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Read Abegail Morley's interview with Valerie here:
Valerie Morton was born in London, grew up in Kent and now lives by the River Lea in Hertfordshire.
She cannot remember a time when she didn't write something but bringing up a family took most of her time until she returned to poetry about ten years ago. She has been published in a number of magazines and placed in several poetry competitions.
In 2011 she completed an OU degree which included creative writing and since then has run a CW workshop with a mental health charity. She is a member of Ver Poets , The Poetry School and an online poetry group.
NEW COLLECTION 2015
Publication 1st June 2013
216 x 138 mm
£5.95 + P&P
I spend my last night in the box room
listening to mother's unspoken questions.
Her open door tempts me
to spill my fears on her bed.
But if I do I may never leave,
never travel to that uncharted world of you;
never rise above a dirty January sky
and watch the familiar lights of London
switch themselves off, leaving me
suspended – never see the Cedars of Lebanon
sparkle in the sunrise or wonder
at the mountains and glaciers of the Hindu Kush –
never risk that lump in the throat
when we cross frontier after frontier,
drawing me closer to you.
I wander through a day of strange sounds
locked out by my own voice.
Relatives come, curious about the woman
who’s crashed into their lives.
Hindi voices rise, then lower as I pass.
I stray outside to the letter box,
hoping to find that familiar aerogramme.
I trace my fingers over English names
in the telephone directory
for any flimsy connection.
Goodbye is strange – no words –
just my eyes glued to yours
over a sea of well-wishers.
I've only stroked the skin of India
but she has opened her folded hands
to me and I'm not ready
to leave the rains that quench the dust
or the peacocks that strut
their ritual dance in fast-falling dusk.
Instead I take with me the scent
of dung fires, sandalwood
and rose-red cities in a suitcase
heavy with departure. I put on
my homebound face and shrink
into the bustle of Palam Airport
clutching a ticket that says Return.
I know it will be raining in London.
“These poems are at once subtle and evocative, delicately poised between personal and universal in a way that only good poetry can be. You will dip in with the intention of reading just one and emerge some time later, carrying with you a bundle of resonant phrases and images.”
Poet Laureate for Lincolnshire
“We walk with Valerie into an unknown, wondrous place, where we are invited to stroke the skin of India, read it with our fingertips, hold it in the palm of our hands.”
Poetry Editor for The New Writer.
“Enigmatic and intoxicating, Valerie Morton's India is steeped in contrasts. In poems of displacement, discovery, apprehension and enchantment, she weaves memories of enduring love.
Mango Tree is a poignant tribute and a sensory delight”
The inspiration for this short collection is one man and one country.
Written through the eyes of a young English woman travelling to India for the first time in 1967, these are unashamedly intimate memories, (helped by diaries and letters) inviting the reader into the vibrancy, mystery and cruelty of a country where waking up each morning is an epiphany.
It is impossible to capture the whole of this sub-continent in one book, however enormous that book may be. This is India before mass tourism, before mobile phones and when an elderly man with a shawl and a stick was the only security needed at night; before Bollywood and technology; before the country exploded into one of the world's leading economies and before traffic pollution began to turn such treasures as the Taj Mahal yellow - an India where bullocks, cows and tongas took precedence over the motor car.
You gave me India
spread it out before me
in the clashing colours of sarees
drying on the banks of the Ganges –
a chaotic palette of lights
and darks – a palette
that renews itself each morning
out of noise and disarray,
blistering heat and boisterous rain –
a palette that turns cities pink, temples gold,
and throws shadows longer than the night.
The waking city bursts into a circus
daring acrobats on a river of bicycles.
A single scooter holds a whole family, clinging
like coral plants, chunnis waving in colours
too bright to imagine. We brush past bullock carts
that trundle as if history has forgotten them.
Close your eyes – your voice is gentle,
but limbless beggars are already remembered.
We slow only for cows chewing on garbage
as if the middle of the road was a lush meadow
half a world away. You speak names:
The Red Fort, India Gate, Connaught Place
but in the taxi I sit trim as an English lawn
while horns give way to a tree-lined road.
There are dhobis ironing in the shade and a man
leading a bear with a ring through its nose.
I try to tell you, but you are talking to the driver
in a language I can't understand.
You take me to your village –
to the mango grove where
you'd met the cobra.
You show me the place
where it slept in the heat
to a child's height
from side to side
in fury or confusion –
you didn't stay long enough
to find out. I feel you hesitate
on the edge of the long grass
and my own feet refuse
to move, in case it's been waiting
all those years,
to make certain
you and I could never be.