Back Story

So I made myself a seagull
dyed everything grey and white
glued sexless feathers to a Weetabix box
and circled the school carpark                                                           

bombing children with lip-shaped
sweets if I liked them
and smaller creatures’ eggs
if I didn’t                                                           

hovered by the gates studying
how girls in bunches became bananas
still green and hard
but not as hard as me                                                           

I was an unblinking seagull
always out of reach
I was the chip-stealer
the sky-klaxon                                                           

a squawk so loud
nobody would want
to hurt me
couldn’t if they tried                                                   

and I beat my wings
till the white vans and boys
in their bad uniforms
blew out out out to sea

by Helen Bowell

Happy World Poetry Day! It’s a busy week for the Poetry Centre and we invite you to join us for one (or both!) of the events we have coming up. Tomorrow (Tuesday) from 6-7pm online, the Oxford Brookes Poetry Showcase will gather together Brookes poets from undergraduate to PhD level to share a sample of their work. Join us to hear a wonderful range of writing. To register and receive the Zoom link, please visit this Zoom page.

Then on Friday from 7-8pm online, as part of the university’s Creative Industries Festival, we’ll be hosting a panel about independent poetry presses. We’ll be in conversation with three of the leading indie presses in the UK: Bad Betty Press, represented by Amy Acre; Out-Spoken Press (Anthony Anaxagorou); and Nine Arches Press, represented by Jane Commane. We’ll be discussing topics such as how presses select poets, editorial policy, funding models, markets and sales, and how we enable people from a broader range of backgrounds to get involved in publishing. To register to attend, visit this Zoom page.

‘Back Story’ is copyright © Helen Bowell, 2022, and is reprinted here from The Barman (Bad Betty Press, 2022) by permission of Bad Betty Press. You can read more about the pamphlet on the  press website.

Notes from Bad Betty Press:

Helen Bowell and The Barman form a relationship from which you won’t easily look away. This debut pamphlet is a sharp, witty exploration of the nuances of a sometimes reluctant co-dependency. At times it feels like you are the third housemate, unashamedly pressing your ear to the wall to hear conversations as intimate as they are absurd. Bowell deftly interrogates what it means to feel both othered and adored, comfortable and wary. The Barman is an introduction to a poetic voice unique in its ability to subtly express its desires, leaving enough room for the reader to find parts of themselves in the world it creates.

You can read more about The Barman and buy a copy on the Bad Betty website.

Helen Bowell is a poet, critic and producer based in London. She is a co-director of Dead [Women] Poets Society, a live literature organisation which ‘resurrects’ women poets of the past. Helen is a Ledbury Poetry Critic and an alumna of The Writing Squad, Roundhouse Poetry Collective, London Writers Awards and London Library Emerging Writers Programme. Her work has appeared in MagmaThe NorthPoetry WalesAmbitharana poetry and elsewhere. Since 2017, she has worked at The Poetry Society.

You can read more about Helen’s work on her website, follow her on Twitter and watch her read from her work in this Creative Future Writers’ Award video.

Bad Betty Press is an independent publisher of new poetry, born in 2017 and run by Amy Acre and Jake Wild Hall. Our authors include Gboyega Odubanjo, Anja Konig, Charlotte Geater, Susannah Dickey, Tanatsei Gambura, Matthew Haigh, Kirsten Luckins and Tom Bland. Our books include PBS Pamphlet Choices, Poetry School Books of the Year, a Telegraph Poetry Book of the Month, Laurel Prize longlistees and BAMB Readers Award shortlistees. We’ve been thrice shortlisted for the Michael Marks Publishers Award, named The Book Hive’s Indie Publisher of the Month, and described by The Big Issue as ‘the epitome of bold independence’. Find out more about our books  here and follow Bad Betty on  Facebook,  Twitter and  Instagram.

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.

