A ghazal by Joanne Limburg

Born in London in 1970, Joanne Limburg won an Eric Gregory Award for her poetry in 1998, and her first book, Femenismo (Bloodaxe, 2000), was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection.  “Apart” is a ghazal from Paraphernalia (Bloodaxe, 2007), Joanne’s second collection and a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.  She is currently writing The Woman Who Thought Too Much, a memoir about anxiety, OCD and poetry, for Atlantic Books.

Joanne Limburg

He feels he is coming apart;
he screams all thought apart.

New mothers cradle their smiles,
every one playing a part.

A hardening drift of skin
marks the first pulling-apart.

In curtained portions of night,
the women were set apart.

One figure draws us together;
the next one whirls us apart.

What’s that I see in his face?
My own face coming apart?


Read five of Joanne’s earlier poems in Thumbscrew:

“Travelling Light”

“Study in Watercolour”



“A Lesson in Ballooning”

Read “Things Exactly As They Are” in the Jewish Quarterly.

8 thoughts on “A ghazal by Joanne Limburg

  1. johemmant

    Love a Study in Watercolour, Deuteronomy and A Lesson in Ballooning — which is right up my street and a little like something I wrote a while back (funnily enough based on the same theme as my poem yesterday). Good morning, how’s you?

  2. Michelle Post author

    “Study in Watercolour” is my favourite. Love it too. Good morning!

  3. johemmant

    Things exactly as they are is wonderful too… I will order her book methinks……you’re bad for me, you encourage me down the path of reckless spending on poetry *grin*.

  4. christine

    Ghazals are deceptive, elusive poems to write well, but this one hits the mark, and it also sounds very contemporary and natural, hard to do. I’ve tried my hand at a few, and they were terrible, I say that in all honestly. I’ll read the others later, must go teach a yoga class. Ta, as jo says.

  5. Michelle Post author

    I’ve never tried writing a ghazal, C – very impressed with you.

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