Category Archives: collaborations

Magnolia and Lotus: Selected Poems of Hyesim

EPSON MFP image 
 

  
 
Magnolia and Lotus: Selected Poems of Hyesim
Translators: Ian Haight and T’ae-yŏng Hŏ
White Pine Press, 2012
Korean Voices Series
ISBN: 978-1-935210-43-6
 

  
 
 
Co-translator Ian Haight introduces Magnolia and Lotus
 
   
 
Chin’gak Kuksa Hyesim (1178 – 1234) was the second Patriarch of the Korean Buddhist Chogye Order and the first Zen Master dedicated to poetry in Korea. The book’s title, Magnolia and Lotus, is taken from a poem within the book:
 
 
 
          Magnolia, the Lotus of Trees
 

          Observing leaves: at first, I doubt they are persimmon—
          looking at the blossoms, I doubt they are lotus.
          How fortunate there are no fixed forms—
          this tree has no comparison.
 
 
 
I like this poem for a number of reasons and, at the translator’s ever-present risk of presumption, believe it captures the voice of Hyesim. There resides so much Buddhism in these four simple lines: the non-judgmental doubting of what is observed, and how shifting perspective reveals different possibilities in assumptions; the idea of the blossoms themselves – both lotus flowers and magnolias as representations of wisdom, beauty, truth, and enlightenment; the appreciative acceptance of not knowing what a flower is because its fixed form cannot be determined, and how this understanding could be applied to everything comprehended by the mind; finally, a penetrating recognition: that there is nothing to compare with the singularity of what is observed – everything under the sun has uniqueness. A train of thought that is simultaneously paradoxical and circular couched in deceptive simplicity – yes, this poem feels very Buddhist. The poems in this collection present a world observed with reverence and admiration by a monk who lived more than 700 years ago. It feels natural to identify the collection as a unified voice of Hyesim.
 
 
Why title the book Magnolia and Lotus? The answer lies in the poem ‘Magnolia, the Lotus of Trees’. Consider a poem as an image of perspective; or the idea that language, a poem, a translation is a shifting continuum, both having and lacking permanence. And yet, somewhere among these possibilities is a node that remains distinctive, if even for a moment – something we can give a title to, calling it a poem or perhaps even a book. Under this Buddhist way of thinking, naming the book after the poem feels appropriate.
 
 
The poems in this book are built around an imagined life of Hyesim and his purpose for writing poems. What did Hyesim experience in meditation? How did his wisdom grow with progressive enlightenment? What did he place importance on in life; as a monk; as an early founder of Korea’s largest Buddhist sect, the Chogye Order? If he eventually relinquished this position, what did he then do? What were his thoughts in his final years? Each of the translated poems, attentive to the nuances of Hyesim’s Buddhist and Confucian background as well as the landscape of Korea, posits the point of view of Hyesim, his voice, and his time. My hope is that this collection – utilising metaphor, rhythmic language and imagery – invites a reader into relaxed companionship with Hyesim and his life. 
 
 
 
 
Ian Haight 
 
 
 
Ian Haight was a co-organizer and translator for the UN’s global poetry readings held annually in Pusan, Korea, from 2002 – 4. He has been awarded five translation grants from the Daesan Foundation, Korea Literature Translation Institute and Baroboin Buddhist Foundation for the translation, editing, promotion, and publication of Korean literature. Ian is the editor of Garden Chysanthemums and First Mountain Snow: Zen Questions and Answers from Korea (2010), and along with T’ae-yŏng Hŏ, the translator of Borderland Roads: Selected Poems of Kyun Hŏ (2009) both from White Pine Press. Ian’s translations, essays, poems, and interviews have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Writer’s Chronicle, Quarterly West and Hyundae Buddhist News, among many other publications. For more information, please visit Ian’s website.
 
 
 
 
T’ae-yong Ho 
 
 
 
T’ae-yŏng Hŏ has been awarded translation grants from the Daesan Foundation and Korea Literature Translation Institute. With Ian Haight, he is the co-translator of Borderland Roads: Selected Poems of Hŏ Kyun and Magnolia and Lotus: Selected Poems of Hyesim. Working from the original classical Chinese, T’ae-yŏng’s translations of Korean poetry have appeared in Runes, New Orleans Review and the Atlanta Review.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
“Korea’s first Zen Master-poet wrote simple yet elegant poetry of the world he inhabited, both physically and spiritually, and of daily insights—a pause along the way for a deep clear breath, a moon-viewing moment, a seasonal note or a farewell poem to a departing monk. His poems speak softly and clearly, like hearing a temple bell that was struck a thousand years ago.”
 
– Sam Hamill
 
 
 
“Hyesim’s poems: transformative as walking high granite mountains by moonlight, with fragrant herbs underfoot and a thermos of clear tea in the backpack. Their bedrock is thusness, their images’ beauty is pellucid and new, their view without limit. The shelf of essential Zen poets for American readers grows larger with this immediately indispensable collection.”
 
