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Poetry Worth Hearing: Episode 11

Welcome to Episode 11, the first for 2023 and a Happy New Year to all. To listen to the episode, go to https://anchor.fm/kathleen-mcphilemy or find on Google or Apple podcasts or Audible.


This episode opens with Jessica Mookherjee reading from her recent collections, Tigress and Notes from a Shipwreck. In the 'Poetry Worth Reading' slot, Martyn Crucefix talks about how he started in poetry, what poets he goes back to and some contemporary poets he admires. We also have new poems from Beth Davyson, Stephen Paul Wren, Pat Winslow, Suzannah Houston and Chris Beckett. I hope you will enjoy the episode and that you will share it with friends.




Jessica Mookherjee is of Bengali origin, grew up in Wales and now lives in Kent. Her work appears in many journals including Agenda, Poetry Wales, The North, Rialto, Under the Radar, Birmingham Literary Review and in various anthologies including Bloodaxe’s Staying Human. She was highly commended in the 2017 and 2021 Forward Prize for best single poem. Her first collection, Flood, was published by Cultured Llama in 2018 and her second, Tigress, by Nine Arches Press in 2019 was shortlisted for the Ledbury-Munthe Prize. Her new third collection is called Notes from a Shipwreck (Nine Arches Press 2022). She is a joint editor of Against the Grain Poetry Press and board member of the Poetry Society.






 

Beth Davyson


and the bricks



There is a swimming pool complex ; three large waterslides and an outside part surrounded by last nights snow sullied by small leaf stains and shoes where the water bubbles and rises and steams

in there one of the glimpses of love in the shape of a young cocky male his eyes sea-green

He has a large bedframe raised higher than usual with plants trailing around it and three guitars

He believes in revolution and lets you sleep on his mattress with films and sleep smells and that high rocking screeching laughter he has sex

with other people in respect You

have a bicycle

and the bricks

or a castle up a scraggy path or a church

the steps and the door into it like two open white shorn legs and a little slatted entry point

There is a drawbridge, there are tourists, you go up there when the courage hits or what you may call wanting, what you may call desperate

There is a guard who watches your circuits with the same non-plussed

eye he watches the hanging boats from the ceiling. Father you say Mother was useless Praise be. Father. The bricks are yellowing. There is

a carpark next to the church a viewpoint a lover’s bench a place you flail about try to dissipate the tightness down one neck side certain repeated songs the guard looks on

You do not care for his bedframe. How that is. How you know

your own mattress with nothing around it hollowed weighty with coconut fibre how tired

you are as you sink end of day there trying

a glimpse of love in vanilla candle a glimpse of love in a travel-size hair dryer a glimpse of love in one-woman bronze cafetière a glimpse of love in a chipped mosaic floortile, balcony

memory of red frame with small wheels, waiting, polished, silver bell

memory of cleavage on a low doorstep a woman with the thinnest eyebrows rising

thought of three, four dry skinned bats unbuckling themselves from their own wings

and the bricks and the bricks and the bricks



lady in




waiting shoved between bedframe and mattress

will, later, go to lover say take what you want love in translation

oh giddy up and the cracks in your spider trails


or sheet on your bed the day the nurse

stutters, bruises her lovely tongue with lines like train track


for now in quarantine she traces

silhouettes from memory such a long stretch

cricket-song street-light time all orangey down the wall


spread-eagled a sword in each hand remembers

sandstone rebuild of seventeenth century castle this kind of thing

not just dream


turning dark wood staircase, twitches of an owner

blew himself up in a spray of boiling glass

thick hot apricot


lady in atelier space

above, below, not right here stepping

over mountain dog who on her next visit has passed away


down through unkempt supposed maze ring lights up natural

pool-light, click, algae in them shimmers,


chosen youth more youth than she ever manages

smoothness away from her tepid shower

tootsie on the concrete block, he


takes the gravel track and old Ford down to the village the next day

returns rocking, beer bottles


huge lens swinging, wheat in his chest-hair, oh, lady in



Please leave


I was not made to deal with this.

