My Father Cycling Up a Hill, 1957

It’s the hill from the bottom of Factory Trip
all the way up to Manor Farm –
Welsh hill, one long steep and steady climb 

to nowhere, punctuated by the occasional sharp
or suicidal incline. These
are his feet, his calves – they’re pushing, 

pushing against the weight of the side
of beef or lamb in the basket
on the front of his bike. From his uncle’s 

butcher’s shop to Manor Farm is a climb so far
if I were doing it now, by car, I’d think
twice. By bike? No way! Yet there 

he is, my father, twelve years old, the weight
of the hill on his legs, setting out
once a week all winter, to deliver 

the Sunday joint to Old Man Hodge. These
are his feet, the look on his face
as he pushes, pushes. This is the sweat 

on his brow. His uncle pays him
in promises, end-of-week scraps, the back
of his hand. It’s silly to know 

what I do: my father is doing this
for his mother, his younger brother,
for his own father, who hasn’t worked properly 

since he got back from the war. This
is his front wheel, squeaking,
squeaking as he inches up that hill. I know 

all the reasons he’s doing this
and I wasn’t even born then, so it’s silly as can be
to know what I do – that he was doing it all – 

look at him, pushing and pushing all afternoon – for me.

by Jonathan Edwards

The Poetry Centre has 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 visitour website .

‘My Father Cycling Up a Hill, 1957’ is copyright © Jonathan Edwards, 2021, and is reprinted here from Ten Poems about Work (Candlestick Press, 2021) by permission of Candlestick. You can read more about the collection and buy a copy on the Candlestick website

Notes from Candlestick Press:

We may not love our jobs, but when we can’t go to work we find that we miss them. This mini-anthology, Ten Poems about Work, reflects on our working lives in all their glorious variety with a delightful mix of nostalgia, celebration and humour. Poet Jonathan Edwards’ eclectic and highly entertaining selection of poems explores our complicated and often surprising relationship with the things we have to do to earn a living. The pamphlet includes poems by Liz Berry, Sujata Bhatt, Gillian Clarke, Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Lux, Helen Mort, John Ormond, Kathryn Simmonds, James Tate and Walt Whitman.

Read more about the collection on the Candlestick website.

Jonathan Edwards’s first collection, My Family and Other Superheroes (Seren, 2014), received the Costa Poetry Award. His second collection, Gen (Seren, 2018), was Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice 2019. He lives in Crosskeys, South Wales.

Candlestick Press is a small, independent press publishing sumptuously produced poetry pamphlets that serve as a wonderful alternative to a greetings card, with matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message. Their subjects include Clouds, Walking, Birds, Home and Kindness. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online. In 2019 Candlestick sold over 100,000 pamphlets, supporting its nominated charities with donations equivalent to around 49% of pre-tax net profit. Since 2008 nearly 600,000 pamphlets have been sold, which means that some six million poems have been read via its publications.

Find out more about the press on the Candlestick website and follow it 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.

Jet

The morning after my fortieth birthday, I met
a bright arc of water. It was thirty feet high. 

The source: a cracked pipe under the road,
the point of emergence flanked by barriers. 

Our gleaming street was shut.
I couldn’t help it—I had to bounce.
It was pure force, that singing curve,
racing up regardless, liquid stamping down. 

It was the best guest: late, theatric,
one I never thought could arrive 

at anyone’s party. Happy Spurt Day, John!
What more could I have needed 

in that moment, I who didn’t know there was
such thirst in my life till that maverick 

showed up and scotched it, till surprise
watered my defiant grey hairs? 

by John McCullough

The Poetry Centre has 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.

‘Jet’ is copyright © John McCullough, 2021, and is reprinted here from Ten Poems about Getting Older (Candlestick Press, 2021) by permission of Candlestick. You can read more about the collection and buy a copy on the Candlestick website.

Notes from Candlestick Press:

Being old isn’t what it used to be. Sixty is the new forty. The world is full of expressions designed to make us feel better about the inevitable passing of the years. This fascinating mini-anthology of poems selected by John McCullough looks in both directions; backwards to heydays of young love and time deliciously misspent, and forwards to the perils and thrills of middle age and beyond. It includes poems by Elizabeth Bishop, Emily Dickinson, Rita Dove, Mark Granier, John McCullough, Frank O’Hara, Alasdair Paterson, Elvire Roberts, Judith Shaw and Jackie Wills. Find out more about the pamphlet on the Candlestick website.

John McCullough is a poet and poetry tutor living in Hove. His third collection Reckless Paper Birds (Penned in the Margins, 2019) was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award and won the Hawthornden Prize for Literature. His two previous collections are The Frost Fairs (Salt, 2011) and Spacecraft (Penned in the Margins, 2016). You can read more about John’s work on his website and follow him on Twitter.

