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Friday, 19 November 2010

Featured Poet: Judy Brown



Eyewear is very pleased to welcome Judy Brown (pictured) this foggy day in London with a new poem.  Brown was born in Cheshire and has also lived in Northumberland, the Lake District and, in the early 1990s, Hong Kong, where she worked as a lawyer.  She now lives in London and Derbyshire.  Her pamphlet Pillars of Salt (2006) was a winner in Templar Poetry's first pamphlet competition and her first full collection Loudness is due from Seren in Autumn 2011.  This year she won the Manchester Poetry Prize for a portfolio of four poems.  She also received first prize in the Poetry London competition in 2009 and the Poetry Society's Hamish Canham prize in 2005.  Her poems have appeared in the Bloodaxe anthology (editor Roddy Lumsden) Identity Parade (2010) and the Forward Book of Poetry 2006 as well as in various magazines. Hers will be one of the debut collections of the new decade in UK poetry.



THE WORST JOURNEY IN THE WORLD

            And now the reader will ask what became of the three penguins’ eggs for which three human lives had been risked three hundred times a day, and three human frames strained to the utmost extremity of human endurance?”  (Apsley Cherry-Garrard, The Worst Journey in the World (1922))

was to the Natural History Museum where he took the eggs
after his friends had died coming back from the Pole.
They were huge, waxy, thick-walled - an imperial pound of souls

he carried blind from the ice where the penguins breed.
That night their canvas shelter was snatched in a matador switch
and they cowered under the burn of Cape Crozier’s wind.

He wrote: I wondered why it did not carry away the earth.
By then he thought the place was a church.  Butter broke
like a seven-years-bad-luck glass at the touch of a knife. 

His teeth shattered too.  Seventy miles out there, hauling
a sledge in the midwinter dark.  As the curator took the eggs,
they shrank.  Then just a grey-white absence, stigmata

drilling his palms, the only way back to the South. 
Nothing was ever real but that trip, the jokes, how much,
at the end of each day’s march, his heart had slowed.

new poem by Judy Brown; published with permission of the author
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