Then spree

Website of Nia Davies, poet, editor, writer, performer

Tag: poetry

Dirty, tender, ludic: All fours

Earlier in the spring, my collection of poems All fours was shortlisted for the Roland Mathias Award for poetry, part of Wales Book of the Year. Kathryn Gray from the judging panel had this to say about the book

From its opening pages, All fours reveals itself as a strange, magnetically attractive book. The deployment of language is glorious. The sound effects present, but unexpected. Attempting my first draft of this, I wrote down the key descriptors that occurred to me when I reflected on this book and its authorial voice, thinking it might simplify a swift reasoning of our verdict. That caused me some problems. Dizzying, heady, gorgeous, dirty, funny, tender, intimate, estranging, political, disturbing, international, local, ludic, vulnerable, in your face, surreal… It is a book for which the high-concept, elevator pitch is impossible to formulate. It defies any simple figure, and that is very much the point. All fours is very much of our discombobulating era. It is indeed a wild ride, but behind this lie great discipline and skill. It insisted on its inclusion, because it simply wouldn’t let us go. The hallmark of an exceptional book, in any genre.

All fours is out from Bloodaxe Books. Buy it here! 

And congratulations to the Wales Book of the Year winner in English, Robert Minhinnick for his book Diary of the Last Man.

All fours cover by Nia Davies

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All fours shortlisted for Wales Book of the Year

All fours is on the shortlist for the Wales Book of the Year 2018 in the Poetry in English category!

The poems in All fours were recently described as ‘ludic, perplexing and roaming’ in a review in the TLS by Leaf Arbuthnot. ‘Profane, charismatic and at times infuriating, Nia Davies’s poetry glitters above all thanks to its energy’ she writes.

All fours is available from the Bloodaxe website. Wales Book of the Year will be announced on the 26th of June.

All fours cover by Nia Davies

 

Instant Triangle! New work in MAI Feminism

A hybrid poetry experiment in the world of Instagram, ‘Instant Triangle’, is included in the very first edition of MAI Feminism journal. This writing and collage explores the triangular gaze of desire on social media.

Check out the brilliant MAI Creative Response section here, first crop edited by the incandescent Amy McCauley.

Nia_Davies_Insta_Collage

Oceanik

Oceanik – poem by Nia Davies. Film by Lucia Sellers, music by Charlie Miles. A selection at the 2018 Film and Video Symposium.

Poem from new collection ‘All fours’

 

18

 

Remembered suddenly my noswaith dda attire
my trying taxonomies of sing song

my motionless carriage &/ my empathy carriage

and that I tried to strike the note of clasp-breast horror slasher maxed-out body resurrection.

At least tried my best, then.

I can’t but pity Exonymic countries
or cobbled together lucky folk, steamy flashes

and celtic music makes me tired.

I can try and declare myself friendly, but I am
terrible and to be noted,     wind-slapped,

aching pussy, not sure what to want.

In the apples the pips burned.

Stood in the coachyard teleologic,
had a personal jesus on a pin.

That was something that was passable as sex, at least.

I suppose technicalities made this regrettable.
I have a synthetic lemon feeling about it
the way murderers like it, clean.

Maudlin is not the same as macabre.

Do whatever you like, he says,

and, I, sandalwood,

dream of the threaded lip,
the pursuit of needlework,
bicarbonate of soda citric,

hurt me hurt me
now

hold me hold me
now.

I shouldn’t have to explain.

Look at my flaws
all around my life like chickenpox.

Wondered whether I’d die like
this with a cock in my mouth, that’s

a flashback, that’s why everything has a trigger
warning now, that’s when the idea

full throttle

becomes hundreds of droplets, panic.

We weren’t sure if that went well or not,
none of us are sure whether that went well,


when I was 18,
when I was 18 oh god

 

This poem  is from All fours, my debut collection. Out on 23rd June with Bloodaxe. More information here.

all fours cover small

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

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 15.19.47

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 t.cheesman@swansea.ac.uk 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

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)

 http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/cekoslovakyalilastiramadiklarimizdanmisiniz/


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)

http://www.walesartsreview.org/poetry-from-cekoslovakyalilastiramadiklarimizdanmisiniz-or-long-words-by-nia-davies/

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

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

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

– www.jadaliyya.com

– the wonderfully informative Arabic Literature in English blog