Sunday Poem – Elizabeth Venn

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Getting the Sunday poem in close to the wire today!  I have no excuse really other than that I’ve been reading all the books that I bought at yesterday’s Litfest in Lancaster.  The outstanding readers for me were  William Letford, Robert Crawford and an Armenian poet Razmik Davoyan, published by the wonderful independent publisher Arc, which specialises in bilingual editions of poets.  I heard Davoyan at Parnassus, and remembered him because of one particular poem with the line ‘the mountain doesn’t kneel in fear of the wind’.  I’d love to reproduce the whole poem on here at some point – but I want to get permission first obviously!  Anyway, it was a great day – I think I went to five readings and I enjoyed all of them – but William Letford was a brilliant performer of his work, and he definately has an interesting perspective on things, as the blurb on his book says, him being a roofer and all.  I think my dad would like his poety.  And Robert Crawford was a new poet to me – he’s published six collections but I just hadn’t come across him before, but again, a good performer of his work in a completely different way. 

Anyway, on Tuesday I’m off to see Sharon Olds in Sheffield so I’m really looking forward to that and on Saturday I’ll be reading as a guest poet for Ann Wilson at the Brewery in Kendal.  I’m looking forward to this reading – I haven’t managed to get down for a while now to Ann’s poetry nights so it will be nice to get down/up there.

Today’s Sunday poem is by one of my favourite poets and people – the lovely Liz Venn.  I met Liz on the MA at Manchester.  Liz is one of the most intelligent women I’ve met, but she wears it very lightly.  I also think (and I don’t think she’ll mind me saying this) that she was the person who made the most improvement throughout the course – it was scary sometimes how much her poetry changed and grew. 

Now Liz and I are on the Advanced Writing School with the Poetry Business so I get to see her a little bit more again which is great.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy this week’s Sunday poem – I think it illustrates Liz’s unusual take on life! 

Liz now lives in Glossop, on the edge of the Peak District,   Her poems have been published in magazines including Smiths Knoll, Iota, The Frogmore Papers and The Interpreter’s House. 

Glass Case-Elizabeth Venn

Then there’s the time I dated a curator,
who bought me a tattoo. The parlour
was crouched behind Victoria Station,
between a porn shop and a pawnbroker,

but sterile. I flicked through the mags:
women colourful like temple walls,
flexing with the names of lovers,
wearing hearts for sleeves. It hardly hurt.

Just a thin band round my wrist that reads:
Twenty-first century female, hominid.
Good specimen. Found near Derby.
Undressed, I’m a museum of myself.

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