The Red Aeroplane

From the oratory window I witness
mid-air doom, a slew of concentric
swirls, a trail of forge-sparks,
and that’s it. A vermilion two-seater
stagger-wing loops earthbound,
so much depending upon centrifugal
drive. Slivers of toughened glass
spangle the outer stone sill,
the vacant co-pilot seat
is plummeted deep in rosebed mulch.

I question now if the red bi-plane
ever was, the way sureties tilt
and untangle from any one freezeframe
to its sequel. Maybe I was glimpsing
that two-seater red pedal car
– injection-moulded plastic –
collected one Christmas Eve night
for a fevered child? Or conflating
the replica cherry-red sixty-three
we’d toyed with, tinkered with, briefly
on a tinsmith’s covered stall
that drenched Saturday?
                                        What can’t be
cast in any doubt is the wreckage,
a fragmentary scattering,
the mangledness on the far side
of glass. And how a Galway blue
skyscape proves ineluctably
the exponential function of tangents.          

by Anne-Marie Fyfe

Irish literature expert (and former Director of the Poetry Centre) Dr Eóin Flannery, and Dr Donal Lowry, who has published widely on Irish foreign policy, are leading a one-day short course on Saturday 14 May at Oxford Brookes: ‘One Hundred Years On: 1916–2016. The Easter Rising: its History and Literature, Then and Now’. All are welcome. For more details, visit the Brookes website.

Don’t miss Modern Poetry in Translation‘s 50th anniversary study day in ‎Oxford on 14 May. A really spectacular programme is on offer with writers and translators like Patrick McGuinness, Karen Leeder, David Constantine, Jamie McKendrick and Sasha Dugdale. There will be another translation day in Cambridge on 30 April.

‘The Red Aeroplane’ is copyright © Anne-Marie Fyfe, 2015. It is reprinted from House of Small Absences (Seren, 2015) by permission of Seren Books.House of Small Absencesfollows Fyfe’s popularUnderstudies: New and SelectedPoems. Her new collection serves as an observation window into strange, unsettling spaces—a deserted stage-set, our own personalised ‘museum’, a Piedmontalbergo,underground cities, Midtown roof-gardens, convent orchards, houseboats, a foldaway circus, a Romanian sleeper-carriage—the familiar rendered uncanny through the distorting lenses of distance and life’s exigencies, its inevitable lettings-go. Youcan read more about the book on theSeren website, and more about Anne-Marie’s work and forthcoming appearances onher own site. Anne-Marie is alsoon Twitter.

Anne-Marie Fyfe
, poet, creative-writing teacher, arts-organiser of the Troubadour Coffee House poetry events and former Chair of the Poetry Society, (2006-2009), was born in Cushendall in the Glens of Antrim and now lives in West London. She has read and performed her work worldwide.

Seren is an independent publisher based in Wales. Founded in 1981 to publish poetry discovered by the then-editor of Poetry Wales magazine, Cary Archard. Under Managing Editor Mick Felton the press now publishes a broad range of fiction, non-fiction, and criticism. Amy Wack has been Poetry Editor at Seren for over 20 years. During that time, poets published by Seren have won or been shortlisted for the Costa, Forward, T.S. Eliot and Aldeburgh Prizes. ‪You can find out more about Seren on the publisher’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.

Our Reticent Neighbour

A bakelite telephone rings on the mortuary desk.
Voice recognition kicks in, whirrs awkwardly.

They’re tapping doors and shutters tonight
the gas-lit length of our street. By the time
you’ve pounded stairs, crossed a lobby
insinuated Yales into mortices, they’ve vanished.

Retread the four flights and try again for sleep,
despite search-beams searing the dark. Despite
unmarked ambulances that trawl the suburbs,
half-trained mastiffs that jangle and snarl.

No one’s readying for this night’s shift.
Word’s out. Declassified resumés are destined
for lock waters. A currency broker wakes
in a Third Street tailors’ doorway, coughing.

Lutheran rooming-house occupants
make hasty atonements on discovering
their Gideon Bibles bookmarked at Samuel.
The town ursologist leaves one safety-gate unlatched.

The bakelite instrument’s terrible jangle subsides.
But surely that’s a normally reticent neighbour
rehearsing his C-sharp-minor mazurkas?

by Anne-Marie Fyfe

‘Our Reticent Neighbour’ is copyright © Anne-Marie Fyfe, 2010. It is reprinted from Understudies: New and Selected Poems, published by Seren Books in 2010.

Anne-Marie Fyfe was born in Cushendall on Ireland’s Antrim Coast. She now lives in West London where she has taught literature and creative-writing and programmed poetry events and festivals for many years, including organising and hosting the reading series at London’s famous Troubadour coffee house. She was until recently Chair of the Poetry Society.

‘Our Reticent Neighbour’ is from Understudies: New and Selected Poems, compiled from three earlier collections and including a section of new poems. Anne-Marie Fyfe has read throughout the world at festivals and events and on BBC radio and television. The poet Tom Paulin has described her work as having ‘a lyric clarity, an ontological accuracy and unflinching vigilance that is both spiritual and revelatory.’ Understudies: New and Selected Poems includes selections from her previous books: Late Crossing (1999), Tickets from a Blank Window (2002) – both from Rockingham Press, and The Ghost Twin (Peterloo, 2005). You can learn more about Anne-Marie Fyfe on her website, watch her read a poem from this recent collection here, and read an interview she gave to Pam Johnson at Words Unlimited.

Seren is based in Wales (‘Seren’ means ‘star’ in Welsh) and recently celebrated its 30th birthday. Begun as an offshoot of the magazine Poetry Wales by Cary Archard and Dannie Abse in the latter’s garage in Ogmore-by-Sea, the press has now grown and employs a number of staff. It is known for publishing prize-winning poetry, including collections by recent Forward winners, Hilary Menos and Kathryn Simmonds, as well as books by Owen Sheers, Pascale Petit, Deryn Rees-Jones, and many others. The fiction list features a new title by Patrick McGuinness, The Last Hundred Days, that was longlisted for the Booker Prize. The high-quality arts books include the recent collaboration between the poet John Fuller and the photographer David Hurn, Writing the Picture. For more details about Seren, visit the publisher’s new website, where there is a blog about Seren’s news and events. You can also find Seren on Facebook, on Twitter, and on YouTube, where there are videos of a number of poets reading from their work.

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.