Friday Poem – ‘This Is Not A Rescue’, Emily Blewitt

Friday Poem Emily Blewitt This Is Not A Rescue

Last night we squeezed into packed Waterstones Cardiff to hear Emily Blewitt read from her brand new collection, This Is Not A Rescue. Today we are thrilled to feature the title poem here on the blog as this week’s Friday Poem.

Emily Blewitt This Is Not A Rescue Waterstones

 

This Is Not A Rescue Emily BlewittIn This Is Not A Rescue Emily Blewitt writes both forcefully and tenderly about refusing to be rescued, rescuing oneself, and rescuing others. This book is about finding love and keeping it, negotiating difficult family and personal struggles, and looking at the world with a lively, sardonic eye.
The title poem reconfigures the hurt and healing relationships can offer in terms of fire and water. Swimming grants a strange, beautiful freedom, shot through with hidden dangers, such as ‘the pebbles that in secret you have sewn into your skirts’. An exploration of human connection, this poem gently stirs up feelings of adventurousness, daring, love.

 

 

Friday Poem This Is Not A Rescue Emily Blewitt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Is Not A Rescue is available from the Seren website: £9.99
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Friday Poem – ‘The Birds of Rhiannon’, Rhian Edwards

Friday Poem The Birds of Rhiannon Brood

Our Friday Poem this week is ‘The Birds of Rhiannon’, the opening number from Rhian Edwards’ new pamphlet, Brood.

Brood Rhian EdwardsThis poem introduces us (via a nod to the famous medieval Mabinogion story where magic birds, said to bring people back from the dead, console the heartbroken Celtic princess Rhiannon) to a darkly resonant tone that echoes from the myth.
Birds are at all times present in these vivid, acutely personal poems: hovering, chattering, casting their shadows, they are both tricksters and familiars. At the centre of Brood is a ten-part poem based upon the rhyme ‘One for Sorrow, Two for Joy…’ which charts the progression of a troubling relationship from infatuation to disillusionment, alongside the birth of a much-loved daughter. Welsh artist Paul Edwards’ charcoal magpie drawings, inspired by this sequence, feature throughout the pamphlet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Brood
is available from the Seren website: £6.
00
Join our free, no-purchase-necessary Book Club for a 20% discount every time you shop with us

 

Friday Poem – ‘Roadkill Season’, Polly Atkin

Friday Poem Roadkill Season Polly Atkin

Our Friday Poem this week is ‘Roadkill Season’, from Polly Atkin’s recently released debut, Basic Nest Architecture.

Basic Nest Architecture Polly AtkinA meshing-together of beauty and gore, ‘Roadkill Season’ is almost ritualistic in its depiction of food preparation and feasting. Sweet and savage images clash: the brutal origin of the meal is not placed at a distance but embraced, an essential element in the pleasure gained.
Basic Nest Architecture is Polly Atkin’s first collection of poetry, and follows her Mslexia Prize-winning pamphlet, Shadow Dispatches, and her Michael Marks nominated Bone Song. The complex, intelligent, densely metaphorical lyrics for which she is known are often inspired by the beauties of the Lake District, her home for the last decade.

Join Polly Atkin at the Lancaster Literature Festival for the Basic Nest Architecture launch tomorrow, Saturday 25 March.

 

Roadkill Season

In Eighteenth-Century House it was roadkill
season. Pheasant, hooked out from under
the dented bumper, last breath condensed
in a plastic bag, matured for a week
in the stainless steel back sink, to build up
flavour. Beautiful dead! I never
saw a thing alive so lovely.
The basin, silvered like the lake in winter,
swirled with colour, like dead trees and diesel.
You stank like the kill itself, like the mulchy
scrub you stumbled out of, stupid
and gorgeous, in love with the tarmac. Poorman’s
Peacock. Dumb bundle of plumage and flesh.
Laura popped your cooling heart
in her gob like a sweet; burst it between
her sharpening teeth. Kate and Anna
carved your breast to split together.
Your meat was purple as the sky at dusk.
We each hooked a finger to halve your wish-bone,
squeezed our eyes closed, and heaved.
We gathered scraps. Kate buried the shell
to dig up and sculpt into artefact later.
We dried out your feet on radiators.
You clutched hot air as they hardened to stars
we bent into brooches, gifts for each other,
then salvaged the best of your wings and fine tail
and stitched new faces of your feathers.

 

 

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A literary Mother’s Day Gift: the Writing Motherhood anthology

Writing Motherhood 30% off Mother's Day

Today we welcome the arrival of Writing Motherhood, a creative anthology of poetry, interviews and essays by established writers, edited by Carolyn Jess-Cooke.

