Friday Poem – ‘Swan’, Ross Cogan

Friday Poem Ross Cogan Swan

Our Friday Poem this week is ‘Swan’, from Ross Cogan’s new collection, Bragr.

Ross Cogan BragrWhether it’s myth intended to explain the constellations, the secret of eternal life, or the bloodthirsty tale of the mead of poetry, Ross Cogan’s collection Bragr (meaning ‘poetry’ in Old Norse) is a reimagining of Norse mythology for our times. The collection also focuses on environmental concerns: the earth’s incredible beauty seems all the more fragile in the face of habitat loss and global warming.
In ‘Swan’ the poet recalls an archaeological dig and the discovery of a child’s grave. The centuries-old tomb contains something extraordinary: ‘a single swan’s wing’.


Swan Ross Cogan Bragr











Bragr is available from the Seren website: £9.99

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Friday Poem – ‘Dear Anne Monroe, Healthcare Assistant’, Bryony Littlefair

Friday Poem Bryony Littlefair Dear Anne Monroe NHS

July 2018 marks 70 years of the National Health Service Act and the NHS. In celebration, acclaimed poet Owen Sheers has produced a new ‘film-poem’ showing twenty-four hours in the NHS, ‘To Provide All People’ – now available to watch on BBC iPlayer. This week’s Friday Poem by Bryony Littlefair, ‘Dear Anne Monroe, Healthcare Assistant’, also gives us a glimpse inside our healthcare system.

Giraffe Bryony LittlefairAn apology opens this powerful poem, in which a healthcare assistant faces up to a patient’s pre-op fear and resistance: ‘I’m sorry that my sister will not let you take her blood/ for the operation that will save her life.’ Everyday struggles are presented in a stark light: the ‘gulped-down cheese and lettuce/ sandwich’, the intrusive questioning of ‘where it is you’re from originally’.
The politics in Littlefair’s poems are mostly implicit in the stories told, only occasionally bursting through like an urgent message. Giraffe, her Mslexia Prize-winning pamphlet, expertly merges the poet’s wit and wonderful humanity with novelistic qualities and a feminist kick: this is a beguiling, beautiful and entertaining debut.

Bryony Littlefair Dear Anne Monroe NHS
















Giraffe is available from the Seren website: £5.00

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Friday Poem – ‘Teaching the Trumpet’, Kim Moore

Friday poem Kim Moore

In advance of Kim Moore’s appearance on BBC Radio 3’s Private Passions this Sunday, our Friday Poem is ‘Teaching the Trumpet’, from Kim’s debut collection, The Art of Falling. 

The Art of Falling Kim MooreThe Art of Falling is Kim Moore’s first poetry collection and has already made big waves, with judges of the Geoffrey Faber memorial prize crowning it winner, and praising it as ‘thrilling language at its most irresistible and essential.’ ‘Teaching the Trumpet’ is one of many poems in this collection that confront the reader with startling realism. Alongside, we are offered portraits of John Lennon, Hartley Street, and a Tuesday at Wetherspoons, and the devastating central sequence, ‘How I Abandoned My Body To His Keeping’, which recounts an abusive relationship.
If you would like to hear about some of the inspiration behind ‘Teaching the Trumpet’, listen in to BBC radio 3’s Private Passions at 12pm on Sunday (or listen online, whenever you want) where Kim will be discussing her love of brass instruments.


Kim Moore Teaching the Trumpet













The Art of Falling is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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Friday Poem – ‘The Pub at the End of the World’, Tamar Yoseloff

Friday Poem Pub Tamar Yoseloff

Our Friday Poem this week is ‘The Pub at the End of the World’ by Tamar Yoseloff from her recent New & Selected collection,A Formula for Night.

Tamar Yoseloff A Formula for NightA Formula for Night: New and Selected Poems encompasses selections from four published volumes: Sweetheart, Barnard’s Star, Fetch and The City with Horns, and poems from Yoseloff’s collaborations with artists: Formerly, Marks and Desire Paths. Her new poems are often artful explorations of paradox: death/birth, dark/light, clarity/mystery.
‘The Pub at the End of the World’ is an almost post-apocalyptic vision of a back-end bar with walls ‘darkened/ by nicotine’ and ‘pockmarked by countless failed bullseyes’. You may well know somewhere like it – somewhere you also feel ‘strangely at home’.


