Wednesday, 30 April 2014

THE MELITA HUME SHORTLIST 2014: SOHINI BASAK (8 OF 11)


Sohini Basak (pictured) was born in 1991 in Kolkata. She studied literature for her undergraduate degree at St. Stephen’s College, University of Delhi, during which she won prizes for her poetry at the RædLeaf India as well as the Reliance-Unisun TimeOut competitions.
 
Her writing has been published (or is forthcoming) in journals such as Ink, Sweat and Tears; The Cadaverine; Ambit; The Four Quarters Magazine; Helter Skelter and Muse India. She moved to the UK in September 2013 to study for an MA in Writing at the University of Warwick where is working on her first collections of poetry and short fiction.


How to Breed Lilacs

First, learn not to stereotype months, then walk

on all fours, sniffing the garden soil, stop at the warmest

patch of earth. Then, dig. Dig deep, dig with love, do not use

a shovel, dig until your ankles are covered, upturn minerals

until the earthworms tickle your toes. Always use your hands,

for everything. Watch out for the microscopic snails who leave

behind trails, softer than your fingers make. If you have powdered

bones, sprinkle them, with ceremony, without hurting others. 

Calcium works faster than singing softly to growing plants. Plant 

the tiny, the new, the world-condensed-in-a-grain-full-of-potential

seeds. Another piece of advice: do not use adjectives unless you

need them. So revised: plant those seeds. Simply. Use more water

for libation, nothing else purifies, nothing else soaks the soil, mixing

memory and desire. Afterwards, wash your fingernails clean, return

to the kitchen, make yourself a cup of tea. Again you will find the uses

of water. Dripdropdripdrop. Cup in hand, sit down by the window, 

you will see the seeds bursting out, the roots travelling in tunnels

deeper than your reach. Then, you will see the branches growing:

spreading out, those gray brown birds, reaching towards

everywhere, you will see lilacs clustering, each petal singular,

designed with your fingerprints.
 
 
poem COPYRIGHT POET 2014

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

THE MELITA HUME SHORTLIST 2014: SHELLEY ROCHE-JACQUES (7 OF 11)

Dr Shelley Roche-Jacques (pictured) was born in 1978 in Sheerness, on the Isle of Sheppey. She studied at Sheffield Hallam University, where she recently completed a PhD on the Browningesque dramatic monologue. She also works at Sheffield Hallam as an Associate Lecturer.

Her poetry has appeared in magazines such as The Rialto, The Wolf, Magma, Other Poetry, The SHOp, The Interpreter's House and The Boston Review. A selection of her work is included in the anthology Ten Hallam Poets, published by Mews Press and The Sheffield Anthology from Smith/Doorstop.
 
She has collaborated with actors, musicians and other poets. She adapted her sequence about the life of the Pre-Raphaelite model Elizabeth Siddal for performance and received Arts Council funding to write and perform a sequence of dramatic monologues in response to an archive of Victorian flood compensation claims.
 
Mouse in a Government Building

They've had their fingers burnt before
pulling rabbits out of hats.
We stay hushed in the seams
supposing that's the reason
they are demonstrating caution.

There is a rumour that somewhere
in the future there'll be traps,
that, going forward, they are planning
to dismantle the architecture.

We hear decision dates spill by
and cabinets bulge with problems
awkward as the faces shelved inside.
Morsels are brought to the table,
seasoned talk of aims and agency.

We take stock, make fit our purpose.
In the half-light we ply and fathom
the building. We will never tell them
which treaty right we are exercising. 
poem COPYRIGHT THE POET 2014
 

Monday, 28 April 2014

FOYLE AGAIN!


THE MELITA HUME SHORTLIST 2014: RACHAEL MADELEINE NICHOLAS (6 of 11)

Rachael Madeleine Nicholas (pictured), born in 1987, is a poet from Birmingham in the West Midlands, where she continues to live and work. Her writing has appeared both online and in print, in issues of Magma, Gigantic Sequins, and the Cadaverine, and she has performed her work at readings across the country, including an event at the Ledbury Poetry Festival.



She completed her MA in Creative Writing, with a focus on poetry, from the University of Birmingham in 2011. In 2012 she was selected as a recipient of the Eric Gregory Award, presented by the Society of Authors. She was runner-up in the 2013 Melita Hume competition, judged by Jon Stone.

Somewhere Near in the Dark

Something prized and bloodless
or chipped off and lost, rattling inside
like an uneven engine idling somewhere
near in the dark.

