Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 06 February 2017

  • To Kill a Robin

    Come January, the pair of us clarted out to pluck
    the morning, feet bound in brushwood – plumage
    flying out of my Mother’s mouth. It was us
    or the birds. If you kill a robin on New Year’s Day,
    give a feather to a rodman and he’ll always sail clear.
    She would not be a widow, not yet. You could say
    I had a mind for the birds, the hunch of me
    hunkered in spitting distance of the river, so still
    and part of everything in my brown coat, I wanted
    to grab my cold breath and pull it back in.
    Ma stood listening for the tek tek, a cough hanging
    frayed streamers over our heads. I caught the robin
    in nithered fingers I barely dared open. There,
    the bird perfectly refused to have its neck snapped.
    It simply stopped in the cave of my grasp, one
    last trill like water rolling a silence over my hands.

    by Angela Readman


    News from the Centre: leading Scandinavian poet Pia Tafdrup is visiting the UK from 15-17 February in
    a tour organized by the Poetry Centre. She’ll be in Reading (reading with Peter Robinson), Ledbury (with Fiona Sampson), and in Oxford (with Philip Gross). More details about the tour are on the Poetry Centre website, and there are only 10 tickets left for the date in Oxford. Book via our Shop now!

    Be sure to tune in to
    BBC Radio 4 's In Our Time programme this Thursday to hear our colleague Prof Simon Kövesi discussing the poet John Clare with Prof Jonathan Bate and Dr Mina Gorji. There's more about Simon's research on his webpage.


    ‘To Kill a Robin’ is copyright © Angela Readman, 2016. It is reprinted from The Book of Tides (Nine Arches Press, 2016) by permission of Nine Arches Press.

    Angela Readman’s The Book of Tides is a treasure trove of luscious, visceral poems that are delightfully risky, utterly thrilling and always close to the bone. Readman’s poetry teems with the rare and beautiful, the dark seaweed sparkle of a particular strand of skewed folklore; here we encounter fishermen and mermaids, a man with a beard of bees, a Tattooist’s daughter, Joan of Arc, and Beatrix Potter’s bed – a rich swell of voices with an irresistible and peculiar power.

    Salt-speckled and sea tinged, these poems possess a distinctive eye for disconcerting and uncanny details – from notes in bottles and knotted handkerchiefs, to sequin fish-scales and drowned rats. To read Readman’s poetry is to be simultaneously unsettled and enraptured, and to encounter witchcraft, murder, love and loss. As The Book of Tides unfolds, will you dare to put your ear to its seashell, tune into its siren song and cast yourself adrift on its strange and alluring current? Read more about the book on the Nine Arches website.

    Angela Readman’s stories and poems have appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines, including London Magazine, Staple, Ambit and Mslexia, and she has won awards including the National Flash Fiction Competition. In 2012 she was shortlisted for the Costa Short Story Award for ‘Don’t Try This at Home’ – an award she would go on to win in 2013 with the story ‘The Keeper of the Jackalopes’. Her previous collections of poetry include Strip (Salt, 2007). The Book of Tides (Nine Arches Press, 2016) is her third collection of poems. You can read more about Angela Readman on the Nine Arches blog, and follow her work 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 (The Terrors by Tom Chivers and The Titanic Cafe closes its doors and hits the rocks by David Hart) were shortlisted for the Michael Marks Poetry Pamphlet prize and Mark Goodwin's book Shod won the 2011 East Midlands Book Award. In 2012, Nine Arches launched the Debut New Poets Series of first collections and the press has now published more than 30 collections of poetry and 10 issues of the magazine. We continue to build a reputation as a publisher of well-crafted and innovative contemporary poetry and short story collections. 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.