My Father Cycling Up a Hill, 1957

It’s the hill from the bottom of Factory Trip
all the way up to Manor Farm –
Welsh hill, one long steep and steady climb 

to nowhere, punctuated by the occasional sharp
or suicidal incline. These
are his feet, his calves – they’re pushing, 

pushing against the weight of the side
of beef or lamb in the basket
on the front of his bike. From his uncle’s 

butcher’s shop to Manor Farm is a climb so far
if I were doing it now, by car, I’d think
twice. By bike? No way! Yet there 

he is, my father, twelve years old, the weight
of the hill on his legs, setting out
once a week all winter, to deliver 

the Sunday joint to Old Man Hodge. These
are his feet, the look on his face
as he pushes, pushes. This is the sweat 

on his brow. His uncle pays him
in promises, end-of-week scraps, the back
of his hand. It’s silly to know 

what I do: my father is doing this
for his mother, his younger brother,
for his own father, who hasn’t worked properly 

since he got back from the war. This
is his front wheel, squeaking,
squeaking as he inches up that hill. I know 

all the reasons he’s doing this
and I wasn’t even born then, so it’s silly as can be
to know what I do – that he was doing it all – 

look at him, pushing and pushing all afternoon – for me.

by Jonathan Edwards

The Poetry Centre has launched the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition for 2021! Our judge this year is the fantastic poet Will Harris, and as usual there are two categories: Open and English as an Additional Language. Winners in each category receive £1000 and runners-up, £200. For more details and to enter, please visitour website .

‘My Father Cycling Up a Hill, 1957’ is copyright © Jonathan Edwards, 2021, and is reprinted here from Ten Poems about Work (Candlestick Press, 2021) by permission of Candlestick. You can read more about the collection and buy a copy on the Candlestick website

Notes from Candlestick Press:

We may not love our jobs, but when we can’t go to work we find that we miss them. This mini-anthology, Ten Poems about Work, reflects on our working lives in all their glorious variety with a delightful mix of nostalgia, celebration and humour. Poet Jonathan Edwards’ eclectic and highly entertaining selection of poems explores our complicated and often surprising relationship with the things we have to do to earn a living. The pamphlet includes poems by Liz Berry, Sujata Bhatt, Gillian Clarke, Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Lux, Helen Mort, John Ormond, Kathryn Simmonds, James Tate and Walt Whitman.

Read more about the collection on the Candlestick website.

Jonathan Edwards’s first collection, My Family and Other Superheroes (Seren, 2014), received the Costa Poetry Award. His second collection, Gen (Seren, 2018), was Wales Book of the Year People’s Choice 2019. He lives in Crosskeys, South Wales.

Candlestick Press is a small, independent press publishing sumptuously produced poetry pamphlets that serve as a wonderful alternative to a greetings card, with matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message. Their subjects include Clouds, Walking, Birds, Home and Kindness. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online. In 2019 Candlestick sold over 100,000 pamphlets, supporting its nominated charities with donations equivalent to around 49% of pre-tax net profit. Since 2008 nearly 600,000 pamphlets have been sold, which means that some six million poems have been read via its publications.

Find out more about the press on the Candlestick website and follow it 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.


That girl’s the girl I mean. That one now, wearing
leopardskin leggings, ears posing the question

of what are ears for, really,
but bearing the weight of the biggest silver-
coloured hoops on earth? In diamanté

scarlet heels, six inch,
when she walks, everything sparkles, everything
limps. Her hair is piled up on her head,

like the kind of coastal clifftop rampart
cameras swoop in at from the sea,
in historical action movies, featuring

Mel Gibson. Up her sleeve
is a tattoo, a Chinese symbol, and what it means
is clear. Look, that’s her now, outside The Mermaid,

going a little cross-eyed as she draws
on a cigarette and shouts across the street,
asks an acquaintance if she’d like

some, would she? So how else
can I put it? How much clearer can I be?
That girl’s the girl. That girl’s the girl for me.
by Jonathan Edwards

Two news items. First, the deadline of the call for papers for the conference ‘New Generation to Next Generation 2014: Three Decades of British and Irish Poetry’ has been extended to 19 December. We welcome all abstracts that address one or more of the broad range of themes listed in the cfp, which can be found on the IES website.

And on Wednesday, Professor Maximilian de Gaynesford (University of Reading) will speak on ‘Why Poetry Matters’: 6pm (drinks and nibbles from 5.30) at the Ashmolean Museum’s Education Centre (nearest entrance from St. Giles). The event is free, but turn up early to secure a seat! More details can be found on the Ashmolean website.

‘Girl’ is copyright © Jonathan Edwards, 2014. It was published in My Family and Other Superheroes, and is reprinted here by permission of Seren Books.

Notes from Seren:

Jonathan Edwards was born and brought up in Crosskeys, south Wales. He has an MA in Writing from the University of Warwick, has written speeches for the Welsh Assembly Government and journalism for The Big Issue Cymru, and currently works as an English teacher. He won the Terry Hetherington Award in 2010, was awarded a Literature Wales new writer’s bursary in 2011, and in 2012 won prizes in the Cardiff International Poetry Competition and the Basil Bunting Award. His work has appeared in a wide range of magazines, including Poetry Review, The North, Poetry Wales andNew Welsh ReviewMy Family and Other Superheroes is his first collection, and has been shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Prize 2014 and the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2014. You can hear Jonathan discuss his book and read from it on the BBC website, and find out more about the book on the Seren website.

Dave Morgan in Write Out Loud has commented that ‘[t]his collection, in parts nostalgic and emotional, reveals a poet preoccupied with heart and hearth. However, Jonathan Edwards’ characters and places stop short of being caricature, and his appeal to emotion does not trivialise the poignancy and pathos of his observations. Edwards is the poet as sociologist, as well as observer/participant; he makes the customs and culture of the hill tribes of south Wales as exotic as that of the Trobriand islanders.’

Seren is based in Bridgend, South Wales and was originally conceived in the early 80’s by then Head of English at Brynteg Comp, Cary Archard, on his kitchen table as an offshoot of Poetry Wales magazine. After moving briefly to poet Dannie Abse’s garage in Ogmore by Sea, the advent of Managing Editor Mick Felton has seen the press has go from strength to strength. We’ve published a wide range of titles including fiction (which under Editor Penny Thomas has seen the Booker-nominated novel by Patrick McGuinness, TheLast Hundred Days, and an acclaimed novella series based on the medieval Welsh tales from the Mabinogion) and non-fiction (including literary criticism such as John Redmond’s Poetry and Privacy, as well as sumptuous art books like the collaboration between the painter Shani Rhys James and a number of poets and writers: Florilingua). Seren’s poetry list, edited by Amy Wack since the early 90’s, has produced T.S. Eliot nominated titles by Deryn Rees-Jones and Pascale Petit, Costa winner John Haynes, and a large list of Forward prize winners and nominees. Cary Archard remains on our Board of Directors and is a lively and influential presence. We mourn the loss, this year, of the wonderful Dannie Abse, also a guiding spirit. Find out more about the publisher on its 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.