Writing Motherhood Carolyn Jess-CookeThe perfect literary gift for Mother’s Day, Writing Motherhood explores the relationship between creativity and motherhood, with contributions from writers such as Carol Ann Duffy, Sharon Olds and Hollie McNish. Until Sunday 26 March, you can buy Mum her copy at 30% off, direct from the Seren website.

‘This is a truly inspiring collection, all the more so for its wit and its grit, its poetry and its honesty; here we have women producing ‘good art’ despite – and often  because of – ‘the pram in the hall.’ – Shelley Day

Read a free excerpt from Carolyn Jess-Cooke’s Introduction, below.


INTRODUCTION

There is no more sombre enemy of good art than the pram in the hall.
– Cyril Connolly

This book presents a selection of the most important contemporary
writing by women on the tensions between motherhood
and writing.
Cyril Connolly wrote about the ‘pram in the hall’ in his 1938
book Enemies of Promise, yet his caveat is directed at men (he took
it as given that women create babies, not art). Nonetheless, the
quote is still in use to capture those devastating effects brought to
artistic creation by a new baby. I’m not alone when I admit the
arrival of my first child felt like stepping inside a whirlwind. I had
plenty to worry about – SIDS, whether she was gaining enough
weight, whether we could afford maternity leave, etc. – but I do
remember that among my worries was a serious concern that I
might never be able to write again. My brain felt completely
scrambled. I could barely construct a text message for weeks,
months. Time was disjointed. It seemed to take an inordinate
amount of time to do even the smallest task. I remember thinking,
over and over, why did nobody tell me how hard this is? After the birth
of my son, however, writing proved effective in pushing back the
darkness of postnatal depression, and also inspired a new direction
in my creative practice; I had always thought I would only
ever write poetry, but the problem-solving, immersive elements of
narrative proved much more potent in batting back depression.
After the births of our third and fourth children, let’s just say that
I became a bit more creative in how I managed my time.
PUBLISHING MOTHERHOOD

In 2014, Arts Council England funded my Writing Motherhood
project to tour literary festivals in the UK to discuss the impact of
motherhood on women’s writing. I had read a number of reports
and articles that claimed the key to literary success was childlessness,
or for a woman to have just one child, or at least to bear in
mind that each child ‘costs’ a female writer four books. None of
these reports aimed their caveats at men. I became curious – and
not a little dismayed – by the idealization of motherhood, and by
the casual sexism that was prevalent and unchallenged in discourses
about motherhood. I set up the Writing Motherhood
project because I wanted to empower mothers and to encourage
them to talk about their experiences. Although the assumption
about mothers and writing was that we just didn’t have the time
or inclination (we’re all too busy dealing with that pram in the
hallway!), I perceived that other forces were at work, prohibiting
women’s writing from making it into the public sphere and/or
being perceived as good literature.

 


 

A few highlights from the kalaidescope of female experience featured here are Carolyn Jess-Cooke’s interview with Sharon Olds (where she discusses her famous rejection by a US literary magazine for writing about her children), excerpts from Hollie McNish’s motherhood diary, and Carol Ann Duffy’s beautiful portrait of being and having a daughter. This is a poignant and beautiful book celebrating motherhood, recognising it not as the ‘enemy of good art’, but often as its inspiration.

Writing Motherhood 30% off Mother's Day

Writing Motherhood: 30% off until Mother’s Day (26 March). Order your copy now

 

Friday Poem – ‘Translating Mountains from the Gaelic’, Yvonne Reddick

Friday Poem Translating Mountains from the Gaelic Yvonne Reddick

Our Friday Poem this week is ‘Translating Mountains from the Gaelic’ from Yvonne Reddick’s Mslexia Poetry Prize-winning pamphlet, Translating Mountains.

The difficulty and occasional humour of translating language is at the forefront of this poem, yet alongside this we see a daughter contemplating how she will take her lost father on one last memorialistic mountain trek.

The poems of Yvonne Reddick’s prize-winning pamphlet, Translating Mountains, are all multi-layered compositions. They tell of grief for a beloved father as well as a close friend, who both died in mountain-climbing accidents. These poems are also hymns to stunning landscapes, with mountains and place names often in a craggy, atmospheric Gaelic. Full of tension, emotion and action, this writing grips our attention.

 

 

Translating Mountains from the Gaelic

A pebble on the tongue –
my clumsy mouth stumbles their meanings:

I mumble Beinn Laoghail to Ben Loyal,
Beinn Uais to Ben Wyvis,

humble Beinn Artair
from King Arthur’s Hill to The Cobbler –

turn Bod an Deamhain
from Demon’s Penis to Devil’s Point,

stammer on An Teallach
with its rearing anvils and impossible spelling,

my throat a stream-gorge
where quartz chunks chatter against each other –

my English rolling off their sharp consonants.
Next summer, I’ll shoulder my red rucksack,
a Platypus bottle, and a vial of Dad’s ash

up Schiehallion –
Fairy-Hill of the Caledonians –
via the less-worn path.

