Then spree

poetry & diary by Nia Davies

For the Sesquipedalians: Long Words

Çekoslovakyalılaştıramadıklarımızdanmısınız or Long Words, my new chapbook, is now available to buy from this site. It contains a series of poems expanding on some impossibly strange long words from various different languages. Postage is free and proceeds go to Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Support Group. There’s an afterword from the marvellous Mark Waldron.

On Sunday the 19th of June the book will be discussed as part of the BBC Radio Three programme ‘An Explosion of Geraniums’ on the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition where Dylan Thomas served cups of boiled string. My chapbook, alongside others published in the ‘Boiled String’ series, will be featured.

Long Words is also reviewed in Zarf zine by Julia Rose Lewis, where she says ‘With bull excrement, sorrels, and vaginas, Davies’ poems bring the long words alive and will turn many readers into sesquipedalians.’

Here’s some pink Haeckel trilobites for the ‘fossil inside’ you:

Long Words - back cover


Poetry in the age of new media

New media and digital forms offer poets and artists many original ways to answer the question: what is poetry? Over on the Literature Across Frontiers website I report from a festival that explores this enquiry into contemporary poetry and art – Oslo Poesifilm Festival 2016.

Still from Tord Torpe's festival teaser

Still from Tord Torpe’s festival teaser

One of my favourites: To Thy Heart by Ewa Borycewicz:

New publication: Long Words

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Çekoslovakyalılaştıramadıklarımızdanmısınız or Long Words by Nia Davies is out now from Hafan Press’s Boiled String Chapbook series.

To get a copy for £9.50 (and free postage!) visit this page to use PayPal.  Or send your terrestrial address to AND £9.50 by cheque to SWANSEA BAY ASSG.

Inspired by the Turkish tongue-twister Çekoslovakyalılaştıramadıklarımızdanmısınız (Are you one of those we tried to make to be originating from Czechoslovakia?), the poems in this chapbook take their titles from the English translations of long words in various languages. These are words that can (barely) be translated as: ‘For those who were repeatedly unable to pick enough of small wood-sorrels in the past’, ‘To the least able to be making less understandable’, ‘For your [plural] continued behaviour as if you could not be desecrated’.

In the gaps between what we say and what we mean, between one language and another, Nia Davies finds such figures and motifs as contemptible palaeontologists, collective farms, the murdered women in Bolaño’s 2666, the never-ending suffix, dusty chickens, Estonian palindromes, ‘splitters gurning on white cream’, lies, drunkenness and the tortured question ‘what is poetry?’:

communication is not the aim of poetry
poetry is not the aim of communication
it gets in the way though somehow doesn’t it?

These are poems written in the shadow of the untranslatable/unconscious ‘fossil inside’.

Long Words - back cover

Mariam Alatar in translation

Two poems by Mariam Alatar I translated on the Reel Iraq translation workshop in 2014 have been published in MPT magazine.  ‘Fucking Obsessed’ is published online alongside a blog on the translation process. Here we are with Dina Mousawi translating away…





A round up of news from the last twelve months…

In 2014 I started editing Poetry Wales. You can take a look at the six issues I’ve edited so far here. Focuses have included the visualviolence, Patagonia and an issue on desire is forthcoming. You can read my editorials on the Poetry Wales website:

In Spring 2015 I co-curated the Welsh Enemies project – Gelynion – with Steven J Fowler. Over 60 poets collaborated in pairs at events across Wales and London with a core of six touring poets, including myself and Steven, performing rolling collaborations along the way. All the filmed collaborations and further information can be found on the Enemies site.

In October 2015 it was a joy to take part in the fourth North Wales International Poetry Festival. At the festival Literature Across Frontiers launched the new project Literary Europe Live (LEuL). LEuL brings together festivals from around Europe to encourage and foster programming that reflects the richness and diversity of the European literary landscape. I am working on this project currently with Literature Across Frontiers.

I have a chapbook coming out imminently with Hafan/Boiled String – Çekoslovakyalılaştıramadıklarımızdanmısınız or Long Words. More news on this to come.

