HEAVEN IS A PHOTOGRAPH BY CHRISTINE SLOAN STODDARD – REVIEW

by Ananya WilsonBhattacharya

‘I do not take photos/I give them/as I always give/in love’, the protagonist of Christine Sloan Stoddard’s poetry/photography collection Heaven is a Photograph declares, a characteristically bold admission of vulnerability. These lines, taken from the poem ‘Unrequited Pixels’, evoke an overarching theme of the collection: the emotional intensity of the protagonist’s relationship with photography. Charting the protagonist’s journey, from a childhood as the daughter of a photographer to becoming a photographer herself, Stoddard’s brief and beautiful collection explores the power of both photography and photographer – through a deft and deeply meta combination of verse and photography itself.

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THE RICH NOTHING AT UGLY DUCK

by Carmina Masoliver

On a rainy Friday, people in-the-know gathered to listen to poetry in Ugly Duck for the launch of Sophie Fenella’s debut poetry collection The Rich Nothing. Ugly Duck is actually a series of different event spaces, with this particular one being located at 47/49 Tanner Street in Bermondsey. Inside this old Victorian tannery (where leather skins are processed), therein lies ‘The Garage’. On the ground floor, the space is described as having ‘a grungy urban warehouse feel’, and without much natural light at the back, it has an underground vibe in more than one sense of the word. With genuine caution signs for wet floors from leaks, it feels like an abandoned building that has been turned into an exhibition space – but in a cool way.

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REVIEW – THE EMPTY HORIZON, BY PAUL TERENCE CARNEY

by Carmina Masoliver

I was told that The Empty Horizon was a sequence of poems written in the voice of Roisin, a writer and illustrator of children’s books who is losing her sight due to the genetic condition Retinitis Pigmentosa. Initially, I wondered why – if Rosin is a writer – why she could not write these poems herself. Although it seems obvious that there is a mutual relationship established, why should a man tell the story of a woman who is a writer, and thus capable of writing it herself? Although losing her sight, as a writer, would it not be better to tell her own story through her own spoken words, rather than Carney being the author of this text?Continue Reading

OLD JERUSALEM AND JERICHO

by Chris Jarvis

They talk of dreaming spires
sleeping beneath them is routine
Crammed into a shop front
derailed carriage lost steam

Through the spiralled alleyways
off the beaten track
A dampen sodden mattress
a man laid on his backContinue Reading

REVISITED: JACOB SAM-LA ROSE – BREAKING SILENCE

by Carmina Masoliver

Inspired by my experience of Being a Man Festival, I attended an evening in appreciation of poet and educator, Jacob Sam-La Rose. The night consisted of speeches and moving poetry in tribute to his teachings. The energy was reminiscent of the Burn After Reading nights, and despite this occasion being a one-off, it captured what I love about live literature events. Often, it can seem that poetry is such a niche medium, that outsiders can struggle to find their place. However, these spaces provide a place where people can share both pain and joy, and connect with others through words. Sam-La Rose is mostly known for the incredible work he does with young people. He has tremendous influence on poetry today, and on the opportunities that many young people have to be exposed to, and enveloped by, this art form. It comes as no surprise then to read on the back cover of Breaking Silence, that his work ‘is grounded in a belief that poetry can be a powerful force within a community’.

It felt right to return to the well-thumbed pages of my copy of Sam-La Rose’s debut book-length collection from Bloodaxe, one of the most reputable poetry publishers in the UK. Breaking Silence was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, but many feel it has not had the recognition it deserves. Linking with themes from Being a Man Festival, the collection explores issues of manhood and masculinity, and how these intersect with race and dual heritage, as well as  broader issues of identity.

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SPRING-BEARING COURAGE

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Verusca Costenaro (1974 – ), ‘Il coraggio che fa primavera’

It’ll be from your comicseyes

that a new courage will rise

for the autumn, it’ll tangle in the wind

and the wind will paint it snowinter

so that the sun may thaw it

fresh in spring, it’ll be

a bearing of violets and mixture of calls,

cerulean choir bearing life in the background to desire,

the sprint of wings on the field, to feed on the grass that will grow,

summervoice adorned of an evergreen yellow,

a remedy to the fears brought by good

dreams of a small evening in august.

Featured image via caffellattefirenze


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DESCRIBING INDESCRIBABLE

by Kev Walker 

Content warning: mentions death, PTSD. Poem contains graphic imagery.

The palate is thick, pungent. Ripe yet rotten. Though rotting has not yet began.
There’s shades of urea, undertones of copper, a hint of raw pork in a pan.
Whilst in this state, the freshness shocks, indeed it almost smells tasty
This matter should stink, not hint on the taste-buds, my skin hues quickly to pasty.
The ringing still clear, this taste in my lungs, broken marionette of gore
Doused in crimson and black, a stinkhorn mushroom, draped across sand on the floor.
The palate so thick, it stays in my nostrils, lies dormant for years at a time
Till a familiar smell, dilutes and hydrates it           waking hideous fears that were mine.
Defenceless against it, it shadows my being, my stomach a churning mass
Goosebumps for no reason and magnified senses, awaiting the gut wrench to pass.
You can’t fight or ignore it, it only adds to the fear, the sickly strength of its grip
Fills your heart with blackness, loss and frustration           exposes your soul with a rip.
It sleeps when it chooses, not at my will, but sleeps to allow it to wake
Refreshed and visceral, stronger than ever, my palms grip my face and I shake.


Writer’s Note: As a follow up to this poem, anyone suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or indeed any underlying mental health condition, can find support and advice through the following agencies. If this poem has highlighted symptoms to you or someone close to you, I encourage you to seek support. As a sufferer of PTSD, I can strongly recommend not suffering in silence. Even just being able to share and relate is part of the healing process. [Information regarding PTSD can be found on the NHS website. Support is available through Mind, with Armed Forces specific support available via SSAFA.]

Editor’s Note: The Norwich Radical believes, as outlined in our Founding Statement, that to ensure the longevity and prosperity of humanity, we must strive to build a world free from violence, conflict and warfare. We therefore stand in opposition to the militarisation of society, armed conflict resolution and imperialism. We acknowledge and recognise those who have served in armed forces and the trauma experienced by those involved in conflict worldwide, and strive for a world built not on the premise of war, but on co-operation.

