Friday Poem – ‘The Lovely Disciplines’, Martyn Crucefix

Friday Poem The Lovely Disciplines Martyn Crucefix

This week our Friday Poem is the title poem from Martyn Crucefix’s brand new collection, The Lovely Disciplines, which came out just yesterday.

Martyn Crucefix The Lovely DisciplinesDisplaying his characteristic flair, craft and intelligence, Crucefix’s new poems often begin with the visible, the tangible, the ordinary, yet through each act of attentiveness and the delicate fluidity of the language they re-discover the extraordinary in the everyday.
The book is split into three sections, and ‘The Lovely Disciplines’ appears in section two, which is not just the centre but the emotional heart of this new collection. It features a number of tender poems that recollect moments with ageing parents: a father, losing his memory, gets lost driving a familiar route, with such loss prefiguring wider and deeper losses to come; a childhood home is suddenly shorn of its reassuring familiarity. Here, aged figures in a hospital ward lean away from the lives they once knew, whilst loved ones ‘rest useless hands’ and wait, for a release.


The Lovely Disciplines Friday Poem



























The Lovely Disciplines is available from the Seren website: £9.99

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July Book Giveaway: win a copy of The Women of Versailles

July Giveaway The Women of Versailles

You’ll need to hurry, because there are only a few days left for you to enter our monthly giveaway – and this month, the prize is a copy of Kate Brown’s ‘extraordinarily timeless’ debut novel, The Women of Versailles.

To enter, simply sign up to the Seren newsletter before 1st August:

Book Giveaway The Women of Versailles

About The Women of Versailles:
The Women of Versailles Kate Brown
Princess Adélaïde, daughter of Louis XV, is at odds with the etiquette of the French court. Adélaïde envies her brother, is bored with her sister and, when Madame de Pompadour, a bourgeoise, comes to court as her father’s mistress, she is smitten, with dangerous results. Adélaïde pushes against the confines of the court, blind to the difference between a mistress and princess, with tragic results. Forty-four years later, under the looming shadow of the revolution, what has happened to the hopes of a young girl and the doomed regime in which she grew up?

‘Dark and rich, The Women of Versailles is filled with political intrigue, sexual awakening, and the roots of revolution.’ – Peggy Riley


We will pick a winner at random from all our email subscribers on 1st August. Make sure you have signed up to Seren News before then to be in with a chance of winning!

Why not give your friends a chance to win too, by recommending that they sign up to our newsletter before the end of the month using this link?




Friday Poem – ‘Waking in Picardy’, Graham Mort

Friday Poem Graham Mort Waking in Picardy

This week we welcomed the publication of Graham Mort’s masterly tenth collection, Black Shiver Moss, and so today as Friday Poem we feature ‘Waking in Picardy’, the opening poem from this brand new collection.

New places are made familiar by the vivid descriptions and evocations in Black Shiver Moss. In ‘Waking in Picardy’ we see the intimacies of nature: ‘damselflies glisten, sex to sex/ promiscuously winged.’ Elsewhere in this startling collection, Mort moves us beyond the visible, towards spiritual and philosophical concerns. What really impresses is how Mort manages to create and sustain a darkly magnificent tone, reminiscent of Beethoven’s late quartets, of Shakespeare’s tragedies, of classical landscape painting, a tone suffused with seriousness and mortality.



















Black Shiver Moss is available from the Seren website: £9.99

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Announcing the Myths & Legends Astronomy Tour of Wales

Myths and Legends Astronomy Tour Wales Martin Griffiths

With it being Wales’ Year of Legends, what better time could there be to discover the rich mythological history of our land? Martin Griffiths’ new astronomy book, Dark Land, Dark Skies, does just that – and now Martin is getting ready to tour Wales with his fascinating Celtic interpretation of the stars.

Dark Land, Dark Skies, Martin GriffithsThe tour kicks off with the Dark Land, Dark Skies book launch, tomorrow, at the Brecon Beacons National Park Visitors Centre, Libanus. Martin will introduce the legendary Welsh heroes, plotting a map of our mythology in the stars above. If the weather allows, we’ll step outside and gaze at the dark sky, the author’s expertise guiding us away from Greek and Roman to instead see mythical Celtic figures far above.
Free places are still available – book now.

Meet us in Pembrokeshire, Snowdonia, Elan Valley and Newtown as the tour continues: at each stop, Martin will reveal more about Welsh mythology and how it can be seen in the stars. These unmissable events will connect you to our culture and change the way you see the night sky.

Myths & Legends Astronomy Tour Wales


Find all the most up-to-date information on these events, including how to purchase tickets, on the Seren Events page.




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.


















is available from the Seren website: £6.
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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.



Basic Nest Architecture is available from the Seren website: £9.99
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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.


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.

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