He moulds a hand into my right shoulder
to soften the nervous muscle,                                                           

the friction between open mouth and stubbled cheek
revealing the truth in how much I’ve learnt                                                           

to find pleasure in the things that fight back.
I explore his tall, his swimmer lean,                                                           

enjoy touch as in gentle not penetrating,
let my body be a Friday afternoon.                                                           

In between exhales he calls me
stupid names like bro or buddy                                                           

as part of the experiment,
to be a sounding board of sorts,                                                           

to help make peace with old faces
who couldn’t possibly give back.

by Troy Cabida

Do you know a keen writer aged 16 or under? Could they write a terrific science poem? If so, please encourage them to enter this year’s IF Oxford poetry competition for young people! The competition is open to any young writer in the UK and is judged in three age categories (one of the judges is Dr Niall Munro, Poetry Centre Director). The winning poem and two runners-up from each age category will be performed at a special event at IF Oxford, the Science and Ideas Festival in October 2021. Winning poems will be published online and in a printed anthology. Other prizes will include science kits and books. The deadline is 11 June. For more details, visit the IF Oxford website.

‘Buddy’ is copyright © Troy Cabida, 2020 and is reprinted here from War Dove (Bad Betty Press, 2020) by permission of Bad Betty Press. You can read more about the pamphlet and buy a copy on the Bad Betty website.

Notes from Bad Betty Press:

Troy Cabida’s War Dove is a story of profound growth, of growing into oneself, of knowing tenderness, not as a skin to be sloughed on the way to maturity but a central muscle beating vital strength into the body. Cabida’s poetry refracts mental and emotional wellbeing through a kaleidoscope of cultural identities. This dove learns to soar and sway, heal and harden like ‘honey / crystallised and unflinching’. You can find out more about the pamphlet and buy a copy on the Bad Betty website.

Troy Cabida (b. 1995) is a London-based Filipino poet. He is a former member of the Barbican Young Poets and the Roundhouse Poetry Collective, and a producer for open mic night Poetry and Shaah. His poems have appeared in bath maggTAYOharanaBukambibigCha and MacmillanWar Dove (Bad Betty Press) is his debut pamphlet. Find out more about Troy’s work on his website and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Bad Betty Press is an independent publisher of new poetry, founded in 2017 by Amy Acre and Jake Wild Hall. We love writing that is bad (in the Foxy Brown sense) and beautiful (‘a Betty’ in 90s slang). We love the strange, raw and risk-taking. We believe strongly in art’s capacity to challenge its own definition, to curve away from the norm, making space for more and varied voices. Find out more about our books on our website and follow Bad Betty on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

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.

When I Read Diagnostic under CONFIDENTIAL

I think it’s related to esoteric mystical knowledge      
like predicting rain from moisture in moss
or life through the aleph bet of gematria             

should you wear a raincoat in this new
world of extreme weather                but the word
is just a fancy way to say test
say people spent their careers devising methods
to organize minds on a bell curve 

what is the etymology of evaluation
now that’s a better word            all about worth
about value dependent on people’s subjectivity
to get it going           and together        diagnostic
and evaluation are the appraisal and catalog
so what’s your price.

by Sarah Shapiro

News from the Centre: we are pleased to say that our new online course, Fire Up Your Poetry Practice: Professionalising Your Poetry, has proved very popular, and just one place remains on the session on 22 June entitled ‘Working with other people’. This session is led by poet and researcher Susie Campbell and will explore alternative routes into publication through collaboration and creative projects. To sign up for this event, please visit the Brookes Shop. If you would like to join the waiting list for any other session (listed on our website), please e-mail us at poetrycentre@brookes.ac.uk

When I Read Diagnostic under CONFIDENTIAL’ is copyright © Sarah Shapiro, 2021. It is reprinted from being called normal (tall-lighthouse, 2021) by permission of tall-lighthouse. You can read more about the pamphlet on the tall-lighthouse website.

Notes from tall-lighthouse:

This engaging sequence is written as a direct response, through poetry, to the clinical experiences of the poet in how the ‘system’ accepts and treats (or doesn’t) children with (dys)abilities. As a poet, Sarah Shapiro has strived to be called normal whilst growing up with ‘reading issues’. The poems are a dialogue between her documented psycho-educational evaluations and her reaction to the analysis and words used. Interspersed between these ‘conversations’ are heartfelt poems that expose the tribulations of people who are carelessly labelled (dys).

