Monday 4 March 2024

Rhian Elizabeth, "girls etc"

Rhian Elizabeth was born in 1988 in the Rhondda Valley, South Wales, and now lives in Cardiff. She is a writer and a trainee counsellor. Her debut novel, Six Pounds Eight Ounces, was published in 2014 by Seren Books and is currently being adapted for TV, and her poetry collection, the last polar bear on earth, was published in 2018 by Parthian Books. Her prose and poetry have been listed in various competitions and prizes and appeared in many magazines and anthologies, as well as being featured on Radio 4’s PM programme. She was named by the welsh agenda as one of Wales’ Rising Stars - one of thirty people working to make Wales better over the next thirty years. She is a Hay Festival Writer at Work and Writer in Residence at the Coracle International Literary Festival in TranĂ¥s, Sweden. Her next poetry collection, girls etc, will be published by Broken Sleep Books in 2024.

About girls etc
The language in Rhian Elizabeth's poetry feels instinctual: the poems in girls etc pulse and ripple with energy, their rhythms perfectly pitched. Elizabeth writes of personal experience with an intensity and sharpness that challenges you to look closely. girls etc showcases a defiance, alongside the beauty and vulnerability, which resonates long after the last page is turned. Rhian Elizabeth brings a breath of fresh air to contemporary poetry.

You can read more about girls etc on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read two sample poems from the collection. 

From girls etc, by Rhian Elizabeth

i am the captain

in films and tv shows
they always give boats female names
so i name this one after
the best lover
i ever had
it is rude to say 
now i can ride her!
i never did learn
how to properly handle a vessel
as mighty as a woman
i turn the key in the ignition
the open ocean beckons
her engine rumbles
and i am the captain.

if we could just go back i’d push you higher

at the playground the stink from last night’s fire on the 
mountain infiltrates the summer air, lingering like bad breath

you send the pushchair toppling, come flying out of the seat 
as soon as i release the clip like you’re a parachuter ejecting 

i sit on a bench and watch you zoom around, 
free falling between the various apparatus  

up the steps and down the slide up the steps and down the slide 

swinging from the bars 
like a curly yellow haired little monkey

you ride the seesaw solo
adamant that it’s a unicorn

up the steps and down the slide up the steps and down the slide

until you summon me over to the swings 
where i push you half-heartedly

chubby toes wriggling in your sandals
clumps of pink varnish spread haphazardly across the nails 

as if you’ve been colouring outside the lines
but you insisted on doing it all by yourself 

or maybe i was too busy?

this poem is a memory

19 years old and playing at being a mother  
the way you played with your dolls

you deserved so much better, so much better
and now it spins and it spins and it spins

guilt is a roundabout   
                        that won't ever let you get off.

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