Tag Archives: poet

Eleanor Rees’s Andraste’s Hair

Andraste’s Hair
Eleanor Rees
   
– Andraste: Iceni goddess of war and victory.
   
   
In the woods they are burning her hair
                              three of them
they light it with a match
and she lets them
she lets them burn her hair.
   
Watches the ends smoulder.
Watches the ends curl her curls
curl up like leaves.
   
She lets them burn her hair.
There are long dark shadows
                    between trees
                    like corridors
blocked with boulders.
   
– The area is cordoned off. –
   
She let them burn her hair.
   
– The area is cordoned off. –
   
When the sun splits open
   
the gaps between trees
   
and the sun slices into the scene
   
they see:
   
that she let them burn her hair.
    
*
   
The light opens up the morning.
   
A plait lain out on the end of the bed
                                        like a rope
several metres long it hung there
swaying
                    tied with a yellow bow.
   
It belongs to no one now
lopped off at the nape of the neck.
   
The door is closed.
   
*
   
Arms raised to hug the sun
woman
                    eyes like sods
ratchet-nosed, craggy
hatchet arms creak and clank
   
lady
   
sleeping under sunless light
   
another sun gone
   
reaching obedient:  she dreams.
   
*
   
From among the ashes
from what had not burnt
gathered to a mass
of brown turf gathered
her hair
and carried
– a cloud in her arms –
and carried
to the river
her hair
to spread in the warp of water.
   
The light smooth and silting.
The forest behind –
remember
too much                    too much
dark cannot exist?
                    The sun swings to the right.
She went left
to the river
old dirt track
stepping over grass
hair taken down to depth.
   
In the forest they look for her.
   
Now,
   
she walks along the path by the river
her hair in her hands
to deliver
what had been taken
to the river
to the water
the smooth strand that curves its path
over the head of the hill.
Something subsides.
Something has passed.
   
Behind in the forest
in half dark heaving afternoon
they claw at earth
scratch around for a trace
                    and further
in the woods
search through evidence
make lists of explanations
make lists of reasons
for her absence.
   
The sun guides steps,
footfalls
imprint on soil.
    
*
   
It wasn’t about who was listening.
If anyone was listening
                         – to the song not the words –
speaking would mean silence
                         – dead ears dead ears –
but variation
the pull and placing
in a line brimmed to full
     with evocation
was almost love and almost listening.
    
Quiet response to quiet sound.
   
*
   
A song heard in the forest days later
   
burbled
   
made a young boy cry.
   
Wrapped round trees
stayed, not moving,
                                   just hung
a stopping place.
   
We could meet
in the woods by the river
stand eye to eye
in the stopping place
                   and wait
words curdling our bones
                    to stone
         be petrified
                                             in sound
a single drum beat, one long groan.
   
While she walks
a path behind her concertinas
each stride a fragile weight
that
  pushes up the earth,
turf over grass over turf.
   
   
Know how
it is now to be stone now
to know how to finish.
   
Listen, she’ll break you.
   
Will you follow?
   
   
 
from Andraste’s Hair (Salt Publishing, 2007).
    
Read more about Eleanor and Andraste’s Hair here.
    
Andraste’s Hair was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best
First Collection 2007.
    
Visit Eleanor’s website.
   
Eliza and the Bear, Eleanor’s forthcoming collection from Salt in October 2009, explores wildness and what it means to inhabit a body, what it means to be an animal with a sense of self. The poems circle the tensions between a domestic, communal experience of selfhood and the individual wild feminine of the “I” of the title poem. They explore love, longing and esire with unabashed imagination.

Gloria Anzaldúa

  
“I am a wind-swayed bridge, a crossroads inhabited by whirlwinds … You say my name is ambivalence? Think of me as Shiva, a many-armed and legged body with one foot on brown soil, one on white, one in straight society, one in the gay world, the man’s world, the women’s, one limb in the literary world, another in the working class, the socialist, and the occult worlds. A sort of spider woman hanging by one thin strand of web.
      Who, me confused? Ambivalent? Not so. Only your labels split me.”
 
