This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Boom!’ by Carolyn Jess-Cooke, the title poem from her collection of the same name, and appears in the anthology Writing Motherhood.
A celebration of parenthood, the poems chronicle all the ups and downs of raising a family, from the rapturous moments, such as ‘Wakening’ where the baby is observed: ‘the seedling eyes stirred by sunlight’. To the tragi-comic ‘Nights’ full of ‘small elbows in the face’ and ‘assailed by colds and colic’ and the darker fears and depressions that can afflict parents.
As we comtemplate the feelings of wonder and love evoked by ‘Boom!’ We dedicate the weekly poem to Seren poets who have recently become new mothers: Kim Moore (May 24th) and Emily Blewitt (May 31st).
The clocks jump forward this weekend, signalling the start of British Summer Time – but before that, we have Paul Deaton’s ‘Spring Tide’ as our Friday Poem this week.
Paul Deaton’s debut, A Watchful Astronomy, is a book of beautifully clear and powerful poems. A PBS Recommendation, the collection is haunted by the ghost of the author’s father, a figure that appears throughout the collection as an overbearing, even threatening presence, embodied in glowering mountain ranges, in icy blasts of weather, in bits of bleak, monosyllabic dialogue. Cutting through this harsh imagery are poems of reflection and contemplation that celebrate the weather and the seasons. ‘Spring Tide’ is one such poem.
Our Friday Poem this week is ‘Armadillo’ by Jane Lovell, from her Mslexia Prize-winning pamphlet, This Tilting Earth.
Jane Lovell’s poems are both beautiful and disturbing. A deep feeling for the natural world is aligned with an acute lyric sensibility, as well as a profound ethical awareness of our responsibility for the planet and the devastation of its landscapes and vulnerable species.
‘Armadillo’ considers the biology and expressiveness of this curious creature: a ‘dusty jungle relic’ that upon examination raises more questions than it answers.
Our new quartet of regional poetry pamphlets have just arrived, with each celebrating a special place in Wales: its people, landscape, wildlife, and vibrant goings-on. This week our Friday Poem comes from Poems from Cardiff, our tribute to the Capital.
Paul Henry’s ‘Arcades’ inhabits the busy and eclectic Victorian arcades that wind around the city centre, telling a private tale of sadness, love, and hope. The poem was first published in The Brittle Sea, Henry’s bestselling New and Selected Poems.
‘The Girls on the Train’ by Katherine Stansfield, from Playing House
The joy of youth is a catalyst for the speaker mourning the loss of her ‘early velour glory’ in this short, powerful poem, which causes us to question our aversion to ageing.
‘I start to understand yellow’ by Rosie Shepperd, from The Man at the Corner Table
Violence and isolation are overcome as the quiet power of female unity gathers strength in the textures, flavours and colours of nineteenth century Mauritius.
It’s 1st March – Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Sant Hapus (or Happy St David’s Day) to you! This Welsh holiday has been celebrated since the 12th Century, and honours Wales’ patron saint.
On such a historic holiday it seems fitting to consider Wales’ history, and our Friday Poem does just that – ‘Perspective’, the opening poem from Docklandsby Damian Walford Davies, introduces Victorian Cardiff: the chilling and visceral setting of this intriguing ghost-story-in-verse.
‘When much new poetry looks no further than the poet’s navel, this kind of imaginative leap is a tonic.’ – The Telegraph
Damian Walford Davies’s compellingly eerie new poetry collection, Docklands: A Ghost Story, introduces us to a Cardiff architect – a man supremely sure of himself – as he is commissioned to transform an area in the busy docks. Docklands explores grey worlds at the edges of the eye, conjuring late-Victorian Cardiff’s hustling, booming, sullied docks – and the horrors they conceal.
Today in the TLS you’ll find a new poem by Kate Bingham – ‘The Sound I have’. For our Friday Poem we also have one of Kate’s poems, though for us its one taken from Infragreen: ‘The World at One’.
Infragreen is full of poems that are perceptive, persuasive and intricately made. They take the reader on a startling and unfamiliar journey through everyday experiences and phenomena. Bingham’s keen eye, reflectiveness and quiet wit endow each subject with a shimmering freshness. Those who know her earlier work will recognise in this collection a playful, often darkly comic, appreciation of the surreal, which features hearts and hands, feet, and even a pair of shoes with minds and agenda of their own.
This week our Friday Poem is the opening number from Eoghan Walls’ forthcoming second collection, Pigeon Songs – ‘Angry Birds’.
Pigeon Songs follows on from Walls’ much-praised debut, The Salt Harvest. From the first poem, we have a sense of the poet’s themes and preoccupations: we have a richly metaphorical and densely allusive style, a pull towards formal metre and structures. There is also the occasional vigorous vulgarity, adding a touch of blue humour to the canvas, breaking up the formal rigour. Family is a potent presence in poems inspired by parents, grandparents, partners, children. They often emit a sort of energy, a fierce gravitational pull of emotion around the burning heart of a poem ultimately about love, or the sorrow of losing a loved-one.
Our Friday Poem this week is ‘Upright’ by Mara Bergman, from her Mslexia Prize-winning pamphlet, The Tailor’s Three Sons.
The Tailor’s Three Sons is the fruit of Bergman’s rich memories of her childhood on Long Island and Manhattan. Now living in the UK, she looks back and assembles vivid scenes and an appealing cast of characters for us. The title poem is inspired by the author’s visit to the Tenement Museum in New York’s Lower East Side, where she vividly imagines the lives of immigrants when many thousands docked in ships at Ellis Island and the Lower East Side was ‘the most crowded place on the planet’.
Attend the Mslexia Pamphlet Prizewinners event at the Seren Cornerstone Poetry Festival – Mara Bergman will be reading alongside Polly Atkin, Cath Drake, Mara Bergman, Ilse Pedlar, Yvonne Reddick and Bryony Littlefair. There will be music from poet/singer-songwriter Rhian Edwards, and tickets include a lavish 3-course Sunday Lunch (vegetarian options available). Book now.
Our Friday Poem this week is ‘Wrecker’ by Emily Blewitt, from her debut collection, This Is Not A Rescue.
Blewitt’s poems move in various registers, keyed to their subject-matter. There are pieces that take a playful approach to the author’s native Wales, which resist cliché by subverting our expectations. Elsewhere there is a sharpness and a satirical slant, which contrasts with some intensely personal lyrics that touch on childhood trauma, on depression, on sexual and domestic violence. The revealing honesty of these pieces makes for compelling reading.