Monthly Archives: November 2008

Pascale Petit’s ‘Chandelier-Tree’

Another poem from Pascale Petit’s new collection,
The Treekeeper’s Tale (Seren, 2008).

Pascale Petit

I find myself staring at the spaces between
fronds, where pure blue plumes appear,
the air painting itself on my eye.

And I see how the trunk doesn’t end
where a person can climb, but continues
to the redwood’s true crown, sky-feathers

piercing the stratosphere, blue forest
on blue, some white with lace frills
of finest cirrus, before the wide canopy

of night, its invisible leaves
suddenly alert with stars – how they are
glimpses of the tree of light.
Listen to Pascale reading “Chandelier-Tree” here.

Angela Readman’s ‘Poppies’

Born in Middlesbrough in 1973, Angela Readman completed her MA in Creative Writing at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle.  She has published two full length poetry collections and several shorter collections.  Her short stories and poetry have appeared in a number of magazines, including Envoi and Mslexia.
Read Annie Clarkson’s review of Strip (Salt Publishing, 2007) here.
Order your own copy of Strip here.

“Poppies” is the first poem in the collection.

Angela Readman

I could have slept in the poppies for a hundred years,
and would not have thanked the one who woke me.
I’d have taken off the ruby slip-ons, rubbed the blisters,
and made inside the red my home.
I wouldn’t have missed you.
A man wearing someone else’s face
may have visited, yet would have been you just the same.
Courage is just another abstract,
like friendship, and all the hearts you seek
grow on stubbled stalks, clot
their residue onto your sleeve.

I could have stayed, not been your girl in Kansas,
waited for the wooden house and rocking chair
to cyclone their way into pieces, reassemble
a helter-skelter house above my head.
I could have never learnt to bake apple pie,
or dance with a field hand,
or be told I was too old to climb a fence
and sleep by the foal in the barn.

I’d let the gas lamp in there flicker,
and travellers approach.
They’d come into my parlour,
and take off their shoes.
My inviting room with the stove on,
so tempting you’d never notice
there’s nobody home.

Since only the two of us were inhaling,
you could have gone on to the envious city
in your snow-globe eyeball.
Your scarecrow gait leaking blood for ravens,
Tinman crying that I slept on,
until his eyes rust to half shut.
You should have gone on
to buy paper poppies,
place a wreath on a carved marble dog,

and left us.
Just me and the lion
curled together in dreams,
feeding flying monkeys
that breathe in the dust on our skin.
Read more of Angela’s poems on Laura Hird’s website.

Sarah Hills

A massive thanks to my very talented friend, artist, musician and photographer, Sarah Hills, for designing the peony moon header.  It’s perfect, Sarah.  I love it.  Thank you.

Sarah was born in Banbury, Oxfordshire, and moved to South Africa when she was eight years old.  She studied Fine Art, majoring in painting, at the Natal Technikon.  The bass player for Sunways for seven years, she is currently working on a solo album and is returning to live in South Africa in December.

Francis Bacon

“Coincidences were grist to Bacon’s mill, an integral part of the ‘compost’ on the studio floor from which his images emerged:  the lover’s face distorted in a mirror, a crumpled magazine ad or Rembrandt reproduction surfacing in the jumble as he paced to and fro.  Like dots wanting to be joined up into a line, they formed patterns and triggered off associations that still reverberate years later, because they never release all their secret layers of meaning.”

– Michael Peppiatt on Francis Bacon, Francis Bacon: Anatomy of an Enigma (Constable, 2008)

National Book Award for Poetry

Mark Doty is the recipient of the 2008 National Book Award for Poetry with Fire to Fire: New and Collected Poems (HarperCollins, 2008). 

Congratulations, Mark!

Read more about Mark here and here.

Read a short interview with Mark here.

Have a look at Mark’s blog.

Information about the history of the National Book Foundation and the winners and finalists of the 2008 National Book Awards.

An interview with Joan Metelerkamp

Born in Pretoria in 1956, Joan Metelerkamp grew up in KwaZulu-Natal.  She has published six poetry collections:  Towing the Line (Carrefour, 1992), which was awarded the 1991 Sanlam Prize for Literature; Stone No More (Gecko Poetry, 1995); Into the day breaking (Gecko Poetry, 2000); Floating Islands (Mokoro, 2001); Requiem (Deep South, 2003) and, most recently, carrying the fire, published by substancebooks in 2005.

Joan has had individual poems published in major South African poetry anthologies and in various international volumes.  She has taken part in festivals and poetry readings locally and overseas, including Poetry Africa in 2005.  She has been awarded poetry prizes and judged others, has edited the literary journal New Coin for four years, and has written poetry reviews in academic journals and newspapers.

Previously, she worked as an actress and university teacher.  She is a wife, mother, sister and daughter, living on her father’s farm in the Goukamma Valley near Knysna in the Southern Cape.

Read the interview here.

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.