My whole groin is a burning place that weighs down like a shaft of firewood

or groceries, I want to dump it in front of me like the woman

next to me on the bus and breathe out,

breathe into the flesh as it opens and turns on that plastic seat.

I trace the line of the hillside I make out through the window,

unlikely natural element, actual rock, and the graph we are tracing our way down

my Englishness and I, my toenails and I, my quiet child self and I

taking turns to push one another in a rusty wheelchair.

I hold my glasses to my face with one flat palm and squint at this bus I’m on

this dusty street it is clambouring up and this churning. You know, I wish you’d write,

once, then move to some other city and change your name. We go past

a hedgerow behind the shards of clothing

splayed across the pavement, all these people making their lives work, bright yellow splash

flowers in the middle of that green mass. Some specific

you’d want the name of. We pass the post office and an open market where the clementines

are spilled and spinning towards the pavement, great wisteria climbing a battered frame

high trellises behind the neighbours house. Please leave. I live with you already

in a courtyard with that sort of purple foliage. A couple of bats are asleep in the gutter pipes. A fountain

rolls and rolls



Beth Davyson studied poetry in Sheffield, UK, with Adam Piette and Agnes Lehocksky. She has published in The Poetry Review, the Moth, tearsinthefence and parentheses. Her work has been shortlisted three times for the Bridport Prize and was recently commended for the Ambit competition, "magick". She currently lives and works in Marseilles where she is working on her first collection.

Stephen Paul Wren


Cut the mustard


Your senses will fall down strange, steep cliffsides.

Buried recalls will slip on fawning films.

Life will be washed away,

marking days with weights.


The warders of your brain will sink beneath

into a recess. A whirlpool of shade.


Where are the healing leaves on Trees of Life?

It will take lifetimes to locate the grove.


Some drug treatments will not cut the mustard.

They will not quench your brain’s raw,

writhing state.

These treatments will not have minds of their own.


Before we leave this Earth,

we will hunt out

the secret method that cuts the mustard.


We will locate the map that shows the way.

The treasure will be covered in thick dust.


The cries of kittens

(in honour of George Orwell)



They are heard in alleyways.

Tired, hoarse, and kicked in the teeth.

The kittens, long forgotten,

knackered, but made of stern stuff.


They are given gifts, afterthoughts.

Spilled milk, the browbeaten aid.

Milk that cannot satiate

as it fails to quench their cries.


They are told to keep working

by plural societies.

Single kittens on treadmills,

swindled, told to stop scrounging.


They have lost faith in themselves.

In candled corners, dreams start.

Dreams centred on growing up.

They deserve to become cats.



Stephen Paul Wren studied at Cambridge (Corpus Christi College) and worked in industry for many years. He transitioned back into academia at Oxford (St Hilda’s College) before joining Kingston University in 2018 where he works as a Senior lecturer in pharmaceutical chemistry.

Stephen's poetry can be read at www.stephenpaulwren.wixsite.com/luke12poetry and you can find him on Twitter @Stephen34343631. His book ‘Formulations’ (co-written with Dr Miranda Lynn Barnes) was published by Small Press in 2022. His book 'A celestial crown of Sonnets' (co-written with Dr Sam Illingworth) was published by Penteract Press in 2021. Also, Stephen's poetry has appeared in places such as 14 magazine, Marble Broadsheet, Consilience, Tears in the Fence and Dreich magazine.


Pat Winslow


Witness – on reading War and Peace


The hare runs through history


legs it across battlefields of ice

the buckling floes that creak and split


the black maw of water

that snatched forty soldiers in one gulp.


The hare has a 360º range of vision

meaning it can see behind itself –


smoke from fires and field kitchens

the distant puff of a canon


before the ball whistles overhead.

It can swivel each ear independently


meaning it can hear a horse cough

and a Cossack curse.


The hare on the translator’s page

knocks over her glass of good wine


soils her dreams, sets paw prints

on her pillows like indentations in the snow.