My brothers, returning to their
cities, wish me luck while I,
in turn, pretend I didn’t hear
and watch the small dog, split
in the softness of her belly,
arch away from the grass,
cowed by a snap of pain

and then forgetting it, returning
to the task of searching over
the frosted lawn for something
she misplaced.


poem COPYRIGHT THE POET 2014

Sunday, 27 April 2014

THE MELITA HUME SHORTLIST 2014: JOANNE CLEMENT (5 OF 11)

Joanne Clement (pictured) was born in 1986 in the North East town of Darlington. Under the tutelage of W.N. Herbert, in 2013 Newcastle University awarded Joanne distinction for a creative writing MA, with a specialism in poetry. The recipient of a Northern Promise Award in 2012, she was selected by New Writing North and Paul Farley to develop her first collection.



A first class English undergraduate with Leeds Trinity and All Saints, Joanne was awarded the Jack Higgins Prize for Outstanding Achievement. Since graduating, she has researched for BBC Radio 4’s Writing the Century and The Tenth Muse, presented by Jackie Kay. She looks forward to starting a PhD at Newcastle University this year. Joanne is undertaking an ekphrastic investigation into the engravings of natural history author Thomas Bewick, with the support of a Northern Bridge studentship from the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Wood Picture
Your shoulders, they must ache still, in the burn
of yesterday's lime. Would that I could smooth
your lapels down, breathe in your nape's damp
heat. But fat oil over lean steals your scent


from me, flax fumes thin the air between us.
I fancy your neckerchief is golden gypsy silk,
though its tying sits so high. And if paint itself 
with living nature fails, why is your brow still


sprent with sweat? How easy I can look at you,
John Clare, caught in a flush of nut brown ale.
Your distance kept an arm's length or two
from the easel. I wonder what your eyes


thought then, perhaps of sleep beneath the thicket,
the night you turned yourself in? I felt the same
wind blown flies and flowers, that passing, stroked
your skin. And I, too, am open mouthed in the morning,


wearing a cloak of frost: your kin.


poem COPYRIGHT THE POET 2014

Saturday, 26 April 2014

THE MELITA HUME SHORTLIST 2014: DAISY BEHAGG (4 OF 11)



Daisy Behagg (pictured), born in 1987, grew up on the south coast, and attained a BA and MA in creative writing from Bath Spa University, both with distinction. She was the first winner of the Templar portfolio prize in 2014: her winning short pamphlet Cockpit Syndrome will be published in May. In 2013 she won the Bridport prize for poetry, and was long-listed for the Cinnamon debut collection prize.
 
Her work has appeared in The Rialto, Poetry Wales, The North, Ambit, The Warwick Review, Poetry Salzburg Review and Stand. She currently lives in Bristol, teaches creative writing and edits for online arts journal New Linear Perspectives.


THE SINGING OF THE REAL WORLD

 

You could say it was light,

with its talent for reading

the true thoughts of objects

– light speaking

the language of motion.

 

He threw a handful of sand,

saw how the light revealed in it

a constellation's glitter

for briefest moments, saw

the moving potential for glass

 

suspended – falling – then

he saw the hidden verb

in everything, objects shaking free

of their tenses – the window

a perfectly framed article

 

of pane and wood, solid, and yet

he could hear it singing

underneath – the shattering’s

moment of hung brilliance

– the fall.


poem COPYRIGHT THE POET 2014

Friday, 25 April 2014

THE MELITA HUME SHORTLIST 2014: BETHAN TICHBORNE (3 OF 11)


 


Bethan Tichborne (pictured) was born in London in 1984 and grew up in Tonbridge, where she attended Tonbridge Grammar School. She graduated from Exeter College, Oxford in 2008, where she studied Philosophy and Italian.
 
She is involved in social justice activism and has written for various political blogs including Bright Green, Liberal Conspiracy and New Internationalist. She works at a printing co-op in East Oxford that prints leaflets and zines for activists and community groups.
 
She was also shortlisted for the first Melita Hume Poetry Prize in 2012. Her poetry has appeared on nthposition.com, in Alan Morrison’s anthology Emergency Verse: Poetry in Defence of the Welfare State, and in a feature article in the Big Issue. She is related to the poet Chidiock Tichborne.

 
Sisyphus
 
The sun, the rain, the mud
the hooves, the sun, the dust
the archaeologist.

Silt shifts and unearths you
and the rivers will suck you up
and sort you, heavy bones here, light there.

In this river bend there are hundreds of teeth
and little else, pitted, spitting, twisted, bitten
into earth, chewing upwards, hungry for air.



poem COPYRIGHT THE POET 2014

Thursday, 24 April 2014

THE MELITA HUME SHORTLIST 2014: BEN PARKER (2 of 11)

Ben Parker (pictured) was born in Worcester in 1982. He studied Ancient History and Archaeology at the University of Exeter and completed a creative writing MA at the University of East Anglia in 2008. He now lives and works in Oxford.


