Tag Archives: Paper Swans Press

Turkish Delight – poem

It is a great pleasure introducing this month’s poet. Paul Stephenson and I met eight years ago through the Poetry Business’ Writing School, an eighteen-month programme.

Paul was born and grew up in Cambridge. He studied modern languages and linguistics then European Studies. He spent several years living between London and France, Spain, and the Netherlands. He currently lives between Cambridge and Brussels.

Paul was selected for the Arvon/Jerwood mentoring scheme and the Aldeburgh Eight. He has been co-curator of the Poetry in Aldeburgh poetry festival since 2018.

His first pamphlet Those People (Smith/Doorstop, 2015) was a winner in the Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition, judged by Billy Collins. His second pamphlet The Days that Followed Paris (HappenStance, 2016) was written in the wake of the November 2015 terrorist attacks. His book Selfie with Waterlilies was published by Paper Swans Press after winning their 2017 Poetry Pamphlet Prize. Read more at: http://www.paulstep.com

I have selected two poems from Those People. The poems Turkish Delight and The Rub open the pamphlet Selfie with Waterlilies. Here is Paul’s keen eye for the details that matter, his playful language adding an extra dimension to the subject of loss.

Capacity

Seventy litres: in theory more than plenty
for three t-shirts, two shorts, the pair of jeans
you’re wearing. Then the question of the tent,

saucepan, small canister of gas, map and bible
of Thomas Cook timetables – every single train
possibility from here to Ankara. One crisp fifty

thousand lira note, a handful of Swiss francs
and wad of American Express traveller’s cheques.
Foreign currency kept flat, zipped inside a canvas

wallet with Velcro strap, wrapped tight around
the waist. Typical Monday. Your father at work.
Your mother out somewhere. Your lift here soon.

Passwords

I avoid the house I grew up in,
keep away from my mother

and father’s birthdays: calendar
opposites, June and January.

I steer clear of my brother’s
crash, rule out the hot summer

I left school, graduated, went off.
I adopt different characters,

mix upper and lower case.
I do my utmost to never

choose when I was born.
Mine take years to crack.

Paper Swans Press

Turkish Delight

What you do when you get the call is take it,
hear words at dawn before they’re mouthed:
You should probably come now.

What you do is shower and dress, skip yoghurt
and honey, the baklava breakfast, and walk briskly
to the ticket office, hand over your sob story.

Once given a seat today (not tomorrow because
tomorrow is too late), what you do is pack, sit
on a shell-shocked suitcase poring over a tourist map

mentally-cataloguing Byzantine cathedrals
then mosques, till a twelve-seater van for one pulls up
to taxi you with stop-starts across the Bosphorous

into Asia. What you do to kill an afternoon
on a new continent at the international airport hub
is browse briefs and socks, visit the James Joyce Irish pub,

mill about getting sprayed with testers of musk, citrus,
bergamot, think nothing of spending sixty three euros
and seventy four cents on different nut varieties of

Turkish Delight (which is heavy and must be carried),
remember nobody likes Turkish Delight – except him.
What you do till they display your gate is stare out

as dusk descends, count the seconds between
runway ascents, promise you’ll return one day
to be consumed by the vastness of the Hagia Sophia.

The Rub

Menthol my father,
menthol his room,
menthol his bed.

My out of sight father,
my fast relief father,
my warming father.

My dual action father,
my targeted father,
my daily father.

My caution father,
my blood flow father,
my enclosed father,

Menthol my father,
menthol his back,
menthol his beard.

My turpentine father,
my paraffin father,
my eucalyptus father.

My muscular father,
my thin layer father,
my recommended father.

My wool fat father,
my liquid father,
my expiry father.

Love and a dry February

Paper Swans Press are going to publish my poem Cromer, August in their Love anthology.  I had a poem selected for Great Britain anthology, so I know Sarah, the Editor, will produce a lovely book.  It’s going to be pocket-sized…

While I was on Lanzarote I didn’t write much, but I read 11 books.  Brought back The Iceberg, in which Marion Coutts writes about the two years leading up to the death of her partner, the art critic Tom Lubbock.  The quote on the cover says “mesmerising, harrowing and radiant” and I understand why the book was awarded the Wellcome Book Prize in 2015.

As I’m giving up alcohol, I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about other drinks and am well stocked up with herbal teas:-

Moroccan Mint – with a twist of cardamon

Three cinnamon – a sweet embrace of organic Indian, Indonesian & Vietnamese cinnamon

Lemon, ginger  & manuka honey – a welcoming cup of spicy-sweet organic bliss

Linden flower –  Carmencita Tila (Sp) bought in Playa Blanca

Pure Fennel – the bright yellow flowers of the fennel plant fan out like water from a sprinkler…

When is a list not a poem?

 

 

 

 

Flash, I love you!

Here are 34 extremely short stories in an anthology of flash fiction published by Paper Swans Press. My submissions didn’t cut the mustard: they were prose poems in disguise and didn’t have that important story arc.

cover flash fiction

I’ve made a handful of resolutions.  One of these is to write more short stories and get into writing flash fiction. Many years ago I had some success with short stories: published in anthologies and broadcast.  I got a cheque from the BBC for £5, that’s £1 per minute broadcast for Diving at Calypso Bay.  I’m a total novice at flash fiction and will study the form closely.  That’s after I’ve submitted some poems to issue 3 of Strix…