– Jane Hirshfield
 
 
 
“Reading poems from another language, culture, and century, I often feel like a foreigner excluded from the original’s subtleties. Not so in Hyesim’s miraculous time-traveling poems, which might have been written yesterday or tomorrow, and anywhere. There’s not a single opaque word in the book. The poems are Buddhist, yes, and Zen (Sŏn) in particular, but they’re written for anyone interested in human consciousness: what it is, how it perceives the world, how it can be transformed, and what pure perceptual clarity and joy result from the realization of its ultimate transparency. Through eight hundred years Hyesim’s voice delivers the gift of his wisdom, modesty, humor, and profound understanding of the human mind. These are important poems.”
 
– Chase Twichell
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
Leaving Home to Enter the Priesthood 
 
 
I have longed for the School of the Void,
to learn with my mind of ashes to sit in Sŏn.
 
Fame is fragile as a clay rice-cake steamer—
even after success, the effort for fame has been in vain.
 
Riches and honors, sought uselessly—
the poor also have this affliction.
 
I have left my village home
and sleep calmly under pines.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
Plantain
 
 
A plantain is an unlit
green candle of beeswax
 
the spread leaves, a vernal coat’s sleeves
desiring to dance.
 
I see this image in my intoxicated eyes
though the plantain itself
 
is better
than my comparisons.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
Curves of Incense
 
 
Threads of incense drift upwards
unending in my silent room—
a smoky portent, like cracks on a tortoise shell—
nine perfumed plumes twist.
 
An old mirror hides light with darkness—
embers flare within sullen ash.
The many folds of my silk curtain part—
what is most precious faces the wind.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
Saying Goodbye to a Monk
 
 
One who leaves home to be a monk must be completely free—
how many times have you entered the gates of enlightenment?
Walking alone, wandering outside the world of humans—
a refined heart looks from afar upon the world.
 
The body, lively, like a single cloud—
the mind, quiet: a mistless moon.
With the simplicity of a bowl and set of old clothes—
a bird ascending 10,000 mountains.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
Replying to Mr Kal’s Poem
 
 
Spring silkworms spin threads, strangely tying themselves—
flies content themselves with their vinegar-pot world.
If you want to escape your bonds and reside outside common
                                                                                   living,
turn your head as soon as possible. Practice Sŏn.
 
Together, with you, I am bound—
once freed, why should a crane linger to fly?
The lustrous moon reminds me of your promise—
on which day in the mountains will we practice Sŏn.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
Again, a Poem Given at Departure
 
 
The somber sky portends rain—
the miserable mountain bears a weary face.
Fortunately, friends of the same practice release clasped hands
                                                                                   easily—
but with such heartfelt friendships, it is difficult not to shed tears.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
October 1231, I Pass by Growth of Humanity Temple
Borrowing a Poem Written on a Wall
 
 
A stand of bamboo unifies a garden—
a salutary breeze drifts below a fence.
In the season of golden leaves, I regret the day’s brevity—
this night of silence—I want it to last.
 
Sun showers surround the Abbot’s quarters—
humid air entices the land.
Five days I’ve stayed, resting my staff and shoes—
such a delight when the world’s grace endures.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
Water Clock
 
 
A breeze of winter—
the months of this year draw to an end.
Every leaf in a forest eventually falls, yellowing a mountain—
only pine and bamboo retain an inborn breath of emerald.
 
How many years will a human live?
Time is fleet as lightning.
Details of self ought to be examined—
then the empty dream will not endure.
 
 
 
 
from Magnolia and Lotus: Selected Poems of Hyesim
(White Pine Press, 2012).
 
Order Magnolia and Lotus: Selected Poems of Hyesim.
 
Visit the White Pine Press website.
 
Visit Ian Haight’s website.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 

Days of Roses II

Cover artwork© Rachel Howard

Cover artwork© Rachel Howard

 
 
 
Contributors are Liz Berry, Robert Selby, Harriet Moore, Lydia Macpherson, André Naffis-Sahely, Alan Buckley, Declan Ryan, Malene Engelund, William Searle and Rory Waterman.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
The Sea of Talk
Liz Berry

for dad
 
 
That last Summer before school robbed language
from my mouth and parcelled it up in endless
 
Ladybird Books, you made me a boat of words
and pushed us off from the jetty into the Sea of Talk.
 
You let the waves navigate. My fingers stroked shoals
of nouns in the chatter – goosegog, peony – ,
 
verbs slithering, electric as eels in the seagrass.
All August we sailed, the vast shadows of stories
 
trawling below us: ‘ow the lights waz out the night
you waz born … the secret in the marlpit up Batman’s Hill …
 
then further out, deeper, those first vowels we’d spoken,
filmy and shapeshifting as jellyfish in the dark.
 
You let me swim in the shallows until the moon drew
the murmuring tides to her breast. Then you made a net
 
of your arms and hauled me in, kissed your thumb
to my small mouth, my barnacle ears, whispered:
 
Bab, little wench, dow forget this place,
its babble never caught by ink or book
 
fer on land, school is singin’ its siren song
an oysters close their lips upon pearls in the mud.
 
