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William Bedford’s shed

William

 

WALKING

24th July 1841: John Clare
 
Two wives I have,
iffen folk say no,
law say no,
feeble brain imagines.
 
I’ve walked these miles,
bramble, hazard,
carters’ wiles,
a gypsy crawl
 
to find
a home in Mary’s smile.
And still I reckon,
sing love tunes:
 
huswife and bedwife,
to bicker over moons;
a harvest supper
wi wooden spoons.
 
‘Touched,’
the neighbours snigger.
I whistle rhythms
nobbut fools chose.
 
And walk at night,
nimbling poacher’s ways,
sleep on clover trusses,
chew grass ‘cos
 
fish gone, game gone,
no trespasses
allowed
now fields and common closed.
 
I chew tobacco too,
then swallow,
no lucifers to light my pipe,
smoke fumes enew.
 
Two wives I have,
acrost bare fields of stubble,
no pastoral views,
childern learned to reddle.
 
I walk
where wind whips elms:
frozed night,
red gypsy hat for warmth or trouble.
 
I walk
where Eden used to be,
haymaking games
a game for saucey drovers.
 
Then Patty
says me home.
Sweet Mary died.
And how can I forget?
 
 
nimbling moving nimbly reddle riddle enew enough
 
 
He took First Class Honours in English Literature and a Ph.D at the University of Sheffield, and taught part-time for the University of Sheffield, Middlesex Polytechnic, The Open University, London University Extra Mural Dept and the University of Hull Extra Mural Dept during 1977-1985. He joined the Editorial Board of Poetry Salzburg Review in 2007. He was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Oxford Brookes University 2008 – 2011. He became a full-time novelist and children’s writer in 1984.

He received an Arts Council Major Bursary for Poetry in 1978, Society of Authors Award in 1993, Yorkshire and Humberside Arts Award in 1993, Yorkshire Arts Award in 2000 for the publication of The Redlit Boys and a Royal Literary Fund Award in 2007. His first novel, Happiland, was runner-up for the 1990 Guardian Fiction Prize. Several of his short stories were broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Morning Story. “Orchards” appeared in the anthology God gives nuts to those who have no teeth (Heinemann, l990) and “Graceland” appeared in the anthology The Daily Telegraph Book of Contemporary Short Stories (Headline, 1995). In 1979 BBC Radio Sheffield broadcast his six-part musical drama The Man Who Invented Words, and in 2003 BBC Radio 4 broadcast his drama The Piano Player. His Collecting Bottle Tops: Selected Poetry 1960-2008 was published in 2009. His selected short stories and non-fiction – None of the Cadillacs Was Pink – was also published in 2009.

The Fen Dancing (Red Squirrel Press) is Bedford’s new collection and begins with poems about his father’s 1920s childhood in a remote farming community in Lincolnshire, and ends with the Manhattan skyline and the literary world of Greenwich Village.

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William Bedford wins the Roundel Poetry Competition

WilliamThe winners of the Roundel Poetry Competition were announced last night at a prize-giving ceremony in Tonbridge. As the judge I knew the results a few weeks ago, but was sworn to secrecy and am so glad I can shout them from my website. I was delighted by the entries and there was a very strong group of shortlisted poets. William Bedford took first place with his poem Then, Geraldine Paine’s The Flint Waller was placed second and John Arnold’s A Significant Missed Rendezvous was placed third.

 

Then
 
for Alison Brackenbury
(North Lincolnshire: 1959-1963)

I had to kill them when it was time to go,
take my leave and catch the stopping train.
Rhode Island Reds they were,
kept for the eggs and the kitchen table.
We tarred the wounds of the flock’s victim,
locked the hutch at night with twined wire.
If we left the gate open, two followed us
up the garden. One dared the kitchen,
sitting for a photograph on my shoulder.
I had to kill them when it was time to leave.
The one sitting on my knee was the tamest,
used to pecking seed from warm hands.
She seemed surprised, finding no seed,
not worrying I was going to break her neck.
My father had to fetch the farmer. I cried.
All twelve were gone in a heaven’s blink,
a grubby fiver, then biscuits and a cup of tea.
We sold them for the table. Our own stood empty.
Too poor a food for us in pheasant season.

 

fen-dancing2William Bedford’s new collection begins with poems about his father’s 1920s childhood in a remote farming community in Lincolnshire, and ends with the Manhattan skyline and the literary world of Greenwich Village.

