Tag Archives: Waterloo Press

Ian Parks’s The Exile’s House

  
 
 
Ian Parks was born in Mexborough, South Yorkshire, in 1959 and was one of the Poetry Society New Poets in 1996. Described by The Chiron Review as ‘the finest love poet of his generation’ his first collection, which received a Yorkshire Arts Award, was published in 1986. Others followed: A Climb Through Altered Landscapes (1998), Shell Island (2006), The Cage (2008), and The Landing Stage (2010). His Love Poems 1979-2009 was published in 2009 and a selection of his work appears in Old City: New Rumours edited by Carol Rumens and Ian Gregson. He was made a Hawthornden Fellow in 1991, spent 1994 on a Travelling Fellowship to the USA, and went on to research Chartist poetry at Oxford. His poems have appeared in Agenda, The Liberal, The Observer, The Independent on Sunday, Poetry Review, Stand, Magma, The London Magazine and Poetry (Chicago). Featured regularly on Peony Moon, his next collection, The Exile’s House is due out shortly from Waterloo Press.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
The Exile’s House
 
Precarious, on a cliff above the sea
     the exile’s house is improvised
from objects found while walking on the beach.
     His crime, it seems, was speaking out
against a harsh, repressive regime.
     Displacing dust, he moves from room to room
 
or gazing at the sunset, sits and waits.
     The place is chained and anchored down
with ships in bottles, figureheads.
     The ghosts of lovers breathe against the glass;
a trace of silver where they came and went.
     An open door, a broken blind,
 
a rocking-horse dismantled on the floor
     with flying mane, distended eyes.
Under a lantern like a paper moon
     at a table ringed with stains
he drinks and watches as the night dictates
     words of resistance, lines of dissent.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
Ash
 
All night the ash was falling.
Invisible, it drifted down.
Carried on the wind
 
it settled on our skin
and windowsills: a film –
a covering so thin
 
we didn’t notice it at all.
Somewhere far north
a vast eruption
 
shook the ground;
smoke plumed and billowed,
smothering. And yet
 
we needed to be told
that slow and silent
in our sleep
 
it crept above
our cities and our towns.
We woke to a new landscape,
 
cancelled flights,
our sense of distance
suddenly compressed.
 
I took your ashes
to the riverbank
and there under
 
that gathering cloud
I poured them out
and scattered them.
 
Since then the skies
remain obscured
but the dawns
 
have been sharp-edged
and more intense;
the sunsets radiant.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
Downpour
 
Not the rain that Edward Thomas heard
beating on the roof of his tin hut
but heavy-sheeted, unrelenting rain
that drives across the landscape that he loved.
 
To have that sort of rain you’d need
to change the places that it falls upon –
unbuild the office blocks and shopping malls,
tear down the children’s playgrounds, roundabouts
 
and disinvent the electronic chip.
You’d need to clear the motorways,
break up the concrete car parks,
make them ready for the plough.
 
Let the rain rain unimpeded on
the nettles and the curled up ferns.
For that you’d need to change the hearts
and ears of those it rained upon;
 
make sensitive the tap-root and the soil.
Not the rain that Edward Thomas heard –
the rain that rinses as it falls.
This rain has acid in it and it burns.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
The Wheel

The pithead used to dominate the town.
My dead forefathers came and went,
were buried in the shadow cast by it.
I passed it on my way to school,
heard its revolutions in the night.
If the pithead was the place’s heart
the great wheel was its soul.
And then there was the slow dismantling.
The slagheap was grassed over: it became
an innocent green mound where cattle graze.
They hauled the winding gear away
and sold the chain for scrap
then took the giant wheel and clamped it down,
reminding us of where we came from
what we did and who we were –
a monument of rusting metal spokes
that radiate from hub to rim
for kids to climb on, point at questioning.
Some day we’ll come with picks and dynamite,
dislodge it from its concrete plinth.
We’ll drag it from the valley floor,
aim it at the cities of the south,
set the wheel in motion, watch it roll.
 
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
 
Owl
 
Expecting my reflection
there’s another face I see
suspended for an instant
in the early morning light.
Waking in the summerhouse
 
I pull the curtains wide
to find her white and ghostly
making for me, wings outspread.
She skims the headland
hunting, swooping down
 
to catch a living thing;
an unsuspecting vole or mouse
and doesn’t notice me
here at the window taking in
her momentary span.
 
It seems she’ll fly straight through
and break the glass. Instead
she banks abruptly
as her eyes draw close to mine –
a second’s contact, looking in
 
before she rises, disappears
above the sloping roof. She comes
from out of nowhere after all
or from some somewhere out of reach,
arriving with her otherness
 
and making clear to me
I’ve looked my last on youth
and what it brings:
an after-hush in the long grass
and this dawn-brought visitant
 
alive above it, hovering
between the day and night,
bringing from the place where she was sent
her oval timeless face
and flawless wings.
 
 
 
 
from The Exile’s House (Waterloo Press, 2011).
 
Pre-order The Exile’s House.
 
Visit Waterloo Press.
 
 
 
 
*

Looking forward

  
 
Here are a few anthologies and collections that I’m looking forward to reading in 2011.
 
What should I add to my list?
  
