Tag Archives: mimi khalvati

Sunday Poem – Emily Blewitt


Evening folks.  The Sunday posts are going to be a bit shorter on here for the next month because as part of my role as Digital Poet in Residence I will be posting extracts from my logbook – which will also have diary type entries – so  a lot of what I would normally put here, is going up there next week sometime, if you get my meaning!  So this post will be brief but you can catch up on all my gossip over at The Poetry School http://campus.poetryschool.com/

Next Wednesday the Poetry School are having a Digital Open Day and I’ll be taking part in a live webchat with Amy Wack from Seren, Neil Astley from Bloodaxe and Hannah Lowe, Bloodaxe poet extraordinaire about publishing a first collection, so if you have any questions you would like to ask, send them through to me and hopefully we will be able to fit them in.    There is also a chance to post your poems online from 7pm and get some instant(ish) feedback from 7pm if you join the CAMPUS group ‘Show Us Your Poems’…

Other things happening this week – the Wordsworth Trust summer reading series starts Tuesday May 6th with Fleur Adcock and local poet Neil Curry reading.  There is also an amazing workshop with Mimi Khalvati happening on the 24th May at the Wordsworth Trust – this is a rare opportunity to attend a workshop with an amazing poet and tutor – I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who has been to a Mimi Khalvati workshop and doesn’t sing her praises – they do need a minimum number to run the workshop so if you were thinking about it and haven’t got yourself in gear – get organised!  You can book online at https://wordsworth.org.uk/attend-events/2014/05/24/workshop-the-short-lyric-with-mimi-khalvati.html

Today’s Sunday Poet is Emily Blewitt who is a lovely poet that I met a couple of weeks ago on the residential course at Grange Over Sands.  Emily is a fantastic writer who is based in Cardiff and she was writing some fantastic poems on the course.  I really liked this poem about a bear – as I’m writing, am wondering if I have a soft spot for bear poems that I didn’t know about, as this is the second bear poem that has been the Sunday Poem.  Anyway, I think this poem is very delicate – the way the lines step down one after the other and the poem manages to conjure up exactly what the bear looks like.  I like the bear that would ‘shrink to the shape of a sack’ – the bear is the active agent, it will shrink, it will emerge all ‘eyes and teeth’, it ‘snatches’ fish and then ‘carefully keeps her ears dry’ – lots of lovely description in the poem.

Emily Blewitt was born in Carmarthen in 1986.  She has published poetry in Cheval (Parthian: 2012, 2013), Nu2: Memorable Firsts (Parthian: 2011), and in Brittle Star (2011). Her poetry appears online in Pomegranate, Cadaverine, Bolts of Silk and The Guardian poetry workshop. Emily won the 2010 Cadaverine/Unity Day Competition with her poem ‘Still Life’, and was selected as Honno’s ‘Poet of the Month’ in September 2012. She has also appeared on BBC Radio 4′s ‘Lost Voices’ programme to discuss the work of Anne Ridler. She is studying for a PhD in English Literature at Cardiff University.  Her blog can be found at http://www.emilyblewitt.wordpress.com

I hope you enjoy the poem!

Giving – Emily Blewitt


I give you, this:
cold, hard earth;
the bear beneath

who would shrink to the shape of a sack
to let one cub breathe
in winter,

and, come thaw, emerge
all eyes and teeth,
head for water.

There: watch her
snatch from the air
a fish, mid-leap.

See how carefully
she keeps her ears dry.

Sunday Poem – Mimi Khalvati


Afternoon everyone.  The Sunday Poem is going up a little earlier than usual today for a number of reasons.   The hubby and I already walked the dogs this morning through some fields near Dalton before the rain really started – which has now happened so that is that job done.  I also have to prepare to do a small talk on an Ofsted video about best practice in music teaching at an Inset session on Tuesday so this is me distracting myself from doing what I don’t want to do.  After I’ve made this blog post as long as possible, I think I will have to actually do what I’m supposed to be doing.

This week has mainly been work and some poetry things.  I’ve been doing lots of reading this week – the ‘Letters of Ted Hughes’ which I find unbearably sad.  I also want to read everything that Ted Hughes references that he is reading in the letters – but I think I would need to have at least ten more hours in each of my days.  I’ve started reading the Forster-Cavafy Letters as well and I’m halfway through reading a book by Terry Eagleton ‘How to Read a Poem’ which was on the reading list when I started the MA at Manchester Met.  I dutifully bought every book on the reading list when I first started – I didn’t want to be caught out by not having the right book – I’m such a goody two shoes.  As it happened, the book was never mentioned and I started reading it stubbornly to get my money’s worth, but I’m actually quite enjoying it now and learning quite a lot from it. The chapters I’ve read so far are 1.  The Functions of Criticism 2. What is Poetry? 3.  Formalists and I’m about to start Chapter 4 ‘In Pursuit of Form’.  It is actually more entertaining than it sounds!