The Pub at the End of the World Judy Brown Friday Poem


















Tamar Yoseloff: A Formula for Night is available on the Seren website: £12.99

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Friday Poem- ‘The Madonna of Oxfam’, Judy Brown

Judy Brown Friday Poem Madonna of Oxfam

Our Friday Poem this week is ‘The Madonna of Oxfam’ by Judy Brown, from her latest collection,Crowd Sensations.

The Madonna of Oxfam Crowd Sensations Judy Brown‘The Madonna of Oxfam’ performs a surprisingly elaborate and intimate study of the act of charity shop browsing, as the poet’s thoughts turn to strangers’ lives and memories.
Like many of Judy Brown’s poems, the title and first lines draw you right in, and then surprise you with a narrative you hadn’t quite expected.
Judy has lived in London and Hong Kong and, having experienced both life in the city and countryside, she is able to portray an original and uncharacteristically unnerving portrayal of both landscapes. Crowd Sensations, much like its author, is an exploration of dazzling contrasts, of thoughtful paradox, intimate confidences and precise evocations.














Crowd Sensations is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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Friday Poem – ‘Young Summer’, Leslie Norris

Friday Poem Leslie Norris Young Summer

Our Friday Poem this week is ‘Young Summer’ by the prize-winning poet, Leslie Norris.

Leslie Norris Complete Poems‘Young Summer’ is one of the many vivid and captivating poems to be brought together in the landmark Leslie Norris: The Complete Poems, and offers a vision of the poet poised between youth and manhood: ‘Forward is the only way to go’, he reluctantly admits.
The Complete Poems contains 300 of Norris’ poems in total, some previously unpublished, and reflects the sixty plus year publishing life of the late Leslie Norris, who died in 2007, aged 86. Norris was best known as a nature poet and elegist of passion and rare expression. Lyrical and individual, to his closely observed poems, each word weighted and in its correct place, Norris introduces a strong metaphysical element which makes the poems, as Edward Lucie-Smith noted, “much larger than the sum of their parts”.


Leslie Norris Friday Poem Young Summer

















Leslie Norris: The Complete Poems is available on the Seren website: £25.00

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Friday Poem – ‘How to make a good crisp sandwich’, Katherine Stansfield

Friday Poem How to make a good crisp sandwich

Did you know it’s British Sandwich Week, 20-26 May? Yes – there really is a day (or week) for everything. And in celebration, our Friday Poem is Katherine Stansfield’s ‘How to make a good crisp sandwich’.

playing house katherine stansfieldThis is a poem that really does what it says on the tin: ‘crisps don’t work alone’, the poet warns, then proceeds to carefully list the potential permutations of this most British of sandwiches. ‘Who does this sandwich want to be?’ You may not have asked yourself this question before – so grab the bread, open a pack of crisps, and ponder.
Katherine Stansfield’s poetic debut, Playing House is marked by a concise wit, a distinct voice and an unsettling view of the domestic.
‘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


Friday Poem Katherine Stansfield How to make a good crisp sandwich















Playing House is available from the Seren website: £9.99

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Friday Poem – ‘Hues’, Elizabeth Parker

Friday Poem Hues Elizabeth Parker

Our Friday poem this week is ‘Hues’ by Elizabeth Parker, from her recently released debut collection, In Her Shambles.

‘Hues’ is a shimmering, lyrical account of a river journey that highlights Parker’s artful skill with language and surrealist imagery.
In Her Shambles is a ‘radiantly-written’ collection from a ‘rising star of British poetry’ (David Morley), filled with poems that are emotionally rich, vibrant and original. From the alternative reimagining of Lavinia from ‘Titus Andronicus’ through to the collection’s opening, ‘Crockery’, where a potential lover is fragmented into reflections, In Her Shambles offers a fascinating, observational account of things seen aslant.


















