Tag Archives: poetry wales

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 – Nia Davies


This week I have been mainly recovering from my cold.  A few incredibly exciting things have happened this week, which I can’t really tell you about, so maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned them.  As well as being very exciting, I’ve also been completely confused about what to do about incredibly exciting things, in my usual manner of consternation, procrastination and general indecisiveness.  When I can say something however, you will all be the first to know.  Well maybe not the first.  I’ll probably tell the husband and my mum and dad first.  But after that – definitely you lot!

On Friday I went to run a session with the Kendal Young Writers group.  The girls had asked if we could do something about form, so I decided to take in Julia Copus’s poem ‘In the Backseat of My Mother’s Car’ which you can find here.  http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoem.do?poemId=13532

The poem is a specular – or a mirror poem – the lines in the first half of the poem are used in the second half, but in reverse order.  Julia has quite a few in her latest book as well.  I really like speculars, because it feels to me as if you can feel the language twisting and turning whilst you are reading, as if it suddenly becomes alive through being put into a different configuration.  I’ve also always wanted to write one and I vaguely thought I would have a go in the workshop alongside the group, which I often try to do anyway.

After I read the specular to the group they had a really strong reaction to it.  I think three of the four actually gave a kind of shriek or squeal of excitement.  They were completely taken by the poem – their enthusiasm and spontaneous reactions were so lovely to see and I felt like I couldn’t wait to have a go at writing one.  I think this is the best way to work with form – to show something in the form that will hopefully cause delight and make you want to try it out.  I don’t really write in traditional form – in fact, when we did a workshop on sonnets with this group a couple of weeks ago, I wrote a sonnet which I think is good enough to keep and now I’ve written a specular (I think – I need to type it up first and see if it holds together or whether it just dissolves into thin air when I try to pin it down)

After the workshop I met lovely poet Jennifer Copley and we went for a Chinese in Kendal – and much plotting for our residential course in April ensued.  As far as I know there are only a couple of places left on the course, so if you have been thinking about coming – please book soon!  Have a look at the ‘Residential Courses’ tab at the top of the page if you would like to see what we are getting up to.  There is also a swimming pool which we can use which is a lovely thing indeed.

Today I’ve been mostly painting the kitchen – I wangled my way to doing my favourite job again which is glossing the woodwork – most satisfying as I just gloss over all the marks and they disappear into lovely whiteness.  I’ve also just got back from poet Mark Carson’s house – we have had a meeting to discuss Poem and a Pint’s Arts Council bid for funding when ours runs out in June.

Next week I have a full poetry week –  my friend Jill Abram from London is coming to visit and when she arrives on Wednesday I will introduce her to the husband, the cat and the dogs, show her where she is sleeping and then we will be off to the Open Mic in Ambleside at Zefferellis, with guest poet Zaffar Kunial, the new poet in residence at the Wordsworth Trust.  You can find more information about the open mic here http://www.zeffirellis.com/livemusic/listing/mid-week-at-zeffs

On Thursday I will be off to work in the morning and at the minute Thursday is a poetry-free day, but on Friday I will be performing as the guest poet in Preston at the New Continental.  You can find more information about this event here http://www.newcontinental.net/whats-on/event/evening-prize-winning-poetry

There are lots of other great poets performing as well so it should be a good night! I haven’t read very much in Preston either so I’m looking forward to it.

So the Sunday Poem this week is by Nia Davies who I met last week at the XX Women’s Literature Festival in Cardiff.  Nia was born in Sheffield and is a poet, novelist and cultural activist.  Her poems have been published in several magazines and anthologies and she is the new editor of Poetry Wales.  I’m reliably informed that now is a great time to send over your poems to Nia! She is on the hunt for new voices to the magazine…

You can find out some more information about Nia here http://niadavies.wordpress.com/about/ or find out more  about Poetry Wales here http://poetrywales.co.uk/

I’ve chosen today’s Sunday Poem from Nia’s first pamphlet, ‘Then Spree’, published by Salt.  Amy Wack told me about this poem, guessing I would be interested because it is about a brass instrument.  More unusually, it was about a brass instrument I hadn’t heard of – an Ophicleide  At Mark Carson’s house, earlier this evening, he went and found a picture of an Ophicleide in one of his many books, joking that it was almost as quick as looking it up on the internet.  However for your delectation and delight, and if you would like to see what one looks like have a look at the Wikipedia entry http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophicleide which has a lovely picture, but even more impressively a bit of poetry about the Ophicleide – the Wikipedia article rather unkindly calls this doggerel, but I actually quite like it – it is not attributed in the article

“The Ophicleide, like mortal sin
Was fostered by the serpent”

This is a reference to the Greek word ‘ophis’ meaning serpent and ‘kleis’ meaning keys.  I really do like those two lines.

I can’t help but feel sorry for the Ophicleide in this poem.  I mean to start with, to be eclipsed by a tuba and a euphonium is  a sorry state of affairs indeed! (Sorry any tuba or euphonium players.) I should also say that musicians have a long history of mocking other instruments, so being a trumpet player, the tuba and euphonium are fair game!  The second line of the poem made me smile as well – the ‘careful marketing plans’ – the idea of the tuba having a marketing plan – and when I read down the Wikipedia article it does refer to the tuba replacing the Ophicleide because of ‘careful marketing’ which is kind of a bizarre idea!

I like the half rhymes and echoes in this poem that hold it together – look at the ‘um’ sounds in the first stanza ‘euphonium’, ‘plans’ and ‘arms’ and then in the second stanza the sounds become much sharper –  ‘jointed’ and ‘obsolete’  and ‘hooked’ and ‘archives’.

This poem is an example of one of my favourite type of poems –  a research poem.  In a research poem, it is normally clear that the poet has been on a kind of journey to find out the information required to write the poem, that they have discovered or learnt something new in the process of writing it – I find both writing and reading this type of poem tremendously exciting.

Anyway, yet again, it is nearly midnight before the Sunday Poem is up and live and kicking, so I will sign off now.  I hope you enjoy the poem, and thanks to Nia for letting me use it.  You can buy Nia’s pamphlet from http://www.saltpublishing.com/shop/proddetail.php?prod=9781844718948

An Autobiography of the Ophicleide – Nia Davies

Eclipsed by tuba and euphonium
and their careful marketing plans,
I was a half-baffled shoulder pipe.
A thorny funnel coiled over biscuit-dry
jumpers.  I had thunder-rushing arms.

When you parped me you had to lean out-jointed, asymmetrical.  I was already obsolete.
But some hung onto me, hooked
their brassy passion around my u-bend or
atticboxed me in their instrument archives.

I was forced early into retirement but for rare
nights when I was glossed with
breathy spit and I picketed to be kept live.
But my throb fell flat in the pond of other pipes,
their other useful selves ascending.