Miss Armstrong: Invisible woman

After Maya Angelou

The after-office diners by the window
laugh and move in duplicate,
blonde highlights echoed by the glass. 

But I have no reflection, not a glimmer.
They have twins against the night
where I, who dine alone, have none.  

I search for traces of my movement,
lift my beer glass. It exists.
Its substance glints in recognition. 

None of me reveals itself.
The girls’ reflections leave with them
while I remain a silent shadow. 

I’m invisible, unseen,
uncertain as a ghost that plays
from time to time along the walls. 


by Kathy Gee

The Poetry Centre recently launched its International Poetry Competition for 2019! This year we are delighted to say that our judge is the internationally-acclaimed writer Jackie Kay! There are two categories: Open and English as an Additional Language, and the winners in each category receive £1000. The competition is open until 2 September, and full details can be found here.

We also recently announced the winners of our first PoetryFilm competition in which filmmakers responded to poetry from our ignitionpress poets. You can view the winning films – by Gabrielle Turner, Marie Craven, and Jane Glennie, here.

Finally, don’t forget about the final few events in our academic year: firstly, there’s our final reading in the current series on Wednesday 26 June at Waterstones in Oxford, which features Ilya Kaminsky and Shara Lessley. Ilya has been receiving extraordinary acclaim in the US and UK for his latest book, Deaf Republic (perhaps you heard it dramatized on BBC Radio 4 last week?), and Shara’s collection, The Explosive Expert’s Wife, has received enthusiastic reviews and award nominations. There are a few spaces left for this event here. Then join us and an international group of poets and critics for ‘Our Poetry and Our Needs’, a symposium at the University of Reading on Tuesday 9 July. More details here. Finally, we’re launching three new ignitionpress pamphlets by Jennifer Lee Tsai, Joanna Ingham, and Sarah Shapiro on 22 and 23 July. More information here!

‘Miss Armstrong: Invisible woman’ is copyright © Kathy Gee, 2019. It is reprinted from Checkout (V. Press, 2019) by permission of V. Press.

Kathy Gee studied history and archaeology, later turning this into a career in museums, heritage and leadership coaching. Having published books, articles and pamphlets on the local history of South Devon and National Trust properties in Cornwall, she now lives in Worcestershire and started writing poetry in 2011. Widely published online and in print, her first collection, Book of Boneswas published by V. Press in 2016. In the same year, she wrote the spoken word elements for a contemporary choral piece, Suite For The Fallen Soldier. You can hear Kathy read a poem from her new pamphlet, Checkouthere.

Poet Rhian Edwards writes that Kathy Gee’s new pamphlet ‘Checkout is a sequence of character portraits and vignettes based on the ephemeral characters that cross a corner shop’s bell-chiming threshold. Told from every side of the social spectrum, this is a play for voices, voices in verses, a cross between Under Milk Wood and Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads. This is a bold and brave collection from the distinctive voice of Kathy Gee.’ Read more about the pamphlet on the V. Press website.

V. Press publishes poetry and flash fiction that is very very, with emphasis on quality over any particular style. Established with a launch at Ledbury Poetry Festival 2013 and shortlisted in The Michael Marks Publishers’ Award 2017, V. Press poetry knows what it wants to do and does it well. For more, visit the V. Press website.

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.

Rise

the job grinds people down
until they feel like bits of dust,
the job they have to keep hold of
like a dying sparrow in their hands
grinds people down

all of the hours spent dipping their shoulder
and charging at the sun
carrying this dying little sparrow
in their hands
has made them feel bone-tired,
they are exhausted
and close to giving up
the dying little sparrow has almost killed them,
the bills the CCJ’s
the rent arrears utility bills dentist bills internet payments
food roof beer shoes shirts, all of it,
has almost killed the very centre of them

the fear of losing everything
has made them supple enough
to accept
almost anything

but only almost
because the holding of hands with a woman under a blood-red sun
and the wine that drips down from rib to rib
to form puddles in the gut
and the music
that lifts sparrows up
back onto their feet,

makes them want to rise, burst out of hands,
head towards the sun, sit
on wires tin roofs chimney pipes
to sing sing sing
about that unconquerable little bit of them,
how that will never die
like a little sparrow in a pair of hands
however tightly they squeeze it

by Martin Hayes

The Poetry Centre has recently launched its International Poetry Competition for 2019! This year we are delighted to say that our judge is the internationally-acclaimed writer Jackie Kay! There are two categories: Open and English as an Additional Language, and the winners in each category receive £1000. The competition is open until 2 September, and full details can be found here.

