July 24th

Eighty-six years ago today
the Serpentine opened to women
to swim without fear of arrest 

I’m lost on the Heath searching
for these ponds, it’s thirty-degrees
in Hampstead, what’s with all the beards? 

Two girls in front are talking
about their exes, how they’re okay
now they’re with new men 

Don’t tell me fullness is found
from a man, I’ll shoot myself
or dehydrate, a more feasible option 

There’s a lot of holding of hands
and leads, my palms are empty
if my mother were here she’d say 

Find a good book, easy
for her with a husband and a spaniel
now I’m in the water I relish 

The freedom, no one knows I’m here
I could just bob under (not
to get all Virginia Woolf about it) 

At lunchtime today we spoke
on the phone, big literary things
are happening for you, how apt 

I was sat in Bloomsbury Square
remember Southease, cider
along the Ouse, Monk House 

All our Sussex hours? If love
was just lunchtimes of erudite chat
we would have worked completely

But I have this need to swim
with ducks and reeds, you said
it was sweet. It was wild

by Roxy Dunn

‘July 24th’ is copyright © Roxy Dunn, 2020. It is reprinted from Big Sexy Lunch (Verve Poetry Press, 2020) by permission of Verve Poetry Press. You can read more about the pamphlet here.

Roxy Dunn’s debut pamphlet Clowning, published by Eyewear in 2016, is their highest-selling pamphlet to date and was described by PN Review as ‘quick-fire, appealing, lit by humorous warmth.’ Her poetry has appeared in The RialtoOrbis and Ofi Press, and a selection of her poems are also printed in the anthology Podium Poets #2, published by Nasty Little Press. She lives in North London and works as an actor and writer. Follow Roxy on Twitter

Big Sexy Lunch is an irreverent, entertaining account of millennial philosophy and relationships. Roxy Dunn’s observational wit and reflective self-doubt muse on sex, singledom, and falling in and out of love. There’s a directness and an honesty to these poems which humorously scrutinises the conflicts and contradictions of being attached to someone and our ongoing appetite for fulfilment. Read more about the pamphlet and get hold of a copy here

Verve Poetry Press is a fairly new and already award-winning press focussing hard on meeting a need in Birmingham – a need for the vibrant poetry scene here in Brum to find a way to present itself to the poetry world via publication. Co-founded by Stuart Bartholomew and Amerah Saleh, it is publishing poets from all corners of the city – poets that represent the city’s varied and energetic qualities and will communicate its many poetic stories.

Added to this is a colourful pamphlet series featuring poets who have previously performed at our sister festival – and a poetry show series which captures the magic of longer poetry performance pieces by poets such as Polarbear and Matt Abbott. Like the festival, we will strive to think about poetry in inclusive ways and embrace the multiplicity of approaches towards this glorious art. Find out more here.

In 2019 the press was voted Most Innovative Publisher at the Saboteur Awards and won the Publisher’s Award for Poetry Pamphlets at the Michael Marks Awards.

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.