It’s Sunday morning and you are moving
inside me like a song that begins
in the syrinx of a lark, invisible
to the eye, silky and golden
on the ear. No promises have I made
yet I thee worship with my body. Me,
a sinner, unwelcome to receive the body
of Christ. I breathe you in as the curtains
of our church fall open on a Pink Lady
sky and the Owenriff river rushes past
the window, breathless and unrepentant
for its winter swell. My hymn hovers
—oh god oh god oh god—then rises again
to beat its milk-warm wings against the glass.

by Majella Kelly

Listen to Majella read the poem here.

‘Hymn’ is copyright © Majella Kelly, 2020. It is reprinted from Hush (ignitionpress, 2020) by permission of ignitionpress.

The Poetry Centre is excited to share with you a poem from Majella Kelly’s new pamphlet Hush, published this month by our ignitionpress. Alongside Majella’s pamphlet we are also proud to publish Mia Kang’s City Poems and Hinge by Alycia Pirmohamed. We will be sharing poems from these two pamphlets over the next fortnight before we launch all three pamphlets at the Poetry Café in London on 20 February and at Waterstones in Oxford on 21 February. We’ll also be appearing at the Poetry Book Fair on 22 February, so do join us on one of these dates! You can find more details about tickets here.

Before that, the Poetry Centre is involved in two events this week as part of Oxford Brookes’s Think Human Festival. On Tuesday evening at the Old Fire Station we’ll be showcasing some of the poetry produced through our military veterans’ poetry workshops and reflecting on what it means to be a veteran. It will feature contributions from poet and veteran Jo Young, Dr Jane Potter (an expert on the writing of the First World War), psychologist Dr Rita Phillips, who has researched public perceptions of veterans in the UK and US, and poet Susie Campbell, who led the creative elements of the workshops. Tickets are free but register here.

Then on Thursday evening we’ll be taking part in ‘Poetry and Constitutions’ as we consider what effect constitutional laws and changes have on creativity and national identity. We’ll be welcoming Welsh poet Llŷr Gwyn Lewis, former Manx Bard Stacey Astill, and Scots Gaelic poet Niall O’Gallagher along with academics Professor Peter Edge and Dr Catriona Mackie. Join us at the Friends’ Meeting House by reserving your place here.   

Majella Kelly is an Irish writer from Tuam, Co. Galway. In 2019 she won the Strokestown International Poetry Competition. She was shortlisted for the Rialto Pamphlet Competition and the Listowel Poetry Collection Award. She was also shortlisted for the inaugural Brotherton Prize at Leeds University and her poems will be published by Carcanet in a Brotherton anthology alongside the winner and the other three shortlisted poets.

In 2018 she won the Ambit Poetry Prize, came second in the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize, and was shortlisted by The Irish Times for a Hennessy Literary Award. In 2017 she was nominated by Crannóg for a Pushcart Prize and selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series. In 2016 she came third in the Resurgence Eco Poetry Prize (now the Ginkgo Prize). Her poetry and short fiction has been published in such places as The Irish TimesPoetry Ireland ReviewSouthwordAmbitThe Well ReviewCyphersThe Pickled BodyQuarrymanBest New British & Irish Poets 2017, and Aesthetica’s Creative Writing Annual 2017 & 2018. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Oxford.

ignitionpress is a poetry pamphlet press from Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre with an international outlook which publishes original, arresting poetry from emerging poets, and established poets working on interim or special projects.

The first eight pamphlets to be published by ignitionpress, featuring work by Lily Blacksell, Mary Jean Chan, Patrick James Errington, Natalie Whittaker, Belinda Zhawi, Joanna Ingham, Jennifer Lee Tsai, and Sarah Shapiro are available from our online Shop. Each pamphlet costs £5 and you can buy three for £12. You can find out more about the poets and their work on our dedicated page.

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.