Thursday, 27 September 2012

limericks from Diana Moore and others

There once was a man who was quirky
In topics from zebra to turkey
He sketched fish and ants
And curious plants
And declared: "This is very nice worky."
Diana Moore

Happy Birthday Edward Lear
Your limericks we hold so dear
Five short lines
And two simple rhymes
Are enough to elicit a cheer.

Gerard Robinson

Profile: Sarianne Durie

Sarianne is an artist who has made stained glass windows almost all her life;  she changed direction five years ago and started writing poetry again, which she had stopped about thirty years before when she was too busy making windows.

The Sphinx

We Sphinxes all creep by the banks of the Nile
you may see us peeping from faience and tile,
while guarding the gates of the most ancient tombs
as tourists wander and the sand turkey booms.

We sometimes turn purple and hide in the sky,
it wouldn’t fool you, but the birds that fly high
right up in the ether to dance in the sun
come floating down to us and sing us their song, then

in red satin cape, with buttons agape,
we dive to the depths of the Nile
and there we do meet with fishes all sweet
and a mermaid or two from Argyll.

All day we sit haughty, with head in the air,
we do nothing naughty, not even our hair;
the tourists stand round us and take photographs –
then all run away when one of us laughs.

One day I was caught and stolen away      
I was wanted in Oxford in these serried ranks
alongside dead sculptures just standing all day –
but I tell you it hasn’t stopped me and my pranks:       

now in the museum when no one is here
and night time is come, I prowl without fear;
I somersault neatly in style down the aisle
hoping I won’t go and land in a pile.

I did that one night and lost part of my nose
and then on another lost some of my toes,
and being more lion and only part girl
my looks touch my pride;  I’m rather a churl.

My great aunt, Jasmina, the Sphinx of Old Thebes
riddled her Four, Two and Three to all passers by;
a Greek heard the answer as he walked by the reeds –
and when Oedipus told her she died with a sigh.

The Djinn of the desert who conjured the Sphinx
got into such trouble when he put on the jinx
and invented ourselves and, grand though we are,
he was caught by Aladdin and put in a jar.

We’re contrary beings, so misunderstood –
we stay holding our breath, only move when we should –
but way beyond time we sing of our plight,
watch us swing through the sky any bright starry night.

Sarianne Durie                                           August 2012

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

More about Jalina and her poem-picture making

Some cutting edge stuff from Jalina's website.

I have seen very many kinds of poem-picture on

a lot of it mediocre at best

and mostly good stuff on

But Jalina's work is different and original.

Go for the top link

Profile: Sean Quinn

Sean Quinn, born 1965, South of Manchester.

Studied textile design as a mature student, attending Loughborough College of Art, he graduated in 1997 . For his final year, alongside a collection of hand woven silks, he submitted a dissertation detailing the significance of the Eternal Feminine in relationship to the poetry of Aleksandr Blok, a personal paper drawing upon a wider interest in Russian Symbolist Poetry. Sean combines a passion for costume with an awareness of the physical presence of dress. His work explores the connection between creativity and wishfulfilment, both in language and in photography. He is a prolific writer of letters, dedicated to the art of correspondence, and it is through these engaging connections that his voice as a writer has emerged. Sean is currently working in collaboration with Jalina Mhyana, both as an editor and as co-contributor to her epistolary novel Calliope and Swansblossm. (

Poem for performance: John, Count of Nassau, with his Family, 1634 

Artist: Anthony van Dyck 

Location: Room 44 

Cloud Mantle 

I envy you.
Not your wealth, your youth, your lineage.
Only your threads.

Royal blood, spooled as blue ribbon,
Tips a feather vein, astonishes,
Darts through to where your bodice announces a sleeve.

You observed intricate knotting.
Witnessed the gathering tensions,
Shirring balloon enclosures,
Heavy pendulum cuffs.

Your cloud mantle is woven from base metal.
Poison informs the palette, 
Pigments bleed, an alchemy of paint.
Raw canvas brushed towards silk.

A Lacewing halo embraces your shoulder,
Unfurling to reveal a string of clear pearls
Water droplets at the nape of your neck, minute crystal orbs.