Featured image: Wikimedia


The Norwich Radical is non-profit and run by volunteers. All funds raised help cover the maintenance costs of our website, as well as contributing towards future projects and events. Please consider making a small contribution and fund a better media future.

 

LITTLE CUTS

by Kev Walker

Content warning:  mentions domestic violence, substance misuse, neglect and self-harm

He woke in the morning, as often he’d done
awake with the birds and the half risen sun.
The room was a tip, he hated it so
but to tidy takes time, it was time to go.

Throw on some clothes from off of the floor
kick his way through the grubby, knuckle-marked door.
Sneak down the staircase, dodging needles and glass
peer into the lounge, they’ll be easy to pass.Continue Reading

“HI, HOW ARE YOU?”

by Kev Walker

Content warning:  mentions substance misuse, mental health, homelessness, conflict

It’s all bling and totter, down the lights of the highstreet, drunk by the train journey there
Cackles and shouts, tales of shagging and swearing, cosmetics squeeze out the air
Bravado and vanity, beer and wine, heading for the first open club
Boys strut with their chests out, showing a leg, only thoughts are of getting a rub.

He’s crouched in the corner, a-top a damp box, wrapped in a half soaking doss-bag
A dog by his side, as companion and protector, a mucker to share a sparse nose-bag
He shakes with the cold, but also the comedown          the cider has long since left him
A blot-out, a release, from the pain in his mind and the mess he now finds himself in.Continue Reading

WORDS WITH FRIENDS II – CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

by Billy Pilgrim With The Heartsease Kid

Are you looking for a way to get your voice heard? Do you have a book of poems on your bedside table that nobody ever reads? Isn’t it time somebody listened to you?

If you answered yes to any  of these questions then you may be suitable for “Words w/ Friends Vol II”.

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POST TRUTH POEM

1

by Hannah Rose

 

On a blank white envelope was marked the word TRUTH

it was posted to a place called the Ministry of Lies

somewhere in the middle

of a blank white future.

 

The Ministry of Lies was a tall glass building with black and glinting windows

towering bullishly above the houses where the sleepy people lived

looking out but never inwards

with its half-shut eyes.

 

Continue Reading

REVIEW: THE POETRY COLLECTIVE

1

by Eli Lambe

The Poetry Collective’s bi-monthly poetry open-mic has been running for three years, hosted in a variety of venues across Norwich. Yet it’s the trendy hub, The Birdcage that has become a favourite platform for both new and established performers.  Described by one of the performers (Johnny Raspin) as “The best poetry night in Norwich”, it’s easy to see how this endorsement was earned. The hosts, Freddie and Jodie, are enthusiastic and lovely, the venue filled up very quickly, despite the weirdly autumnal weather, and the casual back and forth between host, performers and audience created an atmosphere of community and support.


The night began with an endearingly honest set by one of the hosts, Jodie Santer, who moved through topics including politics, coming-of age and love. She shared a poem written for her younger sister, bringing together fears about growing up with social expectations and misogyny; a powerful and relatable piece. Eoghan Lavery followed with a vividly Shakespearean monologue about ageing, technology and remorse entitled “Winter”, which was masterfully and dynamically delivered. He performed the poem as its narrator, bringing the audience through the reflections of an old man viewing his childhood on a projector.  

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BRAINSTUCK ARGUMENTS

by Eli Lambe

How can you have anxiety and whatever
and read aloud to rooms.
How do you flinch at loud noises and not stares?
Speaker, the mind is unintelligible
and this unwell mind doubly so.
I do not hyperventilate this performance,
or rarely,
is this performing the cause.Continue Reading

REVIEW: THE LIGHTHOUSE #15 – THE QUEER ISSUE

by Eli Lambe

Timeliness occupies this issue. Reflections on what queer writing has been and what it is now are shown through this collection to be vital, contemporary, and necessarily complex. The readings at the launch were accomplished, and the variety of writing spoke to the talents of the editing team in recognising and celebrating each piece. The pieces were arranged and selected to be complementary, to offer common threads and common goals, while still preserving the singularity of each piece – the queer writing here is collected as moments of solidarity, of community.Continue Reading

UNTITLED

1

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Nadia Campana (1954-1985), untitled from Verso la Mente

more of the living during the journey
many horizons for hours and hours
submerged in distanceContinue Reading

SEX & LOVE & ROCK & ROLL: TONY WALSH ON WOMEN

by Carmina Masoliver

CW: mentions harassment, domestic violence

When I first saw Tony Walsh, aka longfella, it was as a feature act at the Genesis Poetry Slam in Whitechapel. I remember being struck by a line about how growing breasts being something that labels some people ‘women’. This was a revelation to me, and yet something that I could identify with as a cis-gender woman reflecting on adolescence; it felt profound that a man could understand this experience in a way that made me feel understood in a way I hadn’t yet articulated myself.

When I later read what I assumed to be these same lines in Sex & Love & Rock&Roll, they didn’t strike me in quite the same way, as they offered something different. In ‘Start All the Clocks’, Walsh repeats ‘tell me how it feels’, as he asks of the readers

‘…tell me how it feels when you start to grow breasts
When Mother Nature writes ‘woman’ across a girl’s chest.’

