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Poetry in Aldeburgh Countdown – Poem of the Day & Writing Prompt


Poem of the Day

This is the first poem in a sequence of prose poems by Tamar Yoseloff that originally accompanied drawings by the artist David Harker in the limited edition pamphlet ‘Nowheres’.  Each image is a depiction of an unpopulated in-between space that appears unremarkable and which are, in the poet’s words, “not destinations” .  This poem recounts a train journey, at one point alluding to Edward Thomas’s classic poem ‘Adlestrop’, a place where “no one left and no one came”.

At Poetry in Aldeburgh: Tamar Yoseloff is the editor of the Lookout poetry anthology which will launch at the South Lookout on 5th November at 12noon. She will later read that day at the Jubilee Hall at 4pm with Poetry School students Sandra Galton & Anna-May Laugher. You can read my interview with Tamar here.


Tamar Yoseloff, from Other Landscapes

He is the only passenger in Coach A.  The light is cold and casts everything in green; it hurts his eyes.  He searches for a view from the window but receives only his reflection, twice.  Scattered lights break the black.  He is beyond the city, somewhere in Essex.  Occasionally, the train shudders through a local station without slowing, the name swept away in the urgency of movement.  He thinks of that poem, the unwonted station, the name he can’t remember.  He wants the journey to be over, to be lying in his bed, but he is heading in the opposite direction from home.  He will stay in a commuter hotel next to the airport, where the thrum of planes taking off will disrupt his sleep.  He will dream of great engines firing in the night, the bulk of a factory, hunched figures without faces.

from A Formula for Night: New and Selected Poems (Seren, 2015)


Writing prompt – dérive

According to the French situationist Guy Debord, a ‘dérive‘ (or “drift”) involves dropping “usual motives for movement and action”.  During your day, take a turn down a street, path or route you have never taken before, purely for the reason that it is not familiar, and lead yourself to an exterior location you would not normally have reason to go to.  This aimless destination could be of some interest, or of no apparent interest, but allow how interesting it is to be an irrelevance.  Take in as much detail as you can about this new territory, including mundane details such as signage, street furniture, brickwork, and any ambient sound. Use this place as the setting or backdrop for a poem.  It may help to take notes and/ or photographs to write the poem later.

Read my accompanying interview with Tamar Yoseloff on her work, her influences and her long-standing relationship with Aldeburgh.

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