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.




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
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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: ‘Chinese Lacquer Egg’, Deryn Rees-Jones

Friday Poem Chinese Lacquer Egg Deryn Rees-Jones

We’d like to wish you a very happy Easter, and in celebration our Friday Poem today is ‘Chinese Lacquer Egg’ by Deryn Rees-Jones.

Deryn Rees-Jones What It's Like To Be Alive Selected Poems‘Chinese Lacquer Egg’ first featured in TS Eliot Prize-shortlisted Burying the Wren, and more recently in What It’s Like to Be Alive: Selected Poems. ‘Something is beginning’, it starts: there is a change, in outlook as well as nature. With intense lyricism the poet calls on the Roethkean ‘small things’ of the universe – birds, flowers, eggs – mysterious, and magical as well as ordinary.
What It’s Like to Be Alive features poems from Burying the Wren and four other collections, showcasing the arc of development in her writing over twenty-five years as she visits and revisits the concerns that are the mainstay of her writing: memory, love, desire, and heartbreak in all its manifestations.


A Chinese Lacquer Egg

Something is beginning. We feel it in the raw edges
of our dreams, our bodies hostage to light, to weather.
It is filling us with the weight of summer
which floats like helium through our wintered bones.
We wonder at it all, surprised by warmth, a sudden downpour –
the ruffled line of birdsong, a forgotten bulb
forcing its way through sodden earth towards the sun.
Or this Chinese lacquer egg, which appeared one morning
in my outstretched palm. Beyond the sound
of aeroplane or train, as we drift asleep, hands cupped
to the pillow, it shares its oval mysteries. Listen!
Between breath and silence it is showing itself.
In these shortened nights it is not unlike rapture,
an unworded prayer its indelible hum.



What It’s Like to Be Alive is available from the Seren website: £12.99
Join our free, no-purchase-necessary Book Club for a 20% discount every time you shop with us



Win a copy of Heat Signature by Siobhán Campbell

Win Heat Signature by Siobhan Campbell

Enter our monthly giveaway to win April’s prize: a copy of Siobhán Campbell’s new poetry collection, Heat Signature.

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

Heat Signature Siobhan Campbell giveaway

Siobhán Campbell has won awards in the National Poetry Competition, the Troubadour International Poetry Competition, the Templar Poetry Prize and most recently was awarded the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Prize. Heat Signature is her fourth full collection and follows Cross-Talk (Seren, 2009).

About Heat Signature:
Siobhán Campbell’s new collection is packed full of her lively, frequently provocative poems. An Irish poet, Campbell has inherited a rich vocabulary, the necessary ‘slant’ point of view, and a store of lively anecdotes. This is a poetry that resists rapture and/or easy solutions, it rather glories in difficulty: the cussed, intractable nature of humanity, of a natural world beset with swarming bees, weeds and feral horses. This is a poetic voice that once encountered, is never forgotten.


The winner of this giveaway will be chosen at random from all our email subscribers on 1st May 2017, so make sure you sign up to Seren News before this deadline to be in with a chance of winning.

Feeling generous? Why not invite your friends to enter, by signing up using the link below:




Legend of the Month: Ruth Bidgood

Legend of the Month Ruth Bidgood

Each month we are shining the spotlight on one fantastic Seren author in honour of Wales’ Year of Legends. Our selection for April is the poet Ruth Bidgood.

Ruth Bidgood turns 95 this year, and her poetry career spans over five decades. She was born in Blaendulais, near Neath, educated at Oxford, and worked as a coder in Alexandria, Egypt in World War Two. She has lived in mid-Wales since the mid-sixties.

Legend of the Month Ruth Bidgood

She has published fourteen books of poetry, including The Fluent Moment (Seren, 1996), Singing to Wolves (Seren, 2000), and her New and Selected Poems (Seren, 2004). Her twelfth collection, Time Being (Seren, 2009), won the Roland Mathias Prize and was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Her most recent collection is Land Music (Cinnamon, 2016). As well as poetry, she has written a prose book about Wales, Parishes of the Buzzard (Goldleaf, 2000), and published many articles in country historical journals.

