Tag Archives: Shearsman Books

Carrie Etter’s Divining for Starters

  
 
Carrie Etter is an American poet resident in England since 2001. Previously she lived in Normal, Illinois (until age 19) and southern California (from age 19 to 32). In the UK, her poems have appeared in, amongst others, New Welsh Review, Poetry Wales, Poetry Review, PN Review, Shearsman, Stand and TLS, while in the US her poems have appeared in magazines such as Aufgabe, Columbia, Court Green, The Iowa Review, The New Republic, Seneca Review. Her first collection, The Tethers, was published by Seren in June 2009, and her second, Divining for Starters, containing more experimental work, was published by Shearsman Books in February 2011. She is also the author of two recent chapbooks: Yet (Leafe Press, 2008) and The Son (Oystercatcher Press, 2009). She is Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing for Bath Spa University and has been a tutor for The Poetry School since 2005.
 
 
 

  
 
 
In 1999, living in southern California, Carrie Etter began a series of poems focusing on our cultural obsession with creating beginnings and origins—a new day, a new chapter, a fresh start—called ‘Divining for Starters’. Twelve years and a move to England later, here are the best poems from that work in progress. They join poems exploring the environment, the erotic, politics, and selfhood. Employing a poetics of consciousness in an array of forms, Divining for Starters ranges widely with poems at once rigorous and delicate.
 
 
 
“Carrie Etter catches the drift and pushes it lightly into her courses. Lilting now, her courses swerve between the reaches of the American mid-West and the claggy ruts of England, and their erotics are those of skin and fold, of elegant runs and breaks. Carrie Etter’s poems give the feel of pleasure; they take unpredictable turns. When all about would be stipulated, Divining for Starters points heedfully to the possible.”
 
– John Wilkinson
 
 
 
“Carrie Etter’s wonderful new book, Divining for Starters graphs a crop of new forms, swerving from blanks to bliss. Taking the long view of time, Etter writes poems that can at once be a species of call and response (erotics of language), a particulate trace of how one writes, a ‘True Story’, a physics of animals eating, or a vigil for stillness. She tunes into some kind of latinate downhome radio, or maps the milky way, post-pastoral in its graphology.
 
Memory is here, (‘fireweed for acres’) as are breathing trees, fields across the world—always with an immediacy—a sense that poems are appearing right before our eyes as we eagerly approach ‘the entrancing right margin'”.

– Lee Ann Brown
 
 
 
 
McLean County Highway 39
 
tar shrugs goes to dirt
gravel’s slow crunch over
winter with no hill for
frost to the horizon
 
     *
 
 
green hectares rising into
Illinois’ no blonde endeavour
but for the corn tassels dangling
covert silk threads
 
     *
 
 
cycle up dirt-dust’s brown haze
flattening thought a prairie
the only height for miles
a grove its doe
 
     *
 

sweat and cornstalks taller than
pushed through the close
click into speed sticking hairs
peel the nape free
 
     *

  
all exhale the green expanse
cicadas’ two notes sunset
the red eye pink strata
push an unwavering line
 
     *
 
 
without thought three miles out
an idle porch swing
shrug or flattening not silence
but nothing heard in
 
     *
  
 
soybeans crouch along even as
horizon at my back
cools toward streetlamps and cement
glide in the last
 
 
 
 
from Divining for Starters (Shearsman Books, 2011).
 
 
Order Divining for Starters.
 
Visit Carrie’s blog.
 
Order Infinite Difference: Other Poetries by UK Women Poets,
edited by Carrie Etter (Shearsman Books, 2010).

A poetry list

I thought I’d share a few poetry titles I’m looking forward to reading this year. Some have recently been published, some are not yet available. If you’re interested in buying copies online, do make a note of their publication dates or ask your online book store to let you know when they become available.
     
Four of the poets are relatively new to me – Elisabeth Bletsoe (Pharmacopoeia & Early Selected Works), Mary O’Donnell (The Ark Builders), Carolyn Jess-Cooke (Inroads) and Anna Robinson (The Finders of London) – and I’m looking forward to becoming better acquainted with their work.
   
I greatly enjoyed Naomi Foyle’s bold, imaginative and sensuous collection, The Night Pavilion, and am looking forward to her pamphlet, Grace of the Gamblers – A Chantilly Chantey (Waterloo Press), illustrated by Peter Griffiths.
  
