The water in the boat’s hold is five feet high, and I have a thimble for the bailing. Each
day the duty roster remains the same: I take the burden longer than any member of my
crew. Weeks pass with no appreciable progress, and at least daily the tiny steel cup slips
from my fingers, to be rescued from the murk after lost minutes, sometimes an hour. After
months, we find a shipwreck survivor on a dinghy, and in gratitude he offers me his
bucket. I throw it into the sea to show him the magnitude of my work.

by Carrie Etter

Our International Poetry Competition – judged this year by the wonderful Jackie Kay, closes for entries today! There are two categories: Open and EAL, and winners in each category receive £1000, with £200 for runners-up. For more details and to enter, visit our website

‘Parable’ is copyright © Carrie Etter, 2018. It is reprinted from The Weather in Normal (Seren, 2018) by permission of Seren

Notes from Seren:

Originally from Normal, Illinois, Carrie Etter has lived in England since 2001 and taught at Bath Spa University since 2004, where she is Reader in Creative Writing. Individual poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Times Literary Supplement, Poetry Review, The New Republic, The New Statesman, and The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem. Her new collection, The Weather in Normal, is published in the UK by Seren Books and in the US by Station Hill Press. It was been chosen as a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Autumn 2018. Read more about the book on the  Seren website, and more about Carrie’s work here. You can also follow her on Twitter.

Seren is Wales’ leading independent literary publisher, specialising in English-language writing from Wales. Many of our books are shortlisted for – and win – major literary prizes across the UK and America. At the heart of our list is a good poem, a story told well, or an idea or history presented interestingly or provocatively. We’re international in authorship and readership, though our roots remain here in Wales, where we prove that writers from a small country with an intricate culture have a worldwide relevance. Amy Wack has been Poetry Editor since the early 90s. Our aim is not simply to reflect what is going on in the culture in which we publish, but to drive that culture forward, to engage with the world, and to bring Welsh literature, art and politics before a wider audience. Find out more on the  Seren website and via  Twitter and Facebook.

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