Sunday Poem – Michael Crowley

Afternoon everybody!  This week I’ve been to Grasmere three times – once to talk about a new project which I’ll be working on which sounds really exciting – I’m going to be running some poetry workshops with 16-19 year olds at various locations around Cumbria – the meeting for that was on Monday.

On Thursday I went back to Grasmere to St Oswalds’ church – a group of poets rounded up by Andrew Forster were shown around the church – we were told lots of history in the hope that we are inspired to write some poems.  These poems will then be responded to by some crafts people apparently – we have till July to think of something!

On Friday I had an email from Magma with an acceptance for my ‘Some People, Some People’ poem which I am very excited about!  I’ve only ever been in Magma once – and that was when I won an Eric Gregory Award and the magazine publish one poem from each award winner so  I’ve always wanted to try and get a poem in the normal way.

On Saturday I drove back over to Grasmere for the Poetry Business launch of the pamphlet winners – the four winners are David Grubb, Kim Lasky, David Attwool and Emma Danes.  You can order their pamphlets at

I really enjoyed the reading – I haven’t read all the pamphlets yet, but I have read David Grubb’s and I think that is outstanding.  He takes the famous Wallace Steven’s ‘Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird’ and riffs off this idea – the pamphlet is made up of a number of different sequences – ‘ Ways of Looking at a Very Old Lady’, ‘Ways of Looking at a Church’ etc etc.  They are completely different to anything else I’ve read and very inventive.

In between all this I’ve been to work and am in the midst of organising an all day brass workshop with Ewan Easton from the Halle Orchestra, in collaboration with John Packer.  The workshop is for adults and children and will take place June 9th at St Pius Primary School in Barrow.  It’s completely free for children and just a fiver for adults.  There will be a beginner ensemble and an advanced ensemble so everyone will be catered for.  Please get in touch if you are a brass player reading this and you have somehow missed out on receiving a letter and registering for this workshop.

Tomorrow I’m off to London to read at the Troubadour!  Really excited about this reading – the line up looks amazing – and lots of poets I haven’t heard read which doesn’t happen very often.  And I get to stay with the lovely Jill who is putting up with me yet again over night!  Information about the reading can be found here

Today’s Sunday poem is by Michael Crowley.  I saw Michael read a couple of months ago at an April Poets reading.  I was interested in his poetry because he has worked in prisons for a long time which is something I’m really interested in.  Michael Crowley is a writer and youth justice worker who is based in West Yorkshire.  He works as a playwright and has written for BBC Radio as well as youth theatre.  He has been writer in residence at a young offenders institution for the last five years.

‘Habitat’ the poem I’ve chosen for today comes from his pamphlet ‘Close to Home’ published by Prolebooks and can be ordered here

I liked this poem because I think it is very evocative of the mixed emotions that working in a prison conjures up and I like the ambiguity of the poem – who is not innocent – the prisoners, the bird?  How can a bird not be innocent?  Is pity the most useless emotion we have?  Maybe if you are working in a prison it is…


Habitat – Michael Crowley

Cornered in the sky, a jackdaw
flinches over the arms of B wing;
the winter gulls are circling, laughing.
They release it, swagger along the roof awhile.

A boy’s arm extends beyond the bars,
hands out breakfast to a duck that doesn’t judge.
The shadow of a shut face says: I am giving
because it is forbidden here.

On the balcony, a sparrow beats its back
against a treacherous light.  Two prisoners wait beneath,
twisting their towels, eyes to the skylight,
It’s got to be killed boss.
It dies against the white tiles of the showers,

face against a waste pipe, the sodden shades of bark
resembling a turd.  Outside, a bollard orange beak
droops at the earth.  The oyster catcher
puddles the grass, plots a primordial border.
It isn’t innocent and feeling sorry for it won’t help.

3 comments on “Sunday Poem – Michael Crowley

  1. Congratulations on your Magma poem acceptance, Kim! I’ve enjoyed hearing you read ‘Some People…’ and look forward to reading it in my favourite magazine. 🙂

  2. Yes, congratulations on the Magma poem!

    You always have a great mix of activities, thoughts and poems in your posts. The poem by Michael Crowley is effectively disturbing – it makes me think of how I feel when a bird becomes stuck inside a building and bangs against the inside of the glass windows. Perhaps it’s partly because birds represent freedom and the ability to fly. So having birds in this prison poem is a powerful symbol.

  3. Another congrats on the Magma acceptance! I understand they’re pretty difficult to get into.

    Do you have any more readings scheduled upcoming in London? I would have loved to go on Monday, but I was out of the country for a few days, bad timing!

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