Tag Archives: james caruth

Sunday Poem – James Caruth


Evening all.  I’ve dragged myself away from editing my collection with great difficulty tonight to write this post – which is strange because I had to really force myself to start editing.  I think I was worried because I knew that there were problems in the manuscript that I needed to sort out and I was panicking, thinking maybe I won’t be able to sort them out, so I didn’t want to start.  I’ve sent the collection out to a few poets and I’ve had lovely feedback from them – all of them identified things they weren’t sure about – some of them they even agreed on (without knowing it).  Today my good friend Noel Williams wrote to me, sending me 12 pages of detailed feedback, going through each poem and in particular focusing on the order of the poems, which is what I’d asked for help with.  So armed with this and combining it with the other feedback I’ve had I’ve finally started sorting the collection out.  My method for this is to re-type the whole thing again, which is risky because I could type mistakes in but it is my way of editing.  I taught myself to touch type when I was about 17 – probably the most useful skill I ever learnt and I love typing.  I like the shapes that words make on the keyboard when you are touch typing and for me it is an important part of editing – it forces me to slow down which is always a good thing.

This afternoon I helped out the Barrow Steelworks Band at a local church service, just playing hymns whilst the congregation sang.  I actually quite enjoyed it – one of the congregation read a really lovely extract from ‘the electric bible’ (what ever that is) but the first line was ‘The clouds are the prophets of god’ or something like that.  I should have written it down.

This morning my alarm didn’t go off and I woke up at 9.30am which left just time to shove a chocolate croissant down and then jump in the car to get down to Roose to go for a run with the Walney Wind Cheetahs.  Because of my disorganisation, I wasn’t in the best of shapes, but I managed 6 miles at a respectable pace.  Yesterday I had a go at beating my PB at the 5km park run which is held every Saturday.  I managed to knock 11 seconds off – I went from 25mins 13 seconds to 25 minutes 4 seconds…so I’m heading the right way to get under 25.

On Wednesday I met up with poets Keith Hutton and Clare Shaw and non poet Jemima at the Endmoor 10k.  Although this race was ridiculously hilly, the organisers provide tea, coffee, squash and cakes at the end to make you forget about the pain.  It actually works as well.  The weather was so nice, we sat on the field for a while afterwards, planning our ‘Flying Poets’ tour where we are somehow going to combine running and poetry…I’ll tell you more when we know more…

This week in general has been a funny old week.  I’ve spent a lot of it driving round to schools and finding I’m not needed or wanted in because the children are on a trip/having a party/doing something more exciting.  It’s still been busy though because my quintet, the South Lakes Brass Ensemble had their first performance as guests at my sisters junior band concert.  It went really well and I really enjoyed playing.

Poetry-wise, three of the poems from my sequence about domestic violence have been published in Poetry Wales this week, which is apparently out now http://poetrywales.co.uk/currentissue/

I have another three poems out in ‘Poem’ which is out next week http://poemmagazine.org/aboutsubscribe/ and I was excited to learn that one of these poems is also going to be included in an issue of The New Humanist.  You can also read the first poem in the sequence, which was published in Poetry News this week on the website here http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk/content/membership/mempoems/membpo14/#Moore

The other exciting thing is that, by my records, I’ve sold personally 476 copies of my pamphlet.  I’m not sure how many my publisher has sold.  I’ve always wanted to sell 500 copies myself though so it’s looking like I’m on target to get there! If you would like one, head over to the https://kimmoorepoet.wordpress.com/reviews-and-stuff/.  It comes wrapped in lovely tissue paper…

This week’s Sunday Poem is another one of the winners of the Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition.  I’ve used one of James Caruth’s poems before as the Sunday Poem a while ago, but I asked him for this poem because it made me laugh out loud.  Jim’s poetry is beautiful, lyrical and poised.  His poems are not loud or show offy – they are usually quietly understated so this poem with it’s exaggerations and swagger seemed to show another weapon in Jim’s armour.  This poem also wears its technical achievement lightly – the line breaks are perfectly measured – look at the break at the end of stanza 2 for example after ‘learn’ so we are left hanging, wondering ‘learn what?’ until we reach stanza 3.  And the lovely stanza break at the end of stanza 5.  All of the line breaks in the poem work to reinforce the humour in the poem, as does the repetition of the outrageous claim about the spider’s size.

James Caruth was born in Belfast and lived there until 1982 before moving to Cape Town, South Africa.  He now lives in Sheffield.  His first collection ‘A Stones Throw’ was published by Staple Press in 2007 and a long poem sequence ‘Dark Peak’ was published in pamphlet form by Longbarrow Press in 2008.  ‘Marking the Lambs’ was published by Smith/Doorstop in 2012.  ‘A Spider In The Bath’ comes from Jim’s pamphlet ‘The Death of Narrative’ which was one of the winners of the 2013/14 Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition, judged by Carol Ann Duffy.  You can buy Jim’s two latest pamphlets from the Poetry Business website at http://www.poetrybusiness.co.uk/shop/859/the-death-of-narrative-james-caruth

I hope you enjoy the poem.

A Spider In The Bath – James Caruth

I call her to come and look
at a spider in the bath.
A spider as big as my hand.

She tells me it’s nothing.
Nothing! – It’s as big as my hand.
She tells me I must learn

not to exaggerate my fears
but to take deep breaths, confront my anxieties,

see this spider as big as my hand
for what it is and nothing more.
Tegenaria domestica,

which at this time of year, she adds,
is prone to wandering long distances
in search of a mate.  And what’s more,

I should note its resilience,
how it will survive in its quest for months
without food or water.

She admires the unwavering intent
to follow desire.  I ask her how she knows
so much about this spider as big as my hand.

