As Against the Grain Press is over one year old it is popping up on various indie press lists – Happenstance creates a well-compiled list and Mslexia has just been in touch to add up to theirs. So what have we been doing during this time?
Our first publication was Anna Kisby’s, All the Naked Daughters, that came out in November 2017. Anna is a Devon-based poet and archivist. After growing up in London, she studied Literature and Film at the universities of East Anglia, Sussex and Paris-Sorbonne, taught English in Prague and sold cowboy boots in Massachusetts, then training as an archivist and working with women’s history collections.
Read Emma Lee’s review HERE
Following on Kisby’s heels, we were delighted to publish S. A. Leavesley’s, How to Grow Matches in spring 2018.
S.A. Leavesley is a prize-winning poet, fiction writer, journalist and photographer. Author of seven poetry titles, two…
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We’re delighted to announce the results of our Against the Grain 2018 single poem competition. Congratulations to our winners and commended entries.
- First prize £100 – Jane Wilkinson for Diptych
- Second prize £50 – Eithne Lannon for The Swan
- Third prize £25 – Sarah Gibbons for Selkie Wives
- Olga Dermott-Bond – Sonnet of swimming parts
- Emma Lee – How to make a Snow Angel
- Jane Lovell – Cicatrix
Distance – has now become measurable, in the furniture
of the yew tree where squirrels chase like unleashed monkeys
and other small creatures and even smaller ones make
their way over the surfaces of the world; spring is restless.
Later, you pass by the clockwork grasses, a ticking frenzy,
the open mouths, entrances to paths, O they purse
and pursue, their intentions certain as the compass. Haste
is made in beech avenues through paper leaves and quarrels.
Steady, the milkcow’s tail keeps time, flicks at her flank;
the muscles cringe, quick then still; oak’s feet wring the clay,
a potter’s oozing fist. Shy buckled fingers of the ancient plane tree
scrape baby knuckles to make a girl’s curls swing; sing.
There is nothing left to do but warm the glowing pearl
in your furled and shaded chambers, in that darkness,
miniature Elizabeth burns. Anne, you unwind. At one o’clock,
one small bell, one small black beetle weaves a clever route
through the milk of collar lace. A blood spider (would have set
your teeth on edge) walks a dotted line around your neck… Cut Here
:right-side ( Elizabeth.)
Cut here to draw the curtains of heavy clothes that muffle
(and contain the internal tick) like a complicated yew hedge;
or the yolk-yellow fallen pine needles that draw, then dampen
the visitor’s path. At night, you dream your body is immersed: a ship
wrecked with gold barnacles and heavy with the crowd that cling
to and embroider the coarse hinge hair and exposed milk
simplicity of skin, slinky as ermine; to be both armoured
and anchored in eruptions of pearls and silk; complex foam
waves breaking shore. But when did your heart stiffen, my love?
as the starch in the whorls of the neck ruff on which your head
– summation of the known world – balances carefully on its plate,
proximal as Ann. As well as roses do, the thorns wind their way
around the glossy coronation coat – to deflate that flower? No, you just
take a deeper breath, fingering the buds and twisting your rings
you smell spring coming: woodruff and garlic nose the light, strained
through oak and ash crowns, fed by last year’s fall. Elizabeth! London
lies down to let you stand upon it. Then processioning, dogged as tide,
it rises to shelter in your stare that spans yet unknown distance.
You were searching for the skyline,
for the end,
for no good reason
other than to draw a line in your life,
to place a comma, a full stop
anywhere that it might stall
And wishing the blue day
not to cascade into the disappearing horizon,
not to drown inside the void
that was becoming darker
than the black river, you took
what light there was before you
and saw the swan’s slow
rise from water; steady head-bows,
slender neck, a canopy of wing
tail-starts the surging motion,
heavy hinged creak as it climbs,
the burden of its great body
so finely balanced in air,
so eagerly beautiful.
And isn’t it just doing
what swans do—
downy wing-song soft whistling,
dark beak sifting the copper twilight—
in the mottled evening sky it flies
low over thick pines, over dense silences.
Then, what I wanted for you
was to stand by the river
and let your heart enter;
to be wind-borne with the sure body,
to speak in tongues
of here, of this, of now,
to hear the night falling,
Now I wonder if there is something more to it
all those raw-hearted women
with their work-roughened hands,
apron strings tied high above baby-stretched bellies
waxed stares out west beyond the waves,
peat-smoked walls, lye tubs and
basic butchery of the home at their backs.
Because even mild drudge gets me down
how when the furred green tangerine
behind the sofa, slid over my finger,
its dried heart felt like the tanned skin of a relic.
Even as I hold the perfect weight of my son
I could thrust one hand beyond the whisper
of the boned party frocks in the wardrobe
feel the salt slap of seawater,
the dense shorn velvet of sealskin.
Well many thanks poets! What a cracking response to our competition. We had no idea we’d get so many entries!
We read through them all (of which there were almost 600!). Thank you so very much for supporting us.
We will be announcing our winners this very soon!!
WATCH THIS SPACE!
Check out this review of Flood-Junk by Caitlin Miller. Here’s a snippet –
“A gripping and thought provoking debut pamphlet, Flood Junk by Bath Spa Allumni Sean Magnus Martin…, touches on both human and eco themes. It is layered and imaginatively crafted; a must read for enthusiasts of contemporary poetry who are interested in having a new and exciting readerly experience.”
Super review over at Rogue Stands on this exceptionally sunny October day. Do go over and take a look, great title… Opening the floodgates, S.A. Leavesley’s How to Grow Matches.
Rogue Strands is edited by Matthew Stewart whose collection, The Knives of Villalejo was published by Eyewear Publishing and pamphlets by Happenstance.
Metastatic: traversing a dark and uncertain landscape
Jane Lovell and Timothy Adés
Against the Grain Press is delighted to launch Jane Lovell’s Metastatic at the Poetry Café on October 19th at 7pm. Special guest readers include Alison Brackenbury and two poets from ATG’s 2019 list, Graham Clifford and Michelle Diaz. We are also pleased that Timothy Adés is joining Jane on stage as narrator.
“Jane Lovell’s writing charts mysterious, unsettling trajectories: the invisible paths of bees, the journey of dead light, the routes found in folded and untied landscapes. These poems unmoor us, find beauty and strangeness in the everyday.” Helen Mort
Jane Lovell is the Poetry Society Stanza Rep for Mid Kent. She has had work published in Agenda, Earthlines, Poetry Wales, Magma, the North, the Honest Ulsterman, Dark Mountain, The Lonely Crowd, Ink Sweat & Tears,Zoomorphic and Elementum.
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