Philippa Yaa de Villiers’s second collection The Everyday Wife, published by the intrepid South African women’s publisher Modjaji Books, follows her popular first collection, Taller than buildings. As a poet living in South Africa, I’d like to mention how proud I am of the strong, beautiful books sent into the world by Modjaji.
   
Helen Ivory’s The Breakfast Machine (Bloodaxe), Pascale Petit’s What the Water Gave Me – Poems after Frida Kahlo (Seren), Katie Donovan’s Rootling (Bloodaxe) and Penelope Shuttle’s Sandgrain and Hourglass (Bloodaxe), have been long awaited. Their previous collections – The Dog in the Sky (Ivory), The Treekeeper’s Tale (Petit), Day of the Dead (Donovan) and Redgrove’s Wife (Shuttle) – are favourites and occupy the top shelf of my poetry bookcase.
  
Edited by Bernardine Evaristo and Daljit Nagra, Ten: New Poets from Spread the Word (Bloodaxe) will be available later this year. The anthology aims to reflect “the multicultural make-up of contemporary Britain” and to showcase the work of talented poets such as Mir Mahfuz Ali, Rowyda Amin, Malika Booker, Roger Robinson, Karen McCarthy, Nick Makoha, Denise Saul, Seni Seniviratne, Shazea Quraishi and Janet Kofi Tsekpo.
   
Identity Parade: New British & Irish Poets, also published by Bloodaxe and edited by Roddy Lumsden, promises to be a feast. I hope, as I’m typing this, my copy is winging its way south from the United Kingdom.
  
Identity Parade includes poetry from Patience Agbabi, Jonathan Asser, Tiffany Atkinson, Simon Barraclough, Paul Batchelor, Kate Bingham, Julia Bird, Patrick Brandon, David Briggs, Andy Brown, Judy Brown, Colette Bryce, Matthew Caley, Siobhan Campbell, Vahni Capildeo, Melanie Challenger, Kate Clanchy, Polly Clark, Julia Copus, Sarah Corbett, Claire Crowther, Tim Cumming, Ailbhe Darcy, Peter Davidson, Nick Drake, Sasha Dugdale, Chris Emery, Bernardine Evaristo, Paul Farley, Leontia Flynn, Annie Freud, Alan Gillis, Jane Griffiths, Vona Groarke, Jen Hadfield, Sophie Hannah, Tracey Herd, Kevin Higgins, Matthew Hollis, A.B. Jackson, Anthony Joseph, Luke Kennard, Nick Laird, Sarah Law, Frances Leviston, Gwyneth Lewis, John McAuliffe, Chris McCabe, Helen Macdonald, Patrick McGuinness, Kona Macphee, Peter Manson, D.S. Marriott, Sam Meekings, Sinéad Morrissey, Daljit Nagra, Caitríona O’Reilly, Alice Oswald, Katherine Pierpoint, Clare Pollard, Jacob Polley, Diana Pooley, Richard Price, Sally Read, Deryn Rees-Jones, Neil Rollinson, Jacob Sam-la Rose, Antony Rowland, James Sheard, Zoë Skoulding, Catherine Smith, Jean Sprackland, John Stammers, Greta Stoddart, Sandra Tappenden, Tim Turnbull, Julian Turner, Mark Waldron, Ahren Warner, Tim Wells, Matthew Welton, David Wheatley, Sam Willetts, Samantha Wynne-Rhydderch and Tamar Yoseloff.
  
Are there any anthologies and collections you’re particularly looking forward to getting your hands on this year?
  
I’d love to hear what’s on your list.
  
  
Identity Parade: New British & Irish Poets,
edited by Roddy Lumsden (Bloodaxe Books)

  
Pharmacopoeia & Early Selected Works
,
Elisabeth Bletsoe (Shearsman Books)
 

  

The Ark Builders, Mary O’Donnell
(Arc Publications)

 
Inroads
, Carolyn Jess-Cooke
(Seren Books)
 

  

Grace of the Gamblers, Naomi Foyle
(Waterloo Press)


  

The Finders of London, Anna Robinson
(Enitharmon Press)

 
The Everyday Wife
, Philippa Yaa de Villiers
(Modjaji Books)
 
 

 
The Breakfast Machine
, Helen Ivory
(Bloodaxe Books)

 
Rootling
, Katie Donovan
(Bloodaxe Books)
 
 

 
What the Water Gave Me – Poems after Frida Kahlo,
Pascale Petit (Seren Books)

 
Ten: New Poets from Spread the Word
,
edited by Bernardine Evaristo and Daljit Nagra
(Bloodaxe Books) 

 

 
Sandgrain and Hourglass
, Penelope Shuttle
(Bloodaxe Books)
 

Some Favourite Poetry Collections of 2009: Part One

 
  
I hope you will enjoy these recommendations and consider buying a few collections, pamphlets and anthologies published this year by a range of presses. A huge thank you to the poets who gave me their choices for the year.
  
