Tag Archives: Nine Arches Press

Deborah Tyler-Bennett’s Mytton… Dyer… Sweet Billy Gibson…

Deborah Tyler-Bennett by Francis O'Donnell Smith

Deborah Tyler-Bennett’s current collection is Pavilion (Smokestack, 2010), set in Brighton, her first was Clark Gable in Mansfield (King’s England, 2003), selected poems are in Take Five (Shoestring, 2003), and a new collection, Revudeville, has been published by King’s England. First poems from Anglo-Punk (sonnet sequences on Regency dandy Beau Brummell) have been published. Mytton… Dyer… Sweet Billy Gibson…, a chapbook collection of three portraits in poems is published by Nine Arches Press. Many of Deborah’s poems are influenced by vintage fashion which she collects and wears.

“Deborah Tyler-Bennett draws together three memorable and inimitable portraits of notable (if not always noted) lives in Mytton… Dyer… Sweet Billy Gibson…. The resulting poems, bristling with Tyler-Bennett’s subtle and laconic style, go beyond renderings of lives past, anecdotes told, and look instead to explore the gaps in the biographies, the real people behind the characters.”
“With an eye out for the singular, the wayward, the eccentric and, at times, the downright mad, Deborah Tyler-Bennett’s poetry portraits channel three very different lives and histories, whilst seeking out the faint echoes of these lives in the present. From the bear-riding Mango ‘Mad Jack’ Mytton’s attempts to cure hiccups by means of self-immolation, to balladeer Jimmy Dyer’s lonely wanderings with his fiddle, to poignant glimpses of her great grandfather Billy Gibson’s old age, these are poems that get to the essential solitude of human existence as they trace the lines of their subjects’ strange passions.”
– Will Buckingham
Death of the Popular English Print
No more ‘Mytton Rides a Bear’,
‘To Hounds’, ‘On Fire’
(mad cure for hiccups),
frames fit only for the byre.
Annals listing bad behaviour
(and extreme) deny entry
to vanquished squirearchy.
Chilled, standing sentry
those who dreaded invites,
Parson wibbling on –
something about sins cleansed,
carved heaven won.
Print-maker’s lament,
subject dust-bound,
shunned visitors received,
now cold in ground.
No more ‘Mytton Set Alight’,
‘With Hounds’ … New gloom
consigns rich racing prints fit
only for a Bawd’s scant room.
Telling the Bees for Jimmy Dyer
Carlisle Market hosts midnight concert.
Jimmy Dyer’s ghost, ballad singer fiddling below blea stars.
Only drunken stragglers to hear …
Cabbies waiting on night’s last fare
think strings daggy hill-blown winds.
Passing strays rub through his legs.
Were rushes laid?
Hive receiving funeral crumbs?
Song travelling corpse roads, fingers cupped
round the bowl, brawny as bee-bread.
Where does he go come daylight, as shoppers bree
through Tesco? Where does he play in sunlight?
Maybe hills replenish his pack, strings
plucking local names for flora:
Oxeye, Ellers, Dead Tongue, Horse Knap … Vagabond’s Friend
his favourite. Crumbled notes
perfecting, telling the bees
how it was, how it always is.
Blea, Bree: Old Cumbrian words for blue, and bustle, or hurry.
At the Mortal Man Inn
In the snug, slotted tight as bee bole,
          face deepening the fire house.
          Fiddle-bow slings hail
          on honeyed floors.
Replacing fiddle, terrors begin.
          Sings of the Bargest, raging hairy way
          off fells, eyes sputtering coals,
          no path left but to it.
Ballads soft, always a catch,
          faery women on cross-roads,
          coaxing travellers to open-
          mouthed mounds.
Unaccompanied voice – glance behind, or
          October’s cold snap, boulders
          mistook for elf-
          shot warriors.
Superstitions roar hearth and chimney,
          stain, flaking soot:
          Cover mirrors when a wake begins;
          keep the Skep informed and happy;
don’t forget to greet the Magpie,
          ask after his wife, don’t bring hawthorn in;
          or annoy the Hobthrush;
          and don’t, and don’t, and don’t …
Sups between verses,
          conversation hive bound,
          fiddle sleeping, hands
          raging mad for music.
Deep within The Mortal Man,
          heart’s buzzing fire house,
          takes the fiddle up again.
          Paddling yards, rain’s solitary Bargest.
Bee bole: space for bees in a dry-stone-wall / Skeps: straw spaces in bee boles to shelter bees from the North wind / Bargest: wolf-like Cumbrian spirit foretelling death / Hobthrush: hob spirit / Fire House: main room
Floyd on Exiting
I.M.: Keith Floyd, 1943 – 2009 / William Gibson, 1884 – 1955
When Keith Floyd died,
tabloid story: CHEF’S FINAL FEAST
(partridge, cocktails, full-blown wine)
reminded Mum of Billy Gibson’s partied going
(bitter, dessert cake, marinated song)
at Sutton Lib Club’s Pensioners’ Christmas Night.
Billy poling up come dawn’s glazed light, trilby tight-
balanced at crown’s back, wrong
scarf … Piquantly ‘worse for wear’,
boasting booze too much, food too much,
‘fantastic times’ tasted. Such
swanning served later by friends, their
glacé eyes. He’d sung: ‘Let him go, let him tarry,
let him sink, let him swim’.
‘Suffer tomorrow’, Daughter grinned
at forced defiance. ‘Your head’ll be
that old chestnut: THE DRUNKARD’S CURSE’.
Mates re-heated Billy’s refused
seat downstairs, he’d felt abused,
well-meaning, asked: ‘Able-bodied?’ Boozing
upstairs, dying-up to ‘Showman’ nick-name,
ballad’s flambéd flame.
Gone in bed, no bruising
hang-over, cure un-needed.
Now, Floyd’s obituary note,
mean-spirited rival gloats
of days mis-lived. Still, something to be said
for tables left post- savoured food and drink,
hung-over insecurities dwindled (think
reducing stock). Obits gut and joint the dead,
no cognac after-glow …
Fabled feasts feed hungry ghosts, allow
my unrepentant Angel’s chorus: ‘Let him tarry, let him go.’
from Mytton… Dyer… Sweet Billy Gibson…
(Nine Arches Press, 2011).
Order Mytton… Dyer… Sweet Billy Gibson….
Read more of Deborah’s work at poetry p f.
Order Pavilion (Smokestack Books, 2010).
Order Clark Gable in Mansfield (King’s England Press, 2003).
Order Revudeville (King’s England Press, 2011).