 
Being Human, edited by Neil Astley (Bloodaxe)
 
Catulla et al, Tiffany Atkinson (Bloodaxe)
 
Neptune Blue, Simon Barraclough (Salt)
 
The Tempest Prognosticator, Isobel Dixon (Salt)
 
Egg Printing Explained, Katy Evans-Bush (Salt)
 
Occasional China, Gaia Holmes (Comma Press)
 
Rubber Orchestras, Anthony Joseph (Salt)
 
The Book of Men, Dorianne Laux (W W Norton)
 
The Best British Poetry 2011, edited by Roddy Lumsden (Salt)
 
The Frost Fairs, John McCullough (Salt)
 
The Exile’s House, Ian Parks (Waterloo Press)
 
Emporium, Ian Pindar (Carcanet)
 
Changeling, Clare Pollard (Bloodaxe)
 
Breaking Silence, Jacob Sam-La Rose (Bloodaxe)
 
The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions, Jacqueline Saphra
(Flipped Eye)
 
The Itchy Sea, Mark Waldron (Salt)
 
Confer, Ahren Warner (Bloodaxe)
 
Electric Shadow, Heidi Williamson (Bloodaxe)
 
House of Tongues, Susan Wicks (Bloodaxe)
 
The City with Horns, Tamar Yoseloff (Salt)
 
 
 

Dan Wyke’s Waiting for the Sky to Fall

Dan Wyke

  
Dan Wyke’s poems have appeared in a number of publications, including London Magazine, Oxford Poetry, TLS, The Rialto, The Reader, Staple, Thumbscrew, and The Spectator. He received an Eric Gregory Award in 1999.
 
Waterloo Press brought out a pamphlet, Scattering Ashes, in 2004, and Waiting for the Sky to Fall, also from Waterloo Press, is his first full-length collection.
 
Dan was born in 1973 and has lived in Verona, Rome and London. He has an MA in twentieth-century poetry and now lives in Brighton where he works as a counsellor.
 
 

 
 
Scattering Ashes
Dan Wyke

 
i.m. F.R. 1914-99
 
 
The first day of spring,
and roofs are steps from which
spotless gulls lift into deep blue;
a bright pool where a plane
ploughs a straight crawl.
 
They float, twirling like a mobile
in large, slow circles; descend
as angels, wings gold-fringed,
impressively outstretched:
no trick of flight is beyond them.
 
We run our fingers through you,
and don’t know what to do.
The wind takes it out of our hands;
years of you slipstreaming
in seconds over the grass.
 
The lightest parts remain aloft;
the heaviest settle on chalk:
a layer that lifts us, imperceptibly.
Stubborn, some of you clings,
insists on going with me.
 
Driving home in the dark,
gulls flock high overhead:
gliding sleepily in and out of group,
wherever the air flows, sifted
like a flurry of unseasonable snow.
 
 
 
Missing
Dan Wyke
 
In my last year at school, for no reason I could think of
I started skipping lessons and walking up to
the chain-link fence with its hem of notebook pages
and crisp bags, around the old playing-field
sculpted into the moonscape of a private golf-course.
 
I climbed over where it sagged and watched
from the fringe of uncut grass the tiny figures
packing and unpacking their kit, then disappearing
in swift, silent carts behind bunkers
that seemed to be scooped out of vanilla ice-cream.
 
During exams the sky turned an unreadable blue;
I lay down, not even day-dreaming.
Nearby, a man teed off: tensed, head-down, aiming
in his mind’s eye for the distant hole, which seemed
impossible, given where else the ball might go.
 
 
 
from Waiting for the Sky to Fall (Waterloo Press, 2010)
  
Read more about Waiting for the Sky to Fall.
  
Matthew Stewart reviews Waiting for the Sky to Fall.
  
Order Waiting for the Sky to Fall.
  
Visit Dan’s blog, Other Lives.

Naomi Foyle’s The World Cup

 
 
Naomi Foyle was born in London, and grew up in Hong Kong, Liverpool and Saskatchewan. Having written a chamber opera libretto, Hush, while an undergraduate at the University of Toronto, she started writing poems while backpacking through Europe in 1991 with a copy of the Collected Rimbaud. She has also travelled in North and Central America, Asia and the Middle East, and she is currently living in Brighton while completing her PhD in Creative Writing at Bangor University. Her first poetry collection, The Night Pavilion, was an Autumn 2008 PBS Recommendation, and she intends to develop her ballad pamphlet, Grace of the Gamblers, into a live literature production. In December 2009, Naomi travelled to Cairo as a member of the Gaza Freedom March, and in April 2010 she co-founded BWISP (British Writers In Support of Palestine).
 
 
About The World Cup:
 
Naomi Foyle’s The World Cup (Waterloo Press, 2010) is simultaneously the Holy Grail of a female football fan; an oceanic chalice of tears; and a brimming goblet of history, culture and myth. In a kinetic sequence of poems that journeys from Mexico and post 9/11 New York, through the conflicts in Ireland and the Middle East, to a no-holds barred game of love thrashed out in London, Brighton, Amsterdam and Greece, Foyle amply displays not only her abundant lyric and narrative gifts, but also a winning warmth and humour. Though its honest brew of self-reflection is at times almost painfully intimate, The World Cup comes laced with astringent socio-political comment, and is stamped with the trademark Foylean wit.
 
 
“Subtle and wild, passionate and wise, Naomi Foyle’s second collection will bring her yet more admirers. Whether she is writing of the indigenos of Mexico or the state terrorism Israel practices on the people of Gaza; whether she writes of love and its mazes and despairs; the mishaps of a gangly footballer; or the free spirits of her home town Brighton, Naomi Foyle shoots both from the heart and the head. A vivid, pacey raconteur, with a sharp eye for satire, unusually, she shines at the longer narrative poem, burnishing a minor crisis into something wondrous, always with a relish for the pleasures of life whether serious or absurd. Warmth, curiosity, human sympathy are the base notes of a poetry commanding dramatically different themes and settings, and a variety of forms.”
  