Green-tinted Roses

I saw in an ice-white
garden the winter light
had coloured
the yellow rose and its stalk
don’t say
it’s a marvellous strain
leaving me nothing
to marvel at
it grew to
some height on its own
by the side of a road
yet nobody
dared
clip its wings
It came to me
like a lover
holding her breath.

by Esther Dischereit

Grünstichige Rosen

sah ich in einem eisweißen Garten
stehen das Winterlicht
hatte die gelbe Rose
mit ihrem Stengel gefärbt
sag nicht
es ist eine wundersame Sorte
damit ich nichts mehr
zu staunen hätte
sie wuchs in
einer Höhe als eine einzige
am Rand einer Straße
und doch wagte es
niemand sie an den Flügeln
zu stutzen
Sie kam mir entgegen
wie eine Geliebte
und hielt inne.


This poem is copyright © Esther Dischereit, 2020, translated by Iain Galbraith, and is reprinted here from Sometimes a Single Leaf: Selected Poems (Arc Publications, 2020) by permission of Arc. You can read more about the book on the Arc website.

Whether in poetry, fiction, radio drama or sound installations, Esther Dischereit’s work represents a unique departure in recent European writing: a distinctive, off-beat syntax of German-Jewish intimacy with the fractured consciousness and deeply rutted cultural landscape of today’s Germany. Sometimes a Single Leaf, mirroring the development of Esther Dischereit’s poetry across three decades, includes selections from three of her books as well as a sampling of more recent, uncollected poems. It is her first book of poetry in English translation and was the Poetry Book Society’s Recommended Translation for Winter 2019.

Read more about the book and buy a copy on the Arc website.

‘Born in Germany in 1952 to a Jewish mother who had survived the Holocaust in hiding, Esther Dischereit grew up in a haunted society, where the crimes of the recent past were effectively suppressed despite their omnipresent traces. These poems, drawn from published collections spanning the years 1996 to 2007 as well as from more recent work, give voice to disorientation and pain, as well as endurance and resolve, in the unwelcome work of calling history to account, of witnessing to the ghostly “once-weres,” invisible to her contemporaries. A fine preface by the translator Iain Galbraith provides biographical context and introduces rich avenues of interpretation. Galbraith’s translations render very compellingly the sparse lines and subtle rhythms of Dischereit’s free-verse poems.’ (Karin Schutjer, World Literature Today, Summer 2020.)

Founded in 1969, Arc Publications publishes contemporary poetry from new and established writers from the UK and abroad, specialising in the work of international poets writing in English, and the work of overseas poets in translation. Arc also has a music imprint, Arc Music, for the publication of books about music and musicians. To learn more about Arc and to see its range of titles, visit the publisher’s website. You can also find Arc on Facebook and on Twitter.

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

Cause of Death

We do not
discuss politics
at the dining table.
We might stab
it with a fork,
lift it to a trembling
mouth and swallow.
We nudge it
to the edge
of our plates,
look past it,
scrub the plates with
barbed wire,
slit our hands,
drain our blood
in the sink.                                                           

These hunger strikes
are a shovel in a graveyard.
Citizen
 is the epitaph.
Cause of death is silence;
cause of death is a scream.
Somewhere between the two
my country buries me. 

by Tanatsei Gambura

This semester the Poetry Centre is showcasing the research being carried out by Dr Eric White into the American avant-gardes, and we invite you to join us! ‘Shaking the Lights’ is a series of free digital events, open to all, and beginning this Thursday 24 February with an online lunchtime discussion group looking at poetry by Langston Hughes. You can find details of that event and the others in the series on the Poetry Centre website. 

‘Cause of Death’ is copyright © Tanatsei Gambura, 2021, and is reprinted here from Things I Have Forgotten Before (Bad Betty Press, 2021) by permission of Bad Betty Press. You can read more about the pamphlet and buy a copy from the press website.

Notes from Bad Betty Press:

Brick by brick, Tanatsei Gambura dismantles walls of silence to show us the story behind the story: in a township room in 80s Harare, a straße in Bonn, an otherplace locked into grandmothers’ hips. In her pamphlet, Things I Have Forgotten Before, we find lost brothers, predatory officers, the smiles of women on Fair & Lovely tubes, the concomitance of personal and national cataclysms. We confront our collusion in collective forgetfulness, and the painful but necessary process of rememory. Assured and inventive, Gambura reminds us that words are tools for worldbuilding, engineering language with startling grace.