It is in these lines that mean that Walsh is not solely a poet to hear on stage, but also one to read on the page, where you have the time to reflect and think.Continue Reading

GORMLEY SCULPTURE SPEAKS

by Jake Reynolds

give me a piss pot I’ll call it
sunset showers
you are what you read so I’m
Economic and Business History in Venezuela
does it feel like I am watching you
not go to a midweek lectureContinue Reading

REVIEW: SPAIN’S GREAT UNTRANSLATED, EDITED BY J. APARICIO, A. MAJOR & M. MONMANY

by Carmina Masoliver

I was given this book shortly after its publication in 2013 by mi abuelito, Juan Antonio Masoliver Ródenas, whose work is featured in the anthology of short stories, memoirs and poems. Currently living in Spain, it felt like a good time to read the whole book. The collection showcases twelve contemporary writers, in both Spanish and English translation, and definitely has a modern, experimental feel to it. The use of first person throughout blends the line between truth and fiction, and despite often feeling personal, there is always a sense of the political throughout. Continue Reading

THE WOMEN ARE LAUGHING IN THE GYM

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Caterina Sinibaldi, after Alex Valente’s translation of Andrew McMillan’s ‘the men are weeping in the gym’, ‘le donne ridono in palestra’

the women are laughing in the gym
on smooth backs words run to the music,
thoughts and dreams on sweaty mats.
solitary machines with white towels sing the intimate exhaustion of a quietness
women.Continue Reading

NOT YET SPRING

by Alex Valente 

Original Italian by Ada Negri (1870-1945), ‘Non è ancora primavera’

Spring? It’s still early February
and there is plenty of snow to fall, still:
still plenty of cold to bite.
And yet, now that I consider it
and take a better look around,
the announcement of Spring is not just
on the mouth of the flower seller
left on the corner of the road.Continue Reading

THE SUMMER OF STARS LESS STRIKING

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Biancamaria Frabotta (1946 – ), ‘L’estate delle stelle…’

The summer of stars less striking
encouraged locals and strangers
to hope in a return of ancient climates.
On the yellow grass unstable in the sparse
humours drinks remained half-full
another fuel to have sleepless nights.Continue Reading

RESISTANCE VOICES: THOSE WHO MARCHED FOR WOMEN

In the aftermath of the Women’s March — a worldwide protest in resistance to Donald Trump on Saturday January 21st 2017 that saw an estimated 4.6million people take to the streets in the US alone — The Norwich Radical’s Tara Debra G and Cadi Cliff put a call out.  This article is the product of that call out, which asked for thoughts from those who identified as women and who attended one of the many Women’s Marches on why they marched. These are just some voices, but they speak from across the UK and the US in an act of collaboration, solidarity, and resistance. Continue Reading

FRIEND SISTER COMRADE ENEMY

by Alex Valente 

Original Italian by Edith Bruck (1932-), ‘Amica sorella compagna nemica’

Friend sister comrade enemy
for one gesture of yours my pain
could still change and dissolve
at the tip of a mulberry tree
on the sleigh of two planks nailed
by the boy who behind the stable
would caress between our legs with feathers so soft.Continue Reading

REVIEW: LUKE WRIGHT’S THE TOLL AT NORWICH ARTS CENTRE

by Hannah Rose

Luke Wright’s eighth solo show The Toll is a razor dipped in sugar: Ian Duncan Smith is a “jiggling tit” and rumour has it that a lion stalks the good people of Essex. It’s an hour of truth or dare, but not without the candid insight that self-reflection demands of performance poetry. Wright connects with his audience through just the right amount of personal anecdote tinged with good times and bad, and a generous scattering of cultural and political satire.

Brexit, Question Time and John Betjeman. It’s all in there. This line is hard to walk when it’s just you on the stage—too much waxing-lyrical about good times with your mates and you’ll bore your audience. Equally, too much of the dark stuff and the lights go out. People don’t generally pay £12 to be brought down by bad news.Continue Reading

LITTLE GIRLS MUST

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Alessandra Carnaroli (1979-), ‘le bambine devono’. Part of Sartoria Utopia’s Calendario Utopico 2017.

little girls must be
little girls
with long hair
or short if sweaty
with rhinestones

and hairclips
and headbands

they get ready to have children
to behave
to earn less than boysContinue Reading

CIVIL WAR

1

by Carmina Masoliver

He rolls the ‘r’ in my name, and the resentment I’ve felt fades,
resentment for the absence of mi abuelito, and the language
my tongue stumbles over, yet hungers for like tortilla Española.

They greased their rifles with olive oil, with Vaseline, with cold cream, with bacon-fat:¹
an opera, with the occasional death.²Continue Reading

UNTITLED

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Annalisa Teodorani (1978-), no title. Part of Sartoria Utopia’s Calendario Utopico 2017.

I still go looking for
fires in the countrysideContinue Reading

THE SMALL THINGS


by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Azzurra D’Agostino, ‘le piccole cose’. Featured in the Calendario Utopico 2017, in May.

The small things, the ones you almost
don’t see, the secrets under your clothes, dreams
Continue Reading

FROM ‘PRAYERS OF THE PLACE OF THE WORLD’

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Francesca Genti (1975–), da ‘Preghiere del posto del mondo’, in the ‘Ma il mondo, non era di tutti?’ anthology (Marcos Y Marcos)

word, my place in the world,
word who says things,
word who says stories,
who says war and says death,Continue Reading

REVIEW: THE GIRL IN THE DOG-TOOTH COAT, BY ZELDA CHAPPEL

by Carmina Masoliver

A book filled with moths, whiskey and full moons; reading Zelda Chappel’s debut collection The Girl in the Dog-Tooth Coat, published with Bare Fiction (2015), forces you to be in the moment with each and every piece. With each turn of the page comes a fresh clarity and precision, yet still connected like water – at times a stream, and at others, a rushing waterfall. It explores grief, and through its dark and sombre tones, there is a glimmer of hope: that this is a tale of survival.

Continue Reading

ONE-PARTY STATE

by Julian Canlas

1.

