100 Poems to Save the Earth
Poetry Breakfast ~ at home
Zoë has three poetry collections to her name, Hand & Skull (2019), Conquest (2012), and The Secret (2007), all published by Bloodaxe and available via our curated book list. Zoë is the newly appointed joint-editor of Poetry Wales.
Kristian is an environmental poet, artist and activist. He is the author of A Kenfig Journal, and has published one poetry collection: Unleaving (2015), published by and available from Happenstance. Otherworlds a chapbook of non-fiction (with Zoё Brigley) will be published by Broken Sleep in 2021.
100 Poems to Save the Earth
Unusually, all of our poems this month are coming from one book ~ the glorious new anthology from Seren.
It’s a marvellous anthology that includes some of my favourite poets, like Gillian Clarke; Eavan Boland; Paul Henry; Sheenagh Pugh and Simon Armitage among many, many others. The editors address the question of how can poetry save the earth like this:
Poetry invites us to fine-tune our senses, to pay attention, to feel more carefully for the pulse of things. It asks us to slow down and notice what we have been missing, to remember what we have forgotten.
Poetry … calls us to stay awake, to find the words to describe how [anxiety, grief] feels, to sing to what hurts, to reach out, to attend more closely and with more care, to each other and to our fellow species, to see all things as our kin. In fact, it may be that poetry is exactly what we need to save the earth.
Zoë Brigley and Kristian Evans, from 100 Poems to Save the Earth, published by Seren, 2021.
Here are just three poems from the many I have loved in this anthology. I hope they give you a flavour of the breadth and scope of the poetry included. Join us at the live Zoom event to hear more.
STOP PRESS! Huge congratulations to Kathleen Jamie on becoming the Makar of Scotland!
The world began with a woman,
shawl-happed, stooped under a creel,
whose slow step you recognize
from troubled dreams. You feel
obliged to help her bear her burden
from hill or kelp-strewn shore.
but she passes by unseeing
thirled to her private chore.
It’s not sea birds or peat she’s carrying,
not fleece, nor the herring bright
but her fear that if she ever put it down
the world would go out like a light.
by Kathleen Jamie
The sky is broken. There is the usual scud
of dense cloud: showers, lightning, a shower
and then the cycle begins again. Each hour
is a new foray into a thin skim of mud
beside the river. Ducks huddle under leaves
then waddle out into brief sunshine. Nowhere
will you find any fixed point that might bear
your weight or even your spirits. Nothing receives
the imprint of your shoe. It is England of course,
not one of the dependable climates. Things fly
in muscular gusts: flags, bunting, news-sheets.
It is as if there were some irrestible force
blowing us over into a strange new century
that billows beyond us, between our thin heart-beats.
by George Szirtes
Listen to the nightjar, hear her holy tremblings —
star litter, night fragment, slip down a spine of grass.
A circumstance of sound electrifies the heath,
opens up the dark. Though she’s dead now,
or to all effects, in silence, gone
like a ghost ship rising, you can hear her.
Her voice is both inside you
and around you. She pushes you away,
she asks you to be near.
In the stillness, let the sound debris, in wild track,
moth-like, poke the dust. Put your finger on the space
she finds in you, her rattle notes, her love rambles:
let her open up a space, beside you — there
now, there — close beside your heart.
by Deryn Rees-Jones
All of the above are from 100 Poems to Save the Earth, Seren, 2021. Reprinted here by kind permission of Kathleen Jamie, George Szirtes and Seren.
Zoom Poetry Breakfast
If you would like to hear more of these poems, read by Zoë Brigley, Kristian Evans and other readers, we’d love to see you at our live event on Zoom. The date is Thursday September 9th at 9am and will last about an hour. The guide price is £5. You do still need to bring your own coffee and croissant!
Seren ~ celebrating 40 years of the best independent publishing in Wales
Since its beginnings in 1981, Seren has developed into one of the most interesting publishing houses in Britain, with an international reputation for excellence. Their poetry list includes Dannie Abse; Owen Sheers; R S Thomas; Paul Henry; Fiona Sampson; Sheenagh Pugh; Jonathan Edwards, and more.
October’s Poetry Breakfast will be a celebration of Seren’s 40 years of publishing poetry. Join us on October 14th when we are delighted to be showcasing collections published by Seren this year. Our very special guests will be Chris Meredith, Ilse Pedler, Kim Moore and Abeer Ameer.
And for now ~ enjoy the rest of the summer!
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