Friday Poem – ‘In Spring’ by Rhiannon Hooson

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘In Spring’ by Rhiannon Hooson from her collection The Other City. Rhiannon’s new collection Goliat was published in 2022.

This cover shows a painting of two towering walls casting long shadows down onto the ground, dwarfing the tiny figure walking into the light on the other side. The text reads: The Other City. Rhiannon Hooson.

Shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year, The Other City is full of sharply focused, beautifully resonant and deeply felt poems. The poet charts a course through real and imagined landscapes, where actions are done and undone, and the everyday made unfamiliar. Drawing on the personal and political histories of the Welsh countryside where she grew up, as well as more enigmatic mythologies, the poems map a journey through both the familiar and the foreign, giving us glimpses of unsettling spaces, where light falls “like silk pegged out to rot across the snow”.

In Spring
There are leaves like hands opening
and the old queen in her rotten palanquin
teetering along the road, stones
in the black ground opening like eyes
you open your mouth to sing
the road bursts into blossom
ticks fall from the backs of horses
nests from the eaves.
In attic rooms fanfared with creaking ropes
poets hanging quietly sift into insects,
find cracks, escape
and burrow into the bronze shock
of the sky. Those pinkly newborn children
uncurl on their pillows and speak new words
to their mothers, new soft words
from their soft palates
and soak up sun on all the windowsills
like fat hairless cats, watching.
What gods come, come stalking on all fours,
lean, and hungry, and afraid.

The Other City is available on the Seren website for £9.99

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On Tuesday 11th April, hear Rhiannon reading from her new collection Goliat in the Seren Showcase at Waterstones Cardiff. Tickets £6. Starts at 7pm. Book via the Waterstones website.

This cover shows a photograph of a ghost-like figure, standing in a field at dusk with a sheet draped over its head. The text reads: Goliat. Rhiannon Hooson.

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.

Friday Poem – ‘For Natalia’ by Eric Ngalle Charles

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘For Natalia’ by Eric Ngalle Charles from his debut collection Homelands.

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 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. 

For Natalia
I was not destined to leave my bones on
the snow-filled terrains of Vladivostok.
This, I knew for sure, the treaty was already
signed between my maker and I,
although a stubbornness detained me.
I knew my maker would not leave me half-
way, in that lonely existence, swinging
through the doors of insanity, a continual
decent through hell, and her environs,
the snow-filled terrains of Vladivostok.
I hear it again in Old Russian Ballads,
that filled me with hope so I could not give up.
‘Я вас любил: любовь еще, быть может’ *
I loved you, this love can be again. It carried
my spirit home, when I was eating leftovers
from my mother’s dirty pots. I have known love:
when we kissed, I felt your face in my hands.
I was not destined to leave my bones on
the snow-filled terrains of Vladivostok.
Memories are my hiding place, dreams
of hell and heaven intertwine, from here,
I saw the green fields of my distant home.
‘Я вас любил: любовь еще, быть может’
I loved you, this love can be again.
* Alexander Pushkin

Homelands is available on the Seren website for £9.99

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Listen to Eric Ngalle Charles discussing Homelands on The Seren Poetry Podcast.

You can catch up with all of series one by searching ‘The Seren Poetry Podcast’ in your favourite podcast app. Click like, 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!

Friday Poem: ‘Curating a space for anachronistic design’ by Nerys Williams

In anticipation of Mother’s Day and because today is St Patrick’s Day, this week’s Friday Poem is ‘Curating a space for anachronistic design’ by Welsh/Irish poet Nerys Williams from her new collection Republic.

This cover shows a colourful print of a woman dressed in a black hoodie with large bunny ears on the hood. She has dripping dark blue rings around her eyes and stands out against an acid yellow background. The text reads: Republic. Nerys Williams.

In her explosive new poetry collection Republic Nerys Williams opens a window on life in rural west Wales during the 1980s and 90s. English and Welsh-language post-punk bands, politics, feminism and family life are thrown together on the page as she questions what makes a republic?