I marvel at the non-weight of globe rose,
Tricked in your hand.
Wet stem lick across your palm.
Fortune teller trace along your lifeline.
It tickles, spins with ease, rotates an open face to your Fathers golden fleece, his ram sheared distinction.
Bowed at the knee, with a flourish.

He points, heralds a procession of touch.
Mothers double echo, holds a parallel caution,
Allows your brother a nimble scale, across her knee.
A roundelay of hands.
Where a lap dog gazes, curious.
And your Brothers braggard swagger, dense plot of vermillion, fails to outshine you, could never compete.

Pearls roll from your wrist
Your left hand draws a furrow
Down your clotted skirt,
Nervous fingers trying to occasion a purchase;
Where there is only slip,
Lustre glides,
Raises a crescent,
But the gilt hem drags lower
Holds a draught upon the floor.

You stand proud in wonder, hardly knowing the world.
Buttoned and corded into a life of ceremony.
Balancing long hours of portraiture,
The weight of the gown insistant,
Tapes and ribbons discomfort, count the hours slow passage.

Your thoughts look ahead,
Anticpating the rush of childhood
Where ribbons pull free,
Playful escape, quick to erase the mask of appearance.

And there is a doll somewhere, 
Comforts companion, seized tight;
Whispers poured into wood scratch ears.

Edward Lear Exhibition; Guardian write up

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Profile: David Olsen

David Olsen's third poetry chapbook, Sailing to Atlantis, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in 2013. Since early 2011 he has placed poems in Envoi, Acumen, Orbis, Assent, The Interpreter’s House, Scintilla, SAW Poetry, Bloodroot, Babel Anthology, Earthborne, and competition anthologies from Cinnamon Press and Templar Poetry. Reading for October 6th "Please Do Not Touch" from the Barbara Hepworth Sculpture

Nonsense Drolleries Edward Lear p11

The Ashmolean Museum

Title pageAshmolean Museum, OxfordAshmolean Museum, OxfordAshmolean Museum , OxfordAshmolean Museum , OxfordFrancois Diessart portrait of Thomas Howard
Elias Ashmole by John RileyAshmolean Museum, OxfordAshmolean Museum, OxfordAshmolean Museum, OxfordMenander, Comic Writer (342/1-293/2 B.C.) Ashmolean Museum, OxfordBurne Jones
Ashmolean Museum, OxfordCharles CollinsAshmolean Museum "The Chantrey Wall"Ashmolean Museum, OxfordAshmolean Museum, OxfordAshmolean Museum, Oxford
Ashmolean Museum, OxfordJudith, from the Arundel Collection Ashmolean MuseumAshmolean Museum, OxfordDavid WilkieAshmolean Museum, OxfordAshmolean Museum , Oxford

The Ashmolean Museum, a set by Martin Beek on Flickr.

Over a thousand pictures from the Ashmolean by photographer Martin Beek

Martin Beek

Martin is a remarkable chronicler of art and churches in Oxfordshire. I am linking here to his pictures taken in the Ashmolean. I think his take on Jerusalem is interesting as is his poem from Lear Jerusalem, by Edward Lear How pleasant to know Mr. Lear, Who has written such volumes of stuff. Some think him ill-tempered and queer, But a few find him pleasant enough. His mind is concrete and fastidious, His nose is remarkably big; His visage is more or less hideous, His beard it resembles a wig. He has ears, and two eyes, and ten fingers, (Leastways if you reckon two thumbs); He used to be one of the singers, But now he is one of the dumbs. He sits in a beautiful parlour, With hundreds of books on the wall; He drinks a great deal of marsala, But never gets tipsy at all. He has many friends, laymen and clerical, Old Foss is the name of his cat; His body is perfectly spherical, He weareth a runcible hat. When he walks in waterproof white, The children run after him so! Calling out, "He's gone out in his night- Gown, that crazy old Englishman, oh!" He weeps by the side of the ocean, He weeps on the top of the hill; He purchases pancakes and lotion, And chocolate shrimps from the mill. He reads, but he does not speak, Spanish, He cannot abide ginger beer; Ere the days of his pilgrimage vanish, How pleasant to know Mr. Lear! Edward Lear Edward Lear, Jerusalem (Ashmolean Musem Oxford) Lear (1812-88) is probably best known as an author of Nonsense rhymes, however he was also an accomplished ornithologist and an artist of considerable skill. He painted largely romantic far away places in the Middle East and Asia. His early works were in wash and body colour but he took up oil painting in 1838. Lear began his work out of doors but finished these works in the studio. during the last forty years of his life he was friendly with Holman Hunt and the Pre Raphaelite painters and possibly some of the richness of Lear's later landscape owes much to Hun't encouragement and instruction. He accompanied Hunt on a few of his painting trips and Hunt became a kind of mentor to the older man. Seddon another Pre Raphaelite painted near here at the same time. Whilst Lear's landscapes are very strong his figures show he did not have the passion for observation that is displayed in Hunt's or other Pre Raphaelite work and are more akin to the work of David Robert's landscapes of an earlier school.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Add your Limerick here, or at the Lear exhibition

