Friday Poem – ‘Why islanders don’t kiss hello’, Siobhán Campbell

Friday Poem Why islanders don't kiss hello Siobhan Campbell

Tomorrow many of you will be celebrating Ireland’s foremost patron saint, and so today we feature Irish poet Siobhán Campbell’s witty rumination on cultural customs, ‘Why islanders don’t kiss hello’.

Heat Signature Siobhan CampbellTaken from Campbell’s most recent collection, Heat Signature, ‘Why islanders don’t hiss hello’ is not simply a humorous piece about the awkward and personal nature of the continental cheek-kiss, but also – as with much of Campbell’s poetry – a wry commentary on the political: ‘Perhaps we are not fully of the Europe…’
Heat Signature is Siobhán’s sixth collection, and its complex style is entirely characteristic of the poet’s spikey voice: infused with an intelligence that resists easy answers to the conundrums that have faced her Irish homeland, but also suffused with a grudging admiration for the citizens who have survived their tumultuous history.


Siobhan Campbell Why islanders don't kiss hello














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Friday Poem – ‘March Morning, Pearson Park’, Carol Rumens

Friday Poem March Morning Pearson Park Carol Rumens

Our Friday Poem this week is ‘March Morning, Pearson Park’ by Carol Rumens, from her latest collection, Animal People.

Animal People Carol RumensThe setting for this poem is Hull’s Pearson Park, which was established on land that was given to the people by Zachariah Pearson in 1862 – hence the park’s original name of ‘People’s Park’. At this time, the lack of public spaces for working classes to enjoy and exercise in was a public cause, and approximately 30,000 visitors came to watch the park’s grand unveiling.
The poems of Animal People are frequently inspired by places, either wild landscapes as in ‘Fire, Stone, Snowdonia’ or the urban scenes of our featured poem. Often, a setting will be a pretext for a theme that has a political, sociological, aesthetic, philosophical or even metaphysical focus.


Carol Rumens March Morning Pearson Park















The dedication is to the Hull poet Maurice Rutherford, born in the same year as Philip Larkin, and still writing. Find out more on his website:


Animal People is available from the Seren website: £9.99

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Friday Poem – ‘White Horse in a Snowfield’, Robert Walton

Friday Poem Robert Walton Horse in a Snowfield

Our Friday Poem this week is a coldly beautiful vision of winter, ‘White Horse in a Snowfield’, from Robert Walton’s Sax Burglar Blues.

The poems in Robert Walton’s Sax Burglar Blues range from vivid memories of childhood, to keen socio-political satire, and precise and elegant nature poems. Subjects include: woodlice, jazz, teachers, grandparents, a canary who runs for President, Sisley’s lovely painting of the Gower, the iconoclastic poet John Tripp, a night bus named after Dusty Springfield, the beauty of an Ash tree in spring,a Dad who loves Cardiff City, the austere beauty of a Bristol church, the annoying closure of bookshops and more.
Packed with memory, incident, observation, opinion, humour, outrage and elegy, there is much to devour and discuss here.


White Horse in a Snowfield Robert Walton












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Friday Poem – ‘Different Shoulders’, Dai George

Dai George Friday Poem Different Shoulders

This week our Friday Poem is ‘Different Shoulders’ by Dai George, from his debut collection The Claims Office.

The Claims Office Dai GeorgeSome of you may have been lucky enough to hear Dai George at our poetry festival on 17 February, where he was in conversation with Gwyneth Lewis, sharing poems and discussing poetic themes and styles through the generations.
We always relish hearing the very talented Dai perform his work, and hope – whether you attended or otherwise – that you enjoy reading ‘Different Shoulders’, which beautifully explores the big questions that keep us awake at night (‘this dread that I’ve inherited/ the wrong God) whilst taking visceral joy in ‘the kiln of your/ breath’ and the ‘simmering mysteries’ of another’s body.



Friday Poem Different Shoulders Dai George



















The Claims Office is available from the Seren website: £8.99

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Friday Poem – ‘Sundays too my Dad got up early’, Ben Wilkinson

Friday Poem Sundays Ben Wilkinson

This week’s Friday Poem, ‘Sundays too my Dad got up early’, is a sneak peek into poetry critic Ben Wilkinson’s startling debut, Way More Than Luck (publishing 28 February).

Way More Than Luck Ben WilkinsonFrom the thumping heartbeat of the distance runner to the roar of football terraces across the decades, Ben Wilkinson’s debut, Way More Than Luck, confronts the struggles and passions that come to shape a life. Beginning with an unflinching interrogation of experiences of clinical depression and the redemptive power of art and running, the collection centres on a series of vivid character portraits, giving life to the legends of Liverpool Football Club. By turns frank, comic, sinister and meditative – ‘the trouble with you, son, is that all your brains are in your head’ – these poems uncover the beautiful game’s magic and absurdity, hopes and disappointments, as striking metaphors for our everyday dramas.


Sundays too my Dad got up early Ben Wilkinson
















Way More Than Luck is available to pre-order from the Seren website: £9.99

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Friday Poem – ‘Two men’, David Foster-Morgan

Friday Poem Two men David Foster-Morgan

This week our Friday Poem is David Foster-Morgan’s ‘Two men’, from his debut collection, Masculine Happiness.

