Poetry Worth Hearing: Episode 12
Updated: Mar 8
Welcome to Episode 12 of Poetry Worth Hearing. This episode features a specially recorded reading by Chaucer Cameron from her pamphlet, In an Ideal World I'd Not be Murdered. This is a challenging exploration, part fiction, part memoir, of the world of prostitution and the life of a prostitute.
In addition, there are new poems by Eva Wal, Jo Roach, Lynne Hjelmgaard, Nora Hughes and Trish Broomfield.
Finally, there is an interview with Stephen Paul Wren, who talks about poetry and science, about how they can come together, about his group Molecules Unlimited, about his own work and about poetry which he treasures or which has inspired him.
Our guest reader is Chaucer Cameron. Chaucer is a poet and the author of In an Ideal World I’d Not Be Murdered (Against The Grain 2021) She has been published in journals, magazines, including: Under the Radar, Poetry Salzburg, The North and Tears in the Fence, and was shortlisted for Live Canon 2021 International Poetry Competition. Chaucer is creator of Wild Whispers an international poetry film project, and is co-editor of the online magazine Poetry Film Live. Website: www.chaucercameron.com
Twitter Chaucer @ChaucerCameron
You may enter here
Please, leave your luggage and your
Litter, carry only what is you
Put your bare feet down
tender and firm
Like a lover caress the ground
You will step on my ancestors
that hold my roots tangled in
I move slow
Twigs and leaves speak through me so
This is your first lesson with me
You may now touch my bark
Rub your back against it like
a bear not too hungry not too weary
for this experience - Breathe
in - Breathe out
Take your time before
you leave my realm
A memory of you may stay
with me for a while
A slice of eternity with an imprint of
Miigwetch! Thank you!
A river runs
a canopy rustles
a skunk appears
a raccoon clings to the branch of a cedar
a spider weaves
a cocoon opens
a beetle sways on a birch leaf in the morning mist
and falls onto old trees' mulch
You take the plunge
Step onto a new path
into a new age
Keep moving at steady speed
In the Forest
Breathe with me
Call me a tree
Where spirits are summoned
In the forest
Balsam or pine
Maple, ash, birch, too, is fine
As long as your look is clear
In the forest
Let us commune and let us commute
I am canopy and I am root
Whisper and chant is my home
In the forest
Feel my colours glow
wandering in the flow
of time-woven beads
In the forest.
On top of a glacier imagine a river fall quiet quiet A ravenous river into the wild You are the embryo evolving from this moment in rainbow space A glass edge crisscrosscut splits water-covered rock from sky both fall into silence transforming roaring matter into oblivion.
Eva Wal is an visual artist and a poet who lives in Bonn and on the countryside nearby.
She published her first poetry pamphlet Marmorsee, marble lake, in 2009.
In 2017 she encountered Oxford Stanza 2 poets in Bonn on the occasion of Diana Bell’s art project as part of the Bonn-Oxford twinning. It encouraged her to write in English and woke her interest in English poetry and also in translations. As the result of an ongoing collaboration she was able to publish the pamphlet Poems In The Hourglass, Gedichte im Stundenglas, with German-English poems in 2022 through the Bonn-Oxford link.
Eva runs creative writing workshops for adults at the Arp Museum near Bonn as well as workshops for children and youth. She loves interdisciplinary collaborations with artists around the world and is up to all kind of adventures in art and poetry.
Eva wrote the Poems of the Unbroken Forest on a symposium with The Broken Forest Group, a group of international artists engaged in environmental issues, touring Northern Ontario in summer 2022.
I brush my hair and find feathers
in the shadow below my ear
downy ones that pass for fluff
No comment from the family
when I tweet Do you ever feel
like perching on the backs of your chairs
scattering knives and forks
eating straight off the table ?
I avoid the cat, keep my feet together
hop downstairs chirrup along to the radio
twitch my head
towards the window again and again
open my mouth to sing
blue and yellow notes flutter out
notes I repeat re-peat re-p-eat
long tailed feather notes
arms spread, long strides faster faster
running running until
I soar over Mrs Draper’s washing line
next door’s roof
the council yard wall
over the paddling pool
the deer enclosure in Clissold Park
over a bus in Green lanes
glide through the alleyway
into Kelross Road
behind the first plane tree
walk the rest of the way
to the school gate just before the bell rings.
Years later, my mum said she always knew
it was one of hers, her girl, the small faraway black V in the sky.