His poetry has appeared in a number of magazines, including The White Review, Under the Radar and Oxford Poetry, as well as Lung Jazz: Young British Poets for Oxfam. His debut pamphlet, The Escape Artists, was published by tall-lighthouse in October 2012 and shortlisted for the 2013 Michael Marks Award.
Endings
 
Allotments. Shattered chimney stacks.
A black bag tangled like a crow
in the leafless tree. As you walk
 
beyond the last of the deserted
red-brick factory buildings
the city rusts around you. The river
 
thins to a stream that could be forded
by a fallen branch. This is a place
of past tenses, an archaeology
 
of skeletal bikes, single gloves
and bleached cans of beer
the supermarkets no longer stock.
 
Spent matches hint at flame on flesh.
The rituals of childhood. Something
small and broken in the grass.
 
poem COPYRIGHT THE POET 2014.
 
 
 

 

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

THE MELITA HUME SHORTLIST 2014: AMY BLAKEMORE (1 of 11)

The Melita Hume Poetry Prize is for the best first unpublished poetry collection by a poet based in Ireland or the UK, and 35 years of age or under, at time of entry.  The work must be original, and in English. 50% can have appeared previously as a pamphlet.  The prize is £1,400 and a publishing deal with Eyewear.

This year we received many impressive submissions, and our award-winning Faber poet, Emily Berry (Dear Boy, 2013, Forward winner), has made a shortlist of the best 11.  Over the next few weeks, before we announce the winner on the 7th of May, this blog will be featuring a poem by each of the shortlisted poets.  We start today with Amy Blakemore.

Amy Blakemore (pictured) was born in Deptford, London in 1991. She started writing poetry at the age of fifteen. She was named a Foyle Young Poet of the Year twice, in 2006 and 2007, and read English Language & Literature at St Edmund Hall, Oxford.

Her work has been published in a number of magazines and zines, and is featured in Bloodaxe’s Voice Recognition: 21 Poets for the 21st Century (2009), edited by James Byrne and Clare Pollard. A pamphlet of her poems was published by Nasty Little Press in 2012, as part of the Nasty Little Intros series. She currently lives in East London. Her work can be read at www.amy-blakemore.co.uk.


she’s a star


remember brother
heated pools, youth dismembered
in bright colloidal silver
 

for lunch, honeydew melon
holding it in her hands
like a slice of daybreak

her nails bright important spikes.
 
 
poem COPYRIGHT THE POET 2014.


THE SHORTLIST IS ANNOUNCED FOR THE MELITA HUME PRIZE 2014!


MEDIA RELEASE
23 APRIL 2014
FORWARD-WINNER EMILY BERRY SHORTLISTS 11 FOR THE £1,400 MELITA HUME POETRY PRIZE 2014

Faber award-winning poet Emily Berry (Dear Boy, 2013) – the 2014 judge for Eyewear’s Melita Hume Poetry Prize (now in its third year) – has dialled up the shortlist to 11, with debut poets from Scotland, Ireland and England. 
The prize – the richest of its kind – also comes with guaranteed publication and launch in spring 2015 from the indie publisher known for its stylish hardcovers and international roster of talent. Any poet living in the UK or Ireland 35 years or under at time of entering is eligible – the prize is for the best full, original and unpublished collection of poetry submitted in that year.  Previous winners include Granta-listed poet Caleb Klaces and Scotland’s Marion McCready.

Judge Berry said: 'It turns out judging a competition is tough! There were a lot of strong contenders this year and I had a happy and occasionally challenging time selecting the final eleven. I'm pleased that the list includes poets from England, Scotland and Ireland (sorry Wales), and that women are particularly well represented. A difficult decision ahead...'

The eleven poets are:
AMY BLAKEMORE

BEN PARKER

BETHAN TICHBORNE

DAISY BEHAGG

JOANNE CLEMENT

RACHAEL M. NICHOLAS

SHELLEY ROCHE-JACQUES

SOHINI BASAK

THERESA MUÑOZ

TOM WEIR

VICTORIA KENNEFICK
The winner will be announced 7 May, and will be presented with their prize at the London Review Bookshop 21 may, at 7 pm.

Friday, 18 April 2014

GOOD FRIDAY NEW POEM BY TODD SWIFT

I wrote once of Christ swimming

on the cross. A friend
suggested I stop such things -
and now I can't recall
if the image was stolen,
probably from Hill.  I wrote
about Christ often when eighteen.
I loved the spring.
It came violently in Quebec, then.