Matthew Jarvis writes of Bidgood’s achievement: ‘The heart of Ruth Bidgood’s poetry is her varied and intertwined rendition of the mid-Wales area that she has made her home… Artistically, what she has achieved in such material is nothing less than a mid Wales epic.’

Here is ‘Legacy’, from New and Selected Poems, which featured as our Poem of the Month in the April edition of Seren News:

Ruth Bidgood 'Legacy' New and Selected Poems














Find more of Ruth Bidgood’s poetry on the Year of Legends page, alongside books by March’s featured author, Dannie Abse.




Friday Poem – ‘Newborn’, Graham Clifford

Friday Poem 'Newborn' Graham Clifford

Our Friday Poem this week is ‘Newborn’ from The Hitting Game by Graham Clifford.

The Hitting Game, Graham Clifford

‘Newborn’ is a disarmingly intimate poem which tenderly describes the ‘unfurling’ of a precious new life,  the minute changes in her being, and her otherwordly fragility.
The Hitting Game is Graham Clifford’s debut collection, ‘inventive and grounded, witty and vulnerable’ (Michael Laskey). There is a gentleness and empathy, humour and pathos, with poems full of unexpected dramas and fresh enxhantments which provoke as well as delight.




She nearly isn’t here. So soft
I have to watch to know
I’ve touched this pink steam
somehow holding her shape.

Dimmer switch screwed almost shut
we are stock-still
nocturnal desert-mammals, saucer-eyed,
cramping in thunder-struck poses.
Her spider-leg eyelashes
rest on a web that has us while she dreams
the leaf-edge of her country.

Unfurling by millimetres in spiked air,
anemone fingers splay then clench
as she tunes herself in,
becomes herself minutely, frost
fringing the shore of the cleanest puddle.


The Hitting Game is available from the Seren website: £9.99
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Friday Poem – ‘Cream teas, Sunday’, Katherine Stansfield

Friday Poem Katherine Stansfield Cream tea, Sunday

This week our Friday Poem is Katherine Stansfield’s ‘Cream teas, Sunday’, from Playing House.

playing house katherine stansfield‘Cream teas, Sunday’ is a sickly-sweet vision of chaos in the pursuit of a cream tea. ‘Stampedes’ of customers interrupt the calm sophistication of a tea room, laying waste to the food and finery with not so much as a 50p tip on the way out.
Playing House is full of delightfully witty poems such as this, which present an unsettling view of the domestic; the author’s eye is satirical yet sympathetic, the voice distinctive.
‘Striking imagery, strange leaps of thought, wit and menace aside, the unmistakeable thrill of Katherine Stansfield’s poetry is in the voice. It addresses the world directly, takes it personally, and comes at the reader from constantly unexpected angles, a tangible, physical thing.’ Philip Gross


Cream teas, Sunday

The four o’clock rush stampedes in at three
to besiege us, heathens sweating scones
for Sunday’s sore visitor gods. Raging and raw
we keep out cats, flies, the customers
still crash right through with sugar in their eyes.
Quick – lay your hands on the cream
to banish mould and I’ll speak in tongues
of jam. Hell opens to burn the slovenly
and pour forth fruitcake and smoke.
I weep into my apron.There’s no change
or tips.Tea cosies drown in Lapsang floods,
exhausted pots shatter and teaspoons bolt,
menus make for the door and coffee jars
revolt.You spread the charm like soft butter
on a split and I’ll give sticky grace on not quite
clean plates.Will that appease them?
Our fake accents turn with the milk
come six. Prayers pass in a kettle’s pant,
returning to water and air: tomorrow
please rain, please rain, please rain.


Playing House 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 – ‘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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