Friday Poem – ‘Lakeclean’ by Polly Atkin

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Lakeclean’ by Polly Atkin from her latest collection Much With Body which is a Poetry Book Society Winter Choice.

This cover shows a painting of a swimmer floating on her back in a blue green lake.

Much With Body is the startlingly original second collection by poet Polly Atkin. The beauty of the Lake District is both balm and mirror, refracting pain and also soothing it with distraction. Much of the landscape is lakescape, giving the book a watery feel, the author’s wild swimming being just one kind of immersion. There is also a distinct link with the past in a central section of found poems taken from transcripts of the journals of Dorothy Wordsworth, from a period late in her life when she was often ill. In common with the works of the Wordsworths, these poems share a quality of the metaphysical sublime. Their reverence for the natural world is an uneasy awe, contingent upon knowledge of our fragility and mortality.


Still damp hours after I sank myself under the surface my hair
smells like violets when I run my hand through it

not the ones crushed at the edge of the path through the wood,
yesterday’s shampoo. My skin smells of heat and mud.

I don’t swim because it’s challenging I swim because I can. For the body
released from the tyranny of gravity, resistance of air. Land

is the enemy. We are comfortable here, suspended, above,
in, and under. We dwell in transparency.

We sweep mountains aside with our arms without wincing.
We move with something like ease.

Much With Body is available on the Seren website: £9.99

Create your free Seren account and enjoy 20% off every book you buy direct from us.

Join us online for the virtual launch of Much With Body on Wednesday 20th October from 7pm. Polly will be reading from the collection alongside guest readers Hannah Hodgson, Éireann Lorsung and Claudine Toutoungi. Register for free via Eventbrite

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