Angela France’s Lessons in Mallemaroking

Angela France has had poems published in many of the leading journals in the United Kingdom and abroad and has been anthologised a number of times. She has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Gloucestershire and is studying for a PhD. Her second collection, Occupation is available from Ragged Raven Press and her new pamphlet Lessons in Mallemaroking is now out from Nine Arches Press. Angela is features editor of Iota and an editor of ezine The Shit Creek Review. She also runs a monthly poetry cafe, ‘Buzzwords’.

“Between the lines of Angela France’s poems an ardent force is at work. Lessons in Mallemaroking rewards our curiosity, capturing the reality and truth at large of a nonchalant world that has been perfectly observed just when it thinks no-one else is looking. France urges us to Look inside. Learn to wait, to feel the weight of loss, of hidden lives, of the darkness and hope gathering at the future’s edge.”
“Angela France conjures a world of absences and menace with precise and elegant language. Things have begun to fall apart; the creatures are already wise to it. Dogs whimper at night and the horses are watchful of changing weather, they creak light from their joints/as they stamp, swish tails. Buddleia is sprouting through the concrete of driveways and petrol stations. We watch the river, the barrier,/the water rising. These excellent poems come as a warning.”
– Martin Figura
“Here are poems that inhabit fully the physical world and explore the ever-shifting boundary between the physical and the metaphysical. Angela France has the craft to sustain her compelling and varied subject matter, and she uses language with controlled intensity, lyric energy, and an unerring sense of how to balance a poem. She is a poet not content with anecdote, but one who engages with the tough uneasy realities of experience.”
– Penelope Shuttle
Dry Dock
Reynold’s warehouse
frowns rows of windows down
on ‘The Tall Ships’ where crisp
packets and fag-ends cluster
at the base of the menu blackboard.
She stands, folded into herself,
hugs the faux-fur closed; arched feet
fidget in red straps as wind
lashes her scarlet-tipped toes with grit.
Cosy-painted longboats rock
and nudge each other, seagulls wheel
over the oil-shimmered water to yawp
above the roar of an excavator
shuddering a bite of stone.
He shifts his shoulders, lifts his shades,
grumbles about the risk
of dirt on his lens. He adjusts his dials
C’mon darlin’, let’s get on with it.
Angling her head to let the wind lift her hair,
she spreads open her coat. Her clenched
calf muscles drive her feet down
onto stilettos; a quiver races
over the skin of her improbable breasts.
The camera clicks, whirrs, clicks:
her pink and white smile shivers
like the ripple that chases
across the grease of the dock basin.
A Letter Home
The well is full of dead rabbits, Mother.
Night after night I watch them: some hop,
some run, they all leap in a determined arc
over the rim. The cockroaches multiply
every day but your advice about pots
of paraffin keeps my bed clear. I heard
of a woman whose baby was bitten by rats
in its crib: who’d have a baby now,
even if they could? The radio is down
to an hour a day. They give us
the daily warnings then fake an upbeat
story, usually one with children, or heroic
dogs. The sunset was spectacular last night.
The paper said that the sunsets
show how bad things are; the radio said
that the paper is subversive propaganda.
There have been some new families
in our water queue this week.
They have teenagers and I have watched
a boy and girl look, and look away;
flirt and grow close. I don’t know now
whether rabbits are wiser
in choosing a shorter arc.
Sarah Talks to the Social Worker
If I’d known what he was thinking
I’d never have let him go.
Some Father-Son time, he said.
A bit of quality time, me and my son
and the mountain.
No, I didn’t throw him out
straight away; I didn’t know
what happened. Isaac was quiet,
started bed-wetting.
I thought it was bullying at school,
maybe, or worry about tests.
When the nightmares started,
I couldn’t understand what he meant.
I wondered if thugs had moved
into the area, worried about knives
and gangs.
Once I understood,
his father’s bags were packed
and on the doorstep before
he got home from work.
He’s got a nerve to complain
about supervised visits.
He isn’t the one left holding
a screaming child
whose nights are sharp
with the raised knife, the gleam
in his father’s eye, the blood
of that poor lamb.
Hide and Seek Champ Found Dead in Cupboard
‘Sunday Sport’ Headline
As a boy, he hated the foolish feeling
of being found; the too-narrow tree
he stood behind, the cupboard door that wouldn’t close
from inside though his fingertips gripped
to whiteness on a slim batten, the shudder
in his chest when he suppressed noisy breath.
He worked at being lost, taught his joints to fold
and squeeze in small spaces, schooled his breath
to ease, his heart to slow. It tooks years
to train his blood-flow to thin or pool under his skin,
to shade and pattern the surface.
He hides as a party trick, challenges strangers
in bars to find him; vanishes at work, disappears
on dates. He’s filmed for a documentary,
shut in an empty room, slowly fading into wallpaper.
He hides from taxes and utility bills, paternity suits
and parking tickets.
His house is riddled with small spaces
under floorboards, hollows in cavity walls,
false walls in alcoves. He perfects the art
of cupboard backs; trompe l’oeil on high shelves
with dusty suitcases, sports equipment
and a carefully woven cobweb of nylon fibre.
The fit is perfect, handles on the back
to pull it tight, a can of silicon sealant
stops even his scent from betraying him.
He makes his muscles relax, his limbs
settle into their contortions. He waits
for someone who’ll seek.
‘Hide and Seek Champ Found Dead in Cupboard’ was previously published in the Arvon Competition Anthology 2010.
from Lessons in Mallemaroking (Nine Arches Press, 2011).
Order Lessons in Mallemaroking.
Order Occupation (Ragged Raven Press, 2009).
Read more of Angela’s work at poetry p f.
Listen to Angela reading some of her poems at PoetCasting.