Common Blue Damsel Fly
I spent only a short time in my teneral stage
of pinkish-brown softness
before the skin split
down my back
paired wings unfold
my abdomen hardens
dark water tantalises
and I fly just above the deep
for the mating wheel
to bend my body to his
but I give birth alone
too exhausted to surface again
in the text book he drops down to rescue me
Jo Roach was born and brought up in London a few miles from where her mother's family can be traced back to the Huguenots who settled in Spitalfields in the 1600s. Her father came to London from Dublin in the 1930s to work for the Dove Brothers Builders in Islington. Jo thought she'd written a poem and joined a creative writing class in Hackney to find out she then joined the Poetry School when it started and owes a big thank you to all the tutors for all the advice and opportunities she was given. Jo created and organised Poetry Street as part of the Stoke Newington Festival for 3 years running. Together with Hylda Sims, she ran Poetry &Jazz on Saturday nights at the Poetry Cafe. Her poems have been published in magazines, a pamphlet Hearing Eye and the Oxford Poets:An Anthology 2008.Most recently a pamphlet "To Darn to Mend to Interweave" was published by Anna Robinson, Thamesis publications.
Much love to Jane Duran and her poetry group who have encouraged me for many years.
I’d Like to Speak of This Memory
of hummingbirds, long ago fragrances
coconut and fig, fluttering wings next to
a hot, hot wooden deck underfoot
and trade winds blowing up the night
throwing our ship about
taut lines stretched to the limit and released
thrill of the wind working its way
through every inch of the rigging, no mercy
but to take over and blow, take over and blow
In the shipping lanes of the Straits which even then,
more than twenty years ago,
were a graveyard for Africa, we, in our ignorance,
sailed happily for Spain – our children
peering up from the cabin at headlands,
snow-capped mountains of Morocco,
asking how much longer… mostly content
to return to a book or stare blankly
at the water, doze. Their questions echoed
my loneliness, longing for certainty,
land: stalls of fresh fish and pungent smells
of spices, early morning parakeets
gossiping in jacaranda trees, sprinkles of
a shower giving way to hot sun.
Now I try to decipher your writing in the ship’s log
for words of reassurance – I’m left with sea miles,
celestial calculations, course headings for each hour,
pencil marks on a chart, a statue of Columbus
pointing the way out to sea.
Did our happiness rely on a shared restlessness,
a search for a haven, a rope ladder for look-out,
an escape from an undertow within?
I remember the sound of a distant gong –
a channel marker, the sudden avoidance
of a freighter laden with cargo
swinging dangerously in a heavy swell.
In your company there was always safety –
in pitch darkness the sea a dreaming mind,
a soothing voice, by day a mirror, a window,
a keeper of worlds loved and lost
working their way to the surface
with yearning and sorrow.
Lynne Hjelmgaard was born in NYC and lived in Denmark; studied at Aarhus Art Academy and Frobel Seminarium. After crossing the Atlantic in a sailboat with her husband, she wrote her first chapbook,Distance Through the Water. Lynne has published four collections of poetry. Her last two collections,A Boat Called Annalise(2016) andA Second Whisper(2019) were published with Seren Books. Her fifth collectionThe Turpentine Treeis forthcoming from Seren in Oct. 2023,
Into the icy hall I see her go
past the waiting phone, to the room
where flames sputter on the walls, shiny
with new paint for his return.
Light bends around a tin teapot,
along the arc of liquid
poured from its spout in the morning.
On a screen in the corner, reindeer
step into shadow, stretch out
their long faces: she’s hungry
for the blue light of evening
in the north, where you know
the world is somewhere, something
you’ve been missing all along.
Muffled sounds reach her:
the dull horn of Blackstaff Mill
summoning the early shift,
a radio, a neighbour’s voice.
Ahead now, among the crowd
of spinners, weavers, stitchers, doffers
gathered at the mill door, her friends
waving and calling, and the hot life
sparks up again between them.
This poem features: a street in Belfast in the shadow of Divis mountain, iced buns known as ‘donkey’s lugs’ or ‘donkey’s ears’, and a medical procedure in which a brain is X-rayed.
Topography of a brain
Someone is here with me
in the house, I am held
in a field of vision
the room irradiated
outside and inside
as in a Bonnard painting
Looking up from my book
I see Heidi
drinking her morning milk
her grandfather at the window
keeping watch as she runs
with the goats on the mountain
When bleeding began I was
puzzled, the way we are often
with no view other than
what pain or its absence
can tell us, or an ultra-violet
beam, or a memory, such as
Joe the bread-server reaching into his van
with a grappling pole
to hook a bap for me
Divis dark and low at the end of the street
my brain in full view now
closer than we’ve ever been
The mountain has come into the room
the line between skin and air
permeable and the future
moves towards me and the past
comes back to me
A small baker’s van, full
row on row
of loaves, buns, baps, ‘donkeys’ lugs’
Joe is floury, motherly, a warm
thing that settles in my brain
and if ever
my old fear gets hold of me
(I’m alone, no mother,
no father, Divis
unmoved), I’ll summon
that figment, Joe and his bread van
on a sunny morning
the way night
falls into the long
through the pores
to where the heart
holds on tight
holds its hunger
but the heart too
and in no time
I am awash
Nora Hughes grew up in Belfast and moved to London in the 1970s.
