Christmas Pudding

Richness waits under spare beds,
at the back of fridges. The more cautious
have placed theirs at the bottom of freezers. 

Made according to family recipes,
passed down or across to new recruits –
a whole day’s steaming takes commitment. 

My Auntie Jean, whose Welsh recipe I follow,
always ensured her grandchildren stopped by
on mixing day to stir and make a wish. 

Last November I stirred in hope
in my mother’s kitchen and kidded myself
it wouldn’t just be the two of us for dinner. 

We hid it away in her overflow freezer –
she always has enough food on hand to feed
her four grown-up children at a moment’s notice.

It will be taken out on Christmas Eve.
As the jewels of fruit defrost maybe we will unthaw
a little ourselves, the kernels of two years’

disappointment and loss melting away.
My nephew will be old enough this year
to have a taste. But before the eating 

the dousing. I will try not to look
at the pudding’s blue flame but the faces
gathered and lit around the table.

by Lorraine Mariner

This is the final Weekly Poem of the year. We’d like to thank all the publishers who send us poems to share. Please do support them by buying their books and pamphlets! Very many thanks also to you, our readers! We wish you an enjoyable and restful winter break. The Weekly Poem will return to your inbox on 17 January.

We leave you with two pieces of news from the Poetry Centre. Firstly, we’re delighted to say that our pamphlet press, ignitionpress, won this year’s Michael Marks Publishers’ Award! Many thanks indeed to all our readers and supporters and, of course, to our poets! You can find out about the other shortlisted presses and the shortlists for the pamphlet and illustration prizes on the Michael Marks website and learn more about the press and our pamphlets on our own site.

And just in case you missed it, our latest podcast is now live and features our colleague Dr Dinah Roe, whose work on Christina Rossetti and the Pre-Raphaelites we showcased this past semester. In this episode, Dinah discusses three poems by Rossetti, considers how her view of the poet has changed during Dinah’s time working with her poetry and prose and in the course of writing a book about her family, and how Rossetti’s experience as a carer affected her writing. You can listen to the podcast via our website  or find it via the usual podcast providers: just search for ‘Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre Podcast’. You can also watch Dinah discuss Rossetti’s poem ‘In the Bleak Midwinter’ in Lucy Worsley’s Christmas Carol Odyssey, available now on the BBC website.

‘Christmas Pudding’ is copyright © Lorraine Mariner, 2021. It is reprinted from Christmas Together: Twelve Poems for Those We Love (Candlestick Press, 2021) by permission of Candlestick. You can read more about the pamphlet and buy a copy on the Candlestick website.

Lorraine Mariner lives in London and works at the National Poetry Library, Southbank Centre. She has published two collections with Picador: Furniture (2009) and There Will Be No More Nonsense (2014) and has been shortlisted for the Forward Prize twice, for Best Single Poem and Best First Collection, and for the Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Prize. Her most recent publication is the poetry chapbook Anchorage with Grey Suit Editions (2020).

You can find out more about Lorraine’s work on the Poetry Archive website and follow her on Twitter and on Instagram.

Candlestick Press is a small, independent press based in Nottingham and has been publishing its sumptuous ‘instead of a card’ poetry pamphlets since 2008. Subjects range from Birds and Clouds to Tea, Kindness, Home and Sheep. Candlestick Press titles are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, as well as by galleries, museums and garden centres. They can also be ordered online via the Candlestick website where you can find out more about the full range of titles. In 2019 Candlestick sold over 100,000 pamphlets, supporting its nominated charities with donations equivalent to around 49% of pre-tax net profits.

You can follow Candlestick on Twitter and find the press 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.

Lieserl Einstein

That summer waiting to hear about my GCSEs
I worked in an ice-cream kiosk on the beachfront
and met a boy expecting to study maths in London
who had a way of putting Mr Whippy in cones,
and away from the children dripping lollies along
the promenade, I let his fingers do sums on my skin.

Come September I was counting back the weeks,
trying to predict when the multiplication we had been
working on would be noticed, and I could understand
what my new physics teacher meant about the cat
in the box that’s just been poisoned which you can’t
be sure is dead until you lift the lid and take a look.

Throughout October there was morning sickness and
the cat was running around the house to the screams
of my mother, who called me a slut loud enough
for Mrs Evans and her hard hearing, while my father,
too stunned to remind his wife about the neighbours,
tore up my postcard of Saint Paul’s Cathedral.

Now it’s September again and I’m back at my desk,
my mother at home with her own second chance,
another summer gone, a new law of motion learnt,
comparing hair and eyes, the way we sometimes cry,
and the boy from the kiosk comes home when he can
and demonstrates that he also has a way with bottles.

Tonight, when you finally slept, I read about Einstein
and how even he with his head for figures could make
the classic miscalculation and get his girlfriend pregnant;
but they gave their daughter away, a wrong answer.
We will work this out. You are simply someone new
among our number that we need to take account of.

by Lorraine Mariner

from I am twenty people!: A Third Anthology from The Poetry School, edited by Mimi Khalvati & Stephen Knight (2007)

The third of an ongoing series of anthologies, I am twenty people! celebrates The Poetry School’s tenth anniversary in style. Adventurous, unorthodox, playfully serious and seriously playful, these new poets explore their different worlds with confidence and panache. Nothing, it seems, is off limits, neither political engagement nor experimental audacity. From the intimate lyric to the historical narrative, the poetry gathered in I am twenty people! is more than simply a promise of future achievement.  Offering, from each of its twenty poets, selections from a mature body of work that will surely lead to outstanding first collections, here is an anthology that stands in its own right as a hallmark of the best of new writing in Britain today.


Founded in 1967, Enitharmon Press publishes fine quality literary editions. While specialising in poetry, we also publish fiction, essays, memoirs, translations, and an extensive list of artists’ books.