The C Word

catches in the throat; the first syllable
on its own, enabling, following by a hissing snake,
rattletail bringing up the rear.

It trumpets its presence in the glare of the ward,
sneaks into glossy brochures, flashes its statistics
(the odds are against me), looks like carer but isn’t.

Not to be confused with the other c word
that cuts at both ends, detonated in hate
murmured in love – how can it be both?

And how can I contain them, sites of birth
and death? I should know how to speak
of what’s inside me. To be blunt. 

by Tamar Yoseloff

Watch Tamar read this poem (and others from her new collection) on Seren’s YouTube channel, and then come to Waterstones Oxford this evening to see her read from her work in person! Tamar will be reading alongside Carmen Bugan, whose work we featured last week. Join us at 6.30pm in Waterstones Oxford (free tickets here).

On Wednesday we are hosting an open mic and small exhibition on the topic of mental health. All are welcome! We start at 7pm in JHB 203 (John Henry Brookes Building, Headington Campus, Oxford Brookes), and there will be free cake! Sign up to attend here.

You can find details of our other upcoming events, including free creative workshops in fiction and non-fiction, our International Poetry Competition Awards Evening with Jackie Kay, and a reading from Doyali Islam and Mariah Whelan here.

‘The C Word’ is copyright © Tamar Yoseloff, 2019. It is reprinted from The Black Place (Seren, 2019) by permission of Seren

Notes from Seren:

The Black Place is a dark and gorgeously multi-faceted artwork, like a black diamond. Tamar Yoseloff eshews the sentimental, embraces alternatives, offers antidotes to cheery capitalist hype. But there is a sort of dark grandeur to her view of mortality, one that matches the sublime desert painting by Georgia O’Keeffe, the subject of the title poem. The central sequence in this collection, ‘Cuts’, is a characteristically tough look at the poet’s cancer diagnosis and treatment. The diagnosis arrives at the same time as the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, a public trauma overshadowing a private one. These poems focus on the strangeness of the illness, and of our times – they refuse to offer panaceas or consolations. Read more about the book on Seren’s website.

Tamar Yoseloff was born in the US and moved to the UK in 1987. She has published five full collections; her debut book, Sweetheart, won the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival Prize and was a PBS Commendation. She published a collection of new and selected poems in 2015 with Seren Books called A Formula for Night. She is also the author of Formerly (the inaugural chapbook from her publishing venture, Hercules Editions), incorporating photographs by Vici MacDonald and shortlisted for the 2012 Ted Hughes Award; two collaborative editions with the artist Linda Karshan and Nowheres, a privately-produced book with the artist Charlotte Harker in 2015. Tamar has also run site-specific writing courses for many galleries across the UK and taught for numerous London-based writing organizations. She is currently a visiting guest lecturer at Newcastle University on the Newcastle/Poetry School MA course in Writing Poetry and the Chair of the Poetry and Spoken Word Group of the Society of Authors. Find out more about Tamar’s work on her own website.

Seren is Wales’ leading independent literary publisher, specialising in English-language writing from Wales. Many of our books are shortlisted for – and win – major literary prizes across the UK and America. At the heart of our list is a good poem, a story told well, or an idea or history presented interestingly or provocatively. We’re international in authorship and readership, though our roots remain here in Wales, where we prove that writers from a small country with an intricate culture have a worldwide relevance. Amy Wack has been Poetry Editor since the early 90s. Our aim is not simply to reflect what is going on in the culture in which we publish, but to drive that culture forward, to engage with the world, and to bring Welsh literature, art and politics before a wider audience. Find out more on the Seren website and via Twitter and 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.

The Muntjac

reflects our headlights in his eyes;

his scrubby body disappears into the hedge

now white with May,

tar and fern on his delicate hooves

and all at once the road reverts

to emptiness, but something of his presence

stays, an apparition on the verge:

fugitive from walled estates that favoured

curiosities, alien tropics quick and rank,
snaking beyond the boundaries, laying roots.

The road curves past Darks Dale floodlit,

a tractor ploughing furrows, past New Broke Ups,

Wrong Land; and beyond, a tangle of forest,
oaks hunched like old men against the night.

by Tamar Yoseloff   

News from the Centre! Tonight at 7pm, the Poetry Centre hosts an exciting poetry reading at the Albion Beatnik in Oxford with visiting US poet Leah Umansky and local poet Penny Boxall. Leah is the author of the dystopian-themed chapbook, Straight Away the Emptied World, the Mad-Men inspired, Don Dreams and I Dream, and the full-length collection Domestic Uncertainties. Penny is Education Officer at Oxford’s University Church. Her debut collection, Ship of the Line, was published by Eyewear in 2014, a year in which she also won second prize in the Jane Martin Poetry Prize and had her poem, ‘What You Mean to Me’, commended in the Forward Prize. For more details of the reading, visit our Facebook event page.

Irish literature expert (and former Director of the Poetry Centre) Dr Eóin Flannery, and Dr Donal Lowry, who has published widely on Irish foreign policy, are leading a one-day short course on Saturday 14 May at Oxford Brookes: ‘One Hundred Years On: 1916–2016. The Easter Rising: its History and Literature, Then and Now’. For more details, visit the Brookes website.

‘The Muntjac’ is copyright © Tamar Yoseloff, 2015. It is reprinted from A Formula for Night: New and Selected Poems (Seren, 2015) by permission of Seren Books.

Tamar Yoseloff’s A Formula for Night: New and Selected Poems includes dazzling new work as well as selections from her print collections and pieces from collaborations with artists. The title poem was commissioned by the Hayward Gallery for their 2013 exhibition ‘Light Show’ and is based on an installation by the Welsh Artist Cerith Wyn Evans. The poems in this collection are also concerned with heavenly presences, as well as evil spirits, explorations of light and dark.

Writing about the book, Martyn Crucefix has commented: ‘A Formula for Night is a major collection and career summary and really ought to be both on your wish list and on prize shortlists in the coming 12 months.’ Read more about A Formula for Night on Seren’s website.

Tamar Yoseloff is the author of four poetry collections, including Sweetheart, a PBS Special Commendation and the winner of the Jerwood Aldeburgh Festival Prize. Her most recent collections are The City with Horns and Formerly, a chapbook incorporating photographs by Vici MacDonald, which was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award. As well as other projects with artists, Yoseloff has also edited A Room to Live In: A Kettle’s Yard Anthology. She has been Reviews Editor for Poetry London and Poetry Editor for Art World. Yoseloff lives in London, where she is a freelance tutor in creative writing.  She explores the intersection between poetry and visual art on her blog Invective Against Swans.

Seren is an independent publisher based in Wales. Founded in 1981 to publish poetry discovered by the then-editor of Poetry Wales magazine, Cary Archard. Under Managing Editor Mick Felton the press now publishes a broad range of fiction, non-fiction, and criticism. Amy Wack has been Poetry Editor at Seren for over 20 years. During that time, poets published by Seren have won or been shortlisted for the Costa, Forward, T.S. Eliot and Aldeburgh Prizes. ‪You can find out more about Seren on the publisher’s 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.