The fifteenth episode of Poetry Worth Hearing concentrates on the long poem. It includes an interview with Linda Black, editor of Long Poem Magazine and two of the poems featured here have also appeared in that magazine. I have no hesitation in promoting Long Poem Magazine since it is one of the few outlets for poets who wish to write at greater length. As anyone involved with the contemporary poetry scene will recognise, most magazines and competitions limit submissions to around 40 lines.
The poems which appear in this episode have all already been published or are about to be published. This change from the usual practice of the podcast may also reflect the difficulty of the long poem. I did not receive any submissions of hitherto unpublished long poems but I am delighted to be able to showcase extracts from these poems. The only text which I have printed is from Suzannah Houston's poem, 'The Princesses at La Mirada'. This is because the magazine where it originally appeared is, sadly, no longer publishing. The other poems you will hear can all be found either in book form or in issues of 'The Long Poem Magazine. I hope you will support poets and publishers by buying them.
The poems from which these extracts are taken include:
Ravenser Odd by Michael Daniels, Poet's House, 2022.
"The Princesses of La Mirada by Suzannah Houston, Envoi, Issue 176, 2020.
Of Discourse by Giles Goodland, grandIOTA, 2023
"Love in Old Age' by Jenny Lewis will appear in Issue 29 of Long Poem Magazine
In between bringing up children and working as a psychotherapist in the NHS, Michael Daniels has been writing poetry and prose for the past thirty years. This is his first pamphlet of poems.
The Princesses st La Mirada
No one knows when she was born, from which life-giver was torn,
She came abruptly to her place, Princess of shame, hope and disgrace.
We see the pictures that she drew, art on her wrists so the judge knew
What happened on the Reservation,
Now signing off the legislation that will keep her off the streets,
In-bedded in halfway house sleep.
Once upon a former time shackled before the judge
(whose skin tone hopefully suggests that he won't hold a grudge)
Princess no. 1 Melina, young, tall and defiant,
Insists she held no contraband, her grandfather reliant
Upon her on the Reservation will be left alone,
So she begs for some probation that releases her 'to home'
But La Mirada passes through.
Princess no.2 Miss Windy blew in from south borders,
Mexicana chica not so good at taking orders.
Precious little catholic girl, three babies of her own,
Can't comply with judge's standard so no way she gets 'sent home'
So La Mirada passes through.
Princess no.3 strong Sal, Daddy was a preacher,
He'd been around the prison wheel and finally had reached her
With all the hope and truth of Christ,
She brought us others great advice, keep Jesus at the wheel and such
Then drugs slipped in and she was crushed
But La Mirada passes through.
Princess no. 4 my favorite, June who stood her ground,
Was sorry for mistakes and guns that brought her family down
Into the vicious cycle of the system that so failed
To turn out this 'Spanish princess' 'cause they recycled her through jail.
Then La Mirada passes through.
Princess no.5 the Angel always had my back.
Apache beauty boldness, love for Christ she did not lack.
Hard working, kept her guard up as she held her head so high.
She was released to Reservation, left me her shoes
That I might fly.
La Mirada passed her by.
Princess no. 6 Blair Hopi, an amazing tribe.
She never did belong with us, got caught up in some bribe.
Survival of the fittest kept her sheltered in the ranks.
She befriended even demons just to keep out evil pranks
And La Mirada passes through.
Princess no.7 quiet Pueblo never smiled.
Her bunk was high and mighty, tv controls always nigh
But when she spoke the sky opened, or she simply had to nod
And whoever was intruding, regretted much where they had trod.
As La Mirada passes through.
Princess no. 8 God given knack for loving all,
Probably born at Christmas as her name befits the call.
Cutest little children waiting for mommy’s release
But she went around in circles, prison programs never cease,
Even her own sweet mama could not always 'keep the peace,'
But La Mirada passes through.
Princess no. 9 dear Whitney, feisty, fearless face,
Had a smile that lit the room up, did her chores and 'knew her place.’
She went way too deep into all things and fell off to one side
But she got back on her horse and showed us how to ride.
La Mirada held her dear.
Princess no.10 Elena, older than the rest
Landed wrong side of the pond in a domestic violence vest.