– Judith Kazantzis
 
 
“Naomi Foyle’s brilliantly detailed, sensually absorbed, light-saturated mix of personal findings and their extension into the political, make her poetry my sort of poetry. Naomi is her own subject, whether swimming in a scarlet two-piece at Land’s End, sitting in a restaurant window, arriving at Brenda and Isabelle’s object-littered flat, or acutely noting how ‘The sound your swollen finger makes/ plucking at the mouth/ of the soda water bottle/ gives my cheekbones definition.’ Naomi Foyle injects concentrated visual imagery into re-casting a world in which ‘men are sharp as lemons; women sting like limes.’ I go to her poems to see things shine clear as the light in a diamond.”
  
– Jeremy Reed
  
 
*
  
 
Postcard Sent By Someone Else
  
I would have called last week, but
there was a riot at a football game, the police
shot a woman and her child, then the crowd
set fire to the post office and ripped
all the phones in the zocalo
out of their sockets …
 
I would have told you that this jungle
is the maw of the world—its hot breath
steams you open in your sleep, then, like
a trickle of army ants dismantling a palm tree,
a screech of howler monkeys shaking
the afternoon rains from the canopy
above your hamaca,
                            its enzymes
start breaking you down …
 
 
*
     
 
Poem for a Greek Anarchist
 
So, Yannis. Democracy is a joke
unworthy of your swift laughter. Peace
is a euphemism for lobotomising the First World
and starving the Third. Arthritis
is an degenerative disease
my mother tells me strikes young people
too stubborn for their years. Patience
is the most infuriating quality
of ‘grounded’ men,
and when we eat in your Dad’s pizzeria,
my facial muscles feel compelled
to comment on your every move.
 
The sound your swollen finger makes
plucking at the mouth
of the soda bottle
gives my cheekbones definition.
Your saliva falls
in a long slow arc to the patio
like an egg
cracked open by a skyscraper chef
hitting the fry pan
without breaking its yolk
― and my jaw follows
with its own moist curve.
 
And if my brow gathers
when you stroke
those pomegranate lips with your collar,
it’s not because I’m plotting
to overthrow the State. No,
I’m only involved with that soft cotton,
echoing its furrows
above the night vision eyes of ‘Naomi the Cat’ —
eyes that look at your lap
and see a bomb
in my bed.
 
 
*
  
 
[and 13 Israelis]
 
‘In 23 days: over 1300 Palestinians were murdered (over
400 children and 100 women) and 5300 were injured.’
Donate your status:
http://apps.facebook.com/supportgaza
  
Donate your status.
Donate your despair.
Donate your boyfriend, your girlfriend, your husband, your wife.
Donate your children.
Donate a hospital.
Donate one thousand three hundred and thirteen candles.
Donate a match.
Match a donation.
Donate the fine line between you and your neighbour.
Donate a bucket of soil, a packet of seeds.
Donate a truckload of doughnuts.
Donate a moment of doubt.
Donate your most sophisticated haircut.
Donate a crate of sophistry-detectors.
Donate your will to survive.
Do not do nothing.
Donate your body temperature.
Donate your kidney.
Donate your library.
Donate your deepest desire.
Do not fear ridicule, rage, isolation.
Donate a kilo of rice.
Donate a tenner.
Donate a round table.
Donate the freedom you’d forgotten you had.
Donate your shopping list – your love of avocados, Sharon fruit
     and dates.
Donate the sweater your grandmother made you.
Donate a winter of warm, sleepless nights.
Donate a new notion of ‘nation’.
Donate a persistent belief that, despite all evidence to the
     contrary, everyone, everywhere, is extraordinary.
Donate an hour of your day
to stand up and demonstrate
peace is a process of learning to listen,
and giving is not ‘giving in’.
  
 
*
   

God Save Our Noble Team
  
It’s not just the wiggling hips of the Nigerians,
the young dog stamina of the South Koreans,
the street urchin haircuts of the Irish,
the sultry glowers of the Azzurri’s finest,
or the pristine thighs and jaws
they all possess by right.
Nor is it all down to Beckham’s honeyed torso,
Quinny’s height and lilt,
Rivaldo’s shark-like teeth,
Rio’s languid flair —
or even Fabien’s bum being spritzed with cold spray
during a particularly constipated bout with Italy back in ‘98.
It’s almost but not quite the Argentines’ black socks,
long locks and grizzled chins,
and it just, just barely isn’t the passing fancy
of being hired to alleviate Harry Krewel’s groin strain
with Tantric warm-up exercises
that traps me in front of the telly
each time a World Cup football match is played.
 
Yes, footballers are sexy.
Some are compact and keep their shape
—except in the second half—
some have ‘individual skills’ to die for,
others keep clean linen sheets.
And even though their shorts were shorter
back in Guadalajara,
their kit is really cute and shows off their physiques.
And yes, they run around in the heat and wet,
stripping off their shirts
every time they score.
 
But truly, it’s the game they play that turns me on.
 
It’s the time football takes,
the beautiful, agonising length of it—
two or three hours prone on my futon,
waiting, wanting, yearning for one elusive goal,
never knowing how or when
the next stroke of panic, misery or euphoria will fall:
all attention focused
on the flickering of the screen, the flicking of the ball.
It’s the lull of knowing there is nothing more
and nothing less important than the voyage of that ball,
hurtling like pleasure, like pain,
from player to player,
down the electric green grass
in search of the back of the net
one goal
being sometimes technically sufficient,
but never quite enough.
 
