Friday Poem – ‘1986’ by Eric Ngalle Charles

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘1986’ by Eric Ngalle Charles from his debut collection Homelands. You can hear Eric chatting about the book on the The Seren Poetry Podcast which is available now on all podcast platforms.

This cover shows a painting of a young African boy standing in front of a wooden wall. He is wearing a large black hat, blue robe around his waist and is holding a bunch of reeds.

In Homelands, his debut collection, Eric Ngalle Charles draws on his early life raised by the matriarchs of Cameroon, being sent to Moscow by human traffickers, and finding a new home in Wales. Rich in tone, subject and emotion, Charles’ poetry moves between the present and the past, between Africa and Europe, and between despair and hope. It discovers that historical injustices now play out in new forms, and that family tensions are as strong as the love within a family. Despite the difficulties Charles has faced, Homelands contains poems of fondness, warmth and humour and, as he returns to Cameroon to confront old ghosts, forgiveness. 

1986
Red Moon over lake Nyos,
doomsday whispers armed with drums,
survivors like ghosts of the apocalypse,
singing choruses of the end times.
Why have the gods forsaken us?
Red Moon over the poisonous lake,
salutations of umbra and penumbra.
Survivors like Old Testament eremite
from yonder, foretelling tales, turning
ghosts, consumed by gaseous light.
Red Moon, dogs in heat, barking.
One lone, dazed survivor. See her:
standing/stuttering/falling/holding
onto nearby railings. Did she invite
disaster by boiling beans overnight?
Red Moon over lake Nyos.
Noises, clamoring. They went to bed
and never woke up. The few, resurrected,
singing choruses of the end times.
Why have the gods forsaken us?

*Lake Nyos disaster, Bamenda, Cameroon, 1986: a limnic eruption on the 24th of August 1986 killed 1,746 people. 

The Seren Poetry Podcast is a new series of in-depth interviews with Seren poets. Episode 8 with Eric Ngalle Charles is available to listen to now.

Simply search ‘The Seren Poetry Podcast’ in your favourite podcast app and follow or subscribe to have all future editions delivered straight to your podcast feed. Available on all platforms including Apple PodcastsSpotify and Google Podcasts. Don’t forget to leave us a review if you like what you hear.

Homelands is available on the Seren website for £9.99

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

Seren Christmas Gift Guide 2022

This Christmas, find gifts for the whole family with our 2022 gift guide. We’ve got special offers on some of your favourite authors, books which are hot-off-the-press and popular classics.

Bestsellers

All The Men I Never Married by Kim Moore

'All The Men I Never Married' by Kim Moore

Shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Poetry 2022, All The Men I Never Married is the astounding second collection by Kim Moore. Pointedly feminist, challenging and keenly aware of the contradictions and complexities of desire, this collection speaks to the experiences of many women. The 48 numbered poems take us through a gallery of exes and significant others where we encounter rage, pain, guilt, and love.

Four Dervishes by Hammad Rind

'Four Dervishes' by Hammed Rind

“Easily the most remarkable work of fiction to come out of Wales in a thousand moons” says Jon Gower. Hammad Rind’s debut novel Four Dervishes is a satirical comedy which takes inspiration from the dastan, an ornate form of oral history. Forced onto the street by a power cut, the unnamed narrator finds himself sheltering in a cemetery where he comes across four others – a grave digger, an aristocrat, an honourable criminal and a messiah – each with a past, and with a story to tell. Crimes have been committed, dark family secrets revealed, fortunes rise and fall, the varieties of love are explored, and new selves are discovered in a rich round of storytelling. And as the Disappointed Man discovers, a new story is about to begin…

Bar 44: Tapas y Copas by Owen & Tom Morgan

Bar 44 Tapas y Copas is the perfect gift for hardcore foodies and home cooks alike. Packed with over 100 out of this world recipes which elevate Spanish cuisine to exciting new heights, it includes dishes for any occasion. Chicken sobrassada and spiced yoghurt, beetroot gazpacho, tuna tartare with apple ajo blanco, lamb empanada, strawberry and cava sorbet and pear and olive oil cake are just some of the dishes you can try at home. There’s even a chapter dedicated to sherry and Spanish wines with some fantastic cocktails mixed in for good measure. What more could you want?

100 Poems to Save the Earth edited by Zoë Brigley and Kristian Evans

'100 Poems to Save the Earth' edited by Zoë Brigley and Kristian Evans'

A book for both the climate conscious and poetry fanatics, this landmark anthology 100 Poems to Save the Earth brings together poems by the best new and established contemporary poets from Britain, Ireland, America and beyond. They invite us to fine-tune our senses, to listen to the world around us, and pay attention to what we have been missing. The defining crisis of our time is revealed to be fundamentally a crisis of perception. We must act now if we are to save the only planet we have.

Dark Land, Dark Skies by Martin Griffiths

'Dark Land, Dark Skies: The Mabinogion in the Night Sky' by Martin Griffiths.

In Dark Land, Dark Skies, astronomer Martin Griffiths subverts conventional astronomical thought by eschewing the classical naming of constellations and investigating Welsh and Celtic naming. Ancient peoples around the world placed their own myths and legends in the heavens, though these have tended to become lost behind the dominant use of classical cultural stories to name stars. In many cases it is a result of a literary culture displacing an oral one. Griffiths draws on his research into the past use of Welsh heroes from the Mabinogion in the naming of constellations, to create an interesting and provocative guidebook that combines astronomy with a new perspective on Welsh mythology.

Darkness in the City of Light by Tony Curtis

The ‘city of light’ under German occupation: Paris, a place, a people, lives in flux. And among these uncertainties, these compromised loyalties, these existences under constant threat, lives Marcel Petiot, a mass murderer. A doctor, a resistance fighter, a collaborator: who can tell? Stretching backwards and forwards through the twentieth century, Darkness in the City of Light is a remarkable multi-form novel that combines fiction, journals, poetry and images in its investigation of what war can let loose, and how evil can dominate a man. The compelling debut novel by Tony Curtis.

Christmas Bundle: The Occasional Vegan and The Seasonal Vegan by Sarah Philpott

'The Occasional Vegan' by Sarah Philpott (background) with 'The Seasonal Vegan' by Sarah Philpott (foreground).

