‘Murmuration’ took second place in the Keats’ Footsteps prize. Judge Jennie Osborne said:
I loved the use of language here, its visual nature, its fresh, shifting images that conjure the idea of crow, rather than telling us about crows. It is an impossible task to speak in the voice of other beings, but I think an important one, if we are to try to fathom their otherness.
The reading and prize-giving was a wonderful event, with beautiful readings. I particularly enjoyed Martyn Crucefix talking about his translations of the Daodejing. It was great to rub shoulders with poets and writers again.
I don’t expect they’ll mind if I reprint the poem here. It was inspired by a flock of crows shape-shifting above the valley.
This is no ordinary murder:
thin as rumour; dense in our folds as coal.
A waveform of curling crows,
crow-consciousness, our own idea of crow
smudged above the wounded combe.
Here we come, and fade again, a ghost
pulling itself out of empty air.
A sketch, a fingerprint of crowing,
contorting wing and sinew into scavenger
and funeralist with an actor’s clever-clever.
We’re riders on our own black wind.
We are pure language: ink cannot trace us.
As soon as our shape is there it’s gone.
And pinning us to the page is to see a shape
where, after tricks and turns, there isn’t one.
I’ve had some poems published recently, including three in Urthona: Buddhism & the Arts. It’s a great magazine if you’re into Buddhism, meditation, and literature. Here’s ‘Waiting for Al-Khidr’ from the magazine. Also in the issue are ‘The Pearl’ and ‘How I Became a Prophet’. It’s the current issue so consider subscribing if you’re interested to read them.
‘The Cord’ appeared in Live Canon‘s New Poems for Christmas anthology.
‘Labyrinth’ appeared in Live Canon‘s 2015 competition anthology. See their publishing back catalogue here.
Beaten and bruised, my brother led me
over the wastes to the foot of the mountain
standing like a broken white tooth.
The red light of the sun had no power here.
Below us, the troubled village.
He led me to the pass, and I faltered.
“Please brother!” I begged. “Do you not trust me?”
“From here you go alone,” he said.
“Or I too will hunt you. Do not come among us for food again.
Or we will feed you feathers and bolts.” And he beat me.
A wolf cried in the sky’s great vault.
Those who can live outside the village,
must live outside the village.
“Where will you go, brother,” I asked,
“who can neither leave nor stay?”
He looked doubtful and said, “to family.”
“Get off this mountain before sundown, brother,” I spat,
“for I am not helpless or alone.”
He parted without another word.
The moon rose above the white broken peak.
The mountain cried as a guttural wind
shuddered in its crags and gorge.
My brother was gone.
I threw my head back,
let the pain inside be
and I howled.
Wood pigeons burble contentment
from the chimney above my childhood garden
as light falls from the sky
burning at an unknown horizon
beyond the oak leaves and fence.
The compost heap buzzes murkily.
The chains of the swing squeak:
each moment lives on this hinge.
My parents will soon call me to bed.
For now, the rush of falling upward.
How blissful not to want even happiness.
Ho ho ho! I have a poem in this new Christmas anthology. Each of the poems is a contemporary spin on the season to be jolly. My perhaps not-so-jolly poem, ‘The Cord’, recalls watching Nelson Mandela’s funeral on TV during the lead-in to Christmas 2013. The anthology was edited and produced by the Live Canon team.
Order New Poems for Christmas on Amazon. Enjoy!
You can read my poem, Vardøger, on The Poetry School website. A big thank you to them for posting it.
Hello all, the new Live Canon anthology is available to buy on Amazon. In it you’ll find a new poem by Geraldine Clarkson, ‘After If–‘; Isabel Rogers’ ‘Boys in the Storm’; my poem, ‘Labyrinth’, and lots more besides. All the poems have been shortlisted for the annual Live Canon competition and the winning poem will be announced on the 22nd of November after a performance by the Live Canon troupe. Go to livecanon.co.uk to find out more.
This fog has been with us forever,
cross-hatched with rain.
Conifers struggle in the wind.
Removal men haul furniture in hi-vis gear
on the other side of the coombe
where wet tarmac reflects high beams.
Cars leave the suburbs.
Soup bubbles on the hob.
I give it a stir. New steam
rises in silence: a constant mist
that, when looked at, is nothing but
Not long ago, I submitted six poems to the Primers scheme launched by Nine Arches Press and The Poetry School. These were shortlisted and I was invited to submit twenty poems for consideration by the judges, Kathryn Maris and Jane Commane. It’s a great scheme, offering a year of mentoring and the chance to give readings at a few events. We’ll see what happens. A book of shortlisted poems will be available.
Also, my poem, ‘Labyrinth’, has been shortlisted for this year’s Live Canon International Poetry Competition. It will be performed, alongside other shortlisted poems, by the Live Canon retinue at Greenwich Theatre on the 22nd of November. Isabel Rogers, a great poet who I first met through the Live Canon comp., has also been shortlisted with her poem, ‘Boys in the Storm’.
You can read and listen to painter-poet Hugh Greasley’s ‘Water Tasting’ on the Chalk Legends website, as well as ‘Rendzinia’, and ‘Native Habitat’. All three poems will feature in our upcoming pamphlet, The Chalk Path, but ‘Water Tasting’ is a good introduction to Hugh’s work. It combines his imaginative inversions of the everyday with his talent for lyricism: painting with words.