Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 04 June 2019

  • The Europeans 

    I saw the Europeans drinking wine under trees.
    It was August and their children seemed wise
    beyond their years, moving with the dappled light.

    Later the Europeans were wearing bright uniforms,
    simultaneously grand and preposterous,
    their cigarillos discolouring their moustaches.

    When the winter came, the Europeans retreated
    into forests. People were wolves or wolves
    were people. These matters were increasingly unclear.

    Every village had good bread, indolent officials,
    its own throat-clenching hooch. Occasionally,
    its peace was disturbed as love ended in some alleyway.

    The Europeans were volatile or taciturn, hearty
    or shiftless. Really, you could take your pick.
    The only constant was the scrape and shudder of those trams

    in the very early morning. In their cities,
    the streets were museums. Someone had been shot
    heroically on every corner. You could still put your finger

    into the bullet holes in the masonry, just as a violin started
    up in that apartment over the café. The Europeans
    had much to say of poetry and much silence to say it into.

    I became convinced they knew something
    they would not tell me, but I did not dare
    to ask the veterans on the parched square.

    by David Clarke


    The deadline for our PoetryFilm competition is this Friday (7 June)! Respond in a short film to a poem by one of our award-winning 
    ignitionpress poets and win prizes and screenings! You can find the poems and more about how to enter here.

    The Poetry Centre has also just launched its 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.

    Finally, don’t forget about the final two events in our academic year: firstly, there’s our final reading in the current series on Wednesday 26 June at Waterstones in Oxford, which features Ilya Kaminsky and Shara Lessley. Ilya has been receiving extraordinary acclaim in the US and UK for his latest book, Deaf Republic, and Shara’s collection The Explosive Expert’s Wife, has received enthusiastic reviews and award nominations. This is an event not to be missed! Register for a free place here. Then join us and an international group of poets and critics for ‘Our Poetry and Our Needs’, a symposium at the University of Reading on Tuesday 9 July. More details here.

    ‘The Europeans’ is copyright © David Clarke, 2019. It is reprinted from The Europeans (Nine Arches Press, 2019) by permission of Nine Arches Press.

    Notes from Nine Arches:

    David Clarke, winner of the Michael Marks Poetry Award 2013, returns with his second collection, The Europeans. Simultaneously close to home and looking outward beyond these shores, these wry and perceptive poems revel with form and encompass journeys, ideas of nationhood and national identity, and the optimism of a time when Europe and the UK enjoyed a quite different 'entente cordiale'. They are a warning against nostalgia, a lucid and prescient exploration of how we see ourselves and how we are seen. Read more about the collection on the Nine Arches website

    David Clarke was born in Lincolnshire. His first pamphlet, Gaud, won the Michael Marks award in 2013. His first collection, Arc, was published by Nine Arches Press in 2015 and was longlisted for the Polari Prize. Another pamphlet, Scare Stories, was published by V Press in 2017 and was named a Poetry School ‘Book of the Year.’ His poems have appeared in magazines including Magma, Tears in the Fence, Long Poem Magazine and The Interpreter’s House. You can follow David on Twitter.

    Since its founding in 2008, Nine Arches Press has published poetry and short story collections (under the Hotwire imprint), as well as Under the Radar magazine. In 2010, two of our pamphlets were shortlisted for the Michael Marks Poetry Pamphlet prize and Mark Goodwin's book Shod won the 2011 East Midlands Book Award. In 2017, All My Mad Mothers by Jacqueline Saphra was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize. Our titles have also been shortlisted for the Michael Murphy Prize, and in 2016 David Clarke's debut poems, Arc, was longlisted for the Polari Prize. To date we have now published over seventy poetry publications, and 20 issues of Under the Radar magazine (and counting). Follow Nine Arches on Facebook and Twitter.

    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.