She beheads
herself for independence

Patron saint of privileged beggars
she petrifies old edifices to fix
dying traditions

She bleaches the open fields
and the streets

She ceases to bleed

The body curses its own
mortalityContinue Reading

THE TREE CLOCK

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Vivian Lamarque (1946-), ‘l’orologio degli alberi’

You were always really
early for any appointment, made
the whole world seem,
late, the world felt bad,Continue Reading

REVIEW: BURNT ROTIS, WITH LOVE, BY PRERNA BAKSHI

by Carmina Masoliver

Prerna Bakshi’s debut collection Burnt rotis, with love was published in 2016 by Le Zaporogue via Lulu.com. Poems featured in the collection have appeared in many literary journals, magazines and anthologies across the world. Hailing from India, Bakshi offers a refreshing perspective on feminism and the wider would, enlightening readers with its undeniable South Asian roots.Continue Reading

INTERESTING PEOPLE

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Laura Accerboni (1985-), from ‘La parte dell’annegato’

We are interesting
people.
Our arms are
interesting
as are our teeth,
every sign of resistance
shows something interesting.Continue Reading

EMPIRE

by Julian Canlas

(in support of Black Lives Matter)

a, pustule, fleshspun, pierced, when,
echoes, become, loud, and, silenced—loudly silenced
when, burdens, are, called, gifts—processes, of, unintuition,
when, killing, becomes, justified, as, horror, of, the, natural,Continue Reading

TRAVEL WHILE DYING

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Sonia Gentili, ‘Viaggio mentre morivo’

I travel while I was dying and I was
absent or maybe only
alone: still before the last anchor
of the world as homeland of
the present
I travel where the present is consumed
in the black womb of the light, see-through
like the dark waiting for the moon
it’ll come and it doesn’t come and I
am distantContinue Reading

TRISTAN THINKS ABOUT THE NEWS, WHILE EATING RICE AND BEANS

by Julian Canlas

Isaiah 11:2 New International Version (NIV)
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and of might,
the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—

Tristan does so without the fear of God, like a pinprick—
a spitting image of all those heretics and unknown curses—

no doubt, in this bog of a living room, where moments
of explosions become dictators, pushing him headfirstContinue Reading

A CHILDHOOD MEMORY

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Maddalena Lotter (1990-), ‘Un ricordo d’infanzia’

We built a house on the sand
then we stamped on it.
On its ruins our supreme leader
decreed it was time to goContinue Reading

GIRL DRESSED AS A FOX, LINCOLN HIGH STREET

by Jake Reynolds

Is that her mother whose arm she is touching? She holds a tablet
to the charity shop window and photographs nothing much. There
is nothing much to photograph when wearing a fox-head (which I
think of as brave on a day as hot as this). The tail perks up from
the waistband of her jeans, a wad of fur swaddling a pliable wire.Continue Reading

BLUE OF DELETION

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Maria Attanasio (1943-), ‘Rosso…’

Red
which now is blade and shears
flaking wall shadowContinue Reading

EACH PERSON IS A FISH

by Julian Canlas

the room gleams like water–all of them here are fish

from either the sea or the lake, salt and fresh,
their fins flapping–a vision of ecstasy, the smell–

pungent redefined, their slippery scales glimmering
in their pursuit of perfection. how do they surviveContinue Reading

NEOLIBERALISM

by Julian Canlas

neo

drank from lakes
that turned out to be droughts
cut our lids
to see the future
tricked crops
into growing
mined coal with safety pins.
‘It’s time for celebration, not gawking
at deaths crushed by credit,’ you say.

sick dentures pushing teeth back
broke vessels
gold-cracked chinas
rusty hammers made from origami cranes, pinkwashed. never grow
tired of going to the bank, where each need is a static noise
& a gunshot,
where you tell me,

‘you &I are beings in boats.
you&I are
establishments.’

wasting the column. no column. no pronoun to speak.

rather the gusts than a wall
rather understanding than secular missionaries
rather the freedoms of you & me than glass ceilings
rather the prickled rose we will hold firmly than the diamond-sculpted cross
rather the blood &organs than shed skin
rather the body of blood & sinews than war-torn factories

this is stinking of sweet sorrow,
where dystopias are youth’s memoirs, &
where adulthoods are delayed because there is no
money & water.
& until this day, we are sat on swings
that you say will break from our weight.

Featured image via GlobalSocialTheory

THAT HE WAS REAL

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Margherita Rimi (1957-), ‘Che c’era vero’

– They say nothing is real –

I make up a language
because I’m embarrassedContinue Reading

CRITERION

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Selenia Bellavia, ‘Criterio’

From the closed recesses of a star
you ask me the real portion
of the clothed hypothesis
you cannot imagine
you do not know the rustle
of the river undivided by an ethosContinue Reading

CROMER, 2013

by Carmina Masoliver

The rush of the lapping waves of the sea,
the sound of shells, smell of salt, is where,
the humdrum left behind, I can just be.
The horizon before me, I can stare,
watch where the sea meets sky and then it leaves –
nowhere I’d rather be than standing there.Continue Reading

FIRST LOVE, OF COURSE

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Valentina Pinza (1982-), ‘Primo amore, naturalmente’

It was love, but we didn’t notice
none of us knew
years have passed
enough
for us to forget everything, the breathing and all the rest
we’ve thrown out those t-shirts
summers and summers ago
maybe even the following year;
that night we watched the stars
who said wishes are lonely?Continue Reading

WRITING OVER THE ACRONYM

by Chris Jarvis

Content warning: mass shooting, homophobia.

In response.

At midnight they dance the devil’s dance
Gleeful in their deviance

As sun rises
Their hearts Pulse in the ecstasy
Community and camaraderie

Unprovoked and unannounced
Space safe no more

Oh hold your breath then count to ten
Then fall apart and start again

All the way to forty nine
Mommy I love you.

*Continue Reading

ANTI-CONFESSIONAL 3

by Jake Reynolds

I don’t know where I go
but boy, do I go.
Meadows, mole-holes,
traps of dead thistle.
Manholes for ditches.

You’ve been ditched. Remember?
I watched you cough dust and wipe
sand from your eyes. You said
you’d seen me in a past life.
We were here, on this dirt road.Continue Reading

iMOAN 2.0

by Joe Cook

We’re the generation of bright screens and a dark future
Biological computers
A digital ball and chain
But when things go wrong we can’t turn off and on again
We live in a world where the most important connection is WIFI
And memories are captured in pixels rather than eyesContinue Reading

iMOAN

by Joe Cook

We live in a magpie society
Shiny objects we crave
If you want to live like a king you best work like a slave
When there’s spoilt brats talking about their sweet 16
There’s children whose drinking water ain’t even clean
Daddy didn’t get you the car you wanted?
I hope that old mansion you live in turns out to be hauntedContinue Reading

REVIEW – EMILY HARRISON’S ‘I CAN’T SLEEP ‘CAUSE MY BED’S ON FIRE’

by Carmina Masoliver

I have seen Emily Harrison share her work countless times at Burn After Reading events, and at my own night, She Grrrowls. She never fails to amaze me in the way she is able to articulate herself, speaking out about mental health issues – amongst other subjects – interwoven with links to gender and class. When I read lines about imaging someone loves you ‘when you simply asked/during a routine blood test, ‘Emily, how are you doing today?’ I sort of imagine she’s what I would be like if I were an extrovert.

