Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 14 March 2016

  • Blackberries

    It’s dark by nine, stoats have been seen
    on the dry stone wall by the sun-room,
    and I have a feeling the blackberries need to be picked.

    When I set off with my grandmother’s hat, her stick and basket,
    children run after me, thistles lie down,
    the cows make way at the gate

    and even the insects seem to disperse
    more respectfully, leaving their eggs
    in the crop’s black best as if that might stop me

    simmering the lot of them tomorrow
    in the big aluminium pan. Somewhere in an outbuilding
    jars of ten-year-old overboiled jam

    recrystallise slowly (I should throw them away)
    while the good stuff sits on a shelf in London
    where no one has time for toast and tea.

    No one else will put up with so many scratches,
    wade into rosebay willowherb six foot high
    or chance it with the stinging nettles,

    bitten and burnt and aching all over,
    filling the basket with little black blind spots,
    berry-sized bruises that float in the eye.

    This summer again, in patches of scrub
    at the back of my mind, such fruit has been ripening
    red from green and green from white

    that somebody has to pick it, some sweet thing
    of the sweetness of August’s August rain
    be preserved.

    by Kate Bingham

    Join us on Monday 21 March for an exciting poetry reading at the Albion Beatnik in Oxford with visiting US poet Leah Umansky and local poet Penny Boxall. Leah is the author of the dystopian-themed chapbook, Straight Away the Emptied World¸ the Mad-Men inspired, Don Dreams and I Dream, and the full-length collection Domestic Uncertainties. Penny is Education Officer at Oxford’s University Church. Her debut collection, Ship of the Line, was published by Eyewear in 2014, a year in which she also won second prize in the Jane Martin Poetry Prize and had her poem, ‘What You Mean to Me’, commended in the Forward Prize. For more details, visit our Facebook event page.

    ‘Blackberries’ is copyright © Kate Bingham, 2015. It is reprinted from Infragreen (Seren, 2015) by permission of Seren Books.

    Kate Bingham’s Infragreen is her eagerly-awaited third collection of poems. Her subject matter can be deceptively simple: rain, the school run, a conversation, but these poems are full of subtle emotional power and wrought with dazzling patterns. Quicksand Beach, her Forward Prize-nominated previous book, was admired by The Guardian for its ‘urgent interrogation of the ways in which we love.’

    According to Poetry Review, ‘Nothing is taken for granted in the intellectual universe of these poems: instead they draw strength from going on creating in the face of mystery... Infragreen is full of sensuous, imaginative and beautifully accomplished work.’ Read more about the book on the Seren website.

    Kate Bingham is a poet, novelist, and filmmaker who lives in London. Her previous collections are Cohabitation and Quicksand Beach. ‘On Highgate Hill’ was nominated for the Forward Prize Best Single Poem in 2010. Find out more about Kate’s work on her website.

    Seren is an independent publisher based in Wales. Founded in 1981 to publish poetry discovered by the then-editor of Poetry Wales magazine, Cary Archard. Under Managing Editor Mick Felton the press now publishes a broad range of fiction, non-fiction, and criticism. Amy Wack has been Poetry Editor at Seren for over 20 years. During that time, poets published by Seren have won or been shortlisted for the Costa, Forward, T.S. Eliot and Aldeburgh Prizes. ‪You can find out more about Seren on the publisher’s 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.