Friday Poem – ‘Kinetic Melodies’, Nerys Williams

Kinetic Melodies Nerys Williams Friday Poem

This week our Friday Poem is Nerys Williams’ ‘Kinetic Melodies’, from her award-winning debut collection, Sound Archive.

Nerys Williams Sound ArchiveWinner of the DLR Strong Award and shortlisted for both the Forward Prize and the Michael Murphey Prize, Nerys Williams’ Sound Archive is a strikingly original and critically acclaimed first collection of poems. Using formal strategies similar to modernist painting: abstraction, dislocation, surrealist juxtaposition, Williams conjures a complex music, intriguing narratives, and poems full of atmosphere that query identity, gender, and the dream of art as a vehicle for emotion and meaning.
Look out for Nerys Williams’ new collection, Cabaret, out soon from New Dublin Press.

 

 

Kinetic Melodies

It is easy to speak of language as ownership,
your purring phonemes are not my right
nor any dialogic imagination.

It is like the time I mixed metaphors
and found myself nude, addressing a crowd
with no immediate

parallel or paradox to flail at.
An empty lectern, a thousand eyes.

Small inconsistencies alert us:
a time to find a colour of saying,
how dialect forms the melody of tall tales.

After storm fields have disappeared
sulphur fills the air where the tree stands.

Here it says I am branch
root and hollow, rub my charcal into clean hands,
serenade me with your speech,
curse the carrion crow below.

 

Sound Archive is available from the Seren website: £8.99

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Friday Poem – ‘Blackbird’, Pascale Petit

Friday Poem Pascale Petit Blackbird

Our Friday Poem this week is ‘Blackbird’ by Pascale Petit, from her collection Fauverie.

Pascale Petit, FauverieWeaving together hardship and beauty, ‘Blackbird’ invokes the image of a bird’s feathers as an abstract comfort in the face of confinement: ‘each number / became a blackbird’s feather.’
This volume has childhood trauma and a dying father at its heart, and the poems skillfully transform painful experiences into expressions of grief. Fauverie redeems the darker forces of human nature while celebrating the ferocity and grace of endangered species: at its heart is the title’s name-sake: the big-cat house in the Jardin des Plantes zoo. Paris, too, takes centre stage – a city savage as the Amazon, haunted by Aramis the black jaguar and a menagerie of wild animals.

 

 

Blackbird

When they locked me
in the cellar

and told me to count
slowly to a hundred,

each number
became a blackbird’s feather

and all the darkness
sang

through the keyhole
of my yellow beak.

 

 

Fauverie is available from the Seren website: £9.99

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Friday Poem – ‘Relic’, Katherine Stansfield

Friday Poem Relic Katherine Stansfield

To mark the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band on June 1st 1967, our Friday Poem this week is taken from Newspaper Taxis: Poems After The Beatles.

Newspaper Taxis collects together poems that showcase the vast and varied influence The Beatles had on the way we lived then and the way we live now. With contributions by myriad of poets, young and old, including Simon Armitage, Carol Ann Duffy, Elaine Feinstein, Peter Finch, Adrian Henri, Philip Larkin, Lachlan Mackinnon, Roger McGough, Sheenagh Pugh, Jeremy Reed, Carol Rumens and Katherine Stansfield (featured here), this book is a response to the Beatles’ creativity and capacity to influence successive generations.
‘Relic’ by Katherine Stansfield imagines what the buyer of one of John Lennon’s teeth, auctioned in November 2011, might do with it. The poem blends together the whimsical and the macabre – ‘After fifty years it looks / like forgotten popcorn’. With humour, and wistfulness, the poet brings back the ‘long dead croon’ to play again in all our ears.

 

Friday Poem Katherine Stansfield Relic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newspaper Taxis is available from our website: £9.99

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Friday Poem – ‘Song for the Unburied’, Carol Rumens

Carol Rumens Song for the Unburied Friday Poem

Our thoughts are with Manchester, and we don’t have words to express our sorrow. In tribute we feature Carol Rumens’ ‘Song for the Unburied’ as this week’s Friday Poem.