 
 
 
Black Country/Standard
 
goosegog/gooseberry          dow/don’t
 
 

  
*
 
 
 
 
The Burning of the Pets
Lydia Macpherson
 
 
Today they start the burning of the pets.
The wind is in the right direction,
the sky is blue and flecked with larks
and fighter planes, the weather’s set
and it’s as good a day as any to burn pets.
 
There are economies of scale and pets
who die before the rest must wait in piles
like fur coats on a party bed until
the latecomers catch up, collarless
and stiffening, for the bonfire of the pets.
 
They come in unmarked vans and pets
who, living, would have bickered now sleep
easily together, the Dobermans and flopsy bunnies,
tabbies curled with mice and gerbils, paws and claws
and hooves and tails, a jumbled bestiary of pets.
 
There are no funerals for the pets:
the forklift hoicks them down the chute
like laundry in a hospital, a button’s pressed,
a fat man settles with his Daily Sport and tea
to wait for the incineration of the pets.
 
Tomorrow they’ll box up the pets
in plastic urns of varied size:
a lucky dip of bones and teeth,
which, parcelled out to owners,
will complete the burning of the pets.
  
 
 
 
Previously published in The Rialto.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
An Island of Strangers
André Naffis-Sahely

 
 
The roof was the place to be. I was fifteen
and in love with ash-cans, pigeon coops,
women hanging their laundry. There was a fifty-
foot portrait of the King – always smiling –
 
by the sea, overlooking a busy junction;
like an ad for toothpaste or mouthwash.
At night, the shore on the west side of town
was the quietest, where hotels, natashas and haram
 
coalesced into parties. Every half-lit room
was a sure sign of orgasms and the passing
of money from stranger to stranger. Anything
interesting and pleasurable was haram. I envied
 
the King, and his sons, all eighteen of them.
The King was virile, a patriarch, Abraham on Viagra,
the rest of his people were on Prozac. Everywhere
the eye looked was money, the nose, meanwhile,
 
hit only sweat: acrid, pugnacious, pervasive.
Most of the boys I knew sucked Butane, smoked,
saved up for whores, waited for their parole in the summer:
each back to their own country. Come September
 
the dissatisfied return; misfit mutts, at home every-
and nowhere. A friend compared cosmopolitanism
to being stuck at summer camp, to waiting for parents
who never showed up. In the twentieth year of his smile,
 
the King finally died. His mausoleum is a meringue: wavy,
white, empty . . . His sons have gone on squabbling, playing
‘whose is biggest’ with bricks; one by one, they die in car crashes.
Days of heat strokes, kif and blood-thirsty Ferraris.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
Voicemail
Alan Buckley
 
for Kate
 
 
Although your mobile must be lying still
and unblinking on a bedside table,
 
or stuffed in a bag with a pointless diary,
tonight I ring it one last time, and hear
 
your voice, clear, unwavering, as you ask me
to please leave a message after the tone,
 
and then I try to pretend you’re busy,
writing songs on your scuffed acoustic, or down
 
in the lush, quiet county you were born in,
hands on the steering wheel’s leopard-print cover,
 
casually speeding south through a warren
of hedge-bound lanes, stone bridges, up over
 
Eggardon Hill, to the place you’d go to stare
at the waves, and breathe the incoming air.
 
 
 
 
First prize, Wigtown Poetry Competition.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
From Alun Lewis
Declan Ryan
  
 
There is nothing that can save today, darling,
you not being here. You MUST write.
It’s impossible to breathe otherwise.
I’m only talking of the things I really NEED.
I’m so tired of travelling away from you.
I think of you all the bloody time. Do you mind?
 
This isn’t an answer or a letter –
it’s only a cup of coffee after lunch.
Many things I’ve been unable to remember
came to me last night.
You sitting like a babu at a desk
in the bowels of the G.P.O.
You standing in the quartier latin corridor
of the Hotel Marina on Sunday afternoon
after the cinema saying ‘Alright, pay the taxi. Let’s stay.’
 
When I saw you on Saturday July 24th
you were the flash of a sword.
Now I’m hopelessly shut into the camp life again.
A soccer match, a disjointed conversation at dinner,
a visit to the reading room to see how things go:
oh and a longing beyond words.
 
There’s a fat dove strutting across the lawn
by the bougainvillea.
I wish I could be strolling with you
looking at the rose moles all in stipple
in your little stream.
One way or another I make a lot of shadows where I go.
 
Don’t worry over the hairs on my head.
May you not be tried harder than you can bear.
Let there be an again, New Year. Save us.
 
 
 
 
Previously published in Poetry Review.
 
 
 
 
from Days of Roses II.
 
Days of Roses II is available in London at Daunt Books and Foyles.
 
Order Days of Roses II.
  
 
 
 
*

Estuary: A Confluence of Art & Poetry

Estuary
 
 
 
Estuary: A Confluence of Art & Poetry
Published by Moon and Mountain, 2012

Art Editor: Harriette Lawler
Poetry Editor: Agnes Marton
 
 
 
“An estuary is that part of the mouth or lower course of a river in which the river’s current meets the sea’s tide. An abundance of nutrient-rich food is found in this biome. Estuarine environments are among the most productive on earth, creating habitats for 1000s of species to live, feed, and reproduce. 26 artists and 57 poets from around the world have come together in this 120 page, full color book to create an estuary of images and words, art and poetry flowing together.”
 
