Tag Archives: Templar Poetry

Paul Maddern’s The Beachcomber’s Report

Paul Maddern was born in Bermuda of Cornish and Irish stock. He attended Queen’s University, Ontario, where he studied Film. He graduated in 1983 and then spent a short time with the Colorado Ballet before moving to San Francisco. In 1987 he relocated to London and worked at the Groucho Club and 192 Restaurant. He settled in Co Down, Northern Ireland, in 2000 and obtained an MA in Creative Writing from the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen’s University Belfast in 2005. He was awarded a studentship by the Centre to continue with a PhD, which has involved establishing a digital archive of poets reading their work in public. In 2009 he won the Templar Poetry Pamphlet Competition, resulting in Kelpdings. In 2010 he was awarded a grant by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, which facilitated the publication of The Beachcomber’s Report (Templar, 2010), nominated for the 2011 Eithne and Rupert Strong Award for Best First Collection. He is on the committee of the John Hewitt Society and on the Advisory Board of the Seamus Heaney Centre. Together with Alex Wylie, he has founded the online journal Poetry Proper.

“Paul Maddern has a sense both of the necessary rhythms of a poem – something that looks right to the eye and sounds right to the ear – and also of poetry’s conscience. There is technique here, there is insight, there is passion, knowledge, zeal.”

– Ian Sansom
“On one occasion Maddern says: ‘For I would tell you simply …’, but thankfully he never quite delivers on that promise. The poems lead us astray, through strange landscapes and noir cityscapes . ..they deftly knit together non-sequiturs and scene-changes. They segue into poems by other poets … they have gargantuan stipulations for the most mundane of activities. They refuse to provide crescendos and imagistic flourishes where expected, instead furnishing further lyrical qualification and explanation. In short, they constantly and suavely surprise.”
– Justin Quinn
On Mastroianni in A Special Day

The world, Marcello, has gone outside
to witness Adolph hold hands with Benito.
We have watched your booted and tasselled neighbours
running to become the newsreel’s throng.
But I linger with you, at a simple table,
our backs to the state apartment’s view.
And I will mirror you:
let us rest our chins once more
on the back of our hands and sigh.
Like this, I will fall for you again,
the face that pretends a curriculum vitae
of macho bravado, betrayed by its history –
the cheeks too quick to blush, the lips to tremble.
Together we define the ipsissima verba for entrapment
which leads to the problem of filling our time.
So you grind beans for a last cup of coffee,
lend me your The Three Musketeers for escape
and we dance the rumba once more as an act of defiance.
Hold me tight and pilot me up to the tower block’s roof
where we can display ourselves above all of Rome.
Two men among immaculate avenues of boiled-white sheets,
we move from back projected silhouettes
to abandon ourselves in the levelling glare of sunlight
where our secret must slip. Listen for the fall.
But just this once, Marcello, I will be allowed
to wrap you in cotton and steal you from harm,
smuggle you into alien cities
where we will be free to dance the latest craze
with legions of courageous d’Artagnans.
         for Nora
Yours was the face I almost lived a lie for,
that might have brought about the 2.4,
not this sterile A4 annual report
about the daughter’s aptitude for sport,
Ted’s reunion and the dress you wore.
I want to know: did the dress allow
seductive développés and port de bras,
did sling-backs reveal triumphant arches,
were accountants left unconscious
and the husband damning Terpsichore?
But should I be content if my Odette
is happy to distract suburban courts?
Nibble canapés my swan, forget
this mincing prince who hoped we might be more.
The Last Act
A steam scrim climbs
     calabash high
off baked asphalt
     raising a trompe l’œil
of colonial house with garden,
     surround verandas
in laissez faire repair,
     shutters unhinged.
Neglected magnolias,
     those old retainers,
are left to petal dust
     and trace their roots
back to the gloom
     of the garden’s vanishing point
where crabgrass meets
     sand, ocean and thundering sky.
In the foreground
    an old man mimes shoo away
to a child stepping
    clean from noon rains,
an audience standing its ground,
waiting for asphalt to dry
     and the scene to crumple.
The daughter to the music teacher
sotto voce hums a tune
her mother did not give her.
from The Beachcomber’s Report (Templar Poetry, 2010).
Order The Beachcomber’s Report.