The Occasional Vegan is a collection of simple, affordable and delicious recipes, suitable for newcomers and long-time vegans alike, that will keep you well-fed and healthy. Author Sarah Philpott’s recipes are accompanied by the story of her own journey to becoming a vegan, exploring the ethical and lifestyle arguments for a plant-based diet. Her recipes are homely and easily cooked, suitable for gourmet cooks and the kitchen novice.

In her follow-up, The Seasonal Vegan she presents a kitchen diary of seasonal recipes with a delicious mixture of fine food writing and beautiful photography. Her guide to eating with the seasons takes a realistic approach to shopping cheaply and sustainably and proves that the vegan lifestyle is anything but expensive.

163 Days by Hannah Hodgson

'163 Days' by Hannah Hodgson.

In her debut collection 163 Days Hannah Hodgson uses a panoply of medical, legal, and personal vocabularies to explore what illness, death and dying does to a person as both patient and witness. In her long poem ‘163 Days’, her longest period of hospitalisation to date, she probes various truths which clash like a tray of dropped instruments in a silent operating theatre. The mundanity of hospital life is marbled by a changing landscape of mood, hope and loss. A gap yawns between the person she is, and the person in her medical notes. In ‘Aftercare’, Hannah navigates the worlds of both nightclubs and hospice care as she embarks on a new version of her life as a disabled adult. An important collection, in which Hodgson’s true voice takes poetry into difficult places.

The Rivalry of Flowers by Shani Rhys James

'The Rivalry of Flowers' by Shani Rhys James.

The Rivalry of Flowers is a book of new paintings and works by Shani Rhys James, one of Britain’s leading and most distinctive artists. Her latest work has developed a lighter palette to deal with new subjects of flowers and colourful patterned wallpaper backgrounds. These themes of domesticity are not anodyne however, but informed by ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s 1892 story about the plight of women in the home. Rhys James’s paintings continue her exploration of the position of women in society, and in particular how women can be imprisoned by consumerism and the domestic environment.

With contributions from William Packer, Francesca Rhydderch and Edward Lucie-Smith.

Christmas Bundle: Kidnap Fury of the Smoking Lovers and The Stromness Dinner by Peter Benson

'The Stromness Dinner' by Peter Benson (background) with 'Kidnap Fury of the Smoking Lovers' by Peter Benson (foreground).

If a light, witty read is what you’re looking for, then you’ve found it here. Kidnap Fury of the Smoking Lovers details exactly how Fargo Hawkins steals a car to travel across Britain with his ex-employer’s wife. Described by Buzz Magazine as the ‘perfect read to provide a bit of escapism’, this novel will bring a bit of joy in lieu of winter gloom this Christmas.  

Preter’s previous novel The Stromness Dinner is the story of two Londoners who follow their dreams. Odd job man Ed and city banker Claire end up in Stromness where they find anything is possible in this compelling novel. Kind, funny, narrated by white van man Ed, The Stromness Dinner is a novel which rattles along with “irresistible pace and panache” – Val Hennessy.

Twelve Poems for Christmas edited by Amy Wack

'Twelve Poems for Christmas' edited by Amy Wack.

Twelve Poems for Christmas is a sparkling selection of Christmas poems, the perfect stocking filler for any poetry addict. These are poems full of feeling that resist cliché, that touch on classic ‘Christmas’ themes, but bring them to life from fresh perspectives. The pamphlet opens with Pippa Little’s lyrical and tender poem, ‘St. Leonore and the Robin’, and features poems both humorous and contemplative. Small enough to send with (or instead of) a card, this is the perfect festive treat for your loved ones.

Fiction Favourites

This Is Not Who We Are by Sophie Buchaillard

'This Is Not Who We Are' by Sophie Buchaillard.

This is Not Who We Are is the gripping debut novel by Sophie Buchaillard which follows the lives of two women, Iris and Victoria. In 1994 they are pen friends. Iris writes to Victoria from her home in Paris. Victoria writes back from a refugee camp in Goma, having fled the genocide in Rwanda in which thousands are being killed. One day Victoria’s letters stop, and Iris is told she has been moved.

Twenty years after their unlikely pen pal correspondence, they are living different lives in different places. But this one horrific event still connects them. As the pressure of long-kept family secrets builds, will they ever find each other?

Sabrinas Teardrop by Leslie Scase

'Sabrina's Teardrop' by Leslie Scase.

Fans of historical crime fiction are sure to be captivated by Leslie Scase’s latest Inspector Chard mystery Sabrina’s Teardrop. Returning to his native Shrewsbury, the previously enigmatic Inspector Chard finds himself arrested for a horrific double murder. Facing execution, he must fight to clear his name. As tensions rise, can Chard find a missing woman and the stolen Sabrina’s Teardrop sapphire to solve the riddle before it is too late?

Don’t forget to also look up book two in the series Fatal Solution.

Two-book Deal: Scar Tissue and An Affair of the Heart by Clare Morgan

'An Affair of the Heart' by Clare Morgan (background) with 'Scar Tissue' by Clare Morgan (foreground).

In a world of uncertainties, how do human beings navigate the increasingly complex interrelations of love, desire, home, community? In her short story collections An Affair of the Heart and Scar Tissue Clare Morgan offers a fresh perspective on the nature of individual existence in all its transient vulnerability. In these lyrical, evocative and searching stories, Clare Morgan unflinchingly explores the darker and more challenging aspects of emotional, sexual and familial relationships, while simultaneously celebrating the joys of being alive in an unfathomable world. 

The Chicken Soup Murder by Maria Donovan

'The Chicken Soup Murder' by Maria Donovan.

Maria Donovan’s debut novel, The Chicken Soup Murder, subverts the crime and murder mystery genres in a meditation on bereavement, friendship and the meaning of family. This emotionally involving coming-of-age narrative is told with resilience and humour by eleven-year-old Michael, a thoughtful boy who tests the boundaries of his own behaviour as he carries a burden of knowledge no one else seems willing to share.

Japan Stories by Jayne Joso

Japan Stories is a spellbinding collection of short fiction set in Japan by Jayne Joso. Each centres on a particular character – a sinister museum curator, a son caring for his dementia-struck father, a young woman who returns to haunt her killer, and a curious homeless man intent on cleaning your home with lemons! This work also includes Joso’s stories, ‘I’m not David Bowie’ and ‘Maru-chan’ an homage to Yayoi Kusama. Together, these compelling narratives become a mosaic of life in contemporary Japan, its people, its society, its thinking, its character. Illustrated by Manga artist Namiko, Japan Stories provides a window into a country we would all love to know more deeply.  

