Archive for the ‘Poems’ Category

Emily Blewitt’s ‘How I Write a Poem’

With April comes spring and so does an exciting poetry collection by a fresh new voice. Emily Blewitt shares her thoughts on how to write a poem with us.

‘The poem has to have time to settle before I edit. I have to trust that whatever cul-de-sacs or corners I’ve written myself into, I’ll be able to escape.’

I can write anywhere, more or less, but I must have space: head-space; space on the page. I like to write in notebooks, first. The notebook must be good, but not too good to spoil.

The initial idea niggles, humming in the background. Sometimes, a single line appears first. I take it for a walk, test its stamina. There are lines that haunt. There are texts I read that enable writing because their rhythm is infectious. I see something, or remember something, in a different way because of them. I notice the world and its potential. I witness – look at this, this. This here is true; this is important. It usually happens when I’m supposed to be doing something else.

I handwrite first and then move to the laptop to write through the initial draft. And it is through – there is no way but through. My ideas shift and transform; the trick is not to be disappointed. If I’m lucky, there’ll be a tipping point – a point at which the words take on a momentum of their own, quickly and surprisingly. The words become a poem, and this poem often has very little to do with the original intention of writing a poem. The stabilisers come off; we’re free-wheeling down the hill; it feels like flight. The poem sings. It almost – but not quite – writes itself. Perhaps it gives the impression of writing itself, but I have to run to catch up with it. I do catch up with it.

The poem has to have time to settle before I edit. I have to trust that whatever cul-de-sacs or corners I’ve written myself into, I’ll be able to escape. This calls for faith – though not the religious sort. I have to stop tinkering for a little while, to trust that the poem will find its shape. That I’ll find the balancing point again. It becomes intuitive, to know when to press the thing and when to leave it.

Emily Blewitt was born in Carmarthen, Wales. She studied at Oxford and York, and has a PhD from Cardiff University, where she specialised in poetic representations of pregnancy in nineteenth-century and contemporary women’s writing.  She has published poetry in The Rialto, Ambit, Poetry Wales, The Interpreter’s House, Furies, Hinterland, Brittle Star, and Cheval, and was Highly Commended for best individual poem in the 2016 Forward Prizes. Her debut poetry collection, This Is Not A Rescue, is published by Seren Books. Emily’s poetry featured in spring 2016 issue of Poetry Wales, 51.3.

TINAR cover_quicksand cover

Poem: Menna Elfyn, translated by Robert Minhinnick

English translation below by Robert Minhinnick





Yn blentyn, ni ddeallwn y llythyren X,
ai Crist yn cario ei groes ar oledd oedd?

Wedyn, ei weld fel llythyren ddieithr–
llifolau uwchben y gair lle cuddiai

nefoedd anwel a chartref Duw
lawr ar y lôn a wenai’n rasol at lewyrch sgrin.

A chyn i’r ffilm droi’n fendith, byddai rhai
yn ei gloywi hi, heb gilwg yn ôl .

A thra byddai rhai’n dewis y drws tenau–
ffoaduriaid ar wasgar heb wybod eu cyrchfan,

synhwyrwn mai’r X a rodd ganiatâd
i ni ddiflannu, rôl clecian ein seddau.


Alllanfa—cerais ei fod
yn pelydru gobaith , y dôr drwyadl

nes deall mai myfi oedd ceidwad
yr awyren, yn waredwr wrth ddrws

wedi holwyddoreg a own yn heini?
Estyn gweddi a wnes na ddoi’r alwad

na’r un ecsodus o’r ffurfafen,
a’m profi yn wrth-arwres.

Yr eicon coch, gwared y gwirion,
ofnusrwydd yn reddf sy’n X bob cam

yn groes ar dro, ac yno, dychmygwn
ing yn yr awyr, heb ddihangfa.


Nawr, yn y lle hwnnw sy’n X i bawb
Croes ymgroes i rywun, daw’r suon

Yn ôl im wrth wylio un yn ymadael
drwy’r porth ochr, yr allanfa

hwnnw lle nad oes dychwelyd.
Angau yw’r groes sy’n hongian

uwchben mor ddilychwin ei X,
wrth in ganu’n anfoddog am y sawl

a sleifiodd allan , a chyn in adael mae’n bygwth
glaw a ddaw i sisyrnu XXX yr holl ffordd adre.


Translated by Robert Minhinnick



When I was a child I never understood X.
Maybe X was Christ carrying his cross askew?

Then I thought X an alien letter *
and the Exit’s neon was hiding

heaven where God lived
down that beam of light that lit the screen.