 
 
Poets: Kathleen Jones, Pippa Little, Ágnes Lehóczky, Suzannah Evans, JP Reese, Ira Lightman, Leo Schulz, Toshiyuki Nagashima, Joshua Kam, Alex Pruteanu, Meg Tuite, Ruth Aylett, Kim Moore, Kevin Ridgeway, Ian Duhig, Carolyn Jess-Cooke, Graham Burchell, Tiffany Anne Tondut, Mary Stone Dockery, Claire Trévien, Ameerah Arjanee, Karen Dennison, Tara Birch, Laura Kasischke, Rachel McGladdery, Kristine Ong Muslim, Ryan Van Winkle, Vera Pejovič, Dom Gabrielli, Rick Holland, Susan Keiser, Carolyn Srygley-Moore, Tricia McCallum, Pascale Petit, Noel Duffy, Anna Puhakka, Harry Owen, Melissa Lee-Houghton, Rose Aiello Morales, Yuyutsu Sharma, Antoine Cassar, Peycho Kanev, Robert Vaughan, Agnes Marton, Lisa Gordon, Linda Rose Parkes, Michelle McGrane, Abegail Morley, Kushal Poddar, Rowyda Amin, Lindsey Holland, Sonja Benskin Mesher, Zoë Brigley, Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Traci Brimhall, Adrienne J. Odasso and Aad de Gids.
 
 
 
Artists: Véronique Brosset, Mark Erickson, Virginia Erdie, Pia B. Lehmann, Ilham Badreddine Mahfouz, Midori McCabe, Brad Michael Moore, Alberto D’Assumpção, Hego Goevert, Olga Dmytrenko, Neil Nieuwoudt, Goro Endow, Ljiljana Lazičić-Putnik, Constantin Severin, Michael Berry, Mohammad Bin Lamin, Katerina Dramitinou, Adrian Bayreuther, Mi-Sun Lee, Emmy Verschoor, Izabella Pavlushko, Mani Bour, Linaji, Harriette Lawler, Oralei Fauble and Juan Rodrigo Piedrahita.
 
 
 
 
DustedBeansBrokenBeams 
 
‘Dusted Beans and Broken Beams’
by Mark Erickson
diptych, oil and acrylic on canvas
46 x 41 cm (left )
46 x 38 cm (right)
 
 
 
 
Zones of Convergence
Pippa Little
 
 
What washes up on different shores?
You walk with your camera, I walk with mine:
orange globes, nets and lines, hasps, rusted pulleys,

a child’s sandal warped and bleached, toys, bottle-tops,
soft drink cans and crab-legs’ bright enamel blue,
truck tyres and crockery and scatterings of coal,

sea glass and souls, bloated ships’ cats,
jellyfish and hag-stones, tampax applicators, drums and sleeves
kettles and car parts, cans of beans in Cyrillic alphabets …

‘it might be a boat, gathering the interest of gannets
who follow in her wake, rest on her prow,
might be small plastics, wrapped tight by a net

which comes to be a community of various fish, dolphins,
    even sharks’*
… they are gathering and gathering in spirals, like and unlike
finding each other, massing and accruing,

and the sea for all its muscle cannot swallow, rot them down
or spit them free, but must suffer them
as a bull its goads:

our seas are strange to one another
but in these mirror maps we make
Leviathan rises, knows our complicity.
 
 
 
* from ‘Convergences’, Jon Bonfiglio, Captain,

The Clipperton Project, Blog, March 2012.
 
 
 
 
Lit Out for the Territory 
 
‘Lit Out for the Territory’
by Mark Erickson
oil and acrylic on canvas
101 x 76 cm
 
 
 
 
Moving Out
Suzannah Evans
 
 
Before we left we took the fireworks from the attic
to Ynyslas to let them go on the dunes.

We stood close together, heard marram
scratch against its neighbours as sand

came into our shoes, warm
in memory of the day’s heat.

The last train clanked out across the estuary
red tail lights tracking the marsh.

Night sliced open blue and silver, and inside it
we saw water, Aberdyfi stacked on the hillside.

Then one taut voice said go
and we ran, five of us jumped

in the back of the Escort, shivering,
smelling gunpowder on each other’s hair.
 
 
 
 
LostPlayground 
 
‘Lost Playground’
by Pia B. Lehmann
toys, plaster, wood, sand, metal, and color on canvas
60 x 70 x 7 cm
 
 
 
 
Sand Dollar
JP Reese
 
 
Washed ashore, I am the coin

of mermaids in your palm.
 
 
Your eyes see only treasure,

not the measure of my end.
 
 
The sand moves, sculpted by wind.

Endings clarify, chasten.
 
 
Lifted from a suitcase, I am the memory

of sun slashed across a cheekbone,
 
 
wind-ruffled sea grass, the curl of foam

that spumes above green waves;
 
 
bonfires that sear the night sky,

a kiss from one whose footprints
 
 
disappeared beyond the dunes.