Tony Williams’s All the Rooms of Uncle’s Head

Tony Williams’s first collection of poetry The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street (Salt, 2009) was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and the Portico Prize. His pamphlet All the Rooms of Uncle’s Head is published by Nine Arches Press. A book of short stories is forthcoming from Salt in 2012. He works as a lecturer in creative writing at Northumbria University.

“The maker of these strange pieces was an inmate of an asylum somewhere in Central Europe in the first decades of the 20th century. His fevered versions of the sonnet form were painted on to ceramic tiles, since smashed, and now pieced together to give some partial access to his world of mental anguish, incarceration and dreams of flight.
Inspired by the great artists celebrated by Hans Prinzhorn in his famous work The Artistry of the Mentally Ill, Tony Williams has explored what it might mean to create literature under such conditions of stress. These highly formal and dreamlike poems do not exploit their subject. Instead they seek to dramatise complex meditations on landscape and identity by taking on an anxious, urgent voice whose power is founded on a strange and scornful idiosyncrasy.”




from All the Rooms of Uncle’s Head (Nine Arches Press, 2011).
Order All the Rooms of Uncle’s Head.
Order The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street (Salt, 2009).
Visit Tony’s blog.

Luke Kennard’s Planet-Shaped Horse

Luke Kennard writes and publishes poetry and short stories. He holds a PhD in English from the University of Exeter and lectures in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. His first book, The Solex Brothers, was published by Stride in 2005 and won an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors. His second collection of poetry, The Harbour Beyond the Movie, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 2007. His third book is called The Migraine Hotel and is available from Salt. Luke’s poem-play, Planet-Shaped Horse (2011), is published by Nine Arches Press. His criticism appears in Poetry London, The TLS and The National.