The first couple of poems are familiar to me, and it’s hard not to picture Harrison on stage delivering these words, because as much as it’s incredible to be able to read the pieces, seeing them live is an important part of the way the text works, as it tends to be with Burning Eye Books – the go-to publisher for writers who refuse to remain on one side of the page/stage divide.Continue Reading

MAYBE TUESDAY

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Ginevra Lilli (1972-), ‘Magari martedì’

They come, small line of dromedaries
in the desert. Thirsty words
lined up, also tied up
one to the other. One line
seemingly obedient. Consenting.Continue Reading

LONDON

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

I find London throwing tennis balls
against the walls of my bank account
when overdrawn and, in despair,
I find it again in the coin London plucks
from behind my ear. Once, I dropped London
in the sea. The dolphins own it now.Continue Reading

FROM ‘ON LIVING’

1

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Martina Campi (1978-), from Sull’abitare

From the following academic day Penelope
drags on her face a pale-sided sun
and, to one side, unravels, extraordinarily powerful
backwards, tightly wrapped up in
cellophane, for the nights to come, the great labourContinue Reading

MAY

by Jake Reynolds

Can such delights be in the street, / And open fields, and we not see’t?
–Robert Herrick

I rock up against the banks
in the shore of my sleeping
when a cluster of pollen
tricks its way into my bedroom
like smelling salts.Continue Reading

BEAUTY

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Rosita Copioli (1948-), ‘Beltà’

Look, everything returns, even the markings on the wall
and behind the bushes the eyes of our heavens
without a reason to be tend towards a return,
they return not to forget, how much each
and every one finds their own pleasure – adspice:Continue Reading

THE DEBATE

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

This is not rightness        or righteousness
the wrongness of            your terror
let’s say we say        something terrible
say we say sing,    find        the music in
nothing or every-                thing…Continue Reading

NOW

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Elisabetta Destasio (1968 – ), ‘Ora’

Now:
we are the word, the movement
the undertow and the tree’s crown.
Room, street corner,
the night.
Words, whispered.Continue Reading

DEBRIS STEVENSON — PIGEON PARTY

by Carmina Masoliver

Deborah ‘Debris’ Stevenson is founder of The Mouthy Poets, based in Nottingham, who are a collective of 50 young poets. A poet herself, with a blurb of incredible achievements, I can’t help but envy her success as someone so near my age (she’s actually younger). Watching from the outside, I can see how much she has grafted to get where she is today, and her enthusiasm for what she does shines through at workshops, performance events, and is inside every well-chosen word on the pages of the Pigeon Party (2014) collection with flipped eye publishing.

Poems are enclosed in two-part poem After The Blackstone Rangers, which sets the scene for the collection. They describe a childhood growing up in cities, where “everyone was learning”, whether rolling cigarettes, or dancing. The words are both familiar and unexpected; a place where love and friendships are based on fun that is “still disposable and warm” — referring to the “can of Scrumpy Jacks”— but also holding a wider resonance, like most of Stevenson’s work.Continue Reading

BAN KI-MOON PLANS A HOLIDAY

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

Ban Ki-moon wonders if he’ll look much better
wearing a bindi. He Googles to see if they sell
them at the airport. Everyone has been having
so much fun, and now it’s his turn. Darling!
he cries. I’ve booked a ticket to a ‘foam party’!
Ban Ki-moon poses his questions to a forum,
in a thread titled KOS BOYS.

Hello, I am the former Secretary-General of the United Nations…

The replies come flooding in. People are so kind!
Ban Ki-moon learns what minesweeping is.
Darling! he cries. These young men tell me
that you can buy hydration tablets! Imagine!
They have little pictures of chickens on them!
But Ban Ki-moon isn’t finished yet.
He wants to see the wonders of the world,
the odd ruin, a place to get that fetching
UV paint he’s seeing so much of.
He consults the KOS BOYS, who tell him that
nipple tassels and strawberry-flavoured lubricant
should see him through fine. So he opens up
Amazon — he knows it’s a bit corrupt,
but fuck it, he’s got Prime — and orders everything.
His wife pokes at the lubricant when it arrives.
Ban Ki-moon is going to have the best time.
Paulfitness92 tells him he’s going to get

absolutely fucking wankered mate absolutely trollied

which Ban Ki-moon thinks sounds very appealing!
Ban Ki-moon books his tickets. Ban Ki-moon finds
his shorts, crumpled at the back of the wardrobe.
Ban Ki-moon checks his emails and gets ready for work.
Ban Ki-moon kisses his wife goodbye for the day.
There’s been another catastrophic humanitarian crisis!

Featured image © Reuters

OF THE WORLD

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Maria Luisa Vezzali (1964 – ), ‘del mondo’

you lower your head to cross the doorway and beyond the threshold the world breathes
with vision, a restless wave that carries the smell of houses, damp,
rust, ashes, petrol, ages that vortex towards duskContinue Reading

THE HOURGLASS

by Carmina Masoliver

 

grains of sand pass like biology
my body ticking like a heart
my love straining like teaContinue Reading

AN ORDINARY DAY

1

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Alessandra Racca (1979-), ‘Un giorno qualunque’

In the match
between what we call good
and we despise as evil
today a bomb will make noise
smoke will assault the eyes
scattering shards on screens
and people
a woman’s tears
will stand stillContinue Reading

THIS MAN

by Rebecca Tamás

This man is an angel
because
he is not a man

I reject the penis as my chosen ontology
even when his penis is in my hand
even when his mouth is open like a sodden
breastContinue Reading

YIK YAK AI

by Jake Reynolds

I recently downloaded ‘Yik Yak’, the anonymous social media app prevalent among student communities, out of curiosity. I’d heard terrible things about it — it was posited as an anonymous forum in which people hurled insults and putdowns at one another in an act of self-generating bitterness. But when I opened the app, and scrolled through the comments as they rolled in, what I read didn’t feel like anger to me. It instead filled me with a strange and distant sadness. Yik Yak AI is my best attempt at rolling everything into one.