I am the arid bone of flowered stars.
 
 
 
 
Hellcat 
 
‘Great Big Floating Hellcat in My Kitchen’
by Neil Nieuwoudt
mixed media collage on 200 gsm watercolor paper
55 x 65 cm
 
 
 
 
From the Plague Journal
Ian Duhig
 
 
I have been asked to write about our food.

I remember nights spent hulling ration-rice,
soya beans pressed dry before they got to us,
boiling black market sweetfish to hide their smell
from our Neighbourhood Monitor. We ate everything:
reed-root, pig-weed, tugwort, bar-weed –
these may not be the scientific names.
We smuggled grated radish and bracken-sprouts
past our Neighbourhood Monitor once he started fainting,
propped beneath his Government banderoles:
‘There’s Always Space to Plant a Pumpkin!’
‘The War is Only Just Beginning!’

Later, our food became medicine:
dried fig-grubs for the incontinence;
ant-lions in sake for the headaches;
leek-leaves and cucumber for the burns.
I sold my son’s thousand-stitch belt
for peaches and eggs which I mashed and strained,
mashed and strained. Still my children died,
the last little Tadashi, setting his weasel-traps
of bamboo and abalone shells round the pond
he’d stocked with a few, tiny carp fry.

That is all I remember about our food.
 
 
 
 
PatchPondersParadise 
 
‘Patch Ponders Paradise’
by Michael Berry
acrylic on canvas
30 x 30 cm
 
 
 
 
The Island Dog
Tricia McCallum
 
 
He is everyone’s,
Yet he is no one’s.
Vacationers arrive, discover him,
dote on him for two weeks,
then disappear.

He is their holiday project,
a story they’ll tell over dinner at home.
Some allow him in, to sleep at the foot of their beds,
to guard their front door,
Some even toy with the idea of a rescue,
Could we, should we? Shots? Papers?
Questions asked
with the exuberance of the relaxed and the happy,
but as the time to leave draws near,
reality encroaches, the idea stalls.

A new band takes their place.
The island dog waits,
knowing it will take only one,
one, to give him a name that won’t change,
one, to call it out in the dark
should he wander too far.
One, to call to him
and him alone:
Come home.
 
 
 
 
JourneyInsideWhale 
 
Journey Inside the Whale’
by Ilham Badreddine Mahfouz
acrylic on canvas
163 x 214 cm
 
 
 
 
Virginia’s Last Walk
Nuala Ní Chonchúir

The day collapsed on me:
there was nowhere to go
but full forward,
so my feet stepped on,
surer than I that
there was no way back.

I loaded the pockets
of my smock with
stone on grey stone,
and stood on the bank
smelling the river-stink,
watching the churn of weeds.

A wood-pigeon broke
from a high branch,
and I lifted my head
to the slap-flutter of wings,
the flash of a purple throat –
a momentary distraction.

I eased myself into the Ouse,
let its wet fingers mangle me,
and the weight of my dress
pull me down and down.
The river swallowed me,
closed in over my head.

The day had collapsed:
I had nowhere to go
but full, fast forward,
so my feet stepped on,
surer than I that
there was no way back.
 
 
 
 
from Estuary: A Confluence of Art & Poetry
(Moon and Mountain, 2012).
 
Visit Moon and Mountain’s website
 
Order Estuary (hardcover).

Order Estuary (softcover).
 
 
 
*

Binders Full of Women

 
 
 
“Make it as political as hell, and make it irrevocably 
beautiful.”

– Toni Morrison
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Contributors
are Sarah Crewe, Nia Davies, Amy Evans, Maria Gornell, Sarah Hesketh, Kirsten Irving, Mara Katz, Rowena Knight, Melissa Lee-Houghton, Agnes Marton, Sophie Mayer, Sally McAlister, Michelle McGrane, slmendoza, Steph Pike, Chella Quint, Nat Raha, Shelagh M. Rowan-Legg, Jacqueline Saphra, Claire Trévien, Jackie Wills, Alison Winch.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Editors, Sarah Crewe and Sophie Mayer, write:
 
 
Threats to society. Shouty women, scroungers on benefits, queers, trannies, boys in lipstick, girls in suits. This is how Republicans see it. This is how Tories see it. This is how every right wing government sees it.

Those of us screaming out of the Binders Full of Women see things differently. We have to, because we are these “threats to society”.

We see inequality as the greatest ill of the times we live in. We recognise that rape has existed as a weapon since the beginning of time. It is biblical, it is prehistoric, medieval, Victorian. Yet in the age of media as the fourth estate, we are horrified to witness the double standards, the culture of blame, the glorification of this sick malfunction of the pathetic on television screens, in cinemas.

We have a situation whereby a man is allowed to take refuge in an Ecuadorian embassy from rape charges, as opposed to being sent to face trial, and hailed as a hero by the socialist press. Is it any wonder that we feel let down, and disillusioned by the lack of voice for the feminist cause?