Find out more about the pamphlet on the Bad Betty Press website, and you can watch her read another poem from her collection via The Poetry Archive.

Tanatsei Gambura is a poet, intermedia artist, and cultural practitioner working transnationally. Her debut pamphlet Things I Have Forgotten Before (Bad Betty, 2021), from which this poem is taken, was the Poetry Book Society’s Autumn 2021 Pamphlet Choice. Tanatsei is the runner-up to the inaugural Amsterdam Open Book Prize (2020), a Rebecca Swift Foundation Women Poets’ Prize longlistee (2020), and a recipient of the Library Of Africa and The African Diaspora (LOATAD) and Savannah Center for Contemporary Art (SCCA) Writing Residency (2021). She is an alumnus of the British Council residency, These Images are Stories, the inaugural Obsidian Foundation Writer’s Retreat, and the Writerz & Scribez Griot’s Well residency.

Read more about Tanatsei’s work on her website.

Bad Betty Press is an independent publisher of new poetry, born in 2017 and run by Amy Acre and Jake Wild Hall. Our authors include Gboyega Odubanjo, Anja Konig, Charlotte Geater, Susannah Dickey, Tanatsei Gambura, Matthew Haigh, Kirsten Luckins and Tom Bland. Our books include PBS Pamphlet Choices, Poetry School Books of the Year, a Telegraph Poetry Book of the Month, Laurel Prize longlistees and BAMB Readers Award shortlistees. We’ve been thrice shortlisted for the Michael Marks Publishers Award, named The Book Hive’s Indie Publisher of the Month, and described by The Big Issue as ‘the epitome of bold independence’. Find out more about our books here and follow Bad Betty on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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.

Wild Boars

What we come to believe is what we want to believe
when the streets are paused to a standstill,
the surrounding hills our only retreat. For me,
the snapping of beech, the stirring of foliage,
was more real than the light that shone,
late afternoon, across from Marriage Wood. 

When the two of them ran, we thought they were dogs –
at first – from the sound of their movement alone.
How quickly they made their way, one behind the other,
a maverick convoy of muscle and flesh
passing steadfastly to a destination only they knew.

Through the cover of branches, nothing was certain.
I could swear there was the lowering of bird song
and the sudden glint of an eye as they gathered pace,
surging uphill where no way seemed possible.

Still at that point of half believing they were dogs,
we waited patiently for their owner walking behind,
for a call at least. In the moments afterwards, the birds
regained their confidence but no voice was heard.

by Christopher Horton

You can hear Christopher Horton read the poem on the tall-lighthouse website.

As we mentioned in last week’s e-mail, this semester the Poetry Centre is showcasing the research being carried out by Dr Eric White into the American avant-gardes. Join us for ‘Shaking the Lights’, a series of free digital events, open to all, and beginning on Thursday 24 February with an online lunchtime discussion group looking at poetry by Langston Hughes. You can find details of that event and the others in the series on the Poetry Centre website. 

And if you’re near London, head along to the Rugby Tavern in Great James Street on Saturday 26 February to hear this week’s poet, Christopher Horton, read at the launch of his new pamphlet. He’ll be reading alongside Sonya Smith, Alan Buckley, Declan Ryan, Mark Wynne, Jon Stone and Kirsten Irving, plus other readers. To sign up for this free event and for more details, visit the Eventbrite page.

‘Wild Boars’ is copyright © Christopher Horton, 2021, and is reprinted here from Perfect Timing (tall-lighthouse, 2021) by permission of tall-lighthouse. You can read more about the pamphlet and buy a copy from the tall-lighthouse website

Notes from tall-lighthouse:

The poetry in Perfect Timing is, at times, unsettling and surreal but for the most part transformative. Christopher Horton writes about what endures among the ephemera of the city, the suburb, the village, office-life, whilst simultaneously peeling back layers of the ‘everyday’ to expose the eccentricity and hypocrisy that lies there. Read more on the tall-lighthouse website.