Candlestick Press is a small, independent press publishing sumptuously produced poetry pamphlets that serve as a wonderful alternative to a greetings card, with matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message. Their subjects include Clouds, Walking, Birds, Home and Kindness. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online. In 2019 Candlestick sold over 100,000 pamphlets, supporting its nominated charities with donations equivalent to around 49% of pre-tax net profit. Since 2008 nearly 600,000 pamphlets have been sold, which means that some six million poems have been read via its publications.

Find out more about the press on the Candlestick website and follow 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.

Drokpa

‘Longing, we say, because desire is full / of endless distances.’
– Robert Hass
In another life, my father
must have been a nomad.
He drinks butter tea,
knows his way around a saddle,
turns the living room into open rangeland.
There are horses at the door,
nudging their big noses into the hallway,
familiar to him as brothers.
Everywhere we turn they are
stamping down the carpet, swinging wide,
sweating hard, and right in the centre
of that heaving bunch of muscle,
dad pours out the door like wind,
loose bridle, easy seat, running like hell.
In Tibetan, drokpa means ‘people of the solitudes’,
as if solitude was open country
in which we learn early
to lean into the gale, to forage old ground.
He does not dwell long,
disappears for seasons at a time
and we came to realise the way he loves
is the way a horse makes a break for it,
steaming, impatient, expectant,
body corded tight. Horses like clouds
scudding across fields of grass, wild iris,
lashed canvas. He takes off, bad back and all.
His heart opens like a valley.

by Cynthia Miller

The Poetry Centre has 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. 

‘Drokpa’ is copyright © Cynthia Miller, 2021 and is reprinted from Honorifics (Nine Arches Press, 2021) by permission of Nine Arches Press.

Notes from Nine Arches Press:

Cynthia Miller’s debut poetry collection, Honorifics, is an astonishing, adventurous, and innovative exploration of family, Malaysian-Chinese cultural identity, and immigration. From jellyfish blooms to glitch art and distant stars, taking in Greek gods, space shuttles and wedding china along the way, Miller’s mesmerizing approach is experimental, luscious, and expansive with longing – ‘My skin hunger could fill a galaxy’.

Here, the poetry is interwoven with the words for all the things we honour – our loved ones and our ancestors, home and homecomings, and all that is precious and makes us feel that we belong and are beloved. It is also a book that examines contemporary issues of migration in sharp and enquiring relief. Language itself becomes a radical power for reimaging, challenging, and making change, and Miller’s distinctive and multifaceted poetry creates an extraordinary space for multiplicity and celebration.

You can read more about the collection – and buy a copy – on the Nine Arches website, and watch the recent launch of the book via YouTube.

Cynthia Miller is a Malaysian-American poet, festival producer and innovation consultant living in Edinburgh. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in AmbitThe RialtoButcher’s DogPoetry Birmingham Literary Journalharana poetryThe Best New British and Irish Poets and Primers Volume Two. She is also Co-Founder of the Verve Poetry Festival. Honorifics has been shortlisted for the 2021 Forward Prize for Best First Collection.

Read more about Cynthia’s work on her website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram. You can also read an interview with Cynthia that was conducted to celebrate her shortlisting for the Forward Prize.

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.

Spring in Hartsop


As though God had risen above the fells
and shown his face, the earth answered…
So long since the sun broke the clouds 

or the hills shone in their veil of air,
and now the thorn, unturning its clusters,
its spokes of flower – the snowdrops 

pushing in rings like choirs, each tilting
its neck, ready to sing. Since you left, I too
have slept in the dark of my body’s 

wintering; but now, by the window,
I can feel my heart hatching; your hand,
gentle, lifting my head to the sun.

by Seán Hewitt

The Poetry Centre has 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.

‘Spring in Hartsop’ is copyright © Seán Hewitt, 2021, and is reprinted here from Ten Poems from the Countryside (Candlestick Press, 2021) by permission of Candlestick. You can read more about the collection and buy a copy on the  Candlestick website.

Notes from Candlestick Press:

Seán Hewitt lives in Dublin where he teaches at Trinity College. His debut collection, Tongues of Fire (Cape, 2020), was an Irish Times Book of the Year and was shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. A memoir All Down Darkness Wide is forthcoming in 2022. Find out more about Seán’s work on his website and follow him on Twitter.

Candlestick Press is a small, independent press publishing sumptuously-produced poetry pamphlets that serve as a wonderful alternative to a greetings card, with matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message. Their subjects include Clouds, Walking, Birds, Home and Kindness. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online. In 2019, Candlestick sold over 100,000 pamphlets, supporting its nominated charities with donations equivalent to around 49% of pre-tax net profit. Since 2008, nearly 600,000 pamphlets have been sold, which means that some six million poems have been read via its publications.

Find out more about the press on the Candlestick website and follow the press 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.