Friday Poem – ‘September’s Child’ by Dai George

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘September’s Child’ by Dai George from his new collection Karaoke King which was published this week.

The cover of Karaoke King shows a drawing of a teenage boy, with short dark hair wearing a yellow and brown stripped vest over a white shirt. His head is to one side and his glasses are wonky. He wears a crumpled, gold crown. The title is on a yellow-gold box at the bottom.

Dai George’s confident second collection Karaoke King, addresses the contentious nature of the times. Always deeply thoughtful but also alternately ebullient, angry, curious, ashamed, the poet moves through urban and digital spaces feeling both uneasy and exhilarated. As with the Auden of the inter-war period, there is a feeling of history shifting, as a younger generation confronts its ethical obligations, its sense of complicity and disappointment. Ecological crisis hovers in the background, glimpsed in the ‘Fooled Evening’ of a world whose seasonal rhythms have fallen out of joint. Karaoke King also contains numerous reflections on popular culture, culminating in ‘A History of Jamaican Music’, a sequence at the heart of the volume speaking to urgent contemporary questions of ownership and privilege, pain and celebration. 

September’s Child

Hormonally it ripens, tickling the blood, building
through the part of me that would be womb,

a premonition of loss or change, an over-fattened moon.
Saccharine and festive, it makes of me a boy in bed

failing to sleep on his birthday eve. Still I find myself
September’s child, bookish, mild, ever eldest in the year,

a connoisseur of subtle treats, like ravioli from the tin,
the adult jokes in Asterix, or better yet a malady

that softly lowers you to the settee but doesn’t stop
your eyes from lapping at a page. Every year,

sure as morning bell, I’d feel the bulge descend upon
my tonsil gland, as now I feel the blossoming

of an earthier and urgent need, a waft of chestnut
smoke at summer’s end. I don’t know what it is,

I only know it comes in August with a sky of schoolsweater
grey and declining light. My pinky custard

shivers, barely set within its rabbit mould. Sometimes
it only takes a bar of Charles Trenet unwinding through

‘La Mer’ and I’m awash. A salt of yearning rises
to my throat. Everywhere I look the children are

younger, or else I’m fatter and forgetful, still stumbling
on the brink of coming into something long deserved.

Karaoke King is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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Friday Poem – ‘Midnight, Dhaka, 25 March 1971’ by Mir Mafuz Ali

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Midnight, Dhaka, 25 March 1971’ by Mir Mafuz Ali from his collection Midnight, Dhaka.

Midnight, Dhaka is the debut collection by Mir Mahfuz Ali. As a boy, Mahfuz witnessed atrocities and writes about them with a searing directness in poems like ‘My Salma’: ‘They brought Salma into the yard, / asked me to watch how they would explode / a bullet into her’. His trauma becomes transformative, and his poetry the key to unlocking memories of a childhood that are rich in nuance, gorgeous in detail and evocative of a beautiful country. Influenced by Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) and Jibanananda Das (1899-1954), as well as modern British poets, Mahfuz brings his own unique voice in these poems, which celebrate the human capacity for love, survival and renewal.

Midnight, Dhaka is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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Friday Poem – ‘The Guns’ by Katrina Naomi

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘The Guns’ by Katrina Naomi from her collection Wild Persistence which was published this time last year.

Wild Persistence by Katrina Naomi is a confident and persuasive collection of poems. Written following her move from London to Cornwall, it considers distance and closeness, and questions how to live. She dissects ‘dualism’ and arrival, sex and dance, a trip to Japan. The collection also includes a moving sequence of poems about the aftermath of an attempted rape.

“Funny, moving, surprising, unflinching and, above all else… joyous.” – Helen Mort

Wild Persistence is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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Watch Katrina read her poem ‘London: A Reply’ on our Youtube channel:

Friday Poem – ‘Free, No Obligation Valuation’ by Rhian Edwards

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Free, No Obligation Valuation’ by Rhian Edwards from her second collection The Estate Agent’s Daughter, published this time last year.

The Estate Agent’s Daughter is the eagerly awaited follow up to Rhian Edwards’s Wales Book of the Year winning debut collection Clueless DogsAcute and wryly observed, the poems step forth with a confident tone, touching on the personal and the public, encapsulating a woman’s tribulations in the twenty-first century.