Christopher Horton studied English Literature and American Studies at University of Wales, Swansea, and subsequently taught in China before working as a Housing Officer and then as a Town Planner. His poetry has been widely published (including in Stand, Iota, AmbitMagmaPoetry WalesPoetry London) and he has been a prize-winner in the National Poetry Competition, the Verve Poetry Festival Competition, the South Downs Poetry Festival Competition (for the poem featured this week) and the Bridport Prize. Find out more about Christopher on his website.

tall-lighthouse, established in 1999, is an independent poetry press publishing full collections of poetry, pamphlets and anthologies with over 100 titles issued from more than 60 poets. The press has a reputation for publishing new talent, being the first in the UK to publish Helen Mort, Sarah Howe, Liz Berry, Adam O’Riordan, Rhian Edwards, Emily Berry, Kate Potts and many others. You can find out more about the press via the tall-lighthouse 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

Some Feel Rain

Some feel rain. Some feel the beetle startle
in its ghost-part when the bark
slips. Some feel musk. Asleep against
each other in the whiskey dark, scarcely there.
When it falls apart, some feel the moondark air
drop its motes to the patch-thick slopes of
snow. Tiny blinkings of ice from the oak,
a boot-beat that comes and goes, the line of prayer
you can follow from the dusking wind to the snowy owl
it carries. Some feel sunlight
well up in blood-vessels below the skin
and wish there had been less to lose.
Knowing how it could have been, pale maples
drowsing like a second sleep above our temperaments.
Do I imagine there is any place so safe it can’t be
snapped? Some feel the rivers shift,
blue veins through soil, as if the smokestacks were a long
dream of exhalation. The lynx lets its paws
skim the ground in snow and showers.
The wildflowers scatter in warm tints until
the second they are plucked. You can wait
to scrape the ankle-burrs, you can wait until Mercury
the early star underdraws the night and its blackest
districts. And wonder. Why others feel
through coal-thick night that deeply colored garnet
star. Why sparring and pins are all you have.
Why the earth cannot make its way towards you. 


by Joanna Klink

Two notes from the Poetry Centre… After last semester’s focus on Dinah Roe’s research into Christina Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites, this semester we turn our attention to Eric White’s work on the American avant-gardes, as we continue to highlight the exciting research being carried out here at Oxford Brookes. Join us for ‘Shaking the Lights’, a series of digital events, open to all, and beginning on Thursday 24 February with an online lunchtime discussion group looking at poetry by Langston Hughes. You can find details of that event and the others in the series on the Poetry Centre website.

And if you missed our announcement about our two new ignitionpress poets, you can find more on our website and in a story published in The Bookseller last week. We’re very much looking forward to sharing with you pamphlets by Michaela Coplen and Jacob Ramírez in the summer!

‘Some Feel Rain’ is copyright © Joanna Klink, 2021, and is reprinted here from 100 Poems to Save the Earth (Seren, 2021) by permission of Seren. You can read more about the collection and buy a copy on the Seren website

Notes from Seren:

Joanna Klink is the author of five books of poetry, most recently The Nightfields, which was published by Penguin in July, 2020. Her poems have appeared in many anthologies, including ResistanceRebellionLife: 50 Poems Now and The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth Century Poetry. She has received awards and fellowships from the Rona Jaffe Foundation, Civitella Ranieri, the Bogliasco Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Trust of Amy Lowell, and the Guggenheim Foundation. She teaches at the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas. You can learn more about Joanna’s work on her website and follow her on Instagram.

Our climate is on the brink of catastrophic change. 100 Poems to Save the Earth presents a positive and determined impulse to change for the better the way we interact with the environment. This landmark anthology, edited by Kristian Evans and Zoë Brigley, reveals the defining crisis of our time to be fundamentally a crisis of perception. For too long, the earth has been exploited. With its incisive Foreword, this anthology is a call to action to fight the threat facing the only planet we have.

