Toxic Petals

photo: @John Stadnicki

People travel towards the water.

Believers and non-believers, abandoned,

wet books with pages turning themselves,

in the hot breeze.

 

In times of peace, the bread chooses wisely.

It chooses us.

To hear the summer from miles away – a sudden blast.

 

Toxic petals float in the air and

drop vertical shades of colour

on busy roads, on silenced barracks.

 

We all are the collective eyewitness,

the sleep-deprived well;

knowing litter pickers, mending

the gaps in this violent history.

 

 

A poem for ‘Europa‘ by Andrew Heath https://www.amazon.co.uk/Europa-Andrew-Heath/dp/B01LYHL716 

For further information on Andrew Heath’s music, please click here: https://andrewheath.bandcamp.com/

A Thing for Poetry, with David Clarke

Last month, I was delighted to attend the launch of a new book of poems by Maria Stadnicka, a Romanian-born poet living and working in Stroud. Before coming to the UK in 2003, Maria worked as a radio and TV broadcaster, presenter and radio editor. She also won a series of national poetry prizes. In 2010 she became member of the Stroud Writers Group, Gloucestershire.

I first become aware of Maria’s poetry when Yew Tree Press published her beautifully illustrated short collection A Short Story about War (as Maria Butunoi) in 2014 and her new poems, collected in Imperfect (also Yew Tree Press), are a welcome addition to her English-language work. Maria’s poems are restrained and precisely crafted miniatures: enigmatic narratives shot through with dark humour and surreal detail, they are eminently political, but rarely tackle Politics (with a capital P) head on. In all of these respects, they put me in mind of the work of Greek poet Yannis Ritsos, yet there also seem to me to be echoes of Kafka: the poems record fragile surface realities, beneath which lurk the symptoms of violence and oppression. This is a poetry of unease, and all the more honest for that, but also ultimately a poetry of hope, recording the struggle of the subject to maintain its integrity in troubled times.

Maria has agreed to feature as my guest poet in this post, which presents here poem ‘City’. Of the poem, Maria writes:

‘What can I know?’….’What can I know?’…This is not my question. Immanuel Kant answered it already, a long time ago, and many other thinkers answered it in their own way too. As a society, we slowly learnt to get used to ‘knowing’ everything a priori. When there is no obvious difference between ‘freedom’ and ‘dogma’, what is the point in asking? Everything is ‘google-able’, right?

Happy to be given the answer, happy to steer clear of uncomfortable dirt and pain. Happy and safe. But isn’t that called oppression?

Recently I have been thinking about oppression and the subtle nuances revealed by urbanism. The layers and layers of conformity which are impossible to eradicate without consequences. But then… how else shall we build consensus?

And one afternoon, walking through my working class town, out of the blue an answer kept staring me in the face. There was the rain and the shops closing at 5 o’clock and people hurrying to get the dinner ready. There was an English February, defined by our sleepwalking hyperreality. Me and everybody else: surrendered, crushed.

 

City

The afternoon we passed the city prison walls
fighting the wintry wind with a broken umbrella.

It was precisely five o’clock and
a girl on a bicycle overtook an old man
holding a rope.
About the same time,
the ice cream van closed.

The armed police arrived
to disperse the queue with tear-gas.

In the near distance, people ran
between horizontal watermarks
back to their semi-detached
airing cupboards.

We had nothing to stop for and then, I think,
I paused and
I covered my arms with a piece of history.

Imperfect can be purchased by contacting Yew Tree Press (philipalrush[at]googlemail.com) or via Amazon.

David Clarke, poet, thinker and critic. http://athingforpoetry.blogspot.co.uk/p/david-clarke.html

A Kind of World

If we want the world to move forward,

we must hold hands. Documenting the pain and the joy,

on the same page,

with water, with fire, with ashes

not with ink.

 

Freedom means nothing when the healthy and the sick

eat at separate tables.

Even the trees sit together. They know that life is actually simple.

But once people renounced their entitlement,

it will take more than a revolution

to reclaim such a right.

 

For too long we took the wrong turn.

 

What kind of world is this if

the madman tells us that

we should be ashamed of ourselves?

 

Photo: @Joss Beeley

‘Imperfect’ is now available ….

 

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This is it. The book is done, the summer arrived. ‘Imperfect’ is published by Yew Tree Press, Philip Rush, Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK and printed by Andrew Morrison, Stroud, UK. Price: £10 with free P&P.

http://www.artistsbooksonline.co.uk/andrew_morrison.shtml

Curator: Jay Ramsay

Photography: @Joss Beeley

Please order the book at mariastadnicka@yahoo.co.uk

 

 

Expect nothing…

When you expect nothing, any piece of good news comes as a shock. I suppose the shock came today with the news that my poem ‘Winter Months in Chernobyl’ won the White Plum Press 122nd Poetry Competition, New York. Thank you Frank Watson and White Plum Press. There you go. This spring starts with a poem about winter.

 

Winter Months in Chernobyl

The fridge was a well-polished piece of furniture,
pristine-empty wall among other walls in the winter months.
Each morning, a soldier stopped by with a glass of milk –
the only white flag
to foretell a watery spring which never arrived.
In those days, we all slept in the mother’s womb,
taking turns to look after a small yellow bird,
as round as the sun.

One day, a guard with an empty face replaced the soldier.
The guard was quiet.
He liked to come by and sit with us,
inside the baking-hot void, and often,
he used a red pencil to mark my homework.
All my thoughts had unacceptable spelling errors.

Some time later, in April I think,
a blizzard took the guard away in an ambulance.
Food was on its way, and soap
and plastic dolls, clocks and iodine sweets.
A few of us grew feathers,
a few of us became photographs,
blindfolded legacy trapped in tulip bulbs.

Photograph: @John Stadnicki

New Event – Imperfect Book Launch

Poster design @John Stadnicki

Flash News – ‘Imperfect’ Book Launch – 19th May @Black Books Cafe, Stroud, 7.30pm

Front cover design: @Andrew Morrison

We had to stop the car several times.

Weeks of anxious waiting finally ended.

A new, small, wrinkled, bloody, placental book

Arrived.

It had a natural birth and I called it ‘Imperfect’.

The book launch will be on Friday 19th May 2017, at Black Books Cafe, Stroud. 7.30pm for 8pm start. Free entry.

The book is available for pre-order at mariastadnicka@yahoo.co.uk.

The evening will be a vibrant performance with poetry and music, featuring Maria Stadnicka, Adam Horovitz, Jay Ramsay, Katie McCue and ‘Souled and Healed’.

Yew Tree Press – Philip Rush

Design and printer – Andrew Morrison

The evening host – Jay Ramsay

Books, drinks, sounds will be available! Come along!