Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 18 May 2015

  • The Talking Tree

    My Father once told me about a talking tree,
    a tree that spoke only to children, a tree
    I never heard speak, but still it must have spoken
    to my father, because he was always talking 
    to someone, but there was never anyone there.

    I’d often see Father arguing with that tree;
    he’d pace the whole length of the living room,
    twitching and sweating through his undershirt,
    muttering things I didn’t understand
    about mother, or perhaps Rachmaninoff.

    The tree must have also told my father what to wear,
    because he’d often perform in mismatched socks,
    his ears still white with bits of shaving cream,
    People said look at this man— look at this man!
    People said my father was a genius:

    he’d lean back in the piano bench
    and hum something that must have made its way
    from another world, then close his eyes and dream.
    Soon his head was swaying, his long arms sprouting
    magical hands, moving across the keys.

    by Jodie Hollander


    The Poetry Centre recently launched its International Poetry Competition! There are two categories: Open and English as a Second Language. The winner of each category receives £1000, and second prize is £200. Our judges are Bernard O’Donoghue and Hannah Lowe. Find out more information about the competition, read the terms and conditions, and enter on the Poetry Centre website. Please spread the word!

    ‘The Talking Tree’ is copyright © Jodie Hollander, 2015. It is reprinted from The Humane Society (Tall-Lighthouse, 2012) by permission of the author and Tall-Lighthouse.

    Jodie Hollander
    , originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was raised in a family of classical musicians. She studied poetry in England and has published her work in journals such as The Poetry Review, Stand, Poet Lore, The Dark Horse, The Manchester Review, Verse Daily, Ambit, The Warwick Review, Agenda, and Australia’s Best Poems, 2011, edited by John Tranter. You can follow Jodie’s work via her website. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship in South Africa, a Hawthornden Fellowship in Scotland, and was awarded a MacDowell Colony fellowship in February of 2015.  Her debut publication, The Humane Society, was released with Tall-Lighthouse in 2012. 

    Tall-Lighthouse is an independent publishing house in the UK, established in 1999 by Les Robinson. It publishes full collections of poetry, pamphlets, and the anthology City Lighthouse, a collection of poems by established and emerging poets alike, having featured work by Maurice Riordan, Hugo Williams, Daljit Nagra and Roddy Lumsden, among others. The press has established itself as a leading light on the small press poetry scene, four of its pamphlet publications having received the Poetry Book Society’s Pamphlet Choice Award in Spring 2006, Summer and Winter 2008, and Spring 2009. The current Director and Editor of the press is Gareth Lewis, who took over after Les Robinson stepped down from those roles on 1 October 2011. Poets published by Tall Lighthouse include Helen Mort, Aoife Mannix, Baden Prince, Pierre Ringwald, Heather Taylor, Alan Buckley, Ben Parker and Jodie Hollander. Find out more about the press from its 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.