Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 24 August 2016

  • Summer

    Corn scrapes our shins.
    We’ve no reason to go back.
    Now you’re here, we spend summer
    in fields far from our houses
    where no-one can see.

    We rub mud on naked arms;
    put stripes across our faces,
    blood red clay over our noses,
    tug back our hair.

    We march by the river, sun scalds
    our scalps, necks. From the back
    I can tell you’re not a boy;
    your legs are too skinny, your
    hips widening gently.

    You flay corn with a slender
    branch of willow – air whips round
    your head faster, faster, you love
    the noise. Sap spills in your palm.

    We thrust our feet in water,
    kick until we’re soaked. Next thing
    you’re on the bridge, toes over its edge,
    steadying yourself against the breeze.

    You bend slightly, unlock your knees,
    leap. You drop slowly through the air,
    almost as if it’s trying to catch you.

    by Abegail Morley


    Welcome back to the Weekly Poem after its summer break! Two pieces of news from the Centre: firstly, the deadline for entries into our 2016 International Poetry Competition is only ONE WEEK away! This year’s judge is the award-winning poet Daljit Nagra, and you can find details about how to enter on the Poetry Centre website. There are two categories: Open and English as a Second Language, and the winners of each category will receive £1000, with both runners-up receiving £200. Please feel free to pass the word along!

    Secondly, we are delighted that the acclaimed poet and teacher Tamar Yoseloff will be coming to Oxford to lead a ‪‎poetry writing workshop entitled 'The Space of the Poem' on Saturday 22 October. Inspired by the exhibition by Pan Gongkai running at Brookes’ Glass Tank, we will look at examples of Chinese painting, concrete poetry and text-based sculpture as a way of generating new poems – participants will be encouraged to share their first drafts during the session. You can read more about the workshop on the Brookes website, where you can also book your place (please note that those places are limited!).

    ‘Summer’ is copyright © Abegail Morley, 2016. It is reprinted from The Skin Diary (Nine Arches Press, 2016) by permission of Nine Arches Press.

    Abegail Morley’s debut collection, How to Pour Madness into a Teacup (Cinnamon) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize Best First Collection. Her collections, Snow Child and an ekphrastic collection based on the work of the German satirical painter, George Grosz, Eva and George: Sketches in Pen and Brush are published by Pindrop Press. She collaborated with artist Karen Dennison on The Memory of Water (Indigo Dreams Publishing) based on a residency at Scotney Castle. She was Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2015 and Poet in Residence at Riverhill Himalayan Gardens, Kent 2015-2016. Abegail is a co-founder of EKPHRASIS commissioning poets for ekphrastic events, most recently at The Royal Academy of Arts and the British Library. Her website is The Poetry Shed.

    Since its founding in 2008, Nine Arches Press has published poetry and short story collections (under the Hotwire imprint), as well as Under the Radar magazine. In 2010, two of our pamphlets (The Terrors by Tom Chivers and The Titanic Cafe closes its doors and hits the rocks by David Hart) were shortlisted for the Michael Marks Poetry Pamphlet prize and Mark Goodwin's book Shod won the 2011 East Midlands Book Award. In 2012, Nine Arches launched the Debut New Poets Series of first collections and the press has now published more than 30 collections of poetry and 10 issues of the magazine. We continue to build a reputation as a publisher of well-crafted and innovative contemporary poetry and short story collections. Follow Nine Arches on Facebook and Twitter.

    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.