Blind Spots Carol Rumens‘Song for the Unburied’ is taken from Carol Rumens’ 2008 collection Blind Spots, a masterclass of inventive, intelligent, original, and relevant modern poetry. A major voice in contemporary verse, Rumens is admired as much for her technical brilliance as for the range, breadth and subtlety of her subject matter. You might find a sonnet, a sestina, a villanelle but you’ll also chance across a pantoum or a ghazal, or a fluid free verse poem where birdsong flickers off the edges of the page. Most uncommonly, these poems are informed by a consciousness that is as fiercely personal and tender as it is public-minded and political.

 

 

Carol Rumens Song for the Unburied

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Friday Poem – ‘Branwen’s starling’, Meirion Jordan

Meirion Jordan Branwen's starling Friday Poem

Lady Charlotte Guest, the first to publish a full collection of the Mabinogion legends in translation, was born on this day in 1812. In celebration, our Friday Poem is ‘Branwen’s starling’ from Meiron Jordan’s Mabinogion-inspired collection, Regeneration.

regeneration meirion jordan friday poemRegeneration is Welsh poet Meirion Jordan’s take on the medieval manuscripts known today as Llyfr Coch Hergest and Llyfr Gwyn Rhydderch (the Red Book of Hergest and the White Book of Rhydderch). This collection is a re-imagining, inspired by source material that includes the stories of the Mabinogion, and Malory’s version of King Arthur’s tales.
In ‘Red Book’ we meet characters drawn from the eleven stories of the Mabinogi, like ‘Arawn, lord of Annwn’; ‘Rhiannon’s gossips’ and ‘Blodauwedd (the woman made of flowers)’. These poems evoke what Meirion Jordan calls in his insightful preface ‘half-recalled heroic landscapes’; they capture the elusive essence of these characters, their mysterious passions and their sometimes violent and often strange adventures in Jordan’s distinctive poetic style. His pared-down pure lyricism and tightly enjambed free-verse lines bring brevity and clarity to these tales without subtracting their unsettling power to move us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Mabinogion story of Branwen, Daughter of Llŷr, the princess is married to Matholwch, King of Ireland. Enraged that he has not been consulted about the match, Branwen’s half-brother Efnysien mutilates the groom-to-be’s horses and Matholwch leaves with his bride, still bitter, but pacified by the gift of a magic couldron which can bring the dead back to life. Branwen endures much abuse after she arrives in Ireland and so tames a starling to fly to her brother Brân, King of Wales, so she may be saved. After a period of war and great devastation, Branwen is returned to Wales, and dies grieving over the destruction caused on her account.


Regeneration
by Merion Jordan is available on our website: £8.99
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Legend of the Month: Robert Graves

Robert Graves Legend of the Month

Each month we are celebrating one fantastic Seren author in honour of Wales’ Year of Legends. This month the spotlight falls on Robert Graves.

Robert Graves began publishing poetry after the outbreak of the First World War, for which he enlisted in 1914 as a junior officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers. Robert Graves War Poems Charles MundyeHe was one of the first to write realistic poems about the experience of fighting on the frontline. His first volume, Over the Brazier, was published in 1916, and by 1917 he had produced two further collections of war poetry whilst still on active service. Over the Brazier and Fairies and Fusiliers earned for Graves the reputation of an accomplished war poet.
You can find all Graves’ war poetry in recently published Robert Graves: War Poems (Seren, 2016).

During his lifetime Graves published more than 140 books, including fifty-five collections of poetry (he reworked his Collected Poems repeatedly during his career), fifteen novels, ten translations, and forty works of non-fiction, autobiography, and literary essays. His best known works are his memoir of World War One, Goodbye to All That, The White Goddess, and the novels I, Claudius and Claudius the Great.

