I’ve often written here about the opportunities poetry readings and festivals afford for meeting people and making new friends. This year I arrived for my one-day visit to the Aldeburgh Festival and soon bumped into my friends Maria Taylor and Kim Moore. Also in this company of poets were Holly Hopkins and the very smiley Emily Blewitt.
It has been my great pleasure to feature several guest poets on this site over the past couple of years, all of them in their twenties. I read a couple of Emily’s poems on-line and liked them, and I wondered if she would be interested in sharing some of her work, so I contacted her after the festival. I’m delighted that Emily responded with the following poems and a short piece I had requested in which she talks a little about herself and her influences.
Ladies and gentlemen, Emily Blewitt.
2014 was a big year for me. It was a year of firsts: my first poetry residential course (with Kim Moore and Jennifer Copley at Grange-Over-Sands), my first poetry festival (Aldeburgh), my first transatlantic flight (to New York, on holiday) and my first blog post. I started kickboxing fitness classes at my local gym and wrote a poem about it, which got me in Poetry Wales. I wrote some poems about recovering from depression and by so doing recovered my voice, which had been lost for a little while amid experiencing the same depression. I became bolder, irreverent, sexier and louder. Off the page, I began reading at open mic nights and was invited to be a guest poet at Cardiff’s ‘Made in Roath’ festival. I got engaged; I embarrassed my fiancé at open mic nights by pointing him out after I’d read a poem about him. Past his blushes, he didn’t really mind.
I also spent some time discovering poets who were new to me and rereading books that had been waiting patiently on my bookshelf. Current favourite collections include Kim Moore’s If We Could Speak Like Wolves, Jonathan Edwards’s My Family and Other Superheroes, Bronwyn Lea’s The Deep North and Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s Lucky Fish. And there’d be something amiss if I didn’t mention the poets who first touched me and made me want to write poetry – Kate Clanchy, Kathleen Jamie and Sharon Olds. I think you can probably see their influence on my early poems, which are very much concerned with sound and domestic life.
It’s now 2015, and here’s a selection of poetry that I’ve chosen to show where I am now. These are exciting times. Here’s to the next twelve months.
When in Recovery
Get out of bed. Feed the cat.
Add a level teaspoon of sugar to builder’s tea and stir clockwise.
Resist the urge to stick your knife in the toaster.
Be reckless enough to descend hills at a decent pace
but pick your mountains wisely. Get out of breath.
Focus on words, wasting them. Take citalopram –
four syllables, once a day, behind the tongue.
Understand that there are days you watch yourself
as though you are a balloon held aloft your body
by a slip of string you fear will break.
Grow your hair. Buy exotic oils at discount stores
and comb them through. Think in colour. Sit in the salon and explain
no blue is blue enough now. Try red – pillar-box, satanic red.
Enjoy the sharp press of the needle, its single tear of blood
when you pierce your nostril. Put a diamond in it so it winks.
Find your meridian by placing your index and middle fingers together
and tapping a tattoo on the top of your head.
Accept that sun-worship is good, the Vitamin D produces serotonin
and sensation. When you cry, howl at the moon.
Wear your rituals lightly. At the end of each day, step out of them
as though they’re expensive silk lingerie.
Originally published by Carolyn Jess-Cooke in ‘Voicing Shadows, Singing Light’
I will make myself Morticia Addams.
I will grow my hair to my waist, wear
floor-length black velvet.
I will smoke.
I will hang gilded mirrors, watch myself
pass without reflection.
I will slowly descend great staircases, intricately laced
with antique cobwebs.
I will hold brief but meaningful conversations
with the spiders.
My house will be ruined;
my underwear immaculate.
The bed in which I wrap my tongue
around my husband’s French
will be cast iron, four-postered,
shrouded in silk.
Published in Cheval 7 (Parthian, 2014).
When I Think of Bald Men
I think of vultures, the misunderstood deep-cleaners
of the Sahara, immune to disease. The ones who orderly gather
in committees, who are proud of their collective nouns:
a venue, kettle, or volt of vultures putting together
the agenda before arranging sandwiches for delegates
and mince pies at Christmas; vultures photocopying Any Other Business
in Confidential purple; vultures washing-up and picking clean
leftovers in the staffroom, at the buffet table; a wake of vultures
that dance, dad-style in lines, or bob their heads to a kill in time
to the music. Vultures that shout And all’s weeeellll! at 3am
after the Office Christmas Party; vultures that tidy up the mess
in the Ladies made by a gaggle of geese, parliament of owls, an exultation
of larks, brood of chickens, tiding of magpies, a murder of crows…
Vultures with their trouser legs rolled up, showing milk-bottle legs
vultures with laughter lines and wrinkled backs-of-necks;
vultures that are nicknamed Bearded Vulture,
Slender-Billed Vulture, Red-Headed Vulture, White-Rumped Vulture
by their vulture friends. Every office has some –
you know the men I mean. The ones that are reluctant
to fly; the ones that hiss when threatened.
You are man, now.
Stand upright as this house
you were born in, your arms
these green oak beams
which hold us, as you take me
through the finish:
the fine brushed grain
of my smooth round belly,
a perfect curve
so rare in carpentry.
Yet I am undone, too –
frayed as this half-finished shawl
I am knitting, my hands
scrabbling for spools,
unravelling thread –
how you were carried
the Welsh way,
slung high on the hip.
Your cheek to my breast,
crumpled as cloth.
First published in Nu2: Memorable Firsts (Parthian, 2012).
First, on my right forearm, a peacock in jade and gold
so when I flick my wrist its feathers unfold
and fan out like the winning hand at cards;
On my left breast, in oyster-grey,
beats the anatomical diagram of a heart;
A tiger’s fierce orange and black stripes stalk my back
to hide the scars, while in plain sight
between my shoulder blades two white wings take off;
On my collarbone a cicada sings
in yellow glory to crimson catkins;
On my right breast, Blodeuwedd, the owl girl with amber eyes
becomes lilac, lavender, foxgloves, daisies,
and above my womb the moon waits in all her phases;
Coiled around my inner thigh a snake hisses, bottle-green,
while at my hips, macaws kiss;
On my right foot, a greyhound sprints straight off the blocks;
At my left heel curls a brown hare and an orange fox;
A mandala in Indian sand circles my elbow;
On my ring finger glitters a diamond in rose gold;
I am strawberry blonde and oriental raven,
an ephemera of red kites wheeling through stormy skies;
Love, when I show you my colours
I am a riot, a cacophony, a bird of paradise, a polka
on mosaic tiles, a gilded kingfisher diving blue.
Emily Blewitt was born in Carmarthen in 1986. She has published poetry in various print-based and online anthologies, including Poetry Wales, Furies, Cheval, Nu2: Memorable Firsts, Brittle Star, Pomegranate and Cadaverine. Emily won the 2010 Cadaverine/Unity Day Competition, and was selected as a Honno ‘Poet of the Month’. She was Highly Commended in the 2014 Terry Hetherington Award and will be a guest poet at Seren/Literature Wales’ First Thursday of the Month event in February. She is studying for a PhD in English Literature at Cardiff University. She blogs at emilyblewitt.wordpress.com.