She pulls things from the earth
with bare hands, clipped fingernails crusted,
compact with the black.
Roll the stem, between this finger and that,
then ease; out of that musty damp
the bulk of root, to straggling tip.
Japanese radish, long as thumbs, lobster pink with
peppered, brittle flesh;
beet that bleed into scored wood
stain fingertips in violent ink –
she shakes all this life in her hands,
sieves the clotted soil and breadcrumbs dirt.
Plucking at broad beans, freeing
full fat pods from strained seams,
peering at pale bright flesh, their bitter caps
she’ll not look up.
‘There’s something pressing in my head.’
She pulls things from the earth.

by Katie Hourigan

There are three Poetry Centre events coming up soon and we hope you can join us at one – or more! This evening, Tuesday 5 April, from 7.30-8.30pm, we’re taking part in Oxford Brookes’s Think Human Festival with an online event called All Fired Up! It features our colleague Dr Mary Jean Chan, who will be reading from her work alongside nine poets who took part in our Fire Up Your Poetry Practice short course last year. For more information and to register, please visit this Zoom link

Then on Tuesday 12 April from 5-6pm, we’re delighted to be hosting the leading Argentine poet Diana Bellessi (the ‘godmother of feminist / LGBTQI+ / Lesbian poetry’ in Argentina), who will be reading from her work with her translator, Leo Boix, in an in-person event here at Brookes that will be hosted by Mary Jean Chan. It’s free to attend, and you can find more details on this Poetry Translation Centre page. If you’d like to come along, please e-mail Dr Niall Munro via

And finally, join us online on Thursday 21 April from 7-8pm for reading and conversation with Canadian poet Sylvia Legris (whose new book, Garden Physic, is forthcoming from Granta and a Poetry Book Society Recommendation), and Mary Jean Chan. You can sign up to attend via Eventbrite. 

‘Jenny’ is copyright © Katie Hourigan, 2022. It is reprinted from Ten Poems of the Soil (Candlestick Press, 2022) by permission of Candlestick. You can read more about the pamphlet and buy a copy on the Candlestick website.

Notes from Candlestick Press:

Soil, earth, clay, sod, clod: there’s no shortage of one-syllable words for the stuff that gets behind our fingernails and sticks to our wellies. And it’s strangely enjoyable to say these words out loud – as if they remind us of childhood and sitting in the dirt to make mud pies. This mini-anthology – arriving just as spring makes its glorious return – delights in all things earthy, including those often unseen creatures like moles and worms who live and work underground. There are also poems celebrating the human toil of keeping soil in good order and the satisfaction this brings.As we’re reminded elsewhere, ‘the soil never sleeps’. These poems recognise good earth as something that’s living and precious, which is why we’re delighted to include a message from the Soil Association about their important work. The pamphlet includes poems by Margaret Atwood, Verne Bright, Carl Dennis, Jacqueline Gabbitas, Adam Horovitz, Katie Hourigan, Yusef Komunyakaa, PK Page, Ruth Pitter and George Szirtes.

Read more about the pamphlet and buy a copy on the Candlestick website.

Katie Hourigan was born in Devon. She is currently studying English Literature with Creative Writing at the University of Manchester. Her work has been published in the magazines Spelt and Porridge. You can follow Katie on Twitter.

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.  Since 2008 Candlestick has sold over 800,000 pamphlets which means more than 8 million poems have been read via its publications. 

You can follow Candlestick on Twitter @poetrycandle, on Instagram @candlestickpress, and you can 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.