Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 05 December 2016

  • Cannibal

    Once I was so hungry, I tore the skin in strips from my feet
    and ate it – a masseuse asked if I was burned?
    There was protein there. I ate stories too,
    tales of survival in the shell of planes.

    People are said to taste like pork,
    the Polynesians called white folk long pigs –
    Did you know we’d all taste ourselves
    all day long, if we could; that’s what poems are for.

    I’d never eat a child.
    I’d sooner die than eat a sibling.
    Pork meat is white, fatty, fibroud
    with the same strings that animate human days.

    I’d like to think I could stay alive
    on rain and my own dermis, beads of breast milk,
    crusts of wax. My heart quietly consuming itself,
    cardiac walls breaking down.

    by Sarah Westcott


    Today (Monday 5 December), the Poetry Centre presents a double dose of poetry from Steven Matthews, Kelley Swain & John Barnie. The three current poets in residence at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History will read from 12-1pm in JHB 208 at Oxford Brookes University, and then in the evening at The Albion Beatnik Bookshop from 7.30pm. All are welcome to either - or both! - events. You can find more details on the Poetry Centre website.

    ‘Cannibal’ is copyright © Sarah Westcott, 2016. It is reprinted from Slant Light (Liverpool University Press, 2016) by permission of Liverpool University Press.

    Notes from Pavilion Poetry:

    In her first full-length collection, Slant Light, Sarah Westcott immerses the human self in the natural world, giving voice to a remarkable range of flora and fauna so often silenced or unheard. Here, the voiceless speaks, laments and sings - from the fresh voice of a spring wood to a colony of bats or a grove of ancient sequioa trees. Unafraid of using scientific language and teamed with a clear eye, Westcott’s poems are drawn directly from the natural world, questioning ideas of the porosity of boundaries between the human and non-human and teeming with detail.

    Sarah Westcott’s debut pamphlet Inklings was the Poetry Book Society’s Pamphlet Choice for Winter 2013. Her poems have been published in journals including Poetry Review, Magma and Poetry Wales and in anthologies including Best British Poetry 2014 (Salt). Sarah grew up in north Devon, on the edge of Exmoor, and has a keen interest in the natural world. She holds a science degree and an MA in poetry from Royal Holloway, University of London. Sarah lives on the London/Kent borders with her family and, after a spell teaching English abroad, works as a news journalist. You can find out more about Sarah and her work on her website, and follow her on Twitter.

    Pavilion Poetry is a new contemporary poetry series from Liverpool University Press, edited by Deryn Rees-Jones, which seeks to publish the very best in contemporary poetry. Always international in its reach, Pavilion Poetry is poetry that takes a risk. Whether by new or established and award-winning writers, this is poetry sure to challenge and delight. Launched in 2015, Pavilion has already enjoyed considerable success, with Mona Arshi’s book, Small Hands, winning the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection at the 2015 Forward Prizes, and Ruby Robinson’s Every Little Sound being shortlisted for the same prize in 2016. You can read more about the series on the Liverpool University Press website.

    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.