What’s your favourite volume of 2009? Feel free to include your recommendations in the comments section.
 
 
Moniza Alvi
 
Natural Mechanical by J O Morgan (CB Editions)
Cold Spring in Winter by Valérie Rouzeau, translated by
Susan Wicks (Arc Publications)
Continental Shelf by Fred D’Aguiar (Carcanet Press)
  
 
Ian Duhig
 
Rain by Don Paterson (Faber & Faber)
Grain by John Glenday (Picador)
Voice Recognition: 21 Poets for the 21st Century, edited by
Clare Pollard & James Byrne (Bloodaxe Books)
  
 
Sheenagh Pugh
  
How to Fall by Karen Annesen (Salt Modern Poets)
The Men from Praga by Anne Berkeley (Salt Modern Poets)
A Village Life by Louise Glück (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
  
 
Dorianne Laux
  
End of the West by Michael Dickman (Copper Canyon Press)
Cradle Song by Stacey Lynn Brown (C&R Press)
Snowbound House by Shane Seely (Anhinga Press)
  
 
Alison Brackenbury
 
Rain by Don Paterson (Faber & Faber)
Nothing Like Love by Jenny Joseph (Enitharmon Press)
Samuel Menashe: New and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books)
 
 
Clare Pollard
  
Caligula on Ice and Other Poems by Tim Turnbull (Donut Press)
Third Wish Wasted by Roddy Lumsden (Bloodaxe Books)
Farewell My Lovely by Polly Clark (Bloodaxe Books)
  
 
Tamar Yoseloff
  
The Men from Praga by Anne Berkeley (Salt Modern Poets)
How to Fall by Karen Annesen (Salt Modern Poets)
Beneath the Rime by Siriol Troup (Shearsman Books)
The Clockwork Gift by Claire Crowther (Shearsman Books)
  
 
Annie Freud
  
Rain by Don Paterson (Faber & Faber)
Furniture by Lorraine Mariner (Picador)
Faber New Poets: Heather Phillipson (Faber & Faber)
  
 
John Wilkinson
  
Stress Position by Keston Sutherland (Barque Press)
Weak Link by Rob Halpern (Slack Buddha Press)
Clampdown by Jennifer Moxley (Flood Editions)
  
 
Marilyn Kallet
 
Practical Water by Brenda Hillman (Wesleyan Poetry)
Warhorses by Yusef Komunyakaa (Farrar, Straus & Giroux,
paperback)
Sassing by Karen Head (WordTech Communications)

Sophie Mayer’s Her Various Scalpels

Sophie Mayer

Sophie Mayer by Lady Vervaine

      
Sophie Mayer writes passionately and politically about poetry and film anywhere and everywhere she can, including Horizon Review, Esprit de Corps, Blackbox Manifold, Sight & Sound, Little White Lies and Artesian. She blogs about reading as Delirium’s Librarian, and is a regular contributor to the review blog for Chroma journal, where she is commissioning editor. Her Various Scalpels (Shearsman, 2009), her first solo poetry collection, was the auspicious start to a very exciting three-book year, followed by The Cinema of Sally Potter: A Politics of Love (Wallflower, 2009)and (as co-editor) There She Goes: Feminist Filmmaking and Beyond (Wayne State University Press, 2009). Her next collection, The Private Parts of Girls, will be published by Salt in 2011, and she has future plans for encounters between poetry and film. Visit Sophie’s website.
   
   
Rearranging the Stars
Sophie Mayer
  
after Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient
  
Lost you. Out here, where a call to prayer shivers
stone into song, where night falls like knives,
  
there’s a trick to the sky, how you see it, smell
what’s coming. It is like reading. It’s so small
  
at first, and granular, then overwhelms: eyes,
mouth, hands, hair. You cannot possibly sleep.
  
But you do, lulled by wind and waking. Stories –
his stories, more stories than there could be stars –
   
breathe around you with their shine, draw hearts
on dirty glass. You know what they find in deserts:
   
fragments. Texts under sand winds, brilliant disasters.
And you, in secret, on fire with new constellations.
   
   
Previously published in Staple 71: The Art Issue (Summer 2009).
  
