Sedge Warbler

‘The sedge has wither’d from the lake;
And no birds sing.’
John Keats, ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’

I live on the sedge. I sing
unseen. It is my song
you do not hear, light as air:
willowdown-dweller, reedwalker.

As a bird I have no country. I sing
there to here. Hear my song:
a ‘noisy, rambling warble’ on the air,
summerlong singer, water-neighbour.

When winter withers, it’s away I sing,
the long length of earth. My song
bends from the Arctic to warmer air:
to an Afrikaaner, Europese Vleisanger.

I am a citizen of sedge, of sedge I sing;
of the edge, the water-margin. My song
is pidgin, weird Birdish: plucking from air
English, Namlish, Suomi, Oshiwambo, Xhosa.

Shared sound of rain on reeds: I sing
low morning mist. Your songs
condense in mine. I fill the encircling air,
pale loiterer, sedge warbler.

by Sophie Mayer

Be sure to join us at Oxford Brookes on 31 October for a special event with poet Jay Bernard. Jay will be presenting Surge, an award-winning multimedia project dealing with the 1981 New Cross ‘massacre’ – a fire at a birthday party in south London which killed 13 young black people. This event is part of Black History Month at Brookes and tickets are free, but you must sign up in advance via the website!

‘Sedge Warbler’ is copyright © Sophie Mayer, 2012. It is reprinted from Birdbook II: Freshwater Habitats (Sidekick Books, 2012) by permission of Sidekick Books.

Notes from Sidekick Books:

Sophie Mayer is a writer, curator and activist. Her recent books include Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema (I.B. Tauris, 2015) and (O) (Arc, 2015). She has also been involved in projects such as the touring programme Revolt, She Said: Women and Film After ’68 with queer feminist film collective Club des Femmes, and Raising our Game, a report addressing exclusion in the film industry with campaigners Raising Films. Her current writing projects include ‘Disturbing Words’, a tinyletter about language, and a poetry chapbook <jacked a kaddish>, forthcoming from Litmus. Find out more about her work on her website and follow her 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. Sidekick’s latest books collect poems about bats ( Battalion ) and robots ( No, Robot, No! ). You can follow Sidekick’s work on the press’s website and via Twitter.

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