The Malvern Aviator

My father’s watch. One of only a few hundred.
Dark blue face, Arabic numerals.
It keeps terrible time. I wear it now
only to counterweigh the days,
the equinoxes and leap years. 

When there is an odd jump in time
(the clocks going forward),
it even-keels me, like bike stabilisers,
swimming wings.
I do not fall down, I do not drown.

But if I were to take it off and abandon it
by my large granite basin,
its hands would fail with the iron
and I would venture out in the world,
ending up as a heap of ashes.

by Richard Skinner

We have a number of exciting poetry readings coming up over the next couple of months, including a reading by this week’s poet, Richard Skinner, who will be reading with Peter Raynard on 3 May at the Society Café in Oxford. Book tickets here.

We will also be hosting (as part of the Think Human Festival): Kei Miller on 22 May; Sinéad Morrissey on 23 May; and Clare Pollard on 24 May. We’re also helping to organize Stanza and Stand-Up on 25 May where poetry competes with comedy and the audience decides who wins! Don’t miss these exciting events! You can book tickets here.

And if you haven’t yet seen copies of our ignitionpress pamphlets, including work by Lily Blacksell, Patrick James Errington, and Mary Jean Chan (whose pamphlet A Hurry of English is the Poetry Book Society’s Summer Choice), visit our website. There you can find sample poems as well as audio and video of the poets reading from their work. The pamphlets are £5 each and three for £12. 

‘The Malvern Aviator’ is copyright © Richard Skinner, 2018. It is reprinted from The Malvern Aviator (Smokestack Books, 2018) by permission of Smokestack Books.

Notes from Smokestack Books:

In language that is both precise and strange, Richard Skinner’s poems tip certainties on their heads, making familiar objects in the world unfamiliar: a mountain is not what it seems, a skull contains a universe. Alongside this process of ‘making-strange’ lies a deep connection with sound, colour, temperature and scent that brings the poems fully to life. Questions of faith run through many of these poems, with subjects ranging from the Lollards and Buddhist Bardos to Saint Fabiola. There are personal poems too: a summer affair, family narratives about his grandmother’s difficult marriage and his mother’s time abroad as a young au pair. These poems engage with form – the cento, the cinquain, the unrhymed sonnet, cut-ups and free verse – in enigmatic, other-worldy ways that constantly surprise and please. Find out more about The Malvern Aviator on the Smokestack website

Richard Skinner has published three novels with Faber & Faber and three books of non-fiction. His previous books of poetry, the light user scheme and Terrace are both published by Smokestack. His work is published in eight languages. He is Director of the Fiction Programme at Faber Academy. You can read more about Richard’s work on his website and follow him on Twitter.

Smokestack is an independent publisher of radical and unconventional poetry run by Andy Croft. Smokestack aims to keep open a space for what is left of the English radical poetic tradition in the twenty-first century. Smokestack champions poets who are unfashionable, radical, left-field and working a long way from the metropolitan centres of cultural authority. Smokestack is interested in the World as well as the Word; believes that poetry is a part of and not apart from society; argues that if poetry does not belong to everyone it is not poetry. Smokestack’s list includes books by John Berger, Michael Rosen, Katrina Porteous, Ian McMillan, Steve Ely, Bertolt Brecht (Germany), Gustavo Pereira (Venezuela), Heinrich Heine (Germany), Andras Mezei (Hungary), Yiannis Ritsos (Greece) and Victor Jara (Chile). You can find Smokestack on Facebook and 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.