Yet somehow in the sunshine of high desert she did flower,
Took her offer for 'no contest'
It was her finest hour.
La Mirada passes through.
Suzannah Houston published in Envoi (Cinnamon Press) issues 176/180/183.
Her collection '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' podcast Episode 3 and in episode 11
Extract from Of Discourse.
And here is the Contents page which is as good an introduction as any to the poem.
Giles Goodland's previous books include Littoral (Oversteps, 1996), Overlay (1997) A Spy in the House of Years(Leviathan, 2001) Capital (Salt, 2006), What the Things Sang (Shearsman, 2009), The Dumb Messengers(Salt, 2012), Gloss (KFS, 2012) The Masses (Shearsman, 2018), and Civil Twilight (Parlor Press 2022). He has worked as a lexicographer, editor and researcher, teaches evening classes on poetry for Oxford University's department of continuing education, and lives in West London.
Long Poem Magazine, edited by Linda Black is one of the few outlets for poets who wish to write at greater length. The twice-yearly publication of the magazine is only the tip of the entreprise's iceberg. Regular launchevents, until interrupted by Covid, are held at the Barbican Library. This returns with Issue 29 which will be launched on June 17th. In addition, the magazine's website hosts online texts of poems from previous issues and a series of articles by poets, called Poets and their Processes, which develop the introductory note at the beginning of each poem in the magazine.
Linda Black is editor of Long Poem Magazine. She is a poet, visual artist and dyslexia specialist. Her most recent work appears in two new anthologies: Alcatraz an illustrated anthology of short prose and prose poetry 2022 https://gazebobooks.com.au/product/alcatraz/ and Dreaming Awake an anthology of New Contemporary Prose Poetry 2023
Other work has appeared in several books and anthologies, including Prose Poetry, An Introduction (Princeton University Press 2020), Prototype 2 (Prototype Publishing 2020) and The Valley Press Anthology Of Prose Poetry(Valley Press 2019) and in various poetry journals. Her fifth collection Then was published by Shearsman in 2021. Previous collections are Slant, Root and Inventory (Shearsman 2016, 2011 & 2008). The Son of a Shoemaker (Hearing Eye, 2012) – collaged prose poems based on the early life of Hans Christian Andersen, plus the author’s pen and ink illustrations – was the subject of a Poetry Society exhibition in 2013. The beating of wings (Hearing Eye, 2006) was the PBS Pamphlet Choice for Spring 2007, when she also received an Arts Council Writer's Award. She won the 2006 New Writing Ventures Award for Poetry and received the 2004/5 Poetry School Scholarship. She also designs all the covers of the Long Poem Magazine.
'Love in Old Age'
It is a delight and an honour to have this extract from Jenny Lewis's new poem. She is accompanied here by Rowland Prytherch who is a music producer Jenny works with frequently at Pyrotech Audio. Here is his website: https://www.pyrotechaudio.com
Jenny Lewis is a poet, playwright, children’s author, songwriter and translator who teaches poetry at Oxford University. She has had seven plays and poetry cycles performed at major UK theatres and published four poetry collections including Gilgamesh Retold (Carcanet, 2018) which was a New Statesman Book of the Year, a Carcanet Book of the Year and an LRB Bookshop Book of the Week on publication. She has also published three chapbooks from Mulfran Press in English and Arabic with the exiled Iraqi poet Adnan Al-Sayegh which are part of the award-winning, Arts Council-funded ‘Writing Mesopotamia’ project aimed at building bridges between English and Arabic-speaking communities. Her collaboration, with Adnan and others of extracts from Adnan’s anti-war epic, Uruk’s Anthem, was published as Let Me Tell You What I Saw (Seren, 2020). More information can be found on her website https://jennylewis.org.uk
I hope you have enjoyed this episode. Episode 16 will return to presenting shorter previously unpublished poems. There is no submissions window but poems for the next episode must be received by 5th June. Please send a recording of up to four minutes with texts of the poems and a brief bio to firstname.lastname@example.org. Suggestions and comments also welcomed. You can find the podcast on Apple, Google or Audible podcasts or at:https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/kathleen-mcphilemy