A deerfly, its eyes peridot ringstones,
will pincer my skin for blood,

my voice a trespasser,
echoing charred moors and razed crofts.

Dad, I’ll pour your English dust
for the hungry roots of the hill’s oldest pine –

a speck of you will lodge in a walker’s boot-tread,
the breeze catching a mote of your collarbone,

the rain will seep through you,
mingle you with Aonach Bàn,
Loch Teimheil, Sìdh Chailleann.

 

 

Translating Mountains is available from the Seren website: £5.00
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Friday Poem – ‘The shame of our island’, Siobhán Campbell

Friday Poem The shame of our island Siobhan Campbell

This week our Friday Poem is ‘The shame of our island’ from Siobhán Campbell’s brand new collection, Heat Signature.

Heat Signature Siobhan CampbellIn ‘The shame of our island’ we are confronted with a sense of contested history, in which the hunter’s tongue-in-cheek aim is to ‘see the steaming innards’ of his almost-extinct prey. The ‘shame’ of the title permeates the poem, with the speaker’s questions demanding justification, yet receiving no answer.
Heat Signature is Siobhán Campbell’s fourth full collection, and is composed in her characteristically 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. The blend of dark comedy, tragedy and politics is entirely typical of Campbell’s complex, thoughtful and profoundly entertaining poetry.

 

The shame of our island

is that we killed the wolf.
Not just the last
but the two before that.

I knew a man who met a man
who was the cousin removed
of the great-grandson of the man
who killed the third-last wolf
on the island.

Slit it he did,
to see the steaming innards –
how long they were, how tightly wound.

Had it a white paw to the fore?
That gene would have been recessive.
Was there a black bar across the yellow eye?
No time to notice its différence.

Is this a wolf with its bared teeth
and its lairy smell
and its fetlock tipped with white?

Is this wolfish?

 
Heat Signature is available from the Seren website: £9.99
Join our free, no-purchase-necessary Book Club for a 20% discount every time you shop with us

 

Attend the Heat Signature book launch in London

Join us at The Flying Horse on Wednesday 15 March, 7:30pm, where we will be celebrating the launch of Heat Signature with a poetry reading by the author and book signing opportunity. Refreshments will be provided and entry is free, so bring your friends for an evening of poetry and merriment.
Find out more

 

 

 

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January Giveaway: win a copy of The Other City by Rhiannon Hooson

Giveaway The Other City Rhiannon Hooson

This month we are giving away a copy of Rhiannon Hooson’s ‘beguiling’ debut poetry collection, The Other City.

To enter, simply sign up to the Seren newsletter before 1st February:
https://www.serenbooks.com/newsletter/signup

other-city-jan-giveaway


About The Other City:
The Other City Rhiannon Hooson
Rhiannon Hooson is a gifted young poet born in mid-Wales and currently living in the Welsh Marches. The Other City is her debut collection of poems.
Sharply focused, beautifully resonant, deeply felt, these poems tend to travel in distinct streams: some reference and re-make narratives from classical Greek myth; others explore the idea of otherness and the uncanny, where actions are done and undone, and the familiar made unfamiliar.
‘This is a beguiling debut from a poet who already has a recognizable voice and emotional register. Sensuous, musical, darkly involved, the poems make and confound their own realities.’ – Graham Mort

 

The winner of this giveaway will be chosen at random from all our email subscribers on 1st February 2017, so if you haven’t already, hurry and sign up for our newsletter before the end of the month!

 

 

Friday Poem – ‘Without Narcissus’, Rhiannon Hooson

without narcissus rhiannon hooson

Last night, we welcomed a chilly December in Chapter Arts, with Rhiannon Hooson reading poems from her debut collection, The Other CityIt seemed appropriate to have Friday’s Poem from this beguiling new release, for those who missed out.

screenshot-2016-12-02-12-02-07
Rhiannon reading to a full house at December’s First Thursday event

the-other-city_quicksand-cover-copyWith a sharp focus and beautiful resonance, the deeply felt poems from The Other City  tend to travel in distinct streams: some reference and re-make narratives from classical Greek myth; some rework elements of Welsh history, both ancient, and modern. There are also a number of poems exploring the idea of otherness and the uncanny, where actions are done and undone, and the familiar made unfamiliar.

 

Without Narcissus

The lack of his blindness shocks the silver water black.
Your palm’s slap against its surface is looped silence:
bare shoulders with their heron stoop,
the wet ropes of your black hair, the empty water
and the stiff-leafed lilies which break for sharp fingers,
their pink throats silent and smiling. Speak.

