Friday Poem – ‘Bowerbirds’ by Deryn Rees-Jones

This week’s Friday Poem is ‘Bowerbirds’ by Deryn Rees-Jones from her collection Erato which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and Wales Book of the Year.

This cover shows a blurred black and white image of someone dancing.

Named after the Greek muse of lyric poetry, Erato combines documentary-style prose narratives with the passionate lyric poetry for which Rees-Jones is renowned. Here, however, as she experiments with form, particularly the sonnet, Rees-Jones asks questions about the value of the poet and poetry itself. What is the difference, she asks in one poem, between a sigh and a song? Erato’s themes are manifold but particularly focus on personal loss, desire and recovery, in the context of a world in which wars and displacement of people has become a terrifying norm.

Start now with the smallest things,
a pile of blackened acorns, glinting beetle wings,
the green fruit and purple flowers of the potato bush.
He trails a path of halts and hesitations
like stations of the cross,
turns colour in his mind, perspective.
Snail shells or the blue of berries?
(Is that a bud of jasmine in his beak?)
His bower, I see, is thatched with orchid stems,
moss laid like a lawn at the entrance to his bivouac,
orange leaves like a pool of restless koi.
This stuff he collects as a small boy might,
adrift on a prayer of football cards and dinosaurs.
All settles as he eyes her. And here now,
like a seal on his heart, a bed of blooms
pulled from a bush.
How carefully he’s considered her.
This pink, he thinks, of roses.

Erato is available on the Seren website: £9.99

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Looking for Christmas gift inspiration? Browse our Christmas Gift Guide for literary ideas for the whole family.

Pascale Petit Shortlisted for the 2014 TS Eliot Prize

Pascale Petit

Pascale Petit has been shortlisted for the 2014 TS Eliot Prize for the fourth time with her collection Fauverie, A collection every bit as vivid and emotive as the art of the Fauves that the title evokes.

Described as ‘the prize most poets want to win’ (Sir Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureate) and ‘the world’s top poetry award’ (Irish Independent), the TS Eliot prize is awarded to the author of the best new collection of poetry published in the UK and Ireland each year.

Pascale has previously been shortlisted for the TS Eliot prize with her earlier collections The Zoo Father (2001, Seren), The Huntress (2005, Seren) and What the Water Gave Me: Poems after Frida Kahlo (2010, Seren).

Pascale will be reading alongside ten fellow shortlisted poets including Fiona Benson, Ruth Padel and Michael Longley at the Southbank Center’s Royal Festival Hall on 11th January, with the winner of the £20,000 prize being announced at an awards ceremony on the 12 January 2015.

Helen Dunmore will chair the judging panel for the 2014 prize alongside Sean Borodale and Fiona Sampson.