When I was three, Dad took us out to see the shoals
glittering off Warrenpoint. I remember the rhythms
of water, peering into the grey sea, the cruel way
they left their catch to die, each scale a prism.
Back on shore he told me, “Keep one, son” trawled
a blade through its gills, the sun a chrism on the open
wound. Even though I was so small I knew
I couldn’t cry: my lips went numb with biting.
When we made love, I dipped my head in memory.
Held tight, trying to concentrate on pillowcase, sheet-seams,
fish limbs flat against the dock, trying to control myself,
haul our small boat across the fathoms.
I didn’t know what you needed. Whatever it was
for the love of God, I wished you’d take it.
by Mariah Whelan
This is our second Weekly Poem of the week (after Monday’s poem from Brendan Cleary) to tie in with this evening’s reading at the Society Café in Oxford by the poet Mariah Whelan and visiting Canadian poet, Doyali Islam. Mariah and Doyali will both be reading from their new collections. Do join us if you can! More details and tickets here. Look out for podcasts coming soon which will feature both Mariah and Doyali.
In this genre-bending debut Mariah Whelan tells the love story of ‘He’ and ‘She’. Once lovers and now… something else, in this collection of sonnets the poems roam across the UK, Europe, Japan and South Korea to explore the oldest of lyric subjects – love, desire, friendship and betrayal. By turns painful, playful and sensual these poems explore the bonds that tie lovers and friends together in a collection of startling formal energy and emotional candour. You can find out more about the book on the Eyewear website.
Mariah Whelan is a poet, teacher and interdisciplinary researcher from Oxford. Her debut collection, a novel-in-sonnets called the love i do to you has just been published by Eyewear. Poems from the novel were shortlisted for The Bridport Prize, The Melita Hume Prize and the manuscript won the AM Heath Prize. A second collection of poems the rafters are still burning which explores writing, constructions of whiteness and museum archives is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press in 2020.
Mariah is currently finishing a PhD in The Centre for New Writing at The University of Manchester where she is writing a second collection of poems, researches trauma and representation in contemporary Irish fiction and also teaches Creative Writing. Mariah is a co-Creative Director of ‘Truth Tellers’ an interdisciplinary research project funded by King’s College London that brings artists and academics together to develop collaborative methodologies in the social sciences. Mariah also co-edits bath magg, an online magazine of new poetry that is a space for excellent writing from established and emerging poets. Find out more about Mariah’s work on her website and follow her on Twitter.
The Black Spring Eyewear Publishing Group is an independently-funded publishing group (made up of a little press or three) based in London, UK. Our books have been well-reviewed in The TLS, The Sewanee Review, The Times, Poetry(Chicago), PN Review, Poetry Review and Poetry London; and have won major prizes for criticism (The Pegasus Award) and for poetry and been longlisted and shortlisted for others, including The Forward Prize and the Somerset Maugham award from the Society of Authors. Our poets have appeared in the annual Forward anthologies, and been PBS Choices and Recommendations. For more about the press, visit the website.
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