And I had been born
on a Good Friday. If Christ
swam on the cross, he didn't drown.
He took the wood as a boat.
Water was always good to Christ.
God flooded the world easily.
When the ferry overturned
it took hundreds of kids

into a place without breathing.
They did not walk up out of there
like Jesus. I don't blame God
for disasters at sea. I do, though
wonder at prayer, at praying,
when it seems God rarely hears.
But back to Christ on his oars,
rowing his lungs back

to crushing his own breathing
down.  He drowned on the cross
in the blue air of spring.
But it would have felt like summer
in the heat. He dove into
his crucifixion like it was a lake
clear as a promise to be kind.
To be good. He swam out to

the raft, to cling to the wood
that did him no good, that saves us
somehow. Theology
is the way we puzzle out
the mystery of that swim
up there, in blood and oxygen,
Jesus our fish the Romans caught,
that the crowd threw back,

selecting Barabbas for the feast.
At least I wish I had thought
first of Christ swimming;
he usually walked on water;
but I prefer him doing lengths
of the cross, his arms stretched
in a breaststroke of awe and pain.
He suffered doing the crawl

on his lifeguard's chair
they nailed him to for the summer.
I love good Jesus for his distance
swim from God to where
we stood on the sand
waiting for him to come out
of the waves; to rise up out
like Venus. Beauty saves, but

more truly, for a carpenter, does
a stern and bow, a mast and maidenhead.
Jesus sailed out of the sea of the dead.
His body dripping love for me.
And I am crazy to say so,
but my fideism is such I love the myth
because it is may be true, and feels
true when I say it in my mind;

that the one who is most kind
floats free of the wreck's SOS.
This isn't the sombre lies I planned
to plane out, my own crafted object
striving to line up words with need -
but I don't feel you require any pathos
to understand that a carpenter sank
when he took up his woodwork

and broke the bank of heaven's clouds
with his calm strong arms;
and the lake of the onlooker's tears
ran like a river of vinegar
into the place where balm and horror
meet. And they never broke
his legs or feet, the soldiers:
he came off his ship last, the captain.


Good Friday, AD 2014
new poem by Todd Swift

Thursday, 17 April 2014

EYEWEAR'S LIST OF 175 OF THE KEY POETS OF THE 20TH CENTURY

NOTE: I have edited and expanded this to 175 poets, after receiving some helpful feedback and also making notes after insomnia.

If you are, fortunately for everyone, alive today, and you write and publish poetry, you are a 21st century poet.  Other poets, less lucky, have died in the last 100 years or so, but their great contribution to poetry continues.  Poems, of all the literary art forms, are perhaps the most generous gifts, because compared to the energy and effort involved in their creation, the material returns are the least - so they stand as bequests to eternity, or at least, posterity.

Even a weak, or minor, poet may create a poem or three that are wonderful, moving, crafty, cunning, potent, convincing, wise, helpful, funny or delightful - but below is a list of 175 poets, who have written in the English language primarily, who published most of their poetry in the 20th century, and are no longer with us, who gave us whole collections that were and are vital and necessary to read.

No doubt another 25 or more poets from Canada, America, Ireland, Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and beyond, could flesh out a viable "canon" of 200+ 20th century English-language poets we should all read, but I think this list forms a very good start, and includes poets of all schools, styles, decades, eras, genders, and political leanings, more or less.

While debates will hopefully always continue in academic and critical circles about the value of certain poets and poems in terms of adding to the general literature of their age (where is Newbolt?), it seems, looking at this list, unlikely any new very major poets from the period under observation will appear, though a few very good lesser poets may receive their due.  Terence Tiller, for example, is a seriously good, very brilliant and exciting poet, and when I publish his Collected Poems next year, his canonical status should be re-established.  But he is not ever going to (it seems likely) be read as more significant than, say, near-contemporaries like Auden, Douglas or Larkin - partially because his impact on his time, his contemporaries, was less. His influence if it arrives, will be more posthumous, as was Hopkins.

Please let me know who you would want to see added.  This is of course not a definitive list.  But none of these 175 can really be left out. Happy Easter!
 