Please by Christopher Meredith

'Please' by Christopher Meredith.

“Punctuation killed my wife,” states octogenarian Vernon in the opening sentence of Please. Full of humanity, sly humour and verbal invention, Christopher Meredith’s fifth novel is his shortest and arguably funniest, most innovative and most outrageous. It’s a tragicomedy touching on themes of the limits of knowledge, on isolation, and male frailty in new and playful ways. The whole gradually and inexorably unlocks the meanings of its extraordinary opening sentence in a complex and dazzling psychological and linguistic entertainment that ends in a surprising, dreamlike and ultimately moving denouement.

Miriam, Daniel and Me by Euron Griffith

'Miriam, Daniel and Me' by Euron Griffith.

When Miriam fell in love with Padraig life seemed simple. But she soon discovered that love is a treacherous business. Everything changed when she met Daniel. She was taken down an unexpected path which would dictate and dominate the rest of her life.

Spanning three generations of a North Wales family in a Welsh-speaking community, Miriam, Daniel and Me is Euron Griffith’s absorbing and compelling story of family discord, political turmoil, poetry, jealousy… and football.

Top Travelogues

The Edge of Cymru: A Journey by Julie Brominicks

'The Edge of Cymr: A Journey' by Julie Brominicks.

The Edge of Cymru is the story of Julie Brominicks’ year-long walk around the edge of Wales. As an educator she knew a lot about the country’s natural resources. But as a long established incomer from England and more recent Welsh learner, she wanted to know more about its history, about Wales today, and her place in it. As her walk unwinds the history of Wales is also unwound, from the twenty-first century back to pre-human times, often viewed through an environmental lens. Brominicksʼ observations of the places and people she meets on her journey make a fascinating alternative travelogue about Wales and the lives its people live. A quest of personal discovery, the narrative of The Edge of Cymru is also a refreshingly different way of looking at place, identity, memory and belonging.

Delirium by Robert Minhinnick

'Delirium' by Robert Minhinnick.

In his new book of short prose pieces, Delirium, award winning author Robert Minhinnick delivers a breathless epic. It opens with a real 1945 diary kept in Burma, and Minhinnick telling stories to his mother in her care home. There are a series of pictures of war-stricken Baghdad, and vignettes about place and travel, dedicated to Jan Morris. On the way we encounter a Middle East island devoted to sustainability, close ups of what clearing a family house reveals, and the writer’s intimately imagined Welsh sand dunes, as well as the Covid pandemic, threats of extinction, and images of post-apocalyptic life.

Real Hay-on-Wye by Kate Noakes

'Real Hay-on-Wye' by Kate Noakes.

This new addition to the Real Series explores the town of Hay-on-Wye, home to the prestigious the Hay Literature Festival, How the Light Gets In festival, and so-called ‘town of books’. Kate Noakes ventures into its hinterland, which is historically so much a part of the town too. The Black Mountains to the south, the river and Clyro to the north, rural Herefordshire to the east and out towards Brecon to the west fall into her territory, a rich and varied area, which appears in so many travel guides and so much literature, and in the DNA of Hay locals as their patch. The beautiful countryside and dramatic mountains surrounding Hay also bear witness to change and Noakes makes her own contribution to the cultural heritage of an area which has inspired artists and in particular writers, for centuries. Real Hay-on-Wye is full of discoveries in a place that is familiar to many, though not as familiar as we might think.

Critically-acclaimed

A City Burning by Angela Graham

'A City Burning' by Angela Graham.

Longlisted for the Edge Hill Short Story Prize 2021

A city burns in a crisis − because the status quo has collapsed and change must come. Every value, relationship and belief is shaken and the future is uncertain.

In the twenty-six stories in A City Burning, set in Wales, Northern Ireland and Italy, children and adults face, in the flames of personal tragedy, moments of potential transformation. Some of these moments occur in mundane circumstances, others amidst tragedy or drama. On the threshold of their futures each must make a choice: how to live in this new ‘now’. 

Much With Body by Polly Atkin

'Much With Body' by Polly Atkin.

Longlisted for the Laurel Prize 2022

In Much With Body by 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.

The Amazingly Astonishing Story by Lucy Gannon

'The Amazingly Astonishing Story' by Lucy Gannon.

Shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year 2021

By turns laugh out loud funny and deeply sad, The Amazingly Astonishing Story is a frank and surprising look into a child’s tumultuous mind, a classic story of a working-class girl growing up in the 60s. Her Catholic upbringing, a father torn between daughter and new wife, her irreverent imagination and determination to enjoy life, mean this really is an amazing story (including meeting the Beatles).

‘The saddest, happiest, funniest books I’ve read for ages.’ – Dawn French

Inspiring Stories

Aperture: Life Through a Fleet Street Lens by John Downing

'Aperture: Life Through A Fleet Street Lens' by John Downing.

John Downing was the pre-eminent press photographer of his generation. His memoir, Aperture: Life Through a Fleet Street Lens, offers a unique and first-hand insight into life behind the Fleet Street lens during one of the most interesting periods of world history and a golden age of photojournalism. The glamour and excitement of journalism at the time: the hard-nosed editors, the rivalries, the ‘work hard play hard culture’, foreign assignments issued at the drop of a hat, are brought vividly to life, but so too is the toll on journalists and photographers. At a time when the world was less accessible than now, newspapers, and photojournalists in particular, played a vital role in shining light into some of its darker, more inaccessible parts. Completed shortly before his death, with the help of colleague Wendy Holden, Downing filed a story for the final time: his own remarkable life.

Elaine Morgan: Life Behind the Screen by Daryl Leeworthy

'Elaine Morgan: A Life Behind the Screen' by Daryl Leeworthy.

Elaine Morgan: A Life Behind the Screen is Daryl Leeworthy’s informative biography of award-winning screen writer Elaine Morgan. The book establishes her reputation and significant place in writing from Wales. It outlines her early days living only just above the poverty line in the Rhondda, before reading English Literature at Oxford, and examines her careers as an award-winning television writer and visionary anthropologist. Richly detailed it is essential in understanding the life and work of this important writer.

