The Artist Mixes Colour in the Renaissance

Don’t think of me as lime-robed and lost
in undailiness; I come with sleeves rolled-up,
worker in a mire of substance. Yes, I stink! 

I chew on a rotted wafer of dried fish glue
my saliva in the mix. How else to stretch the hue
of some frosty cleric? My paints are part kill: 

rabbit skin, horse hoof, pig’s blood.
I knife, mine, grind, churn, pound, steep, sweat
my way to that primal blue you worship. 

When you varnish me with meaning, remember
the grit under my nails, the fumes. Green
comes from the labour camps you made 

for your longing. And that hair-coiled girl
resolved from light. She’s no touched-up
pink fix. She took on the earth 

to coagulate: egg-yolk, red clay, mineral, old linen
marble dust. Do you think, if she looked up
she wouldn’t roar with the energy of her roots?

by Rosalind Hudis

News from the Poetry Centre: our new ignitionpress pamphlets by Fathima Zahra, Zein Sa’dedin and Katie Byford are now available to buy! Join us this Wednesday 25 August as we launch them in an online event at 7pm BST. It’s free to attend, but you’ll need to sign up (via Zoom) in advance.

Our International Poetry Competition, judged this year by Will Harris, closes in a month! There are two categories: Open and English as an Additional Language, and the winner of each category receives £1000. For more information and to enter, visit our website.

‘The Artist Mixes Colour in the Renaissance’ is copyright © Rosalind Hudis, 2021, and is reprinted here from Restorations (Seren, 2021) by permission of Seren. You can read more about the collection and buy a copy on the Seren website

Notes from Amy Wack, Poetry Editor at Seren:

Restorations is a journey into what it means to preserve – a monument, a moment, a life-story, a poppy. It’s about the hunger to possess and the need to let go. Welding themes from art and history with the contemporary, there are poems about pigments and dictators, glue and glass houses, collections, crinolines, and barometers, and the vagaries of memory itself. Entwined, is a more personal story that tracks the loss of a parent to dementia. Also running through, is a theme of women eroding the straitjacket of gendered roles: we meet a variety of characters including the explorer, Isabella Bird, and the nineteenth century navigator Sarah Jane Rees (Cranogwen) who lived in Llangrannog in Ceredigion. Linking all is a play with colour, particularly blue, in all its stages from vital to decayed. Find out more about the collection and buy a copy on the Seren website.

Rosalind Hudis grew up in Suffolk, but after a nomadic period making a living in different countries, and areas, of Britain, settled in West Wales where she has lived for many years with her partner, the puppeteer Tony Heales, and her family. A person of very mixed ethnic background, with roots as far apart as Moldova and Senegal, she finds Wales to be the place that is home. A onetime musician, she has also written from an early age, and now works as a freelance writer, editor, reviewer and tutor. She has taught creative writing at the University of Wales Trinity St David’s Lampeter, and offers writing workshops and readings to community groups or events. She sits on the editorial board of The Lampeter Review.

Besides appearing widely in journals, Rosalind has published a pamphlet with Rack Press, Terra Ignota (2013) and a full collection, Tilt, with Cinnamon Press (2014), poetry from which was highly commended in the 2015 Forward prizes. She has won awards in various competitions, including the National Poetry Competition. Rosalind is a Hawthornden Fellow (2017) and the recipient of a Literature Wales Writers bursary in 2013 and 2018. Read more about Rosalind’s work on her website and follow her on Twitter.

Seren is Wales’ leading independent literary publisher, specialising in English-language writing from Wales. With a list spanning poetry, fiction and non-fiction, many of our books are shortlisted for – and win – major literary prizes across the UK and America. Our aim is not simply to reflect what is going on in the culture in which we publish, but to drive that culture forward, to engage with the world, and to bring Welsh literature, art and politics before a wider audience. At the heart of our list is a beautiful poem, a good story told well or an idea or history presented interestingly or provocatively. We’re international in authorship and readership, though our roots remain here in Wales, where we prove that writers from a small country with an intricate culture have a worldwide relevance.

Since its beginnings in 1981, Seren has developed into one of the most interesting publishing houses in Britain. Based in Bridgend, Seren continues to nurture and publish new talent whose quality is recognised around the world. This year we celebrate our 40th anniversary. We’ve had a whole series of online events readings and launches since the start of the Pandemic lockdowns and hope to return to live events in the coming months. We also publish Poetry Wales Magazine and we present the yearly Cardiff Poetry Festival featuring readers from all over the world. Our Managing Editor is Mick Felton, longtime Sales and Publicity Officer is Simon Hicks, Sarah Johnson is our Marketing Officer and Jamie Hill is in Design and Production. Jannat Ahmed is Poetry Wales’ administrative assistant. Find out more by visiting Seren’s website.

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.