Christmas Pudding

Richness waits under spare beds,
at the back of fridges. The more cautious
have placed theirs at the bottom of freezers. 

Made according to family recipes,
passed down or across to new recruits –
a whole day’s steaming takes commitment. 

My Auntie Jean, whose Welsh recipe I follow,
always ensured her grandchildren stopped by
on mixing day to stir and make a wish. 

Last November I stirred in hope
in my mother’s kitchen and kidded myself
it wouldn’t just be the two of us for dinner. 

We hid it away in her overflow freezer –
she always has enough food on hand to feed
her four grown-up children at a moment’s notice.

It will be taken out on Christmas Eve.
As the jewels of fruit defrost maybe we will unthaw
a little ourselves, the kernels of two years’

disappointment and loss melting away.
My nephew will be old enough this year
to have a taste. But before the eating 

the dousing. I will try not to look
at the pudding’s blue flame but the faces
gathered and lit around the table.

by Lorraine Mariner

This is the final Weekly Poem of the year. We’d like to thank all the publishers who send us poems to share. Please do support them by buying their books and pamphlets! Very many thanks also to you, our readers! We wish you an enjoyable and restful winter break. The Weekly Poem will return to your inbox on 17 January.

We leave you with two pieces of news from the Poetry Centre. Firstly, we’re delighted to say that our pamphlet press, ignitionpress, won this year’s Michael Marks Publishers’ Award! Many thanks indeed to all our readers and supporters and, of course, to our poets! You can find out about the other shortlisted presses and the shortlists for the pamphlet and illustration prizes on the Michael Marks website and learn more about the press and our pamphlets on our own site.

And just in case you missed it, our latest podcast is now live and features our colleague Dr Dinah Roe, whose work on Christina Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites we showcased this past semester. In this episode, Dinah discusses three poems by Rossetti, considers how her view of the poet has changed during Dinah’s time working with her poetry and prose and in the course of writing a book about her family, and how Rossetti’s experience as a carer affected her writing. You can listen to the podcast via our website  or find it via the usual podcast providers: just search for ‘Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre Podcast’. You can also watch Dinah discuss Rossetti’s poem ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ in Lucy Worsley’s Christmas Carol Odyssey, available now on the BBC website.

‘Christmas Pudding’ is copyright © Lorraine Mariner, 2021. It is reprinted from Christmas Together: Twelve Poems for Those We Love (Candlestick Press, 2021) by permission of Candlestick. You can read more about the pamphlet and buy a copy on the Candlestick website.

Lorraine Mariner lives in London and works at the National Poetry Library, Southbank Centre. She has published two collections with Picador: Furniture (2009) and There Will Be No More Nonsense (2014) and has been shortlisted for the Forward Prize twice, for Best Single Poem and Best First Collection, and for the Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Prize. Her most recent publication is the poetry chapbook Anchorage with Grey Suit Editions (2020).

You can find out more about Lorraine’s work on the Poetry Archive website and follow her on Twitter and on Instagram.

Candlestick Press is a small, independent press based in Nottingham and has been publishing its sumptuous ‘instead of a card’ poetry pamphlets since 2008. Subjects range from Birds and Clouds to Tea, Kindness, Home and Sheep. Candlestick Press titles are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, as well as by galleries, museums and garden centres. They can also be ordered online via the Candlestick website where you can find out more about the full range of titles. In 2019 Candlestick sold over 100,000 pamphlets, supporting its nominated charities with donations equivalent to around 49% of pre-tax net profits.

You can follow Candlestick on Twitter and find the press on 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.