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This place

Like the ubiquitous Christmas lights and Noddy Holder yelling ‘It’s Christmas!’ , I am reminded that the end of the year is approaching by Matthew Stewart, who has posted his annual list of Best UK poetry Blogs. I think that’s the third year Matthew has kindly chosen to mention  this place- this space that I visit when I have something I would like to share.

I don’t often visit the stats page of this blog. but I looked just now, and found that I ‘ve written on here less than last year- 45 posts so far this year, as opposed to 56 posts in 2015.  Also, that there have been 6,767 visitors at the time of writing – a couple of thousand less than last year- and 11, 067 views- about four thousand views less than last year.

What is more surprising is that this place has been visited by people from 114 countries! Among them have been visits from the Bahamas, Kazakhstan, North Korea (!) , Fiji, Liberia, Uruguay, Zimbabwe, Angola, Bolivia and China. 131 visits have been from Brazil, and 1692 from the United States.

Obviously, I wouldn’t post here if I didn’t want people to read what I’ve written. But I’ve not looked into how to maximize ‘hits’ or traffic or anything like that. And I don’t know what brought so many people here from around the world. Search engines are a mysterious thing, so perhaps the person in Macau, for example, was searching for something completely different from what they found. Hopefully, some visitors were looking for what they found here.

This year, like last year,  I’ve been lucky enough to share the work of several Featured Poets, (sometimes called ‘Guest Poets )  including Keith Hutson and John Foggin, both of whom have published wonderful new work recently. I hope these gentlemen wont mind me saying that neither of them are in the first flush of youth (maybe the second or third flush). Both have had busy working and family lives, and have finally found a bit of time to concentrate on their poetry. Both are outstanding writers, and with these new publications, their work is gathering much deserved attention.  I’m pleased to say that two fabulous younger poets whose work was  featured here last year have now found publishers: James Giddings, with Templar press, and Emily Blewit whose book will be out with Seren next year.
I have also posted a sprinkling of book reviews and a couple of interviews with poets. The piece on Putting a pamphlet together has proved to be popular again, as have a series of articles about constructive criticism and feedback. The Poetry Submissions page is always well frequented. Among other subjects, I wrote a piece on depression, and a few articles about translation which included examples of the original poem and my workings on it.

Hopefully I’ve maintained a balance between showcasing other’s work and exploring and sharing a little about my own travels in poetry, both physical and otherwise. Comments on my articles on writing have suggested that people have found some of them interesting and useful, so thank you to everyone who has taken the time to comment. If one person has benefited or discovered anything while visiting this place, then it has fulfilled its purpose.

Featured poet, Uncategorized

Featured poet- Emily Blewitt

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’

 

Resolution

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.

 

(Previously Unpublished)

 

 

Homecoming

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).

 

 

My Colours

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.

Previously Unpublished

 

Biography:

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.