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Poem by Elaine Feinstein

Eyewear is very pleased to welcome the significant poet Elaine Feinstein (pictured) to its pages this Friday. She read for my Oxfam series last year, and then again recently in London at Foyles (with Michael Schmidt), where she launched her excellent and moving new collection from Carcanet, Talking to the Dead. Feinstein was born in Liverpool, brought up in Leicester, and educated at Newnham College, Cambridge.

She has written fourteen novels, such as The Border, Loving Brecht and Dark Inheritance. She has written radio plays, television dramas, and five biographies; one of these, Ted Hughes: The Life of a Poet, was short listed for the biennial Marsh Biography Prize. In 1993, she was Writer in Residence for the British Council in Singapore, and in 1996 in Tromso, Norway. She was a Rockefeller Foundation Fellow at Bellagio in 1998. Her novels and biographies have been translated into French, Spanish,German, Italian, Danish, Hungarian, Czech, Hebrew, and Chinese; and her poetry into French, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian. Her versions of the poems of Marina Tsvetaeva were first publishedin 1971, and remain in print from OUP/Carcanet in the UK and Penguin in the USA.

Her poems have been widely anthologised, and two were included in The Oxford Book of English Verse (edited by Christopher Ricks). Her Collected Poems and Translations (2002) was a was a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation. Her biography of Anna Akhmatova was published in 2005. The poem below is from her latest collection.

London

For Natasha

A full ginger moon hangs in the garden.
On this side of the house there are no stars.
When I go to bed, I like to soothe myself with
streetlights, lit windows and passing cars.

When my grandchild comes to sleep over
I find we share the same preference.
She doesn't want to draw the curtains either.
'I like to look out on my town, my London...

Have you seen London from above?' she asks me.
'It's like a field of lights.' And her grey eyes widen.
Her eight year old spirit is tender as blossom.
Be gentle to her now, ferocious London.


poem by Elaine Feinstein
from Talking to the Dead (Carcanet, 2007)
reprinted with kind permission of the author
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Life Jacket

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are half my size nowI wanted to wear
smaller and smallerarticles of clothing
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of an afterthoughtin a sinking ship body
too buoyant to sinktoo waterlogged for land
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