In Her Shambles is available from the Seren website: £9.99

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Friday Poem – ‘Penguin Love’, Nerys Williams

On Wednesday the world celebrated its cutest holiday, World Penguin Day, so in continued praise of these adorable birds our Friday Poem this week is ‘Penguin Love’ by Nerys Williams.

Nerys Williams Sound ArchiveTaken from Nerys’ 2011 collection Sound Archive, ‘Penguin Love’ is a vibrant and evocative portrait of black, white and yellow – of curiously wistful creatives who stand ‘angled at constellations’ and ache for the gift of a perfect smooth stone – the symbol of budding penguin romance.
Sound Archive was shortlisted for both the Forward Best First Collection Prize and the Michael Murphy Prize, and won the Poetry Now / Mountains to Sea DLR Strong Award. This is a strikingly original debut in which the poet 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.



World Penguin Day poem Penguin Love Nerys Williams











Sound Archive is available from the Seren website: £8.99

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Paul Deaton on Therapy, Honesty, and Exiting the ‘Poetry Closet’

Paul Deaton therapy poetry

This article was originally published in Therapy Today (April 2018) and we thank the editors for granting permission for its reproduction here.

‘Without her mirroring, maybe I’d have stayed in my poetry closet. Her affirmation was the turning point in my adult life. I felt I’d finally been given permission to have a voice’

Ten years ago, when I was 40, I saw an advert for a poetry course at Bristol University. It was an adult learning programme, which, sadly, is no longer offered. I had to submit six poems before being accepted. I’ve always written, and always used poetry as my mirror, to know and explore who I am. But I’ve always done so as a guilty pleasure, a closet hobby.
The course was run by a grounded, passionate and sometimes fearsome poet. It was challenging in the way that therapy is challenging; getting the poems to a level of truth and meaning, of genuine authenticity, isn’t easy. People often get the wrong idea of poetry; they think of it as something flaky. I was struck by how powerfully my teacher responded to my work. She was serious about it. She said it had value, more than I had chosen to give it. Tellingly, what she conveyed was that she believed in it.
Looking back, this was a huge moment. She opened a door that had been firmly shut. Without her mirroring, maybe I’d have stayed in my poetry closet. Her affirmation was the turning point in my adult life. I felt I’d finally been given permission to have a voice.
Up to that point I’d been working in publishing sales. I’d graduated in psychology as a mature student when I was 33. In my final year, I fell ill with Hodgkin’s disease. Even though I eventually came out with a top degree, when I graduated, rather than being full of confidence, I was broken. I had lost hope in my own future. I also felt I’d failed. The sales job was some bizarre gesture to my father; I was still trying to get his love, to prove to him I could be a man in a man’s world. It wasn’t me at all.
My relationship with him had been tense, difficult and baleful. I didn’t trust him, and that lack of trust fed into me. I wouldn’t trust myself or my own instincts. That poetry course opened the door to a side of my personality I had done my damnedest to shut away. Once open, there was no going back to the repressed darkness. I’d found a little light and began a process of reliving that opened out my 40s. I could no longer afford to not be myself. There wasn’t time.
I started to trust in my more nuanced skills – thoughtfulness and reflectiveness; to trust that I could be and offer something else. I entered therapy and was ‘blessed’ by a male therapist, week in and week out. It was a revelatory experience to trust a man. Like a new tide, I returned to my love of psychology, and finally had the confidence to start my counselling training. And, amid the study, my new job with the NHS, gardening work and marathon running, I followed on with a commitment to my poetry. I sent my poems into the world, and to my surprise, they were published.

Paul Deaton poetAbout Paul
Paul Deaton is a poet, writer and counsellor-in- training at BCPC Bath. Seren has just published his first full-length poetry collection, A Watchful Astronomy.



Paul Deaton A Watchful Astronomy

About A Watchful Astronomy:
A Watchful Astronomy is such an unclouded, moving and accessible collection it should be prescribed by the NHS for those who say they cannot stomach poetry because it’s too difficult or irrelevant.’
– Poetry School
Haunted by a father ‘like a wounded bear’, the poems in Paul Deaton’s debut collection, A Watchful Astronomy, are tense, exact and often beautifully formal.