Poems

Primers Shortlist: Geraldine Clarkson

Welcome to the first in a series of sneak peeks at the Primers candidates. The shortlist has been announced and the judges, Jane Commane from Nine Arches Press and Kathryn Maris, are busily reading the full submissions to decide which three poets will receive mentoring and publication in the inaugural Primers: Debut Poetry Shorts. We’re eager to find…

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National World Octopus Poetry Day

Today is National Poetry Day, but did you know that today is also World Octopus Day? Coincidence? We think not. We discovered not too long ago that almost everyone who worked for the Poetry School had written, completely independently of the other, a poem about an octopus. This included our former Director, Ollie Dawson, whose…

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Happy National Poetry Day!

To celebrate, here is a sumptuous jumble of poems touching upon the themes of ‘books’, ‘bookshops’, ‘craft’, ‘design’, ‘handwriting’, ‘reading’ and ‘libraries’. Thank you to all who made recommendations, and if there are any that I’ve missed, please write them in the comments section below as I’d love to see them. Enjoy! ✎ ‘In my…

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‘Playing Your Guitar’

Because my stairwell still creaks with your step and your door snaps shut and your cold must swells the air that trips my every breath. Because I wallow in the contradictions of grief, where you stood, you stand, where you cannot be. Because heaven gives hell a shell loss cracks in absolutions or conceits, I…

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‘Arachne’

See me now, a loathsome lob, mantling the May shrouding September in lurex knit; each intricate design mathematically marked with my own round cob of a body. My thread finer than any goddess’ silk, its ductile strength bears the weight of creation; my colours, luminous in sun-spectrum, silvered by moonlight. What do Athene’s dull-dyed wools…

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‘Syrup’

  COMMENT Judith Taylor is a poet who lives and works in Aberdeen. “I wrote this for the last assignment in Miriam Gamble’s course ‘Peacocks & Hemlocks: the Art of Repetition’: I had tried to write about candying back in the winter, but the repetitiousness of the process was making the poem dull and I…

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How I Did It: ‘protest of the physical’

The long poem which makes up the centre of physical took about two years to write and then another three to sculpt into the version that exists in this collection. Around 2010 three things happened; I graduated from undergraduate study, I found out I’d got a grant to go on a free Arvon course and,…

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‘Epithalamium in Twenty Six Creatures’

The air holds highways, paths; perches firm as knowledge. Like nouns are held by verbs: windhover, hawk. The doing is the thing. A slink, a splash, a slick gleam of dark: splitting the river’s glass together, wearing the water’s name. Dog mother, dog father, chasing sun over the blue-blind snow, loping home to winter. Small…

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‘Elegy for Retired Crayola® Colours’

I unroll a teal-blue sky to draw the day on its awning. With nubs of wax I shape chimeras in clouds of lemon yellow and magic mint. I layer raw umber over blizzard blue, match mulberry to orange-red. I peel the paper casing from the black crayon to seal the techni-coloured page with night. I’ve…

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How I Did It: ‘Crocodile’

As a child I loved the London Natural History Museum. One free afternoon in the summer of 2010, I went back nostalgically with my husband only to regret the heat and school holiday hordes. I found myself lingering in front of a case that contained rounded stones in a range of sizes, quills lacking feathers,…

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‘The Yeti’

I met the Yeti in Tibet. In the Lhakpa La, by the Rongbuk glacier, northeast of Everest, we met. I: [the ice in my eyes] … Dad? And, he: [doing seemingly nothing but shuffling around in the snow] He was, I knew, founded on grains of truth. Host to his parasites, scalp to hallux, hair…

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How I Did It: ‘the Interrupters’

the Interrupters no two can meet the way we have met WS Graham a foyet like the day of the dead for it is full with missing children this is how violence starts, first the perception of a slight of an insult within the context of a culture that has taught the imperative that you…

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How I Did It: ‘The Ballad of the Small-Boned Daughter’

