After Seven Photographic Portraits of a Grey Connemara Pony

You will know a pony by its ears:
            Listening out for weather forecasts and love songs.

By its mane:
            Tossed over its eyes like a witch’s broom.

By its coat:
            Always buttoned up, tight-fitting, dusty and well-worn.

By its eyes:
            That look at you, then look at you again to take you in.

By its hooves:
            Made for dancing, and so are worn at the tips.

By its mouth:
            That loves to eat words given with pats of the hand.

By its nose:
            That knows you, and lifts the pony’s head to let it know you’re coming.

By its tail:
           That conducts the symphony of birdsong, lake-song, light-song.
           That is the bog underfoot, here above the village of Roundstone.


by Tony Curtis

Candlestick Press will be launching its latest pamphlet, Ten Poems about Horses, on Wednesday 19 June at Alison’s of Tewkesbury, with Alison Brackenbury and a line-up of guest poets. For more details, visit the Candlestick Press Facebook page . Sales support Bransby Horses, an equine welfare charity.

Don’t forget to register for the exciting reading with Ilya Kaminsky and Shara Lessley on 26 June, the symposium ‘Our Poetry and Our Needs’ on 9 July, and the launches of our latest ignitionpress pamphlets on 22 and 23 July. There are more details about all of these events here .

Finally, if you’re keen on filmmaking and poetry, why not enter our filmpoem competition! Choose a poem by one of our 
ignitionpress poets, respond to it in a short film, and win prizes and screenings! The deadline is 7 June, and there are more details on our blog .

‘After Seven Photographic Portraits of a Grey Connemara Pony’ is copyright © Tony Curtis, 2019. It is reprinted from Ten Poems about Horses, selected and introduced by Alison Brackenbury (Candlestick Press, 2019) by permission of Candlestick. You can read more about the pamphlet here.

Tony Curtis was born in Dublin in 1955. He studied Literature at Essex University and Trinity College Dublin. An award-winning poet, Curtis has published ten warmly received collections. His most recent are: Folk (Arc Publications 2011); Pony (Occasional Press 2013) with drawings and paintings by David Lilburn; Approximately in the Key of C (Arc Publications 2015). He has been awarded the Varuna House Exchange Fellowship to Australia and the Irish National Poetry Prize. In April 2018, the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, Minnesota, awarded Curtis the 22nd Lawrence O’Shaughnessy prize for poetry. He has read his poetry all over the world to great acclaim. May 2019 saw the publication of This Flight Tonight – a book that celebrates the lives of Alcock & Brown and their incredible flight from a field in St. John’s, Newfoundland, to a bog in the west of Ireland in June 1919. He is a member of Aosdána. Read more about Tony’s work here.

Candlestick 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 Cricket to Tea, Kindness, Home and Puddings. 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 on the Candlestick website, where you can find out more about the full range of titles. You can follow Candlestick on Twitter and  Facebook. In 2018 Candlestick sold over 75,000 pamphlets.

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.

Seamus on the Tube

Looking away, not looking away –  
The happenstance of what may change everything;
Those standing commuters moving off at Charing Cross
For the Bakerloo Line and then your eyes lifting 

Above those seated opposite, as one does, to read
Between faster Broadband and Las Vegas –
“Where your accent is an aphrodisiac,” it says,
And where “what happens here, stays here,” 

The Railway Children where in the white cups

Of the telegraph wires a young boy knows

That words are carried in the shiny pouches of raindrops.
Like this poem carried for you in the red and white Tube

On the Northern Line in cold January’s real freeze;
Snow is promised in the suburbs so everyone’s scarved
Against the weather. Words taking you back to the fifties
And his boyhood summers before everything changed. 

Reaching Warren Street, you’ve read it

Four or five times, absorbed the innocent wisdom

And sense of the thing. Those people opposite

See a crazy old man mouthing words, appearing to sing. 

by Tony Curtis

The Poetry Centre’s International Poetry Competition, judged this year by award-winning poet Helen Mort, is open for entries for just one more week! Poems are welcomed from writers of 18 years or over in the following two categories: Open and English as an Additional Language. First Prize in both categories is £1000, with £200 for Second. The competition is open for submissions until 11pm BST/10pm GMT on 28 August 2017. Visit our website for more details and to enter, and please feel free to share news of the competition with friends and colleagues.

The TOAST Poets scheme is now open for applications until midnight on 25 August! TOAST is a professional development project for mid-career poets. It takes the form of eleven workshops over the course of a year from September 2017 – Summer 2018. Each TOAST poet is offered two, hour-long mentoring sessions with an established poet or editor to discuss their work and what steps they might take to progress. This year’s mentors are Hannah Lowe and Kayo Chingonyi. Visit the TOAST website for more details and to apply.