Featuring a selection of renowned contemporary poets from Britain, Ireland, America and beyond, these poems invite us to fine-tune our senses, to listen to the world around us, pay attention to what we have been missing, to remember the forgotten. From rural and urban perspectives, linking issues of social injustice with the need to protect the environment, these poems attend carefully to the new evidence, redraw the maps and, full of trust, keep going, proving that in fact, poetry is exactly what we need to save the earth.

You can find out more about the anthology and buy a copy on the Seren website.

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. In 2021 we celebrated our 40th anniversary. 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, long-time 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.

that night, I saw god under a traffic light

he told me how he’d had to leave his wife and son that week.
dreams that drop him in a ditch of cold sweat in the night.
how they’re better off without him: without him, a better life.
I offered him a rollie. he said they made him think of burnt hair

and we are there: shrapnel and mist, dead friends fizzing
around him like leaves; a body twisting against his camo vest
but he can’t get close enough, he’s using his bare hands
to put out the little girl on fire – and I remember him

reaching with raw eyes underneath a traffic light: guilt
for the part he played, hunger and hatred for himself; grief
is a heavy thing that’s difficult to put down, even now
he’s handing me this story, as if to say: hold her.


by Shaun Hill

he Poetry Centre is delighted to announce two new ignitionpoets! Pamphlets by Michaela Coplen and Jacob Ramírez will be published in June and you can find out more about the poets on our website.

‘that night, I saw god under a traffic light’ is copyright © Shaun Hill, 2021 and is reprinted from warm blooded things (Nine Arches Press, 2021) by permission of Nine Arches Press.

Notes from Nine Arches Press:

Shaun Hill’s debut poetry collection, warm blooded things, is a radical and intimate encounter with boyhood, sexuality, and violence, love, desire and solitude. Wandering the nocturnal city streets, through random encounters, co-opting space and capturing conversations in a multitude of voices, this collection evokes alienation whilst longing for tenderness.

Hill’s agile poems are alive to fear, loss, danger – and to the possibility of other ways of being, other, better stories that we can write. The poems also explore a uniquely queer archive of time and place, the legacy of AIDS, and draw strength from giving voice to unheard histories. Seeking sanctuary and alternatives to a capitalist reality, these precise, humane poems gesture towards hope, survival and the necessity to be responsible for one another.

Read more about the book on the Nine Arches website.

Shaun Hill is a queer writer exploring post-capitalist ways of being. He is a recipient of an Apple and Snakes | Jerwood Arts Poetry in Performance Award for 2020. Shaun has shared his words widely at festivals across the UK and has facilitated for a range of organisations including: Birmingham Buddhist Centre, City of Culture, and Out on the Page. He has completed commissions for Overhear, Verve Poetry Festival, and appeared on BBC Radio 4. Thirty of his poems have been published, in anthologies such as Eighty-Four: Poems on Male Suicide, and magazines like Magma and StreetCakewarm blooded things is his first collection.

You can find out more about Shaun and his work on his website and follow him on Instagram.

Since its founding in 2008, Nine Arches Press has published poetry and short story collections (under the Hotwire imprint), as well as Under the Radar magazine. In 2010, two of our pamphlets were shortlisted for the Michael Marks Poetry Pamphlet prize and Mark Goodwin’s book Shod won the 2011 East Midlands Book Award. In 2017, All My Mad Mothers by Jacqueline Saphra was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize. Our titles have also been shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Prize, and in 2016 David Clarke’s debut poems, Arc, was longlisted for the Polari Prize. To date we have published over one hundred poetry publications. Read more about the press  here and follow Nine Arches on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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.

Untold Histories

The poem is not flammable.
Fire is not a poem.
They gravitate towards each other in separate histories
that, once told, are no longer free.
They sail like shreds of clouds across a paper sky:
amber rosewood fig
 

Nieopowiedziane Historie

Wiersz nie jest łatwopalny.
Ogień nie jest wierszem.
Ciążą ku sobie w osobnych historiach,
które, raz opowiedziane, nigdy nie są wolne,
przepływają jak strzępy obłoków po papierowym niebie:
bursztyn rozeta figowiec

by Jacek Gutorow, trans. by Piotr Florczyk

This poem is copyright © Jacek Gutorow, 2021, translated by Piotr Florczyk, and is reprinted here from Invisible (Arc Publications, 2021) by permission of Arc. You can read more about the book on the Arc website.

