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Geraldine Clarkson

‘I think possibly that what I write comes out differently for having been suppressed, there’s more of a pressure to it—and, when it does emerge, it’s maybe colliding with a different world from the one in which the material was laid down – in the manner of geological layers, perhaps!’

Geraldine Clarkson is from the UK Midlands, with roots in the West of Ireland. She has three poetry chapbooks, including a Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice and a Laureate’s Choice. Her work has  featured in many anthologies including Furies: A Poetry Anthology of Women Warriors (For Books’ Sake, 2014) and Witches, Warriors, Workers: An anthology of contemporary working women’s poetry (Culture Matters, 2020).

She has performed poems at the Royal Albert Hall, broadcast for the Proms Extra Lates on BBC Radio 3, and also at several festivals, the Poetry Society AGM, and at poetry venues in London, New York, Dublin and Edinburgh. Her first full collection was with Monica’s Overcoat of Flesh, Nine Arches Press 2020.

CRUCIFOX

Crucifox is more a state of mind than a particular creature or person. The collection circles rebellion, emergence from disappointment and fasting, new beginnings, recreation following destruction; soulwork; inspiration and the act of writing itself.

There is a focus on female desire and feral impulses behind polite exteriors; assumed responsibilities and pre-packed creeds; the role of women within close-knit community, the silent and marginalised aspects of women, their masking and unveiling and the stilling of their tongues. There is no shortage either of vermin and sleaze, crime, including murder; along with curlicues, cleaners, clowns, gambling, lotteries, and a lot of luck…

SAMPLE POEM

Before the flames came/Encounter 

When the sun had set and darkness had fallen, behold, a smoking firepot
and a flaming torch appeared and passed between the halves of the carcasses.  

—Genesis 15:17   

On a hill, I always thought, I’d have an encounter, woman
to God; or in the candled calm of some huge-statued
basilica, its sparkling dark. Perhaps at a tree-
starved shrine, with pilgrims stretched in crocodile;
or in bed—through the night—like in Psalm 63. 

Maybe via an angel, masquerading 
as a stranger. Or in the bath,
public or private—it’s not unheard of.

But—en la poesía—how could it happen?—
pen and paper prodding to prayer—to prepare.
Just as father Abram—with promise of offspring
plenty as stars—offered sacrifice:

animals caught, blood-let, slaughtered, halved, set out in a line. 

'Geraldine Clarkson's exuberant poems continually delight with their striking originality and linguistic panache. I never know where her often whimsical, at times surreal narratives will take me, but I always enjoy the journey.'
Carrie Etter

MONICA'S OVERCOAT OF FLESH

Geraldine’s debut collection Monica’s Overcoat of Flesh was published by Nine Arches Press in 2020. Richly detailed and formally audacious, the collection is an exploration of enclosure and freedom, of silence and music, and of the impermanence and wonder of the flesh.

These poems contain the uncontainable; spellbound and courageous, they roam from South American monasteries to the shorelines of memory and the truth-towers of the self, surveying matters of faith, being, tragedy, and womanhood.

'Geraldine Clarkson's poems are musical, often playful incantations that delight in the power of words. Formally inventive and vivid with natural imagery.'
Carol Ann Duffy

Geraldine’s poem ‘The Fainting Room’, which features in her pamphlet Crucifox, was performed by Rebecca Hare for Live Canon and shortlisted for the Live Canon International Poetry Prize 2018.

CHAPBOOKS

Declare (Shearsman, 2016)
Dora Incites the Sea-Scirbbler to Lament (Smith|Doorstop, 2016)
No. 25 (Shearsman, 2018)
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Annie Fan

‘I hope, and I think any poet hopes, really, that this pamphlet is playful — with gender, language and inheritance, with things shared and things solitary.’

Annie Fan reads law at Oxford University where she was President of the Poetry Society. Her work has been broadcast by BBC Radio 3 and appears, or will appear, in Poetry London, PN Review and The London Magazine, among others. She is a Barbican Young Poet, a shadow trustee at MPT Magazine and has recently been accepted on the Ledbury Poetry Critics Programme.