“A scintillating new biographical study, impressively researched and elegantly written.” – Dai Smith

Best New Poetry

Escape Room by Bryony Littlefair

'Escape Room' by Bryony Littlefair.

Escape Room is the long-awaited debut collection by Bryony Littlefair, following her Mslexia prize-winning pamphlet Giraffe. At the heart of Escape Room is the question of how to find light within the pain of anxiety and loss, the consolatory powers of friendship and creativity and the reimagining of life’s darkness as ‘an emerald, exciting kind of dark, a gaseous dark, dark / with a lot of light inside it.’

Balancing resolute joy, with humour and irony, it is a contemporary Betjemanesque exploration of suburban, middle-class life, with all its apathy and subconscious fear. Wryly observed this collection’s warmth, honesty and precision makes it an irresistible and perspicacious first collection.

Two-book Deal: Peter Finch’s Collected Poems: Volumes 1&2

'Collected Poems: One 1968-1997' by Peter Finch (background) with 'Collected Poems: Two 1997-2021' by Peter Finch (foreground).

Peter Finch’s two-volume Collected Poems chart the course of a remarkable writing career. A restless exploration of the ideas behind his boundary-pushing poems, they are a testament to the experimental in literature, to ways of doing it differently, and to an alternative modernist culture in Wales and Britain. Consequently, invaluably, they also open a window on a poetry scene seemingly lost from view to the twenty-first century. They remind us that there was interesting and vital writing happening outside of what has now calcified into the canon of twentieth century British poetry. And that Finch was at its cutting edge.  

“The publication of his collected poems in two big juicy volumes will delight readers new and old.” – The Western Mail

Lairs by Judy Brown

'Lairs' By Judy Brown.

Lairs brings together something primal and secret – the lair as haven for a wild or feral animal – with the poem framed as a mathematical equation. In these terms, the ‘lair’ is a kind of nest, a beautiful accumulation of dense detail. The poems are introspective, by turns analytical, fearful and mocking in their response to the systems shaping an altered world. The use of language is innovative, while maintaining moments of vulnerability and moving self-awareness. In these exquisite poems, the lair is both the community at large and a dark and intricate interior space where something wild still survives. 

Homelands by Eric Ngalle Charles

'Homelands' By Eric Ngalle Charles.

In his debut collection Homelands, Eric Ngalle Charles draws on his early life raised by the matriarchs of Cameroon, being sent to Moscow by human traffickers, and finding a new home in Wales. Rich in tone, subject and emotion, Charles’ poetry moves between the present and the past, between Africa and Europe, and between despair and hope. It discovers that historical injustices now play out in new forms, and that family tensions are as strong as the love within a family. Despite the difficulties Charles has faced, Homelands contains poems of fondness, warmth and humour and, as he returns to Cameroon to confront old ghosts, forgiveness.

Goliat by Rhiannon Hooson

'Goliat' by Rhiannon Hooson.

Goliat is the second collection by Rhiannon Hooson, a follow-up to her Wales Book of the Year nominated debut, The Other City. An intelligent and beautiful book, Goliat offers absorbing stories of a precarious world on the brink of climate emergency. Employing startling imagery and a deep sense of history, these poems explore the irreplaceable beauty of a wild world, and the terrible damage that humans might do to each other and the earth.

“Hooson’s poetry is a rich and assured gift—complex truths are revealed in language that is precise and luminous.” – Menna Elfyn

As If To Sing by Paul Henry

'As If To Sing' By Paul Henry.

The power of song, to sustain the human spirit, resonates through As If To Sing. A trapped caver crawls back through songs to the sea; Welsh soldiers pack their hearts into a song on the eve of battle, ‘for safe-keeping’; a child crossing a bridge sings ‘a song with no beginning or end’… Rich in the musical lyricism admired by readers and fellow poets, As If To Sing is an essential addition to Paul Henry’s compelling body of work.

As If To Sing explores the human condition through the language of music and does so with a mastery of poetics.’ – Wales Arts Review

Sanctuary: There Must Be Somewhere by Angela Graham

'Sanctuary: There Must Be Somewhere' by Angela Graham, with Phil Cope, Viviana Fiorentino, Mahyar, Csilla Toldy and Glen Wilson.

Sanctuary is – urgent. The pandemic has made people crave it; political crises are denying it to millions; the earth is no longer our haven. This theme has enormous traction at a time of existential fear − especially among the young − that nowhere is safe. Even our minds and our bodies are not refuges we can rely on. Truth itself is on shaky ground. In Sanctuary: There Must Be Somewhere, Angela Graham and five other writers from Wales and Northern Ireland, addresses these critical situations from the inside. How we can save the earth, ourselves and others? How valid is the concept of a ‘holy’ place these days? Are any values still sacrosanct? We all deserve peace and security but can these be achieved without exploitation?

With Phil Cope, Viviana Fiorentino, Mahyar, Csilla Toldy and Glen Wilson

“A necessary and urgent response to the world’s increasing crises…” – Robert Minhinnick

Same Difference by Ben Wilkinson

'Same Difference' by Ben Wilkinson.

Same Difference is the formally acute second collection by Ben Wilkinson. Carefully crafted, and charged with contemporary language, the poems play with poetic voice and the dramatic monologue, keeping us on our toes and asking just who is doing the talking. Throughout, he ‘steps into the shoes’ of French symbolist poet Paul Verlaine (1844-96), reframing his voice for modern readers. Brimming with everyone from cage fighters and boy racers to cancer patients and whales in captivity, Same Difference is gritty, darkly ironic and often moving – a collection for our times.

Books for Nature Lovers

Waterfalls of Stars by Rosanne Alexander

'Waterfalls of Stars' by Roseanne Alexander.

When Rosanne Alexander’s boyfriend Mike was offered the job of warden of Skomer Island, they had just ten days to leave college, marry (a condition of employment) and gather their belongings and provisions. With great sensitivity, and humour, Rosanne Alexander relates their experiences, including her observations of the island’s wildlife and landscape. Her lyrical evocation of the natural world will inspire and entertain anyone who has felt the need for escape. Waterfalls of Stars is the perfect gift for any one needing a captivating breath of literary air.

Christmas bundle: Wild Places Wales and Wild Places UK by Iolo Williams

'Wild Places: Wales' Top 40 Nature Sites' by Iolo Williams (background) with 'Wild Places UK: Uk's Top 40 Nature Sites' by Iolo Williams (foreground).