Luke Kennard’s Planet-Shaped Horse (Nine Arches Press, 2011) is an unhinged black-comedy poem-play from one of contemporary poetry’s most unique voices. When the (anti) hero of the piece is enduring a somewhat ‘enforced’ stay at Fouracres Halfway House, entanglements ensue. Both terrible and beautiful things happen. Hermits and doctors are not what they seem and neither Miranda nor Simon seem capable of reining in or reforming their unreliable narrator …
Praise for Luke Kennard:
“His language is exciting and it feels to me that he’s a truly 21st-century writer, taking inspiration from all over the place, unafraid of barriers and conventions.”
– Ian McMillan, The Times
“Inventive, academically aware, fearless and hugely enjoyable.”
– Nick Laird, The Telegraph
“Luke Kennard writes vibrant, original poems that stick in your mind for a long time and enliven your imagination.”
– Sophie Hannah
Oh, You Don’t Agree?
I don’t want to sound like a prophet,
but last night I found over twenty things in Revelation
that could be metaphors for the internet.
I’m going to pretend I overheard that in Pret A Manger;
a pretty young mother said it to her baby son.
She ate a beef and watercress sandwich.
She said many beautiful and terrible things.
The smile of the ducks on his pram was beautiful
and terrible. All children are psychic.
I’m drinking this new red coffee, but then I swallow,
hard. There is no red coffee. It doesn’t exist.
Her long black coat is a tundra in profile. She turns
on me like a security camera. She offers her hand.
‘I’m Miranda,’ she says. ‘This is Simon.’
‘You’re going to be hearing a lot about yourself on the radio.
We’re here to make sure it’s all great!’
House like a dozen bookshelves fished out of a canal.
House like a stranger’s Christmas. The baby says,
‘It’s always sad in the alcoholic wing
when they wake up screaming,
“I saw Hell in a tomato! I saw Hell in a tomato!'”
I too have seen Hell in a tomato.
from Planet-Shaped Horse (Nine Arches Press, 2011).
Order Planet-Shaped Horse.
Launch details
Date: Thursday, 3 February 2011
Time: 19h00 – 21h00
Venue: The Priory Rooms, 40 Bull Street, Birmingham, B4 6AF
Free entry
With readings from Luke Kennard, David Hart, Milorad Krystanovich and Simon Turner.

Matt Merritt’s hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica

Matt Merritt

Matt Merritt was born in Leicester in 1969. He studied history at Newcastle University, and has worked as a newspaper and magazine journalist in Cardiff, Leicester and Peterborough. He currently works for Bird Watching magazine, and lives near Leicester. His chapbook, Making The Most Of The Light, was published by HappenStance Press in October 2005. Troy Town, his first collection, was published by Arrowhead Press in 2008. His second collection, hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica, is published by Nine Arches Press.

Matt Merritt’s second collection, hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica, is alive with a rare frequency all of its own – it is a precise and rewarding music for the soul, the heart, and the head.
These are poems that take a distinctive route through landscapes rich with legend and wildlife, finding elegies written in the night sky on the way home from the pub, or quiet epics raging in the pages of memories and neglected histories. Matt Merritt has an ear for the exact notes, be they in a major or a minor key, and these gently insistent poems continue to resound long after their first reading.
Praise for hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica:
“In Matt Merritt’s finely honed new collection, lives are lived in liminal spaces, shadow selves are reconstructing history and time is no time at all. These are quick-witted poems, made of toughened glass and ground-down clocks.”
– Helen Ivory
“Matt Merritt’s new book is a cracker – technically adventurous and thematically cohesive. His work is based on a close attention to the world and a scrupulous approach to getting that world into verse. His subject is landscape, the rural and urban landscapes of the Midlands, which he uses as a cipher to talk about personal and community life. We see the surfaces of the contemporary, but also the deep presence of the historical poking through – the planning of new towns and the persistence of floodplains. This is the psychogeography of modern Leicestershire. Reading these poems I felt my own consciousness calming and concentrating – which is as good a way as any of saying that they are beautiful.”
– Tony Williams
This evening, a call I don’t know,
and will never know, perhaps, drowning
the lisp and whisper of goldcrests
at the edge of the new plantation.
Something hard, metallic, insistent,
but quite distinct from the blackbird,
hammering chinks of light from the dusk
to ward off darkness at this time each night.
Across the street, somebody is yelling
you don’t listen. You never listen,
a door’s half-heartedly slammed,
and a car radio plays to no one,
but still the unseen bird sings on,
that urgency pitched above
and beyond the background clutter.
Its only sense is now. Is this. Is gone.
The Ends Of The Earth
for S.M.
At first sight
          a ruin, a menhir, a town, a harbour.
Arrive behind the grey tide of dusk,
pale local stone still softly luminous
with the heat and glare of the day,
this whole scene almost monochrome
but the scent a vivid green, guttering streetlamps
igniting moths on their way to the moon.
Woken at four by the singing
of unfamiliar birds, or the farm dogs startled
by the passing of some solitary creature,
hunting or hunted.
Everything moves by night. Up and out
before the lark                  before anything
with the sky only just thinning and coloring
a slow warming
like a black and white TV set
the hillsides almost bare                but look
they’re spackled with pebbles
a scatter of sparrows here
and there                two wheatears
listening for what
(I don’t know what)
still                        a ring ouzel
struggling to swallow
a crescent of daylight moon.
Eight miles out before the sun
fizzes above the rim. Each smudge of colour
trails its own festoon of gulls. Others spiral higher,
higher, until the sky heals over them, and you
screw your eyes up against the spray
and dazzle of it all.
          promontorium sacrum
                                                   land’s end
                                                                        a life beyond
New-minted day behind us,
          plunged towards the quench
                    of the unmapped ocean
showering terns everywhere.
Everything still unsaid.
Warning Against Using These Poems As A Map
No scale is provided.
You are being left
to guess the exact distance
between what’s said
and what was,
between a mere projection
onto the flat page
and a curved plane,
constantly in motion,
spinning through nothingness.
You are your own key.
Assign the appropriate value
to each symbol, and allow
the wide white spaces
to fill up with invisibles,
bloom with the language
of implication. Wait
for the words to accumulate
the sediment of meaning.
Not the sparrowhawk’s dash
to catch it, unwary,
and snatch it from
out of the everyday
or the cormorant’s
relentless pursuit of what flashes
gleaming and silvered
somewhere in the murk
but the sparrow, oblivious,
caught up in the business
of being. Only
the smallest troubling
of the fugged, flickering air
between two doors leading
to one idea
of the dark.
from hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica (Nine Arches Press, 2010)
Order hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica.
Visit Matt’s blog, Polyolbion.
Launch details
Sunday 21st November 2010 from 7pm onwards
At Jam Cafe, 12 Heathcote Street, Nottingham NG1 3AA
Free entry. Sign up for open mic on the door.
Nottingham Shindig! and the launch of Matt Merritt’s
second collection, hydrodaktulopsychicharmonica.
Join us for open mic readings and special guest poets
Robin Vaughan-Williams, Matt Merritt, David Morley
and Sarah Jackson.
Co-hosted by LeftLion Magazine and kindly sponsored by
Writing East Midlands.

