My poems have appeared in Bath Magg, The Rialto, Finished Creatures, Shearsman Magazine, Volume Poetry, Ink Sweat & Tears, and Anthropocene Poetry. In 2022, with composer Christopher Cook, I won the Rosamond Prize.
I teach life-writing and qualitative research methods at Oxford University, I am an Honorary Fellow of the Department of Education and of the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing.
A poem for Ben about snow
Woman spreading arms in daytime
People gather outside a building
camouflaged with strings
someone takes a photograph of an open
window in daytime, and later someone else impresses
into a wooden frame stained brown, decorated
with a thin gold trim like something ordinary
such as oranges in blue plastic crates when time
has had its effect like a bird caught in the middle of
Open your eyes forget your arms
The venue flares with living light, a silent rave
of crystal jelly, swarms of filmy limbs each trailing
strobes of chemical excitement, frantic
glow-tips spark between ecstatic colonies of pulsing
bells, and brittle stars detach their arms, sensitive
to blue-green light that shimmers like a riot
and in the deepest parts they wait, transfixed,
for the web-cloaked vampire squid, spinning out the moment and
the throng is poised until the drop
releases them, a single palpitating heartbeat thrums
and radiates until their wonderland is visible from space,
its chiffon limits fading into the milky sea.
Beauty and despair on the rail replacement bus
The journey is a mural etched in hazy relief
on the outside of the windows, viscous
and not at all malleable. It reflects your fatigue
in a pinched face set as a stubborn witness
to insular interests. Snow, painted with a palette
knife, clings to stunted black branches; it preserves,
in pale twisted shapes, a fragile history of the wind’s habits
during the night. Streetlights bloom like peonies, petals
bursting with sleet that will harden into rain that will freeze
in deathly black patches. Road signs coalesce from the syrupy
darkness and their retroreflective surfaces untangle and release
the colour spectrum from the beam of our headlights and display
the light’s intimate form: of fern breath frozen to a pane
of glass; chromatographic crystals split along visceral planes.
A poem found in Annie Dillard’s Mornings Like This.
I did not write a word of it. Other hands composed
the lines. Pawing through, they [held] and wave[ed]
aloft the element of broken text. I lifted them. Sometimes
I dropped the books themselves; and added original
intentions to a loose collection of torn and damaged
fragments. The baffling quality of spiritual knowledge
looks sober on the page. Consequently, I took
wild liberties, poetry’s oldest and most sincere aim.