Kitchen Window, Wells-next-the-Sea


The window of the second kitchen
in what was once a railway house
     looks out on salt-flecked

stones hauled from the sea
and a latticed fence
     where sweetpeas climbed

in summer, now flakes of paper
by a single frozen rose.
     Through the middle pane

another window
where a woman wearing an apron
     leans over

a sink of bubbles,
below the clock above the cupboard,
     her pearl earring framed

by a wave of wavy hair
as she leans and dips
     while from somewhere

out of this grey afternoon the sun
alights on the casement
     and a gold leaf rises. Light hovers

then brightens, follows her
as she enters another room,
      then another.

by Mara Bergman

The Poetry Centre has just launched the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition for 2021! Our judge this year is the fantastic poet Will Harris and as usual there are two categories: Open and English as an Additional Language. Winners in each category receive £1000 and runners-up, £200. For more details and to enter, please visit our website.

This poem is copyright © Mara Bergman, 2021, and it is reprinted here from The Night We Were Dylan Thomas (Arc Publications, 2021) by permission of Arc. You can read more about the collection and buy a copy on the Arc website.

Notes from Arc:

Writing about The Night We Were Dylan Thomas, poet Jackie Wills has commented: ‘Like a great photographer, Mara Bergman celebrates the moment and detail at the core of memory. Together, her poems show the great changes families experience – the free and fearless life of a young woman set alongside a dying mother hanging on so she can hold a great-grandchild, the one-sided conversations we have with the dead.

Her dynamism is infectious – you are drawn into this family’s wonder, love, compassion, grief and happiness. Bergman’s poems remind me of Pablo Neruda’s belief in the driving force of love: ‘Hold on to that, don’t let it get away …’ and one of the final poems, ‘The Happiness’, delivers the book’s message: ‘Before it leaves, I will bury it deep enough to save.’

After reading these poems, you’ll feel braced and ready, you’ll feel wiser and more generous, you’ll want to hold on to moments that contain your own astonishment.’

You can read more about the book and buy a copy on the Arc website.

Mara Bergman grew up in Wantagh, New York, and graduated from the State University of New York at Oneonta. During her third year, she studied at Goldsmiths College and later made her home in the UK.

Mara’s poetry has been published widely in the UK and abroad. Her collection The Tailor’s Three Sons and Other New York Poems won the Mslexia Poetry Pamphlet Competition and was published by Seren in 2015. In 2016, Crossing Into Tamil Nadu won a Templar Quarterly Pamphlet Competition. Her poems have been awarded prizes in the Troubadour competition and the Kent & Sussex Open Competition, among others. Her first full-length poetry collection, The Disappearing Room, was published by Arc Publications in 2018.

Mara works in London as an editor and is also an award-winning author of more than twenty books for young children. She lives with her husband in Tunbridge Wells and has three grown-up children. Find out more about Mara’s work on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Founded in 1969, Arc Publications publishes contemporary poetry from new and established writers from the UK and abroad, specialising in the work of international poets writing in English, and the work of overseas poets in translation. Arc also has a music imprint, Arc Music, for the publication of books about music and musicians. To learn more about Arc and to see its range of titles, visit the publisher’s website. You can also find Arc on Facebook and on 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.

Learning to Love in Greek


They said beware eros, though many
begin with madness. Learn to fall
in love with dancing – this is ludic,
the love you felt for skipping ropes
or bikes. If eros and ludus combine
you may suffer mania, the white blood
of the moon that petrifies. Grow phillia,
the love of football fans on terraces.
Chant together. Fight with the same heart. 

If you have children or a puppy
you’ll know storgi, it rhymes with be.
It sits at kitchen tables, magnetises
crayon drawings to fridges. If you don’t
have these, you may feel storgi
from an old aunt, a mate. A lover
might see the child hiding in you
from a cowlick of grey that won’t
be brushed straight. Then philautia,
loving the self. Not so easy. For others,
who dive into pools of themselves,
too easy. Be your own best friend.
When love moves into a house
with a mortgage and enough space
for the future, this is pragma.
To stand in love comes after falling.
Pray you’ll land on your feet. 

Above all, agapè – when you forget
who you are and take someone’s hand.

by Maria Taylor

‘Learning to Live in Greek’ is copyright © Maria Taylor, 2020 and is reprinted from Dressing for the Afterlife (Nine Arches Press, 2020) by permission of Nine Arches Press.