Here is Graves’ poem, ‘Hate Not, Fear Not’, from his previously unpublished collection The Patchwork Flag (1918) which, almost a century after composition, has now been brought into print as part of Robert Graves: War Poems.

 

Robert Graves Hate Not, Fear Not

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Graves: War Poems is available from our website: £19.99

Find a great selection of books by our other legendary writers on the Year of Legends page.

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Friday Poem – ‘Selfridges’, Tamar Yoseloff

Friday Poem Selfridges Tamar Yoseloff

This week our Friday Poem is ‘Selfridges’, the opening number from Tamar Yoseloff’s A Formula for Night: New and Selected Poems.

Tamar Yoseloff A Formula for NightFirst published in Sweetheart (Slow Dancer Press, 1998), ‘Selfridges’ portrays an intermingling of awe and repulsion as the speaker, in her youth, stumbles upon the meat counter whilst shopping with her mother.
A Formula for Night: New and Selected Poems encompasses selections from four of Yoseloff’s published print volumes: Sweetheart, Barnard’s Star, Fetch and The City with Horns; and poems from her collaborations with artists: Formerly, Marks and Desire Paths, as well as a generous selection of beautiful new poems.

 

 

Selfridges

My mother held a wire basket in one hand,
my hand in the other. Occasionally she’d pause
to cross an item from her list as she plucked it
from the shelf. For a brief moment she released
her grip and I must have wandered off,
realised I was lost near the butcher’s counter.
The full odour of fresh meat, blood and sawdust
hit me suddenly; I looked up to see hares, headless,
strung from metal hooks. I don’t think I’d even seen
a hare alive. The butcher was hacking a flank into steaks,
the first cut opening the bright pink of the leg,
the second negotiating bone. But what stopped me
in my tracks was the offal, displayed lovingly on a bed
of lettuce and ice – lambs’ kidneys, calves’ livers,
sweetbreads, hearts – all the vitals without function.
Just then I felt my mother yank me by the wrist;
she must have scolded me for drifting away
in a strange store, a foreign country, I can’t recall.
Twenty-five years later I can still see
those visceral hunks, served up like a delicacy,
indelicate, hearty, more real laid out there
than anything that beat inside me.

 

A Formula for Night: New and Selected Poems is available from the Seren website: £12.99
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Friday Poem – ‘Almost but not quite there’, Rebecca Perry

Friday Poem Almost but not quite there Rebecca Perry

Our Friday poem this week is ‘Almost but not quite there’ from little armoured by Rebecca Perry.

‘Almost but not quite there’ is an insightful and nostalgic poem which captures an early childhood memory of ‘running away’. The poem is a touching remembrance of a father’s patient teachings, and uses quietly intense imagery to describe, through a child’s eyes, the slow passing of time.
little armoured won the Poetry Wales Purple Moose Poetry Prize in 2011 and throughout the collection, Rebecca Parry’s dynamic and distinctive voice creates ‘exact and tender, smart and moving poems.’ (John McAuliffe)

 

 

Almost but not quite there

Running away never amounted to much.
My stuttering feet would not walk
farther than the third lamppost down,
chinking a lunchbox full of china gnomes
chipped from the last time.

My father would take me by the hand
and say, as he inched me nearer home,
sticking your head in the sand
does no one any good,
and where would we be
if we all behaved like ostriches?

Back then everything was as slow
as the setting of ice cubes, slow as the spins
of bakelite telephones,
slow as the sinking of a one-winged wasp in
a paddling pool,

slow as my father’s voice singing
a half remembered song about Lahore,
slow as the death of his mate Eddie
who used to drum for Status Quo,
whose handiwork still runs wires
through our house;

slow as the sinking in of his words,
like syrup pressing down into porridge,
after we got tear gassed in Tesco,
that you always need an arm free, an eye open,
a foot to the floor
and darling, remember this,
a tooth you could easily be without.

 

 

little armoured is available from the Seren website: £5.00
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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
Join our free, no-purchase-necessary Book Club for a 20% discount every time you shop with us

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