‘Seamus on the Tube’ is copyright © Tony Curtis, 2016, and reprinted from From the Fortunate Isles: New and Selected Poems by permission of Seren Books.

Notes from Seren:

Seren celebrates the 70th birthday of the Welsh poet Tony Curtis with the publication of his From the Fortunate Isles: New and Selected Poems. This landmark book features poems from ten of his previous collections, in addition to a substantial number of new poems: marking a career in poetry fifty years in duration. This is a poet whose themes and variations remain consistent: a deep affection for his roots in West Wales, tender attachments to family, a profound interest in the wars of the last century, and an abiding fascination for all art forms, particularly painting and poetry. Writing about Tony’s poetry, the late Helen Dunmore commented: ‘The poems reverberate with present, sensuous experience, but beyond their immediacy there is a deep hinterland of public and private histories, of grief and delight.’ You can read more about the new book on the Seren website.

Tony Curtis was born in Carmarthen in 1946. He studied at Swansea University and Goddard College, Vermont, USA and is the author of a number of poetry collections and pamphlets, including: Taken for Pearls (1993), War Voices (1995), The Arches (1998), Heaven’s Gate (2001) and Crossing Over (2007). He is the editor of a number of popular anthologies on subjects ranging from war to Pembrokeshire, Snowdonia, coal, and orphans in the charitable anthology Tokens for the Foundlings (2012). His many critical books include The Art of Seamus Heaney (1982), and Dannie Abse (1985), How Poets Work (1996) and Welsh Painters Talking (1997). Curtis has won the National Poetry Competition, the Dylan Thomas Prize and a Cholmondeley Award. He is Emeritus Professor of Poetry at the University of South Wales, where he established and was Director of the MPhil in Writing, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He has toured widely, reading his poetry to international audiences. You can read more about Tony’s work on his website and on his Facebook page.

Seren has been publishing poetry for 35 years. We are an independent publisher specialising in English-language writing from Wales. Seren’s wide-ranging list includes fiction, translation, biography, art and history. Seren’s authors are shortlisted for – and win – major literary prizes across Britain and America, including the 2014 Costa Poetry Prize (for Jonathan Edwards’ My Family and Other Superheroes). Amy Wack has been Seren’s Poetry Editor for more than 20 years. You can find more details about Seren on the publisher’s website and follow Seren on Twitter and 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.

The Skagit Valley Beekeeper

          for Jerry & Kathy Willins

At home my door looks out on a wild sea where boats come and go.
Here, doors looks out across miles and miles of blueberry bushes.
They make me think of Frost’s “Blueberries as big as your thumb”.
But it is only May, so early in season the bushes are all empty-handed.

Yesterday, sitting in a diner in Burlington, eating ham on rye,
a farmer slid onto the seat beside me. Wendell, the waitress called him.
“Goddamn cell phones,” he snarled, “they’re messin’ with my bees.
The signals have them so dizzy they couldn’t find a sunflower.”

He said it in a way that wasn’t funny, for here was a man
whose livelihood depended on a pollinating bee. “Now, Wendell,”
the waitress muttered, “don’t be bothering the preacher.”
“Sorry, sir, but Christ, I have to fly in bees from Alabama.”

And as we sat there in the silence of that Burlington afternoon.
the waitress counting bottles, Wendell eating fries,
I just prayed my cell phone, my bee immobilizer, would not ring,
not even with a buzz, buzz, buzz from you, to help pollinate our love.

by Tony Curtis

‘The Skagit Valley Beekeeper’ is copyright © Tony Curtis, 2011. It is reprinted by permission of Arc Publications from folk by Tony Curtis (Arc Publications, 2011).

Tony Curtis was born in Dublin in 1955. He studied literature at Essex University and Trinity College Dublin. An award winning poet, Curtis has published six warmly-received collections, the most recent of which was The Well in the Rain: New & Selected Poems (Arc, 2006). In 2003 he was awarded the Varuna House Exchange Fellowship to Australia. Curtis has been awarded the Irish National Poetry Prize. In 2008, Days Like These (with Paula Meehan and Theo Dorgan) was published by Brooding Heron Press. He is a member of Aosdána. You can read further selections from folk, the volume from which ‘The Skagit Valley Beekeeper’ is taken, on this page from Arc’s site.

Since it was founded in 1969, Arc Publications has adhered to its fundamental principles – to introduce the best of new talent to a UK readership, including voices from overseas that would otherwise remain unheard in this country, and to remain at the cutting edge of contemporary poetry. Arc also has a music imprint, Arc Music, for the publication of books about music and musicians. As well as its page on Facebook, you can find Arc on Twitter; search for @Arc_Poetry. Visit Arc’s website to join the publisher’s mailing list, and to find full details of all publications and writers. Arc offers a 10% discount on all books purchased from the website (except Collectors’ Corner titles). Postage and packing is free within the UK.

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.