“…fast-talking, wise-cracking and worldly wise” – Zoë Brigley

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

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Watch Rhian Edwards reading her poem ‘Argos Wedding’ from The Estate Agent’s Daughter on our Youtube channel:

Friday Poem – ‘City’ by Peter Finch

This week our Friday Poem is ‘City’ by Peter Finch from his 2020 collection The Machineries of Joy.

The Machineries of Joy is the vibrant, uproarious, pointed & wildly entertaining new collection from renowned Cardiff-based performance poet, Peter Finch. Known for his inventive and multi-faceted formal strategies & his best-selling psycho-geographical peregrinations around Wales and the USA, he gives us the world in all its contemporary complexity.

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

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Last year Peter joined us for an event as part of the Seren Stay-at-Home Series. Rewatch it in full on our Youtube channel:

Friday Poem – ‘Instructions for the Coastal Walk from Clarach to Borth’ by Lynne Hjelmgaard

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Instructions for the Coastal Walk from Clarach to Borth’ by Lynne Hjelmgaard from her collection A Second Whisper.

A Second Whisper is Lynne Hjelmgaard’s moving new collection in which she looks back upon her life in New York, Demark, The Caribbean, and London. There are elegies to her late husband as well as to her mentor and partner, the renowned Welsh poet Dannie Abse, who died in 2014. Her lyrics are precise, warm in tone, and suffused with optimism for the future.

“The pictures that Hjelmgaard paints with words are… akin to pale watercolour…a quiet soundscape of inner thoughts and emotions…” – WriteOutLoud

 

A Second Whisper is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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Watch Lynne read her poem A Second Whisper on our Youtube channel:

Friday Poems – ‘Harp/Telyn’ by Philip Gross and ‘Telyn’ by Cyril Jones

This week’s Friday Poems are ‘Harp/Telyn’ by Philip Gross and ‘Telyn’ by Cyril Jones from their new bilingual collection Troeon : Turnings. The book also features letterpress designs by the artist Valerie Coffin Price.

To turn, to dig, to plough, to upset, to translate… Bend, lap, journey, time… The Welsh word troeon unfolds meaning after meaning. In Troeon : Turnings, two poets confident in their own traditions meet in the hinterland between translation and collaboration – Cyril Jones from the disciplines of Welsh cynghanedd, Philip Gross from the restless variety of English verse.

Troeon : Turnings is available on the Seren website: £12.99

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Friday Poem – ‘A Rosary’ by André Mangeot

This week our Friday Poem is ‘A Rosary’ by André Mangeot from his collection Blood Rain which was published in February 2020.

Resonant, complex, rich in heft and texture, these are mature poems that grapple with serious themes. Beautifully crafted, and partly inspired by the poet’s love of the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia, they address the natural world, its endangerment and other pressing global issues from multiple perspectives, and with great lyrical power.

‘A thought-provoking book for turbulent times.’ – Matthew Caley

Blood Rain is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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Click below to see a video of André reading his poem ‘Bellwether’:

Friday Poem – ‘The Reed Flute and I’ by Abeer Ameer

This week our Friday Poem is ‘The Reed Flute and I’ by Abeer Ameer from her debut collection Inhale/Exile. Abeer recently featured on an episode of the Babble podcast which can be listened to here.

Abeer Ameer writes of her forebears in her first collection, Inhale/Exile. Dedicated to the “holders of these stories”, the book begins with a poem about a storyteller on a rooftop in Najaf, Iraq, follows tales of courage and survival, and ends with a woman cooking food for neighbours on the anniversary of her son’s death.

 “…these poems remind us that even in the darkest times, there is light, and there is love.” – Katherine Stansfield

Inhale/Exile is available on the Seren website: £9.99

Watch Abeer read ‘The Reed Flute and I’ on our Youtube channel.

Friday Poem – ‘Why the Brazilian Butt Lift Won’t Save Us’ by Tishani Doshi

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Why the Brazilian Butt Lift Won’t Save Us’ by Tishani Doshi from her forthcoming Bloodaxe collection A God at the Door.

Photo taken for Vogue India

Tishani is taking part in an event at the Seren Cardiff Poetry Festival this afternoon from 2pm! There’s still time to register to hear her reading alongside Joe Dunthorne. Register here.

A God at the Door is available to pre-order via Bloodaxe books

Register for Poetry Friends: Tishani Doshi and Joe Dunthorne at the Seren Cardiff Poetry Festival here