At the far end of the gallery 58 of the Lear Exhibition you will find a poetry wall, where you can add limericks and scribbles.

Here is an example

I like this one by anon. At least it doesn't repeat the first line as too many of Lear's do, rather irritatingly.

Here are some of mine.

You can send us your limerick here
In remembrance of old Edward Lear
But perhaps if you dare
You can add one right there
At the Gallery where he's held dear                        Nick Owen

The poet called Lear once said
It is nonsense that fills up my head
But I think you will find
He 's a quite brilliant mind
And his poems live on now he's dead                       Nick Owen

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Profile: John Elinger

John was born in 1935, and lives in Jericho, Oxford. 

 He has published two collections of poems, Still Life and Operatic Interludes. 

 In  2009 he won the first prize in a national competition with The Cooling Towers of Didcot, and has been (highly) commended in several other poetry competitions.

In the same year, he was appointed as the Visiting Poet at the University of Augusta, Georgia, in the USA. 

 He is preparing a third collection of poems about Oxford (with illustrations supplied by the painter, Katharine Shock), to be published in 2013. 

He prefers formal to free verse; and is interested in the poetry of ideas, as much as that of feeling.  Many of his poems confront the reality of old age and the approach of death.  

'His craft and form are surpassed only by the depth of thought.' (Philip Holland)" 

Poem for Performance

The Alfred Jewel

                                    'Þaes ofereode, Þisses swa mæg' (Deor)

                        'Alfred had me made.'  The Anglo-Saxon king
                        (who burned the cakes and beat the Danes)
                        the only king or queen called 'great'
                        in English history, ordered this jewel
                        from his craftsmen to accompany a book,
                        his Pastoral Care, as a pointer-cum-bookmark.
                           Those days are gone; these too will pass.

                        Or did he?  Scholars doubt that a king
                        as great as Alfred would ever allow
                        his name to appear naked, untitled,
                        as here - although there are some coins
                        minted at Oxford where Alfred's name
                        also appears without any title.
                           Those days are gone; these too will pass.

                        One possible answer is found in the Preface to the book,
                        where Alfred addresses each of his bishops
                        by name and status, starting with himself:
                        'King Alfred greets …'  Some argue that the Jewel's
                        text is a postscript to the Preface, obviating
                        a second title, since the two were to be inseparable.
                           Those days are gone; these too will pass.
                        But I prefer by far the idea
                        that the missing pointer (mark the socket)
                        was made of precious metal and inscribed
                        with the missing title - and may even turn up one day
                        to complete the message, and make a metrical verse-line.
                        'Alfred had me made - the English nation's king.'
                           Those days are gone; these too will pass.

                        Where should we search?  The Somerset marshes
                        near Athelney are where the Alfred Jewel
                        was discovered - close to the monastery the monarch had founded.
                        Its Abbot was called John, a German scholar,
                        one of the team of Latinists who had translated the book
                        Alfred wished to send to every see in his kingdom.
                          Those days are gone; these too will pass.

