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Poem by Jenny Pagdin

Eyewear is very pleased to welcome the poet Jenny Pagdin (pictured) to its pages this Friday. I first met Pagdin when she was studying at The Poetry School (well, before then, we were introduced to each other by the American-Canadian poet Eric Ormsby). Since then, I have followed the development of her work with some interest.

Her earlier poems, of three or four years ago, were small, complex works, combining near-scientific observation with sensuous, sometimes erotic, emotionality - all wound tight with brilliant diction. Her new work, it appears to me, is opening up, and growing in stature as it assays traditional forms, in surprising ways, sometimes employing more colloquial, and directly sexual, or personal, themes.

Pagdin is completing the MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. In between times, she works as a charity fundraiser in Norwich. Her poetry has appeared in magazines including Nthposition, Agenda, Dream Catcher and The Frogmore Papers. Do expect a very fine collection from her in the next few years.


The cool ones then are cool no longer,
The beauties faded pretty soon
But that was no consolation at the time,
When your place in the league table was all.

The beauties faded pretty soon
But when we were fourteen
And our place in the league table was everything
We weren’t to know that.

When we were fourteen
And everyone had an eating disorder
We were not to know that
All of us hated our bodies.

Everyone had an eating disorder,
A body top and a lumber jack shirt.
We all of us hated our bodies
And wanted a blonde, crispy perm.

In our body tops and lumber jack shirts
We got thrown out of Boots for opening the bottles.
We wanted blonde, crispy perms:
They were having none of it.

We got thrown out of Boots every Saturday:
Lilac eyeshadow was the most popular
But they were having none of it
And we couldn’t afford even one.

Lilac was the most popular eyeshadow.
If we’d not heard the latest james or Brian May
Then we couldn’t afford anyone to see
- And nothing would ever beat Bon Jovi’s lips.

If we’d not heard the latest james or Brian May
If we had our ties on properly, or our skirts not rolled up
Still, nothing could beat Bon Jovi’s lips
Or sleeping under a Ryan Giggs duvet.

With our ties on properly, our skirts unrolled,
We looked much younger.
We slept under Ryan Giggs duvet covers.
And wallpaper collaged from magazines.

We looked much younger without the makeup.
We aspired to A2 art folders, to drinks in cafes
And wallpaper collaged from magazines.
But the tuck shop sold wham bars and irn bru and whispas.

We aspired to art folders, to drinks in cafes,
But the canteen sold jackets and plastic cups of cheese.
The tuck shop, wham bars and irn bru and whispas
And the cloakroom had rows of River Island bags.

The canteen had its jackets and plastic cups of cheese
Matron dispensed pills, hot water bottles.
The cloakroom was full of River Island bags.
And buses were the place to meet boys

Matron dispensed pills, hot water bottles,
We wore netball skirts and sports knickers
And buses were the place to meet boys
- Boys we kissed against the six-foot fence.

In our netball skirts and sports knickers,
Some of us attracted attention
From boys - pressed up close against the six-foot fence -
We knew through casual unions.

Some of us attracted attention….
It was no consolation at the time,
But I know from casual reunions since
The cool ones then are cool no longer.

poem by Jenny Pagdin
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