from American Sampler

Last, my father combs out the long flax.
I think of my grandfather’s beard, white and silky,
and how as a young man he took with his own hands
stones and boulders from the earth, combing
the earth through with his fingers.

Mist hangs over the open, soft, serious farmland
like a sermon I breathe. My mother settles
to spin the flax, wetting her fingers
so the fibres twist and cling.

So this coarse linen still has their touch in it,
where I touch and bleed and belong.
by Jane Duran

This excerpt from American Sampler is copyright © Jane Duran, 2014, and reprinted from her book American Sampler (2014) by permission of Enitharmon Books.

Announcing the Poets’ Corner Open Mic Night at Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford. Blackwell’s writes: ‘Join us on the first Tuesday of every month for our ‘Poets’ Corner’ open mic poetry night. We invite you to stand up and read your work or to come along and enjoy being part of the audience listening. If you feel brave and would like to be a speaker on the night, please email or call our Customer Services Department on 01865 333623 to put your name on the list. Places are normally booked in advance so please get in touch to avoid disappointment. The next meeting is on Tuesday 5th August at 7pm, and is free to attend.’

Notes from Enitharmon:

Jane Duran was brought up in the USA and Chile, and now lives in England. Her poems have appeared in anthologies, and selections have been published in Poetry Introduction 8 (Faber and Faber, 1993), Making for Planet Alice (Bloodaxe, 1997), and in La Generacion del Cordero (Trilce Ediciones, Mexico, 2000). Her debut collection, Breathe Now, Breathe (Enitharmon, 1995) won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Enitharmon published her second collection Silences from the Spanish Civil War in 2002. Jane’s last collection Graceline was published last year by Enitharmon and was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. You can hear Jane Duran read from her work at the Poetry Archive.

Her latest book, American Sampler, will be published in early September, and you can find out more about the collection and pre-order it via the Enitharmon website. Jane Duran’s childhood memories of rural New England permeate American Sampler, bringing the reader in close to its landscapes, weather and light. The book is about vanishing worlds, and the struggle of memory and craft and imagination to understand and hold fragments of the past and turn them into fresh, breathing moments.

‘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.)

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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.


I lay down under the cherry trees
in our garden where the grass was balding

a little, and looked up into the branches.
I was learning the catechism,

and I went over a few questions
and answers as absolutes; I was thinking

of a dance I had been to on a farm
a dress I wore, something I said

too revealing of feeling;
those chicks left in an open crate

in the shade behind the farm, near a wall,
came into my mind. I thought of how

they might have struggled all wet
out of their eggs, like light escaping;

Senorita Morales came into my thoughts too,
her long fingernails when she pointed out

where the accents should go over the words
on the blackboard, and the way she said

penultima silaba and antepenultima;
and all these thoughts lightly hooked together

like young girls walking down the street
holding each others’ hands by the little finger.

by Jane Duran

© Jane Duran, 2010. ‘Accents’ is taken from the book Graceline, and reprinted by permission of Enitharmon Press.

Notes courtesy of Enitharmon:

As a young girl, Jane Duran moved to Chile with her family, travelling from New York to Valparaiso on the Santa Barbara, one of the Grace Line fleet. This long journey, passing through the Panama Canal and down the Pacific coast of Latin America, has inspired her collection of poems Graceline. These meditative poems cross over continually between illusion and reality, past and present. Although they evoke the journey, and the extraordinary landscapes of Chile, they also explore darker undercurrents. Her sequence ‘Panama Canal’ evokes the terrors of the Canal’s construction; a sequence on the regime of Augusto Pinochet (‘Invisible Ink’) interweaves cityscapes and landscapes with allusions to the cruelties and bereavements of that time. But the poems are also about her life as a young girl in Chile, the impact of the Chilean landscape on her, and convey a powerful feeling of love for that country. You can learn more about her book here, and more about Jane Duran here. At the second link you can hear her reading from her own work.

Enitharmon Press takes its name from a William Blake character who represents spiritual beauty and poetic inspiration. Founded in 1967 with an emphasis on independence and quality, Enitharmon has been associated with such figures as Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Kathleen Raine. Enitharmon also commissions internationally renowned collaborations between artists, including Gilbert & George, and poets, including Seamus Heaney, under the Enitharmon Editions imprint. Discover more about Enitharmon here.

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.