It’s no wonder, but it’s not the only possible response, as our collaborators prove. Their work, arriving in our inboxes daily, lifted us up, made us rage with them, laugh with them, cry with them and celebrate with them. They name gender violence – misogyny, homophobia, transphobia – and reclaim the bodies that are subject to it. They extend love, joy, pleasure, rage, beauty, thought, art, and activism as strategies of reclamation for you, the reader, to share.

Twenty-two poets who identify as female, trans, intersex or gender-neutral consented to be bound in Binders Full of Women. Rather than speak for them (as patriarchy tends to do), we’d rather let their voices be heard, collectively describing why they contributed to the anthology, and what the anthology is – so, after a bit of crucial information about where the proceeds from Binders are going – there’s a sampler of fantastic lines, in alphabetical order by poet, that adds up to an introduction, a manifesto and (with a tip of the hat to Le Tigre) a symphony of the sound of women defiantly refusing to swallow their own tongues.

Raising our voices together has been powerful: using them to raise money and awareness for two crucial UK-based organisations, both threatened by increasing conservatism and loss of funding, has felt more powerful still.

Choosing Rape Crisis seemed like the most positive action we could take. Not just though donating money, but by raising awareness of the fact that such an important facility exists for survivors. The word is so ugly that it’s difficult to type: but rape needs to be talked about and confronted. If by reading Binders just one person becomes incensed by the horror of rape, raises the profile of rape crisis, asks their local politician exactly what they intend to do to ensure that this issue starts getting treated with the action it requires, then that’s good enough for us.

The Michael Causer Foundation is a charity based in Liverpool to help LGBT young people find crisis accommodation and support. Michael was a gay teenager who was brutally assaulted and later died. He was attacked after one of his killers found sexually explicit images on his mobile phone as he slept upstairs at a house party. Ridiculously, one of the gang claimed “self defence” against a boy who suffered a fractured skull at the hands of their violence. This defendant walked free.

Michael’s mother could have easily locked the doors and grieved for life. Instead, she set up the Foundation in memory of her son, to help the community her son was a part of and to aid those at risk from the type of vicious prejudice that led to the death of her son. It is hard for us to imagine the strength of her courage. It is also a reminder of just how difficult life can be for LGBT young people to be accepted in their communities. In spite of state, systemic and individual cruelty, it is good to know that support is out there for those who need it.

These continuing acts of violence are hateful. Yet the work of both the poets and these charities that emerges in response to them is open, affective, exciting, caring and transformative. It’s imperative, as the poems argue, that we highlight these issues, by standing together and speaking collectively.
 
 
 
          we are sewing the clitoral jewels on all the pretty dresses

          And of course I thought about Mossycoat. She singles out

          material all a round

          following the signs

          wants to kiss away these names that linger

          It made the Echo: a quarter-column

          before I grew them, I knew they were mine

          warning that there could be no return

          at the funeral your mother said she knew about me

          Or Julie, sometimes this/that.

          you pick-axe crackers of cunt psephology

          Call it what you would love better

          a girl like that, what did she expect?

          mouth opens suddenly and makes the click of

          we stink of blood and sweat and piss

          and laughing, for all the right reasons

          or narratives rendered through medical ciscentricism

          The playbill is stapled to my chest

          would you, with longing, spread your legs for this

          cuties [but no bitches, hussies, ladettes, matrons

          SIRENSKIRTSPOUSESTOTSTUNNERSIS

          But in on the cosmic joke.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A Steel Kiss
Maria Gornell
 
 
It’s cold tonight
the moon looks
down with a steel
eye that refuses
to melt.

He wore a coat of flame
stole the breath
from my lungs

followed my trail
like a dog that
claimed its territory.

Promised to turn the world gold
with a Midas touch

that looks a bleak grey tonight
a stiff corpse frozen
in unfulfilled hollow
words that

echo a sound of suffering.
He will sleep with the devil
tonight; dream of a black mane
and eyes of truth he cannot bear.

A coward that took himself
out of the equation and
sabotaged his own
evolution.

Tonight he wears a coat
of shame. The cold night
covers him in icicles
a steel kiss
to his heart

and I keep on
following the signs.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Race Against the Cure
Mara Katz
 
 
When I was a child I learned
not to let anyone I didn’t love touch my breasts.
Before I grew them, I knew they were mine
and the job was mine of protecting them.

But breasts in my family
are hard to take care of.
My father’s mother met the woman her son would marry
just once
because of her breasts.
Back then there was no cure.
My mother sacrificed her breasts
and was in pain for a year
so she could live for my sister and me.

You want to tell me
whether I shall die like my grandmother
or be cured like my mother
all because I have breasts.

With all your money, you don’t know what they’re worth.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Razor
Rowena Knight
 
 
The rules were arbitrary, but sharp as steel;
we let them be. We all
wore satin boxer shorts,
studied the changing room floor,
and shaved.

Tights were not an option,
in the same way that gravity exists.
My sister instructed me on technique,
warning there could be no return;
blunt hairs would only seem more riotous.

Still I prized my cheap Bic razor,
a golden ticket to anonymity.
I triumphed over each little black snake.