Masculine happinessDavid is one of five fabulous poets taking part in the New Poets Showcase event, Saturday 17 February, 11:00am. Listen to him read alongside Emily Blewitt, Susie Wild, Katherine Stansfield and Stephen Payne – tickets available here (£5.00). The event is part of our inaugural Seren/Cornerstone Poetry Festival.

Masculine Happiness is a provocative yet subtle collection which explores the author’s ambivalence towards models of masculinity handed out to us by the media and modern society. There is also a considerable amount of humour here, along with astute satire and insightful character poems. Foster-Morgan’s work repays the careful attention of thoughtful readers.


David Foster-Morgan Two men
















Masculine Happiness is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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Friday Poem – ‘Reeling in the River’, Philip Gross

Our Friday Poem this week is Philip Gross’ ‘Reeling in the River’ from A Fold in the River, his collaborative work with artist Valerie Coffin Price.

Philip Gross once lived on the banks of the River Taff at Quakers Yard and his journals are the source for the powerful poems in this book. Price walked along the river there to create the beautiful prints and drawings that accompany the poems.

Don’t miss Philip & Valerie’s joint event at the Seren/Cornerstone Poetry Festival, Saturday 17 February, 12:00pm.

Want to win a copy of this book? A Fold in the River is our giveaway prize for February – sign up to Seren News before 01 March to be in the running to win.

Philip Gross Reeling in the River















A Fold in the River is available from the Seren website: £12.99

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Friday Poem – ‘Festival Field’, Paul Henry

Paul Henry Friday Poem Festival Field

In just under a month, Paul Henry will read from his remarkable tenth collection, The Glass Aisle, at the Seren/Cornerstone Poetry Festival. In the meantime, please enjoy ‘Festival Field’, one of the poems from the book.

The Glass Aisle Paul HenryThe Glass Aisle is Paul Henry’s tenth book of verse and features all the lyrical precision, empathy for the human condition and deep sense of temporal loss that have become the hallmarks of his work. The poems move between rage and stillness, past and present, music and silence. The title poem is a moving elegy to displaced workhouse residents, set on a stretch of canal in the Brecon Beacons National Park, in which a telephone engineer unwittingly connects the centuries.
Paul’s event at the Seren/Cornerstone Poetry Festival will feature a stunning musical collaboration with singer/songwriter Brian Briggs, lead singer of the band ‘Stornoway’. Tickets are available: book now.


Festival Field by Paul Henry Friday Poem














Paul Henry on ‘Festival Field’ (from The Glass Aisle):

An earlier draft of this poem began with cows slithering in the mud of a churned up field, a few days after a music festival. (I was thinking of a field in Portmeirion where ‘The Flaming Lips’ had played). Poor field, like a tourist resort handed back to its quieter self in winter, a patch of land disturbed by who knows what other gatherings across the centuries – fêtes, battles, rituals….

Then I found myself in a smaller field, a smaller festival, in Flintshire, in the late summer – a much calmer affair. There were hay bales scattered about, a blacksmith, real ale, craftspeople sharing their skills… and music, of course. The late sun arrowed about the place and the field, for moments, held all of its time. And love was as old as the field.

Find out more about Paul and his forthcoming events on his website.


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Friday Poem – ‘Building my Grandfather’, Jonathan Edwards

Jonathan Edwards Friday Poem Building my Grandfather

Next month, Costa-winning poet Jonathan Edwards opens our Seren/Cornerstone Poetry Festival in Cardiff. Our Friday Poem, ‘Building my Grandfather’, is taken from his award-winning collection, My Family and Other Superheroes, which he will read from at the festival event, along with never-before heard new material.

my family and other superheroes jonathan edwardsMy Family and Other Superheroes is a vibrant, joyful and celebratory collection of quirky family portraits, working-class Welshness, pop culture and surrealism. Winner of the Costa Poetry Prize 2014, Edwards’ quirky and confessional poems harbour a motley crew: Evel Knievel, Sophia Loren, Ian Rush, Marty McFly, a bicycling nun and a recalcitrant hippo all leap from these pages and jostle for position, alongside valleys mams, dads and bamps, all described with great warmth.
You can hear Jonathan read on Friday 16 February at Cornerstone, Cardiff, as part of the Seren/Cornerstone Poetry Festival. Tickets for the event are £7 and include a buffet of food from the Pantry café. Book now.


















My Family and Other Superheroes is available from the Seren website: £9.99

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Friday Poem – ‘Giraffe’, Bryony Littlefair

Friday Poem Giraffe Bryony Littlefair

Our Friday Poem this week is the title poem from Bryony Littlefair’s Mslexia Prize-winning debut pamphlet, Giraffe.

Giraffe Bryony LittlefairPoems need head, heart, and soul but this particular pamphlet has an extra ingredient – a feminist kick. There is a good deal of wit on display, but also a wonderful humanity. There are also other novelistic qualities: clarity of language and the use of realism, a feeling for plot and incident, an eye and ear for character. The author indicates emotion and relationships in a myriad of subtle ways: heartbreak can be summarised by one glance at the ‘Lido’. Love can be inferred by the tender description of someone from the back, as they are walking away.
Giraffe, the title and a euphemism for happiness, is a beguiling, beautiful and entertaining debut pamphlet of poems.


Giraffe Bryony Littlefair










Giraffe is half price in the Seren January Sale until 11 January: £2.50

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