Her poems have appeared in magazines, including Envoi, The North and The Interpreter’s House, and in anthologies, most recently Storm Brain (Hippocrates Press 2021) and Washing Windows Too: Irish Women Write Poetry (Arlen House 2022).
Her pamphlet Under Divis Mountain won the Templar Poetry iOTA Shot award and was published by Templar in 2020. She is working towards a full collection.
I weigh out, strong flour, delicate, fine and white.
Yeast is close with sugar, salt its deadly foe.
Olive oil fills the spoon, then lost in flour’s sift,
Tepid water measured well, stirs in daydreams,
Careful fingers gently gather up the dough,
Such disparate ingredients holding hands.
Rolling the dough onto the floured table,
My movements automatic, smoothing, kneading,
Cover up my work and leave it warm to rise.
In an hour more kneading to knock out the air.
Watching my mother’s hands moulding in her love,
I know that when I’m baking bread she is here,
Tents and Toilets
‘Let’s get away, peace and calm, watch the sun set,’ Pam said.
‘We’ll pitch the tent opposite the Cerne Giant. He’s naked,
and has the most enormous, you know.’
‘Oh, great!’ I didn’t think of the practicalities.
Our tent, tall on tough grass,
was Pam’s dad’s, blue and dome-like.
The sun shone on the white giant,
glinting off, you know.
We boiled water in a pan on a fragile stove.
Tea and cake, we’d brought, but the rest we bought,
searching a corner shop for sausages.
Cider seemed the thing, and fish and chips,
the chips scoffed by the time we returned;
the Cerne Giant, misted, the sun setting slowly
in summer sloth.
The August heat sank, replaced by damp.
Cider, sweet, found us chilled, toilet a need.
Black skies gave us no guide. ‘Take a torch.’ Pam said.
In the toilet tent, hands full of zips and things,
the torch dropped to the grass,
beam up, highlighting for all to see,
a shadow show, of me.
Trisha Broomfield recently joined with two other poets, Sharron Green and Heather Moulson, to form The Booming Lovelies, to perform and also to teach poetry forms at The Solar Sisters in Guildford. The Booming Lovelies also hope to appear at the Guildford Fringe in the summer.
She reads monthly at the Solar Sisters and records for poetry podcast Poetry Worth hearing.
Her poems appear monthly in a local magazine and during Lockdown she had a regular slot on the local radio.
She has had three poetry pamphlets published by Dempsey and Windle and featured in many anthologies, including Poems for Ukraine, 2022 by Poetry Performance.
In 2020 she was short listed for The Arts Richmond Roger McGough Poetry Prize and 2022 long listed in the Plough Poetry Competition.
In this month's interview, poet-scientist Stephen Paul Wren talks about his ideas on the relationship between science and poetry. In particular, he talks about his involvement with Sci-Po, a project which came into being under the auspices of St. Hilda's College, Oxford and TORCH, The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities. This resulted in a number of conferences and three anthologies, the most recent of which is Angled by the Flood, edited by Elsa Hammond. Episode 3 of Poetry Worth Hearing, includes an interview with another SciPo poet, Sarah Watkinson. After SciPo reached its natural conclusion, Stephen, with the encouragement of of SciPo colleagues, including Sarah Watkinson and Jenny Lewis, started his own online group, Molecules Unlimited, which has the aim of fostering connections between poetry and science. The group is thriving and already has over 200 members, drawn from the ranks of poets and scientists.Below you will find a list of other poet-scientists recommended by Stephen:
Jane Hirshfield (e.g Ledger),
Mario Petrucci (e.g Flowers of Sulphur, and I particularly enjoy 'Bunshop' therein),
the works of Erasmus Darwin,
Adam Dickinson (e.g. Anatomic),
and my good friend Sarah Watkinson (e.g. Photovoltaic).
The poems by other poets which Stephen read were:
'In the Light of the Times' by Philip Gross from The Thirteenth Angel (Bloodaxe, 2022)
'Mama Amazonica' by Pascale Petit from Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe, 2022)
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, Green Ink Poetry, Fragmented Voices,
and Dreich magazine.
Stephen's Facebook group Molecules Unlimited is growing quickly and
its third online poetry event is due to take place in April 2023.
That's all for Episode 12. Episode 13 will focus on form and will include an interview with Mimi Khalvati as well as extracts from a reading by Claire Cox. In addition, we will have a host of poets reading their poems and explaining how they arrived at the forms for their poems. If you would like to be one of them, you have until 12th March to send me a recording of one of your poems, published or unpublished, with an explanation of how you worked out the poem's form. Please send your recordings,which should not be more than 4 minutes, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments and suggestions should be sent to the same address.