The Last Days of August

After James Tate

Through gaps & crannies in
the clapboard house blows the hot wind
to quicken a ghost of a lover 

& me. All day it has travelled over
the plains & now it trembles across
my cheap drapes. Is it the wind or 

a lover from faraway? Like the cold
breeze that tapped on my grandmother’s
door the night Grandpa died & every night 

after: the knocking. There it is again but
warm as breath, singing the blast
of the train whistle & I am nothing 

if not hungry. For it is the end of August, &
I know—love is hitched to the tracks, blown
through, travelling away across America.

by Zoë Brigley

News from the Poetry Centre: we’re really pleased to say that our pamphlet press, ignitionpress, has been shortlisted for this year’s Michael Marks Publishers’ Award! Established in 2009, the Michael Marks Awards represent the main awards for poetry pamphlets in the UK, and you can tune in to the online ceremony, when the winners will be announced, on 7 December (just after our own competition event – see below!). To find out more and to register for the event, visit the Michael Marks website. We’d like to thank everyone who has supported the press this year and encourage you to check out the work of our wonderful poets

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.

‘The Last Days of August’ is copyright © Zoë Brigley, 2021. It is reprinted from Into Eros (Verve Poetry Press, 2021) by permission of Verve. You can read more about the pamphlet on the Verve website.

The poems in Into Eros consider the dangers for women in risking desire, and they tell a story about nature, trauma, and healing. Here, pumpkin flowers, poison sumac, and apple blossoms are as much persons as women are, and their experience are parallel but different. These poems register the value of love after violence. Not possessing or dominating but dwelling with people, with nature – this at last might lead to freedom, and joy. You can read more about it and buy a copy on the Verve website.

Zoë Brigley has three collections of poetry from Bloodaxe: The SecretConquest, and Hand & Skull – all three were Poetry Book Society Recommendations. She has also received an Eric Gregory Award, been Commended in the Forward Prizes, and listed for the Dylan Thomas Prize. Zoë has also published a collection of nonfiction: Notes from a Swing State: Writing from Wales and America (Parthian). She is Assistant Professor in the English department at the Ohio State University and runs an anti-violence advocacy podcast: Sinister Myth: How Stories We Tell Perpetuate Violence. You can find out more about Zoë’s work on her website and follow her on Twitter.

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 TwitterInstagram, 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.