The Englishman

The Englishman is a regular with a usual.
He has slapped a bar-top laughing.

The Englishman is a charmer and a ladies’ man.
He’s been told off by a barmaid.

Whenever there are ladies present, he says
not when there are ladies present.

We should not be jealous of the Englishman.
He simply had the foresight to buy property.

He barbecues and cooks proper English breakfasts.
He insists on carving any meat.

The Englishman is a breast, and not a leg man.
He prefers the white meat.

On forms, he writes: English, male.
He hesitates between White and Prefer not to say.

He places great significance on handshakes.
He can tell a lot by an Englishman’s handshake.

He shakes hands with children and his brother.
The Englishman kisses ladies on the hand or cheek.

In the bathroom, the Englishman has a cheeky
Punch cartoon, taking aim at the establishment,

and when he pisses, the Englishman aims
for the water, not the bowl. He splashes joyously.

The Englishman is not pissed, actually.
He can handle his drink, and his own affairs.

The Englishman has had an affair. He wears
a signet ring and not a wedding band.

The Englishman doesn’t signal when he changes
lanes on roundabouts or the ring road.

The Englishman is very sorry. He didn’t realise
you were in here, getting changed.

by Ali Lewis

The Poetry Centre is delighted to say that one of our most recent ignitionpress pamphlets, Hinge by Alycia Pirmohamed, has been selected as the Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice for Summer 2020! You can find out more about Alycia’s wonderful pamphlet on our website (scroll down) where you can also hear her read a poem. Although we’re currently unable to post out copies of the pamphlets because of the coronavirus restrictions, any orders will be fulfilled as soon as possible.

‘The Englishman’ is copyright © Ali Lewis, 2020. It is reprinted from Hotel (Verve Poetry Press, 2020) by permission of Verve Poetry Press. You can read more about the pamphlet here.

Ali Lewis is a poet from Nottingham. He received an Eric Gregory Award in 2018. He has a degree in Politics from Cambridge, where he received the John Dunn and Precious Pearl Prizes and was a member of the Footlights, and an MA in Creative Writing from Goldsmiths, where he was shortlisted for the Pat Kavanagh and Ivan Juritz Awards. Ali is an AHRC-funded doctoral student at Durham University and Assistant Editor at Poetry London. You can learn more about Ali and his work on his website and follow him on Twitter.

Blood is washed off a car, the earth is packed away, relationships fracture and mend. Hotel, a striking debut pamphlet from Eric Gregory Award winner Ali Lewis is a book of both close focus and great expansion. We zoom in on a snowflake’s edge and a freckled wrist, and at the same time witness the continents merge and the universe expand into something unknowable. In a collection that contends with the seeming inevitability of masculinity, of grief, and of people moving apart, Hotel shows us that we exist in rooms of similar layouts and puts a glass to the walls between so we might overhear. Find out more about the pamphlet 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.