More: @niapolly

Happy New Year:

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Çekoslovakyalılaştıramadıklarımızdanmısınız or Long Words

My new sequence of poems Çekoslovakyalılaştıramadıklarımızdanmısınız or Long Words features poems with titles taken from the English translations of long words in various languages. Extracts have been published so far in the following online magazines:

In 3am Magazine

– for your [plural] continued behaviour as if you could not be desecrated (Hungarian)
– also for those who have turned like counterrevolutionaries  (Georgian)
– for those who were repeatedly unable to pick enough of small wood-sorrels in the past (Lithuanian)
– to the least able to be making less understandable (Czech)

In Wales Arts Review

– a dusty place where chickens usually groom themselves (Tagalog)
– [two] people trying to scatter pretended lies with each other (Tagalog)
– when our resentments will have (Hebrew)
– are you one of those people whom we couldn’t make to be originating from Czechoslovakia? (Turkish)

– ‘the most emotionally disturbing (or upsetting) thing (Tagalog)’ will be appearing in Ploughshares in spring 2015. 

Camaradefest II 2014

Glitter is a Gender

Glitter is a GenderI have two riddle poems in this new mini-anthology: ‘Pussy Riddle Dialogue’ and ‘You will never guess my name’. Really delighted to be included among such brilliant work.

“The humourous, the fantastical, the classical, the psychogeographical, all are touched upon in this attempt to collectivise the spirit of your erotics: that creative energy empowered, the knowledge and use of which we are now reclaiming in our language, our history, our dancing, our loving, our work, our lives.”

This anthology edited by Sophie Mayer and Sarah Crewe seeks to capture something of the exciting new wave of contemporary writing on the erotic.

Featuring poetry by Nia Davies, Pascal O’Laoghlin, Nat Raha, Sarah Crewe, Becky Cremin, Jo Langton, Andra Simons, Kit Fryatt, Sandeep Parmar, slmendoza, Jay Bernard, Ziba Karbassi, SJ Fowler, Agnes Marton, Sascha Aurora Akhtar, Melissa Lee-Houghton and Sophie Mayer,

Glitter is a Gender is “not so much an anthology as an anthol-orgy of voices, hands, hearts and genitals, all working to recognise and actualise the erotic.”

Buy a copy here:!__glitter-anthology

The poetry of the interpreters

My hands, I mean my head,
Curlessness, the sandal of the lady,
I coat my shoulder
Sleeve is taken away!
I prefer physical exercise in the garden of loneliness
Doctor narrated as a story the mountains of criss cross.
Don’t ask me if this is my poetry.
Are you the rower who is going to rob my life from me?
You are more lethal than cane.
Who do this sprouting?
I climbed death,
I more than a wound you can wind me.
My loneliness glasses have been shattered!
I wanted to be made available.
I am not like other autumn scissors.

This poem is brought to you by the interpreters of the Niniti International Literature Festival. I took part in the festival and the Reel Iraq translation workshop in Shaqlawa and Erbil in Kurdistan, Iraq last month. My blog about how understanding, misunderstanding and communication figure in the art of poetry translation is up on the Reel Festivals website. I am incredibly grateful to Reel and to all the people who made this encounter happen.  You can read the blog here.

Found in translation at the Niniti International Literature Festival, Erbil, Iraq

Found in translation at the Niniti International Literature Festival, Erbil, Iraq


Today I travel to Erbil in Kurdistan in Iraq to take part in a translation workshop and the Niniti Literature Festival. The trip is organised by the remarkable Reel Festivals in collaboration with Art Role and the British Council.

You can read more about the trip here including who’s taking part on the Reel website. Look out for blogs from the participants, including myself.

Some things I have been reading/watching in translation in order to learn something about the region:

– The Iraqi Christ – short stories (stories of stories) by Hassan Blasim, translated into English by Jonathan Wright

Son of Babylon – a film by Mohamed Al Daradji

Poems from the last Reel Iraq festival workshop by several Iraqi poets translated into English by a group Scottish poets and performed at the festival in London last year. Plus blogs from the participating poets.


– this film about the Iraqi poet Manan Al-Sheikh by Roxana Vilk from the Al-Jazeera Poets of Protest series. 

– Fiction, poetry and interviews in the Words Without Borders Kurdish issue

– poems by  Sinan Antoon


– the wonderfully informative Arabic Literature in English blog