Sunday Poem – Martin Domleo

Good morning everyone!  I am back in Barrow again after more swanning about London.  I got back from Aldeburgh for a couple of days (Monday to Wednesday) and then I was off to London again on Thursday to read at Lauderdale House with wonderful poet Maitreyabandhu and Tom Lowenstein.  We had a small, select audience – made me realise the unpredictability of poetry readings – two days before I’d been at Aldeburgh in the Festival Hall reading to at least a hundred people I would say – now I was in a beautiful art gallery reading to an attentive audience of nine!  I actually think that those readings with a small audience are much, much harder.  They are more intimate which I find nerve racking.  There is less ‘performance’ to hide behind.  But that aside, it was a good evening.

On Friday I went on a boat down the Thames with poet friend Jill Abram – we went to Greenwich and visited the Painted Hall and the Chapel in the Naval College and we went to the museum there – my favourite things were these figureheads displayed on the wall from various ships – there is something so proud about them


yet they are also garish and a bit sad I think, not belonging to any ships any more.

We got back to Brixton via the DLR line – I didn’t even know this existed – but was my fave transport of the trip – a train with a glass front so you can see along the tracks as you go along – a spooky experience.  I also went on a bus and the normal tube while in London.  Everyone seems to spend most of their time traveling.

On Friday I ran a workshop with the Malika’s Kitchen Collective on how contemporary poets explore the concept of the Journey in poetry – I only had two hours so there was lots we couldn’t cover – I could have spent two hours for example talking about Cavafy’s Ithaca poem and Diving into the Wreck by Adrienne Rich, which are two fantastic examples of journey poems which offer alternative viewpoints on the journey I think – the Cavafy poem argues that it is the journey that is important – whilst in Rich’s poetry it is all about the acquirement of knowledge (the end of the journey) and then the application of that knowledge..we didn’t talk about how migration is explored in poetry – how the very act of writing about a journey carries an implicit gesture towards the concept of ‘home’, even without mentioning it…but we did have a go at other journey related poems –  and I was lucky to work with such a talented and enthusiastic group of poets – they wrote some cracking poems and I have some new names to look out for in magazines and publications…

I bought a banana somewhere between Borough and Greenwich – I always worry about being hungry so I store food in my bag – unfortunately I forgot about the banana and when I was packing on Saturday morning I just stuffed my bag with all the books I’d bought with me.  On the train later that day, when I was gleefully unpacking the books and deciding what to read, I realised that the banana had squashed all over my lovely new books, which are now not so new and lovely.

I spent about an hour wiping them down, constructing little tissue bandages for them to soak up some banana, which in retrospect might have been a little excessive.  I haven’t looked at them this morning to see if they are ok.

It was also Poem and A Pint in Ulverston last night and I met the lovely Judy Brown, Poet in Residence at the Wordsworth Trust before hand and managed to escort her, my suitcase and a bag of chips up to Ford Park in time for the reading.  Judy read beautifully and it was wonderful to hear some of her new poems as well as some old  favourites.

Two poets from Preston, Terry Quinn and Martin Domleo read on the open mic – they are becoming regular features at Poem and a Pint and it is always lovely to see them.  Terry has his first collection out with Indigo Dreams Press – and I’m planning on hassling him for a Sunday Poem at some point – but today’s Sunday Poem is by Martin Domleo and comes from his book ‘Decelerations’ published by Lapwing Publications.

I chose this poem from the book because I’m glad to be back in Cumbria – and this is a Cumbrian poem through and through – it has lots of rain in it for one thing!  I like the quietness of this poem – which is just what I need after the hustle and bustle of being in London for a couple of days.   This poem comes from his first book of poems, and you can find out more about Martin by going to his website

Martin is also trying to get some poetry events happening in Preston – and has plans for an event in March and one in October – more on that closer to the time!

I hope you enjoy the poem, and thanks to Martin for letting me use it.

In Borrowdale – Martin Domleo

Water sprinkled with light
through leaves
gathers in quiet pools.

By itself
a mallard dips for food,
paddles, then dips again,
staining the shallows red.

The crown
of its head is missing –
beaked out
by one of the crowd
splashing noisily upstream.

There is no going back.
It moves
like a mechanical lifeboat
on a flat calm sea

holding to task
while the sharks circle.

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