GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
Alwyn’s ten books include poetry collections, non-fiction and, most recently, a novel, Rapeseed.
She’s widely represented in magazines, anthologies and
on-line, and gives readings all over the world.
Formerly a university philosophy lecturer, Director of two international literacy and literature NGOs and a Rockefeller Scholar, she’s currently Managing Editor of Oversteps Books and a research fellow at Surrey University.
138 x 216mm
£6.00 + P&P UK
PUB: APRIL 2017
Alwyn Marriage brings to life women who, though they lived centuries ago, shared many of the hopes, thoughts and emotions that we experience today. Through poetry in a variety of formal and free verse styles, Alwyn here celebrates the love, courage and occasional defiance of real women. The book was launched in Bergen at an international conference about the lives and writings of mediaeval women.
Alwyn Marriage paints vivid images of eight women: nuns, mystics, saints, a queen and Dante’s muse, who lived in the four centuries after the year 1000. In common, they had passion, whether it was Godiva’s passionate love of justice, Hildegard’s passionate longing for the Divine, or the more earthly passion of Clare and Heloïse, all expressed eloquently in poems as bright as illuminated missals.
Poetry on the Lake, Italy
Vibrant, evocative, and daring, Alwyn Marriage’s poems celebrate the actions, thoughts and emotions of challenging and powerful medieval women, and of the men who loved them. In this collection we encounter figures like Clare of Assisi, Hildegard von Bingen, and Julian of Norwich, but see them from an unfamiliar angle that reveals their vulnerabilities as well as their strength. The poems draw the reader into a world distant in time, bringing the past to life, vividly and uncompromisingly.
Professor of Medieval English Literature at the University of Surrey and author of Medieval Women's Writing (Polity, 2007)
In this, her tenth book, Alwyn Marriage brings to vivid life a group of women who, though they lived centuries ago, shared many of the hopes, thoughts and emotions that we experience today. Alwyn, who has been a university lecturer, Director of two international NGOs and an international Rockefeller scholar, is Managing Editor of Oversteps Books and a research fellow at Surrey University.
Acumen magazine and Torbay Poetry Festival
IN THE IMAGE
Portraits of Mediaeval Women
Itching to go
Margery Kempe of King’s Lynn: 1373-1438
Go Margery, go: set your sights
on Canterbury, Rome, Jerusalem,
as you seek relief from itching body
and from tortured soul.
Scratch until the too frail skin
begins to bleed; you need to be
absolved from sin before you can
become the bride of Christ.
As you leave respectability
of home and husband, are you
chasing visions of divinity
or fleeing from them?
The body that over many years bore
fourteen children, is now borne on waves
as you set sail in pilgrim’s scallop shell
over the oceans of your tears.
Though ostracised by fellow-travellers
who fear your fervour, and accused
of heresy by the Church, nothing
can dampen your desire to preach.
While you travel in search of mystical marriage,
an earthly husband waits at home for you,
fights the law on your behalf, pays all your debts,
freeing you to wander where you will.
Lady Godiva of Coventry: 1010-1067
She challenged the poverty and injustice of the age,
and when tears and arguments failed to hold much sway,
instead of reacting to bureaucracy with righteous rage,
she chose radical non-violent action to win the day.
The hair she’d brushed a hundred times each night
shone and shimmered, falling like a gown
to cover her nakedness and hide from curious sight
the beauty of her body as she rode through town.
To protect her modesty the people all agreed
to close their shutters and look the other way
until she’d passed, so that there’d be no need
to witness her sacrificial act that day –
except for a boy whose cheating left this legacy behind:
for watching Godiva riding by, Peeping Tom went blind.
Edward mourns for Eleanor
Eleanor of Castile: 1241-1290
‘whom living we dearly cherished, and whom dead
we cannot cease to love’ *
Despite her tender years, she was my chosen bride,
although you never welcomed her. She bore me offspring
and gave you a royal heir, but was painfully aware
of your rejection and dislike. It’s rare for a marriage
of convenience to bring such happiness and love,
but she and I were blessed in our relationship.
She joined me on the Eighth Crusade and so was there
to tend my wounds; she made my house and garden
beautiful, enriched not only me but the whole nation
with her love of poetry and song. By night she lay
within my arms, by day she entertained me as we shared
talk and laughter. Would she laugh now to see my tears
and the dozen crosses I’ve had fashioned out of stone
to trace the route her body took on her last journey home?
* from a letter King Edward I wrote to the Abbot of Cluny in 1291, requesting his prayers for Eleanor’s soul.
Mother Julian & the astronauts
Julian of Norwich: 1342-1416
To land that seminal image of a tiny blue
ball spinning in the immensity of space,
modern astronauts had to study
physics, technology and mathematics
to develop a craft that could defy
the out-of-bounds beyond earth’s atmosphere,
while simultaneously learning how to seal
in a mechanical light box all that the eye revealed.
More than six hundred years ago
a woman who had seen no further
than the four walls of her cell
was moved to describe this fragile sphere
as a hazel nut held in the palm of a hand,
secure and treasured there.