                       The Alfred Jewel's unanswered questions
                        tease careful scholars and casual visitors,
                        perplex the poet and surprise historians:
                        who is the figure with flowers in his hands?
                        Alfred himself? or perhaps Saint Cuthbert?
                        or God in his glory above a glassy sea?
                           Those days are gone; these too will pass.

                        The past is a storehouse of precious things:
                        curious fragments and confusing questions,
                        stories and objects, strangeness and sameness.
                        Museums remind us of the mysteries of time:
                        everything changes, everyone dies.
                        Our age will vanish, as Alfred's has done.
                           Those days are gone; these too will pass. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Profile: Jennifer A. McGowan

Jennifer A. McGowan lives in Oxfordshire.  She attended Princeton University, graduating cum laude, and obtained her MA and PhD from the University of Wales.   Despite being certified disabled at age 16, she became a semiprofessional mime and performed in five countries.  More recently she has taught both under- and postgraduates at several universities, in subjects as varied as English, history, and heritage studies.  Her poems have appeared in many literary journals on both sides of the Atlantic, including Acumen, Envoi, Agenda, The Connecticut Review, and Gargoyle; a chapbook, Life in Captivity, is available from Finishing Line Press.  She has been anthologised alongside such poets as Ursula K. LeGuin and Lyn Lifshin; songs she has written have been recorded on several independent labels.  Her website, with more poetry and examples of her mediaeval calligraphy, can be found at

Poem for the exhibition


O, woe the freddled deedledammer,
for he sardels with a stammer!
He cannot choi the kun-wa-dim;
no fili-fimberbaugh for him!
The deedledammer’s tursid plack
Goes neither forward-wise nor back
So micturation cannot be
A frim follute for such as he.
Accursed be the frycted sam
that will not let him deedledam. 

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Happy Birthday Edward Lear; The Press Launch I was invited to join the press launch of the exhibition this morning, the day before it opens to the public.
I asked the curator Colin Harrison to mention our part in it, but he did not have time.

Christopher Brown at least made mention of our poetry as part of the exhibition.

It was a great privilege to hear David Attenborough speak about someone he is passionate about.

He believes Lear has a very special place in our history and I believe him.

      I am sharing my reply to Colin's e-mail this afternoon, which expresses my feelings on the morning pretty clearly.

Dear Colin,

I was delighted with the launch. I hope you were. What a great job you have done.

I felt that Christopher had at least mentioned poetry at the museum in passing.

I was able to connect with a number of journalists about it.

I am posting some photos I took at the launch, including yours. Feel free to download the pictures if you like any.

There was something very special about DA live.

When he said thank you on behalf of Lear, you could almost believe Lear was speaking through him.

I wish I had set my camera to video.

Nick Owen

David Attenborough waxing lyrical on a subject he is passionate about

David A

David A

 The Director of the Ashmolean, Christopher Brown

Colin Harrison, curator of the exhibition.

and not forgetting the man himself, an oil of Venice by Edward lear.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Introducing the Lear exhibition which starts this week.

Happy Birthday Edward Lear: 200 Years Of Nature And Nonsense

Please note that Lear was one of the best British landscape artists of the nineteenth century. 

Oxford poets now add poetry to the exhibition about his famous landscape work as well as his nonsense poetry.

20th September 2012 to 6th January 2013
Edward Lear
To celebrate the bicentenary of Edward Lear (1812–1888) the Ashmolean is holding an exhibition covering all aspects of his work.

Profile: Diana Moore

Diana Moore

The Oscillating Octobells
who somersault in the sea
playing Over The Waves
to the Quivering Quaverfish

Diana Moore

Writer, poet, playwright and author of the illustrated children’s book:
A Fishy Coat Tale And Other Poems
(see link below)
I am very excited to be taking part in the Edward Lear celebrations.  I would love to have had a one-to-one, tête-à-tête, (or even tea and a ‘noddle conflabious chinwaggling’ as, perhaps, Mr Lear might have put it…) with such a likeable, crazy, clever, sensitive man. 