Yes, football is sex.
And with its side netting, woodwork and offside traps,
it can get pretty kinky.
But it is also love, history, religion, commerce, politics, art,
     war, dance,
and a way — for now — to keep the Americans in the dark.
A sport so simple little plastic men can play it,
so epic that every four years it hurls nations into riots
of bloodlust, revenge, inspiration, celebration and bitter cursing
     of the gods.
Football gathers up like sweaty rags
the orgiastic revelry of the fans,
the irrevocable decisions of the referees,
the irreversible moments of good or bad luck —
and on the solipsistic reverie of the screen
wrings out a passionate meditation upon fate.
Football is a bad marriage in a Catholic country.
Football is the sanctity of human error.
Football is the tedium of the commentators’ inane obsessions
crowding out one’s own.
Football is a game played on dirt in the townships
the temporary triumph of the immigrant labourers
and the brutal crush of the media machine.
Football is a gladiators’ ring of fancy boys and immortals.
Football is NAFTA with cleats.
Football is a rum-soaked trifle,
a Christmas tin of Quality Street chocolates,
lobster and champagne.
Football is Seaman’s tear-stained sheet.
Football is Escobar’s own goal.
Football is the letter you shouldn’t have opened.
Football is the speed at which you realise
your entire life has been undone.
  
 
*
   
 
The Pablo Neruda Barbeque
 
Poets, singers, newly weds,
gather on the beach,
 
share olives, wine, guitars,
books and bits of Spanish,
 
poke sausages with skewers,
orchestrate umbrellas.
 
Softly rumbling clouds,
charcoal, seared with gold,
 
fill their bellies with our smoke.
And when the sky splits open
 
a tender ray of sunshine
warms our faces as we read
 
poems of love and tomatoes,
elemental odes ―
 
the white lips of the sea
sucking at the stones.
  
 
*
 
  
from The World Cup (Waterloo Press, 2010)
 
Order The World Cup.
 
Read more about Waterloo Press.

Sarah Hymas’s Host

 
 
Sarah Hymas was born and brought up in Harrogate, Yorkshire, and travelled extensively before settling in Lancaster. Her work has appeared in short story collections, anthologies, magazines, pamphlets, multimedia exhibits, film, on posters, and as lyrics and scripts. She has collaborated with other writers, musicians and visual artists on projects including video and operas. She currently works for the Lancaster Literature Festival, as the editor of its publishing imprint, Flax, and keeps a blog, Echo Soundings.
   

Sarah Hymas

  
Sarah Hymas’s debut collection explores heritage: familial, social, environmental. Investigating notions of territory, these poems skein out our complex relationship with the natural world — how, guest, stranger or gardener, we’re pulled into its dynamic cycles.
  
The two sections of Host (Waterloo Press, 2010) flare with distinct tones. In Bedrock four generations of one family reveal their hopes and disappointments: glinting in the stones of Yorkshire, love, in all its universal peculiarities, sustains and agitates this extended narrative sequence. In Landfall the canvas expands beyond home, to encounter a dark riot of colour: a more playful, if elusive, world of travel, sailing, friendship and sexual awakenings.
 
Throughout, these poems display a metaphorical brilliance, illuminating the sacred within the familiar. This book heralds the arrival of a passionately muscular voice, rooted in necessity and physical experience.
  
 
  
Classroom, 1977
Sarah Hymas

 
If there were signs, I don’t remember what they said.
Their authority transcended words. I just knew
it was private. I wasn’t to touch.
 
Except when Grandpa, besuited and tall, unlocked the door,
led me inside to look at rows of rocks,
butterflies of Japanese silk, all labelled, behind glass.
 
Cabinets shone as light as this room
surprisingly. His fingers, long like ribs, pulled out a stick
carved with rats, each the size of a fingernail, crawling
 
over each other, tails twirling. It was the femur
of a prisoner-of-war. He had dominoes made from bones
of another dead man. Not for play but to hold
 
and feel the weight of my own.
 
 
 
Choice, 2003
Sarah Hymas

 
That morning, the choice of underpants was bewildering.
Which should I wear, Doreen? I asked.
Then took the pair she’d laundered,
as I had for the previous ten thousand days, more.
 
The black pudding went down well,
so much so, I asked the other couple there
Have you come far? As if I was always happy to pass
the time of day with strangers in dining rooms.
 
Later, I agreed to hold my granddaughter
for the first time in her three months. I didn’t know
quite how so she wouldn’t break her neck.
But she lay, on my knee, against my arm. Quiet.
 
I couldn’t smile for the camera. I couldn’t lift
my eyes from her tiny body, lighter but stronger
than mine, and face my wife. Why let on
that in less than an hour I’d be dead?
 
 
 
Bearing Witness
Sarah Hymas

 
The lake fills dawn with moisture
soft as magnolia flesh,
cobwebs the grey mountains
blurring my line of wakefulness.
 
Not for him, running back
with a camera full of shots,
an apple, and feverish eyes,
though we’re 2000m above a mosquito.
 
The sadhu, orange-robed, painted, plaited,
stood in misted water, eyes closed.
Sang. Doused. Gave him the apple.
I haven’t seen fruit for a fortnight.
 
Go tomorrow, he urges. At first light.
It’s like he’s seen the silhouette of his soul
and it no longer quite fits.
He breakfasts on his apple. Leaves.
 
I schlep to the lake the next day,
squat by the shore. Beneath bird calls,
I search for the momentous,
as if trying to recall a dream.
 
 
 
Echo Sounding
Sarah Hymas

 
Light glosses over tidal streams,
hiding our deepest valley, highest mountain.
 
Through gale force and iron stillness, the albatross
circumnavigates yearly, mates for life.
 
Imagine weeks of greys and blues, slate, silver, sky,
rocking to stay vertical.
 
Without wind to tauten polyester and rope,
sails are like a sextant without sun.
 
Despite the light and dark there is no night or day,
just three hour shifts, off and on.
 
The swell breaks on deck. I’ll never
rinse this salt from my ears.
 
 
 
from Host (Waterloo Press, 2010)
  
Visit Sarah’s blog, Echo Soundings.
 