32. Curating a space for anachronistic design
We are mindful of that space where objects retain their usefulness, not yet dated. But no longer telling the current story of our consumption. Until one summer they might be discovered again. Bakelite transmissions PARIS/ BREMEN/ LUXEMBOURG/ DLF/ WDR, the mono cassette player offering better noise that your laptop. A found boxed card, in lurid psychedelic colours celebrating your birth, a letter slips out. In translation:
“Congratulations on your precious gift of a daughter. I am so delighted that you are getting better and healing, I hope that you return home soon. We will come and see you soon, we ask after you frequently. Your mother tells me she is very happy the birth went well. We miss seeing you at the chapel on Sunday and our incidental chats. We had the rehearsal for the Gymanfa Ganu here yesterday and the numbers were low considering three chapels were meeting, however there was considerable amount of eating in the vestry. The weather is still rather mixed, we’ve just started our cut of hay, but it remains to be collected. You are very lucky to have the summer as your season of motherhood, you’ll be able to show your girl the world. I will sign off now and hope that we will have a good chat soon. P.S. and kisses to the baby” (your name misspelt).
Cards that are kept, establish an archive, alerting us to something larger than ourselves. One birth impacts a community, a language. Why cry over the viscose, threads of writing which represent an overflow of feeling? Puffy-eyed you think of those words “a most precious daughter” given by one having none.

Republic is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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Join us at Goldstone Books in Carmarthen tonight (17th March) to hear Nerys Williams in conversation with Menna Elfyn at the launch of Republic. All welcome. Find the full details and register via Eventbrite.

Book Launch. Republic. Nerys Williams. Friday 17th March from 6pm. Goldstone Books, 10 Hall Street, Carmarthen, SA31 1PH. Join us at Goldstone Books for the launch of Republic by Nerys Williams where she'll be chatting to Menna Elfyn.

Friday Poem: ‘My Birth’ by Pascale Petit

Following International Women’s Day earlier this week, today’s Friday Poem is ‘My Birth’ by Pascale Petit from her collection What the Water Gave Me: Poems After Frida Kahlo

This cover shows an abstract painting by Frida Kahlo. It appears to show the legs of a woman in the bath but other surreal images, such as a volcano, also fill the water. The text reads: What the Water Gave Me: Poems After Frida Kahlo. Pascale Petit. Shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize

What the Water Gave Me contains fifty-two poems in the voice of the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. Some of the poems are close interpretations of Kahlo’s work, while others are parallels or version homages where Pascale Petit draws on her experience as a visual artist to create alternative ‘paintings’ with words. More than just a verse biography, this collection explores how Kahlo transformed trauma into art after the artist’s near-fatal bus accident. Petit, with her vivid style, her feel for nature and her understanding of pain and redemption, fully inhabits Kahlo’s world. Each poem is an evocation of “how art works on the pain spectrum”, laced with splashes of ferocious colour.

What the Water Gave Me is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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Friday Poem: ‘Antipodes’ by Glyn Edwards

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Antipodes’ by Glyn Edwards from his new collection In Orbit.

This cover shows a water colour illustrations of the 6 phases of the moon as drawn by Galileo. The text reads: In Orbit Glyn Edwards.

Glyn Edwards’s new collection In Orbit is a sustained narrative of love, loss and longing. Using a variety of innovative forms, these poems explore grief and how we come to terms with losing someone close to us. The natural world offers sustenance and a new perspective in the face of intense emotions as a man struggles to come to terms with news of a beloved teacher’s death.   

We are waiting in your shrunken classroom,
warming our wet shoes on the growling pipes
below the windowsill, drawing cocks in the condensation
until you come in, later than usual, shake yourself dry
like a damp dog and stare at a computer screen.
Did you hear about the earthquake, Sir?
You nod, though your eyes don’t nod. The tremors,
says a voice, desperate to rescue you, set off car alarms
in London – the other side of the world. You are silent,
so close now to the monitor that when you stir
it’s as if you’re butting your forehead against the glass.
You are wearing yesterday’s clothes. Slowly, you stand
and unpin two huge maps from the display boards,
deliberately, like a general collapsing a failed campaign.
You line up one upon the other as a bedsheet on a mattress
folding the countries like bodies, so that the arm of America
holds the waist of India, so the Atlantic bathes Australia.
They’re not diametrically opposite, your voice is all wrong.
If we went down, down, through the centre of the world,
we’d surface and sink somewhere in the Pacific.
You’re searching the stunned space for something
and clench at a shining metal from the desk.
You gauge the maps again, lift them like a flag
and stab them through with the shaft of a pen.
Soon, you are shuffling across the yard in the rain,
your coat still on your chair. We take the maps away.
Your fountain pen is splintered. Your computer screen blank.

In Orbit is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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Join us at Providero Coffeehouse in Llandudno on Thursday 16th March for the launch of In Orbit. Register for free here

Book Launch. In Orbit by Glyn Edwards. Thursday 16th March from 6:30pm. Providero Coffeehouse, 112 Upper Mostyn Street, Llandudno LL30 2SW. Poet Glyn Edwards launches his new collection In Orbit alongside guest readers Laura Satterthwaite, Gareth Culshaw and Ness Owen. Free to attend but please register via Eventbrite in advance.

