Everything is wet E v e r y t h i n g Things are done properly here For two days you will all struggle with umbrellas On the third day the see-through plastic and spoke carcasses line the kerbs I wait for my name and number to be proclaimed across the land before making my arrival I don’t rush up the country that would be inconsiderate I take each island in turn a typhoon etiquette Yaeyama Miyako Okinawa Amami Tokara Yakushima I savour Okinawa raking each field forcing every cane of sugar every husk of rice to drink itself daft You will know of my arrival via text in the middle of the night There’s the gathering of winds the heavy slant of rain It is almost a relief for you The waiting is over I am here Some of you bet on my wind speeds I can perform at a mean 150 km an hour Most aren’t fooled by the lull after my initial hit but I love to see those blond tourists venture from their Best Westerns flat cameras like amulets They won’t stay for long I like the streets empty night or day when even the crows are silent then I concentrate Destruction used to be easier I’d been taught to savour the umashi of Shibuya’s concrete how it used to crumble I spun around laughing when they built taller But they’re cleverer than before With this all-seeing eye I do my best work and my worst Don’t be fooled treesriverscarsseafronts are easy My life is brief a few days at most Respect me write down my name worship me in this way then shake the rope that leads to your gods see if they are listening
by Katrina Naomi
Our International Poetry Competition is open for entries for just a couple more weeks – until 2 September. There are two categories: Open and English as an Additional Language. Our judge is Jackie Kay, and you could win £1000! Find out more and enter here.
The Poetry Centre’s ignitionpress has just launched its three newest pamphlets by Joanna Ingham, Jennifer Lee Tsai, and Sarah Shapiro. You can read more about them and buy copies here.
Writing about this week’s poem, Verve Poetry Press says: ‘We are thrilled that the wonderful Katrina Naomi has asked us to publish the poems that came out of her recent Arts Council-supported writing trip to Japan. And a wonderful group of poems they are, that at once depict Japan, its traditions, its customs with great enthusiasm and some puzzlement. Katrina doesn’t pretend she is an expert but prods and questions not only what she finds but also herself.
Also included are Katrina’s translations of haiku by two Japanese masters, which have previously been published in Modern Poetry in Translation magazine. Altogether, this is Katrina trying something new, but with the quality, the wonderful way with words, the earnest grappling with the perceived world that characterises all her work.’ You can read more about the pamphlet and buy a copy on the Verve Poetry Press site.
In 2018 Katrina Naomi received a BBC commission for National Poetry Day. Her poetry has appeared in the TLS, Poetry London, The Poetry Review and The Forward Book of Poetry 2017, as well as on BBC TV’s Spotlight and Radio 4’s Front Row and Poetry Please. Her latest collection, The Way the Crocodile Taught Me (Seren, 2016), was chosen by Foyles’ Bookshop as one of its #FoylesFive for poetry. Katrina was the first writer-in-residence at the Brontë Parsonage Museum in West Yorkshire. She has a PhD in Creative Writing (Goldsmiths) and tutors for Arvon, Ty Newydd and the Poetry Society. Learn about Katrina’s work via her website and follow her on Twitter.
Verve Poetry Press is a new press focussing intently on meeting a local need in Birmingham – a need for the vibrant poetry scene here in Brum to find a way to present itself to the poetry world via publication. Co-founded by Stuart Bartholomew and Amerah Saleh, the press was voted Most Innovative Press at Saboteur Awards 2019 and has been described as ‘always exciting’ by Andrew McMillan. It is publishing poets from all corners of the city – poets that represent the city’s varied and energetic qualities and will communicate its many poetic stories.
Added to this is a colourful pamphlet series featuring poets who have previously performed at our sister festival such as Luke Kennard, Katrina Naomi and Claire Trévien - and a poetry show series which captures the magic of longer poetry performance pieces by poets such as Polarbear and Matt Abbott. Like the festival, we will strive to think about poetry in inclusive ways and embrace the multiplicity of approaches towards this glorious art. Find out more about Verve Poetry Press here and more about the festival here.
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