Ruth Larbey’s Funglish

Ruth Larbey

Ruth Larbey was born in Cyprus, and grew up in Nottingham, Hong Kong and rural Cumbria. She has spent her last two years working at an international development charity in London, after completing her MA at Warwick University in 2008. She has been published in various magazines, and organises music and art performance events in her spare time. Funglish (Nine Arches Press, 2010) is her debut pamphlet of poems.

Ruth Larbey’s debut collection, Funglish, is a maiden voyage alive with the simple thrill of exploration. Arriving in the big city for the first time, and encountering love armed only with the crackle of language, she re-imagines liminal spaces into new territories vibrant with possibility. With Funglish, Ruth Larbey has began to write the first chapter in the history of the new romantics.
Praise for Funglish:
“There’s a drastic incandescence to Ruth Larbey’s syntax which pulls you into her poetry. Writing with an edgy control reminiscent of Emily Dickinson, her poems create exacting ‘electric constellations’ of vision and nerve in which no word is wasted, no darkness left unexplored. As Dickinson wrote, ‘A word is dead when it is said, some say. I say it just begins to live that day.’ Ruth Larbey’s language is alive and gravid.”
– David Morley
in beaks, in coats, on the air,
the spores of funglish
broadcast a persistent contagion,
a black-market pestilence –
the beginnings of our sentences          die in the middle
we hatched out those poisons
that stunk in the mud,
scratched our dreams into songs,
blind in the dust –
unseeming, unstitching –
whilst a post-mortem shock registers:
we knew none of the secrets
coming out of our mouths
and still don’t
we stole those words
that congealed with meaning,
(bubbled heavily)
went bad on the inside –
sick; rank and wicked,
our mouths mildewed and wanting,
with the spores of a funglish that’s
hard to
The Secret World of Orchids is
demanding like viscous saliva on a jutted lip
and a specific fungal entourage,
seasonally employed
theophrastos uprooted the clever lump
potatoesque; testicular
eggs of a bird, a bog-adder’s mouth, coconut pie
Ophrys Bombylifera:
a bee sotted on a curious idol,
the image of his maker –
(a flower feigning lust
with peculiar silks
immoderate smells)
– is disappointed
snake-mouth, tangleroot, flower of the dead
this heavy, rumbling sky may fall on our heads but
the rhizome remains
all tongues and no mouths
all mouths and no eyes
keeping sacred fires alight
in notable greenhouses,
acolytes tamper with ties and rods
the mysterious irrigation mist:
droplets, gifted from god
from Funglish (Nine Arches Press, 2010)
Order Funglish.

Milorad Krystanovich’s Improvising Memory

Milorad Krystanovich

Milorad Krystanovich was born in Croatia and has lived in Birmingham since 1992. He studied Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham and is a member of Writers Without Borders, Cannon Poets and the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. Milorad works as a language teacher at the Brasshouse Centre in Birmingham. Improvising Memory (Nine Arches Press, 2010) is his sixth poetry collection, and follows on from The Yasen Tree (Heaventree Press, 2007).