I look forward to working with families on 2nd November where Mr Lear’s ‘Land of Nonsense’ will be brought to life during the week in fun activities such as the creation of a runcible world where nonsense botany, limericks and ABC worlds join together with animals, birds, insects, fish and totally made-up runcible spoonistic characters and creatures –just head for the ‘Ashmo-LEAR-ean’  and follow the signpost to Runcible Rhymes.  There will also be readings and extracts from Lear’s works as well as newly created verse by me.

I will also be sharing my work (and a drawing or two) with visitors to the gallery recitals on November 3rd.

I offer sessions to primary children on Creating and Writing Humorous Poetry.

'A Fishy Coat Tale And Other Poems' is available directly from:  at £6.99 + p&p.  Also via Gardners and Bertrams Booksellers.  Also stocked in: Coles, Bicester, The Book House Summertown, The Bookstore and Mostly Books in Abingdon, Pen to Paper, Headington, Wallingford Bookshop, Waterperry Gardens and via Amazon and Oxfordshire Libraries.

For the Lear Exhibition

ASHMO-LEAR-EAN  by Diana Moore


Jerusalem, a work in progress by Nick Owen

Jerusalem (a work in progress not a finished poem-picture) 
Comments appreciated.

We look over his shoulder                                              
At Shepherds standing by,  
Unmindful of the city.
The open sky is heaven enough for them.
But shining on the other hill
The artist shows so clear
The place they call Jerusalem
So far and yet so near.

A valley lies below us, bare and dark
To me this has to be the shadow of death
A place of desperation, not a country park
Where all too many soldiers took their final breath
The armies of the past, and of the future too
We do not see them now upon the ground
And yet I think I hear their dreadful sound

Out of nowhere, a God without a face
Compels the souls of men to make for this.
It whispers to the world, “This is the place
Which, more than any other, is the source of bliss,
More powerful and wonderful than any lover’s kiss.
For, if there is redemption, it is here.
Come all ye, and enter without fear”.

Over his shoulder we see some goats or sheep
In pastures almost green
A peaceful, restful, pastoral scene
Even the rocks are bright and clean
He might have drawn on William Blake
These could be Northern English hills
An English man’s Jerusalem to make
Not covered in Satanic Mills

Our fathers went on pilgrimage to reach this holy City
A pure white shining citadel beyond decay
In hope to reach eternity, they made their way,
With prayers in many tongues, and oaths to say.
Some came in peace, some came in holy war
They shared a sacred dream,
Something, for them, worth fighting for.

Thousands fought and thousands died
And thousands more will fight and die
To hold this land.  Many have tried
To find a way of peace, but many lie
And will lie again. I ask you why?
When you believe that God is on your side
You do not count the dead, or lose your pride

We look over his shoulder
For a dream that we hope to come real
A place of beauty love and peaceful games
A place with magnetism, a serene appeal
Where conflicts end in happy resolution
But all these hopes are turned to desolation
The darkness spreading higher on the hill
As war threatens death to every Nation

The beaten child that Lear had left behind
Escaping into nonsense or fine birds
And pastoral landscapes of this remarkable kind
Where sheep and goats go grazing without turds
And men sit silently, no words
Upon their lips. Perhaps his promises had all been kept
Or maybe he stood here, painting while he wept.

There is one more stanza to come

Monday, 17 September 2012

Profile; Nick Owen

 Nick and Gabrielle 2011

A biographical note          

Artist, playwright, educator, coach, counsellor, poet, teacher, and student of life.

Member, The Art of Dying at The Dying Well Group.

“A Journey Through Grief,” in prose, poetry and pictures. Published in 2012

A play, "Happiness in the South," published by the UK Arts Council and performed in Brighton

Digital Art and Photography published in an American Art Magazine

Featured in "Universe d'Artistes," an on-line fine art nude magazine

Featured in "Oxford Inspires," Celebrating Oxfordshire in “Poetry and Pictures”

Created "Poetry and Pictures International" and "Poetry and Pictures England" groups hosted on Flickr

Published poet, with a book of fairy tales in verse, "Telling It Like It Is," published in 2004, and a contributor to many poetry anthologies, both UK and Internationally. Works increasingly taught in schools across Oxfordshire

Poem-Picture Artist of the Year 2006, 2007 on Flickr.

