Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 11 April 2016

  • Pinball Electra

    You and your robot bride, I scoff
    (the sport of waking her, waking her),
    cold metal clattering to fleshen
    out the supine girl, evince
    that throaty laugh’s ideal
    appreciation of your skill.

    You ribbed me back –
    how I, Electra-like, keep
    harping on my theme.
    And I dream a dark arcade,
    where the pinball king
    has made a game of genius,

    to make him breathe, if
    I play it right. Shake the cabinet
    with the volleys, flippers
    to defibrillate the dormant heart,
    a silver hail on whitened skull.
    Make him turn and see.

    No cheat codes for this level,
    a hall of earnest girls play on.
    Coinfall after coinfall,
    the expectation of that crucial voice,
    shattering the case’s glass.
    Make him speak to me.


    by Isobel Dixon


    This Thursday lunchtime, the Poetry Centre invites you to join us in a celebration of ‪Shakespeare's Sonnets in this special year commemorating the 400th anniversary of his death. A dozen students and staff will be reading their favourite sonnets, and the event will begin with a short introduction by Dr Katharine Craik, an expert on Shakespeare and his work. It will take place from 12-1pm in T.300 (Tonge Building), Gipsy Lane campus.   

    ‘Pinball Electra’ is copyright © Isobel Dixon, 2013. It is reprinted from Bearings (Nine Arches Press, 2016) by permission of Nine Arches Press. ‘Pinball Electra’ was originally published in Coin Opera II, edited by Jon Stone and Kirsten Irving (Sidekick Books, 2013). 

    In her fourth collection Isobel Dixon takes readers on a journey to far-flung and sometimes dark places. From Mumbai to Hiroshima, Egypt to Edinburgh, the West Bank and beyond, these poems are forays of discovery and resistance, of arrival and loss. Bearings sings of love too, and pays homage to lost friends and poets – the voices of John Berryman, Michael Donaghy, Robert Louis Stevenson and others echo here. And there
is respite for the weary traveller – jazz in the shadows, an exuberant play of words between the fire and tremors. In this wide-ranging collection Dixon explores form and subject, keeping a weather eye out for telling detail, with a sharp sense of the threat that these journeys, our wars and stories, and our very existence pose to the planet. Isobel Dixon will be launching the collection at the London Book Fair on Wednesday 13 April at the Globe Theatre, 5B140 in the Great Hall from 5-6pm, and also at the Wenlock Poetry Festival, together with Abegail Morley and Julia Webb on Sunday 24 April.

    Isobel Dixon grew up in South Africa, where her debut, Weather Eye, won the Olive Schreiner Prize. She studied in Scotland and now works in London, returning frequently to her family home in the Karoo. Her further collections are A Fold in the Map and The Tempest Prognosticator and she co-wrote and performed in the Titanic centenary show The Debris Field (with Simon Barraclough and Chris McCabe). Mariscat will publish a pamphlet, The Leonids, in August 2016. You can read more about Isobel’s new book on the Nine Arches website, and more about her work on her own site.

    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.