Belle Étoile

(after Paul Louis Rossi)

One more time
I’ve let myself drift
Through the network of darkened streets
Once more the boat has left harbour
And I’ve forgotten oars and compassMysterious
Women, or statues,
Stone façades or plaster faces
You steal my nights from me
You mix your blood with mine, in spite of me

Nothing welcomes me nothing
In the solitude where I wander
Not a single opening door
And the fluttering of handkerchiefs can’t hold me
The current is too strong, the rudder’s broken

Let it go give up
Don’t stretch out a hand to the drowned man
I’ll roll like a pebble to the sea
And don’t go grieving over him he has
His eternity of recollection innocence and forgetfulness

In the bitter strictness of the night
The stars are extinguished after so many glances
It’s between two waves that the voyage ends
The lighthouses winking to each other on the coast
I’m lit up suddenly like phosphorescence, glowing algae

by John Kinsella and Alan Jenkins

Booking for our exciting poetry writing/visual art workshop with Tamar Yoseloff closes tomorrow (Thursday) at 5pm! Just a couple of places remain, so move fast if you would like to join us! Visit the Poetry Centre page for more details.

We invite all our Weekly Poem subscribers to join us at the awards evening for our International Poetry Competition on Friday 25 November at Oxford Brookes from 6-8pm. The event will feature readings from our judge, Daljit Nagra, and the winning and shortlisted poets. To attend, please e-mail by 11 November with details of how many places you require. We hope to see you there!   

‘Belle Étoile’ is copyright © John Kinsella and Alan Jenkins, 2015. It is reprinted from Marine (Enitharmon Press, 2015) by permission of Enitharmon Press

Notes from Enitharmon Press:

This remarkable collaboration had its origins when John Kinsella and Alan Jenkins, two very different poets who had long admired and enjoyed each other’s work, discovered by chance that the new poems they were working on shared a preoccupation with the sea. Marine brings together those poems and others written since, all dealing with the sea in its many moods and weathers, with people’s relationship to and exploitation of their marine environment, from the Indian Ocean to the shores of the Atlantic; the two poets’ highly distinctive voices, while drawing on a dazzling variety of forms and sources, complementing each other in a powerful counterpoint. Read more about the book on the Enitharmon website.

Alan Jenkins’s volumes of poetry include Harm, which won the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 1994, A Shorter Life (2005), Drunken Boats (2008), and Revenants (2013). He is Deputy Editor and Poetry Editor of the Times Literary Supplement. He is a Fellow of the RSL. Learn more about Alan Jenkins’s work from his page on the British Council website

John Kinsella’s recent works of poetry include Armour (Picador, 2011) and Jam Tree Gully (WW Norton, 2012). Picador published Sack in November, 2014. He is editor and the author of anthologies, works of criticism, fiction and poetry. He is an Extraordinary Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University. You can find out more about John Kinsella’s work from his website.

‘William Blake dreamed up the original Enitharmon as one of his inspiriting, good, female daemons, and his own spirit as a poet-artist, printer-publisher still lives in the press which bears the name of his creation. Enitharmon is a rare and wonderful phenomenon, a press where books are shaped into artefacts of lovely handiwork as well as communicators of words and worlds. The writers and the artists published here over the last forty-five years represent a truly historic gathering of individuals with an original vision and an original voice, but the energy is not retrospective: it is growing and new ideas enrich the list year by year. Like an ecologist who manages to restock the meadows with a nearly vanished species of wild flower or brings a rare pair of birds back to found a colony, this publisher has dedicatedly and brilliantly made a success of that sharply endangered species, the independent press.’ (Marina Warner.)  

You can sign up to the mailing list on the Enitharmon site to receive a newsletter with special offers, details of readings & events and new titles and Enitharmon’s Poem of the Month. You can also find Enitharmon 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.

from Lives of the Poet


He remembers lunchtime readings at The Swan,
The Dove, The Mermaid; ‘the girls were all gazelles’
and among them sat that lovely, dutiful daughter . . .
He loved her. He began to write ghazals
to her eyes that reminded him of the sea . . .
He stepped out to sun that glittered on the water
beyond shop-girls and typists, suited types
and he felt, not that they were ‘free bloody birds’
but that happiness might still be caught, endlessly –
a salt-wet happiness in which there were few words,
in which she lay naked with that just-fucked look
and oleanders rustled in the breeze that shook
a leaf-shower down outside, while on
her shoulder shuttered moonlight fell in stripes . . .


Immoderation, intransigence, exorbitance,
a feeling of being out-of-this-world
or better-than-this-world, the prizes coming
at the wrong times to the proper people
and vice-versa, the protestations
of cheerfulness, the all-pervasive insecurity,
the chronic lack of commitment, the lifelong
dependence on others – for hospitality,
money, love – the simultaneous contradictory
impulses to be adored and alone, connected
and adrift; the brief passionate flare-ups, the long
epistolary retreats, the ecstatic arrivals,
panic departures; ‘agonizing reappraisal’,
disavowal; severe gloom, habitual dejection.

by Alan Jenkins

Poems ‘9’ and ‘20’ from Lives of the Poet are copyright © Alan Jenkins, 2013, and reprinted from The Palm Beach Effect: Reflections on Michael Hofmann, edited by André Naffis-Sahely and Julian Stannard (CB editions, 2013).

Calling all poets! The Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre invites all members of the Oxford community to join us in celebration of National Poetry Day on Thursday 2 October 2014 by performing poetry in our Pop-up Poetry event.

The performance will be a part of a series of Pop-up Poetry events featured around Oxford exclusively for National Poetry Day. Should you wish to take part, we would need you to have around five minutes of material to perform. We encourage you to read your own work and/or the work of other poets. If you would like to participate, please send us an e-mail at including your name and a sample of the poetry you would like to read, by Friday 5 September 2014. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

Notes from CB editions:

Alan Jenkins
, deputy editor of the Times Literary Supplement, has published a number of poetry collections, among them Harm (Forward Prize, 1994) and A Shorter Life (2005). The second poem here, in italics, is from the prose of the poet and translator Michael Hofmann – himself the subject of the book in which the poems are included, a collection of memoirs, poems and criticism published by CBe under the title The Palm Beach Effect.

CB editions
, founded in 2007, publishes poetry alongside short fiction and other writing, including work in translation. Its poetry titles have won the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize three times (in 2009, 2011 and 2013), and have been shortlisted for both the Forward Prize and the Forward First Collection Prize.

In 2011 CBe inaugurated Free Verse, a one-day book fair for poetry publishers to show their work and sell direct to the public; the event was repeated in 2012 and 2013, with over 50 publishers taking part, and has become an annual event. The next fair will take place on 6 September at Conway Hall in London.

Find out more about the publisher from the website, where you can also sign up to the CB editions mailing list, or ‘like’ the publisher on Facebook to keep up-to-date with its activities.

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.