Out of Range

Up here there is no signal;
it died at the cattle grid
where even the trees can’t pass. 

In the listening station of these hills
bracken has its own system
to intercept the clandestine

wavelengths of streams and airs;
and the rain’s dark radiance
registers its impressions 

on stonewalls and grey rocks
where highly sensitive mosses
gather the information of the stars.

At night, in the pitch black
of the wrong side of the moon
I stand with my fading torch

in the last phone box on earth,
a windowed coffin, a haunted mini-crypt
where a spider’s devised seven webs

then died inside the phone;
for down this cold receiver
which smells of strangers, mouth to mouth,

your voice is five thousand miles away;
so I shout can you hear me? I love you, I love you
until I hear through the rush-hour babble

of horns, airbrakes and squawking parrots
your delayed echo I love you too
while here I stand

in this crazy dark, feeding my last coins
to the insatiable seconds
counting down to silence.


by Nick Drake

News from the Centre: we are delighted to be involved in two exciting events this week in Oxford – do join us if you can! On Tuesday 27 November, our ignitionpresspoet Belinda Zhawi will be reading from her work and discussing critical issues in contemporary African poetry and publishing alongside TORCH visiting professor and esteemed poet, editor and writer, Kwame Dawes. They will be joined by authors JC Niala and Nana Aforiatta-Ayim. The panel discussion, from 5.30-6.30pm, will be followed by the launch of the African Poetry Book Fund exhibition. You can register for the event on Eventbrite. This event is part of Prof Dawes’s week-long visit to Oxford, which also includes the wonderful opportunity to attend a poetry workshop with him on Saturday 1 December. You can find the full listing of events here.

Then on Thursday 29 November from 6.30-7.30pm at Waterstones Oxford, we will be helping to launch the poetry anthology Wretched Strangers: Borders, Movement, Homes, edited by JT Welsch and Ágnes Lehóczky. For the Oxford launch of this book, which is designed to mark and celebrate the contribution of non-UK born writers to the country’s poetry scene, we will be joined by both editors, and poets Mary Jean Chan, Iris Colomb, and Jennifer Wong. To register, visit this link.

Notes from Bloodaxe Books: 

‘Out of Range’ is copyright © Nick Drake, 2018. It is reprinted from Out of Range, published by permission of Bloodaxe Books

Nick Drake’s fourth collection, Out of Range, explores the strange interconnections and confronting emergencies – the signs, wonders and alarms – of the early 21st century. Here are elegies for the Whitechapel Fatberg and incandescent lightbulbs; the life stories of plastic bottles and ice-core samples; portraits of those living on the margins of the city streets, and of Voyager 1 crossing the threshold of the solar system. Here too are poems registering the shock and impact of ‘Generation Anthropocene’ on Earth’s climate and ecology. Above all, the poems seek to tune in to what is out of range; the dark matter of mystery, wonder and deep time at the edge of our senses, at the back of our heads, which poetry makes visible.

Nick Drake was born in 1961. He lives and works in London. His first book-length collection, The Man in the White Suit (1999), was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and was selected for the Next Generation Poets promotion in 2004. His collection From The Word Go was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2007. His recent projects include stage plays and adaptations, screenplays, and a trilogy of historical novels about Egypt (including Nefertiti, shortlisted for CWA Best Historical Crime Novel). In September 2010 he was invited to join Cape Farewell’s trip to the Arctic to explore climate change, and poems inspired by that visit appear in his collection The Farewell Glacier (2012). Nick worked as a librettist in a collaboration with the composer Tansy Davies and director Deborah Warner on Between Worlds, a 2015 opera inspired by the events of 9/11. A new music theatre collaboration with Tansy Davies followed, Cave, performed at Printworks London in June 2018.

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.

Christmas Lights

They’re putting up the lights strung out on poles
along the harbour wall, the dark young lads
in oily overalls; and there’s a tree
built out of creels out at The Point, as though
a pagan pendant on a flimsy string
of beads, defiant, and alluring as
the Sirens’ phantom lighthouse.
                                           And upstairs
in dim bedrooms the girls undress and dress;
the boys smirk at the mirror mouthing chat-
up lines from movies.
                                   Now the village is
en fête: dressed for a party in the dark,
across the fields, along uneven paths, 
a low-roofed barn with steamed-up windows and 
a fiddler and her band. And Christmas lights. 


by Stephen Keeler

News from the Centre: this evening we are excited to host the prizewinning and shortlisted poets from this year’s International Poetry Competition, judged by Kayo Chingonyi. You can find the winning poems and the shortlist here. Everyone is very welcome to attend; just visit this page for more details.

On Thursday 29 November at Waterstones in Oxford we will be helping to launch a new poetry anthology called Wretched Strangers. Featuring work by an exciting range of contributors, the anthology – edited by JT Welsch and Ágnes Lehóczky – marks the vital contribution of non-UK-born writers to this country’s poetry culture. You can find more information and register to attend the event here, and find out more about the book  here.

Feeling festive? This week’s poem comes from the brand new pamphlet Christmas Lights: Ten Poems for Dark Winter Nights published by Candlestick Press. Candlestick has also just published another Christmas pamphlet, Ten Poems about Robins. 

Notes from Candlestick Press: 

‘Christmas Lights’ is copyright © Stephen Keeler, 2018. It is reprinted from Christmas Lights: Ten Poems for Dark Winter Nights , published by permission of Candlestick Press.

Stephen Keeler worked in educational publishing and international education for 35 years before moving from London to ‘the edge of the map’, to write, in 2010. He won the first Highland Literary Salon Poetry Prize in 2012 and a Scottish Book Trust New Writing Award in 2015. His poems have appeared in Northwords NowSouth Bank Poetry, the Glasgow Review of BooksGutterand The Poets’ Republic. He was shortlisted for the 2018 Winchester Poetry Prize. His pamphlet While You Were Away(2018) is published by Maquette Press. A full-length collection will be published by Red Squirrel early in 2020. You can follow his work on Twitter.

Candlestick Press is a small, independent press based in Nottingham and has been publishing its sumptuous ‘instead of a card’ poetry pamphlets since 2008. Subjects range from Birds and Rivers to Tea, Kindness, Home and Puddings. Candlestick Press titles are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, as well as by galleries, museums and garden centres. They can also be ordered online where you can find out more about the full range of titles. Follow Candlestick on Twitter or find it on Facebook. In 2017 Candlestick sold over 70,000 pamphlets.

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.