Notes from Mark Ford, who has written an introduction to Gutorow’s book, Invisible

Invisible is a teasing title for a collection of poetry. [Wallace] Stevens, with whose work Jacek Gutorow has a deep and sustained engagement, suggested in ‘The Creations of Sound’, that poems should “make the visible a little hard / To see”. […] Both Gutorow and Stevens develop a poetic medium that maintains an oscillating dialectic between the seen and the unseen. The invisible operates not as an occlusion of reality, but as an aura saturating what is described; images are gently prised from the contexts of time and place and invested with a mysterious in-between life…’

Invisible was selected by the Poetry Book Society as its Translation Choice for Autumn 2021. You can buy a copy on the Arc website.

Jacek Gutorow was born near Opole (Poland) in 1970. He has published eight volumes of poetry, six collections of critical essays, a monograph on Wallace Stevens and a fake diary. His translations include Wallace Stevens, John Ashbery, Charles Tomlinson, Mark Ford and Simon Armitage. He teaches American literature at the University of Opole and edits Explorations. A Journal of Language and Literature. You can read more about Jacek’s work on the European Writers website and via Culture.pl (in Polish, unless you make use of Google Translate or other online translation!).

Founded in 1969, Arc Publications publishes contemporary poetry from new and established writers from the UK and abroad, specialising in the work of international poets writing in English, and the work of overseas poets in translation. Arc also has a music imprint, Arc Music, for the publication of books about music and musicians. To learn more about Arc and to see its range of titles, visit the publisher’s website. You can also find Arc on Facebook and on Twitter.

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.

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.

The Chronicles of Narnia

Somewhere, there’s another world
behind a door you’ve been knocking on
since you were young.  

It’s not that you want to escape your life –
just that somewhere, very close by,
in a room you’ve never explored,    

there’s a forest where snow falls
in the warm light cast by a lamp.
The moon hangs in a clear Northern sky,   

the stream is frozen.
There are thousands and thousands of stars.
You don’t need a key, or a ring   

and there’s no point in knocking:
every heart is a secret door.
One day, you’ll walk right through   

and you’ll be there.
Perhaps a shadow in the trees will approach you.
You’ll feel powerful and brave and very small.

Then your heart will be lion and mountains,
an acre of blue flowers blooming
and you’ll stride into a world   

you’ve always believed in
because there was always a river
and bright moss and birdsong   

and stars – oh my love
though I didn’t know how to reach you
all my life, I knew you were there.  
 

by Clare Shaw

Three pieces of news from the Poetry Centre: our latest podcast is now live and features our colleague Dr Dinah Roe, whose work on Christina Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites we have been showcasing this 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’.

We’re really pleased to say that our pamphlet press, ignitionpress, has been shortlisted for this year’s Michael Marks Publishers’ Award! The winners will be announced tomorrow, 7 December. To find out more and to register for the event, visit the Michael Marks website.

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 tomorrow, 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 Chronicles of Narnia’ is copyright © Clare Shaw, 2021. It is reprinted from Christmas Movies: A Double Bill of Festive Poems (Candlestick Press, 2021) by permission of Candlestick. You can read more about the pamphlet and buy a copy on the Candlestick website.

Clare Shaw was born in Burnley. She has published three collections with Bloodaxe: Straight Ahead (2006), Head On (2012) and Flood (2018). Her fourth collection Towards a General Theory of Love was awarded a Northern Writers’ Award and will be published by Bloodaxe in 2022. Clare is an Associate Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund, a co-director of the Kendal Poetry Festival and a regular tutor for the Arvon Foundation.

You can find out more about Clare’s work on her website and follow her 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. 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.

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.