Thursday 4 March 2021

Michelene Wandor, "Travellers"


Michelene Wandor is a poet, playwright, broadcaster, musician and teacher of creative writing, the latter on the Distance Learning MA in Creative Writing, at Lancaster University. She has written original plays and dramatisations for radio, many nominated for awards. She has written two books relevant to Creative Writing: The Art of Writing Drama (Methuen), and The Author is not Dead, Merely Somewhere Else: Creative Writing Reconceived (Palgrave Macmillan). Travellers, published by Arc Publications, is her seventh poetry collection. You can read about it, and a sample poem from it, below. Michelene's website is here

About Travellers

Michelene Wandor's new poetry collection travels in many directions, through Europe, the Middle East and beyond, with travellers as various as Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, Isabella d'Este and Lucrezia Borgia. Thematically, the poems alight at Greek mythology, gender, and the evergreens of love, anguish, power and tragedy. The first and final touchpoints lie in the language itself, which is both guide and sustenance. Lyrical, narrative and startlingly evocative, the words and poetic shapes travel down and across pages and spaces, and continue to resonate in mind and memory. 

You can see more information about Travellers on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read a poem from the collection. 

From Travellers

San Miniato

a divebomb at night
my right arm
something made out of nothing

A Tuscan hillside. A monastery. I sit
alone at a round table in Miravelle, the
local restaurant. Andrea, the drama
teacher, arrives. He bows a punctilious
flicks back a thick, caressing wave
of black hair over his temple, and sits at
another round table. He is an artista. 
I am the poet     I sit alone

overnight, my inner right arm is
angrier than a mosquito 
Andrea runs the summer course. He flirts
with the young women, slippy straps on 
shoulder-bare camisole tops. He wears a
black leather jacket, carries a black 
leather bag. He checks his hairline
carefully each morning for signs of
flecked grey. 
I am the poet     I sit alone 

the pharmacist tells me
I have very sweet blood
oil of lavender
sharp on the skin
Andrea opens doors for me, a code
rusted from centuries of chivalric
use. He calls it courtesy. I say they are
not the same thing. 

that night
I talk to the mosquito bite
upper inner arm red field spreads
the mosquito cannot buzz in English 
The acting exercises are like leather. 
Smooth. Soft. Malleable. The cool
monastery room smells of rosemary
anchovies spring to mind. I watch. 
I am the poet     I applaud 

bread olive oil and salt are cake
bright yellow duck egg dense omelette
hot yellow
ham and formaggio are cake
I am born into taste at my round table
white bread in olive oil
salt hits my palate
sweet and sharp
outside it rains
jasmine and eucalyptus and oleander
in the cool air my arm cools
The leather factories are in Ponte a Egola. 
Bus, train, TV aerials. The scent of 
tanning fills the air. Soft leather curls
round the nape of my neck, a soft black
leather jacket, loose and cooling. It fits as
if made for me. I buy it and it is made for
me. My leather lover.  
I am an artista 

mozzarella di bufala and basilica
red white and green
The end of the week. Andrea joins me at
my round table. The slippy-strap students
wave to us. Blasts of cool air from barred
windows. Outside a leaf floats, a bell, a
bird in a mirror in yellow, red and black. 

you have sweet blood
whine mosquitoes in the night
I wear my new black leather jacket, my
dark hair streaked with grey. Drama and
poetry. There is a buzz in the monastery
room. Listeners look out across a green
valley streaked with houses.

the mosquitoes buzz
we are artisti

we make something out of nothing 

© Michelene Wandor, 2021

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