She looks through me as if studying
a stain she has only just found
on the bathroom tiles,

and says, it has always intrigued her
how, when the act is complete, the female
will turn and eat every last bit of him.


Sunday Poem – James Caruth


Evening folks.   I’ve had quite a nice weekend – I’ve been in Sheffield at the Lyric Festival.  On Friday I was reading as part of a Poetry Business event with Ed Reiss, Mimi Khalvati and Michael Laskey.  It was a really lovely reading.  I tried some new poems out as well as reading some from the pamphlet.

Afterwards Liz Venn and I went along to the pub with Peter and Ann Sansom, Seni Seniviratne, Michael Laskey, Mimi Khalvati and River Wolton.  We were sat with Seni and Michael and although I’d heard of them both as poets, I hadn’t met them properly before, but they were really easy to talk to.  Seni has one of the most interesting life histories I think I’ve ever heard, and when she gets round to writing it as a novel, I’ll definitely be buying it – and Michael – well, Michael used to edit Smiths Knoll, which is now not being published.  Smiths Knoll was an amazing poetry magazine that published new and established writers.  When I was first starting out it was one of the first magazines I subscribed to, and one of the first I submitted too.  And boy did I submit.  Smiths Knoll was famous for replying within a week, sometimes within days.  I think I submitted maybe twenty, thirty times – and I used to get these lovely little notes on the rejection slips – Michael would always tell me which one or two poems had the most promise, and this would give me a boost of confidence and I would package those poems off to a different magazine and send poor Michael six more.  I don’t know if he got so many different submissions that he didn’t notice that I was obsessively submitting.  I think at the time I thought he wouldn’t notice it was the same person submitting with sometimes no gap at all.  Maybe he didn’t – but his rejection slips were always so positive that I never felt despondent being rejected.  In fact it had the opposite effect! So Smiths Knoll was important for me in my development as a writer, although I was never published in it, I always harboured a secret soft spot for it.  I think the literary scene is the poorer for it not existing.  However, it may also mean that Michael will have more time for his own poetry which is pretty wonderful as well, and this can only be a good thing.  Anyway – Michael listens when people talk.  I realised how rare this was when I spoke to him.  He really listens.  Not in a ‘I’m waiting till you finish your story so I can tell my story’ kind of way.  He listens because he’s interested – he’s interested in people and this makes him easy to talk to.  Especially when you’re like me and you don’t stop for breath!  I think he is a contender for the Nicest Man in Poetry Award.

So that was a nice night on Friday – I stayed at Liz’s on Friday night in Glossop, and then Saturday was a full day workshop at the Poetry Business.  It was a great day – and nice to catch up with lots of poets – Rachel Davies, John Foggin, David Borrott, Roy Marshall, Maria Taylor, Carole Bromley, James Caruth – also met Becca Audra who I’ve only spoken to on Twitter – so that was great.  Then we went to a Wetherspoons, had something to eat and went to more readings for the Lyric Festival on Saturday – Tishani Doshi and Priscilla Uppal again ( I know, I’m obsessed) and then a break and another reading – Jacob Polley, Lavinia Greenlaw and Paul Farley.  By this time I was shattered and ready for bed – so got back to Barrow at after midnight – so quite tired!

So today I just sat on the sofa all day and read poetry.  I read Mimi Khalvati’s new pamphlet, which is brilliant, called Earthshine, published by Poetry Business.  I read some of Ted Hughes’ letters.  I watched Dirty Dancing and cried at the bit where her father won’t speak to Baby and she starts crying.   I mooned at Patrick Swayze and thought about how that film (and Grease with John Travolta) sets young girls up for so many disappointments.  How come women I’ve not met one man that tries to be like John Travolta in Grease or Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing yet the media supposedly has a massive effect on the way we behave, look, think etc…

Anyway!  Today’s Sunday poem is by James Caruth, a man with such a lovely accent that he could read a Wetherspoons menu and make it sound like a poem.  I first met Jim at the Poetry Business workshops – he is a great guy, very humble and a real poetry lover – not just a poet.  What I mean by this is that he loves poetry – he gets excited about poetry, he likes talking about poems, not just writing them.

I’ve been meaning to have Jim as the Sunday poet for the longest time now – and the poem I’ve chosen is ‘Pinky’ from Jim’s recent pamphlet from the Poetry Business called ‘Marking the Lambs’.  A lot of Jim’s poems are elegies, or if not elegies, they are laced through with a wistful yearning.James Caruth was born in Belfast.  His first collection, ‘A Stones Throw’ was published by Staple Press in 2007 and the pamphlet ‘Dark Peak’ appeared from Longbarrow Press in 2008.  Jim’s poetry is very lyrical and musical and I would urge you all to get yourself to the Sheffield Poetry Festival in June (yes, Sheffield has TWO poetry festivals) where he will be reading with Bernard O’Donaghue.  The festival programme can be found at http://www.sheffieldpoetryfestival.com and they have lots of brilliant poets coming.

If you would like to order Jim’s pamphlet you will find it at http://www.poetrybusiness.co.uk/james-caruth


Here is the Sunday Poem –

Pinky – James Caruth

im. Patrick McKenna

He drank whiskey like John Wayne,
throwing it down his throat in one slug.
I once asked him if he’d like some water in it
and the answer came back like a shot –
Water’s for washing your face, son.

Now his face fails to live up to his name,
livid as raw fish, he lies stretched out
between the candles and the sandwiches<
dapper as always in his Sunday suit,
pressed white shirt, dark tie.

When I go, I want it to be like Pinky,
with whiskey and lies and people
whose faces I can’t recall, saying
my name in their prayers or talking
about me behind their hands –
another old gunslinger shot in the back.

And after, they’d sing legends
of things I’d never done,
so full of bravado and balls
that I’d be happy to swear
every single word was true.