With today being celebrated as Good Friday, and the start of the long weekend, we felt our Friday Poem for this week ought to fit the Easter theme. Today we bring you ‘Easter Sunday, Table Mountain’ by Graham Mort, found in his collection Black Shiver Moss.
Graham Mort writes beautifully about North Yorkshire, but the poems in his tenth collection, Black Shiver Moss, include pieces about landscapes and peoples as distant as South Africa and as close as Europe. New places are made intimate and familiar by Mort’s vivid descriptions and evocations. Here is a traveller who has taken his destinations to heart, reproducing their weathers and textures with a startling exactitude and intensity. A poet who loves nature, particularly in the liminal states of dawn and dusk, Mort move us beyond the visible, towards spiritual and philosophical concerns.
Our Friday Poem this week is ‘Tenby Shores’ by David Foster-Morgan.
Poems from Pembrokeshire is part of Seren’s pamphlet series celebrating the spirit of place. An area of supreme but also disquieting beauty, Pembrokeshire has been the home to saints and pirates, the cradle of Tudor Kings and subject to oil spills and annual invasions of summer visitors. The undeniable loveliness of its off-shore islands: Ramsey, Grassholm, and Caldey, contrasts with the often harsh life of settlers, of monks and sea-fishing folk of the past, such as the stoic ‘Boatmen’ of Tenby.
This week’s poem is Peter Finch’s surreal night out at ‘St. David’s Hall’.
Poems from Cardiff is part of Seren’s pamphlet series celebrating the spirit of place. It opens with a view from the Bay where “the sea wrestles the Severn”. We also find ourselves in ‘Arcades’, mingling with the colourful crowds outside ‘St. David’s Hall’, and admiring the “fit” builders of the Millennium Stadium sunning themselves on Westgate Street. “The Muck and the Music” of Grangetown is here along with lyrical evocations of the Taff and Rhymni rivers.
The clocks jump forward this weekend, signalling the start of British Summer Time – but before that, we have Paul Deaton’s ‘Spring Tide’ as our Friday Poem this week.
Paul Deaton’s debut, A Watchful Astronomy, is a book of beautifully clear and powerful poems. A PBS Recommendation, the collection is haunted by the ghost of the author’s father, a figure that appears throughout the collection as an overbearing, even threatening presence, embodied in glowering mountain ranges, in icy blasts of weather, in bits of bleak, monosyllabic dialogue. Cutting through this harsh imagery are poems of reflection and contemplation that celebrate the weather and the seasons. ‘Spring Tide’ is one such poem.
Our Friday Poem this week is ‘Armadillo’ by Jane Lovell, from her Mslexia Prize-winning pamphlet, This Tilting Earth.
Jane Lovell’s poems are both beautiful and disturbing. A deep feeling for the natural world is aligned with an acute lyric sensibility, as well as a profound ethical awareness of our responsibility for the planet and the devastation of its landscapes and vulnerable species.
‘Armadillo’ considers the biology and expressiveness of this curious creature: a ‘dusty jungle relic’ that upon examination raises more questions than it answers.
Our new quartet of regional poetry pamphlets have just arrived, with each celebrating a special place in Wales: its people, landscape, wildlife, and vibrant goings-on. This week our Friday Poem comes from Poems from Cardiff, our tribute to the Capital.
Paul Henry’s ‘Arcades’ inhabits the busy and eclectic Victorian arcades that wind around the city centre, telling a private tale of sadness, love, and hope. The poem was first published in The Brittle Sea, Henry’s bestselling New and Selected Poems.
‘The Girls on the Train’ by Katherine Stansfield, from Playing House
The joy of youth is a catalyst for the speaker mourning the loss of her ‘early velour glory’ in this short, powerful poem, which causes us to question our aversion to ageing.
‘I start to understand yellow’ by Rosie Shepperd, from The Man at the Corner Table
Violence and isolation are overcome as the quiet power of female unity gathers strength in the textures, flavours and colours of nineteenth century Mauritius.
It’s 1st March – Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant Hapus (or Happy St David’s Day) to you! This Welsh holiday has been celebrated since the 12th Century, and honours Wales’ patron saint.
On such a historic holiday it seems fitting to consider Wales’ history, and our Friday Poem does just that – ‘Perspective’, the opening poem from Docklandsby Damian Walford Davies, introduces Victorian Cardiff: the chilling and visceral setting of this intriguing ghost-story-in-verse.
‘When much new poetry looks no further than the poet’s navel, this kind of imaginative leap is a tonic.’ – The Telegraph
Damian Walford Davies’s compellingly eerie new poetry collection, Docklands: A Ghost Story, introduces us to a Cardiff architect – a man supremely sure of himself – as he is commissioned to transform an area in the busy docks. Docklands explores grey worlds at the edges of the eye, conjuring late-Victorian Cardiff’s hustling, booming, sullied docks – and the horrors they conceal.
Today in the TLS you’ll find a new poem by Kate Bingham – ‘The Sound I have’. For our Friday Poem we also have one of Kate’s poems, though for us its one taken from Infragreen: ‘The World at One’.
Infragreen is full of poems that are perceptive, persuasive and intricately made. They take the reader on a startling and unfamiliar journey through everyday experiences and phenomena. Bingham’s keen eye, reflectiveness and quiet wit endow each subject with a shimmering freshness. Those who know her earlier work will recognise in this collection a playful, often darkly comic, appreciation of the surreal, which features hearts and hands, feet, and even a pair of shoes with minds and agenda of their own.
This week our Friday Poem is the opening number from Eoghan Walls’ forthcoming second collection, Pigeon Songs – ‘Angry Birds’.
Pigeon Songs follows on from Walls’ much-praised debut, The Salt Harvest. From the first poem, we have a sense of the poet’s themes and preoccupations: we have a richly metaphorical and densely allusive style, a pull towards formal metre and structures. There is also the occasional vigorous vulgarity, adding a touch of blue humour to the canvas, breaking up the formal rigour. Family is a potent presence in poems inspired by parents, grandparents, partners, children. They often emit a sort of energy, a fierce gravitational pull of emotion around the burning heart of a poem ultimately about love, or the sorrow of losing a loved-one.