  
Her Various Scalpels

  
pieuvres / lèvres (lilies / lips)
Sophie Mayer
  
Did I realise then that I would spend my whole life
with their lipstick on my face. Other girls and their kisses
 
goodbye. I know that now, having watched soft asses
walk away from me, having been paid my tithe
 
for watchful quiet. For the flattery of desire. Ingrown
hair, that’s what it’s like: turning against the razor
 
blade and on itself. Like my toes, curled mazily
through each other with waiting, waiting that flows
 
up my calves and out my mouth. A shower in reverse:
a fountain, inwards out: And what was in her,
 
I felt that too. All her hardness in my fingers
rattling her stem. All those flower words, perverse
 
euphemisms for a force like an ocean
in a swimming pool. Did she not see
 
what poured out of (her into) me? Salt of her sea,
stick of her sap. And it’s not the explosion
 
that I’m talking about, her wet cunt a concrete
underpass around my hand. It’s the light that thrums
 
from her lily-mouth, her pollinated tongue
extended like a stamen. Like a beesting hot-sweet
 
under the skin, a tear oozing from an eye. An ingrown
hair turning outwards against skin tough as petals
 
under drops of rain. The pain of it like cold metal,
like waiting. The stem of spit plunges down
 
and you wonder that such softness does such hurt.
No softness in the doing: spit’s active as a limb,
  
a cock, a race, a city street. It dances itself thin.
The stem of things. Wet birth. My first.
 
 
Buy Her Various Scalpels (Shearsman, 2009) here.

Janet Sutherland’s Hangman’s Acre

    
   
Janet Sutherland was raised on a dairy farm in Wiltshire, lived twenty years in London and now lives in Lewes. Her second collection, Hangman’s Acre (Shearsman Books, 2009), is to be published on 15 October 2009. Of her first collection, Burning the Heartwood (Shearsman Books, 2006), reviewed in Poetry Review, Judith Kazantzis said the “poems are questioning, tender, guarded”. Her work has appeared in many magazines including Poetry Review and Poetry Wales and in anthologies including The Virago Book of Love Poetry and The New British Poetry 1968-88. She has read widely including at venues in Brighton, London and at the Ledbury Poetry Festival. Read more about Janet and Hangman’s Acre on her Shearsman author page  and website.
    
  
    
Assemblage des Beautés
  
Bone monkey has set up shop in the airing cupboard.
It’s warm in there. Silverfish take refuge in his skull
and slide around his ribs. Worn sheets have ruched between
his bones like the petals of old roses – Assemblage des Beautés
for instance – so cherry red and full it almost seems
there is blood again and a heart beating like crazy.
  
  
Previously published in Poetry Review (Volume 99:2 Summer 2009).
  
  
 
Nearer
  
rain is falling under sodium lights
the municipal toilet roof is bathed in gold
up station street the tarmac shines and little rivers
writhe and coil along the roadside gutters
 
it’s late     the traffic light in broken pieces
scatters across the deserted lane
in amber, red, red and amber, green
in all the houses darkness slowly deepens
  
in this town on a night like this     my heart
glitters     each footfall takes me nearer
to your bed   and to the dark where I will
lie with you this little time     I thought
  
it could not be like this   but I was wrong
walking on light and water     coming home
  
  
Published in Hangman’s Acre (Shearsman Books, 2009).
  
  
 
Bath launch of Carrie Etter’s pamphlet and Janet Sutherland’s second book
  
Monday 26 October, 6.30pm, Carrie Etter and Janet Sutherland launch new collections at Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, 14 – 15 John Street, Bath, BA1 2JL. Phone: 01225331155. Email: books@mrbsemporium.com.
 
Shearsman Books December 2009 Reading
 
Tuesday 1 December 2009, 7.30pm, Alan Wearne and Janet Sutherland at Swedenborg Hall, Swedenborg House, 20/21 Bloomsbury Way (entry on Barter Street), London, WC1A 2TH. Email: editor@shearsman.com.

Siriol Troup’s Beneath the Rime

  
 
The Final Stretch
    
Having used dogs to haul their sledges over the pack ice towards the North Pole, Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen finally reached open water on August 6th 1895, with only two dogs left.
    
Lift your head from the snow, Kaifas,
this is the final stretch. One hundred
and forty-six days, over six hundred
miles on the ice. Tomorrow
at the glacier’s edge there will be open
water and the plash of little waves
against canvas. The sledges will fall
silent, the kayaks will dance like Samoyeds.
   
