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Poetry Worth Hearing: Episode 20

This is the twentieth episode of Poetry Worth Hearing which feels pretty remarkable. Also remarkable are the poems and poets you will hear in this episode. The theme for this episode was 'now', which poets were welcome to interpret in any way they chose. It starts with Richard Price, a poet who seems very much of the now when he talks about being 'open to thinking' rather than seeking to present what has already been thought. He talks about poets who have influenced him and shares some of his translations or versions of those poets as well as reading his own work.


Other poets you can hear in the episode include Jane Burn, Tony Curtis, Helen Overell, Diana Bell, Richard Lister, Lynne Wycherley, Trisha Broomfield, Steve Xerri and Dinah Livingstone.


Richard Price






Richard Price is the author of many collections including the award-winning Small World (Carcanet). He has described his poetry as lyric poetry which tries to look closely at the usual themes nested in the poetry of family and relationship while exposing larger social and structural patterns beneath and beyond the intimate. He has completed a PhD on the novelist Neil M. Gunn and has written about the history of poetry magazines in the 20th century inBritish Poetry Magazines 1914-2000: A History and Bibliography (with David Miller). Key works include Lucky Day, a collection which focuses on the early days of his daughter who has Angelman's Syndrome; Moon for Sale,  a Guardian Newspaper Book of the Year; and The Owner of the Sea: Three Inuit Stories Retold, a Scotsman Newspaper Book of the Year. He is the Head of Contemporary British Collections at the British Library and teaches at the Poetry School. His latest book is Late Gifts (Carcanet). He has recently published an article in the Glasgow Review of Books whic is well worth a look: https://glasgowreviewofbooks.com/2024/01/12/witness-or-confession-lucky-day-and-late-gifts/?fbclid=IwAR0tS3SeiqJk3u_k8l8dMbuX661y8V-ETEfhDBtSgYLS4W1tT8_LF0RB8co



Jane Burn






This poem originally appeared online in The Blue Nib and was recently reposted on Facebook. I asked Jane to record it so here it is.



Jane Burn is an award-winning, working-class, pansexual, autistic person, poet, artist, and essayist. She has an MA in Writing Poetry from Newcastle University; she won the 2022 academic prize for best overall performance. In 2022, Jane explored her neurodivergent writer’s theories funded by Arts Council England and is currently putting these ideas into a book. In 2023 she was awarded a grant by the Royal Literary Fund. Her poems are widely published and anthologised. Her latest collection, Be Feared, is available from Nine Arches press. She lives off-grid with her family in a Northumberland cottage for most of the year. She has recently won the Michael Marks Environmental Poet of the Year Prize 2023-2024, for her pamphlet A Thousand Miles from the Sea, which can be ordered from the British Library and Wordsworth Grasmere.



Tony Curtis


Belgian Hares

 

 

On the drive from Pilkem to Artillery Wood

In the wide field’s stubble we see a hare

Rise up from its haunches,

Stand tall, then with sinewy legs

 

Stretching and pumping, bound

Directly into a solid wall of ripe corn

To disappear.

There is no metaphor here.

 

 

 That July at Charleston

 

Serving dinner Grace looked upset: it seems

the village has had two telegrams today.

Duncan says with the harvest and the hay,

they are already lacking the men.

 

Virginia helped Grace clear things away,

which is certainly unusual.

Some thirty miles across the Channel

England is piling up its dead.

 

Had we not heard the big guns

carried on an East wind?

At breakfast the tea spoons had rattled again

on our saucers, Vanessa said.

 

These poems come from Tony Curtis' forthcoming collection, Leaving the Hills, to be published by Seren.





 


Tony Curtis was born in Carmarthen in west Wales in 1946. He studied at Swansea University and Goddard College, Vermont, and is the author of several collections of poetry, including War Voices (1995); The Arches (1998 -see the link above); Heaven’s Gate (2001) and Crossing Over (2007).

In 2016 Seren published his From the Fortunate Isles: Poems New and Selected and in 2017 Cinnamon published his selected stories Some Kind of Immortality.

He has also written books of criticism, including The Art of Seamus Heaney (1982), Dannie Abse  (writers of Wales Series,1985, How Poets Work (1996),Welsh Painters Talking (1997), Welsh Artists Talking (2001), )and Wales at War: Essays in Literature and Art (2007). He is the editor of several books, including The Poetry of Pembrokeshire (1989); The Poetry of Snowdonia (1989); Coal: an anthology of Mining (1997) and Tokens for the Foundlings(2014).

Tony Curtis is Emeritus Professor of Poetry at the University of South Wales where he established Creative Writing in the 1980s and directed the M.Phil In Writing for many years. He won an Eric Gregory Award in 1972 and the National Poetry Prize in 1984. In 2001 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was awarded a D. Litt in 2004. He has toured extensively giving poetry readings and lectures and won the 1993 Dylan Thomas Award and a Cholmondeley Award in 1997. He lives in Barry, Wales.