Notes from Nine Arches Press:

Dressing for the Afterlife is a diamond-tough and tender second collection of poems from British Cypriot poet Maria Taylor, which explores love, life, and how we adapt to the passage of time. From the steely glamour of silent film-star goddesses to moonlit seasons and the ghosts of other possible, parallel lives, these poems shimmy and glimmer bittersweet with humour and brio, as Taylor conjures afresh a world where Joan Crawford feistily simmers and James Bond’s modern incarnation is mistaken for an illicit lover.

Consistently crisp and vivid, these poems examine motherhood, heritage and inheritance, finding stories woven in girlhood’s faltering dance-steps, the thrum of the sewing-machine at the end-days of the rag trade, or the fizz and bubble of a chip-shop fryer. And throughout, breaking through, is the sense of women finding their wings and taking flight – “and her wings, what wings she has” – as Taylor’s own poems soar and defiantly choose their own adventures.

You can read more about the collection and watch Maria read a selection of poems from it on the Nine Arches website. You can also watch the launch of the book on YouTube. In addition to Maria, the launch event featured readings from Mona Arshi and ignitionpress poet Kostya Tsolakis.

Maria Taylor is a British Cypriot poet, critic and reviewer who has been published in The Rialto, Magma and the TLS, among other publications. Her debut collection of poetry, Melanchrini, was shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize, and her poetry featured in the Penguin anthology The Poetry of Sex, edited by Sophie Hannah. She has a pamphlet, Instructions for Making Me (2016), and is also the creator of Poetry Bingo, a quirky set of cards which are part-game and part-concrete poem, both from HappenStance. She is also a keen runner and walker and lives in Leicestershire. Read more about Maria’s work on her website and follow her on Twitter.

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.

[phlox]

phlox

comes from the Greek for flame 

perhaps whoever named it
was thinking of its bright colour

though in the painting ‘La femme aux Phlox’ it’s the form which impresses
the Cubists’ exhibition at the start of last century

in the language of flowers phloxes are united hearts

in the language of war it’s an artillery unit
remarkable for its accuracy of fire
a journalist writes:
the factory is confident this new weapon
will find its consumer

in the kingdom of war
there are other flowers too

hyacinth: a gun with a 152mm calibre
(like a drainpipe hole)
carnation: a 122mm howitzer
(like a grapefruit)
cornflower: a mortar with a range of 18 metres
(like a bowhead whale)

maybe these are the flowers of evil
to which certain butterflies flock
or rather
butterfly mines
these fit in your palm
and weigh only 90 grams

like a newborn kitten
or a bar of soap
I weigh it in my hand

the bathroom is quiet and safe

trusting naivety

hyacinths carnations and phloxes
blaze in the neighbour’s yard

by Volha Hapeyeva

translated from Belarusian by Annie Rutherford

This poem is copyright © Volha Hapeyeva, 2021, the translation is © Annie Rutherford, and it is reprinted here from In My Garden of Mutants (Arc Publications, 2021) by permission of Arc. You can read more about the pamphlet and buy a copy on the Arc website.

Notes from Arc:

In My Garden of Mutants, a bilingual chapbook, offers an introduction to the work of the prize-winning Belarusian poet Volha Hapeyeva, in Annie Rutherford’s beautifully modulated translations. The chapbook was a winner of an English PEN Translates Award. You can read more about the collection on the Arc website and watch a filmpoem by Clemens Büntig of ‘And She Dreamt about the Word’, another poem from the collection, on YouTube.

Volha Hapeyeva is an award-winning Belarusian poet who also writes prose, drama and occasional books for children, and who collaborates with electronic musicians and visual artists to create audio-visual performances. Her work has been translated into more than 10 languages with poems published in countries including the USA, Austria, Germany, Poland, Russia, Georgia, and Lithuania. She has participated in numerous literary festivals and conferences all over the world. She was awarded the 2019/20 ‘Writer of the City of Graz’, scholarship (Austria) and curated the Days of Poetry and Wine Festival (Slovenia) in 2020. Find out more about Volha’s work on her website.

Annie Rutherford, who has translated Volha’s poems, is a writer, a translator from German, French and Belarusian, and Programme Co-ordinator for StAnza, Scotland’s international poetry festival. She co-founded the literary magazine Far Off Places and Göttingen’s Poetree festival and is currently the fictions editor for The Interpreter’s House. Read more about Annie’s work on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Founded in 1969, Arc Publications publishes contemporary poetry from new and established writers from the UK and abroad, specialising in the work of international poets writing in English, and the work of overseas poets in translation. Arc also has a music imprint, Arc Music, for the publication of books about music and musicians. To learn more about Arc and to see its range of titles, visit the publisher’s website. You can also find Arc on Facebook and on 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.