Night Life

Illustration © Atlanta Wiggs in International Times, June 2021

Ward 4B

During a heatwave, visitors are 
forbidden beyond the reception desk. 
 
Breathing machines run on batteries
after midnight nurses rush out 
 
on cigarette break. There is 
a sudden drop in humidity         
 
with the scream of a new-born 
dug out of the womb by hand.
 
Outside the hospital, a man walks
between candles like into a forest 
 
delivering flowers to the maternity. 
Alley cats rummage through garbage, 
 
wish him good luck. Staff change shifts
back at depot for deep-cleaning.
 
Summer rainwater washes away 
night traffic blood puddles.

© Maria Stadnicka, June 2021, published in International Times on 26 June 2021.

“Stark, bleak but also beautiful-haunting” / “Buried Gods Metal Prophets” reviewed by Mike Ferguson

There are many voices in these poems about degradation, fight, resilience and defeat. There is defiance, and some ‘needs-must’ wry humour, but in the regular resignation – a kind of strength when that is all you can produce – it is deeply despairing. That the collection begins with Radioactive Milk, a poem that births the horrors of both its (and the whole book’s) reality and symbolism, it is not surprising there’s a dark portrayal of suffering and at best some kind of basic survival.

The other ‘voice’ – one that works with and against the poetic – is that contained in the documents and notes and reports and diagrams and other similar that set the scene/s of orphanage, alienation, abuse, doctors/medical, government, history and so on. Stadnicka’s poetry has such a startling ability to move into the expanse beyond this – where it needs to be exploring in and around the actual – that these other reminders are anchors to what should be an extraordinary context, but is in human history a bleak norm.

There are so many threads I would like to follow and unravel here, but I have only just finished a complete read and know I will want but also have to return to begin tying these together. I don’t mean that’s a necessity to be engaged and moved by the full narrative of these memorable poems. I mean that is what I want to do, because I am so engaged. To share a few impressions: the child Stupid (as so-called, though clearly not as the observations reveal) talks of pulling teeth – having to pull out one’s own teeth – and so when this reference point appears again in a poem like Sister’s Night Shift, it resonates in its differing reveal, […]

Full review available here.

© Mike Ferguson, 2021.


Buried Gods Metal Prophets published by Guillemot Press and illustrated by Antonia Glücksman is available here.

Yes, it is all a snapchat but I take it seriously.

Katrina aged four (1992). © Photograph: Craig Easton / Published in The Guardian on 14 Nov 2020

I am seven and have committed a crime. And I am going to prison where my brother won’t visit for fear of being locked up as well. Someone says that if you stare at the classroom walls long enough, Mister Williams can’t read your thoughts because God, hidden in the plaster, has built a shield around your body which makes you invisible.

I trust God to wake me up with a packed lunch I can carry to school, but at break-time all I hear is rumbling and heartbeats. Grandfather warned me that when you get upset your heart grows a claw which pokes at your ribcage until you pass out. And to avoid passing out, I’ve stolen a girl’s lunchbox. I am a thief who will go to prison and die hungry.

© Jack Shenker The Guardian 14 Nov 2020

The article can be accessed here: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2020/nov/14/this-photo-of-children-living-in-poverty-caused-shock-waves-in-1992-where-are-they-now

Maria Stadnicka, 14th November 2020, UK

Wind Noose

 

Art work © Mark Mawer, Backwater (2019).

 

There is a break in hostilities.

Long enough to exchange prisoners,

embalm scattered shirt buttons.

 

A temporary ceasefire to inearth

our collateral losses then pause

for a live broadcast at midday.

 

Coloured bar charts hurry up to

catch the moment cyber runners

reach their finishing lines. Race over.

 

Winners grow up to have long legs,

fitted for mile-wide life hurdles.

Empty seats line up in combat gear.

 

© Maria Stadnicka, October 2020

At Eye Level / Art Exhibition / 30 Sep – 5 Oct 2020

‘At Eye Level’ / 30 Sep 2020 / Art book and art exhibition

At Eye Level is a book, it is also an exhibition, it is also a meeting place for four friends. The book opens dialogue and collaboration between poet, painter, printer and photographer which gravitates towards interdependent yet autonomous responses to each other’s particular focus within the political space.

The title At Eye Level references both measuring and aligning (theodolite eye) but also our unique human viewpoint with it’s near and far focus – both minutiae and overview.

The exhibition takes place at The Lansdown Art Gallery / Lansdown Hall, Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5 1BB.