Red Squirrel Press, £7.99 Paperback

William joined the Editorial Board of Poetry Salzburg Review in 2007. He was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Oxford Brookes University 2008 – 2011. He became a full-time novelist and children’s writer in 1984 and received an Arts Council Major Bursary for Poetry in 1978, Society of Authors Award in 1993, Yorkshire and Humberside Arts Award in 1993, Yorkshire Arts Award in 2000 for the publication of The Redlit Boys and a Royal Literary Fund Award in 2007. His first novel, Happiland, was runner-up for the 1990 Guardian Fiction Prize. Several of his short stories were broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Morning Story. “Orchards” appeared in the anthology God gives nuts to those who have no teeth (Heinemann, l990) and “Graceland” appeared in the anthology The Daily Telegraph Book of Contemporary Short Stories (Headline, 1995). In 1979 BBC Radio Sheffield broadcast his six-part musical drama The Man Who Invented Words, and in 2003 BBC Radio 4 broadcast his drama The Piano Player. His Collecting Bottle Tops: Selected Poetry 1960-2008 was published in 2009. His selected short stories and non-fiction – None of the Cadillacs Was Pink – was also published in 2009.

Full details can be found on the Roundel website.

Robert Peake

Robert Peake Featured Poet

Robert Peake is one of the poets I asked to be part of the EKPHRASIS event responding to the Sensing Spaces exhibition at the Royal Academy in March. I heard him read Still Life with Bougainvillea which was commended in the Troubadour International Poetry Prize 2013 and after getting home from the event I did some digging around to read more of his stuff. He’s kindly sent the two poems below and I’ve included links to various things on his site. In case you’re not quite sure, yes he is that “Transatlantic poet-guy”, as someone I know once called him (I think she might have prefaced it with … “Oh WOW he’s… ).

rpeake-square

 

Million-Dollar Rain
for E.K.
 
It is hardly there at all,
this feather-rain, suffusing
the air with casual descent

pooling in crevices of husk
and trickling down the yellow stem,
dampening the topsoil sponge.

It is the antidote to drought, but also
to floods of Biblical scale, this
Providence and proof of tenderness–

each droplet a tiny silver dollar
skating the side of a piggybank,
reclaiming the mortgaged barn.

How strange to discover it here,
leashing an eager Retriever for his
pre-dawn hike through a London park,

four thousand miles and an ocean away
from where the saying first took root
in your keen farm-girl’s mind.

Strange how what is hardly there
is there all the more for its gentleness,
dampening the head of your blonde companion,

who, when you unclip his collar, races
as fast as ever through clay and mud
toward doves he will never catch.

The neighbour dressed in misery still won’t
return your smile, unaware he’s breathing
money-mist, shaking gold-dust from his hair.

So you walk with this secret knowledge,
burning like a gas lamp inside, while all around
the land is soaking, gently, soaking.
(First appeared in Harpur Palate)

 

 

London Blues
 
A tune is playing in the tambourine streets.
In the streets, they shake out a jingling song.
Since you left, the only lyrics I hear are “gone.”

The people on the bus wear their faces like masks.
The mask-faced bus people wear smiles like a shield.
Without you, now I know how that armour feels.

Underground, the trains are galloping along.
The train humps along the track somewhere deep down.
Since you’re gone, “goodbye” is my favourite sound.

On the pavement, people cluster waiting to cross.
Clumping like a school of fishes, watching for green.
I stand there in your absence, not wanting to be seen.

Since you left, all the songs say “long gone.”
And without you, now I know how a soldier feels.
When that train leaves, “goodbye” is all I hear.
I am nowhere, and you are everywhere, a song.

 

(First appeared in South Bank Poetry)

 

Robert Peake is an American poet living in England. His newest short collection is The Silence Teacher (Poetry Salzburg, 2013). His previous short collection was Human Shade (Lost Horse Press, 2011). His full-length collection The Knowledge is expected in early 2015 from Nine Arches Press.
 
Robert’s poems have received commendations in the Rattle Poetry Prize, the Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Contest, the 2007 James Hearst Poetry Prize, the 2009 Indiana Review Poetry Prize, the 2013 Troubadour International Poetry Prize and three Pushcart Prize nominations, and was long-listed for the UK National Poetry Competition. He created the Transatlantic Poetry on Air reading series to bring poets from both sides of the Atlantic together for live online poetry readings.