WOUNDSONG

Annie Fan’s astonishing debut pamphlet interrogates the wound as a symbol of fertility, girlhood, queerness and immigrant identity: what does it mean to puncture, to cleave another person? Does a wounding have to be violent? In what ways can a wounding be tender? Can we speak to our wounds? Can they speak back? Do we inherit our wounds? Are there male wounds and female wounds? Is gender a wounding? How do we imagine our wounds in our dreams?

These poems feel fresh and inquisitive both formally and in terms of their contents. They herald a wonderful new voice in poetry.

SAMPLE POEM

Self Portrait with Rain
 
1.
These are the things I grew myself,
maddening green from soil, scraping
silt from the backs of wrists
like some sacred deposit. In summer,
I’ll pull away clementines the size
of a fist and spit out pips all over
the lawn, heaving with moss
like thick clumps of hair in the shower.
 
2.
I spend lifetimes washing,
find my hands over and over as I scrub
turnips, the early cherries, potatoes
damp with musk and leave them
on cool counters, open the windows
to each storm. I say: go away,
I do not want your dark water or
men in long coats; I can’t swallow
your measure or find enough
pillboxes to hold the pebbles.
 
3.
Today, I press my chin to the ledge
of the window and unearth
my arms and hands, stained from damson
picking. The rain doesn’t stop. But,
somewhere: dawn and the hum of hollowing
seeds planted in dry weather, like a sigh
or shout or song for when the sky
breaks open and gives out
something kinder than light.
‘Annie Fan’s poems have a rare knack for balancing between vulnerability and assurance as they navigate such diverse histories as Kepler’s discoveries, a faraway famine, or the last days of Empress Wu Zetian. Bravely troubled by questions of difference and desire, they trouble us too – as all the best poems do '
Theophilus Kwek

TOWER POETRY COMPETITION 2018

Annie won the Commended prize in the 2018 Tower Poetry competition with her excellent poem about sisterhood and mathematics,  ‘How to Invert a Hyperbolic Function’ which features in her debut pamphlet Woundsong.

More from Annie!

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Meryl Pugh

‘This long prose poem came out of nowhere, dream-like – but as I shaped it, I found it pointed to what is real and social: Western cisgender womanhood, heterosexual marriage and the negotiations of privilege.’

Meryl Pugh lives in East London and teaches for Poetry School and the University of East Anglia.  Her first full collection, Natural Phenomena (2018, Penned-in-the-Margins) was a Poetry Book Society Spring Guest Choice, a Poetry School Book of the Year, Highly Commended in the Forward Prizes and long-listed for the 2020 Laurel Prize.

WIFE OF ORISIS

Wife of Osiris is a a pamphlet-length prose poem which considers the ambivalent privilege of heterosexual marriage via the Egyptian myth of Osiris. It asks what happens to good intentions in unequal romantic contracts and where loyalty, wonder and tenderness are best placed in misogynist, violent or indifferent environments. This is an exciting new work from Meryl, wonderfully realised.

SAMPLE POEM

She walks in light pyjamas through groups of people holding wine glasses, under arches, over paving, through lobbies and foyers and atria; she is looking for her street, her flat. The concert is about to begin, there are smiles, but she has gone the wrong way and feels stupid. She is not going to the concert.

The wife of Osiris is too bright and hard for this place, she bursts out through the double doors into the night, she begs her god’s fire to come out of the sky and take her. But the street light is still the street light, the young glance nervously, there is no one here who wants her or who she wants. And her husband, who knew it would be this way, is still absent.

PREVIOUS PUBLICATIONS

Relinquish (Arrowhead Press, 2007)
The Bridle (Salt, 2011)
Natural Phenomena (Penned in the Margins, 2018)
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Verve Poetry Press 2021 Releases

 

Verve is beyond proud to announce that we will be publishing 21 new pamphlets and collections in 2021 from accomplished and new voices. No matter your taste in poetry, you are bound to find a new favourite.

See our list of releases below:

 

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