Prize winner, landscape art competition, "Outside In," Nuffield NHS Trust and OVADA

Contributor to the 75th Anniversary Sylvia Plath Oxford Symposium, and the first edition of the American based on-line Plath journal

Taught counselling and psychotherapy at the London School of Economics, Oxford University, Westminster Pastoral Foundation, The Oxford Centre for Human Relations and many other colleges.

Retired director of “The Oxford School of Psychotherapy and Counselling.”
            I seek to promote my "poetry and Pictures Arts genre, and find people who want to buy my work or create art with me.

            I live in West Oxfordshire with my wife, Gabrielle. I have four children.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Profile: Louise Larchbourne

Louise Larchbourne’s mother was the poet Rosamund Stanhope; and she grew up both intimate with poetry and slightly daunted by her mother’s minor but consistent success, combined as it was with extreme efficiency – she was also a teacher of English – and considerable glamour.

In her early twenties she graduated from Birmingham University in English, and then became an actor and a ‘local poet’, performing regularly in Birmingham. Michael Pinney, of Bettiscombe Press, attended a reading and asked if he could publish a collection; unfortunately he went bankrupt shortly afterwards, on the verge of publishing her book. Some poems were subsequently published in a Birmingham Arts Lab collection of four women poets. 
Her acting career was suspended after 12 years when she became a single mother.  She wrote little during her son’s childhood, when the work of supporting him, through freelancing in publishing, preoccupied her. 
A few years ago she started writing more and joined Oxford Backroom Poets. Now she is steering her career back into performance and writing. As well as acting, she is interested in performance art, which she sees potentially as 3-d moving poetry; she had the opportunity of doing some when she was acting professionally, and loved it. For a year she has also been giving readings and history sessions, and teaching creative writing, in residential homes. 
Among her favourite poets are John Donne and Wallace Stevens.  She is edging towards a collection

Earthwash             August 2012
On The Virgin and Child with Saint Joseph and the young Saint John the Baptist attributed to Michelangelo Buonarroti, brush drawing in a thin wash of brown oil paint (probably bistre), on a ground prepared with a green earth colour. The unusual treatment of the subject shows it as probably after 1520.

Poetry and Pictures, England

Some visitors to this web log may be interested in joining "Poetry and Pictures England." It is a group curated by Tina Negus and I, which shares poem-pictures from the UK.

The accent is on the pictures more than the poems.
People are allowed to create images for poems by other poets, not just their own work.

It is easy to join. You simply join Flickr and ask to become a member.

You might also wish to look at Tina's new book of poetry and pictures published by Indigo Dreams. I am more than happy to quote from the book cover.

"I tried very hard the other day to think of gifted people who were both artists and poets; there's Blake of course – and David Jones the great painter and calligrapher comes to mind, then there's Mervyn Peake of course but he's better known for his Gormonghast trilogy than for his poetry – and now there is Tina Negus. 

Her painting and photography goes right to the heart of things, is unfussy and uncluttered and has that element of truth that feels just right. No Emperor's suit of clothes with her work, you know there's no Oz wizard behind the curtain pulling the strings and shouting down a megaphone. It's the same with her poetry, the words resonate but not in any show-off way; the style is direct and urgent and goes straight to the heart of the matter. 

There are people who quietly beaver away producing gems and joys and sharing them."

Tina Negus is one of them.   

Mike Harding

Giles Watson: updated poem for performance


Both kinds of work are ancient labours
Born of sweat, by beauty bound:
The billhook and the aching back,
The hand, the burin and the brain.
Both work a tangle into strength,
A scribble into something more,
Coaxing split stulps into growth.
Both cut the quick to find the form.
Both hack for life, and neither kills.
This bites with acid – that, a blade.
Both leave marks, both are cruel;
Both make life by spilling blood.
Both gouge ways in wax or wood,
Both smell of stubble, burn like thatch.
Leaves burnish both; both are wild.
Both know the health of cutting back.                    
Poem by Giles Watson, 2012. Inspired by a display of engraving instruments alongside the plate for Robin Tanner’s ‘Wiltshire Hedger’ (1928; reworked in 1971) in the Ashmolean Museum, and the art of hedge-laying itself. Whilst the picture shows Tanner's work, the poem must necessarily be dedicated to Samuel Palmer, whose work has inspired generation after generation of English engravers.
A replacement for my poem 'Arrowheads', inspired by Charles Collins's 'Convent Thoughts', which I was to read in the Ashmolean on October 6th - but which is now on loan to the Tate Britain.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Profile: Vahni Capildeo