Over the water the red rock leans and watches.
Your nails like fish-scales break against
the cool shadow of its noon, and the silence. Speak.
Even the fish have voices, even the rough
hush of the trees, even the birds.You press your body
to the dark-loomed sediment and learn its silence, touch the red
heat of your mouth to the rock and learn the syllables
of its unspeech. Speak.

Birds watch you writing the mangled sign of your name
wet hair strung across the tangled mats of cress,
white fingers and their fish-belly pallor, your white lips
kissed against the petals of the lilies.You can speak
their silence back to them so well, so well.

 

Buy your copy of The Other City now: £9.99
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Win a signed copy of Wild Places by Iolo Williams

win a copy of wild places by iolo williams

Show us your favourite nature place in Wales win a copy of Iolo Williams’ new guide book, Wild Places: Wales’ Top 40 Nature Sites.

We’re giving away a signed copy of Wild Places, Iolo Williams’ stunning new guide to Wales’ best wildlife and nature sites. All you have to do to win is head to Twitter and tell us your top nature place.

Win a signed copy of Wild Places by Iolo Williams

Follow us (@SerenBooks) and use the hashtag #WildPlacesWales to tell us where you think tops the list of Wales’ best wild places. Add a photo if you can! We’ll pick the winner on 16th December – our favourite comment will take the prize.

We’ve already had some great responses – here are a few of the places chosen so far…

 

Can you think of an even better wild place in Wales? If so, tell us now and you’ll be in the running to win this fantastic new book, signed by the author.

 

Entries close 16/12/16. Winner will be chosen from all Twitter comments. Prize cannot be exchanged or substituted.

 

Friday Poem – ‘Reasons for his absence’, Darío Jaramillo Agudelo (translated by Richard Gwyn)

Friday Poem Dario aramillo Agudelo Richard Gwyn

This week our Friday Poem is ‘Reasons for his absence’ by Darío Jaramillo Agudelo, from Richard Gwyn’s hot-off-the-press anthology, The Other Tiger: Recent Poetry from Latin America.

The Other Tiger by Richard GwynThe Other Tiger (the title is a nod to Borges – “the one not in this poem”) is a much-needed bilingual anthology of contemporary poetry, containing 156 poems by 97 South and Latin American poets. It includes work from Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Nicaragua, Chile, Uruguay, Venezuela, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Bolivia and El Salvador.

 

About Darío Jaramillo Agudelo
Agudelo is an internationally acclaimed poet, novelist and essayist. He graduated in law and economics from the Universidad Javeriana of Bogotá, and worked for many years in various roles with state cultural and arts organisations. He has been shortlisted or winner of several awards for his work, including the Colombian National Eduardo Cote Lamus prize for poetry (1978), and the José María de Pereda Prize for the short novel (2010). The most recent edition of his Selected Poems is his personal anthology Basta cerrar los ojos (México DF: Era, 2014).

A note on ‘Reasons for his absence’, from Richard Gwyn:
I was attracted to this poem by its epistolary style, and by the device of news being relayed about an absent party. The lack of clarity surrounding the reasons for the man’s absence holds particular poignancy in a country such as Colombia, where ‘disappearances’ were – at the time of the poem’s composition, in the late 1970s – already becoming an everyday occurrence. The slightly elevated or ‘baroque’ language and incantatory style creates a strange juxtaposition with the content, which describes a life of sensual dissolution. The curiosity is stirred by the profound sense of loss or lack with which the absentee seems infused, wherever he is. Whether his exile is literal or metaphoric is never made clear.

My principal concern with the translation of this poem concerned the title. The Spanish noun ‘razón’ can mean a range of things, including ‘reason’ or ‘information’, or even ‘explanation’, depending on context. Similarly ‘ausente’ – here a noun, but commonly an adjective – could be translated in a number of ways: ‘the absent one’ sounded too much like translatorese, ‘the missing person’ subject to over-interpretation in the context of recent Latin American history. In the end I chose ‘his absence’, which deviates from the original in a grammatical sense but conveys the meaning of the phrase accurately. A second concern was the repetition in the Spanish of ‘díganle’ (literally: tell him), which, since it refers back to ‘alguien’ (anyone) in line 1, I chose to translate as the generic ‘tell them’.

 I attempted to re-create the long, rolling cadences of the original in my translation, alongside the reiteration of the introductory ‘tell them that . . .’.

I have also tried to reproduce the bereft tone that reflects the absentee’s solitude, and the distance he has chosen to maintain from those he left behind.

 When I read this poem out loud at an event – as I do from time to time – it still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. I can’t say that happens with many poems, but with this one it happens every time.

Reasons for his Absence
(click to enlarge image)

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