Bringing Back the Day

It wasn’t flash, a slackered June afternoon,
yet we wanted it. The grass shrewd with stones,
drizzle steaming our jeans, knuckled light.

We got up, dusted pepper of our fingers
and set about bringing the day home.
I wound in a stream, snipped swallows off lines.

You bundled a rape field into the car
and the wind switched off its lamp, Holding
one end, you another, we rolled a wild verge,

ripped nettles in perforated strips.
Crows drifted over, scorching their shadows
into each other, we grabbed those wings

the way we hadn’t quite kissed. The sun
was a lemon cord; I tugged once. It was light.
It all packed so small we forgot about it until April,

when there was no choice but to drag the day out,
drape it throughout the house. Floors crawled,
wallpaper flinched, flicked up sparrows.

I called your name and dog roses uncurled.
The sky was a balloon rising over the bed.
We lifted both hands and held on.

by Angela Readman

‘Bringing Back the Day’ is copyright © Angela Readman, 2022, and is reprinted here from Bunny Girls (Nine Arches Press, 2022) by permission of Nine Arches. You can read more about the book on the Nine Arches website.

Notes from Nine Arches:

Angela Readman is a poet and story writer. Her poems have won awards including the Mslexia Competition, The Charles Causley Prize and The Essex Poetry Prize. Her short stories have won The Costa Short Story Award, The Mslexia Competition and the New Flash Fiction Review competition. Her story collection Don’t Try This at Home (& And Other Stories) won The Rubery Book Award and a Saboteur Award. In 2019 And Other Stories published her first novel Something Like Breathing. In 2020 she won the Working Class Nature Writing Prize. In 2021 she was awarded a Society of Author’s and Author’s Foundation grant for her story collection The Girls are Pretty Crocodiles (Valley Press, 2022.) Bunny Girls is her second collection with Nine Arches, following her late diagnosis with autistic spectrum condition. She lives in Northumberland.

Out of the doll’s house and into the woods, Bunny Girls steps out of the shadows of girlhood and looks at the world with wide eyes. Surreal, spiky, wise and darkly funny, this new collection by Costa-winning author and poet Angela Readman expertly mixes shades of film noir, northern wit, and magic realism. Through the lens of childhood, these poems address autism, anxiety, and darker concerns buried by cultural ideals of femininity.

Here in Readman’s skilful words are odes to severed heads, angels and Disney villains, Marilyn Monroe’s body double, squashed slugs, sexual awakenings, Wendy-houses and snow globes, nosebleeds and blackbirds. Women are both invisible and actively writing themselves into the visible. Where there is isolation and dislocation, its counterbalance is finding breathless, reckless joy in the acts of creation and imagination. At its heart, this enlivening, magnificent book is about darkness and light, the lovely and the frightening, the beautiful and the worrying.

Praise for Bunny Girls:

“Heady as a nosebleed, Bunny Girls vacuum packs syrup-sticky snogs, Moomins and the wingbeats of swans. Readers are lured into Wendy-houses and knocked out by fighting fish, platinum blonde wigs and working-class grit. Readman finds playthings everywhere and handles them as seriously as we must. Saucy and daft, her poems pull us out from our bodies to dance it all off under discoballs. Another belting book. The North East is lucky to call this top-notch poet one of our own.” – Jo Clement

“Angela Readman is one of our best writers of girlhood and this collection evokes nostalgia and longing for the danger and the glitter of it. These sensuous, beautiful, sometimes surreal poems, take thrilling leaps with a Plathian precision of language. They dive and weave and nod and wink. They also show how a neurodivergent lens can bring a magical perspective to the everyday and re-vision the world so that ‘Walls are rivers waiting to happen’ and ‘The alphabet is a song wiring ‘I am here’ all through your body.’” – Kate Fox

“Angela Readman manages to write poems that exist in a dream place, a place between reality and fantasy where even the most mundane experiences are delivered into something strange and incredible. These wonderful, vivid poems are shot through with vulnerability, a sense of awakening and more – wit, intelligence, a shrewd observation of life – so that the reader feels like they are being shown the small places of significance that the world contains, the profundity of the everyday. Reader, expect to be swept away, carried along in Readman’s world, and to emerge like a lamp that has been switched on, bright with the power of the poem.” – Wendy Pratt

You can follow Angela on Twitter.