Friday Poem – ‘FISH’ by Peter Finch

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘FISH’ by Peter Finch. Originally published in The Machineries of Joy (2020), it now features in Volume Two of his Collected Poems which was published in 2022.

The covers of Peter Finch's collected poems show mirrored image of a geometric pattern made of grey 3D hexagons. The text reads Peter Finch Collected Poems.

Peter Finch’s remarkable career spans over fifty years. He has been taking poetry to places it didn’t know it wanted to go from the beginning; blending the avant-garde, concrete, visual, sound, performance and more conventional forms to create something unique. His new two-volume Collected Poems, edited by Andrew Taylor, cement his reputation as one of Britain’s leading poets.

Volume One brings together work from long lost chapbooks, broadsheets and limited editions, as well as more conventionally published work. Volume Two focuses on the second half of Finch’s career with poems from later collections sitting alongside works from his prose books and those engraved in the public realm on sculptures, walls and buildings, particularly in his native Cardiff. Nerys Williams and Ian McMillan provide appreciative forewords to each volume.

He wrote the things decades back
He did them underwater
He pulled them out like sonic fish,
Dada hake, Bauhaus trout, Schwitters skate,
Showed them to Ormond who shook his head.
You’ve energy, Finch, but
they’ll not put that on your grave.
Flailing in the Welsh fog.
This man punctuates using the chance methods
of John Cage. Potato’s Potatoe’s Potatos.
There are monkeys and there are typewriters
and the two shouldn’t be allowed to mix.
Your leaflet advertising your amateur magazine
is a joke, is it not?
Beer mats, they read better, boy.
Bwthyn, Llanbradach, Cariad, Hiraeth, Pysgodyn.
Finch has never used words like those.
Vous êtes une nation poétique san concours4, dit Chopin,
piling on the micro-particles sans son sea
sip seeeeth yat rat ata ata ata ata aaaah
tick tick tick ttttt ttttt tteeee. Chopin this is
an incorrect claim. Wales is a nation of
engaging with pasteurised modernism
forty years outside the frame.
I sound now like Kingsley Amis,
it’s come to this at last.
Asked him once to send in a poem.
Got a postcard back reading
Mr Amis regrets but he
cannot do as you ask.
4. You are a poetic nation without competition

Order the Collected Poems Complete Set on the Seren website for £30.00, or buy them individually for £19.99 each.

The Machineries of Joy is available on the Seren website: £9.99

Peter Finch will be reading alongside Philip Gross at Seren First Thursday in Cardiff on Thursday 2nd March. Find out more here

Seren First Thursday March. Peter Finch and Philip Gross. In person and via Facebook Live. Thursday 2nd March 7:30pm GMT. Tickets £3 on the door on wach live on Facebook for free. Supported by Seren and Literature Wales.

Friday Poem – ‘The way you knew’ by Alison Binney

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘The way you knew’ by Alison Binney from her Mslexia award-winning pamphlet Other Women’s Kitchens.

This cover shows a colourful painting of a kitchen with the faint shadows of people moving through it. The text reads: Other Women's Kitchens. Alison Binney.

Other Women’s Kitchens is Alison Binney’s debut pamphlet of poems and introduces us to a poet 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. An adroit admixture of the heart-wrenching and the humorous, the book features shaped and ‘found’ pieces, traditional narrative and compact prose poems. Beautifully entertaining, pointedly political and often very funny, Other Women’s Kitchens is essential reading.

The way you knew
the way you knew your own coat in the cloakroom the way you knew
as you chewed how big the next bubble would be the way everyone
knew the new boy was weird even before he began drinking ink the
way you knew how to share crisps and when to and why it mattered the
way your bike always knew the way home the way you knew when to
laugh and how much and who with the way you knew not to sit at the
front the way you knew when to put your hand up and why no one
did any more the way you knew not to wear shoes like that the way
you knew what behind the bike sheds meant before anyone said the way
everyone knew who went the way you knew the name carved on the
desk wasn’t yours but the izza lezza made you go red the way you
knew not to wear your hair short the way you knew how to walk how
to talk how to french kiss a boy and why you had to and more the
way you knew for sure that if anyone knew about you you were dead

Other Women’s Kitchens is available on the Seren website: £5.00

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Friday Poem – ‘You and I are ghosts in the future’s forest’ by Rhiannon Hooson

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘You and I are ghosts in the future’s forest’ by Rhiannon Hooson from her latest collection Goliat.