“You don’t need to imagine me – a man with his photo camera hanging from its strap on his shoulder. For you, I would describe myself as a photographer whose hobby was not a simple black and white technique of evidencing the elements of everyday life … Later on, instead of developing films in a dark-room, I used my notebook and pen and exposed my hands to the lamplight.”
– Milorad Krystanovich
“In Improvising Memory (Nine Arches Press, 2010), Milorad Krystanovich releases the characters trapped in the tableaux of negatives, and breathes into them a remarkable life of their own. Portraits step down from their frames and exist amongst us; before our eyes they age and alter, ponder their own flaws, confines and mysteries.
Krystanovich’s beautifully-detailed series of poems explore the spaces between images and populate them with a patient and delicately-balanced language that moves in circles and echoes, creating a lyrical resonance in the act of both observing and being observed. Freeze-frame fragments become striking and graceful poem-scenes, alive with moments tangible and fleeting, just out of reach or coming into focus at the edge of sight.”
Inside Out-casting
There on the silhouette of this city,
not only the air is bearing
the sign of dusk:
the streetlights cannot turn
their cones upside down
to floodlight the lower sky,
the moss hangs from these street lamps
and expand its shade
but I am missed from that line of green.
There is no division between the evening’s
drama and its denouement
in the dark over the hilly outskirts:
the cat’s eyes are glowing
between the cars on the motorway
where the noise cannot settle down.
Staring at the moon’s capable ascension,
my dog is no longer my companion.
I am left alone in the myth of the earth.
Out of Darkrooms
The lady and the castle-builder
walk along the beach,
a camera hanging around her neck,
his shadow slipping away.
Are you listening to me?
Taking the photograph of a trough,
she cannot hear her own voice
or his reply – yes, if you are the sea.
Wave after wave feeds the moats
around the sand castles,
the breeze creeping across her hair
but not blowing it across the lens.
Are you following the boat?
He paddles in the shallows
and cannot hear himself or her response –
yes, if its sail matches my skirt.
The summer air laces to its frame
in the picture of the low sky:
coping with the sound of water,
the afternoon is their only burden.
Magic Lantern
She is a photographer of happy faces,
her eyes can see
above the surface of objects:
the sails of her images are anchored
in the place alighted on the glitter
rocking in the fluid for processing films.
She is a darkroom magician
who takes photographs of wakened vases
and new flower pots
but roses, blossoms, wild flowers
appear on the white walls of her studio.
The light of her pictures is brighter
than daylight from the sky’s cupola:
to benefit from her album-niche
he has to shape his sight less carefully,
so as to collect the scattered details of life.
Improvising Memory
Ripe fruits fall from the branch
as the orchard fears itself
alone in the autumn avalanche:
          the quince could not stain grass,
          its new home beneath the tree.
In the house full of reflecting objects
only the tongue of a grandfather clock
moans for the past:
          as no-one throws earth into a grave,
          the echo grows from a coffin.
Whoever consumes air now
between the farm and the graveyard
ruins the arch of stillness:
          no-one comes to this empty room
          and gathers the quince’s smell
          by the fruit basket.
Joined-up Writing
The nightwear folded on a bed
and the note with the marks
of his finger-bones jointly bear silence.
Frost peels birches outdoors,
as he journeys by his hand –
the ink-thread tracks the changes of address.
Recycling moonlight is set
to the letter of bloodlines in an envelope,
the silence runs among the cold interior.
Ash has lost its warmth,
the fire-place knows of other flames
where he can lay his breath.
Two Figures
Not the bird in its cage
but the love-song still haunts her:
each breath struggles –
melting the snowflake
of his kiss on her lip.
Even the word never appears
to be made from ice –
the frozen feather
like a hand-wave flies
over the iron fence:
Is your hand yours
as you wave from the park?
Though he is a birdwatcher
he cannot listen to the bird’s notes:
Iron is iron as cold is cold,
two sides of the iron are
the same colour of cold.
The gate bars are painted
in green from his side,
in yellow-brownish from hers,
and the sliding gate is still between them.
from Improvising Memory (Nine Arches Press, 2010)
Order Improvising Memory.

Claire Crowther’s Mollicle

Claire Crowther by Tony Frazer

Claire Crowther’s two collections, Stretch of Closures (Shearsman, 2007) and The Clockwork Gift (Shearsman, 2009), have been received with wide acclaim. Stretch of Closures was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize in 2007. Her work is published widely in such journals as the London Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, New Welsh Review, PN Review, Warwick Review, and online in Horizon, Qualm and many others. Her pamphlet, Mollicle, is published by Nine Arches Press. She has an MPhil (Glamorgan) and a PhD (Kingston) both in Creative Writing. She was born and grew up in Hobs Moat near Solihull.
What some reviewers have said:
“While her poems can be crystal-clear, more often they are riddling, veering, mysterious; deadly serious or quietly funny.”
– Richard Price, Times Literary Supplement, 16 October 2009
The Clockwork Gift comes just two years after Stretch of Closures, Crowther’s distinctive debut, and between them they add up not just to a promising first collection and a speedy follow-up, but a real and achieved body of work by a striking talent. The Clockwork Gift is a pleasure to read.”
– David Wheatley, New Welsh Review, Autumn 2009
” … such inventiveness and confidence that the reader cannot help but be uplifted, carried away with the energy of the work. Claire Crowther is a poet in love with sound and movement, in short, with the cadence of life itself.”
– Helen Mort, Poetry London, Summer 2009


