Friday Poem – ‘The Children’s Asylum’, Pascale Petit

This week our Friday Poem is ‘The Children’s Asylum’ by Pascale Petit, which was originally published in The Huntress, and later featured in Tokens for the Foundlings, an anthology inspired by the Foundling Hospital.

Established in 1741, The Foundling Hospital was essentially Britain’s first orphanage, and admissions were catalogued by tokens – coins, scraps of ribbon, needlework – symbols of maternal hope left by the children’s parents. Tokens for the Foundlings is an anthology of poems about orphans, childhood and family inspired by and supporting the work of the Foundling Museum in Bloomsbury. It brings together many of the finest poets from Britain, Ireland and the USA, among them Seamus Heaney, Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke, and our featured poet today, Pascale Petit.
The Huntress is Pascale’s T.S. Eliot shortlisted third collection, and re-imagines a painful childhood through a series of remarkable and passionate transformations.

Petit says, “I wrote ‘The Children’s Asylum’ after my mother died, and left a trunk of journals and letters in which I found her description of being committed to a “loony bin” when she was nine years old. Later in life her mental illness became worse, and it’s this that I wrote about in my seventh collection Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe, 2017), where the “madwood” of ‘The Children’s Asylum’ has turned into the whole Amazon rainforest, and her psychiatric ward is a place haunted by giant talking water lilies, jaguars, caimans and hummingbirds.”

 

 

The Children's Asylum Pascale Petit Friday Poem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Huntress is available on the Seren website: £7.99

Tokens for the Foundlings is available on the Seren website: £12.99
(all royalties from sales are donated to the Foundling Museum, in support of its work)

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September Book Giveaway: win a copy of Welsh Verse

September giveaway Welsh Verse win

This month we are giving away a copy of Tony Conran’s milestone of translation, Welsh Verse.

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

Win a copy of Welsh Verse Tony Conran


About Welsh Verse:
Welsh Verse Tony Conran
Welsh Verse has made a triumphant return to print. Tony Conran’s unrivalled volume of Welsh poetry through the ages contains lively yet meticulous translations stretching from the sixth century to the late twentieth century. Virtually every significant poet (or poem: there are several Anonymous entries over the centuries) is present, and every poetic form: the epics of Taliesin and Aneurin, the poets of the medieval princes, Tudor poets, Non-conformist poets, hymn-writers, Romantics, Social Realists and political Nationalists.
Welsh Verse also includes an influential Introduction full of insight into the history of poetry in the Welsh language, and into the challenges of translating it, particularly over so many centuries and styles.

 

We will pick a winner at random from all our email subscribers on 1st October. 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?
www.serenbooks.com/newsletter/signup

 

Congratulations to last month’s winner, Norma Curtis, who is now enjoying her copy of Black Shiver Moss by Graham Mort.

 

 

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Book Giveaway: win a copy of Newspaper Taxis

Book giveaway win Newspaper Taxis

This month, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, we are giving away a copy of Newspaper Taxis: Poetry After The Beatles.

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

Book giveaway win Newspaper Taxis


About Newspaper Taxis:
In January 1963 the single ‘Please, Please Me’ shot to number one, heralding the start of both Beatlemania and the swinging sixties. In the next few years The Beatles wrote the template for pop music. Their songs defined popular culture at a time when it was inspiring social change in Europe and North America, and this book collects poems that both respond to the music and to their influence on the way we lived then and the way we live now.
With contributions by a 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 and Carol Rumens, this book is a response to The Beatles’ creativity and capacity to influence successive generations.

 

We will pick a winner at random from all our email subscribers on 1st July. 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?
www.serenbooks.com/newsletter/signup

 

 

 

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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A treat for International Women’s Day

Treat for International Women's Day Women's Work half price

Today is International Women’s Day, a worldwide celebration of women’s achievements and a call for gender equality.

We can’t think of a better book to treat yourself to than Women’s Work: Modern Women Poets Writing in English, so for today only, you can buy your copy at half price on our website.

Women's Work International Women's Day 2017

 

With over 250 contributors, this generous selection of poetry by women features poets from the USA, Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia, and New Zealand. You will find familiar names as well as new discoveries amongst the contributors: Margaret Atwood, Sujata Bhatt, Colette Bryce, Siobhán Campbell, Amy Clampitt, Polly Clark, Wendy Cope (and many others). Some may ask: is the literary establishment still as dominated by men as it once was? Who gets to decide the canon? Eva Salzman opens Women’s Work with a lively polemic, making the case for the women-only anthology with characteristic wit and flair.


Buy your copy of Women’s Work today:

£14.99
£7.49

Offer ends midnight, 08/03/2017

 

 

 

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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