There was blood, of course,
sometimes laddering my legs.
But scabs served as badges,
proof that I was trying.

At eleven I was desperate
to feel like a woman who has to cull
the conflict of stubble,
who searches for a child
with a razor.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Spunk
Jacqueline Saphra
 
(after Epstein’s Adam)
 
 
His cock hangs at half mast; it’s primed to score:
rising, monstrous; nothing like those bland
and flaccid members in rooms 3 and 4.
Drunk on lust, pumped up with blood, he stands
broad on his plinth and howls for cunt. Who’d dare
to leave his call unanswered? This is where
we find the source: that first, primeval sin:
he forced an opening, she let him in.

Later they wrote she asked for it – her pink
seductive flesh, the bruise and not the kiss.
You ask who wrote those books: who do you think?
Would you, with longing, spread your legs for this,
bear more like him? It seems so far to fall.
Must this man be the father of us all?
 
 
 
 
Order your Binder Full of Women here.
 
 
 

Beautiful Hand-lettered Literary Maps

 
 
“The idea for these maps was my wife, Dani’s, and I created the first one (the United Kingdom) in November 2010 without thinking all that carefully about the selection. I just trawled my own bookshelves. I have to defend myself almost weekly against angry emails about the absence of Dickens (whom I have never rated); no one seems to have noted that Pope and Orwell aren’t there either. I admire both and would have included them had I been more thorough. The first 500 copies of the map have a spelling mistake (Robert Greacen, in Ulster, is spelled ‘Greacon’); I corrected this on the second printing and added a couple of names – Angela Carter and Louis MacNiece.
 
 
I drew the map freehand, and it is somewhat distorted, in order to take into account the concentrations of writers I admire: Kent and Sussex are larger than they should be; Northumberland compressed, and the Lake District grossly inflated. On the fourth and latest edition I altered Kent a little, and relettered a handful of names. I think I should probably stop tinkering with it now!
 
 
We were surprised by how well the United Kingdom map sold and straightaway set about a map of the United States. This time I worked with an American editor, Bridget Hannigan, to attempt to get slightly better coverage, particularly of those parts of the United States I know nothing about. I also spent quite a while finding a projection that cinched in the northern parts of the United States, so that I could fit it onto a standard paper size, and then laid out the names state by state. You can see still see the state boundaries in a number of places; try tracing the outlines of Texas or Idaho. New England was incredibly dense and hard to do; California too, but at least that had space to spill over somewhat into the rather emptier Nevada. The solution I came up with for the New York/Boston logjam was eventually to include a spray of American writers who made their names in Europe off the East Coast and a number of Jewish writers who came in during the 1930s.
 
 
The next map that I did towards the end of 2011 was a real labour of love. While Scotland had a good amount of space on the United Kingdom map, for Wales I had had far too many good names to try to pack into a tiny area, and we set to work on a dedicated Welsh map, working with Gwyn Davies (from the National Library of Wales) on the name selection. We decided together to restrict the selection to dead writers here, as the Welsh tradition covers 1,500 years and three languages; with the United States it had been 250 years at most; 90 for the West Coast, and all in English. Wales was probably the most aesthetically satisfying for me in terms of the quality of my own lettering, although its sales remain quite modest compared to the others.
 
 
And so to the newest map, ‘From Neverland to Wonderland: A Map of Children’s Literature in Britain’, just out this week: this one was entirely Dani’s idea. She did an MA in Children’s Literature at Roehampton a few years back and is passionate about the subject. Here I decided to use slightly brighter colours than the fairly muted palettes I usually favour, and a few more visual jokes; Spike Milligan, for instance, would have been hard to fit into Sussex, where he lived, as it is stuffed already, so I put him walking backwards across the Irish Sea.”
 
 
– Geoff Sawers
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Order your hand-lettered map of
Literary Britain and Northern Ireland.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Order your hand-lettered USA Literary map.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Order your hand-lettered
Literary Map of Wales/Map Llenorion Cymru.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Order From Neverland to Wonderland: A Map of Children’s Literature in Britain.
 
 
 
Visit The Literary Gift Company for a range of marvellous
gifts and treats. 
 
 
 
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‘Formerly’, a collaboration between Tamar Yoseloff and Vici MacDonald


 
  
 
Formerly
(Hercules Editions, 2012) is a collaboration between Tamar Yoseloff and Vici MacDonald, who share a desire to commemorate forgotten corners of a London now fast disappearing. The sonnet is the classic elegiac form, but Yoseloff’s are irregular, anarchic; the perfect companions for MacDonald’s grainy photographs of superannuated shop fronts, council estates and industrial sites – defiant structures left behind by the sweep of mass redevelopment.
 
 
 
Tamar Yoseloff’s most recent collection is The City with Horns (Salt, 2011). She is the author of two collaborative editions with artist Linda Karshan and editor of A Room to Live In: A Kettle’s Yard Anthology (Salt, 2007). She lives in London, where she works as a tutor in creative writing.
 
 
 
Vici MacDonald lives in London, where she works as an editor and art director. She is a founding editor of contemporary art magazine Art World, and author of a monograph on the Australian sculptor Rosalie Gascoigne (1917 – 99), renowned for her poetic assemblages of found text.
 