On Tuesday I went to another reading up at the Wordsworth Trust http://www.wordsworthtrust.org.uk .  This time it was Anne Stevenson and M.R. Peacocke.  On Friday I went to Brewery Poets which is a critiquing group which meets at the Brewery in Kendal on the second Friday of every month.  There were two new people there this month but still only six of us as various people couldn’t come for various reasons.  However, I really enjoyed it and enjoyed reading people’s poems – it reminded me of the positive aspects to writing groups.

Yesterday a copy of Acumen arrived with my review of Myra Schneiders’ pamphlet ‘What Women Want’ and a cheque for £25!  This is so nice when this happens – I had a little dance around my office.  A part of me still can’t believe that I can get paid for writing.  I really like doing reviews as well – it somehow feels easier than writing poems – you don’t have to wait for the poem to come to you – you can just get on and start writing.

Today’s Sunday Poem is by the lovely Mimi Khalvati, who I read with last week at the Lyric Festival in Sheffield.  Mimi has a new pamphlet out with Smith/Doorstop called ‘Earthshine’.  Actually to call it a pamphlet is slightly misleading because it is posher than a pamphlet – it has a spine and a glossy front cover – it is a beautiful object.  Mimi is well known for her skills as a tutor as well and I experienced this first hand at a residential last year with Mimi and Myra Schneider as the tutors, run by the Second Light Network.  Mimi seems to me to be a very gentle person (although I don’t know her well), very softly spoken, always smiling, but she does not pull any punches in workshops!  She is very astute with her comments and manages to be challenging without making anyone feel bad because she is so nice!  And most importantly, you can trust her opinion – if she says something is good, she means it, because she would tell you if it wasn’t – she is very honest.  If you can get along to one of her workshops, you should.

Back to the pamphlet though – Earthshine is a sequence of poems which started from observations of each days weather and then spin off on various trajectories.  A lot of small creatures inhabit these poems – mice, mouse lemur, bats and the pamphlet is tinged with an air of elegy, rather than being made of elegy if that makes sense.  Only a few of the poems make a direct reference to the death of a mother but the whole pamphlet carries this feeling – although I wouldn’t want to mislead you into thinking this pamphlet is sad, or maudlin.  It does have sadness but it is also funny.  In the first poem ‘House Mouse’ the ‘I’ of the poem finds a dead mouse and the poem finishes ‘I tuck her into the finger/of my banana skin – a ferryboat to carry her over the Styx.’  This is funny and sweet and sad – sometimes the poems leave you not knowing what to feel.  They are also a lesson in close observation.  In ‘Madame Berthe’s Mouse Lemur’ the lemur is referred to as ‘itsy-bitsy portmanteau,/ little living furry torch’ and ‘a geisha lowering her fan’.

I’m raving about these poems that focus on tiny animals because the poem I’ve chosen is one of the poems that deal directly with death and has no animals in it at all! But I love the use of repitition in this poem, the blue running right through it and then that twist at the end is heartbreaking.   So here is the Sunday Poem, with thanks to Mimi Khalvati for permission to use it here.    You can buy ‘Earthshine’ by clicking on this link http://www.poetrybusiness.co.uk/shop/834/earthshine-mimi-khalvati

– Mimi also has full collections available – most recently ‘Child – New and Selected Poems’ published by Carcanet, available here.  http://www.carcanet.co.uk/cgi-bin/indexer?product=9781847770943

What it Was  – Mimi Khalvati

It was the pool and the blue umbrellas,
blue awning.  It was the blue and white

lifesize chess-set on the terrace, wall of jasmine.
It was the persimmon and palm side by side

like two wise prophets and the view that dipped
then rose, the swallows that turned the valley.

It was the machinery of the old olive press,
the silences and the voices in them calling.

It was the water talking.  It was the woman reading with her head propped, wearing glasses,

the logpile under the overhanging staircase,
mist and the mountains we took for granted.

It was the blue-humped hose and living wasps
swimming on the surface.  It was the chimneys.

It was sleep.  It was not having a mother,
neither father nor mother to comfort me.