But before any film finished some of us
scarpered without glancing back;

and while seeking light through a side door
others scattered like refugees,

sensing X permitted us
to tip our seats and escape.


That exit was a dazzling
azimuth, fateful door.

It was little me led the charge to deliverance.
We must be fit, I prayed, which is how

I thought God would wish to welcome us.
In every film (except the scary ones)

I was the saviour of an unruly tribe
and between myself and that mysterious door

glowed a red icon.
Anxiety’s the story of my life,

as yes, it was I urged exodus through perplexing
dark, dreading someone might smell fire.


Now, in the Crematorium’s surround-sound
all the Xs come whispering back

as we watch a loved one depart
through a side door, that exit

from which there’s no return.
Death is the cross that hangs above

and immaculate is its X
as we sing to the one who has just slipped out,

and then depart through threat of rain,
X scissoring us away.



*there is no x in the Welsh language


Menna Elfyn is the author of 13 poetry collections in Welsh by Gomer Press, and bilingual collections by Bloodaxe who will be publishing her next collection Bondo Feb, 2018.

Robert Minhinnick’s second novel, ‘Limestone Man’, appeared from Seren in 2015.

Concrete Poem: Childe Roland

The B-Line by Childe Roland

The B-Line is inspired by the shape of the letter B which has not changed since its Egyptian hieroglyph origins. It still depicts the floor plan of a two roomed hut. It was called BETH. It can be found even in Welsh place names like Bethel. Inclined on one side I found that the letter B takes on some of the characteristics of a heart. When constructed into a 3-D object, using for example a strip of card or plastic, it becomes a spring loaded object that may fly apart.


Childe Roland is the pen name of the experimental poet Peter Noel Meilleur. His journeys across the landscape of the blank page, his inspiration, are documented in his collection of prose poems The Six of Clubs. He writes in English, French and Welsh.

Childe Roland has other concrete poems in the latest issue of Poetry Wales – Jones the Poem and The Barcode Kiss which is on the front cover of the issue.


Poem: Palatine Hill by Wanda O’Connor

Palatine Hill


Find me not in the Pantheon but with the aviaries of
Palatine Hill

&nbsp‘mark yourself foreign’

Remnants of copper wire pierce the earth, my own flesh
and blood leaves me

I’m inflicted
with Caesar’s sensations of fullness1 __(two solitudes: one a secret fault)

a life I could not live
for lack of mapping at the start and rummaging through the middle, peaking at

&nbspI live in errands, in ends and joints. Shedding,
make that puffing,
as a single sheet hanging
from a wire,

&nbspmore figuring than balancing.

I have a secret river I call Rubicon
&nbspand collect fragments of hoof, nets and stream.

To walk the river is to slip.
To walk the river is to to ache &nbspnostos altos (pain-return).
To walk the river is to whisk surface into the harbor that is body.
To walk the river is to recur.

I hope to find the remnants of a Roman street ____carnelian-cast
an object I can wear around my neck.

Least of all
I want the field
where I stood staring at the voice of my grandmother shouting for a parent as I stroked the workhorse repeatedly.




1 falling sickness


From Spring 2016 V51.3 Poetry Wales

Sound enhanced poem: Mark Goodwin

Gulls and Jacks, A Gower, A July 2013

Poetry, vocals, field-recording, & production: Mark Goodwin.

Published in Poetry Wales Spring 2016.

Photo: Nikki Clayton.

Poems: Geraldine Monk

Geraldine Monk reads poems from a new series ‘They who saw the deep’ at a performance last year. These poems are written after the shipping news and include themes of and references to migration, sea travel, displacement, the Epic of Gilgamesh and the cooking of roast dinners. Four of these poems appear in our Winter 2015 issue.

Gelynion: Joe Dunthorne & S J Fowler

Joe Dunthorne and Steven J Fowler perform their collaboration at Gelynion – Enemies London in June 2015. Their poem Iceland vs Iceland is published in the Winter issue of Poetry Wales.

Gelynion: Kate North & Katrin Lloyd

Katrin Selina Lloyd and Kate North perform their Oulipo games collaboration at Gelynion – Enemies Newport in May 2015. The poems are published in the Winter issue of Poetry Wales.

Gelynion: Ifor Ap Glyn & Ghazal Mosadeq

Ghazal Mosadeq and Ifor Ap Glyn perform their Welsh and Azeri (mis)translations at Gelynion – Enemies Bangor. These poems are published in the Winter issue of Poetry Wales.