This cover shows a ghost-like figure wrapped in a sheet standing in a field at dusk. The text reads: Goliat Rhiannon Hooson

Goliat is the second collection by Rhiannon Hooson, a follow-up to her Wales Book of the Year shortlisted 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.

You and I are ghosts in the future’s forest
It is a gentle, haunted world. Circumstance
has thrown it far into the future,
but there are things in it you and I
would understand: the way silence settles
across a wet morning and the roe deer
raise their heads. Perhaps, also,
a sense of things that need not find
their equilibrium. Our sighs are vapours:
no myth exists to hold us like a heart in aspic.
Again and again the sun sets, swings
under the earth’s belly, lifts a worn edge
of cloud come morning. Perhaps we grieve
for language, realising our fluency was false. Words
are a closed loop. A tight knot.
The roe deer raise their heads, move
between the trees, listening for wolves.
Pale moths and the moon’s white light.
Where once we walked, water rises.
You and I are ghosts in the future’s forest.

Goliat is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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Friday Poem – ‘Candlemas’ by Hilary Llewellyn-Williams

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Candlemas’ by Hilary Llewellyn-Williams from her new and selected poems The Little Hours.

This cover shows an illustration of a pagan calendar depicting the seasons. The text reads: The Little Hours: New and Selected Poems. Hilary Llewellyn-Williams.

The Little Hours: New and Selected Poems is a landmark volume which collects key poems from the career of Hilary Llewellyn-Williams, one of the outstanding poets of her generation in Wales. In addition to the classic sequences ‘The Tree Calendar’ and ‘Book of Shadows’, the book also includes ‘The Little Hours’, a sequence of new work arranged according to the traditional monastic hours. Llewellyn-Williams is one of the earliest environmental poets; her response to nature always profound, passionate and keenly observed. The Little Hours will remind readers of her many strengths and beauties and shows new readers the breadth and talent of a writer whose eye for vivid imagery and startling detail has always astounded.

for my father, d. 2/2/81
On Brigid’s Night
there was rain and wind and miles of darkness between us;
there was a generation of pain between us,
but I stayed awake for love’s sake, and because of the candles.
On Brigid’s Night
spring was calling a long way off, below the horizon
invisible, but heard, like a changed note;
my ears attuned, I lit candles around the room.
My children slept
upstairs, bundles of summer. I was tight-strung
and humming. Nineteen points of fire
in a small room needed watching: I sat with them.
My eyes half-closed
I watched them burn all night, watched wax spill pools
and curl and flow, the flames dip low,
wrapped round in shadows, caught in the eye of light.
The night you died
I talked to you through webs of sleep, recalling
you in my years of childhood
solid and sure, filling the fiery spaces.
I slept at last
towards dawn, in a darkened room. Slowly I woke
to sunlight striping the carpet, the cold
little heaps of wax: and my children shouting, and spring
one day nearer
and bottles clanking outside, and a sense of peace
and freedom; then the shrill cry
of the telephone, which I stumbled up to answer.

The Little Hours: New and Selected Poems is available on the Seren website: £12.99

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Watch Hilary reading her poem ‘Considering the World’ on our Youtube channel:

Friday Poem – ‘[ correspondence : another year ]’ by Sammy Weaver

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘[ correspondence : another year ]’ by Sammy Weaver from her pamphlet Angola, America which won the Mslexia Poetry Pamphlet Competition.

This cover shows a geometric image of think white lines against black stripes. A gaping white hole is cut from the middle. The text reads: Angola, America. Sammy Weaver.

Angola, America, winner of the Mslexia Poetry Pamphlet Competition 2021, 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.

[ correspondence : another year ]
the grey static of the dashboard ignites into a ringtone
ignites into a w
oman’s voice pale-polite
as a white picket fence in the still of morning:
hello, this is a free call from ______
an incarcerated individual at louisiana state penitentiary,
this call is not pr
ivate & may be monitored,
you may start the conversation now
& the line ignites into song as you sing to me
happy birthday & because birth is death in reverse
i imag
ine blowing a candle out backwards, sucking
the orange talons into the prison of my lungs,
the w
ax congealing up the wick, the match lying
down in its box, the rush of our bodies diminishing
inside the bodies of our mothers

Angola, America is available on the Seren website: £6.00

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Join us online from 7:30pm on Thursday 2nd February to hear Sammy Weaver reading from Angola, America alongside Kathryn Bevis at Seren Virtual First Thursday. Tickets are £2 (plus Eventbrite admin fee).