Opening times: Wed. 30 Sep: 9am – 8pm and Thu. 1st Oct – Mon. 5th Oct: 9am – 5pm. 

The art gallery is ‘COVID-safe’ and it has in place the current health and safety requirements to protect the public from spreading or contacting COVID-19. Hand sanitiser will be provided and please ensure that you wear a face mask or face covering if you visit the exhibition. Thank you.



 

Mark Mawer is a painter based in Goodwick, Pembrokeshire. Over the past forty years he has exhibited regularly in the UK and abroad, and has work in private collections. He worked as a lecturer at Stroud School of Art and on the BA Hons Visual Arts at Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education. He retired from teaching in 2013 but continues to work from his studio on the West Wales Coast.

 

Andrew Morrison is a book artist and letterpress printer who makes hand-made, limited edition books. His work is in many national collections including The British Library, the Tate, the Southbank and British Council special collections. He has lectured widely in the UK, most recently at the University of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham. His workshop is currently based near Cirencester, Gloucestershire. Further information about his work can be accessed at www.andrewmorrisonbooks.uk.

John Stadnicki is a photographer and lecturer at SGS College (previously Stroud School of Art, Lansdown). He has been seriously involved in photography since 1981 and completed his MFA in Documentary Photography at the University of Wales in 2008. His photography reveals and reflects the human unease in the socio-political landscape. John still uses film in most of his work.

Maria Stadnicka is a writer, editor and freelance journalist based in Gloucestershire, United Kingdom. She is currently a PhD researcher at University of the West of England, Bristol. Her writing explores social identity, cultural theory and the ethics of memory. She is the author of Somnia (2020, KFS Press, UK), The Unmoving (2018, Broken Sleep Books, UK), Imperfect (2017, Yew Tree Press, UK) and the forthcoming poetry-documentary collection Buried Gods Metal Prophets (2021, Guillemot Press, UK). She recently performed her work at Edinburgh Festival, Cheltenham Literature Festival, Oxford University, Tears in the Fence Poetry Festival. Further information about her work can be accessed at http://www.mariastadnicka.com


Note: During opening times the gallery will follow the safety guidance on social distancing in public spaces.

 

Midlands in Lockdown / Week #10 / At Eye Level

Photography © John Stadnicki, May 2020

The Earth Inside / Week #8 in Lockdown / Midlands, United Kingdom

You wander countless streets

pass a pandemic that seems

to go on forever.

But nothing is eternal.

Photography © John Stadnicki, 2020

Rite

Sunday lingers on scent of paint,
tobacco and spring. Our kitchen-war
sprouts from a conversation on books
about people we both know. I say

I’d met doctor Zhivago queuing
at Nero’s, heard him asking a barista
about the fate of taiga-trees
at the height of a mining season.

You think they are cut short then stop
growing. I lock my paperbacks
in a cupboard; they remind us
of all the ink twisted in verse, seeded

in layers of gravel. Our verbs reach
the pit of a quarry and seal over.
Snow forests shoot up in tears,
we trip over cables in our flat.

 

© Maria Stadnicka 2020

Published in ‘Stride Magazine’on 26 Feb 2020.

 

Gallery

Edinburgh 2019

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

© Maria Stadnicka, November 2019.

Somnia launch in Stroud / 5th December 8pm / Museum in the Park

SOMNIA Knives, Forks, Spoons Press / Sep. 2019

About SOMNIA:

Writer Ian Seed (author of New York Hotel, a TSL Book of the Year) wrote: ‘one of the best books of poetry I’ve read this year is Maria Stadnicka’s extraordinarily vivid collection, Somnia.’

‘Stadnicka’s poetics is one of craftmanship, wherein she carefully walks the tightrope of surreal poetic metaphor and the gritty realism of investigative journalism and broadcasting.’ (Briony Hughes, writer and critic, Stride Magazine, October 2019)

‘Somnia is consistently alluring and enigmatic in its poetic voice. What compels it’s Stadnicka’s calm creativity in conveying the horrors and/or abstractions of these – her poetic voice completely comfortable in its suggestiveness: inventive, provoking, highly visual.’ (Mike Ferguson, writer and critic, International Times, September 2019)

Somnia will be launched on 5th December 2019, 8pm. Free entry.

Publisher: Knives, Forks and Spoons Press.

Editor: Alec Newman

Cover artwork: Mark Mawer

 

November, 2019