In 2023, his first novel, Darkness in the City of Light was published to positive critical responses and was short-listed for the Society of Authors Paul Torday Memorial Prize. https://tonycurtispoet.com/



Helen Overell


The pulse of now


This is what we know, this in-breath,

the pause, the sigh of exhaled air,


all our yesterdays lead to this,

our tomorrows unfold, moth-winged,

dappled by radiance of soul,


the luminance bright as the stars

in a desert night — great clusters,

brimful, spilling over with light,


steadied by that sense of presence,

those here among us, those long gone,

enfolded within this moment,


known to us by the least whisper,

the call of the song of the world.



Take a breath


Take a breath, a moment,

let the busy world still,


consider the slow silver

glide of the snail,


foot-bound, eyes on tapered

tentacles, the dip and


sway of spiral shell that sets

rock-fast at shadow-strike,


sight enfolded, head, tail,

withdrawn into silence;


notice the sheer persistence

in grazed and nibbled leaf,


the within-green lacework

sifts of layered light.



Helen Overell has work in several magazines and some of her poems were highly commended or placed in competitions including the Poetry Society Stanza Competition 2018 and the Poetry News Members' poems Summer 2020. Her first collection Inscapes & Horizons was published by St Albert's Press in 2008 and her second collection Thumbprints was published by Oversteps in 2015. A booklet of her poems Measures for lute was published by The Lute Society in 2020. She takes an active role in Mole Valley Poets, a Poetry Society Stanza group.





Diana Bell


On the Edge



Breathe in, breathe out

heart beating –

a flutter of life

eyelids drop like blinds

 against the world

voices float without answer

throat a burning fire

lungs filled with knife blades

spitting words like choking on glass

limbs detached

skin burns

belly a sunken pit –

all feeling evaporated

heart beating –

breathe in, breathe out




Diana Bell is a multimedia artist working with sculpture, painting & installation. She has collaborated with dancers & poets & published two books combining painting & poetry. Diana was commended for the Settle poetry prize & is included in ‘Poems for the NHS’ as well as in the magazine Alchemy Spoon.



Richard Lister


Give me a child:

Nadia, chipped front tooth,

crouches as close as she dares

to a sputtering gas burner,

her left leg trembles.

Where's Dad?

Distant voice of a Russian shell.


Rewind to Putin, alone on stage,

in the cream polo-neck jumper

of a talkshow host.

Two hundred thousand Russians

waving red, blue and white,

some bussed in, some true.


Further back: Agent Viktor sips a slick

of raw quail's egg from a mug,

FC Spartak Moscow, tries not to gag,

pauses ten beats for poison.

No spasm, so sends a glass flute

upstairs to the President.


Yeltsin, cream-moulded hair,

pours his smile over

an apparatchik, a neat man

at the margin of the hall,

blue cardboard folder under his arm

to carry his notes.


Stop: breeze block room,

sputtering gas burner

and a tin sink crammed in,

its surface so cold

Putin's boyish hand sticks.

Rats that terrify the dogs.

The title is a part of a quote from Aristotle.


In their wake


Last week, the magnolia

was an exuberant stroke,

bold and bright

against a powder blue sky,

each flower fat with life-lush pink,

air soaked with its earthy scent.


And now, as its petals curl,

and dry to crumpled beige and fall,

I feel I'm walking in the pause

that follows God and Adam's evening stroll,

the grass in their footprints

still bending back to shape.



Lister draws you into stories of intriguing characters, images and places.   In his recent collection, 'Edge & Cusp', his poems ‘capture life like a vibrant painting, giving you the time to examine and ponder the hues of existence in all its beauty and tragedy’.  His work is published in twelve international magazines including Acumen, Orbis and Ekphrastic Review and is carved into the Radius sculpture.   He coaches leaders to bring life-giving transformation in the UK, Asia and Africa.


Lynne Wycherley




To a Neutron Star

 

Who are you, cold heartbeat?

 

How many times has your tireless pulse

touched the toiling atom of my life?  

 

In nebulae, your note of snow intones ‘now’, ‘now’.

Ice-motes in Vela, the Crab.

 

After the explosion, only you remained,

a small bright face suspended

 

angel-child in a ravaged field,

gas clouds flung round you, lit dust

 

scarlet and lime – a plerion –

and all the hare-lipped outrush of its bloom.

 

You flick a feather through our sight-lines,

the jay-blue ‘o’ of our world

 

through desert arrays, our upturned eyes

staring from a susurrus of sand

 

to catch the sleet

of your lonely note –

 

forever ‘now’, ‘now’.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a Church near the M40

 

i.m. Dr J R L Highfield

 

Ironstone – you read its glow,

warm bergamot: the now

of then, how light suspends,

Warden Gilbert gazing

from stained glass.

 

Beyond, the road is restless,

carbon-screed.  It cries, it bays –  

time’s furore,

time swept away.

