Anna Blasiak

 

 

 

Havana

Sorrow crumbles down everywhere.
Gaping holes on Malecon filled with stones.
Yes, Hemingway drank his mojitos and daiquiris here.
Yes, you can drink there too.
Just watch out for rake-thin, sad dogs.

Deserted Plaza de la Revolution still resounds
with Fidel’s speeches.

This city is already an apparition.
This city eats itself.

 

 

Anna Blasiak is a poet and translator. She writes poetry in Polish and in English (Off_Press, Women Online Writing, Exiled Ink and Modern Poetry in Translation). She has been shortlisted for several major poetry competitions in Poland. Her first book in Polish is due in 2019. More: annablasiak.com.

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Clive Donovan

 

 

 

The Guided Tour

They are nothing but casual tourists, ambling,
with their ice-creams and stapled pamphlets,
happily careless of the wretched history
attached to these ancient barracks;

charred flesh and fractured bones,
the lingering stink of something worse,
as the guide drones on
with his unamusing jokes and torture anecdotes.

Cracks in the floor assume absurd significance.
Corridors hump and writhe with importance.
The hungry walls close in keenly
as if to testify their witnessing.

Here ended the lives of rebels and martyrs,
bruised and scorched, crushed in screws and stretched:
Mediaeval apparatus blood-washed with pain
and an angry bell outside clangs loud

in rough narrow passages threading waves
through the stony maze
of this crude instrument of power.
Fingering mortar, I scrape it cruelly with my nail.

Pressured by the karmic force of unpurged debt,
I struggle to keep up
with the solid pack of customers ahead,
about to enter the cake shop.

Oh how do people dare to live?
How dare to sing?
Looking up for guidance I see
lounging pikemen pretending to be clouds.

 

 

Clive Donovan devotes himself full-time to poetry and has published in a wide variety of magazines including The Journal, Agenda, Acumen, Poetry Salzburg Review, Prole, Stand and Ink Sweat and Tears. He lives in the creative atmosphere of Totnes in Devon, U.K. often walking along the River Dart for inspiration. His friends say he is overdue a debut collection.

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Golnoosh Nour

 

 

 

Blood Days

Break all our delicate cups, my love
Shatter their bleeding flowers like you
shattered us. I don’t mind; because I was
that bad kid, the best student at the back of the class
sleeplessly studying stoplessly
for all the exams, writing the right
replies to those wrong questions, and yet
cheating just to make sure all my responses
were conspicuously correct. That I’d get the best grade to
appease my distressed self and expectant parents.
And of course, the addictive thrill of cheating
the drumming heartbeat, the slippery fingers, the sweaty pen
A forbidden book open, under the desk, on my trembling lap
or inked solutions on toilet papers emerging from my grey sleeves.

A retired magician making ends meet in a red circus
ten magicians chewing raw meat, blood oozing
through their teeth.
Ten thousand magicians murmuring your name, a
visceral curse in my scorching ears.

Break everything you please
just beware that loving and hurting you were the
last things I wanted to do, like those cheating days,
a treacherous teenager, trapped, in my dark school.

 

 

Golnoosh Nour is the author the poetry collection Sorrows of the Sun which was published in 2017 under her pseudonym Sogol Sur. She has performed both her prose and poetry in numerous literary events across the UK. Golnoosh just completed a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing. She teaches prose and poetry at Birkbeck and The University of East London.

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Martyn Crucefix

 

 

 

Beside the artist’s pool

Small birds brink
the garden hedge
its glossy tall green
no shady barrier

more a plaything
to rise up and over
their gaze wedded
to the pool’s eye

where they execute
one dip-up motion
the pool crying
its lyric of white

and azure—each bird’s
pale breast takes
the reflected blue
of what its thirst

drives it to—
each dip each dive
each muscular shove
leaves a kissing-ring

one fading mark
as bills scoop clear
the flickering badge
of blue is pinned

to each white breast
then wings adjust
up—agilely away—
each bird ascending

a swerve of white
so it must appear
there’s nothing here
actually changing

 

 

Martyn Crucefix has translated Rilke’s Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus (both Enitharmon Press) and the Daodejing (Enitharmon, 2016). Most recent original poetry: The Lovely Disciplines (Seren, 2017) and forthcoming from Hercules Editions, Cargo of Limbs (Autumn, 2019). More at http://www.martyncrucefix.com

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Jane Frances Dunlop on ‘Bad Boy Poet’ by Scott Manley Hadley

 

 

“the ideal reader is one who is in love with the writer”
Chris Kraus, I Love Dick

the first time I read the poems I am in the library, trying to finish something that I am in the middle of the end of at that point. and we are practicing supporting each other: I remember a day when you pick me up and promise me that when I finish, you will take me somewhere to pet new animals and I cried because it seemed impossible. on a different day, you send me your poems and I think you’d been avoiding it because I had to ask more than once. and then I read them and read them all again and laughed and cried and knew I was in love with you. it is impossible to have an opinion about someone you are in love with, or at least it is obvious what that opinion is.