Visit the Lancaster Literature Festival site.
  
*
   
Sarah Hymas’s debut collection, Host, will be launched on Monday,
7 June 2010, together with Naomi Foyle’s second collection,
The World Cup (Waterloo Press, 2010).
  
Venue: Iambic Arts Theatre, above Bell Book & Candle on Gardner St with the entrance behind the shop on Regent St, signposted with balloons (Brighton)
** table seating and cash bar ***
For a map please click here
Time: 7:30 for 8pm start
Price: £5/4
 
With poems from all five continents and music from:
 
Linos Wengara Magaya
One of the UK’s foremost mbiri players, and leader of the
Zimbaremabwe music collective.
 
Los Bonobos
The eccentic French/German folk duo. Plenty of costume changes!

Maria Jastrzębska’s Everyday Angels

Maria Jastrzębska by Tricia Wass

  
Maria Jastrzębska was born in Warsaw, Poland and came to England as a child. She studied Developmental Psychology at the University of Sussex and has done various jobs including teaching English and teaching Self Defence to girls and women. She lives in Brighton and works part time as a Community Interpreter and for the Ethnic Minority Achievement Service in schools as well as teaching Creative Writing.
 
She is the winner of the Off_Press International Writing Competition and the author of five poetry collections: Postcards From Poland (Working Press), Home from Home (Flarestack, 2002), Syrena (Redbeck Press, 2004), I’ll Be Back Before You Know It (Pighog Press, 2009) and Everyday Angels (Waterloo Press, 2009). She was a co-editor of Forum Polek – Polish Women’s Forum, Poetry South (Pighog Press) and Whoosh! – Queer Writing South Anthology (Pighog Press).
 
Her own work has been much anthologised, most recently in See How I Land – Oxford Poets & Refugees (Heaven Tree Press, 2009), Telling Tales About Dementia (Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2009) and Antologia (Off_Press, 2010). Her drama, Dementia Diaries, was premiered in April 2009 by Lewes Live Literature. Her work has been translated into French, Japanese, Polish, Romanian and Slovenian. She is currently translating a collection by leading Slovenian poet Iztok Osojnik with translator and scholar Ana Jelnikar to be published in early 2011 by Pighog Press.
 
Visit www.south-pole.org.uk.
  
  

  
“Everyday Angels is a book filled with stories, such great vivid stories that span many worlds, that of Poland and Britain and those places where they overlap in the past and present. Jastrzębska’s poems have the beauty, warmth and rhythm of natural speech – a language that takes me directly into the poems. She has a ‘good ear’ and it serves her well. Moving, precise scenes and portraits bring a sense of true history. Tenderness and affection, grief and pain, duties and debts between generations, between us humans. Most of all, the poems show a deep respect for and fascination with people with all their faults and virtues and their marvels. I loved reading this unforgettable book.”
 
– Lee Harwood
 
 
“Maria Jastrzębska’s poetry explores major concerns of our age – exile, dementia and sexuality. She records the resilience of parents forced to leave their country, giving the places, people and rituals they left a shimmering, out-of-reach quality. This estrangement is embedded in language rich with names and phrases, always on the seam of the surreal. A mother at different stages of her life, but in particular fractured by dementia, girls on a bus, lovers, aunts – Jastrzębska’s writing is knowing and humane. This is an uplifting collection.”
 
– Jackie Wills
  
  
“There’s a subtlety and seeing-round corners perspective to her poems that could be Polish, could be queer or could just be pure Jastrzębska.”
  
– John O’Donoghue
 
 
*
 
 
 
Babcia Zosia

Oj Babciu
I never got a chance to tell you.
No bo niby jak, kiedy?
I loved your gravelly voice
even lower than Babcia Kicia’s
and everyone thought she was a bloke.
“Eye um nott sur, Eye um madam!”
she’d bellow down the phone.
 
You rasped like a jazz singer
in some smokey dive bar,
gruff with sex.
Your voice didn’t match how you looked –
cropped silver hair and sensible shoes.
I heard stories about you,
widowed young, no kids, driving
ambulances in the war, oj Babciu.
 
Za mało, za mało o Tobie wiem.
Your clothes were shabbier than ours.
We had our first electric fridge,
you put food out in snowdrifts on the sill.
We watched Dr.Who, while you tried
to get the BBC World Service on your radio
when the Russians didn’t jam the signal.
 
You promised you’d be back to see me
but you didn’t sound sure,
‘if I can save enough pennies’, you said.
Oj Babciu. I already knew.
  
  
* Babcia – gran, granny, great aunt.
 
 
 
Par Avion
 
When I send your parcel, there’s always
a queue. I’ve forgotten the cellotape,
so I have to buy more as well as a flat pak.
I want to take off my coat, but there’s nowhere
to put it and I’m already carrying too much:
your presents, my hat, gloves and now the box.
 
Luckily Rena takes pity on me, shows me
how to undo the flaps. I’m still trying
to join them all together, when an old woman
stands next to me. In a brown fake fur coat
and flesh-coloured tights, she’s bent
almost double, filling in a form.
 
Ripping cellotape with my teeth, I smile
and make room for her. Silently she points
to everything I keep dropping. Does Antoś
even like Spiderman, will Paweł think
a rucksack’s boring, maybe Ewka would have
preferred pink instead of lime green?
 
It used to be simpler: you could send
Nescafe, tea or, since it was still rationed,
always more chocolate. Before that
people sent blankets, men’s jackets, Ceres fats
no one there knew what to do with. Or else
it was Odorono and injections of liver extract.
 
It’s not as if we’re the first exchanging gifts
across this divide; before us our mothers
and grandmothers worrying if they’d sent
the right thing, would it arrive in one piece,
like the bottle of halibut oil, which did,
the ‘heavenly’ blue dress, exactly the right size.
 