In these two books, television naturalist Iolo Williams picks his top 40 nature sites, first in Wales and then across the UK. He criss-crosses countries, taking in coastal sites from marshes to towering cliffs, to mountains, valleys, bogs, meadows, woods and land reclaimed from industry. Drawing on his considerable knowledge, he guides readers and visitors to the natural delights of each site. Illustrated in beautiful detail with glorious images of the sites by top nature photographers, naturalists of all kinds will find much to enjoy in these fascinating volumes.

The Owl House by Daniel Butler

'The Owl House' by Daniel Butler.

In The Owl House, Daniel Butler charts his relationship with two barn owls which nested in the barn of his rural mid-Wales home. In this pastoral exploration of his locale, rich in wildlife of all kinds, he roams the mountains and forests, takes trips to the coast, encounters all manner of animals and birds, and grows to understand the relationship between the local people and their surroundings. A rich and vivid portrait of one of the most remote and sparsely populated areas of Britain – mid-Wales – broad in its horizons yet full of fascinating detail.

Seren Classics

The Green Bridge edited by John Davies

'The Green Bridge' edited by John Davies.

The short story has long been a popular form with writers and readers in Wales.  The Green Bridge, part of the Seren Classics series, collects work by 25 of the country’s foremost writers of the twentieth century in an entertaining and varied anthology. Horror, satire, humour, war, tales of the aristocracy, of navvies, love, and madness, industry, the countryside, politics and sport: these stories provide insight into the changing values of Wales and the world.

Tide-Race by Brenda Chamberlain

'Tide-Race' by Brenda Chamberlain.

Tide-Race is Brenda Chamberlain’s remarkable account of life on Bardsey Island (Ynys Enlli in Welsh), a remote and mysterious island off the coast of North Wales, where she lived from 1947 to 1961, during the last days of its hardy community. The combination of Bardsey, ancient site of Christian pilgrimage, wild and dangerous landscape, and Brenda Chamberlain, Royal Academy trained artist, results in a classic book, vividly illustrated by the author’s line drawings.

Stocking Fillers

Other Women’s Kitchens by Alison Binney

'Other Women's Kitchens' by Alison Binney

Winner of the Mslexia Women’s Poetry Pamphlet Competition 2020

Alison Binney’s debut pamphlet of poems Other Women’s Kitchens introduces us to a gifted new voice who writes with flair and feeling about coming out and coming of age as a gay woman in 21st century Britain. The collection explores the challenges of discovering and owning a lesbian identity in the 1980s and 1990s and the joy of finding both love and increased confidence in that identity as an adult. Beautifully entertaining, pointedly political and often very funny, Other Women’s Kitchens is essential reading.

Angola, America by Sammy Weaver

'Angola, America' by Sammy Weaver.

Winner of the Mslexia Poetry Pamphlet Competition 2021

Angola, America takes its name from a prison in Louisiana in the southern United Sates. In these strikingly original, thoroughly contemporary, and deeply moving poems, we are immersed in the world the inmates must endure. From the first poem, when we witness a home-made tattoo and understand that this scarring and incision is a “map in the connective tissue of pain and loss”, we are drawn into this world in a way that is carefully observed and beautifully empathetic.

Flamingo by Kathryn Bevis

'Flamingo' By Kathryn Bevis.

Kathryn Bevis’s critically-acclaimed debut pamphlet Flamingo introduces us to a troupe of wild, unique, and captivating poems. Life and our own embodiment are brought sharply into focus as we encounter a variety of subjects including work, survival, love, and mortality. Formally inventive, these hopeful and sometimes surreal poems are not afraid to confront complex or difficult emotions. Cancer is posed as a ring-tailed lemur, capering through the sufferer’s body, and the title poem imagines death as a flamboyant transformation where the speaker shapeshifts into the afterlife. Each poem is a discovery and a joy.

“A stunning and original pamphlet… inspiring, impressive and wonderful.” – The London Grip

bodies, and other haunted houses by S.L. Grange

'bodies, and other haunted houses' by S.L. Grange.

Winner of the inaugural Poetry Wales Pamphlet Competition 2021

Speaking from and for LGBTQIA+ communities, SL Grange gives a voice to lost transcestors, celebrates acts of resistance, sings a gender-fluid love song, and hosts a tender-angry conversation with the ghosts of the personal and political histories that inhabit us. In true haunted house tradition, the non-human and the supernatural are also given rooms of their own; personal demons are summoned, we are entangled with our wilder sides. Witchcraft, seance and prophecy are invoked and brought up against sharp slices of reality. Described by judges as ‘strong and self-assured’, ‘sheer gorgeous’, and ‘a dark and brooding collection that combines the visceral nature of the body with the ephemeral and supernatural’, bodies, and other haunted houses is a beautifully crafted exploration of identity which queers time as well as self.

Subscriptions

Seren Gift Subscription

The one year Seren Gift Subscription is the perfect present for any book lover. The recipient will receive three brand-new Seren books across the year plus a range of other subscriber perks. Buy today and we’ll post them a gift card explaining who the gift is from to open on Christmas Day in advance of the first book arriving in January 2023. Every new subscriber will receive a Seren tote-bag, notebook and pen with their first delivery.

Poetry Wales Subscription

Founded in 1965, Poetry Wales is Wales’ foremost poetry magazine. Edited by Zoë Brigley, the magazine publishes internationally respected contemporary poetry, features and reviews in its triannual print and digital magazine. Its mission is to sustain and preserve the artistic works both inspiring our literary present and shaping our literary future. The perfect gift for any poetry lover.

Still not found what you’re looking for?

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

Friday Poem – ‘What the Burglar Took’ by Rosalind Hudis

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘What the Burglar Took’ by Rosalind Hudis from her collection Restorations. You can hear Rosalind chatting about the book on the The Seren Poetry Podcast which is available now on all podcast platforms.

This cover shows an abstract print of some mountains tinged with hints of blue, red and purple. The text reads: Restorations, Rosalind Hudis.