Finally, don’t forget about the final few events in our academic year: firstly, there’s our final reading in the current series on Wednesday 26 June at Waterstones in Oxford, which features Ilya Kaminsky and Shara Lessley. Ilya has been receiving extraordinary acclaim in the US and UK for his latest book, Deaf Republic, and Shara’s collection, The Explosive Expert’s Wife, has received enthusiastic reviews and award nominations. Spaces for this event are full, but you could add your name to the waiting list here. Then join us and an international group of poets and critics for ‘Our Poetry and Our Needs’, a symposium at the University of Reading on Tuesday 9 July. More details here. Finally, we’re launching three new ignitionpress pamphlets by Jennifer Lee Tsai, Joanna Ingham, and Sarah Shapiro on 22 and 23 July. More information here!

‘Rise’ is copyright © Martin Hayes, 2018. It is reprinted from Roar! (Smokestack Books, 2018) by permission of Smokestack Books.

Notes from Smokestack Books:

Martin Hayes’s new collection is a roar of frustrated rage and pain at the way we live and work in the twenty-first century. It’s a book about 11-hour shifts, sick-days, lay-offs, computer systems crashing and the joy of Friday afternoons. Dermot, Stacey, Shaq, Big Bri, Dexter the old-timer, Antoine, Mohammed, Jim the Letch and Harry the head supervisor work for Phoenix Express couriers, located somewhere ‘between Stockholm Street and Syndrome Way’, making money for other people and trying to make themselves heard above the roar of an economic system that ‘has us in its mouth and is shaking us about in its teeth’. Find out more about the collection on the Smokestack website.

Smokestack is an independent publisher of radical and unconventional poetry run by Andy Croft. Smokestack aims to keep open a space for what is left of the English radical poetic tradition in the twenty-first century. Smokestack champions poets who are unfashionable, radical, left-field and working a long way from the metropolitan centres of cultural authority. Smokestack is interested in the World as well as the Word; believes that poetry is a part of and not apart from society; argues that if poetry does not belong to everyone it is not poetry. Smokestack’s list includes books by John Berger, Michael Rosen, Katrina Porteous, Ian McMillan, Steve Ely, Bertolt Brecht (Germany), Gustavo Pereira (Venezuela), Heinrich Heine (Germany), Andras Mezei (Hungary), Yiannis Ritsos (Greece) and Victor Jara (Chile). David Cain’s Truth Street, an epic-poem that is part oral history and part documentary theatre, draws on eye-witness testimonies of the 1989 Hillsborough Stadium Disaster and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2019. You can find Smokestack on Facebook and on 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.

Back they sputter

Back they sputter like the fires of love, the bees to their broken home
which they’re putting together again for dear life, knowing nothing
of the heart beating under their floorboards, besieged here, seeking
a life of its own. All day their brisk shadows zigzag and flicker

along a whitewashed gable, trafficking in and out of a hair-crack
under wooden eaves, where they make a life for themselves that knows
no let-up through hours of exploration and return, their thighs golden
with pollen, their multitudinous eyes stapled to a single purpose:

to make winter safe for their likes, stack-packing the queen’s chambers
with sweetness. Later, listen: one warm humming note, their night music.

by Eamon Grennan

This week’s publisher, Candlestick Press, will be launching its latest pamphlet, Ten Poems about Horses (featured in a Weekly Poem recently ), next Wednesday 19 June at Alison’s of Tewkesbury, with Alison Brackenbury and a line-up of guest poets. For more details, visit the Candlestick Press Facebook page . Sales support Bransby Horses, an equine welfare charity.

The Poetry Centre has recently launched its International Poetry Competition for 2019! This year we are delighted to say that our judge is the internationally-acclaimed writer Jackie Kay! There are two categories: Open and English as an Additional Language, and the winners in each category receive £1000. The competition is open until 2 September, and full details can be found here .

Finally, don’t forget about the final few events in our academic year: firstly, there’s our final reading in the current series on Wednesday 26 June at Waterstones in Oxford, which features Ilya Kaminsky and Shara Lessley. Ilya has been receiving extraordinary acclaim in the US and UK for his latest book, Deaf Republic, and Shara’s collection, The Explosive Expert’s Wife, has received enthusiastic reviews and award nominations. This is an event not to be missed! Register for a free place here . Then join us and an international group of poets and critics for ‘Our Poetry and Our Needs’, a symposium at the University of Reading on Tuesday 9 July. More details here . Finally, we’re launching three new ignitionpress pamphlets by Jennifer Lee Tsai, Joanna Ingham, and Sarah Shapiro on 22 and 23 July. More details here !

‘Back they sputter’ is copyright © Eamon Grennan, 2019. It is reprinted from Ten Poems about Bees, introduced by Brigit Strawbridge Howard (Candlestick Press, 2019) by permission of Candlestick. You can read more about the pamphlet here.