Matt Bryden: Six Poems

Matt Bryden

Born and raised in Beckenham, Matt Bryden is an EFL teacher whose work has taken him to Tuscany, the Czech Republic and Poland. His poems have appeared in New Welsh Review, The Reader and The Warwick Review among others. His pamphlet, Night Porter, was one of the winners of the Templar pamphlet competition 2010, and will be published in November. Boxing the Compass, his first full collection, follows in 2011, also with Templar.

A new face at half six.
I was manning Reception
when he came through the doors.
On a couch he told me about the kitchens
in Scotland. His uncleaned teeth
smelt earthy as sweat.
‘I came to England to get a break. That’s a joke.’
He showed me bank statements
of when he was £10,000 in the black.
First published in Seam.
Should the People But Come Above Ground
In Quebec, the snow-clearing machines are known
as hiders, the packed ice compacted into bricks
and stacked at the side of the road.
In the morning, the streets are clear.
In the underground malls, high ceilings
approximate sky; hats are worn.
Because of the cost of lighting each subterranean city,
ice is translated into power
through a system of hydro-electric mills.
Steam, a by-product, hangs in the air,
making it impossible for insects to fly.
Butterflies and moths move entirely on land.
Due to the absence of public parks, dogs
are a rare sight below ground. Above, caged sections
are allocated; their etiquette is pronounced.
Butterfly cages the size of basketball courts
occupy a square in each district, as pristine in the light
as the rows of empty ropes in the schools’ unused gyms.
Below, fountains flicker with thin blue strips of silk,
blown into movement by air currents.
In an atmosphere so heavily permeated with water,
water itself does not flow.
A cup of tea, while warming above ground,
can chap the skin of an ungloved hand beneath.
For this reason only warmed apple juice
with cinammon is served.
Each Canadian souterraine will tell you,
in her icy Quebecois, that men are available
should one only take a look. They joke,
‘Not one of us would say winter is our favourite season.’
The streets empty, the city is art.
The nightcleaners hose the base
of the butterfly enclosure through wire mesh,
scourge the chalky residue.
The underground populace thrive.
A nightcleaner kids himself
that his foot feels the faintest thrum,
a cricket’s fibrillation in a sound-box, from below.
First published in Magma.
If People Think
this Czech girl is weak
because she keeps her own counsel,
they don’t factor quite
how tough it is to be that quiet.
Everyone wants your contribution.
She chooses London
over returning to her mother’s home –
a timber-frame construction
near a forest,
her sister across the hall.
Her money gone,
she resorts to the word
of an older man with keys
to a car and a flat in Edinburgh
and escapes a month later,
the split ends of her hair
dropping below a bruised shoulder.
After class, she catches herself
turning her chair onto the table, and laughs.
First published in Smiths Knoll.
The Night Sky
Who brings these star- and crescent-
shaped pastries, each filled with vanilla
or jam, to my bed each morning?
Such nursery shapes are clearly beneficent,
like knowing which berries are sour
and which are ripe by sight.
I stare past my desk to the window
and wipe my dreams like a slate.
First published in The Warwick Review.
Over There
As you urinate, or bathe, a blur
against the glass.
The bubble bath, never lush, thinned to air
we see each other just by looking down.
I cover your mouth.
Your desk is propped
against the scrape
of butter across toast in the mornings;
evenings, the lift pulley sounds in your bricks.
I can’t sleep for being hugged and held,
folded against.
I rise, shower an alertness and am gone.
Always the promise of closeness.
Cold streets, shared meals.
I talk until I realise I don’t have to.
Rock until our legs fall in place.
First published in Orange Coast Review.
An exhibition match at Beckenham Public Hall;
you lent your arm out of a fondness for the locale
and familiarity with his name in the Embassy final.
Down there, on the floor, the fall-out
of your recent breakup didn’t register.
Attempted reconciliations after nightfall,
rushing home to neck fistfuls of Kalms – all this
evaporated with the first hit. Jimmy split
the pack. You took it slow; lined that red up till
it was almost gone, it had to go.
‘Can you put our pocket back please, Jon,’ cracked the emcee.
The crowd were rigidly attentive of that slab of green
from their place in the hard seats. And you were on the black now.
Another red sank. From Jimmy: ‘You know it’s winner
stays on?’ Applause. And in that pit,
you wiped your blade at twenty-six.
Jimmy didn’t give you another sniff.
He kept you off the table
and gave you his chalk by way of memento
on the way back up to your seat.
It rankled not to get back in the game.
And that, Jon, was the mending of you.
First published in New Welsh Review.  
Visit Matt’s blog.
Visit Matt’s Templar Poetry page.