Bear blood on the wind, a wounded
bear-cub lowing in the distance, no cartridge
to spare for his pain. His wails track us
across the floe, a bitter requiem
for the fresh meat in our gut. Do you
remember, Kaifas, how this journey
began? The market at Berezov,
the stink of reindeer skins and brandy,
   
the Ostiaks in their reincalf caps
bartering for dogs? How far we have come
since then, following the twisted line
of lichen across the Urals
to the frozen lanes of this white world.
Forty we were at the beginning,
beautiful dogs, thick coats, pricked ears, bright
eyes, ready for anything. Now we are two,
   
Kaifas and Suggen, high-priest and thug,
waiting under the dark water-sky
while our masters wave their hats and celebrate
with chocolate. So many deaths, and I
have watched them all: the ones I barely knew
who strangled on their ropes; my brother
Gammelen taken by a bear; poor Job, poor
Fox, torn into pieces by the other dogs,
    
Livjaegeren felled by Johansen’s spear,
his skinned flesh thrown to us for supper;
Katta, Kvik, Baro, Klapperslangen,
Potifar … I have sat by their corpses
and waited for their souls to fly up
from this hostile land towards the forests
of Siberia where the earth is soft
and wolves howl louder than the Arctic wind.
    
Now we have served our purpose. See, Kaifas,
how the sky fills with birds – little auks,
skuas, kittiwakes, fulmars, ivory gulls,
terns tacking through the mist like prayers.
Bear-breath puckers the snow-drifts, the air
is brackish with seal-fume. We face
each other’s masters, they cannot face
their own. Two shots – two easy deaths –
   
but who will watch our corpses on this last
sheet of floating ice while they set off
in their swift kayaks, paddling towards the land?
   
   
 
Wall
   
All evening there were rumblings: my father
sweating in black tie, my mother snared
in a cocktail frock that swished like a fan.
Even the garden ants were playing up,
pouring from cracks in the lawn
with rustling wings pinned to their metal backs.
  
I put on my new petticoat and climbed
over our fence into the wood. A bristling
of needles, the chill of pine; arrows carved
in the bark, leaking a sour grey sap.
I knew I must follow the signs or be bundled
into the oven, eaten by witches, trapped
  
forever in the fairy-tale. But it was hard to keep
my head while night-owls thrummed like tanks
and waves of thunder boomed through the dark
like guns. My feet were numb, my hem was ripped,
the bread behind me on the path blew away
where it fell, a gust of silver crumbs.
  
We woke next day to road blocks and barbed wire,
a twitching of commentators and politicians.
No one had planned to build a wall, they said,
though it was obvious to any child
that wolves had turned at dawn into Alsatians,
masking their snarls and growls with doggy smiles.
  
  
  
Published in Beneath the Rime (Shearsman Books, 2009).
     
Read more about Siriol and Beneath the Rime here.
   
Order Beneath the Rime.
   
Read ‘Willow Pattern’ at Carrie Etter’s blog.
  
Read ‘Flint, Rime, Paint: An Interview with Siriol Troup’ at
Andrew Philip’s blog, Tonguefire.
   
Read more of Siriol’s poems at poetry pf and The Poem.

Claire Crowther’s The Clockwork Gift

   
    
Abuelita
   
Praise to the grandmother high on a balcony.
Its wearied fencing shuts space into miles.
She scrubs a coconut shell.
Pours dirty water over a herb pot.
Dust from black deposits under her feet blow
towards a terracotta emperor astride
a vent rattling out hot air.
She varnishes her hundredth soap dish
while seven floors below, white van roofs
lie like water lilies and glittering gems
of cars are packed with crystalline couples.
 
I praise the turret she hangs on.
Gardenless, it humbles the low villas,
the opal-crusted scarab beetles on wheels.
  
  
 
Outside the Beauty School
   
Twilight Hour for Senior Customers.
The trees turn, in a May
that pulls their branches gently inside out,
and paints charcoal bark with green polish.
 
While trees think they’re not trunk-stopped
on one spot, it is as good a season as any
for wings to pulse, swollen reddish-pink;
for a heart to rise to it, float up and beat in the wind.
  
  
 
Published in The Clockwork Gift (Shearsman Books, 2009).
  
Read more about Claire and The Clockwork Gift here.
   
Order The Clockwork Gift.
   
Visit Claire’s website.
   
Read ‘Petra Genetrix’ on Carrie Etter’s blog.
   
Read Rob A. Mackenzie’s review at Surroundings.
   
Read Sophie Mayer’s review at Delirium’s Library.