Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 19 October 2016

  • Belle Étoile

    (after Paul Louis Rossi)

    One more time
    I’ve let myself drift
    Through the network of darkened streets
    Once more the boat has left harbour
    And I’ve forgotten oars and compass

    Mysterious
    Women, or statues,
    Stone façades or plaster faces
    You steal my nights from me
    You mix your blood with mine, in spite of me

    Nothing welcomes me nothing
    In the solitude where I wander
    Not a single opening door
    And the fluttering of handkerchiefs can’t hold me
    The current is too strong, the rudder’s broken

    Let it go give up
    Don’t stretch out a hand to the drowned man
    I’ll roll like a pebble to the sea
    And don’t go grieving over him he has
    His eternity of recollection innocence and forgetfulness

    In the bitter strictness of the night
    The stars are extinguished after so many glances
    It’s between two waves that the voyage ends
    The lighthouses winking to each other on the coast
    I’m lit up suddenly like phosphorescence, glowing algae

    by John Kinsella and Alan Jenkins

    Booking for our exciting poetry writing/visual art workshop with Tamar Yoseloff closes tomorrow (Thursday) at 5pm! Just a couple of places remain, so move fast if you would like to join us! Visit the Poetry Centre page for more details.

    We invite all our Weekly Poem subscribers to join us at the awards evening for our International Poetry Competition on Friday 25 November at Oxford Brookes from 6-8pm. The event will feature readings from our judge, Daljit Nagra, and the winning and shortlisted poets. To attend, please e-mail poetrycomp@brookes.ac.uk by 11 November with details of how many places you require. We hope to see you there!   

    ‘Belle Étoile’ is copyright © John Kinsella and Alan Jenkins, 2015. It is reprinted from Marine (Enitharmon Press, 2015) by permission of Enitharmon Press

    Notes from Enitharmon Press:

    This remarkable collaboration had its origins when John Kinsella and Alan Jenkins, two very different poets who had long admired and enjoyed each other's work, discovered by chance that the new poems they were working on shared a preoccupation with the sea. Marine brings together those poems and others written since, all dealing with the sea in its many moods and weathers, with people's relationship to and exploitation of their marine environment, from the Indian Ocean to the shores of the Atlantic; the two poets' highly distinctive voices, while drawing on a dazzling variety of forms and sources, complementing each other in a powerful counterpoint. Read more about the book on the Enitharmon website.

    Alan Jenkins’s volumes of poetry include Harm, which won the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 1994, A Shorter Life (2005), Drunken Boats (2008), and Revenants (2013). He is Deputy Editor and Poetry Editor of the Times Literary Supplement. He is a Fellow of the RSL. Learn more about Alan Jenkins’s work from his page on the British Council website

    John Kinsella’s recent works of poetry include Armour (Picador, 2011) and Jam Tree Gully (WW Norton, 2012). Picador published Sack in November, 2014. He is editor and the author of anthologies, works of criticism, fiction and poetry. He is an Extraordinary Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University. You can find out more about John Kinsella’s work from his website.

    ‘William Blake dreamed up the original Enitharmon as one of his inspiriting, good, female daemons, and his own spirit as a poet-artist, printer-publisher still lives in the press which bears the name of his creation. Enitharmon is a rare and wonderful phenomenon, a press where books are shaped into artefacts of lovely handiwork as well as communicators of words and worlds. The writers and the artists published here over the last forty-five years represent a truly historic gathering of individuals with an original vision and an original voice, but the energy is not retrospective: it is growing and new ideas enrich the list year by year. Like an ecologist who manages to restock the meadows with a nearly vanished species of wild flower or brings a rare pair of birds back to found a colony, this publisher has dedicatedly and brilliantly made a success of that sharply endangered species, the independent press.’ (Marina Warner.)  

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    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.