Babcie over there sent me classics, favourites
in hardback no one here had heard of:
Tuwim, Sienkiewicz, Słowacki. Orphan
Marysia or the billy goat forever in trouble
and Hałabała who lived in a tree hollow,
frying bilberry pancakes on a tiny wood-stove.
 
Are you worrying what to send us? Please,
no more stuffed birds. No matter how colourful.
But send pictures – of anything, people
on a tram. In my photo of Ewka she’s still
a toddler, but probably by now she’s a Goth.
Would she have preferred something black?
 
By the time I’ve stuck everything down,
the old woman is leaving. ‘Cheerio!’ I call
after her, but she can’t hear me. I reach the front
of the queue, place your parcel on the scales at last.
I’ve stuffed the empty spaces with today’s
sports page, which I normally use as kindling.
 
But will the cellotape keep your parcel
safe, all that way, crammed into holds,
crossing borders through thick snow to arrive
in a quiet dawn at your door? I wish
I’d bought the thicker kind. Rena says:
Best to send this as small packet.
 
 
 
*
 
 
 
Planting Out Cabbages

I envied the altar boys
their white cassocks
and being allowed to ring the bell
before communion, but I had my eye
on the priest’s job.
 
Folded tea towels over my arm
and picking up a plastic doily mat,
trance-like round the kitchen, I copied
the solemn way he walked
carrying a silver tray
of flesh and blood which had come to us
from Mary’s womb
in the unlikely form of fruit.
 
Years later, the tai chi teacher traced
the shape of clouds through the air,
turning in slow motion on the spot.
She spoke of moving meditation.
I knew exactly what she meant.
I’d had years of sermons
when the priest thundered about the evil of divorce.
But then there was one (there’s always one
and for that I do thank God)
a priest who said prayer was something
you could do anywhere –
devotion found in the simplest task
even planting out cabbages,
which the brothers did in the vegetable patch
behind the chapel.
 
Tonight I wash my hands and face
at the sink, warm water slipping on my skin.
Delicious task.
We’ve come in from a chill, starry night
after seeing friends. You’re falling asleep on the sofa –
a defiant look on your face – and won’t go to bed
just like your daughter
when she’s too tired to know it.
The house is quiet and it’s late;
every part of the silver darkness
is there outside. I pull the curtains across.
 

  
*
 
  
  
I’m Taking My Daughter’s Violin to be Mended
 
I’m taking my daughter’s violin to be mended
when I notice three giraffes lolloping
down Portland Rd. I stop at the corner shop
to get some apples and see Tinu wearing
his cricket whites. He says it’s not the first time
those giraffes have turned up. He shows me
the new internet café at the back; it’s full
of lemon trees and gardenias. I’m about to ask
how they’ll survive the Winter, when I realise
the bass guitarist from Putrefaction is there
drinking chai. Naturally, I get his autograph,
which he scrawls onto a sheet of Elgar’s
Grade 5 piece, Salut d’Amor, tucked in the pocket
of my daughter’s violin case. The giraffes
have stopped by the elm tree just outside
so as I’m leaving, even though I’m in a hurry,
I offer them some of my apples.
 
 
 
*
  
  
 

Trupki Moje Trupki
 
“Trupki moje trupki, trupki wszystkie razem
trupki tanczą rumbę, cmentarz jest pod gazem.”
 
“Corpses, my old corpses having us a ball
dancing to the rumba, rat-arsed one and all.”
  
  
It’s not that the dead don’t argue back
they do and in the end
of course they have the last laugh
but the wind flaps in the birch trees
like a snowy bird.
Squirrels are greedy acrobats
waiting for handouts.
They put you at your ease,
make you feel at home.
 
Even the living are different here,
they’ll let you borrow a watering can
and their grief isn’t all buttoned up.
Coach-loads arrive to catch up with their dead.
Friends, families come from overseas,
they bring flags and bugles, ready
to salute or just to say hello.
You’ve never seen so many candles lit.
Lilies, roses everywhere –
the living chat freely with the dead
and the dead listen as they never did before
and the distance between them
though it doesn’t diminish
shimmers like a sheet of flame.
  
 
 
*
 
 
 
Kalami
 
At this time of year, black
nets for catching olives
are spread like widow’s crêpe,
under the trees. Dry leaves
like thousands of little fishes
crackle silver under my feet.
 
There are enough white pebbles
to skim the motionless water.
I find orchids in wild grass.
Wisteria petals blow
into my salad, lizards appear
as I’m about to turn away
 
and all over again
your death catches me out.
 
 
 
Published in Everyday Angels (Waterloo Press, 2009).
 
Order Everyday Angels.
 
Visit South Pole, Art with a Polish connection.
 
Read three of Maria’s poems on the Poetry International Web.
 
Visit Maria’s page at poetry p f.

Norman Buller’s Fools and Mirrors

Norman Buller was born and grew up in Birmingham, England. He was educated at Fircroft College, Birmingham and St. Catherine’s College, Cambridge, where he read English. He became one of the Cambridge poets of the early 1950s and his verse appeared in magazines and anthologies alongside that of Thom Gunn and Ted Hughes.
  
From the mid-1950s for about twenty-five years Buller wrote very little. His occupation was in careers advisory work at the universities of Sheffield, Queen’s Belfast and Birmingam. While at Belfast he took part in Philip Hobsbaum’s creative soirée alongside Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley and others and throughout that time published only one pamphlet of thirteen poems in 1965. Buller flared into print 30 years later with a pamphlet Travelling Light (Waterloo, 2005) swiftly followed by his first full collection Sleeping with Icons (Waterloo, 2007), which has been praised in journals including Envoi and Poetry Salzburg Review.
  