I need you to know I am hungover I need you to know
I went out and got alcohol poisoning I am in bed eating
pizza I am the real deal I need you to know I am the god
of all your comedy give me what I need I need you to
know I am jealous of you but I cannot say it properlyContinue Reading

VENICE, AGAIN

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Verusca Costenaro (1974 – ), ‘E Ancora Venezia’

Venice, again
and the taste of your distant steps.

Water sliding over waves of words,
telling each other of dreams and struggles.Continue Reading

COMPUTER GENERATED IMAGES

by Carmina Masoliver

we grew up on html

love was a cartoon heart
pink or red
we dissected some cold slab of meat in science labs

and with that, every Disney film turned dirty
we would publicise our most private thoughts
kidding ourselves it was poetry
when it was catharsis at bestContinue Reading

SERIOUSLY VIVACIOUS READING: A FEMINIST POETICS OF LITERARY INQUIRY

by Linda Russo

I wrote To Think of her Writing Awash in Light as a way to investigate aspects of literary women’s lives that tend to be overlooked. The questions that interested me – how do lived spaces (domestic, urban, or natural spaces or environments) effect women’s relationships to their materials and ideas and language? How do women navigate these spaces and their various prescriptions for what women should or can do? – suggested a geographic inquiry, one that required leaving my desk and books behind to wander about and write in various environments, literal and imaginary.Continue Reading

STANDOUT PINTS FROM THE MILLION

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

211

The pennies from the old guy
in the flat cap
with a Brewers Fayre menu
creased in his creasing hands
that old guy
so studiousContinue Reading

POETRY HITS THE HEADLINES, BUT IS IT FOR THE RIGHT REASONS?

by Carmina Masoliver

For those who are partial to a bit of poetry, you’ll probably have heard by now that Sarah Howe has been awarded this year’s T.S. Eliot prize by judges Pascale Petit (chair), Kei Miller, and Ahren Warner. You may also have seen this article, which questioned the negative tinge of the criticism of which Howe has received. Katy Evans-Bush argued that these criticisms were more to do with Howe’s age, gender and ethnicity (Howe is of dual Chinese-British heritage). Some seemed baffled both that it was possible to win on a first collection, yet also that it took her ten years to write. Surely the fact that she spent so long producing the poetry might suggest how it became possible to win? I mean, that, or witchcraft.Continue Reading

WHAT PEOPLE THINK

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Manuela Dago (1978-), ‘Cosa pensa la gente’

It’s a wordy problem
even not being able to say
not being able to explain
explain your words
to those listening.Continue Reading

BLACK‘N’BEAUTIFUL

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Ribka Sibhatu (1962-), ‘So bella nera’

Black market
black cats
black Friday..!
And they call me
‘of colour’.Continue Reading

YEAR IN REVIEW

by Jake Reynolds

In response to 2015.

I saw terror through a lens
and the public shaming friendships.
We called it proper work.

Feeling so very comfortable eating churros with a bunch of pregnant women! Just what I needed, the perfect chill yummy food birthday!!!!Continue Reading

TALK

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

When he touches down he is walking, all talk,
cornered in Hallmark by British small talk.

He’s brought whiteness. It made his polls snowball.Continue Reading

EAGLES OF DEATH

by Chris Jarvis

The skies over Damascus are silent tonight
as the Eagles of Death whistle through the air
and the Bataclan looks on, betrayed and manipulated.
A weeping cloud dampens the scarred earth with tears
and little splatterings of embers dance amongst the rubble.Continue Reading

LETTERS TO CATE BLANCHETT

1

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

Cate Blanchett, it’s come to this. You know they say the world will end when
BBC Radio Four stops broadcasting? Well, I’ve been playing with the dials on
my Roberts Revival RD60 DAB and I don’t know about you but down my end I
swear the voices are getting fainter and fainter.

Cate Blanchett, look, it’s like this: the world is a ruin, like I said. I’m not pulling
your leg. I wrote a poem called Strikes because I thought talking about
doctors and bombs was really clever, see, because… sure, you get it.

Continue Reading

HOW TO SPEND £130,000: A POEM IN SOLIDARITY WITH FOSSIL FREE UEA

by Jake Reynolds

On the flit of hazel dormice
tripping through boscage,

a chaffinch chirping in maddening circles
between the calligraphic twigs,

a wrens’ bingo hall with trinket wins
and a brief presentation on the history
of shoots and shrubbery,Continue Reading

CONSTELLATIONS

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Gilda Musa (1922-1999), ‘Costellazioni’

Coppering of stars, gold
illuminated designs, visible flashing
vanguards of a thousand million invisibiles,
sigils of a space that’s close and signs
of remote spacesContinue Reading

REVIEW: HANNAH SILVA’S ‘SHLOCK!’

2

by Carmina Masoliver

Hannah Silva’s work can be difficult to penetrate; there is not necessarily a fixed meaning, and in the notes given prior to ‘Schlock!‘ she quotes Kathy Acker by saying to ‘get rid of meaning. Your mind is a nightmare that has been eating you. Now eat your mind.’ This in itself requires interpretation: we place so much emphasis on meaning in our lives, this can destroy our minds, and so perhaps the best way to remove the self-doubt that I’m going to be “wrong” in my view of the work is to eat my mind, take control of the way the dots connect, and the ways they don’t.Continue Reading

AEGIS

by Jules Ignacio

In the dark, the reconnaissance units
spread out on the mountaintop—the stage—
gawking at the riots, with their sniper eyes.

Continue Reading

PARIS WAS THE PLACE

by Jake Reynolds

Paris was the place where everyone was all stripes and garlands
and the women were just beautiful cats squashed into Rorschach tests
and chain smokers found afternoon joie de vivre in Sartre’s Huis Clos
Continue Reading

SHELTER

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Antonella Anedda (1955-), from Notti di pace Occidentale.