 

Gilbert, Robert – Warden of Merton College 1417-1421





Lynne Wycherley is an émigré to the West Country. Her quiet, lyrical voice has featured widely  across the years; Listening to Light: new & selected poems was published by Shoestring Press in 2014 followed by two later collections. A new pamphlet is in train.

 


 


Trisha Broomfield


Now

 

Now, I would ignore the time

I thought I did not have

I would say, yes, let’s go,

push my way through people

grab the last window seat,

I would graciously allow you to pay for coffee

say yes to cake

I would be empathetic and listen

instead of talking

I would treasure every moment

of our time together

not regret that when I could

I did not

say yes.





Trisha has three poetry pamphlets published by Dempsey and Windle and features in many anthologies. Recently she has had two pieces short listed by the Lancaster One Minute Monologues and one poem chosen By Phare Online Poetry Magazine.

She is one third of The Booming Lovelies who appeared at Guildford Fringe Festival this year, and will be appearing at the Farnham Literary Festival in March and the Cranleigh Literary Festival in April 2024.

You can hear her more of her poems on the Poetry Worth Hearing poetry podcast and on BBC Upload.

FB Trisha Broomfield Poetry

Instagram @magentapink22

     @boominglovelies




Steve Xerri


Or Never



just an ordinary black & white snapshot, but see


how the curves of the parked MG & its open door


span & divide the picture space with such balance



no other arrangement seems thinkable : the central


subject, a dark-haired child, his skin unblemished


under the foxed emulsion, one white-socked foot



resting on the running board, box of chocolates


on his lap, can only be me gazing out past the camera


to connect directly with his own eyes reflected



from my grizzled head : but as I look back at him


what if unsettles what is, & could have unravels did


– maybe a swerve occurs in my mother's timeline



& a mining accident kills her dad in his prime


so the family cancels the van booked for the move


down south where a different history is waiting,



& her life rolls out in the confines of her village so she


never holds me, never knows me, nurtures another


lad's hunger for books – her son who has the mind



of an engineer, says blood to rhyme with good


& is the one to lick scrapes of her spiced cake batter


from the wooden spoon : or other circumstances



veer & a young evacuee's ship re-routes to avoid


U-Boats in the Atlantic & my father's people land


somewhere not England so he never knows me,



never holds me, vanishes from the story taking with him


his colour sense, his gift of wordplay, & it's not me


copying his jazzhands on the dancefloor but his athletic



son, destined to make his name as a doctor


– & she emerges from her back door into a flood


of winter sun, it's Christmas Eve & marriage the last



thing on her mind – & he opens his curtains


on a square of blazing sky criss-crossed by parakeets


– & the photograph fogs in my palm, its shadows



spreading to engulf the car's interior, fluted leather


upholstery & the reclining form of the passenger,


last detail to go the catchlight in his young eyes




Steve Xerri (https://stevexerripoetry.co.uk) was Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2017. His work has appeared in numerous print and online magazines, including Atrium, Brittle Star, The Clearing, Fortnightly Review, Golden Handcuffs Review, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter’s House, One Hand Clapping, The Poetry Shed, Poetry Society Newsletter, Raceme, and Sentinel Literary Quarterly.

His first pamphlet Mutter/Land was published in 2020 by Oystercatcher Press.  




Dinah Livingstone





 

I live on Earth

in the Goldilocks zone

not too cold

not too hot

but just right.

 

I’ve got a Goldilocks bed

with a mattress

neither too hard

nor too soft

but just right.

 

I wish but don’t always manage

to live my day in a Goldilocks way

not idle

not overwhelmed

but just right.

 

And if I invite someone to supper,

make them a pie

with a gratin topping,

its browning should be

not too pale

not too burnt

but just right.

 

It’s not always that easy.

In some encounters

it’s hard not to say

too much or too little,

too many words

or too few,

to get it just right.

 

The same goes for words in a poem.

Stop.




New Year 2024

 

Today the first of January,

still early, and dark grey,

the London plane tree at my window

holds out its naked arms and knobbly fists

to the new morning: ‘Here I am,

aching for spring greenery.

Yes to another year.’

It’s seen at least a hundred.

Slowly the light increases

as the sky becomes pale blue.






Dinah Livingstone has given many poetry readings in London, throughout Britain and abroad. She has received three Arts Council Writer’s Awards for her poetry, which has also appeared in various magazines and anthologies. Her tenth collection, Embodiment, was published in 2019. She is a translator of poetry and prose and edits the magazine Sofia. katabasis.co.uk/dinah.html

 


Copyright of previously unpublished poems remains with the author.



This was an exciting celebration of the New Year even as we find ourselves witnessing terrible events and cowering in the shadow of climate change. Please keep sending your poems to Poetry Worth Hearing; our poems are worth hearing, whatever the din of the world around us. Recordings of up to 4 minutes of unpublished poems with texts and a short up-to-date bio to poetryworthhearing@gmail.com. Please send the texts of your poems as Word documents rather than pdf.

The theme for the next episode is 'creature' -again to be interpreted as widely as you choose.









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