Restorations is a journey into what it means to preserve – a monument, a moment, a life-story, a poppy. It’s about the hunger to possess and the need to let go. Welding themes from art and history with the contemporary, there are poems about pigments and dictators, glue and glass houses, collections, crinolines, and barometers, and the vagaries of memory itself. Entwined, is a more personal story that tracks the loss of a parent to dementia. Also running through, is a theme of women eroding the straitjacket of gendered roles. Linking all is a play with colour, particularly blue, in all its stages from vital to decayed.

What the Burglar Took
That night it was nothing.
Cinematic, he’d slid
under the kitchen window,
swerved an old veined saucer,
rocked the vintage cactus,
slippered his way across tiles
on a moulting rug
that still smelt of your last dog
and made you wheeze.
After that threshold no sign,
yet you felt him in every omission
the carriage clock that paced him
but never chimed, silverfish
partying by moonlight who’d fled
into covens of dust, slivers
of streetlamp that laid a grid
from back to front room
where shadows failed to creak.
His exit, another window,
half open in the study.
The room was rigid with night,
The Great Bear
encrypted in the cushions.
You touched frost on the inside,
took to spying on your house,
heard whispers in the heating kettle
Morse in the water-pipes.

The Seren Poetry Podcast is a new series of in-depth interviews with Seren poets. Episode 7 with Rosalind Hudis is available to listen to now.

Simply search ‘The Seren Poetry Podcast’ in your favourite podcast app and follow or subscribe to have all future editions delivered straight to your podcast feed. Available on all platforms including Apple PodcastsSpotify and Google Podcasts. Don’t forget to leave us a review if you like what you hear.

Restorations is available on the Seren website for £9.99

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

Friday Poem – ‘A Late Aubade’ by Ben Wilkinson

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘A Late Aubade’ by Ben Wilkinson from his collection Same Difference. You can hear Ben chatting about the book on the The Seren Poetry Podcast which is available now on all podcast platforms.

This cover shows an abstract painting made up of dark blues and greys. There is a face-like smudge in the centre and splashes of red, yellow and green on the left hand side. The text reads: Same Difference, Ben Wilkinson.

Same Difference is the formally acute second collection by Ben Wilkinson. Carefully crafted, and charged with contemporary language, the poems play with poetic voice and the dramatic monologue, keeping us on our toes and asking just who is doing the talking. Throughout, he ‘steps into the shoes’ of French symbolist poet Paul Verlaine (1844-96), reframing his voice for modern readers. Brimming with everyone from cage fighters and boy racers to cancer patients and whales in captivity, Same Difference is gritty, darkly ironic and often moving – a collection for our times.

A Late Aubade
after Verlaine
How long since we last lolled here all morning,
the house quiet and still, snow falling
beyond our bedroom’s window and warmth?
Now we’ve time to uncover each other
after what seems like months apart –
losing ourselves in that same tender art
to open one thought onto another –
even this grim half-light has a charm of sorts.
Times like these grant us leave from the world –
those claims it makes of everyone –
and the constant doing that comes to nothing;
the snow still falls and the streets are frozen.
Instead, let this moment be perfectly held:
return us to something we hadn’t thought missing.

The Seren Poetry Podcast is a new series of in-depth interviews with Seren poets. Episode 6 with Ben Wilkinson is available to listen to now.

Simply search ‘The Seren Poetry Podcast’ in your favourite podcast app and follow or subscribe to have all future editions delivered straight to your podcast feed. Available on all platforms including Apple PodcastsSpotify and Google Podcasts. Don’t forget to leave us a review if you like what you hear.

Same Difference is available on the Seren website for £9.99

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

Friday Poem – ‘Peeling the Skin’ by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Peeling the Skin’ by Carolyn Jess-Cooke from her collection We Have to Leave the Earth. You can hear Carolyn chatting about the book on the The Seren Poetry Podcast which is available now on all podcast platforms.

This cover shows a photograph of a tangled ball of blue fishing line in relief against a pale pink and blue background. The text reads: We Have to Leave the Earth. Carolyn Jess-Cooke

Carolyn Jess-Cooke’s third collection We Have to Leave the Earth deftly interweaves the personal and the political. Climate change is confronted in a sequence about the Arctic; poems that are vividly descriptive of an extreme landscape, sensitive to the effects of global warming. A second sequence, The House of Rest, is a history in 9 poems of Josephine Butler, (1828-1906) a pioneering feminist activist. There are also tender poems about family, mental health, motherhood and the earth.

Peeling the Skin
They’d try to find the hem first,
the beginning of that lace-fine calyx that
sometimes ran deliciously
from shoulder to waist in a continuum
of cells shucked by too long
in the burning glare. No one thought to rub
in sun cream, it seems, for each summer
my lunar Irish epidermis crisped
from salmon to magenta before flaking
off great silvery coats and blankets,
milky curtains, pearl bodices.
The confetti of my childhood lies in corners
of Connemara, the sands of
Donegal, bearing traces of fingers
that picked me to riddance. I’d hear
the sellotape-tear
of strips they’d peel from my back
and I felt like something being primed for the spit,
or dressed for the rite. Sometimes
they’d shear
what wasn’t ready for shearing, and blood would globe
at the new rind that knitted under the husk.
I think it was this small breach, this
being pared in pain
for others’ pleasure, that taught me where DNA ended and
I
begin, and begin, and begin.

The Seren Poetry Podcast is a new series of in-depth interviews with Seren poets. Episode 5 with Carolyn Jess-Cooke is available to listen to now.

Simply search ‘The Seren Poetry Podcast’ in your favourite podcast app and follow or subscribe to have all future editions delivered straight to your podcast feed. Available on all platforms including Apple PodcastsSpotify and Google Podcasts. Don’t forget to leave us a review if you like what you hear.

We Have to Leave the Earth is available on the Seren website for £9.99

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

Friday Poem – ‘All the Terrors’ by Rhian Edwards

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘All the Terrors’ by Rhian Edwards from her collection The Estate Agent’s Daughter. You can hear Rhian chatting about the book on the The Seren Poetry Podcast which is available now on all podcast platforms.

This cover shows a black and white photograph of Gareth L Edwards outside his estate agents with three other men dress in 70s style suits. The text reads: The Estate Agent's Daughter. Rhian Edwards.