She was running to shelter, covering her head.
She belonged to a tired image
not dissimilar from any other woman
surprised by sudden rain.

Continue Reading

FAMILY PLANNING

1

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

1. Policy

They watched him play alone
with teddies in a queue
for so long
that sometimes when drunk
they made love to be illegal, but

rumour has it the lady from
the tea-shop had her second
needled out
in the dark places between
the legal buildings.Continue Reading

DEEP DISCOMFORT

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Valentina Diana (1968-), from Bastarde Senza Gloria

Poems are not mats
on which to lie and catch some sun
and say It makes me think, how lovely!
that it really is like this.

Continue Reading

BOOKS, OR, THE APOCALYPTIC INSTITUTION, OR, A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE END OF THE WORLD

by Jake Reynolds

The following poem includes 44 chopped-up book titles of novels that have won the Man Booker Prize. This poem comes after Marlon James won the prize last week with his brutal and cacophonous novel A Brief History of Seven Killings.

 

It is quite something. I remember the days of children
dreaming of spending their inheritance on books

now waiting patiently, in that English way, for nothing
to happen, staring blindly at the ghosts that besiege

the moon late at night, push it, give marching orders
and last warnings. Those small assassins send troubles

to elected people, young and old, gathering them as books
often do, from bodies, sacred fleshy remains, sea-wood

chewed offshore. The history dividing them: no matter.
for every hunger pang, famished child, books.

Continue Reading

TRIGGER

by Cadi Cliff

In response.

Troup County, January 26th 2015, 5

What is it about the rifle, the pistol, the Ruger 22?
Protection you can prop, old-school, by the front door
keep walking the perimeter of your picket fence
come on boy, let’s have some father son timeContinue Reading

LENSES

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

I can’t wait to get out of these clothes and braid
our legs together, hold collarbones like fridge handles
and wait for the glow, then poke your dimples
like they are soft depressions on a hot cake.

I like Evie, for a girl. Rory for a boy. And I like the way
that you are everything, that you hold the world up
as a photograph of a photograph, or how you sing
when you re-enact The Lion King with the cat.Continue Reading

I DID MY BEST TO LEARN THE RULES

by Robyn Banks

I did my best to learn the rules.
The world was a nice place,
children shared, we waited our turn,
we helped those in need and said thankyou and please.

The board was black and the chalk was white,
together we learned to read and write,
I tried to learn the rules.
There used to be racism,
there used to be war,
there used to be poverty and workhouses and suffering
but Martin Luther King had a dream and women won the vote
and everyone shared now, and waited their turn
and Tony Blair painted rainbow children on my primary school walls.Continue Reading

LEADERS

by Jake Reynolds

My teacher covers peanut brittle with a tea-towel
then takes a hammer and smashes it into pieces.
Like a magic trick, she whips the towel off and tells us
to each grab a shard. It is a lesson about fairness.Continue Reading

FACING FORWARD – COLLE DI MASSENZIO

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Silvia Bre (1952-), ‘Colle di Massenzio – Prospettiva frontale’.

The wind is always here in this place this time of year.
Maybe you depend on traditions like this one –
the points you connect collect the space
and you breathe. And you admire it,
you compare it to the sky triumphing
at the immeasurable height of its arches.Continue Reading

HOMEWORK REVIEW: MOLLY NAYLOR AND KATIE BONNA

1

by Carmina Masoliver

Homework nights used to be a bit of a boys’ club, being a product of the all-male poetry collective Aisle 16. I’d been to an event where they shared that in their youth they had the rule that no girls were allowed. They became somewhat of a poetry boyband, and original members – Luke Wright, Joel Stickley, Chris Hicks, Ross Sutherland, John Osborne, Joe Dunthone and Tim Clare – have gone on to achieve great things. Most of these poets also have a Norwich connection, having attended UEA.

They’re also very much still involved in Homework, with Sutherland hosting this particular one. The premise of this night, based in Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club, is that each poet has a month to create a new piece of work and the show itself is a presentation of their homework in the form of a literary cabaret. Each month is themed and features a special guest. It’s very popular, so arriving early for a good seat is a must. Honorary female members, Molly Naylor and Katie Bonna, have been making their mark here for some time, and I thought it would be worthy of a feature to shine the spotlight on them.Continue Reading

LET US SIT AND TELL SAD STORIES: CREATIVE WRITING STUDENTS AND THE NEED FOR OPTIMISM

3

by Jake Reynolds

Trigger warnings for mentions of rape, assault, substance abuse, violence.

When I tell people that I have recently moved into a house in which my bedroom window looks out onto a graveyard, I get one of two reactions. The first is a wince. ‘That sounds bleak.’ The second is a strange, slightly glazed and dreamy look. ‘Wow. Think of all the writing you’ll get done. That’ll be so inspirational.’

When I joined UEA as an English Literature with Creative Writing undergraduate in 2013, the prospect of my bedroom window allowing me to peek in over a graveyard was quite a dismal thought. As I prepare to enter my final year, nothing has changed. Yet being a creative writing student, there is an assumption that being so close to death in such a striking and obvious way can be nothing but a gift for what is, presumably, my twisted and morose mind.Continue Reading

IGNORANCE WAS A WOODLOUSE

by Jake Reynolds

burrowing into places dark and damp,
tucking itself into a brittle clot
and festering.

Its womb was the catacomb
where its armour grew.
A wretched place, free from light.Continue Reading

THE PEOPLE WANT

by Jo Thompson

Hard to look, hard to understand
the softness of his drowned bones
rocked here by the waters.

How quickly banners can catch alight,
a mumble in the crowd growing up,
becoming certain of itself: the people
want to topple the regime. All’s parched,
and everywhere the green sickens yellow.
Outstretched hands wither into fists.Continue Reading

AN AFFAIR IN THREE ACTS

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

‘Everyone knows. The world knows. It knows. But they’ll never know, they’ll never know, they’re in a different world.’ — Harold Pinter, Betrayal

Act I

Look at the way you’re looking at me.
I upped the contrast and bleached my teeth.

I wanted to go for lunch next week.
I have pictures of him, a right Clooney.

