Tim Cockburn was born in 1985 in Banbury, Oxfordshire, and raised in Nottingham. He studied Fine Art and Creative Writing at the Norwich School of Art and Design, and holds an MA from the University of East Anglia in Creative Writing. He lives and works in Nottingham.
“Reading these poems there is a sense that, through ‘the sneakiness of words’, their tantalising truths are continuing partly to elude us – when ‘no’ touches ‘yes’, a dream solidifies on waking, coffee dregs yield one’s reflection, or the song you didn’t think to remember renews its hold on you.
Their highly-tuned awareness comes not out of introspection, but attentiveness, and also a real affection for the ‘cheerful stabs of flair among the serious junk’ of the world. Dry ice, microwaves, lager tops: all have their limelight in the mind, but there is nothing glib or cheaply-won about how the temporary or everyday become the emblem of a thought. Cockburn’s poems realise this time and again, with the sureness of an Anglepoise lamp that ‘throws its one enquiry’ into moments that, though private, are also the ones we most meaningfully share.”
“Admiring another writer is always a mixture of pleasure and pain, and it’s pretty much my highest praise that as I read these deeply glowing, profoundly enjoyable poems I was muttering out loud: Damn it he’s right. He’s right. He’s right. He’s right. He’s right.”
– Luke Kennard
“Tim Cockburn is a poet of skill, risk, and imagination. He borrows a wryness of observation, and a resigned, poignant sadness of predicament, from the Movement, but his poems are most impressive for the way they create a lifting sensation, a disarming feeling of romantic urgency, uncertainty and precariousness.”
– Jack Underwood
Expansion on a Microwave Warning Sticker
Check standing items frequently and stir.
Leave nothing unattended (this is in case
delayed eruptive boiling should occur).
Take her, she loves you, yes? Within a year
or two she’ll miss the danger, miss the chase.
She doesn’t now? Check frequently and stir.
Wear lovers through or change as you prefer;
if you won’t replace because you can replace
delayed eruptive boiling may occur.
Conviction, kindness, these things drain to where
so surely, so like colour from a face?
They may return. Check frequently or stir.
Life is flux, the manic screens infer,
invite it into yours, or in its place
delayed eruptive boiling will occur.
Better to wait on stubborn water, or
affect its leaping, when in either case
you could be burned (stress could be)? Waters, stir.
Delayed, eruptive: boiling must occur.
A Rave in North Norfolk
After the rave the steamed-up Peugeots
that, nightlong, blunted the field’s edge
slunk off one by one like a flagging picket,
leaving a stillness of litter-strewn hedges
the waterfowl dared enter back into.
On the lawn tall shadows tucked stickered decks
into retracted back seats, whilst the few
who remained in the lamp-lit mill slept,
not noticing how like kicked up sediment
settling the displaced calm restored
itself around them, or how, beyond the lane,
the shallow-pooled stretches sharpened:
the coloured smudge of ballast and gorse
beside a decelerating train.
Appearances in the Bentinck Hotel
Sometimes in going to pick something up,
however casually certain your fingers it is one thing,
looking may show it to be another,
just as sometimes in telling someone you love them,
however casually certain your tongue the words are true,
on the ear they may fall as forced or artificial,
and in saying them you may come to realise you don’t,
or not as you thought, and it will seem
a kind of sneakiness on the part of the words,
as it does on the part of my lager, when playing pool
I swig from it and it is not my lager
but your lager top, or even in coming to write a poem,
when it shrugs at you from the page and says,
No poem here, only the bones of one at best,
and those you reject as too deliberate or too cute,
since always it is possible that for forty minutes
exactly my lager is a lager, on my ears on my tongue
to the touch I love you, and this is the Bentinck Hotel.
from Appearances in the Bentinck Hotel (Salt Publishing, 2011).
Order Appearances in the Bentinck Hotel.
Read ‘Deco’ and ‘Reminder about the songs currently in the charts’