GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
Paul McGrane is the co-founder of the Forest Poets poetry collective in Walthamstow and he’s also been The Poetry Society’s Membership Manager since 2006.
He runs the Poetry@3 open mic at the Poetry Café, London, on the first Thursday of the month.
In 2016 he was Highly Commended in the YorkMix Poetry Competition and Longlisted in the South Bank Poetry Competition.
This is his first poetry collection.
138 x 216mm
£8.99 + P&P UK
PUB: 27 JULY 2018
Death is always asking me for poems
Death is always asking me for poems,
jealous of the time I spend on politics
and love. It’s not what she needs from
this relationship, she says. The juicy
death she dangles I find so hard to resist.
Like the girl who lost her mother’s hand,
the man who threw his baby from the tower.
The more she demands the more I decline,
even when we reach an anniversary. She’s
tried to simplify the deal, sends me handy
rhyming words for murder, a long list
of lives she’ll claim are accidents of birth
or accidents. She knows that when the living
have read how she must feel she will be happy.
Rock n Roll Years
When she went with him last week,
in a service truck on Beale Street,
she thought he’d be the kind of boy
she’d never want to keep
with his street corner skin, his head
out of the window bellowing the blues
with the old men on the sidewalk,
his fingernails as filthy as their feet.
But up on stage tonight
he’s rose oil and Vaseline.
He’s been given the key
to the heppest floor at Lanskey’s
with his red pants and green jacket,
his pink socks and shirt,
his shoes as white
as the dress she wears on Sundays.
As soon as he hits the first string
she can hear herself calling his name.
She’s shaking when his lip
curls to a smile.
When he sings
she’s gone, man, real gone.
And when he grinds,
like he’s got a thing for his guitar,
she swears she’ll pray
in Church tomorrow.
Tied to the Thames on board the Queen Mary,
some of us were standing on the edge,
shirt-sleeves and blouses, everyone merry
and way past that really awkward stage
when all you have to talk about is work.
I still take the mick even now – Look! Look!
– you, wide-eyed at the river –
the water! the water’s on fire!
We all laughed. It was night –
the fire was caused by the lights
from the buildings on the bank at Westminster.
You look like you’re witnessing a miracle, I said later,
taking a last glug of wine
and kissing you for the first time.
Welcome to my Country
Dear prospective citizen
thank you for your application
a State response will soon be sent
but here’s mine:
I hope this soil will not for long
be foreign to your feet
that my weather
will be your weather
that my cities will offer their freedom
my countryside the right to roam
I’ll be standing in Arrivals
with your name
poem in which I meet denis norden
I once met
in a bank
I say met
he was in a queue
I was at the back
planning my excuses
almost certainly norden
what he did and when
I can’t recall
is no longer
where I live now
no-one knows of norden
they might say and they do
who was denis norden
for weeks months years
strangers would exclaim
you met denis norden
in a bank
Otherwise no more than a name
Gertrude Bulmer Bishop, wrapped in black,
as she had been since the death of William,
circles the lagoon on a paddle boat crowned
by an off-white, giant, copper-crafted swan.
A live one sidled over and bit my mother’s
finger, wrote Elizabeth. I remember the rip
in the tip of her long black glove; the blood
that bubbled briefly, brightly, and was gone.
Nos Da Cariad
Nos is the Welsh word for Night.
Its sound is in sorrow and ghost.
Da, meaning Good in translation,
resounds in departure, apart.
There’s a sadness in Cariad
that echoes through leaving and grief.
It is our strongest word for Love.
“Paul McGrane’s voice is sexy, witty, humane. His poems are carefully crafted, often very moving, frequently laugh-aloud funny. Here is a confident, intelligent writer with a strong sense of social justice. A varied and accessible collection which deserves to do really well. I loved it.”
“Paul McGrane’s talent as a poet has developed strongly over the last few years through constantly daring to try different types of poetry. Starting with love poems and humorous poems, he has added poems of place, the seasons and weather, urban poems, prose poems, the quirky and the mildly erotic, and celebrations of his love of Walthamstow and Wales. It has been a great pleasure to have published many of these as he’s embarked on his poetry journey. This first collection is rich and richly deserved.”
South Bank Poetry
‘Elastic Man’ is a mix-tape of poems spanning political and romantic themes with Elvis, Tommy Cooper and Denis Norden thrown in as a bonus..
JOINT WINNER WITH NICOLA JACKSON
GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2017