Katrina Naomi’s The Girl with the Cactus Handshake

Katrina Naomi

Katrina Naomi’s first full collection, The Girl with the Cactus Handshake (Templar Poetry, 2009) has just been shortlisted for the London Fringe Festival New Poetry Award 2010. During 2009/10, she was the Brontë Parsonage Museum’s first writer-in-residence; a pamphlet, Charlotte Brontë’s Corset, was published by the Brontë Society in April 2010. Katrina was shortlisted for the 2009 Bridport Prize and was runner-up in the Poetry Society’s 2009 Stanza Competition. In 2008/9 she received an Arts Council England Writer’s Award. Katrina won the 2008 Templar Poetry Competition with her pamphlet Lunch at the Elephant & Castle and recently received a Hawthornden Fellowship. She has an MA in Creative and Life Writing from Goldsmiths (University of London) and teaches creative writing for the Open University and poetry online at Exeter University. Katrina was brought up in Margate and lives in south London.

“This impressive collection is rich with colour, black comedy, and surprise. Katrina Naomi’s inventive work locates a ‘beauty, a balance in watching’ as it explores unusual lives at key moments. These are poems as eye-opening, twisted fictions, in which B-movie girls, clairvoyants, sailors, psychobilly rockers, and lonely zookeepers feed their desires as best they can. This captivating book offers a riotously imaginative landscape – sometimes lush, sometimes prickly, and often rooted in delicious noir. Naomi’s version of pastoral is not one you’ll soon shake off.”

– Todd Swift
“Katrina Naomi’s poems are fresh and surprising – they’re user-friendly, willing to link arms with you, but then they tug you along in unlikely directions. With their sharp diction, salt tang, blend of dark and light, and their unexpected last lines, these are satisfying pieces which dock in the memory.”
– Roddy Lumsden
“Katrina Naomi’s poems take off from an eerily familiar inner-urban childhood and spiky estuary-hinterland adolescence, to explore, among other unlikely destinations, Brassai’s Parisian underworld, pre-Castro Cuba, ice-bound Newfoundland: daring flights shadowed with edgy, deep, intimate foreboding.”
– Anne-Marie Fyfe
The New World
I live in Ana’s caravan,
strew it with poppies and moss.
She adds cornflowers, cow parsley,
liking colour, greens and blues.
I position the van towards the moon.
She’ll sleep here
or in the woods.
I can never be sure,
but if it’s a night when she’s playing
with wolves, I undo the latch
and sew. I cover her bed
in Kente cloth and matted grass,
find a pink Formica table
from a seaside café that’s selling up,
place it by the window,
so she can paint the stars
by numbers. I leave her
offerings of a bamboo bar,
a solar-powered record player,
scratched jazz.
I love to watch her dance,
how quetzals lift her step,
lizards pull her to the ground.
I cook a dish of cacti,
leave it steaming at her feet.
Bar Girl, Havana, 1954
It’s that time of night when
my earrings pinch like clams,
when my tulle net skirt itches.
Even the Cristal is flat.
Scarcely a customer.
They’re all at the Tropicana,
where I’m barred.
No manager takes what he wants, but
it’s 3 am and Ernesto waits for me
to finish this beer,
my knuckles slumped
under my eyebrows.
My tab’s running over,
I need to clean this dress,
find more lipstick, fix my hair.
People say there’ll be a revolution.
from The Girl with the Cactus Handshake (Templar Poetry, 2009)
Order The Girl with the Cactus Handshake
Visit Katrina’s website.