The Estate Agent’s Daughter by Rhian Edwards is both powerfully personal, local to the author’s Bridgend birthplace, and performative, born to be read aloud. In the title poem, the protagonist is reimagined as a surrealist house, foreshadowing both the heartbreak (a shattered first marriage) and joy (the birth of a daughter), that feature in the work that follows. Employing sly irony, close observation and sharp wit, the poet confronts a myriad of themes, from family and the body to the word of disillusioned dating. Throughout she combines her visceral skill for description with a feminist forthright courage to speak of difficult things.

All the Terrors
are gathered in this portmanteau,
this Hammmer House, this Ealing-made.
The razor cut of Cushing’s cheeks,
hollowed eyes, RP that belongs to the Raj.
How I long for Christopher Lee, his oil-slicked
widow’s peak, badger grey, immaculate cravat.
I would give the earth, mortality,
to be the trussed brunette in Regency.
Could my generous décolletage invite the screeches
of a fishing-lined bat to my Juliet balcony?
Or could the punctured cloud of my négligée
summon an unseasonable wind to my French doors?
Behold the jagged cloak, crimson lining, arms raised.
Regard as I back away in mugging fear,
mesmerised by the bloodshot white of his eyes,
all a swoon to the preachery of his pearly fangs.

The Seren Poetry Podcast is a new series of in-depth interviews with Seren poets. Episode 4 with Rhian Edwards is available to listen to now.

Simply search ‘The Seren Poetry Podcast’ in your favourite podcast app and follow or subscribe to have all future editions delivered straight to your podcast feed. Available on all platforms including Apple PodcastsSpotify and Google Podcasts. Don’t forget to leave us a review if you like what you hear.

The Estate Agent’s Daughter is available on the Seren website for £9.99

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

Friday Poem – ‘Old Spyder’ by Christopher Meredith

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Old Spyder’ by Christopher Meredith from his collection Still. You can hear Christopher chatting about Still and his novel Please on the The Seren Poetry Podcast which is available now on all podcast platforms.

This cover shows a painting of a snowy landscape beneath a wintery sky. The fields are small and far away, dotted with bushes. A single black crow sits on the bare branches of a tree in the foreground. The text reads: Still Christopher Meredith.

Still uses the title as a fulcrum to balance paradoxical concerns: stillness and motion, memory and forgetting, sanity and madness, survival and extinction. The old man in the title poem is seen standing, backlit by an open door. Fixing this in the mind is both memorial and a means of partial forgetting, of releasing him into history. The closing set of poems ‘Still Air’ focuses on a small landscape in the Usk Valley, observing the multiple, complex, endlessly moving parts of nature in the stars, geology, the seasons, the days. Lively and thought provoking, this is a beautifully crafted, insightful and intelligent collection.

Old Spyder
Under jewelled Aldebaran
old Spyder sat, his head hunched down.
All matter he thought’s just a flower fight
and all that we think heavy light
and all that’s truly light seems dark
and all that’s truly play seems work.
Oh we could shine such a jewelled light
but for the memory’s grip on hurt
and the interference of the heart.

The Seren Poetry Podcast is a new series of in-depth interviews with Seren poets. Episode 3 with Christopher Meredith is available to listen to now.

Simply search ‘The Seren Poetry Podcast’ in your favourite podcast app and follow or subscribe to have all future editions delivered straight to your podcast feed. Available on all platforms including Apple PodcastsSpotify and Google Podcasts. Don’t forget to leave us a review if you like what you hear.

Both Still and Please are available as a bundle on the Seren website for £15.00

Friday Poem – ‘Heirloom’ by Ilse Pedler

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Heirloom’ by Ilse Pedler from her collection Auscultation. You can hear Ilse chatting poetry and her job as a vet in episode 2 of The Seren Poetry Podcast which is available now on all podcast platforms.

This cover shows an image of an orange butterfly resting on the cord of a stethoscope. The text reads: Auscultation. Ilse Pedler.

Auscultation, which means listening and specifically, in medicine, listening to sounds that come from the body’s internal organs. If listening is a central theme of this collection, it is also about being heard. There are poems about vets waiting rooms and surgical instruments, about crisis calls, about overhearing farmers and pet owners and colleagues. There are also poems about surviving a stern childhood and a heartbreaking sequence about being a stepmother. This is a compelling set of poems from a striking new voice.

Heirloom
Inside my mother’s sewing box, little plaits
of embroidery silks lie in ordered rainbows.
Most evenings she licks the end
of a strand into a point and threads it through
my eye with fierce concentration, fixing
me in little stitches to the stretched canvas.
My scalp smarts as she tugs
the tangles out of my hair and anchors
it in neat bunches. My neck itches
with the stiff collar of the dress she chain
stitches for me and my toes are pinched
by the tight black shoes buttoned with French knots.
In running stitch, she outlines a straight-backed
chair for me to sit on and a book for my hands.
Finally, with little split stitches she carefully stabs
out a smile on my face.

The Seren Poetry Podcast is a new series of in-depth interviews with Seren poets. Episode 2 with Ilse Pedler is available to listen to now.

Simply search ‘The Seren Poetry Podcast’ in your favourite podcast app and follow or subscribe to have all future editions delivered straight to your podcast feed. Available on all platforms including Apple PodcastsSpotify and Google Podcasts.

Auscultation is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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

Guest post: Maths and Metaphor – Judy Brown

Judy Brown’s new collection Lairs was partly born out of a residency Exeter University’s Institute of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence. In this guest post she discusses the experience and how maths and poetry have more in common than you might think.

This cover shows a sci-fi inspired collage of a girl sitting in a field at dusk looking towards a black, star filled orb in the distance. Red mountains rise up behind it beneath a purple sky. The text reads: Lairs, Judy Brown.

Lairs brings together something primal and secret – the lair as haven for a wild or feral animal – with the poem framed as a mathematical equation. In these terms, the ‘lair’ is a kind of nest, a beautiful accumulation of dense detail. The poems are introspective, by turns mocking, fearful and analytical. Judy Brown’s use of language is innovative, while maintaining moments of vulnerability and moving self-awareness. In these exquisite poems, the lair is both the community at large and a dark and intricate interior space where something wild still survives.

Maths and Metaphor

Before this summer, if someone had told me maths could be as much fun as writing poems, it wouldn’t have been a long chat. Professor Beth Wingate, mathematician and poet, did say as much to me in July but by then it was too late: it had become obvious. Residencies teach you things – often not what you expected.

