This Last Year

Between those Alps and Apennines
on a walk towards the Po,
there are tall, spaced, roadside poplars,
planted fields of silver birch…
At sunset, here, church cupolas
interrupt surrounding darkness
streaked with red hopes for good weather;
but then a so-called super moon
emerges from horizon trees—
their fragile threads of branches
like violent scratch-marks on a ruddy face. 

We’re threading through an after dusk
along the wide, slow-flowing river,
are lost in conversation
on wherever best to live
late days, or else discreetly wonder
about a greener charm in distance
on the far bank’s fertile side,
or at whatever may appear
over deepened skylines this last year. 

Higher, whiter, blurred in mist
floated from warm earth, that moon
might be the common coinage
of our coming separation—
but breaking up is hard to do,
and the best part’s even harder
now migrants go on envying
rights to be taken at the border
closing ahead as we pace on. 

Ahead, through twilight, can you see
outlines of their fainting country?
Where, next year, they’ll good as tell you
not to lament that loss of value
others envy? Abandon rage, outrage
at shames come from a muddy spring?
And why? Because, sans everything,
you’ll reach that other country, age?

2 January 2018

by Peter Robinson

This week’s poet, Peter Robinson, is one of the speakers at an exciting symposium, ‘Our Poetry and Our Needs’, which is being held at the University of Reading on Tuesday 9 July. The event features an international group of poets and academics, is open to all and free to attend. To see the provisional programme and to register, please visit the Eventbrite page here.

Also coming soon, don’t miss the chance to hear the acclaimed poet Gillian Allnutt in Oxford when she reads for us on Monday 20 May in an evening co-organized with the Oxford Centre for Christianity and Culture. Tickets are free, but register here

Finally, look up our Eventbrite listings to find readings by Ilya Kaminsky and Shara Lessley on 26 June and our three ignitionpress poets who will be launching their new pamphlets on 22 and 23 July.

‘This Last Year’ is copyright © Peter Robinson, 2019. It is reprinted from Ravishing Europa (Worple Press, 2019) by permission of Worple Press.

Ravishing Europa, Peter Robinson’s eleventh collection, marks a wholly unexpected development in the poet’s work, prompted, as evident throughout, by the fissures exported from a political party to an entire country and beyond by the 2016 referendum on membership of the European Union. Its consequences cast crucial events for this poet, both personal and public, into unforeseen fresh lights. Prompted by a televised debate to wonder in the title poem upon what impulse the founding European myth is based, Robinson’s new poems search through his individual and cultural memory to offer, as the book unfolds, an answer. Read more about the book on the Worple website

Peter Robinson was born in Salford, Lancashire, in 1953, and grew up mainly in Liverpool. He co-edited the magazines Perfect Bound and Numbers while helping organize various Cambridge Poetry Festivals and a Poetry International at the South Bank Centre. His many volumes of poetry include a Collected Poems, 1976-2016 (2017), Ghost Characters (2006) and The Look of Goodbye (2008). He was awarded the Cheltenham Prize for This Other Life (1988). Both The Great Friend and Other Translated Poems (2002) and The Returning Sky (2012) were recommendations of the Poetry Book Society. A translator of poetry, mainly from the Italian, The Selected Poetry and Prose of Vittorio Sereni (with Marcus Perryman) appeared in 2006. Other publications include his aphorisms, Spirits of the Stair (2009), five volumes of literary criticism, the most recent being The Sound Sense of Poetry (2018), various edited collections, anthologies, The Complete Poems, Translations & Selected Prose of Bernard Spencer (2011) and The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary British and Irish Poetry (2013). A collection of essays on his work, The Salt Companion to Peter Robinson edited by Adam Piette and Katy Price, appeared in 2007. Peter is also the poetry editor for Two Rivers Press and Professor of English and American Literature at the University of Reading. You can read more about Peter’s work on his website.

Worple Press was founded by Peter and Amanda Carpenter in 1997 and publishes books by new and established poets: collections, pamphlets, works in translation, essays, interviews. Early authors included Iain Sinclair, Joseph Woods, Beverley Bie Brahic, Kevin Jackson and the acclaimed American nature poet Peter Kane Dufault. Recent collections include Andy Brown’s BloodlinesThe Tree Line: Poems for Trees, Woods, and People, edited by Michael McKimm, Rockabye by Patricia McCarthy, and The Watching Stair by Diana Hendry. More information can be found at the publisher’s website, and on Facebook and 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.