Eamon Grennan was born in 1941 and educated at University College Dublin where he studied English and Italian. He went on to complete a PhD in English at Harvard. He has published a number of poetry collections, as well as reviews and essays including Facing The Music: Irish Poetry in the 20th Century (Creighton University, 2000). His poetry books include Wildly for Days (Gallery Press, 1983), Out of Breath (Gallery, 2007) and There Now which won the 2016 Pigott Poetry Prize for Best Collection published in Ireland. Leopardi: Selected Poems won the 1997 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. Until recently he was Dexter M. Ferry Junior Professor of English at Vassar College. He now teaches on the graduate writing programmes at the Universities of New York and Columbia but spends as much time as he can in the west of Ireland. You can read more about his work here.

Candlestick 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 Cricket 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 at  Candlestick’s website where you can find out more about the full range of titles. You can follow Candlestick on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram. In 2018 Candlestick sold over 75,000 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.

The Europeans 

I saw the Europeans drinking wine under trees.
It was August and their children seemed wise
beyond their years, moving with the dappled light.

Later the Europeans were wearing bright uniforms,
simultaneously grand and preposterous,
their cigarillos discolouring their moustaches.

When the winter came, the Europeans retreated
into forests. People were wolves or wolves
were people. These matters were increasingly unclear.

Every village had good bread, indolent officials,
its own throat-clenching hooch. Occasionally,
its peace was disturbed as love ended in some alleyway.

The Europeans were volatile or taciturn, hearty
or shiftless. Really, you could take your pick.
The only constant was the scrape and shudder of those trams

in the very early morning. In their cities,
the streets were museums. Someone had been shot
heroically on every corner. You could still put your finger

into the bullet holes in the masonry, just as a violin started
up in that apartment over the café. The Europeans
had much to say of poetry and much silence to say it into.

I became convinced they knew something
they would not tell me, but I did not dare
to ask the veterans on the parched square.

by David Clarke

The deadline for our PoetryFilm competition is this Friday (7 June)! Respond in a short film to a poem by one of our award-winning ignitionpress poets and win prizes and screenings! You can find the poems and more about how to enter here.

The Poetry Centre has also just launched its International Poetry Competition for 2019! This year we are delighted to say that our judge is the internationally-acclaimed writer Jackie Kay! There are two categories: Open and English as an Additional Language, and the winners in each category receive £1000. The competition is open until 2 September, and full details can be found here.

Finally, don’t forget about the final two events in our academic year: firstly, there’s our final reading in the current series on Wednesday 26 June at Waterstones in Oxford, which features Ilya Kaminsky and Shara Lessley. Ilya has been receiving extraordinary acclaim in the US and UK for his latest book, Deaf Republic, and Shara’s collection The Explosive Expert’s Wife, has received enthusiastic reviews and award nominations. This is an event not to be missed! Register for a free place here. Then join us and an international group of poets and critics for ‘Our Poetry and Our Needs’, a symposium at the University of Reading on Tuesday 9 July. More details here.

‘The Europeans’ is copyright © David Clarke, 2019. It is reprinted from The Europeans (Nine Arches Press, 2019) by permission of Nine Arches Press.

Notes from Nine Arches:

David Clarke, winner of the Michael Marks Poetry Award 2013, returns with his second collection, The Europeans. Simultaneously close to home and looking outward beyond these shores, these wry and perceptive poems revel with form and encompass journeys, ideas of nationhood and national identity, and the optimism of a time when Europe and the UK enjoyed a quite different ‘entente cordiale’. They are a warning against nostalgia, a lucid and prescient exploration of how we see ourselves and how we are seen. Read more about the collection on the Nine Arches website

David Clarke was born in Lincolnshire. His first pamphlet, Gaud, won the Michael Marks award in 2013. His first collection, Arc, was published by Nine Arches Press in 2015 and was longlisted for the Polari Prize. Another pamphlet, Scare Stories, was published by V Press in 2017 and was named a Poetry School ‘Book of the Year.’ His poems have appeared in magazines including Magma, Tears in the Fence, Long Poem Magazine and The Interpreter’s House. You can follow David on Twitter.

Since its founding in 2008, Nine Arches Press has published poetry and short story collections (under the Hotwire imprint), as well as Under the Radar magazine. In 2010, two of our pamphlets were shortlisted for the Michael Marks Poetry Pamphlet prize and Mark Goodwin’s book Shod won the 2011 East Midlands Book Award. In 2017, All My Mad Mothers by Jacqueline Saphra was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize. Our titles have also been shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Prize, and in 2016 David Clarke’s debut poems, Arc, was longlisted for the Polari Prize. To date we have now published over seventy poetry publications, and 20 issues of Under the Radar magazine (and counting). Follow Nine Arches 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.