Mollicle by Claire Crowther is zesty, mysterious and mischievous. Curiosity and surprise come from a chorus of diverging and merging voices; mothers, daughters, ‘Alices’ and others, the ordinary world turned kaleidoscopic and rearranged in Crowther’s distinct and elegant fashion. These poems are not without their glinting sharp edges either, which emerge without warning and ask of us whether we wish to leap or look down first.
Praise for Mollicle:
“Claire Crowther’s work is wittily compelling, a complex music. Poems by Crowther are events. With equal power, Mollicle reflects the outer world and the mind’s life, intensely illuminated.
          day and night, repay your loan:
          shine with sun’s compulsive light.”
– Alison Brackenbury
“Claire Crowther’s poems employ what seems to be a singular form of logic – each one is like a mirror she has handed you in which you see something familiar, yet in a way you hadn’t managed to see before.”
– Roddy Lumsden
Woman in the Canon
Heads are floating at every level of the staircase,
marble, bronze, sometimes with a shaven shoulder.
Carry on up your long bud-sprout stalk
of a kale runt torch: a cabbage head lit
by a candle on top, its thick packed leaves
hard-veined as winter. Your arms are out
at the elbows in this stairwell crowded with murals
of mythic action – what does it matter who
landed the boat or fought off the invaders?
Hold up your cabbage head uncooked, uneaten,
a simple candelabra to the canon.
This multi-storey atom of the arts
hosts men on every floor but, inbetween
and going down, I give off light.
This poem first appeared in Shearsman.

Order Mollicle (Nine Arches Press, 2010).
Order Stretch of Closures (Shearsman, 2007).
Order The Clockwork Gift (Shearsman, 2009).
Visit Claire’s website.
Listen to Claire reading her poems on Poetcasting.
Read more of Claire’s poems at poetry p f.

The Sopranos Sonnets & Other Poems

Roz Goddard

The Sopranos Sonnets & Other Poems is Roz Goddard’s fourth poetry collection and was launched at The Ledbury Poetry Festival 2010 and is published by Nine Arches Press. She is a former poet laureate for Birmingham, her work is permanently displayed in BMAG’s newest gallery. Her poetry has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and 4. She runs writing workshops and courses, including for the Arvon Foundation and mentors individual writers. She is currently studying for an MPhil in writing at Glamorgan University. More details of her work can be found at her website.

Roz Goddard’s The Sopranos Sonnets & Other Poems (Nine Arches Press, 2010) is acutely observed, streetwise and bittersweet. At its heart are ten sonnet-portraits inspired by the television series about a dysfunctional mafia boss and his family. Among the cast of characters is Gloria, the hauntingly-seductive mistress with a built-in self-destruct button, and Leotardo, ready to murder at the drop of a letter …
“The doors between fact and fiction, dream and waking, different orders of reality, are left slyly and unsettlingly ajar in this collection which can slip straight from tender poems for relatives to an edgy intimacy with the TV mobsters of The Sopranos, a relationship as real as the ancient Greeks must have had with the dysfunctional family scenes on Mount Olympus.”
– Philip Gross
On Roz Goddard’s previous collection, Girls in the Dark:

“Fine work, I love the way you achieve naturalness of delivery while keeping the poems urgent and pressured. A lot of people try and don’t pull it off.”
– Don Paterson
from The Sopranos Sonnets
Oh, Christopher, believe me, I’m with you;
it’s hard being ordinary, with a surfeit
of feeling that won’t elegantly form itself.
Inadequacy of thought, of sensibility
is a grave handicap in this writing life
we have chosen. Every day the same:
stumbling in the alleys looking for a gift
out of there, lost again in a dark city.
I understand why you chose killing –
it can be done like fixing up a shelf.
There was a tendency in you to stand
back and admire your deft handiwork.
Like the bodies were stories in long grass –
that first unbelievable paragraph.
At Ellis Island surnames were lost
with a slip of the pen, histories altered –
a letter lifted and replaced with a smirk.
No longer the noble Leonardo, too full
of itself, too ‘up’. You will now be associated
not with genius but with sweat and girl’s crotches.
Welcome to America.
Hate is a gun, a hard guarantee.
He is alert to sarcasm, mild jokes,
remembers himself as the barefoot boy
at the checkpoint. The trigger is a comma,
a comforting pause before blood and bone
finito the sarcasm – Jesus, that tone.
Corrado aka ‘Junior’
Don’t get old. Every day the sky is darker.
The world’s a busted chair from where you
receive worthless men you should have clipped
moons ago. They will ventilate your space
with nonsense and brave talk and won’t be waved
away, they’ll stay to treat you like a toothless dog.
You will catch them smirking when you intervene.
Stay the feared man or get out, don’t get old.
Beware the nephew who wears one shoe.
Here’s the thing – take him out early, your
brother’s son can never love you, send him
on a journey, with a one-way ticket.
So they cut you back hard? Act like a King,
wait in the twilight, strike, be unyielding.
from The Sopranos Sonnets & Other Poems
(Nine Arches Press, 2010)
Order The Sopranos Sonnets & Other Poems.
Visit Roz’s website.

