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:
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.