Poems from The Blue Crevasse

Poems from The Blue Crevasse

The image of a blue crevasse famously appears in W.S. Graham’s poem ‘Malcolm Mooney’s Land’, and the author’s estate welcomed the idea of creating a similar metaphorical space where admirers of the poet might, in a sense, be lowered for a month’s solitary ‘residency’. For each month of 2018 we will post a new poem, commissioned specially by the estate of W.S. Graham, from one of our twelve digital poets-in-residence.

Image: Copyright © the Estate of Michael Seward Snow, 2018. All rights reserved.

The Blue Crevasse: Poets in residence

JANUARY: 'The Interior' by Alan Gillis

A lifetime of work to own a house
then you end up diminished by it.

Read Gillis's poem here.

Alan Gillis is from Belfast and teaches English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. His poetry collection Scapegoat (2014) followed Here Comes the Night (2010), Hawks and Doves (2007) and Somebody, Somewhere (2004), all published by Gallery Press. He was chosen by the Poetry Book Society as a ‘Next Generation Poet’ in 2014.

FEBRUARY: 'In a Secondhand Bookshop' by Mel Pryor

Maybe I want to feel his hand under
my own hand as I turn the old page

Read Pryor's poem here.

Mel Pryor has published a pamphlet, Drawn on Water (Eyewear, 2014) and a full collection, Small Nuclear Family (Eyewear, 2015). Small Nuclear Family was chosen by Bel Mooney as a Christmas choice in the Daily Mail and the TLS described it as 'a remarkable debut'.

March: 'W*nd' by Zafar Kunial

When I arrived
I didn’t know
the word
for what I was.

Read Kunial's poem here.

Zaffar Kunial was born in Birmingham and lives in Hebden Bridge. His pamphlet Faber New Poets 11 was published in 2014. An essay ‘Laburnum Time’ was collected in the anthology of woodland writing, Arboreal (Little Toller, 2016). His first full poetry collection is due with Faber & Faber in 2018.

April: Three Awkward Ears by Denise Riley

ice-burned tongues 
clump into celestine’s 
eye-blue spar & chink
on snow-muffled ears

Read Riley's poem here.

Denise Riley’s books include War in the Nursery (1983); ‘Am I that Name?’ (1988); The Words of Selves (2000); Selected Poems (2000); The Force of Language, with Jean-Jacques Lecercle (2004); Impersonal Passion (2005), Time Lived, Without Its Flow (2012) and Say Something Back (2016). She lives in London.

May: “One Renfrewshire Man To Another”

To articulate clearly what is difficult to say
I shall transmit this by a beam from a lighthouse
Over the eventful, unforgiving waters
Across many a headland and many a bay.

Read Dunn's poem here.

Douglas Dunn is a major Scottish poet, editor and critic, whose Elegies (1985), a moving account of his first wife’s death, became a critical and popular success. Author of over ten collections of poetry, he was Professor in the School of English at the University of St Andrews from 1991, and was awarded an OBE in 2003.

June: 'Seastairway' by Vahni Capildeo


Read Capildeo's poem here.

Vahni Capildeo’s most recent books are Measures of Expatriation (Carcanet, 2016; Forward Poetry Prize for Best Collection; T.S. Eliot Prize nomination), Seas and Trees (IPSI, 2017) and Venus as a Bear (Carcanet, 2018). She is a Douglas Caster Cultural Fellow at the University of Leeds.

July: 'Roger Hilton, November ’64' by David Wheatley

I read behind the forms a tale
that falls away and leaves the forms,
the floods of light that burst their frames

Read Wheatley's poem here.

David Wheatley is the author of several volumes of poetry, including The President of Planet Earth (Carcanet, 2017). He has also written a critical study, Contemporary British Poetry (Palgrave, 2015) and edited the poetry of Samuel Beckett for Faber and Faber.

August: 'Headland' by Sasha Dugdale

What are years? They last no longer than the tide.
I read the tables, I pore over them and seem to find relief
in the mathematical appearance of water
and how by degrees it creeps upon us,
another ten metres to swill around the back gate.

Read Dugdale's poem here.

Sasha Dugdale has published four collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Joy (Carcanet Press, 2017). The collection is named after her long poem ‘Joy’ which won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. She translates poetry and plays from Russian.

September: 'The Porcelain Cliff' by Jen Hadfield

Clay has no idea
what it's making.

Read Hadfield's poem here.

Jen Hadfield's second collection, Nigh-No-Place, won the 2008 T. S. Eliot Prize. Her writing is often drawn to the contradictions of travel and home, the music of voices, and the importance of land and place.

October: 'Fantasia On A Line Of W.S. Graham' by John Burnside

I still remember when I cared enough
to watch you sleep

Read Burnside's poem here.

John Burnside is a poet and novelist whose work explores fundamental spiritual and ecological issues about the nature of our dwelling on earth. He is one of only two poets to have won the T.S. Eliot Prize and Forward Prize.

November: 'Out of the Clyde' by Jackie Kay

                          Clydeside clad, you stepped with ease,
not minding yourself on the way, a steady pace, then
stopped – out of the flood – to speak to us.

Read Kay's poem here.

Jackie Kay has published five collections of poetry. She was awarded an MBE in 2006. She is currently the National Poet for Scotland or Makar.