Buller has been published in anthologies and journals including, in the UK, Acumen, Outposts, The Interpreter’s House, The London Magazine, The Rialto, Cambridge Left and in the USA, The California Quarterly and The Comstock Review. He has had two previous chapbooks published, Thirteen Poems (Festival Publications, Queen’s University Belfast, 1965) and Travelling Light (Waterloo, 2005). His verse has been awarded prizes including first place in the Ware Poetry Competition.
 
 

 
Fools and Mirrors
Norman Buller
Waterloo Press, 2009
 
Norman Buller’s second full collection confronts the universal prism that Fools and Mirrors us. Behind the prosodic elegance beats an earthy vitalism that tussles with a disembodied, spiritual distrust of the physical – a fascinating dynamic. ‘Portraits by Francis Bacon’ captures the tortured carnality of that artist’s work, its misanthropic grotesquery provoking the poet’s Gulliverish revulsion at the animal in us. But Buller’s pessimism is more sceptical than devout, and when saying ‘we dream a sense of purpose/ …the rest is meat’, a sense of salvation triumphs in the beauty of such phrasing.
 
In stark contrast is an appetite for Lawrentian symbolism: ‘roadsides yellowed/ by phalluses of broom’. A poet deeply sceptical of the turn society has taken over the last three decades, Buller’s work is alert to an encroaching decadence that most pretend isn’t there. His is a humanistic politics that laments the post-War consensus, while quietly accusing capitalism of its gradual dismantling; from Aldermaston to the eerie blue skies of Manhattan 9/11.
 
In a more theological vein, Buller probes the spiritual life of Martin Luther, and, antithetically, Cardinal Newman, and Pope Innocent the Tenth via Velasquez. This detour through Catholicism echoes the Thomism of David Jones’s oeuvre: art as sacrament. There are portraits of Kandinsky, Klee, Chagall, and Walter Sickert via a model’s cockneyish idiom. Aphorisms flourish: ‘A church bell summons the faithful./ Something will endure’, or the sublime ‘…I wring your shadow in my hands’.
 
Alun Lewis and Dylan Thomas haunt ‘and night again prepares to bear/ the village away in sleep’, while ‘Dear Gerard’ ghosts Manley Hopkins uncannily. Such echoing of past voices, no mere pastiche, is almost mediumistic. The book’s core theme is mortality and the artist’s impulse to transcend it: ‘The poet aspires to the condition of art,/ a thing made which outlasts its maker’. Buller’s is a voice of endurance through self-transcendence whose historical verisimilitude makes for a more vital addressing of the present.
 

  
At The Three Crowns Inn
 
Sepia photographs
tell their dusty history
from walls that frame
this present clutter of strangers.
A rose-vine agitates
the latticed window,
rasping in the wind.
 
Across the yard
a rotting cider-press
lingers from
the same relinquished past.
Desultory birds,
not content with song,
sketch a sporadic music on the wires.
 
Twilight begins to alter
and shrink the landscape
while candles martyr
into melted wax.
Soon the gaggle of voices
thins to silence,
the strangers gone.
 
 
 
Fools and Mirrors
 
We fail each other when we meet,
compelled to see
into a glass reflecting what
we cannot be.
 
A second glass appears by phone
or written word;
there absence fools and mirrors us
in the absurd,
 
each loving what we’ve fashioned there.
So, to defeat
the truthful glass, should we stay fools
and never meet?
 
 
 
Endurance
(after Georg Trakl)
  
Recall again those tranquil days,
a gift of happiness from unknown hands.
Look! That town where a fountain plays
remembered music running into sands
 
of silence. The sick girl waits for him
in a scent of roses. He foresees her death
and wanders where the woods are dim
with sadness. See, the stars hold their breath
 
and dampen their fires! The mating shriek
of a bird fractures the silence. His shadow closes
on hers as if in embrace. Her weak
smile accepts a sheaf of crimson roses
 
laid in her hands. His soul is drawn
to her suffering. But at last her face betrays
death’s rigor. Now she moves through corn
and roses and will move through him always.
 
 
 
Of Love
 
Love is a growing, or full constant light;
                                                 John Donne

 
Love is not he-and-she
forever whirling
in nature’s tombola of lust.
 
Love is the Good Samaritan’s charity,
a father’s joy
at the Prodigal Son’s return.
 
Love is the only raft
afloat in the hurricane;
love is a drowning man reaching the shore.
 
Love is the bliss of knowing,
without even touching,
that the other is simply there.
 
 
 
Published in Fools and Mirrors (Waterloo Press, 2009).
 
Order Fools and Mirrors.
 
Visit Norman’s website.

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)
 

Waterloo Press: A Brighton Launch

Waterloo Press
cordially invites you to
the Brighton Launch of their
European Programme
  
featuring
  
Maria Jastrzębska
reading from her new poetry collection
Everyday Angels
 
Emily Jeremiah
reading from
Bright, Dusky, Bright
her translations of the work of
Eeva-Liisa Manner
  
and music from
the ‘passionate and gutsy’
Sarah Clarke
  
7:30 for 8pm / Tues, Feb 16th / £5/4
Iambic Arts Theatre
above Bell Book & Candle on Gardner St
** Entrance is behind the shop, on Regent St
and will be signposted with balloons **
Cash bar
  
* * * * * * * *
  
  
Maria Jastrzębska was born in Warsaw, Poland and came to England as a child. Previous collections include Postcards From Poland (Working Press), Home from Home (Flarestack, 2002), Syrena (Redbeck Press, 2004) and I’ll Be Back Before You Know It (Pighog Press, 2009). She was a co-editor of Forum Polek – Polish Women’s Forum, Poetry South and Whoosh!- Queer Writing South Anthology. Her work appears in many anthologies including See How I Land – Oxford Poets & Refugees (Heaven Tree Press, 2009) and Telling Tales About Dementia (Jessica Kingsley Publishers). Her drama Dementia Diaries was premiered in April 2009 by Lewes Live Literature. She was 2009 winner of the Off_Press international writing competition. Her work has been translated into French, Japanese, Polish, Romanian and Slovenian.
  
