52 Malcolm Street, Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne

When I was three, Dad took us out to see the shoals
glittering off Warrenpoint. I remember the rhythms
of water, peering into the grey sea, the cruel way 
they left their catch to die, each scale a prism.

Back on shore he told me, “Keep one, son” trawled
a blade through its gills, the sun a chrism on the open 
wound. Even though I was so small I knew 
I couldn’t cry: my lips went numb with biting.

When we made love, I dipped my head in memory.
Held tight, trying to concentrate on pillowcase, sheet-seams,
fish limbs flat against the dock, trying to control myself,
haul our small boat across the fathoms.

I didn’t know what you needed. Whatever it was
for the love of God, I wished you’d take it. 

by Mariah Whelan

This is our second Weekly Poem of the week (after Monday’s poem from Brendan Cleary) to tie in with this evening’s reading at the Society Café in Oxford by the poet Mariah Whelan and visiting Canadian poet, Doyali Islam. Mariah and Doyali will both be reading from their new collections. Do join us if you can! More details and tickets here. Look out for podcasts coming soon which will feature both Mariah and Doyali.

’52 Malcolm Street, Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne’ is copyright © Mariah Whelan, 2019. It is reprinted from the love i do to you (Eyewear, 2019) by permission of Eyewear.

In this genre-bending debut Mariah Whelan tells the love story of ‘He’ and ‘She’. Once lovers and now… something else, in this collection of sonnets the poems roam across the UK, Europe, Japan and South Korea to explore the oldest of lyric subjects – love, desire, friendship and betrayal. By turns painful, playful and sensual these poems explore the bonds that tie lovers and friends together in a collection of startling formal energy and emotional candour. You can find out more about the book on the Eyewear website.

Mariah Whelan is a poet, teacher and interdisciplinary researcher from Oxford. Her debut collection, a novel-in-sonnets called the love i do to you has just been published by Eyewear. Poems from the novel were shortlisted for The Bridport Prize, The Melita Hume Prize and the manuscript won the AM Heath Prize. A second collection of poems the rafters are still burning which explores writing, constructions of whiteness and museum archives is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press in 2020.

Mariah is currently finishing a PhD in The Centre for New Writing at The University of Manchester where she is writing a second collection of poems, researches trauma and representation in contemporary Irish fiction and also teaches Creative Writing. Mariah is a co-Creative Director of  ‘Truth Tellers’ an interdisciplinary research project funded by King’s College London that brings artists and academics together to develop collaborative methodologies in the social sciences. Mariah also co-edits bath maggan online magazine of new poetry that is a space for excellent writing from established and emerging poets. Find out more about Mariah’s work on her website and follow her on Twitter.

The Black Spring Eyewear Publishing Group is an independently-funded publishing group (made up of a little press or three) based in London, UK. Our books have been well-reviewed in The TLSThe Sewanee ReviewThe TimesPoetry(Chicago), PN ReviewPoetry Review and Poetry London; and have won major prizes for criticism (The Pegasus Award) and for poetry and been longlisted and shortlisted for others, including The Forward Prize and the Somerset Maugham award from the Society of Authors. Our poets have appeared in the annual Forward anthologies, and been PBS Choices and Recommendations. For more about the press, visit the 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 individua-l publishers.

Stanford’s Rank

I dream of Stanford’s Ranch 
white sheets on the tracks 

rows of shutters & tripwires 
& Sallie Gardner galloping 

then in a swerve no more blurs 
& Stanford wins his bet 

like he nearly did with Occident 
the first flying horse 

all four hooves flying 
unsupported transit 

in my dream of Stanford’s Ranch 
& the slow motion action replays 

& the Video Technology 
& the Surveillance cameras 

& the dust cascading 
under Sallie Gardner trotting 

riding in future maps 
into the Cowboy films 

into the science books 
into tomorrow’s sad years 

so yes horses do fly 
I have to remind myself 

everytime I wake up 
from my dream of Stanford’s Ranch

by Brendan Cleary

This is the first of two Weekly Poems for the week – on Thursday we’ll be featuring a poem from Mariah Whelan’s new book the love I do to you, which she will be launching in Oxford on Friday when she will be reading with visiting Canadian poet, Doyali Islam, whose recent book is called heft.

This week also sees our International Poetry Competition Awards Evening, which will be taking place on Thursday here at Oxford Brookes. We recently announced the winners, commended poets, and shortlistees in this year’s competition and we’re delighted that some of them will be joining us to read. Also joining us will be our judge, the internationally-acclaimed writer Jackie Kay! All are very welcome – please sign up here to attend.

