Saturday 29 October 2022

Alexandra Corrin-Tachibana, "Sing me down from the dark"


Alexandra Corrin-Tachibana has an MA in Writing Poetry from Newcastle University and an MA in Japanese Language and Culture from Sheffield University. She lives in Newcastle and is module leader for the International Foundation programme in Humanities at Newcastle University. In the last year, she was published in The North, The Moth, Poetry Wales, Fenland Poetry Journal, The Frogmore Papers, Tears in the Fence, The Alchemy Spoon, Obsessed with Pipework and The Cannon’s Mouth. Online her work can be found in Anthropocene, The High Window and London Grip

She came third in the 2020 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition and in the 2020 'To Sonnet or Not' Competition. In 2021, she was shortlisted for Winchester and Troubadour prizes and this year she had two poems shortlisted by Billy Collins for the Fish Prize. She read at the 2021 Aldeburgh and Winchester Poetry festivals, alongside poets Wendy Cope and Jacqueline Saphra, and performed as a featured poet at the 2022 Tears in the Fence festival, in Dorset. Her debut collection, Sing me down from the dark, is now out with Salt Publishing.

About Sing me down from the dark, by Alexandra Corrin-Tachibana

Sing me down from the dark explores the highs and lows of a ten-year sojourn in Japan, two international marriages, a homecoming, and the struggles of cross-cultural relationships. It is full of light and dark, as if the writer herself has been ‘caught off guard’ in the making of these poems.

You can read more about Sing me down from the dark on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read a sample poem from the collection. 

From Sing me down from the dark 

Body Language 

You rub up behind me as I wipe the Sainsbury’s shop. Like that time babysitting when Bruce, the randy labrador, stood on his hind legs and whined. I was fourteen and had to shut him outside. He scratched at the door. As I leave for my lockdown walk, you say: etchi kangaite ne. Etchi: horny; aroused. Four months ago I took down our wedding photos. That 31-year-old on Waimanolo beach didn’t feel like me. 

I put up a painting of turbulent waves by Bamburgh fort. The trigger was an argument about Machiko, your sister-in-law. You defended her awfulness to me. Because she is Japanese. And the lack of sex. What do you expect when you’ve chosen to be on a futon in the spare room? And going back to the wedding photos, it took you a month to notice. You said you were so sad you could write a poem. 

You say I am no longer sharp –– a ‘loan word’ for slim –– yet I thought the Japanese love the notion of shiawase butori, plump, happily married women. When I lose a few pounds you say: beijin ne natta ne –– you’ve regained beauty. Once upon a time, you were all that I could see. I watched you sleep. 

And the day Scottish Maggie died –– lovely mad Maggie, who made me tupperwares of butter tablet –– you wouldn’t shut up. Kept saying sorry. But you met her only once. I wanted to shout shut the fuck up. Sei Sensei says the Japanese are good at carrying boxes when you move house. Today, as I leave this house, you ask, with a teenagerish grin, if I’m having an affair. In the exact same way you ask if I’ve sorted the recycling. 

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