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‘The Molecatcher’s Warning’ by Rebecca Watts and a new writing prompt from Ben Rogers

Today’s poem from Rebecca Watts is one of a number of animal poems that feature in her first collection The Met Office Advises Caution, recently released with Carcanet. In gruesome detail, it depicts a scene of strung-up moles in a remote place “Ten miles from the nearest anywhere”, and the futility of the warning that their carcasses serve.

Read our interview with Rebecca Watts here.

At Poetry in Aldeburgh: Rebecca Watts will read as part of the ‘Fenland Reed and Friends’ event on Sunday 6th November, 11.30am-12.30pm in the Peter Pears gallery. The event celebrates a year of the Fenland Reed and the launch of the third issue. Elisabeth Sennitt Clough, Elaine Ewart, Mary Livingstone, and Jonathan Totman will also read.


The Molecatcher’s Warning

Nobody asked or answered questions out there.
Ten miles from the nearest anywhere
the landscape was a disbanded library.

Only the moles remained,
strung on a barbed wire fence,
a dozen antiquated books forced open.

It must’ve been the north-east wind
or a bandit crow
that picked them over so –

not a scrap hanging on
inside the stretched skins,
their spines disintegrating.

Read in me
they wanted to declare
how it all ends.

But the threads that once
had a hold on their hearts
dangled, loose and crisp.

And their kin
can’t read anything
but earth.

from The Met Office Advises Caution (Carcanet, 2016)


Writing prompt: Borges Bestiary

Today’s prompt is a variation of the task given to Rebecca Watts that occasioned her poem ‘Hawk-Eye’, namely to write a poem in the voice of an animal. You are invited to do the same but, instead of selecting an animal from the animal kingdom that you are more familiar with, you should pick one from Jorge Luis Borges’s Manual de zoología fantástica/ Book of Imaginary Beings (1957). In this book, your options include the likes of a flying snake/ fish that foretells drought, a faceless, supernatural bird with six feet and four wings, an animal imagined by Kafka akin to a kangaroo, and a sea creature of such vast size it could be confused with an island. Seeing as these beings are imaginary, your imagination can run amok. You can find a complete list here:

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Image Credits:

Mole photo: Peter Paquet