Nine Arches Press was founded in 2008 and emerged from an awareness of the national literary landscape and a desire to provide a platform for new and emerging poets. Our titles have been widely acclaimed and shortlisted for national prizes including the Michael Marks Poetry Pamphlet prize, the Forward Prizes, TS Eliot Poetry Prize, the Ted Hughes Award, the Michael Murphy Prize, the Jhalak Prize, and the Polari Prize. Nine Arches has published over 120 poetry publications, and 29 issues of Under the Radar magazine, and provides a year-round programme of workshops, events, as well as priding themselves as publisher that uniquely provides writer development and mentoring. Nine Arches Press is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, and its Director / Editor is Jane Commane. Read more about the press on the Nine Arches website, 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.

To Kill a Robin

Come January, the pair of us clarted out to pluck
the morning, feet bound in brushwood – plumage
flying out of my Mother’s mouth. It was us
or the birds. If you kill a robin on New Year’s Day,
give a feather to a rodman and he’ll always sail clear.
She would not be a widow, not yet. You could say
I had a mind for the birds, the hunch of me
hunkered in spitting distance of the river, so still
and part of everything in my brown coat, I wanted
to grab my cold breath and pull it back in.
Ma stood listening for the tek tek, a cough hanging
frayed streamers over our heads. I caught the robin
in nithered fingers I barely dared open. There,
the bird perfectly refused to have its neck snapped.
It simply stopped in the cave of my grasp, one
last trill like water rolling a silence over my hands.

by Angela Readman

News from the Centre: leading Scandinavian poet Pia Tafdrup is visiting the UK from 15-17 February in a tour organized by the Poetry Centre. She’ll be in Reading (reading with Peter Robinson), Ledbury (with Fiona Sampson), and in Oxford (with Philip Gross). More details about the tour are on the Poetry Centre website, and there are only 10 tickets left for the date in Oxford. Book via our Shop now!

Be sure to tune in to 
BBC Radio 4‘s In Our Timeprogramme this Thursday to hear our colleague Prof Simon Kövesi discussing the poet John Clare with Prof Jonathan Bate and Dr Mina Gorji. There’s more about Simon’s research on his webpage.

‘To Kill a Robin’ is copyright © Angela Readman, 2016. It is reprinted from The Book of Tides (Nine Arches Press, 2016) by permission of Nine Arches Press.

Angela Readman’s The Book of Tides is a treasure trove of luscious, visceral poems that are delightfully risky, utterly thrilling and always close to the bone. Readman’s poetry teems with the rare and beautiful, the dark seaweed sparkle of a particular strand of skewed folklore; here we encounter fishermen and mermaids, a man with a beard of bees, a Tattooist’s daughter, Joan of Arc, and Beatrix Potter’s bed – a rich swell of voices with an irresistible and peculiar power.

Salt-speckled and sea tinged, these poems possess a distinctive eye for disconcerting and uncanny details – from notes in bottles and knotted handkerchiefs, to sequin fish-scales and drowned rats. To read Readman’s poetry is to be simultaneously unsettled and enraptured, and to encounter witchcraft, murder, love and loss. As The Book of Tides unfolds, will you dare to put your ear to its seashell, tune into its siren song and cast yourself adrift on its strange and alluring current? Read more about the book on the Nine Arches website.

Angela Readman’s stories and poems have appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines, including London Magazine, Staple, Ambit and Mslexia, and she has won awards including the National Flash Fiction Competition. In 2012 she was shortlisted for the Costa Short Story Award for ‘Don’t Try This at Home’ – an award she would go on to win in 2013 with the story ‘The Keeper of the Jackalopes’. Her previous collections of poetry include Strip (Salt, 2007). The Book of Tides (Nine Arches Press, 2016) is her third collection of poems. You can read more about Angela Readman on the Nine Arches blog, and follow her work on Twitter.

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 (The Terrors by Tom Chivers and The Titanic Cafe closes its doors and hits the rocks by David Hart) were shortlisted for the Michael Marks Poetry Pamphlet prize and Mark Goodwin’s book Shod won the 2011 East Midlands Book Award. In 2012, Nine Arches launched the Debut New Poets Series of first collections and the press has now published more than 30 collections of poetry and 10 issues of the magazine. We continue to build a reputation as a publisher of well-crafted and innovative contemporary poetry and short story collections. Follow Nine Arches on Facebook and 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.