  
Eeva-Liisa Manner (1921-1995) was a central figure in Finnish Modernism. Her breakthrough collection, This Journey, was published in 1956, and was highly acclaimed. Manner published eleven collections of poetry in all, as well as prose works, plays for stage and radio, essays, reviews and translations. She was awarded numerous prizes for her work, which has been widely translated.
  
  
Emily Jeremiah is a lecturer in German at Royal Holloway, University of London. She is the author of an academic book, Troubling Maternity, as well as of fiction, articles, reviews, and translations. In 2006 she completed an MA in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, and in 2007 she was awarded a grant by Arts Council England to complete her first novel, Blue Moments. She was awarded joint third prize in the 2008 The Times Stephen Spender poetry translation competition. She lives in London.
  
  
Sarah Clarke mixes her own heartfelt songs with classic covers from Edith Piaf to Marc Bolan. Her voice is at the same time powerful but delicate, husky and honey-toned. A definite must-hear!

Naomi Foyle’s The Night Pavilion

     
  
Mademoiselle Mal Chance
Naomi Foyle

   
A secret of eyelashes;
       a daisy dipped in pitch;
             a delicate brooch
pinned to the side of the tub ―
  
                    until I approach
with my plundering streams,
my inveigling finger:
a menace,
              a moment,
                             a flood.
   
Where is your fine lifeline, spider?
Where are your eight water wings?
You sprawl, a legless gamine.
   
I share a hot bath with your corpse.
It clings to my skin like a mole.
My mascara runs in the steam.
  
 
  
The Angel of Anarchy
Naomi Foyle
  
after the bust by Eileen Agar
  
The night you wrapped my head
in a Wake knot of silk scarves,
clipped chains around my thighs,
pressed your cheek against the feather
inked into my breast —
 
that night I almost felt your breath
warmly puzzling my flesh.
You could have been a robber,
an artist, or a god. But from your smell
of pepper, mixed with baby mouse,
 
I sensed that who I was
beneath the mask, and why I stayed
a pinioned herald on your bed,
 
you were too afraid to ask.
  
  
 
Miss Dickinson Regrets
Naomi Foyle
 
Blandishments and tourniquets
won’t stem the Surgeon’s gash —
I left my Ribcage on the Beach,
my brain Pan in the wash.
  
My Heart I folded in a cloth,
and placed it in a Basin,
with my Skin I stitched a cloak —
no Sleeves to slip your Ace in.
  
I left my Flesh so far behind
your Love to forage for…
Now, with ancient Teeth I munch
Starry porridge raw.
  
My face remains in Lockets
you lost inside a drawer.
Be careful turning back your Clocks —
inside their slow, infernal Works
  
I spat one sharpened Claw.
  
 
  
Your Summer Arm
Naomi Foyle
 
Was it an odd sort of cricket
climbing my oak dresser? No ―
an emerald shield bug, you said,
watching as I tried to slide
 
a piece of A4 paper
beneath its crooked legs.
When a foot caught, and tore,
I thought we both might cry.
 
 
*
 
 
Where is grass to comfort that green?
Those sweet, young shoots
I slipped from their sheaths
and chewed with wobbly teeth?
 
Now, as we curl into bed,
outside in the whistling damp
the husk I dismembered today
begins to decay in the leaves.
 
 
*
 
 
This whirring of thoughts,
rustle of pages,
mean nothing to you
anymore.
 
Your breathing is so quiet,
I’d hardly know you were there
if it wasn’t for the glowing limb
buried in my hair.
 
 
 
from The Night Pavilion (Waterloo Press, 2008),
a Poetry Book Society Recommendation
  
Carol Rumens blogs about ‘Your Summer Arm’.
    
    

Naomi Foyle

    
“Truly original new work in verse and prose, as well as some adventurous, idiomatic translations, unsettle complacency and challenge expectations. Ostentatious, flirtatious, sometimes witty, technically ambitious and expansively sensuous, these poems push boundaries of form, genre and manner. At the same time they are highly approachable. Discerning readers will be delighted to discover a poet whose work is innovative but far from obscure, entertaining but never escapist.”
   
– Carol Rumens
  
 
“Naomi Foyle’s The Night Pavilion, her superb and startling first collection, glories in “needles, nettles, splinters” but it is the hard forms of those unlovely things, as much as their power to sting, which she celebrates. For all their mastery of form, these are poems that prowl, poems with whiskers, alert to “the tender tips of words.” She has an eye, and a nose, for unseemly contrasts—not only “cock” and “cunt” but the sexiest “crop circles” on record—and yet, out of these rude collisions a difficult beauty takes shape … Even so, just when you begin to think that Foyle is a lineal descendant of the Three Weird Sisters, all packed into one “pink hovel” of a mouth, you detect the sadness beneath the fierce aplomb.”
  
– Eric Ormsby
  
 
“No stranger to the intricacies of pain or the mystery of pleasure, in which both men and women are ‘blindfolded’ and bound – whether in ballads or prose poems – Naomi Foyle writes with elegance and wit, while never pulling any punches.”
 
– Maria Jastrzębska
   
  
Read more about Naomi Foyle and The Night Pavilion.
  
Order The Night Pavilion.