Poetry Centre

Weekly Poem for 28 July 2014

  • from American Sampler

    Last, my father combs out the long flax.
    I think of my grandfather’s beard, white and silky,
    and how as a young man he took with his own hands
    stones and boulders from the earth, combing
    the earth through with his fingers.

    Mist hangs over the open, soft, serious farmland
    like a sermon I breathe. My mother settles
    to spin the flax, wetting her fingers
    so the fibres twist and cling.

    So this coarse linen still has their touch in it,
    where I touch and bleed and belong.


    by Jane Duran


    This excerpt from American Sampler is copyright © Jane Duran, 2014, and reprinted from her book American Sampler (2014) by permission of Enitharmon Books.

    Announcing the Poets' Corner Open Mic Night at Blackwell's Bookshop in Oxford. Blackwell's writes: 'Join us on the first Tuesday of every month for our 'Poets' Corner' open mic poetry night. We invite you to stand up and read your work or to come along and enjoy being part of the audience listening. If you feel brave and would like to be a speaker on the night, please email events.oxford@blackwell.co.uk or call our Customer Services Department on 01865 333623 to put your name on the list. Places are normally booked in advance so please get in touch to avoid disappointment. The next meeting is on Tuesday 5th August at 7pm, and is free to attend.'

    Notes from Enitharmon:

    Jane Duran was brought up in the USA and Chile, and now lives in England. Her poems have appeared in anthologies, and selections have been published in Poetry Introduction 8 (Faber and Faber, 1993), Making for Planet Alice (Bloodaxe, 1997), and in La Generacion del Cordero (Trilce Ediciones, Mexico, 2000). Her debut collection, Breathe Now, Breathe (Enitharmon, 1995) won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Enitharmon published her second collection Silences from the Spanish Civil War in 2002. Jane's last collection Graceline was published last year by Enitharmon and was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. You can hear Jane Duran read from her work at the Poetry Archive.

    Her latest book, American Sampler, will be published in early September, and you can find out more about the collection and pre-order it via the Enitharmon website. Jane Duran’s childhood memories of rural New England permeate American Sampler, bringing the reader in close to its landscapes, weather and light. The book is about vanishing worlds, and the struggle of memory and craft and imagination to understand and hold fragments of the past and turn them into fresh, breathing moments.

    '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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