175 KEY ENGLISH-LANGUAGE POETS OF THE 20TH CENTURY (DECEASED)

ADRIENNE RICH

AE HOUSMAN

AI

AL PURDY

ALAN DUGAN

ALLEN GINSBERG

ALLEN TATE

ALUN LEWIS

AM KLEIN

AMY LOWELL

ANNE SEXTON

ANNE WILKINSON

ANTHONY HECHT

AR AMMONS

ARCHIBALD MACLEISH

ASJ TESSIMOND

AUSTIN CLARKE

BANJO PATTERSON

BARRY MACSWEENEY

BASIL BUNTING

BERNARD SPENCER

BOB COBBING

BRIAN COFFEY

CARL SANDBURG

CH SISSON

CHARLES CAUSLEY

CHARLES OLSON

CHARLOTTE MEW

CLAUDE MCKAY

COLE PORTER

CONRAD AIKEN

COUNTEE CULLEN

DARYL HINE

DAVID GASCOYNE

DAVID JONES

DELMORE SCHWARTZ

DENISE LEVERTOV

DH LAWRENCE

DIANA BREBNER

DON MARQUIS

DONALD DAVIE

DOROTHY HEWETT

DYLAN THOMAS

EDGAR LEE MASTERS

EDITH SITWELL

EDMUND BLUNDEN

EDNA ST VINCENT MILLAY

EDWARD DORN

EDWARD THOMAS

EDWIN ARLINGTON ROBINSON

EDWIN DENBY

EDWIN MORGAN

EDWIN MUIR

EE CUMMINGS

ELIZABETH BISHOP

ELIZABETH JENNINGS

EZRA POUND

FRANK O’HARA

FS FLINT

FT PRINCE

GAEL TURNBULL

GEORGE BARKER

GEORGE MACBETH

GEORGE MACKAY BROWN

GEORGE OPPEN

GREGORY CORSO

GWENDOLYN BROOKS

HAROLD MONRO

HART CRANE

HAYDEN CARRUTH

HENRY LAWSON

HENRY REED

HENRY TREECE

HILDA DOOLITTLE

HUGH MACDIARMID

IAN HAMILTON FINLAY

IRVING LAYTON

ISAAC ROSENBERG

JACK SPICER

JAMES K BAXTER

JAMES MERRILL

JAMES WRIGHT

JAY MACPHERSON

JF HENDRY

JOAN MURRAY

JOHN BERRYMAN

JOHN BETJEMAN

JOHN CROWE RANSOM

JOHN GLASSCO

JOHN HEATH-STUBBS

JON SILKIN

JUDITH WRIGHT

KARL SHAPIRO

KATHLEEN RAINE

KEITH DOUGLAS

KEN SMITH

KENNETH FEARING

KENNETH KOCH

KENNETH REXROTH

KINGSLEY AMIS

LANGSTON HUGHES

LAURA RIDING

LAWRENCE DURRELL

LEROI JONES/AMIRI BARAKA

LOUIS DUDEK

LOUIS MACNEICE

LOUIS ZUKOFSKY

LYNETTE ROBERTS

MALCOLM LOWRY

MARGARET AVISON

MARIANNE MOORE

MELVIN B TOLSON

MICHAEL DONAGHY

MILTON ACORN

MINA LOY

MIRIAM WADDINGTON

NICHOLAS MOORE

NOEL COWARD

NORMAN MACCAIG

PAT LOWTHER

PATRICK KAVANGH

PETER PORTER

PETER REDGROVE

PHILIP LARKIN

PK PAGE

RANDALL JARRELL

RAYMOND CARVER

REBECCA ELSON

RF LANGLEY

RICHARD EBERHART

RICHARD OUTRAM

ROBERT ALLEN

ROBERT CREELEY

ROBERT DUNCAN

ROBERT FROST

ROBERT GRAVES

ROBERT LOWELL

ROBERT PENN WARREN

ROBINSON JEFFERS

ROY FULLER

RS THOMAS

RUDYARD KIPLING

RUPERT BROOKE

SEAMUS HEANEY

SEAN RAFFERTY

SEBASTIAN BARKER

SIDNEY KEYES

SORLEY MACLEAN

STANLEY KUNITZ

STEPHEN SPENDER

STEVIE SMITH

SYLVIA PLATH

TE HULME

TED BERRIGAN

TED HUGHES

TERENCE TILLER

THEODORE ROETHKE

THOM GUNN

THOMAS HARDY

TS ELIOT

UA FANTHORPE

VACHEL LINDSAY

VALENTINE ACKLAND

VERONICA FORREST-THOMSON

WALLACE STEVENS

WALTER DE LA MARE

WB YEATS

WD SNODGRASS

WELDON KEES

WH AUDEN

WILFRID OWEN

WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS

WILLIAM EMPSON

WS GRAHAM

WWE ROSS

GUEST REVIEW: PAUL S. ROWE ON BEN MAZER'S SELECTED POEMS

Possibility Glimpsed Through Windows: A Review of Ben Mazer’s Selected Poems Ben Mazer.  Selected Poems . (Ashville, NC: MadHat Press,...