 
 
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Formerly is a direct and quietly urgent dispatch from a familiar but disappearing London, a lonely, seedy and dilapidated bedsitland of regrets and furtive longings, all covered by ‘the fine dust of misery’.”
 
– Owen Hatherley
 
 
 
Formerly is a wonderful series of photographs by Vici MacDonald and loose sonnets by Tamar Yoseloff responding to London’s continual dissolution and reinscription of itself as a contemporary city. The poetry, though often humorous and with ephemeral subjects, is always fully achieved and as richly-textured as the photographs, making the nebulous tangible again, as Frank O’Hara suggested poetry should. This is the best collaboration between these arts that I have seen since Fay Godwin and Ted Hughes’ Remains of Elmet, and I cannot recommend it too highly.”
 
– Ian Duhig
 
 
 
“Tamar Yoseloff’s verse boxes shadows while Vici MacDonald’s surfaces change before our eyes. This is the London we have been looking for down the ages, from Dickens to Sinclair and Whistler to Kossoff. It is here and now but only for a moment, you have to be very quick and catch it while you can …”
 
– Josh McFadyen
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
Tamar Yoseloff on Formerly
 
“This project began with a mutual fascination for dereliction. I’m attracted to places that have been abandoned, forgotten, allowed to fall beyond repair, ‘places where a thought might grow’, to quote Derek Mahon. London is full of these locations, and mostly we walk past, too distracted to question what happened there and when. Sometimes just a boarded window or a ghost sign on a wall will be all that remains of human activity. I’ve always found a strange beauty in these places because they are the ruins of our modern lives, our great structures, our Tinterns. The city moves quickly, is unsentimental, so these poems are my attempt to capture what is already on the way out, momentarily halted in the photographs.”
 
 
 
Vici MacDonald on Formerly
 
“I am fascinated by the mundane poetry of commercial facades, and the images here result from decades spent photographing them. Things which attract my lens tend to disappear shortly afterwards, so most of these scenes exist no longer: only the uprooted gravestones and unreachable ghost signs linger on. Once, I saw such fading corners as poignant reminders of outmoded aspirations and long-lost good times. But of course it was the passing of my own time I was capturing  – life flicking past with the speed of a camera shutter as the city evolves relentlessly on. London’s mouldering walls and windows, its gravestones and ghost signs, will long outlast me; and for generations to come, their poetry will endure, too.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Capacity
 
 
Fat chance you’ll ever break out of here,
this depository for great mistakes
you’ve made your home. Just enough room
for a bed and a stool, a cell of sorts,
for a man of thin means. Lean times.
But I’m a girl who’s capable
and culpable, who knows the value
of a pound. You can’t resist the give
of my carapace, my caterpillar lips,
my capacious thighs. I’ll never sell you
short. You’ll never let me down.
For the first time, you are full
to the very brim with the milk
of human kindness. Moo.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Quickie Heel Bar
 
 
Ladies, here’s the shit:
your skirt’s so tight you can barely walk,
your stillies clack clack like a ticking clock.
You strut to the bar for a rum and coke,
scan the joint for a bloke with a wad,
some blow to share, a flair for words:
I’m your Cyrano without the hooter,
your Romeo with a better future,
your Casanova with a Rolodex,
your Ronaldo with Italian treads.
I can go all night like the Duracell Bunny,
not being funny. I’m a bull in the ring,
I’ll make you ring a ding ding, no bull.
Ladies, get your coats, you’ve pulled.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Limehouse Cut
 
 
You slumped into the night. That was it:
I fling myself at exits, breezeblock walls,
I haunt abandoned lots, urinal stalls,
anywhere that bears your mark (the flick
of the switch and then the dark, the quickie fuck),
any place you had me, any way;
like they said you’d do, you chucked me away
like trash; like shit on your shoe, I’m stuck
in the past; I’m pissed. Now I splash my tears
over the ragged towpath of your estate
and wait for rain to wash the morning clear,
and wait for love to incubate from hate,
and wait for spring to strip the sky of soot,
and wait for pain to crack your concrete heart.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Rose
 
 
Your memory’s turning tricks; a sudden
blush as you relive the bump and grind,
the slap and tickle. It was all a giggle,
didn’t care about the consequences, cold
light of day, and all of that: a dab of
La Vie En Rose behind the ear, a skinful,
and you were set. No regrets, that’s what
she sang, no regrets, but you forget
what it was like when you could clench
the thorny branch between your teeth,
dance all night for the boys. Your heart’s
playing tricks; the stop / start / stop,
that voice, clear as a bell in your mind:
Hurry up, gentlemen, please, it’s time.
 
 
 
 
from Formerly (Hercules Editions, 2012).
 
Order Formerly.
 
Read Tammy’s first Formerly post at Invective Against Swans.
 
Tammy writes about Number 13 Hercules Buildings, Lambeth.
 
Read about Formerly’s launch (and some thoughts on the olfactory properties of books).
 
Read about the Poetry Society workshop based on Formerly.
 
 
 
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