– Gloria Anzaldúa, from ‘La Prieta’

Barbara Smith’s Kairos

Roosters
Barbara Smith
  
My Granny used to soak the spuds too
making it easy to peel them later.
Part of morning’s ritual was topping
their pot with water. Later, after
fowl were fed and tae and bread were ate,
she’d peel them slowly, humming all the while
a medley of Moore’s Almanac songs.
  
Steeping my potatoes now, as she did,
brings her Four Green Fields down the years to me.
Scaly and red, these Roosters, instead of
her soft Queens; mine tattle of modern machinery,
long scars that I smooth away with a stainless
peeler. I split them with a long broad knife,
rinse them down and leave them by for dinner.
  
  
 
from Kairos (Doghouse Books, 2007).
  
Read more about Barbara here.
  
Order Kairos here.
  
Visit Barbara’s blog.

Seamus Heaney

 
” … Keep at a tangent.
When they make the circle wide, it’s time to swim
out on your own and fill the element
with signatures on your own frequency,
echo-soundings, searches, probes, allurements,
elver gleams in the dark of the whole sea.”
 
– Seamus Heaney, from ‘Station Island’

Pascale Petit’s The Treekeeper’s Tale

Pascale Petit has an interesting interview on her new blog.  Romanian MA student, Oana-Teodora Ionesco, interviews the French/Welsh poet about her latest collection, The Treekeeper’s Tale (Seren, 2008).
    
On her blog, Pascale has also posted photographs and accounts of her trips to Venezuela’s Lost World as well as an article about translating Yang Lian’s ‘The Valley and the End: A Story’.
    
For fans of Frida Kahlo, Pascale’s fifth collection, What the Water Gave Me – Poems after Frida Kahlo, is to be published in June 2010.
    
Read the interview by Oana-Teodora Ionescu here.
    
Visit Pascale’s blog and website.

Writing as Ritual

 
“An act of will that changed my life from that of a frustrated artist, waiting to have a room of my own and an independent income before getting down to business, to that of a working writer: I decided to get up two hours before my usual time, to set my alarm for 5:00 A.M. … Since that first morning in 1978 when I rose in the dark to find myself in a room of my own –  with two hours belonging only to me ahead of me, two prime hours when my mind was still filtering my dreams – I have not made or accepted too many excuses for not writing. This apparently ordinary choice, to get up early and to work every day, forced me to come to terms with the discipline of art.”
 
– Judith Ortiz Cofer, ‘5.00 A.M.: Writing as Ritual’

Cecilia Woloch

 
“I fall out the door on my way to you with the passionate suitcase that I’ve carried so long flapping its one broken arm in the breeze. It spills all the words in the street like coins. The words for desire and regret. I fall out the door on my way to you. The night slams shut. I don’t look back.”
 
Cecilia Woloch, from ‘The Passionate Suitcase’
  (Late, BOA Editions, 2003)

Simon Freedman’s ‘Unfolding’

Unfolding
Simon Freedman
  
On the empty desk
in the numb light
he shreds an origami bird
  
Walking home
he does his best
to lose his way on kindred streets.
  
Under Waterloo bridge
he fails to picture
the face of an old friend
  
while the crumpled drift recedes
into the squint
of the evening sun.
  
He cups his hands
a makeshift seashell
to sound the absent shore
 
on which he used to dream
priceless
in the vagrant winds. 
  
  
 
Forthcoming in South Bank Poetry Magazine.
  
Visit Simon’s website.

Louisa Adjoa Parker’s Salt-sweat & Tears

If I spin around and jump and shout
Louisa Adjoa Parker
 
for Rosina
  
if i spin around quickly
enough will i catch sight of you,
my ghost-sister, smiling behind me
before you fade like cotton in the sun?
if i jump, keep on jumping,
until my head just peeps
over the top of this world, will i
find myself staring into brown eyes
like mine? if i close my eyes and train
my ears to wring out miniuscule pieces
of forgotten sound from the past,
like splinters of glass, will i hear you
cry? if i shout your name, keep on shouting
will you hear, will you know
                           of my sorrow?
 
 
 
‘If I spin around and jump and shout’ is included in Salt-sweat & Tears (Cinnamon Press, 2007).
 
Purchase Salt-sweat & Tears from Cinnamon Press.
 
Read flash fiction from Catherine Smith, Hattie Ellis, Ros Barber and Louisa Adjoa Parker here.