Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 21 August 2017

  • Seamus on the Tube

    Looking away, not looking away –  
    The happenstance of what may change everything;
    Those standing commuters moving off at Charing Cross
    For the Bakerloo Line and then your eyes lifting 

    Above those seated opposite, as one does, to read
    Between faster Broadband and Las Vegas –
    “Where your accent is an aphrodisiac,” it says,
    And where “what happens here, stays here,” 

    The Railway Children where in the white cups

    Of the telegraph wires a young boy knows

    That words are carried in the shiny pouches of raindrops.
    Like this poem carried for you in the red and white Tube

    On the Northern Line in cold January’s real freeze;
    Snow is promised in the suburbs so everyone’s scarved
    Against the weather. Words taking you back to the fifties
    And his boyhood summers before everything changed. 

    Reaching Warren Street, you’ve read it

    Four or five times, absorbed the innocent wisdom

    And sense of the thing. Those people opposite

    See a crazy old man mouthing words, appearing to sing. 

    by Tony Curtis


    The Poetry Centre’s International Poetry Competition, judged this year by award-winning poet Helen Mort, is open for entries for just one more week! Poems are welcomed from writers of 18 years or over in the following two categories: Open and English as an Additional Language. First Prize in both categories is £1000, with £200 for Second. The competition is open for submissions until 11pm BST/10pm GMT on 28 August 2017. Visit our website for more details and to enter, and please feel free to share news of the competition with friends and colleagues.

    The TOAST Poets scheme is now open for applications until midnight on 25 August! TOAST is a professional development project for mid-career poets. It takes the form of eleven workshops over the course of a year from September 2017 – Summer 2018. Each TOAST poet is offered two, hour-long mentoring sessions with an established poet or editor to discuss their work and what steps they might take to progress. This year’s mentors are Hannah Lowe and Kayo Chingonyi. Visit the TOAST website for more details and to apply.

    ‘Seamus on the Tube’ is copyright © Tony Curtis, 2016, and reprinted from From the Fortunate Isles: New and Selected Poems by permission of Seren Books.

    Notes from Seren:

    Seren celebrates the 70th birthday of the Welsh poet Tony Curtis with the publication of his From the Fortunate Isles: New and Selected Poems. This landmark book features poems from ten of his previous collections, in addition to a substantial number of new poems: marking a career in poetry fifty years in duration. This is a poet whose themes and variations remain consistent: a deep affection for his roots in West Wales, tender attachments to family, a profound interest in the wars of the last century, and an abiding fascination for all art forms, particularly painting and poetry. Writing about Tony’s poetry, the late Helen Dunmore commented: ‘The poems reverberate with present, sensuous experience, but beyond their immediacy there is a deep hinterland of public and private histories, of grief and delight.’ You can read more about the new book on the Seren website.

    Tony Curtis was born in Carmarthen in 1946. He studied at Swansea University and Goddard College, Vermont, USA and is the author of a number of poetry collections and pamphlets, including: Taken for Pearls (1993), War Voices (1995), The Arches (1998), Heaven’s Gate (2001) and Crossing Over (2007). He is the editor of a number of popular anthologies on subjects ranging from war to Pembrokeshire, Snowdonia, coal, and orphans in the charitable anthology Tokens for the Foundlings (2012). His many critical books include The Art of Seamus Heaney (1982), and Dannie Abse (1985), How Poets Work (1996) and Welsh Painters Talking (1997). Curtis has won the National Poetry Competition, the Dylan Thomas Prize and a Cholmondeley Award. He is Emeritus Professor of Poetry at the University of South Wales, where he established and was Director of the MPhil in Writing, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He has toured widely, reading his poetry to international audiences. You can read more about Tony’s work on his website and on his Facebook page.

    Seren has been publishing poetry for 35 years. We are an independent publisher specialising in English-language writing from Wales. Seren’s wide-ranging list includes fiction, translation, biography, art and history. Seren’s authors are shortlisted for – and win – major literary prizes across Britain and America, including the 2014 Costa Poetry Prize (for Jonathan Edwards’ My Family and Other Superheroes). Amy Wack has been Seren’s Poetry Editor for more than 20 years. You can find more details about Seren on the publisher’s website and follow Seren on Twitter and on Facebook

    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.