When the job is done, when the last page

is turned, the hare lies on its side


and flattens its head against the cover.

Pressed close like a flower


its limbs stretch in an eternal leap.



As for the Owl

For Helen Kidd


All this talk of little owls

dreamed one down last night

as I was driving home from an evening swim.


Out of the woods it came,

small as a brown loaf, pert and neat.

It sat in the middle of the road and I slowed to look.


How often owls come to me –

a moon for a face in a black Cornish sky,

hoolying ghosts up lamp posts and in trees.


They arrive like thoughts, indeed,

are very like the process of thinking,

formless until you see them – each one itself,


there, and gone, leaving the world a little changed.



The Black House


The ruin is gothic against a nuclear sky

the sun an eye in the day’s dark night.


Only the gable end stands

and the charred remains of a wall.


Cards and tea leaves could not

have foretold the future.


We build hope when we lay stone

on stone and put fire in a hearth.


Today it’s home to a keeled over sink

rusted wheels, old floats and creels.


I’m crouching as all women do

on the leeward side of the storm


enjoying a piss till the sun breaks through.

Hail bounces like teeth at my feet.


When the machair turns gold a rainbow appears

and grows like a thousand-volt idea.


I wonder at the suddenness of things

how sometimes we don’t see them coming


only witness the burn, brief defiance

and its aftermath

the slow fade to a past

that’s changed forever.


Pat Winslow has published seven collections, most recently, Kissing Bones with Templar Poetry. A winner of several notable competitions over the years, she is currently enjoying commissioned collaborations with film-makers, composers and artists.


 


Martyn Crucefix talks about the poetry he finds worth reading.


In this interview, Martyn discusses how he got started in poetry, the poets which have been a lasting influence on him and that he still goes back to and some of the poets he is enjoying reading at the moment. He also talked about some of the ways he keeps up with the contemporary scene, including social media and magazines. You will find details of these and the poets and collections he referred to below:


Tom Rawling, 1916-1996: A Sort of Killing, pamphlet published by Neil Astley in Old Fire Station Poets series.

Peter Redgrove, 1932 -2003: The Apple Broadcast and Other New Poems (1981), Routledge & Kegan Paul


Walt Whitman, 1819 - 1892: 'On the Beach at Night Alone'; Martyn also talked about Whitman's civil war poems, written while he was looking after wounded soldiers.

Robert Frost, 1874-1963: 'The Most of It'

W.S. Merwin, 1927 -2019: The Shadow of Sirius, Bloodaxe


Marvin Thompson: Road Trip, Peepal Tree Press, 2020.

Nancy Campbell, Disko Bay, Enitharmon; Fifty Words for Snow,Elliott and Thompson Ltd.,2020; Uneasy Pieces, Guillemot Press, 2022

John Mc Cullough, 'Letter to Lee Harwood', Panic Response, Penned in the Margins, 2021.


Lee Harwood, 1939 -2015: Collected Poems and New Collected Poems, both by Shearsman


Martyn referred to some poetry magazines and journals, including

Agenda,The Dark Horse, Raceme (probably closing).

Favoured Publishers: Guillemot, Hercules Editions.

He also keeps his eye on Facebook and Twitter for news and reviews.


It's worth remembering that all these small presses and journals can only survive if people buy books or subscribe to journals.


Martyn Crucefix is a poet, translator and teacher. His recent publications include Cargo of Limbs (Hercules Editions, 2019), These Numbered Days, translations of the poems of Peter Huchel (Shearsman, 2019), which won the Schlegel-Tieck Translation prize 2020, and The Lovely Disciplines (Seren, 2017). O. at the Edge of the Gorge, was also published by Guillemot Press in 2017. Martyn has translated the Duino Elegies – shortlisted for the 2007 Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation – and Sonnets to Orpheus by Rainer Maria Rilke and the Daodejing - a new version in English, Enitharmon, 2016. He is currently a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at The British Library and blogs regularly on poetry, translation and teaching at http://www.martyncrucefix.com. Note: His blog is regarded as one of the best poetry blogs available.


