If anything, I’m a witchy vagrant locked inside an endless hall of mirrors, patterns and repetitions, wandering. I’ve often been in the wrong place at the wrong time, my wasted youth traded for a ghostly ride in a fairground, crazy merry-go-round music haunting my memories. Family, friends, ancestors and spirits: light a candle when I’m gone, so the pretty moths can come closer to the flame but not be burnt. I don’t want to go, just yet. The moon is so elegant tonight. All week long shit storms and hailstones raged. Thank you for the damned and wild beauty you have given me here, though most days I couldn’t find the words to tell you, the way a Chopin nocturne plays inside my head every time I think of you. It remains unknown. I smash through the glass. I leave you the key.
by Jennifer Lee Tsai
You can hear Jennifer read the poem here.
The Poetry Centre’s ignitionpress is delighted to share with you a poem from one of its new pamphlets, Kismet by Jennifer Lee Tsai. The pamphlet will be available later this month and will be launched in London on 22 July and in Oxford on 23 July. Please join us to celebrate the launch of Jennifer’s pamphlet and pamphlets by Joanna Ingham and Sarah Shapiro, whose poems will feature in the next two Weekly Poems. Sign up here for the launches.
Don’t forget that we recently launched our International Poetry Competition for 2019! This year we are delighted to say that our judge is the internationally-acclaimed writer Jackie Kay! There are two categories: Open and English as an Additional Language, and the winners in each category receive £1000. The competition is open until 2 September, and full details can be found here.
Jennifer Lee Tsai is a poet, editor and critic. She was born in Bebington and grew up in Liverpool. An alumna of St Andrews and Liverpool Universities, she holds an MA in Creative Writing with Distinction from the University of Manchester. Jennifer is a fellow of The Complete Works III and a Ledbury Poetry Critic.
Her poems are featured in Ten: Poets of the New Generation (Bloodaxe, 2017) and have been published in Oxford Poetry, The Rialto, SMOKE, Soundings, Ambit, Wild Court and elsewhere. Her poetry reviews are published by The Poetry School, the Poetry Book Society Bulletin, Modern Poetry in Translation, Ambit and Poetry Review. Jennifer is an Associate Editor for SMOKE magazine and a Contributing Editor to Ambit. She was a runner-up in Poetry in the 2018 Bi’an Writing Awards. Follow Jennifer on Twitter here.
Kismet opens with the poet as ‘the only Oriental at a primary school in Birkenhead’, a state of isolation – and rupturing of identity – intensified by the unfolding of both personal and ancestral traumas. But this is ultimately a work of hope and renewal. Jennifer Lee Tsai shows us how taking control of our own stories can create a profound sense of connection to life that transcends individual suffering.
ignitionpress is a poetry pamphlet press from Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre with an international outlook which publishes original, arresting poetry from emerging poets, and established poets working on interim or special projects.
Our latest pamphlets are by Joanna Ingham, Jennifer Lee Tsai, and Sarah Shapiro, and they will be published in July 2019. The first five pamphlets to be published by ignitionpress: There’s No Such Thing by Lily Blacksell, A Hurry of English by Mary Jean Chan (Poetry Book Society Summer Pamphlet Choice, 2018), Glean by Patrick James Errington, Shadow Dogs by Natalie Whittaker and Small Inheritances by Belinda Zhawi, are available from our online Shop. Each pamphlet costs £5, and you can buy three for £12. You can find out more about the poets and their work on our dedicated page.
Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.