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Poem by Linda Black

Eyewear is very glad to welcome Linda Black (pictured) this Friday.

I met her recently at an Oxfam poetry reading which she was attending, and she gave me her wonderful pamphlet, the beating of wings, from Hearing Eye (2006) which was a PBS recommendation, and which impressed me greatly.

Black studied Fine Art at Leeds Art College and etching at the Slade School. She ran Apollo Etching Studio in London and has exhibited widely. Her poems have appeared in various magazines including Magma, Shearsman, The Wolf and Poetry Salzburg Review and in the Poetry School anthologies Entering the Tapestry (Enitharmon, 2006), This little stretch of Life (Hearing Eye/ Poetry School, 2006) and the recently published I am Twenty People! (Enitharmon, 2007).

Black was recipient of the 2004/5 Poetry School Scholarship. She is the winner of the 2006 New Writing Ventures Poetry Award. The poem below appeared originally, as you might expect, in This little stretch of Life.


This little stretch of life

(from the letters of Elizabeth Bishop)


There are sanctuaries, small melting snowdrifts
here and there; an atmosphere

easy to crawl into. In one of those intervals
where all thought has ceased, I am tempted

by waves, the transparent sea. I think my heart
beats twice a day – a very slight

ailment. I’ve tried all approaches; aerial
and subterranean – I am mixed about

like a drop of oil on water. This place!
This pile of masonry! Accumulated

stray objects – you can get right under,
clutching like a gasping mermaid,

no view to be seen. Have you ever
gone through caves? Things

just seep through the walls.
I don’t imagine anyone could hear me

howling. I am one
of ten thousand or whatever it is

who are lost each year. In a minute or two
I know I shall forget. Excuse

my disconnectedness – I must go see
what everything is doing

– these things on my shoulders
are not wings.


poem by Linda Black
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