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Seasonal Change – New Poems from Jos Smith, Isabel Galleymore, Ben Smith and Luke Thompson

This week we mark a change in the editorial panel of The Clearing. For the last four years, since its beginnings in August 2013 with Katrina Porteous’ ‘The Refuge Box’, we have enjoyed seeking, gathering, reading and selecting an abundance of the most extraordinary new writing about landscape and place. It has been an exciting time for this kind of writing. It is an exciting time. Ever more, we’re seeing the best writers struggle for fresh ways of responding to a changing a world. We’ve published essays, short fiction, poetry, interviews, visual art, and many pieces that are just too hard to fit into the usual genres and conventions, pledging their form to the subject under scrutiny instead.

We’ve been bowled over by the generosity of those we’ve published and worked with (among them Tim Dee, Philip Gross, Jen Hadfield, Penelope Shuttle, Richard Skelton, Peter Larkin, Philip Marsden, Toby Martinez de las Rivas, and Nick Groom) and we are very sad to be moving on. But The Clearing itself will continue! It now sits under the watchful eye of Little Toller Books, with whom we’ve been very pleased to collaborate over the last few years. And there is a new editorial team who will be taking the site forward. We could not have asked for better successors – Pippa Marland, Steven Lovatt and Michael Malay are your new team in charge, as passionate about the cultures of landscape and place as we have ever been and as sharp-eyed and hungry for good writing. So do please continue to follow the site, enjoy this new generation, and do think of it as place to send work in search of those distinctive visions, rural or urban, modern or prehistoric, industrial, post-industrial, fantastical, natural, political, however they come, meaningful, surprising and felt.

As goodbye from us then, we’re publishing one last poem each. Thank you for reading! 

 

 

SELF PORTRAIT IN A TRAIN WINDOW
    after Edward Thomas

 

The in here that’s out there tonight

seems a spillage and excess on the day,

 

our twice reflected carriage gone to ghost,

opened and dragged like flightless wings beside us.

 

And doubled, tripled, we’re out there, belittled,

the half there, the half us, split, remaindered others.

 

A wash of rain passes through their cotton shirts,

their paperwork and edamame beans, touching nothing.

 

‘Who then?’ These old uninhabitants of earth,

glazed and compelled: so organised,

 

making the next thing happen. Making

the next. Next stop making the bright beam

 

first step future forward. The glimmer

of growth making real growth

happen. We are

oooooooso busy.

 

Outflanked. Outnumbered. ‘Who then?’

Lightning shows a field of swans and a river.

 

Jos Smith

 

 

DISPLAY OF OWLS

 

Stump  bowl  leash       ‘my name is Rupert’
Stump  bowl  leash        gold leaf

Stump  bowl  leash        winged-brick

Stump  bowl  leash        ‘my name is Evie’
Stump  bowl  leash        yellow angel with an Ash Wednesday face

 

Isabel Galleymore

 

 

FATHOMS

 

Walking inland, sand in the seams

of my coat, salt crusting

the one bent hawthorn of my thoughts,

I looked up

 

and saw myself standing among trees.

I had forgotten

that the world could be so vertical,

that there were pressures that could hold

things upright against the wind.

 

I knew that water, hurling itself against rocks

could catch the light and hold it mid up-shoot,

but I had forgotten that water and light

could fuse into such solidity.

 

To stand in rockpool stillness and hear the tideline

in the sky.

 

I have lost my bearings before, been turned

by a heavy break until I no longer knew which way was up,

but to walk here,

where depth runs the horizontal axis –

I had forgotten all of this.

 

And even though I could already see the limits

of the tree line –

a buckled wire fence

the herring bones of fields –

I emptied my pockets of coral husks, plastic tags

and bright white stones

and laid a trail

against forgetting my way home.

 

Ben Smith

 

 

WOODLOUSE IN THE BIRD BATH
(from Woodlice)

 

looking for a reflection in the bird bath / I found you, pale and saturated

 

You drank through your ass

and mouth, heading home

and water soaked in through your shell

a way you don’t remember

and so you died, imbibing,

hungry as a black hole

 

God, I know your joy / those moments we walk weightless / across the slate

 

Luke Thompson

 

 

Jos Smith is an author and academic with an interest in the contemporary cultures of landscape and place. He lives in Norwich where he teaches at UEA. He has published a first volume of poetry with Arc Publications, Subterranea, and more recently a pamphlet with Guillemot Press, Sun.

Ben Smith is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at Plymouth University. His first poetry chapbook, Sky Burials, is published by Worple Press, and his other writing has appeared in various journals, magazines and anthologies. He is the co-organiser of Crosscurrents, an interdisciplinary project bringing together poets and marine scientists for public engagement. He lives in North Cornwall.

Isabel Galleymore’s debut pamphlet is Dazzle Ship (Worple Press, 2014). Her work has featured in Poetry, Poetry London and Poetry Review and she received an Eric Gregory Award in 2017. She is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham.

Luke Thompson has two poetry pamphlets out, Robot Squirre(zimZalla, 2017) and the clearing (Atlantic, 2016). In 2016 he wrote a biography of the deaf-blind syphilitic sex mystic poet Jack Clemo, entitled Clay Phoenix (Ally). He is editor of Guillemot Press and a lecturer at Falmouth University.

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