Some Favourite Poetry Collections of 2009: Part Four

Angela France
The Clockwork Gift by Claire Crowther (Shearsman Books)
Chora by Nigel McLoughlin (Templar Poetry)
Bundle o’Tinder by Rose Kelleher (Waywiser Press)
Susan Richardson
Weeds and Wild Flowers by Alice Oswald (with etchings
by Jessica Greenman) (Faber & Faber)
A Sleepwalk on the Severn by Alice Oswald (Faber & Faber)
I Spy Pinhole Eye, poems by Philip Gross
with photographs by Simon Denison (Cinnamon Press)
Collin Kelley
Carpathia by Cecilia Woloch (BOA Editions)
Sassing by Karen Head (WordTech Communications)
An Urgent Request by Sarah Luczaj (Fortunate Daughter Press)
This Pagan Heaven by Robin Kemp (Pecan Grove Press)

Katrina Naomi
One Secret Thing by Sharon Olds (Jonathan Cape)
Laughter Heard from the Road by Maggie O’Dwyer
(Templar Poetry)
Third Wish Wasted by Roddy Lumsden (Bloodaxe Books)
Arlene Ang
The Wrong Miracle by Liz Gallagher (Salt Modern Poets)
Fair Creatures of an Hour by Lynn Levin (Loonfeather Press)
In the Voice of a Minor Saint by Sarah J. Sloat (Tilt Press)
Laurie Byro
Carta Marina: A Poem in Three Parts by Ann Fisher-Wirth
(Wings Press)
Poems from the Women’s Movement, edited by Honor Moore
(Library of America)
Watching the Spring Festival by Frank Bidart
(Farrar, Straus & Giroux)
Ray Givans
The Year of Not Dancing by C L Dallat (Blackstaff Press)
Natural Mechanical by J.O. Morgan (CB Editions)
Darwin, A life in Poems by Ruth Padel (Chatto & Windus)
Ross Sutherland
Migraine Hotel by Luke Kennard (Salt Modern Poets)
Watering Can by Caroline Bird (Carcanet Press)
Weather A System by James Wilkes (Penned in the Margins)
Kelli Russell Agodon
Sharp Stars by Sharon Bryan (BOA Editions)
Then, Something by Patricia Fargnoli (Tupelo Press)
Upgraded to Serious by Heather McHugh (Copper Canyon Press)
Crystal Warren
Flashes by Carol Leff (Aerial Publishing)
Strange Fruit by Helen Moffett (Modjaji Books)
Oleander by Fiona Zerbst (Modjaji Books)
Derek Adams
Furniture by Lorraine Mariner (Picador)
Beneath the Rime by Siriol Troup (Shearsman Books)
The Girl with the Cactus Handshake by Katrina Naomi
(Templar Poetry)
Liesl Jobson
Impredehora by Yvette Christiansë (Kwela Books with SnailPress)
Al is die maan ‘n misverstand by Danie Marais (Tafelberg)
Hyphen by Tania van Schalkwyk (The UCT Writers Series/
Electric Book Works)
Chris McCabe
West End Survival Kit by Jeremy Reed (Waterloo Press)
How To Build a City by Tom Chivers (Salt Modern Poets)
The Burning of the Books by George Szirtes and Ronald King
(Full Circle Editions)
Undraining Sea by Vahni Capildeo (Egg Box Publishing)
Rays by Richard Price (Carcanet Press)
Weather A System by James Wilkes (Penned in the Margins)
Furniture by Lorraine Mariner (Picador)
Madeleine’s Letter to Bunting by Kelvin Corcoran
(Longbarrow Press)