Do Horses Fly? is a sequence of poems inspired by the photographic work of Eadweard Muybridge. The poems reflect on the images created by Muybridge and his life and times. You can read more about the book on the tall-lighthouse website.

Stanford’s Ranch. Multi-camera setup, Palo Alto.  

Muybridge used 24 cameras to photograph sequential images of moving subjects in 1877-79.

Horse and rider, Trot. 

The image was taken at Palo Alto where Muybridge worked on sequences of his motion photography in 1877-79. 

These images are reproduced with permission from Kingston Museum’s Muybridge Collection, whose support made the book possible. The Museum holds one of the largest Eadweard Muybridge collections worldwide. Find out more  here.

Brendan Cleary’s poetry has been published for over 30 years. Previous collections include The Irish Card and Sacrilege (Bloodaxe), Stranger in the House (Wrecking Ball Press), goin’ down slow – selected poems 1985-2010 (tall-lighthouse) and the highly-acclaimed Face (Pighog Press). Originally from County Antrim, Brendan spent a number of years in the North East before moving to Brighton where he currently lives and works as a poetry tutor.

tall-lighthouse press has a reputation for publishing new talent being the first to publish Helen Mort, Sarah Howe, Liz Berry, Ailbhe Darcy, Rhian Edwards, Jay Bernard, Emily Berry, Vidyan Ravinthiran and many others. Brendan’s book marks a return to publishing for tall-lighthouse with its original owner/director Les Robinson. Find out more about the press here.

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 C Word

catches in the throat; the first syllable
on its own, enabling, following by a hissing snake,
rattletail bringing up the rear.

It trumpets its presence in the glare of the ward,
sneaks into glossy brochures, flashes its statistics
(the odds are against me), looks like carer but isn’t.

Not to be confused with the other c word
that cuts at both ends, detonated in hate
murmured in love – how can it be both?

And how can I contain them, sites of birth
and death? I should know how to speak
of what’s inside me. To be blunt. 

by Tamar Yoseloff

Watch Tamar read this poem (and others from her new collection) on Seren’s YouTube channel, and then come to Waterstones Oxford this evening to see her read from her work in person! Tamar will be reading alongside Carmen Bugan, whose work we featured last week. Join us at 6.30pm in Waterstones Oxford (free tickets here).

On Wednesday we are hosting an open mic and small exhibition on the topic of mental health. All are welcome! We start at 7pm in JHB 203 (John Henry Brookes Building, Headington Campus, Oxford Brookes), and there will be free cake! Sign up to attend here.

You can find details of our other upcoming events, including free creative workshops in fiction and non-fiction, our International Poetry Competition Awards Evening with Jackie Kay, and a reading from Doyali Islam and Mariah Whelan here.

‘The C Word’ is copyright © Tamar Yoseloff, 2019. It is reprinted from The Black Place (Seren, 2019) by permission of Seren

Notes from Seren:

The Black Place is a dark and gorgeously multi-faceted artwork, like a black diamond. Tamar Yoseloff eshews the sentimental, embraces alternatives, offers antidotes to cheery capitalist hype. But there is a sort of dark grandeur to her view of mortality, one that matches the sublime desert painting by Georgia O’Keeffe, the subject of the title poem. The central sequence in this collection, ‘Cuts’, is a characteristically tough look at the poet’s cancer diagnosis and treatment. The diagnosis arrives at the same time as the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, a public trauma overshadowing a private one. These poems focus on the strangeness of the illness, and of our times – they refuse to offer panaceas or consolations. Read more about the book on Seren’s website.

Tamar Yoseloff was born in the US and moved to the UK in 1987. She has published five full collections; her debut book, Sweetheart, won the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Prize and was a PBS Commendation. She published a collection of new and selected poems in 2015 with Seren Books called A Formula for Night. She is also the author of Formerly (the inaugural chapbook from her publishing venture, Hercules Editions), incorporating photographs by Vici MacDonald and shortlisted for the 2012 Ted Hughes Award; two collaborative editions with the artist Linda Karshan and Nowheres, a privately-produced book with the artist Charlotte Harker in 2015. Tamar has also run site-specific writing courses for many galleries across the UK and taught for numerous London-based writing organizations. She is currently a visiting guest lecturer at Newcastle University on the Newcastle/Poetry School MA course in Writing Poetry and the Chair of the Poetry and Spoken Word Group of the Society of Authors. Find out more about Tamar’s work on her own website.

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.

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.