 



Susannah Houston


Planted Family


Ivy Eyes

Determined green weaver

winds around my two trunks

no longer a joyful crawler -

finding herself occasionally plummeting

to ankles as she takes her first steps.

Six years on -

helping mummy choose her frames,

she raises her hand when the sales clerk

says 'Ivy would be stunning -

matches your daughter's eyes.'

Sister Holly

My sister Holly is posh.

When no one is looking

she bullies me.

I try to cover for her -

to be her vine of redemption

but she turns bright red and

draws blood in her defence.

Aunt Hazel

She's a bit of a nutter

Grandfather used to say,

Gran considered her wise.

Uncle Hawthorn mocked her because

'she lacks any real beauty -

not worth a prize.'

But he never gave up believing

that she could change.



Suzannah Houston has been previously published in Envoi (Cinnamon Press) issues 176/180/183.

Her collections 'My Our Fathers' and 'Triad' were long listed by Ian Gregson in Cinnamon Press competitions.

Her poetry has been shown in Oxford's Reclaiming Spaces Exhibition and in the International Womens' Festival (2018.) She participated in Poetry Worth Hearing Episode 3.





Chris Beckett


Fall


Until you cannot walk

you cannot really love walking.


Until the muscle tears

and the tendon snaps like a twig,


when stars implode

in your night sky


and the only running thing in your body

is a mad desire to run…


you cannot see how movement

creeps up and comforts you,


how it whispers through every vein

the beautiful life of the going.



Every leaving


It is tea-time when I leave,

rolling the car without its engine

down the hill, to smell


every leaf baking in the sun

through the open window, hear

each hot pebble crunch


under my tyres. Just two days,

I tell myself, but do not quite

believe it. How can you trust


in the return when you are

leaving? when your parents wave

from the viewing deck, then walk


away, or your lover is baking

a fish you will not eat tonight?

Every leaving is forever.

A dachshund on the grass


A dachshund on the grass is not much bigger

than a crow. Is this a trick of light?

The sky has no light in it today, as if someone

has left the room. The only colour is a streak

of red from a jogger’s top. I’m sitting

with my cappucino and some thoughts. It’s harder

to be depressed than you think. A Common on

your doorstep, even a small dog triumphs, beside

the black crow. Grey clouds, he barks, throw me

a ball. Three young women run their baby

carriages past winter trees. Everything on the Common

is fighting, in its quiet way, against death, but also

accepting it. I think it is true to say that

in some lights a dachshund is truly magnificent.



Purple irises


They have sprung out of their long-fingered leaves

with mouths agape, surprised to be as white

and purple as a Chinese emperor, when it is still

only ten in the morning and the night

which has just left this corner of the wood

was so bitterly cold that some of them, like me, thought

our time had come. Our time for what? asks one

particularly querulous iris on the left. Well, to die, I say,

finding that I am only a bit surprised to be conversing

with a flower. What’s that, the iris says, what’s die?

just as a beam of sunlight picks it out through

the scrub oaks, speaking of warmth, delight,

and the iris slowly trembles its petals and forgets.




Chris Beckett is a poet and translator, mostly from Ethiopian Amharic. He grew up in Addis Ababa in the 1960s and has published 2 collections with Carcanet (Ethiopia Boy and Tenderfoot) as well as the first ever anthology of Ethiopian poetry in English (Songs We Learn from Trees, 2020) which was a finalist in the Glenna Luschei Prize for African Poetry 2021. He was short-listed for the Ted Hughes Award 2015 and some of his poems have been set to music by Roderick Williams and performed with the Chineke! Orchestra in London, Hull and on Radio 3.




 

If you would like to submit to Poetry Worth Hearing, please send a recording of up to 4 minutes of your unpublished work with the texts and a short biography to poetryworthhearing@gmail.com. If you have any suggestions for or comments about the podcast, please send them to the same address.

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