This was a summer of empty campus lawns, rain, whiteboards crammed with notation, hours spent looking up half-heard maths phrases on Wikipedia, metaphors I splashed everywhere and tried to hold onto to avoid panic, attempts not to look stupid, looking stupid despite everyone saying, kindly, ‘There are no stupid questions.’ And lots of questions, lists of them collected amongst my drawings and notes in a big A3 sketchbook – a necessary navigation aid in this slightly frightening, very exhilarating experience. This sort of messy process is how I write anyway, I just hadn’t ever been quite so at sea. 

Stacks of sketch books from Judy's residency. The pages are filled with notes, pictures and bright sketches.
Judy Brown’s residency sketchbooks

To backtrack a little: Arts and Culture University of Exeter has a programme that matches creative practitioners with research academics. The area under consideration can be quite sharply defined, the methodology and the outcome full of openness. I’d been attracted by the measured strangeness in the language used by Professor Peter Challenor, a statistician whose work involves producing approximations of what complex mathematical models (of the human heart, the ocean, the climate) would be likely to predict across a wide range of situations, together with exact assessments of how much you can rely on those predictions. The models themselves are often too expensive and slow to be run as many times as you’d like – just like the planet and the human body – so the techniques used by Peter’s team in the Institute of Data Science and Artificial Intelligence are of critical value, but also a little magical, seeming to create bricks out of straw. 

Peter had said in his brief ‘There is always a discrepancy,’ but I had no idea how many sorts of discrepancy existed. The team’s specialisation is called uncertainty quantification – and when didn’t a poet love a paradox?

I was lucky. Peter turned out to be interested in everything, a member of the Poetry Book Society, and an eloquent explainer who could shift in and out of maths notation and take up my hesitant and extravagant metaphors to talk to me in a language I knew. 

Judy Brown takes notes in her sketch book whilst Peter Challenor maps out an equation on a large whiteboard.
Judy Brown and Professor Peter Challenor. Photo credit: Steven Haywood

I had five weeks of great conversations – about writing on proper blackboards, machine learning, the problems of multidimensionality, different types of probability, heart surgery, whether a mathematical model is a metaphor, the importance of pattern and of deviations from it.  We talked about Jack Underwood’s essay ‘On Poetry and Uncertain Subjects’ (The Poetry Society) – how our kind of uncertainty made poems hospitable, how unacknowledged uncertainty for Peter made things dangerous.

I only have a maths GSCE but I wasn’t too worried. I quite like feeling a subject is full of things I don’t know and knew that the not-knowing would itself generate ideas that would lead to poems. In the end I felt I’d been allowed to walk further into another world than I anticipated, with tiny, occasional flavours of what it might be like to know how to move in those regions as of right. As with poetry, it turns out that even small amounts of maths are worth having.

I knew that metaphor is what I think with, and where many of my poems originate – it’s central, not decorative. The fact that I couldn’t think anything without it was demonstrated very clearly over these weeks when I kept asking ‘What is it like in there?’, ‘What kind of creature is it?’ That was our difference, maybe – the poet’s obsession with specificity where a small precise detail stands in for a big abstract thing. Or maybe it’s not so different, I still don’t know.

The experience also underlined the importance of play for writing, and for problem-solving. At school I always wanted a structure to put what I learned in – that’s often what a teacher gives you – a particular shaped bucket, and you fill it. Here I had no time to get even a small bucket; there were only the structures I already had – metaphor, language, question, answer, and sometimes just the process of sitting and drawing.

Close up picture of notes from one of Judy's sketchbooks. The word language stands out in bold black letters.
Close up of one of Judy’s sketchbooks

This was semi-feral learning in the sense that when people told me about their work I was able to choose the questions and Peter’s team worked to give me answers that might make sense in the language of the asking. I also tried to learn as much of their talk as I could – even a few equations. It felt amazing for someone middle-aged to be learning in this essentially childlike way, like a car wash for the brain. It felt just like writing.

I’ve written quite a few poems from this – now on the Arts and Culture website and in issue 2 of Finished Creatures magazine, and migrating into the manuscript of my next collection Lairs. I have lots more drafts and ideas. While the maths is not always apparent, I couldn’t have written them without that huge new space in my head. I’m slowly reading a book about calculus and watching the odd MIT lecture or Isaac Newton Institute seminar on probability or uncertainty quantification. It still feels flukey, strange, to be treasured.

Judy Brown

Read Judy’s maths-inspired poem ‘Some Security Questions’ on the Exter Arts and Culture website.

‘Uncertain Rigours’, a short film by Steve Haywood about the residency, can be viewed on the Exter University Arts and Culture website.

This article was first published by The Poetry Society in their Winter 2019 edition of Poetry News.

Lairs is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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

Friday Poem – ‘Borders Gothic’ by Polly Atkin

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Borders Gothic’ by Polly Atkin from her collection Much With Body. You can hear Polly chatting about her poetry in episode 1 of The Seren Poetry Podcast which is available now on all podcast platforms.

This cover shows a painting of a woman floating on her back in a blue green lake. The text reads: Much With Body. Polly Atkin.

Much With Body is a startlingly original second collection. 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. Atkin also draws on 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.

Borders Gothic
You will meet it as a corner you cannot turn,
a gate flung open, a muffled struggle
offroad, in the woody murk where the old track
hums under mulch and brambles. You will be
a traveller in the midst, alone. It will throw itself
into your bag as a weight so heavy
you cannot go on. It will block your path
in the body of a bone white calf, or lady,
eyes like swollen moons, its voice
the splash of stones thrown in deep water.
It will howl. It will sit at your feet and sink
through the bog of the tarmac with a glug like a rock
or a woman being dropped in a mire. It will cry
three times from the shore. It will carry its coffin
or its head or its child in its hands. It will follow you
home. It will make you promises. You
will try to rid your house of it – the radiant
boy of it, heirloom drab of it – you will take it
still screaming, to sea, and drown it, you will bury it
day after day and find it always
back where it started, its lamp casting light
through every window, its small skull shrieking
I know I know I know

The Seren Poetry Podcast is a new series of in-depth interviews with Seren poets. Episode 1 with Polly Atkin is available to listen to now.

Simply search ‘The Seren Poetry Podcast’ in your favourite podcast app and follow or subscribe to have all future editions delivered straight to your podcast feed. Available on all platforms including Apple PodcastsSpotify and Google Podcasts.

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.