Archive for September, 2016

Baltimore Bouncing in Albany New York by Alan Catlin

September 12, 2016

Your One Phone Call

By August the streets are full of them:
the seriously insane, the ones shelters
no longer tolerate, forced to sleep rough,
by day, in bus shelters, slowly working
their way uptown, one local stop at time.
Uptown, sleepless as the undead at night,
they stalk the unwary, keeping to shadows
cast by streetlights on less traveled side
streets, scavenging for cash, rolling
the infirm, the staggering drunks from
dozens of pubs, the licensed ones and
the unlicensed, the afterhours ones and
the ones that might as well be, envying
their prey, aspiring to be as they are:
blind and befuddled, brains marinating
in alcohol, putrefied by noon.
Their scents precede them into bars
where they are treated as terminally ill,
a volatile mix of bad chemicals in search
of a place to explode. The ones still
standing at Summer’s end the hearty ones,
survivors, all their brethren long ago

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Friday Poem – In Hospital: Poona

September 9, 2016

Seren Books Blog

This week’s poem is from Alun Lewis: Collected Poems, edited by Cary Archard, to celebrate Lewis’s centenary earlier this week. Lewis was one of the most compelling writers of the Second World War, whose premature death in 1944 – when he was only 28 – was a grave loss to Britain’s literature community.

For more information about Lewis, check out his website and find out everything you need to know about the continuing centenary celebrations on Twitter.

In Hospital: Poona

Last night I did not fight for sleep
But lay awake from midnight while the world
Turned its slow features to the moving deep
Of darkness, till I knew that you were furled,

Beloved, in the same dark watch as I.
And sixty degrees of longitude beside
Vanished as though a swan in ecstasy
Had spanned the distance from your sleeping side.

And like to swan or moon…

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Friday Poem – Autumn, 1939

September 9, 2016

Seren Books Blog

This week’s poem comes from the Collected Poems of WW2 writer Alun Lewis, whose centenary we are celebrating throughout the year, to mark the Autumn equinox which occurred earlier this week.

Alun Lewis (1915-1944), the remarkable poet and story writer, died, aged 28, in Burma during the Second World War. Some critics see him as the last of the great Romantic poets, a twentieth century Keats. Others view him as the bridge between pre-war poets like Auden and Yeats to post-war poets such as Hughes and Gunn. He was born and raised in Depression-struck south Wales and, following degrees in history at Aberystwyth and Manchester, became a teacher there. Early in 1940, despite his pacifist inclinations he enlisted and, after long periods of training, joined the war in India.

Becoming a soldier galvanised Lewis’s writing. By 1944 he had written two collections of poems and one of short stories, all…

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Friday Poem – Finding a Fossil

September 9, 2016

Seren Books Blog

Today’s poem is from John Ormond’s Collected Poems, edited by Rian Evans and introduced by Patrick McGuinness, which is due to be released next month.

John Ormond (1923-1990) is one of the remarkable generation of poets born in south Wales in the early 1920s which includes Dannie Abse and Leslie Norris. A journalist on Picture Post during its heyday in the 1940s, he was a friend of fellow Swansea writers Dylan Thomas and Vernon Watkins, both of whom were key influences on a poetry of consistently high standards. A significant number of his poems, many of them elegiac, probe his Welsh roots, demonstrating an abiding concern with family and locality. Others focus on particular aspects of the natural world, seeking to capture their elusive quiddities. Stylistically, they vary from the extremely plain to the highly-wrought; are witty and ironic, paradoxical and conceited. Typically unsentimental, shapely and meticulously crafted, his…

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Friday Poem – ‘Autumn Elegy’, Leslie Norris

September 9, 2016

Seren Books Blog

Our Friday Poem this week marks the coming of autumn, and is taken from Leslie Norris: The Complete Poems, edited by Meic Stephens.

Leslie Norris Collected PoemsThis landmark publication of over 300 poems is a testament to a publishing life of more than sixty years. The late Leslie Norris, who died in 2007 at the age of 86, was best known as a nature poet and elegist of passion and rare expression. Lyrical and individual, to his closely observed poems, each word weighed and in its correct place, Norris introduces a strong metaphysical element which makes the poems, as Edward Lucie-Smith noted, “much larger than the sum of their parts”.

Autumn Elegy

September. The small summer hangs its suns
On the chestnuts, and the world bends slowly
Out of the year. On tiles of the low barns
The lingering swallows rest in this timely

Warmth, collecting it. Standing in the garden,

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Karen Izod – Two poems

September 5, 2016

The Poetry Shed

after ‘The Execution of Lady Jane Grey’ Paul Delaroche 1883.

We were threading beads, do you remember?
It was a dark day, the nursery never a homely room,
and a shaft of light broke through the window
catching at the sheen on your dress.

Radiant you were. I thought we were in the Presence,
in the scatterings of angels leading Jacob up his staircase.
And I saw you as some heavenly bride, ecstatic.
I shocked myself with the thought.

Come let’s play blind man’s buff, I said, turning you
in my arms, covering your eyes, turning you again.
And your necklace spilled. Garnets fell like tiny stabs
from your neck, and I felt the light backing away,

being eclipsed by some other thing.


Urbane, charming,
he pads at the edges
of the campo, keeps
to the shadows, watches
the hen and her chicks
strutting their stuff,
vulnerable in…

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Finding Sharon Olds’s The Matter of This World

September 1, 2016

Anthony Wilson


The Collection

The Matter of This World: New and Selected Poems (Slow Dancer, 1987)

I found The Matter of This World in a second hand bookshop next to Berwick-upon-Tweed station. I was there to meet a relation of my wife off the train from London. It was high summer, somewhere at the end of the Nineties. I had driven one-and-a-half hours to get there. Arriving early, the bookshop was something of a gift.

I had heard of, and read, some of Sharon Olds’s work, but nothing really prepared me for the shock of finding this book at this moment in my life. Just taking it down from the shelf reminds me of that very particular time, of looking after and administering to the needs of my two young children. Parallel to this era, but not separated from it, was another kind of enterprise altogether, that of reading and writing as…

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