David Hart’s The Titanic Café closes its doors and hits the rocks

David Hart, born in Aberystwyth, lives in Birmingham, has been (many years ago) a university chaplain, theatre critic and arts administrator, and now lives as a poet, with recent part time teaching posts at Warwick and Birmingham Universities; residencies include psychiatric and general hospitals, Worcester Cathedral and the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival; Birmingham Poet Laureate 1997-98; winner National Poetry Competition 1994, 2nd in 2003. Elected Member of the Welsh Academy. His poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies and his books and pamphlets include Setting the poem to words, Crag Inspector (a poem of Bardsey Island), and Running Out (all Five Seasons Press), and The Titanic Café closes its door and hits the rocks (Nine Arches Press, 2009).

© David Hart

The Titanic Café closes its doors and hits the rocks
or: Knife, fork and bulldozer ultra modern
retail outlet complex development scenario
with flowers
Nominated for the Michael Marks Poetry Award
Originally probably an office and observation point for the canal company, on the Bristol Road in Selly Oak, Birmingham, the freestanding building that takes centre stage in this sequence was in recent memory the Knife and Fork café (Titanic café, unsinkable), a small business next door, and above them a huge advertising hoarding. After storm damage, the place became derelict and in 2007 was demolished.
The poem and notes are a mix of local history, surreal and playful language, and not a little anger at the proposed ‘development’ of the canalside area as a huge retail complex on what is poisoned ground sprouting something of a revelation – a wonderful crop of wild flowers.
Published by Nine Arches Press as part of their mini-pamphlet series, The Titanic Café closes its doors and hits the rocks includes a selection of colour photographs taken by David Hart on location to accompany the poem. This vivid and dynamic sequence is a fitting swansong to a city’s lost landmarks, the vanishing and shape-shifting human geographies of the heartlands.
Titanic Café is one of the most lightly achieved, unpretentious, mordantly ironic, and relevant contemporary poems I have ever read. It possesses gravitas in spadefuls, yet never fails to laugh at its own futility as a gesture against change – this is the poet as King Canute, both pointing ironically and weeping as the waves sweep in around him, or the bulldozers in this case.”
– Jane Holland
Read the full review here

© David Hart

an extract from
The Titanic Café closes its doors and hits the rocks
(Nine Arches Press, 2009)
The traffic that blooms in the Spring, tra la,
head to tail in the glorious Spring, tra la,
the same every day in the Spring, tra la,
there’ll be no more spring in the Spring, tra la,
                  boopy, boopy.
                  Place borns us
           and suffers and joys us
                   and dies us.
The theatre of THE BEST TEA IN THE UK
              is falling down,
the canal isn’t deep enough for the TITANIC CAFÉ
to sink without trace, there’d be a fine mess.
                  All but ready to collapse
                  of its own volition. Listen,
a child on a longboat along from Bournville asks,
     What’s that?! ‘It’s a
planks and struts and frames by numbers temple
                   to the God of Advertising
where you could buy God’s Own Tea
till the God of Storm
                            took it away almost.’
Birds Food Trefoil – Eggs & Bacon , Ham
& Eggs, Hen & Chickens, Tom Thumb, Lady’s Slipper,
Granny’s Toenails, Fingers & Thumbs, Cuckoo’s Stockings,
Dutchman’s Clogs – a place exquisitely lit
by eyes that know it.
                            Ah to escape all shit,
by day and night
and be disembodied thought.
      Stop at the lights,
      move at the lights.
Everything can go into little bags,
Sainsbury’s old and new can go into a little bag,
what remains of the Battery Co. can go into one,
the new hospital can go into one with the university,
the Worcester & Birmingham canal can be drained
                   into a purse
and the concrete can be folded into a handkerchief,
the Knife & Fork Café as was can go into a black bag,
the whole wild flower waste ground can go into one,
Selly Oak library can go into a little glo-bag,
a little polythene bag will be plenty for the Bristol Road,
another for COMET, B&Q, HOMEBASE and the rest,
another bag for the Dingle,
all of them in a trail of little bags,
a little bag now for the railway station and a Cross City
and a Virgin Pendolino that happens to be crossing,
a little bag for all the people in Selly Oak at 3 a.m.
                   this Easter Sunday,
all the dogs in a little bag, all the cats in another,
all the cars, vans, lorries, motorbikes and buses
                       in a crisp packet,
                         for Christmas.

Purchase The Titanic Café closes its doors and hits the rocks
(Nine Arches Press, 2009) here.
Read more about the Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets.

David Hart