Read more about the pamphlet and hear Sarah read two of the poems from it on the tall-lighthouse website

Sarah Shapiro was born in Chicago and now lives and works in Boston. She has an MFA from UMASS Boston, an MA from Royal Holloway University, London and a BA from Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts. She did not start to read until she was eight, so her success is well earned. Her poetry has been widely published in magazines and on-line and her debut pamphlet The Bullshit Cosmos was published by ignitionpress and you can read more about it on the Poetry Centre website.

tall-lighthouse has a reputation for publishing exciting new poetry, being the first to publish Sarah Howe, Helen Mort, Liz Berry, Jay Bernard, Ailbhe Darcy, Rhian Edwards, Vidyan Ravinthiran, Emily Berry and many others. Learn more about the press on the  tall-lighthouse website and follow tall-lighthouse on Facebook and Twitter.

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.

Parliament Hill Lido

The clockwork of my father’s body wakes him at 6am,
pulls him by the eyelids out of bed toward the swim,

even in December dawn-drunk lunatics gather on goose-pimpled tiles,
the moon still floating, a lonely body in the sky.

The slap of water rearranges his synapses and as his feet kick
the ripple, his veins turn a serrated blue.

When I tell people about my father and his weirdness
I don’t mention how he speaks less if not for swimming

or those mornings when he returns
hair still wet, the blood bright in his cheeks,

how we cross on the doorstep both trying
to stay in our lane, our bodies in sharper focus.

by Lewis Buxton

We’re excited to announce a new online course from Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre designed for anyone who wants to develop their poetry and publish it more widely. Fire Up Your Poetry Practice takes place this June and features outstanding, award-winning tutors like Isabelle Baafi, Kostya Tsolakis, Les Robinson, Susie Campbell, and Mary Jean Chan. Find out more about the course on our website. Please note that the full course option and the session on 15 June are now fully booked up, but you can still book for other individual sessions. See the website for more details.

‘Parliament Hill Lido’ is copyright © Lewis Buxton, 2021 and is reprinted here from Boy in Various Poses (Nine Arches Press, 2021) by permission of Nine Arches Press.

Notes from Nine Arches Press:

Boy in Various Poses, a debut collection of poems from Lewis Buxton, explores all the different types of boy you can be – tender, awful, thoughtful, vulnerable. Here, a maelstrom of mental health, male bodies, and sexuality is laid bare with wit and curiosity, and the complexity and multiplicity of gender itself is revealed.

The boy in question is often shapeshifting, slippery, unreliable, close yet never quite in focus, moving too fast to pause and take a breath – yet Buxton studies these boys, their bodies and behaviours, with a disarming intimacy and precision. These poems are provocative, nuanced and often laugh-out-loud funny, shining with a naked, shameless brilliance. Find out more about the collection on the Nine Arches website, where you can also pre-order a copy of the book.

Lewis Buxton was born in 1993 and is a poet, performer and arts producer. His poems have appeared in The RialtoMagmaAmbit and Oxford Poetry. In 2018 he received the UEA Literary Festival Bursary and was named one of The Poetry School and Nine Arches Press’ Primers Volume Four poets. He is Director of the poetry project TOAST and teaches writing in schools and libraries around the country. He currently lives in Norfolk. Boy in Various Poses is his first collection. You can find out more about Lewis’s work from his website and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

Since its founding in 2008, Nine Arches Press has published poetry and short story collections (under the Hotwire imprint), as well as Under the Radar magazine. In 2010, two of our pamphlets were shortlisted for the Michael Marks Poetry Pamphlet prize and Mark Goodwin’s book Shod won the 2011 East Midlands Book Award. In 2017, All My Mad Mothers by Jacqueline Saphra was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize. Our titles have also been shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Prize, and in 2016 David Clarke’s debut poems, Arc, was longlisted for the Polari Prize. To date we have published over one hundred poetry publications. Read more about the press here and follow Nine Arches on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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.