Vahni Capildeo (b. Trinidad, W.I.) has lived in the UK since 1991. After studying English Language and Literature at Christ Church, Oxford, she pursued a doctorate in Old Norse. Her first book of poetry and prose, No Traveller Returns (Salt, 2003), was completed during a Research Fellowship at Girton College, Cambridge. Undraining Sea (Egg Box, 2009) was Highly Commended for the Forward Prize (individual poem category) and shortlisted for the Guyana International Prize for Literature. Working for the Oxford English Dictionary Etymology group inspired Capildeo’s subsequent books, Dark & Unaccustomed Words (Egg Box, 2012) and Utter (forthcoming). Capildeo reviews for the Caribbean Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement. She has been appointed to teach at the University of Glasgow. She is interested in mixed forms and in the layering of time, place and voice.

Poem for Performance


…for lone student mandir.
Arrived in the era of paper
with no means of making fire,
I searched – how long?
This was pre-Internet.
Just the telephone book,
its ringbark absence of marble.
So: the museum, in lieu of a temple.
In these my gods’ basement days,
stone seemed torn wildly:
Nobody was using this archway,
whispered a disappeared jungle.
Now with renewal, removal,
my gods have changed their storey:
scarlet walls and ochre,
flat-out perilous, higher
than height. The face from a tower
eyeballs my thought towards hugeness.
A ceiling boss of swordsmen
rearrayed, redraws me.
The opening circles of sight…

[Room 32, India from AD 600.]

Your Poetry published on line

Your Poetry published on line

Profile: Jalina Mhyana

Jalina Mhyana is a two-time Pushcart nominee and graduate of Bennington College’s MFA in Creative Writing program. Mhyana’s second poetry collection The Wishing Bones was chosen for publication by Pudding House Collections’ 2006 Chapbook contest. Her work was also a finalist Perigee’s 2004 poetry contest. Mhyana’s first chapbook Spikeseed was published by Bad Moon Books in 2004.
Major Jackson wrote, "One admires the high-spiritedness and Dionysian spirit that sings loudly in [Jalina's] poems as well as the large-scale intellect that ranges over various cultures.”

Jalina is currently co-writing an epistolary novel with writer and artist Sean Quinn entitled Swansblossom & Calliope. Sean Quinn is also editing her autobiographical novel Keeping. Please visit Jalina's website to read finished work, work in progress, blog posts, and to view her photography. {}

Villanelle inspired by
Piero di Cosimo’s
Forest Fire
Circa 1505, oil on panel
Ashmoleon Museum, Oxford
The Villanelle, a poetic form that focused on pastoral themes, became
famous during di Cosimo’s time - the Italian Renaissance of the 1500’s.
It’s been burning five centuries. Beasts long to escape
the painting’s few feet of imaginary damnation.
But hoof and wing are fenced by the frame’s dire
straits, a fence they pray will fall to di Cosimo’s fire.
They dream of the wall’s green meadow—a migration
into Michelangelo’s verdant Virgin and Child, to escape
the hemorrhaging paintbrush. The artist was inspired
by Lucretius, one candle lit by another, a conflagration
of Renaissance thought. di Cosimo painted flame directly
onto wooden paneling—only arsonists would conspire
to burn so brightly. Ironic the artist’s benign flirtation
with fire, as he ate his meals raw in the chill to escape
flame within the frame of his home, a pyre
lit in his nightmares. Better the forest’s prostration
to terror: he traps his fear inside the frame’s dire
embrace and watches it consume his empire.
Animal instinct turns man to beast—a translation
even cave men could understand as they escaped
caves of small skulls painted with shadows of fire.