Our Poem of the Month, in association with Picador
Each month, we bring you a poem from one of the many talented poets on their list, ranging from first-timers to some of the most widely read poets in the English language. (You can read earlier Poems of the Month by clicking on the links at the bottom of the page.)
Picador are one of the UK's foremost publishers of poetry, with a list that features, amongst many others, Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Sean O'Brien, Jackie Kay, Annie Freud, Ian Duhig, Robin Robertson and Clive James.
This month's poem is taken from The Dark Film, the new collection from Liverpool-born poet Paul Farley. It is his fourth poetry book and his first since 2006.
Farley's first collection, The Boy From The Chemist Is Here to See You, won the 1998 Forward Prize for Best First Collection and a Somerset Maugham Award; it also led to his being named the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. His second book, The Ice Age, was published in 2002 and won the Whitbread Poetry Award.
His next books was a critical analysis of Terence Davies's film Distant Voices, Still Lives, followed by another book of poetry, Tramp in Flames. A poem from this collection, 'Liverpool Disappears for a Billionth of a Second', won the 2006 Forward Prize for Best Individual Poem.
Farley has also recently co-authored, with fellow poet Michael Symmonds Roberts, Edgelands, a book which documents the often overlooked wild spaces of Britain that are neither urban nor rural, places such as allotments, railways, motorways and wastelands.
Farley also writes for radio, including several dramas and has written widely on art and literature. He is currently Professor of Poetry at Lancaster University.
Forget all of that end-of-the-pier
palm-reading stuff. Picture a seaside town
in your head. Start from its salt-wrack-rotten smells
and raise the lid of the world to change the light,
then go as far as you want: the ornament
of a promenade, the brilliant greys of gulls,
the weak grip of a crane in the arcades
you've built, ballrooms to come alive at night,
then a million-starling roost, an opulent
crumbling like cake icing . . .
Now, bring it down
in the kind of fire that flows along ceilings,
that knows the spectral blues; that always starts
in donut fryers or boardwalk kindling
in the dead hour before dawn, that leaves pilings
marooned by mindless tides, that sends a plume
of black smoke high enough to stain the halls
of clouds. Now look around your tiny room
and tell me that you haven't got the power.
© Paul Farley 2012
Earlier Poems of the Month
March: Misadventure by Richard Meier
February: Water-Gardens by Sean O'Brien
January: Petal by Richard Meier
December 2011: Fiere by Jackie Kay
November 2011: Holus-Bolus by John Kinsella
October 2011: Virgil's Bees by Carol Ann Duffy
September 2011: Cassandra by Glyn Maxwell
August 2011: Horoscopes for the Dead by Billy Collins
July 2011: The Hum by Rachael Boast
Books by Paul Farley
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Michael Symmons Roberts; Paul Farley