We took an old canoe out to sea.
He came in my mouth and called me sweet.

He wondered if you’d like to meet.
You can tell he was raised by a proper family.Continue Reading

THE SWARM

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

It was a murmuration demoted from dusk to night-time,
a climb of buzzing cloud, the open mouth of a life-line,
the sparkle of darkness at the end of a tunnel, the vertigo
of a hungry stomach pressed against lorry tarpaulin,Continue Reading

SPACE SPACE I CRAVE

1

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Alda Merini (1931-2009), from ‘Vuoto d’amore’

Space space I crave, all the space
to sweetly move, wounded;
I crave space to sing to grow
fall and leap across the ditchContinue Reading

DARK NIGHT STRANGLES THE TRAVELLING LAMP

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

Commander Coates of New Earth Transfers descends
from a helicopter’s exoskeleton and battles the gales
to signal Anna Garvey, protestor, handcuffed to the rubble
of a Wonder. He fixes goggles to his eyes, flashes his ID.

Don’t tell me, he says. You swallowed the key.

These streets have spent a year in the tinny grips
of radio screech. He tells her she’s going to catch
her death, and reaches in a pouch on his belt
for a halo of rusty keys. Drones stare from the helicopter.

Don’t tell me, he says. You’ve made up your mind.Continue Reading

GO SET A WATCHMAN

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

Atticus, he was real nice. – Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

the room is ripe with adolescent sweat
pressed periwinkle to our backs as flies swoon
in circuits around our teacher perched on a table
with her feet inches from the ground
and whoever is still awake quietly questions
her decision to imitate Calpurnia’s accent
Continue Reading

SOON EVERY HOUSE WILL HAVE ONE

1

by Carmina Masoliver

I first found out about Holly Hopkins by attending a ARTNAKED Poetry Session at Library Club in London, where she cut into the awkward silence of a tightly packed room with a mixture of chatting and poetry. For some, it would have offered an opportunity to gain an insight into her work, and for those like me, it inspired a purchase of her pamphlet Soon Every House Will Have One (smith | doorstop, 2014).Continue Reading

ROBIN SONG

1

by Jake Reynolds

In response.

I descend / Toward the brink… – Thomas Hardy

The robin pegs its washing on the line, following a feud
in which a red snuck its way into whites. Its dark eyes
probe the meadow, robed in dismembered scarecrows.

It seethes at a pinkish shirt, and curtly calls for the culprit
to come forward. I will find you, it chirps, I will take joy
in severing your spinal cord, in hanging you to dry.Continue Reading

FAKE IDENTITY

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Fernanda Romagnoli (1916-1986), ‘Falsa identità’.

Sooner or later someone finds out:
I am already dead
though alive. It is a stranger’s face
offered beneath the hair
suddenly pulled back,
the shadow behind the curtains
wandering at dusk,
the steps towards the door
that won’t open. Hers the song
tricking the neighbours, covering
my buried screams. Someone
sooner or later finds out. But for now…Continue Reading

GO-FUCKITIS

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Anna Lamberti Bocconi (1961-), ‘L’affanculite’, which features in the collection Bastarde senza Gloria, published by Sartoria Utopia.

The go-fuck-itselfness of a life
of relais-relax, really quite quiet
when it wants to squirrel away
calmly ticking like a Rolex.
The go-fuck-itselfness of an evening
rusting wreck on the beach
crumbling like cocaine
as it bores the cartilage of hulls.Continue Reading

BITTERNESS

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Amalia Guglielminetti (1881-1941), ‘Un’amarezza’.

A bitterness without word:
but absinthe and bile and venom
every bitter thing, from my bosom
gurgling to my throat stirred.Continue Reading

SIGNAL BOOST: CAN TRANSLATION BE RADICAL?

by Alex Valente, in conversation with Cadi Cliff

This conversation starts in Norwich. The fault is mine, of course, as I start doubting my place within the Norwich Radical, and the role that I, as a translator of poetry, could possibly play in a radical, progressive, critical publication. Enter Cadi Cliff, editor and co-founder, green radical, and a mountain range of humanity.

This conversation, then, is a dialogue of sorts; a voicing of those doubts, translator to editor, reader to reader, uncertain radical to radical, on the place of translation, and poetry, within these virtual walls.

Continue Reading

COUNTRY OF LOVE

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Grażyna Miller (1957-2009), ‘Paese d’amore’.

And I, here to take in the old land
beauty and love call to me.
Lost souls find refuge here
– spirits parched for truth,
violated by the lies of history.

Continue Reading

TO MY CHILD-TEACHERS

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Chandra Livia Candiani (1952 -), ‘Ai miei maestri-bambini’

I keep your walking
glue each step to the ground
I stay
for you I wake up
draw my face
beneath fingers and water
I keep your words
like bread dunked
in the milk of memoryContinue Reading

SPRING

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Grazia Deledda (1871-1936), ‘La primavera’

Winter had even refreshed
the colour of rocks. Descending from mountains,
silver veins, a thousand silent rivulets,Continue Reading

THREE WOMEN POETS

1

by Carmina Masoliver

This article reviews three books by writers who occupy both the page and the stage. My first experience of all three of these women was as poets on the stage, yet reading them was entirely different and allows time to mull over the words in a way you can’t necessarily with live performance.

Continue Reading

THE MOUNTAINS

by Alex Valente

Original Italian ‘Le Montagne’, by Antonia Pozzi (1912-1938)

Like immense women taking over the evening:
stone hands folded on their chest
they stare at crossroads, silent
in the endless hope of returns.Continue Reading

CASUAL DECLENSION

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Eleonora Pinzuti (1973 – ), ‘declinazione casuale’

Had I read better,

between the folds of chances
the cuneiform tract of the Sybil…
But I was far-sighted,
or maybe deaf,
sorrowful Ulysseid
lacking faithful band or lovely Circe.Continue Reading

THIS POEM IS CALLED

by Alex Valente

Original Italian by Francesca Genti (1975 – ), ‘Questa Poesia si Intitola’

the gutter punk blue.

it’s for you.
and it behaves badly.

it throws tantrums
causes trouble all over
asks unwanted questions.Continue Reading