Shafilea Ahmed died in September 2003 aged 17. She was a British Pakistani girl from Warrington, Cheshire. She was a beautiful and spirited girl who was murdered in a so called ‘honour killing’ by her parents. Like so many others I watched the long gruesome trial in 2012 when her parents were finally convicted of…

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How I Did It: ‘Mort-Dieu’

It’s tempting to look at the title poem of An Aviary of Small Birds, as it not only expresses a literary influence (in particular, the poem references a mythical bird the Octobrine as coined by Pablo Neruda) but also encapsulates the high note I was reaching for, as a lyric and an elegy. However, the…

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‘Dare You Blow it Out’

Slugs ease in round half eleven. Double, teeth on her graphite tourniquet, looms up the wall. Ceiling’s Brownian mandala. Candle, eating its amygdala, gives a masonic wink to Minton glaze on the mantel, vase and jug, that aluminium lamp, as an artist would bring them to life I expect.   COMMENT “I imagine tutor Tom…

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‘Lady Boondaburra’s Spring’

Again the him came and fought that other one spur on spur they rousing such a splash ‘til he’s growl and stung swum off – he I never seen once, nor him that’s done his business with me, come to think. No mind me. Clutch me hatchling oval, all those dawn-rises and down-suns, all them…

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‘An Armadillo Takes To The Stage At London Zoo’

I’m really not cut out for showbiz. I may look tough in my leathery armour, but inside my heart is soft as mud. I’m not flashy. I don’t have the meerkats’ swagger. Nobody gasps when an armadillo shuffles in. You’d think with all these plates of bone covering my body, I wouldn’t be so thin-skinned….

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‘Polar Bears, Auckland Zoo, Summer 1963’

Dark mucky eyes.  Muzzles pant, sniff air, mad with the scent of humans, or seals.  I hold my toffee apple and dangle a red jandalled foot through bars above their pit. Bears sway  in sync, contained in white, a concrete code for snow.  Polar bears attack only when hungry, or provoked—I imagine blood,  shreds of skin, knuckles…

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How I Did It: ‘witchbundle’

Creating the premise for your poem is a tricky enough task on any given day. Besides the obvious self-critical murmurings of ‘is this worth writing about’, once you have an idea you then need to conjure your pen (or fingers) to create some magical syntax that relays your thoughts to the reader. How many hurdles…

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Appy Economics

That was is a pound that i was at your house in 1 of the most famous cancer certainly the one most houston straight up in the problems the multinational global village of international capital were here to stay and everybody’s studies economics to understand economics is hard to visual i cannot allusion discount to…

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‘The Empty House’

Open to the windswept world, Home of lost leaves And forgotten feathers. Faint whisperings of sound, Which may be mice, Or maybe smaller life, Or may be just the walls, Settling down to dust. Stagnant, still air, Turns the grime of years Into insipid icing, Distilling scents of solitude To assail the senses. Wood is…

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‘The Funeral’

A card came, summoning me to a funeral. The identity of the deceased was not supplied, so I was puzzled: I couldn’t recall any friends or family members having passed away lately and my boss had been in bellowing good health when I’d left work on Friday. Still, I felt compelled to go; and so,…

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How I Did It: ‘On Ninjas’

I don’t really know why I decided to write about ninjas–I knew about them in a general pop-culture way, like most people, but I hadn’t read up about or studied them in particular. I liked the fact that, as a subject, they were non-realistic, not part of everyday life. I also thought it would be…

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‘Apple picking’

Into the midnight of an apple tree, Arms aching over a crackle of ribs, I lift my son. He twists the fruit gently And breaks the stalk, shaking the withered twigs; I stoop as a rain of ripe shadows come down And the apple drops from his opened fist. It rolls among others on the…

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‘Communications Breakdown’

I was posting a letter to my mother to thank her for all the fish when I heard a woman’s voice. It seemed to be coming from the letterbox itself. ‘Get me out!’ it shouted. I looked around but there was no one there. Just me, the post box, the grassy verge. A cloudless sky….

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