In the poetry universe, there’s a lot of great work going on outside the US. Here’s five Brits that you don’t want to miss:
1. Sarah Salway with You Don’t Need Another Self-Help Book
Love and Stationery
Tonight, women dream of stationery;
well thumbed catalogues hidden
in bedside tables, falling open
at filing solutions. Some promise
this will be the last time, one final look
at industrial size staplers, hole punches.
Others take it further. Post-it notes
edge their desire as they chase private
rainbows husbands don’t understand.
At lunchtime, propelled out by a need
for highlighters, their fingers brush
sellotape dispensers as they imagine
being held by paperclips,
protected by bubblewrap,
wiped clean with Tippex.
In quiet moments,
they will pull out new journals,
those blank, lined, empty pages waiting
to be filled; who knows what magic
will result from an organized life?
At bad times, when the ink runs dry,
you will find a woman standing in front
of an open stationery cupboard, the flutter
of her heart stilled by the solid weight
of correspondence quality paper. Buy at Pindrop Press
2. Jo Hemmant with The Light Knows Tricks
The asbestos lagging on the pipes
has split and burst. As the engineer peels it back,
dust rises, floats across the room —
a woman’s ghost, a chiffon negligée,
reminder of what they’ve missed.
The men laugh, crack jokes,
a skinny lad from Formby
pulls her in for a dance. At his touch,
she shivers, breaks into a cloud
of dandelion clocks — leaving them
an empty shroud, a story to write home,
traces of her bedded down
in the folds of their lungs. Buy from Doire Press
3. Joan McGavin with Flannelgraphs
At Twyford Station
The bicycles are parked like lovers
turned intimately towards each other.
Fresh rain has sweated finely onto the carriage window.
A breeze frees the roses from their flat chintz sleep.
The engine, which has been practising clearing its throat,
turns itself off. We are all between chapters, articles,
waiting to turn the page, eager to fall in love
with this widening calm.
Beneath its surface even the rubbish
speared into the station-master’s clear plastic sack
lies like emerald seaweed, sea anemones. Buy from Oversteps Press
4. Eddie Gibbons with Why She Flew to Barcelona
LOVE IN THE TIME OF CORELDRAW
Once I would have laid a rosebud at your feet,
sent a scented missive in an envelope delivered
by a go-between; stood beneath your window
in a blizzard of snowdrops, hoping for a glimpse
of your shadow in the moonlight.
But times have altered the language of the heart.
The lexicon of longing is no longer written longhand,
with soaring serifs scribed in ink on beds of vellum,
but by illuminated texts on Ericssons and Vodafones,
and new-millennium lovers go Blackberry picking down
lanes of pay-and-go, past Oranges and Apple phones.
Once keystrokes onto paper kept the rhythm of romance:
ribbons bled red streams of yearning, or keys rapped
out the stuttering sentiments of nervous suitors onto
scented sheets of lavender, which they sent, post-haste
to beloveds in lanes and streets and avenues.
These days my words to you are more mobile
and predictable: more to the pointer, more pithy,
more reducible, and so, my love, I offer you these tokens
on my part – my dingbats, my emoticons, my clip-art heart. Buy here.
5. Mike Loveday with He Said/She Said
I jostle for position
against the swell
of her purse.
It’s worth it,
just for the thrill
of ferrying friendship to her ear.
I love you.
I am a gift, waiting
to be unwrapped,
a dictionary of intimacy.
She fidgets for relief—
an overdue text,
the scratching of an itch.
Too fond of dexterity,
over my face.
swings on its hinge. Buy from Happenstance Press
Got another Brit-po that you love, but they didn’t the list. Post in the comments.