I hadn’t heard of Section 28 and how it was repealed
in November 2003 in England and Wales but I knew
that taking out the library’s only copy of Oranges Are
Not the Only Fruit would be difficult, so I tried to read
as much of the book as I could behind Harry Potter and
the Chamber of Secrets till the librarian asked what I was
reading and said do your parents know, which made me
turn the colour of my school tie. The librarian smiled like
people do in films before the scene changes to a moody shot
of the protagonist by the sea on a stormy day contemplating
whether to swim in the tidal pool full of seaweed with no life-
guard on duty and said you’re reading a book from the Adult
Section, at which point the babies who were normally crying
stopped and I thought about the Childline poster at school
which now had the word GAY graffitied across the boy on
the phone looking sort of sad with the number 0800 1111
printed in one of those typefaces that tried too hard to be
popular with teenagers and I thought about everything I’d
say if I called up but as the librarian asked me again to put
Oranges back on the shelf even Childline didn’t comfort me
much as I realised the counsellor could be someone like her
by Jo Morris Dixon
News from the Poetry Centre: we recently announced the winners of our International Poetry Competition, judged by Will Harris. You can find out who won and who was shortlisted in the EAL and Open categories on our website, where you can also register to attend our online awards event on 7 December. Everyone is welcome to attend! You’ll be able to hear from the winners in both categories and also from the judge, Will Harris, who will talk about judging the competition and give a short reading from his work.
This week’s poet, Jo Morris Dixon, will be launching her pamphlet online this evening (Tuesday) at 7.30pm alongside other Verve poets who will also be sharing new work: Zoe Brigley, Phoebe Stuckes, and Golnoosh Nour. You can sign up to attend for free. Just visit this page for the Zoom details.
‘2004’ is copyright © Jo Morris Dixon, 2021. It is reprinted from I told you everything (Verve Poetry Press, 2021) by permission of Verve. You can read more about the pamphlet on the Verve website.
Jo Morris Dixon’s debut pamphlet I told you everything reveals how poetry can function as a holding place for difficult experiences and emotions. Through language at once vivid and straightforward, Dixon skilfully addresses coming-of-age themes which are often left unexplored, even in therapy rooms. There is a keen attentiveness to form in these startling poems, ranging from the sonnet to the Golden Shovel. Urgent, complex and searingly honest, I told you everything is a fierce addition to poetry and queer writing in the UK. You can read more about it and buy a copy on the Verve website.
Jo Morris Dixon grew up in Birmingham and now lives in London. She has worked in museums and currently works for a mental health charity. Her poetry has been published in Oxford Poetry and The Poetry Review. She was longlisted for the 2015 Plough Poetry Prize and the 2020 National Poetry Competition. I told you everything is her debut pamphlet. Read more about Jo’s work on her website.
Winner of both the Saboteur Award for Most Innovative Publisher and the Michael Marks Publisher’s Award, Verve Poetry Press is a Birmingham-based publisher. It is dedicated to promoting and showcasing Birmingham and UK poetic talent in colourful and exciting ways – as you would expect from a press that has grown out of the giddy and flamboyant, annual four days of poetry and spoken word that is Verve Poetry Festival, Birmingham.
Added to this is a colourful pamphlet series featuring poets who have previously performed at our sister festival and a debut performance poetry series which sees us working with the brightest rising stars on the UK spoken word scene. We also assert our right to publish any poetry we feel needs and deserves to find print wherever we find it. Like the festival, we will strive to think about poetry in inclusive ways and embrace the multiplicity of approaches towards this glorious art.
You can find out more about Verve Poetry Press on the publisher’s website, where you can also sign up to the mailing list. You can follow the press on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
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.