Skip to content

Index: Poetry & Fiction

Four poems.

Christopher Steare: ‘He looks out
from his lantern turret
onto mountains mirrored in water,

one old man of Coniston
reflecting on another.’

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

Nine very short stories.

Ian Seed, from ‘Ex-Pat': ‘I was walking back to my Paris flat from the metro. Someone sprang at me from a doorway and tried to grab my wallet from my pocket. More than frightened, I was ashamed that he’d dared to attack me, for he was only a scrawny youth and, though his eyes were vicious, his lips were pretty and feminine. I grabbed him round the neck and wrestled him to the ground. The smell of his sweat was sweet. I held his trembling body against mine until the police arrived.’

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

from ‘Due North’.

Peter Riley: ‘A chorus of 15 bronze heads singing in the museum at night
the music working to its close, “The Philosopher” the brain song,
earth-toned lines, earth-bound demands, this
is all there is going to be, where the sun never shines.’

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

Three poems.

Sanjeev Sethi: ‘I run from myself, winded I return, debunking the illusion:
escape is an easy way out. On their own my errors seem
to go away. The breeze whittles cues of camaraderie.
The stoplight blushes in shades of sienna.’

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

Two poems.

Arup K Chatterjee: ‘Where do I go with such visions of the rails
which the philandering rail hardly comprehends—
soiled, dismembered, remembered compartments
stuffing their entrails and plunging into you—
which I have traded for a sitar’s crescendo?’

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

Writing to Shakespeare.

Bonnefoy: ‘…you’re standing in a corner of the theatre. It’s cold, and a wind seems to be blowing. You’re talking to several men, young and old. One of them will be Hamlet; another, Ophelia. Do you have an idea to explain to them? No. Hamlet is being written here, at this very moment, in the sentences that come to you, that take you by surprise. It’s virtually an improvisation, over several days divided between your table—I don’t know where—and the stage: a text, certainly, but one you cross out off-the-cuff, as when you understand—for example, at this very instant—that your future Hamlet doesn’t grasp all that well what you’re trying to tell him.’

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

Écrire à Shakespeare.

Yves Bonnefoy: ‘Et comment ces mains s’y sont pris pour faire bouger cette boue, ces couleurs, ce froid, ces débuts mystérieux de chaleur, je voudrais bien vous le demander, c’était la raison de ma lettre, ou plutôt, non, je voudrais vous dire ce que j’en pense, vous expliquer ce que vous avez fait, car j’ai mon idée là dessus, en effet, vous acquiesceriez peut-être…’

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

Five poems by Jules Supervielle.

Jules Supervielle: ‘If you touch his hand, it’s without knowing.
You remember him, but under another name.
In the middle of the night, in your deepest sleep
you say his real name and invite him to stay.’
Translation by Ian Seed.

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

Words ‘dreadful as the abortions of an angel’.

Anthony Howell: ‘I would identify this as “illuminated writing”. Readers may find it “over the top” (but that is what is being described). It’s as if Dylan Thomas were to find himself storming Hill 50. This might be thought an unfashionable, adjective-laden style these days, when writing such as Edith Sitwell’s is so often vilified (at least in “aware” poetry circles). But no one can take away from her poem “Still Falls the Rain” its right to be considered one of the great expressions about the suffering brought about by war (specifically the air raids of 1940). ‘

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

from ‘Silent Highway’.

From ‘Silent Highway': For ancient Britons, if they could be found,
For bird-watchers, for birds, for water-violets…
He liked to talk to herons, being tall,
And waded here, and further up, at Brentford
Composing poems as he strode or strove…

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

The poet and the dictionary.

Alan Wall: ‘Geoffrey Hill’s poetic career has been mediated through his engagement with the dictionary. And that dictionary is first and foremost the OED. There is no greater dictionary in the world, and its making constitutes one of the great intellectual events of the twentieth century, though it started life in the nineteenth. There had never been anything like this before. Now the language itself has become the documented labyrinth of its own manifold meanings. Now history can be traced uttering itself thus and thus in one mutating word after another. The thought of a poet writing in English who would not grow excited turning the pages of the OED, or clicking on the electronic version, is so dismal that one wishes such a personage an even smaller readership than modern poets normally manage to acquire.’

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

from ‘Teint’.

JK Huysmans: ‘Like many country girls, the Bièvre fell prey, upon her arrival in Paris, to the industrial snares of touts; despoiled of her dresses of grass and adornments of trees, she had to set to work immediately and wear herself out with the terrible chores demanded of her. Surrounded by rough merchants who pass her daily, but, by common agreement, imprison her in turn the length of her banks, she has become a tannery worker, and, day and night, she washes the filth from stripped skins, soaks the spare fleeces and raw leather, suffers the grip of alum, the bite of lime and caustic.’

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

Children of war in Palestine.

Manash Bhattacharjee: ‘In a battered street
Little Yasin lies dead with flag in hand
The Rabbi’s cheek is a moist wall’

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

‘Recessional’ and other new poems.

Hoyt Rogers; Day can’t die, eyes / never close. But isn’t that the courage of language? To blind / by seeing, to deafen by saying, to divorce the world for words.

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit

Textuality.

Alan Wall: Tyndale ‘was on the side of the humble interpreters of the Bible’s teaching, against those who thought themselves supreme authorities. Hence his famous statement: ‘If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough shall know more of the scripture than thou dost.’ This was addressed to a theological opponent, one said to be learned, whose position in society was somewhat grander than following a plough. We all have the right to midrash; to that questioning of the original scripture, as long as it is driven by a fierce will to get to the truth. Pushed on by the ploughman’s shoulder.’

Google BookmarksGoogle GmailPrintPrintFriendlyYahoo MailTwitterKindle ItReddit