Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Introducing the May 2009 Readers - 1. Gerry McGrath

Below is Gerry McGrath’s bio and a poem:

Grew up in Helensburgh and went to Strathclyde Uni to study mod langs. Graduated there 1985. Thereafter much of consequence! Research student, Floor-sander, TEFL teacher, bar worker. Post-grad student of Russian language. Jordanhill, for my sins. Seven long years as dominie terminated by illness. Co-winner (with David Kinloch) of 2004 Robert Louis Stevenson memorial award. Spent two fabulous months at Grez where first book completed (2005). Awarded Scottish Writer's bursary (2007) to write book of poems on theme of silence. Live in West Kilbride with my lovely wife Kate and two sons Liam and Owen, walking on the beach between nappies.


There’s this poem that begins
with a vase, four stems standing
in water translucent as the flesh
of grapes. It speaks of mothers
lifting stones, forking over wrack,
searching the pelts of bees for signs
of their departed sons, and ends abruptly,
with a surprise dividend, a crash
of old glass, some coins, goodbyes,
a promise.

(from A to B © Carcanet Press 2008, used with author's permission)

Monday, 13 April 2009

Introducing the April 2009 Readers - 4. Kevin Cadwallender

Kevin Cadwallender lives in Edinburgh. He was shortlisted for a Sony Award for his BBC Radio 4 programme 'Voyages'. His selected poems Dances with Vowels (Smokestack Books) was published Feb 2009. He runs 'Voxbox' a poetry venue in Edinburgh (with Anita Govan), is Scottish Editor for Red Squirrel Press and co-editor of 'Vair' magazine. Visit for unpublished poetry. Books include Baz Poems (Rebel Inc), Public (Iron), Baz Uber Alles (Dogeater ) and Colouring in Guernica (Red Squirrel).

Brideshead 61 Revisited

God said to Evelyn write me a book
Something set in an England
With some upper class fucks
Eve said ‘When?’
God said, ‘Now!’
You can do what you like but the next time
You see me coming you better run.
Eve says where do you want this plot undone
God says out at Brideshead 61.

Well Kingsley Amis had some muddy prose
Loathed Dylan Thomas in his Anglo-welsh pose
They both drank hard, they both slept around
They both ended up under the ground.
Kingsley said write it quickly Eve, cos I gotta run
Dylan just pointed with a syllabic gun, said Kingsley
You’ll be out written by your own dear son.
Evelyn just smiled cos he had Auberon
Sniping the aristocracy out at Brideshead 61.

Well Jerome K Jerome put three men in a boat
Said I think P.G. Wodehouse is gonna be king
Don’t answer the phone Jeeves and quickly bring
Me a cool white spritzer at the sixty first ring.
And Jeeves said Sir, I think this can be easily done
I’ll phone the supplier at Brideshead 61.

Now E.M. Forster on the second night
Wrote to vex George Orwell with untenable delight
As Evelyn pulled at Dali’s facial fluff
Attempting to confirm surrealism was more than a bluff
Pablo said, ‘No’
Sal never spoke
Evelyn just satirised
And married the Pope.
God said we can get your marriage to run
Just write me that book , Brideshead 61.

Now the Royal Horse Guards needed another cap
Randolph Churchill said I know just the chap
So he wrote the book at the end of the war
And said I never wrote this kind of thing before
But yes I believe it can be very easily done
Just squeeze the rural trigger on Thomas Hardy’s gun
And drop the whole shebang down at Brideshead 61.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Introducing the April 2009 Readers - 3. Nigel McLoughlin

Nigel McLoughlin is an award winning Ulster poet. He is the author of four collections of poetry, the latest of which is Dissonances (Bluechrome 2007). His New and Selected Poems will be published by Templar Poetry in August 2009. He is Reader in Creative Writing at the University of Gloucestershire.


The light changes. It
flashes the road to sepia
in the mirror. A backward glance

at the kids shows they’re sleeping
and an old man pushes a bike.
The light changes it

to a skeleton of black lines,
changes him to a black line
in the mirror. The backward glance

of sunlight off the road glares
the whole picture into a monochrome
the light changes. It

changes the old man, bends him
into his grandfather, a picture-postcard
in the mirror; a backward glance

a hundred years ago. Nothing changes.
Time fragments like a flash and gleam
in the mirror. A backward glance.
The light changes it.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Introducing the April 2009 Readers - 2. Ryan Van Winkle

Ryan Van Winkle is currently the Reader in Residence at the Scottish Poetry Library and Edinburgh City Libraries. He runs a monthly “Literary Cabaret” called The Golden Hour and is an Editor at Forest Publications. He lives in Edinburgh but was born and spent most of his life in America. His work has appeared in New Writing Scotland, Northwords Now, and (soon) The American Poetry Review.


A week ago I spilled
a can of gasoline onto the dirt
floor of the barn.

A gallon or so soaked into the earth.
Since then, I’ve had headaches,
can’t catch my balance.

And I can still smell the gas
from more than 20 yards away.
It reminds me of hitching west

and this ride I hooked
in the back of a truck
the color of rust.

When I shook the driver’s hand he smiled.
His teeth looked like a caterpillar,
and I knew I was beat.

The guy kept all these rags back there,
soaked in gasoline. It was warm
and I fell asleep in a cocoon of reek.

When I came to, it was almost time
to get out. I could feel caterpillars on me,
thought I was going to suffocate.

......He said the free ride was over, it was only a matter of time,
............and I didn’t wish to be out west,
......didn’t care to sit in any more cars with strangers
............and talk about the pace or weather back east.

I tried to lose the smell in a stream,
thought I sent it upriver, away
like father, the attic, his ties.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Introducing the April 2009 Readers - 1. Claire Crowther

Claire Crowther worked till recently as a director of communications. She has just completed a PhD in contemporary poetry. Her first collection, Stretch of Closures, was shortlisted for the Jerwood/Aldeburgh Prize for Best First Collection and her second collection, The Clockwork Gift, has just appeared from Shearsman.

Lost Child

Scrape the ditch that fits Hob's Moat
to Hatchford Brook. Look through oak roots,

the horse field, uphill to Elmdon.
Is she hiding behind that sky-blue Lexus?

Shout towards the airport. Planes rise
and fall as if ground were a shaking blanket.

Up there, the air hostesses smile.
Inflate your own life jacket first.

The small original airport building stands
apart, a mother at a school gate.

Pearl was playing quietly alone.
My ear is like a shell the wind swept.