and video of the poets reading from their work. The pamphlets are £5 each and three for £12.

Also on our website you can read a new interview with poet and critic Yvonne Reddick, and a review of Jos Smith’s book Subterranea by Jennifer Wong.

‘St Jerome and the Chaffinch’ is copyright © Emily Hasler, 2011. It is reprinted from Birdbook I: Towns, Parks, Gardens & Woodland (Sidekick Books, 2011) by permission of Sidekick Books.

Notes from Sidekick Books:

Emily Hasler was born in Felixstowe, Suffolk and studied at the University of Warwick. Her work won second prize in the 2009 Edwin Morgan International Poetry Competition, and she won an Eric Gregory Award in 2014. She has published a pamphlet, natural histories, with Salt and writes for Prac Crit. Her first collection, The Built Environment , has just been published by Pavilion Poetry (Liverpool University Press). You can follow Emily on Twitter.

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.