Cheryl Pearson’s first collection, Oysterlight was published in 2017 by Pindrop Press, run from the Cevennes, by poet and editor Sharon Black.
Pearson is well-published in magazines and from what I’ve read elsewhere has a thorough submissions strategy which evidently pays off. Her work has been anthologised by The Emma Press among others.
Here’s just a tiny taste of what you’ll find in Oysterlight – just to whet your appetite.
Out Of Water
How flash-quick that vital line was breached,
how sudden the drowning in sky –
the banked fish gasped as though crying out
for the stippled riverbed, the lost underlight;
choked on throatfuls of sun. The eye
dragging clouds into its rolling pivot,
like fairground candyfloss catching
the stick. I saw none of it,
but I saw it all. Next milky morning, the gold dog
rooting. She came when I called,
her thrilled nose starred with the leavings.
Could she scent the striped light in which
the fish hung before leaping? The breath
of the bird as it stripped the wreck
back to the rungs? I wonder if afterlives
swing from an owl-mouth’s ceiling,
the way my own bones
close over waterless lungs.
Pre-dawn I wake, and your breathing finds me,
places me into this bed, this room, this
sudden not-quite-morning. You won’t mind me
folding into your side, so I fold; kiss
the tangled mat of hair on your bent arm;
smell the yeasty smell which makes your skin taste
of wheat. Once, in Wales, we went to a farm
where a similar smell rose from the waste
of horses – a homely smell, redolent
of good earth, heat, sweat, physical labour.
I tucked myself into you, nonchalant.
Breathed you in as I do now, bed-neighbour
on this dark dawn, as the clock enforces
order and you dream – perhaps of horses.
Once, I was golden, and lifted like a trophy.
Once, my body made men howl.
These days, I’m worse than invisible. Just a
rusting voice, a fabulous crown.
To pass the time, I talk to my statues.
Pretend them back to handsome, use
a flirty tone. Sometimes I take off all my clothes
– despite the cold – and pose,
naked, on a bent stone knee. Or fill
the chilly curl of a fist with my breast.
Once, just once, I toppled one and cracked
him open like an egg. Combed through concrete ribs
to find the rock that was his heart. And then I broke it.
See, I told him, how you like it.
“In her poem ‘Girl as Star’, Cheryl Pearson writes about ‘a girl held together/by her own gravity’ and it seems to me that this book is held together by its own beautiful and finely-crafted gravity. The poems are built with care and love and with a deep conviction that language not only helps us to survive, it helps us to dance.”
Cheryl Pearson was born and raised in Cheshire, but now lives and works in Manchester. Her poems have appeared widely in journals and magazines including Antiphon, Bare Fiction, Crannog, Neon, Envoi, Prole, and Southword. She has also had work featured in anthologies produced by The Emma Press, The University of Chester Press, and Puppywolf Press. She won the High Sheriff’s Cheshire Prize for Literature in 2016, and was nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize. When she isn’t working or writing, you can find her drinking beer in the Peak District. Oysterlight is her first full-length collection.