Thursday 3 March 2022

Sue Hubbard, "Swimming to Albania"


Sue Hubbard is an award-winning poet, novelist, broadcaster and art critic. She has won numerous prizes and, as The Poetry Society’s only Public Art Poet, created London’s largest public art poem, Eurydice, at Waterloo station. Her poems have appeared in The Irish Times, The Observer, The London Magazine and many leading poetry magazines and anthologies, been read on Radio 3,  Radio 4 and RTE, and recorded for The Poetry Sound Archive.  Twice a Hawthornden Fellow, she has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia and in 1999 was awarded a major Arts Council Award. She has published three previous collections of poetry, a collection of short stories and three novels. As an art critic she has been a regular contributor to The Independent, Time Out, The New Statesman, The London Magazine, and published a book of essays on art, Adventures in Art (Other Criteria). Her latest poetry collection is Swimming to Albania (Salmon Press). Her website is here

About Swimming to Albania, by Sue Hubbard

Swimming to Albania is my fourth collection. It deals with memory, loss, desire and the process of ageing. Divided into three parts, there are elegies to both my parents and tactile, Proustian remembrances of childhood and the everyday. The poems wander between the west coast of Ireland, Lisbon, Siena and Greece in an attempt to find reconciliation, forgiveness and meaning, to come to terms with different forms of grief.  As I say in the final section, 'we travel to discover who we are.' Threaded through the collection is the sense of an Odyssean journey, a longing for an idealised home, which is captured in the title poem: 'Swimming to Albania.' 

From Swimming to Albania

Lost in Space

There are galaxies inside me,
interstellar stars and dust. 
I am full of dark matter,
quarks and spirals
of deep love that cannot
be seen with the naked eye,
lives that might have been
different under other alignments.
Somewhere amid the black holes
and absorption of light,
beyond the mass of the Milky Way,
there’s a distant room:
the walls covered with faded flowers,
a meadow of flecked sunlight, 
where a child lies beneath 
a bleached quilt in a narrow bed 
dreaming of a boat 
with a single blue sail,
a boat that will take her home.

And soon …

                          soon, it will be over,
the voyage’s end coming into sight
like a bright spit of unmapped land,

as the old yawl turns slowly back into harbour
with its arbour of rusty fish sheds
shrouded in late evening fog.

The saffron light of portholes already dimmed,
the tattered sails lowered,
halyard and spinnakers stilled and trimmed,

furled jibs lashed against the mast.
A sea away I wait on this Atlantic headland
where icy galaxies keep me company in the dark

and a dog-fox barks in a high wet field.
While in those far off Surrey hills
you falter and wane, so I wish my childhood songs

had not been mined in dust and pain,
those black diamonds of hurt and absence.
And now, when all that’s unspoken

is cinders on my tongue, I want to call out:
daddy, oh my daddy, I’ve been here all along,
waiting, waiting across this cold violet sea.

No comments:

Post a Comment