Hadley’s poems are about sex, depression, technology and feelings. They are about sickness and more sickness, about the shit world that a person makes for themselves and the shit the world brings. They move quick and sharp, are sometimes so smooth and sometimes tearing. You fall into the rhythm of the book, sad but distant and playful, a tone of self-mocking tragedy that lands in moments of heartbreaking clarity.

one time, we are sitting in the apartment that we have, it is a small apartment and so I am on the bed and you are at the table and we are only a few metres apart. we are drunk, have been drinking so much wine and you are performing for me. because I have asked, you perform all the poems that are about me and in between, as you flick through the pages of your book, you sing my name.

another time, you read me the poems in the middle of an arid spanish landscape, and I film you and the light is amazing and you are gorgeous and it is fun to be in the world with you.

It is the poems about his parents’ illness and old age that stand out in the collection: not as the best poems (though they are some of the best). These poems are instances of weight and severity that cannot be folded into the sometimes cruelly mischievous tone with which Hadley writes about the things that are more immediately his (his depression, his breakup, his poo, his sexuality, his dog). They ground the collection, the severity of everything is refracted through them. They remind a person that everything can be made light of, even the heaviest things.

the night you tell me you love me, we are at your friend’s house and you write a note on a piece of paper to remind yourself to take all the cunnilingus poems out. this is before I read it. in the end, the cunnilingus poems will all go back in.

I check my emails: you sent me the poems before we were in love out loud. the email subject is Poems [gulp]. i didn’t know I was in love with you then though, which is hard to believe from the present because I love you in all directions. I love you when I first met you and we are working in that bar and there is one night when you make me a sour and someone passes it into the cellar where I am organising the stock.

Hadley writes sex, technologies and drugs like a millennial. All three exist as necessary and persistent parts of life, entangled with one another and with social life while also being ambivalent forces. They bring the good, the release, the positive possibilities of another. And they bring the bad, the confirmation of our worst parts through their inevitability and persistence. Though technology gets off lighter than sex or drugs here, which seems important. And depression seems an important part of these mix, as it is cause and effect, cured and worsened by sex, drugs and technology. It is as the poems cross through these things – these things cross through the poems – that the frictions of millennial masculinity get captures and presented so perfectly. There is the toxicity, with the damage it does, and there is the possibility of being elsewise.

this time, I am reading them again in the future: we finished the endings we were in the middle of and now we are in the beginning of the future and it is scary and exciting and begins in the small apartment. I am in my new library, reading your poems in a book: it is now an object in my hand and that seems different, is different to the first time.

I read the poems, to write a review about them like I promised, but all I come up with are moments when I read them before which are all just moments when I loved you. even though I know these poems are not about me or you, they are fiction. it says so in the cover.

 

Jane Frances Dunlop (CA) is an artist and writer whose work explores the overlapping politics of emotion and technology via the internet. Her work is online at: http://janefrancesdunlop.com

 

Bad Boy Poet by Scott Manlet Hadley is available here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bad-Poet-Scott-Manley-Hadley

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Colin Crewdson

 

 

 

The Road to Kars

Mevlana, or Rumi, Sufi poet and mystic, 1207-1273 spent much of his life in Turkey,
where his tomb is still revered. Mevlana’s poems are also set to music.

We’ve tried every trick.
Gathered around the guts, black tubing,
glistening containers of mystery:
the engine won’t run, won’t

pull its busload of passengers
up the pass any further.
Choked, grit in its fuel
dust in its filters, fatigue in its heart.

There is no wind,
no movement, one voice.
in the solitude of emptiness, in the quiet
of eternity…

The air is eviscerated,
too weak to hold life:
the mountains are folded corpses, bent
and yellow, racked up

towards a plain blue sepulchre.
The sun, fat with heat in the lowlands,
is thin as a blade in these heights,
sharpening  the linocut shadows.

The portly singer in his white shirt
croons, beseeches, commands,
ends with a flourish of prayer beads:
he is the Seeker and the Sought, the Beginning and the Destination…

We slump back into our sweat-damp seats.
The bus roars off
on its way up to Kars,
Mevlana’s joy in its pistons.

 

 

 

Colin Crewdson (mostly retired)  lives in Devon, England. He spends most of his waking hours trying to keep a puppy from wrecking the vegetable garden.

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UEA FLY Festival 2019 Competition Winner 15-18 yr olds and Norfolk Prize Winner – Maud Webster

The 15-18 yr old group winner for the 2019 writing competition at UEA’s Festival Of Literature for Young People (FLY) is Maud Webster from City of Norwich School. The theme for this year’s competition was a poem of any length beginning with the word ‘Afterwards’.

As the winner of the Norfolk Prize, Maud wins the opportunity for her poem to be made into an animated film, courtesy of sponsors Somo Global.

 

 

 

AFTERWARDS

afterwards, we perch
baked by the sun, legs swing
laughing at the exploits of summer

this time, that time, and
the murmur of names bring
back the lazy, hazy faces
frame our existence in the minds of places

the soulless winter heralds
a crawling spring
long-awaited rays of gold
of which our memories told
to us, would be worth waiting for

beach riots and sandals slapping
the sandcastle king.
boardwalk encounters and
dune disasters, we missed this land.
land of being present and
land of sandwiches and swimming and

that ‘sweltering’ sun.

 

The runner up in this category is Jessica Holmes from Turing House School, Hampton.

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