Monday 10 June 2024

Penny Boxall, "The Curiosities"


Penny Boxall is a poet and children’s writer who has worked in various museums. She won the 2016 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award with her debut collection, Ship of the Line. She is writer in residence at Wytham Woods, University of Oxford, and was visiting Research Fellow in the Creative Arts at Merton College in 2019. She has held Royal Literary Fund Fellowships at the Universities of York and Cambridge, and is an RLF Bridge Fellow. She created new works for Tartu and Bodo Capitals of Culture 2024. Her debut novel for children is forthcoming in 2025. Her website is here.  

Penny's new poetry pamphlet, The Curiosities, is published by New Walk Editions, which is co-edited by Nick Everett, Associate Professor of American Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Leicester. 


About The Curiosities, by Penny Boxall
How do we remember and memorialise when we’re not at all sure what we have just experienced? How do we know our own minds when we find ourselves by turns reflected and obscured? The poems in this pamphlet are like artefacts in a half-forgotten museum: records of how life once was, or might have been.

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


From The Curiosities


I see her, evenings, in the new retirement flats
near my mother’s house. The curtains
are always open, or there are no curtains,
and so no mystery. She’s young for there.
She sits on the neat sofa, ankles crossed,
or writes neat letters at the bureau.
Sometimes there is a glass of champagne,
a single orchid. There are never visitors
I have suspicions. The space is as anonymous
as a brochure: not a particle on the carpet;
cards wishing her a happy something
lined up faultless on the mantelpiece.
Easier to think she’s on the payroll, Equity Card
tucked inside her model’s-own purse.
Easier that than to accept she really lives
like this: all lights up, nothing to hide.

Conservation Status

Least concern                            More than you can shake a stick at
Near threatened                         Enough for you to shake a stick at
Vulnerable                                  I wish you would put that stick down
Endangered                               Can’t see the wood for the trees
Critically endangered                 What is the sound of a tree falling
Extinct in the wild                       What is the sound of no trees falling
Extinct                                        What is a tree

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