INDIGO DREAMS PUBLISHING LTD
GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2021
Cover image Goldleaf: a John Atkinson Grimshaw homage © Saffron Swansborough
138 x 216mm
£9.50 + P&P UK
The God of Lost Ways
Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize 2020
The God of Lost Ways explores the dark and beautiful sides of nature that exist around us. A meditation on the bones and breath of the natural world and the edges that blur with our intrusion and involvement.
“In view of its technical accomplishment, the assurance of voice, and especially the bold pursuit of difficult themes, it is astonishing to reflect that this is Lovell's first collection.
The language is somehow spare and simple yet dazzlingly original. Lovell has issued a powerful manifesto both for the importance of nature
and for herself as a major poet.”
Author and naturalist
“These poems are a series of hauntings. Sensory, porous, poignant in its truest sense, their painful, sudden beauty and physicality becomes embodied organically. As Seamus Heaney said, they come at you sideways,
“and catch the heart off guard, and blow it open.”
This is just what poetry should do. Lovell is a great poet, her lines capture all it means to be human, present and in touch with the wild.”
Author of ‘Owl Sense’
The God of Lost Ways
he follows cracks in pavements,
the upside curve of bridges,
the outer edge of lamplight,
in your darkest moments
brings you blown trees with shards
of pottery and coins in their roots,
skeletons of fry in the carcass of a fish,
seedpods in rasping spirals.
He is a night-bird folded on the fencepost
counting ten for the mice to run
or a motorway hoverer
hypnotised by the jiggery of voles
in the buffeted grass.
When you are drowning in the enormity
he offers you sea glass, the shiver
of dune grass, an eel switching
across slipstreams of mud.
He unfurls new leaves
to patch holes in your skies,
linnets and pipits to stitch paths
across your discarded landscapes.
He is that jay's feather in your hand,
the bird's egg of flint, its cracked black seams,
and that greenlip marble you found in landslip
that took you all the way back
to the start.
In the dim kitchen
your fingers knead and pull the dough,
flour smudges the yellow light
of your cheek and chin.
Poppy seeds escape across the table
disappear onto the tiles.
Red-eyed herring sprawl on the drainer,
flat and finless, silver.
The knife slits, scrapes out strings
and slips of skin;
worm-tangle on quaggy newsprint.
Liquor of fruit broods over must.
Bruised pulp smears the neck
plugged to protect
from the last vinegar flies
fat and desperate with eggs.
Oven hums, yeast creams in a jar.
You measure sugar, boil water.
I kneel to mash the blackberries
Juice stains my fingers, blackens
the sweetness bewildering
against hot bread.
Jane Lovell is an award-winning poet whose work focuses on our relationship with the planet and its wildlife. She has been widely published in journals and anthologies in the UK and US.
She has won the Flambard Prize (2015), the Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize (2020) and has been shortlisted for several other literary awards including the Basil Bunting Prize, the Robert Graves Prize and Periplum Book Award.
Recent publications include 'Metastatic' (ATG Poetry Press), 'One Tree' (Night River Wood), 'Forbidden' (Coast to Coast to Coast) and 'This Tilting Earth' (Seren Books).
Jane also writes for Dark Mountain, Elementum Journal and Photographers Against Wildlife Crime. She lives in Kent and is Writer-in-Residence at Rye Harbour Nature Reserve.
Early morning air
slice-cold below total blue
and he’s sitting bold as a stray on the lawn,
tasting the breeze, absorbing every ripple
with those planetary ears.
Time passes only in the shiver of leaves,
a solitary beetle ticking in the sage.
In a heartbeat, he’s away to the skyline,
unzipping the grass and wind-chased verge,
giving us the whole month of May
stretched languorously through centuries,
myrtle, mint and purple betony,
twirling her skirts,
shaking her hair in the wind,
gathering speed as if in huntdown,
as if pinning the lawn with his longbone feet,
bursting through streamers of birdsong,
scattering like confetti the trimmings
of finch and sparrow,
carrying his ears so beautifully,
all the way to the furthest corner
where he pauses,
resting on his haunches
in the lee of a budding lilac
breathes the whole sky:
Orchards, Greensand Way
We meet between converging lines:
branch, twig, leaf, the bulbous fruit,
knuckles of root in ribbled ground
hands that led the plough, that hauled
and dug and cropped, cup and twist,
and gone. Those days like leaves.
Flagged tracks wind in from lanes
conjuring the old ways, trundle and scrape
of wheels through ghosts of trees.
The sun is brighter now, a black macramé
of tubes irrigates the lines; tractors grind
through vineyards on the south slopes.
We spot fox trails, vertical earth below
skylit hedges; from the ridge, every shade
of green laid out across the Weald, sweeping
to the mauve horizon of a wide unhurried sky.
Windfalls scatter the path: Cox’s and crabs,
in the hedges, late bramble, damson,
each bite of fruit surprising in its freshness,