4 Poets in The Wolf Magazine

4 Poets in The Wolf Magazine

The Wolf Magazine is a forward-looking British magazine that publishes translations, criticism, book reviews, interviews and poetry that is difficult to categorize, but could be called commendably oblique to the usual viewpoints. Let me say more by commenting on Jonathan Morley’s On first looking into Cecily Jones’s Engendering Whiteness, which can be read at:
http://www.poetrymagazines.org.uk/magazine/record.asp?id=21824 I’d better start by explaining that the book Engendering Whiteness is an extended academic study comparing the positions of white women under colonialism in 1627 Barbados with 1865 North Carolina, {1} and that ‘haint’ is a ghost or lost soul. That women are all sisters under the skin is given us in the opening lines:

Beneath your skin, my dear, lurks a black haint
with horny breasts, prouder nipples than yours.

But the sisters are lustful, rebellious, given to dancing and drumming about their quarters, whereas white decencies require:

and we have a plantation to run, daughters to protect
delicate, sweet, pale as the beach’s sand
and always suspicion, always this python heat.

All the words are exact, evocative in scent, colour and warmth. That precision is also seen in Agnieszka Studzinska’ s Hotel at: http://www.poetrymagazines.org.uk/magazine/record.asp?id=21833
Here matters are far less clear, and we have (I think) an intimacy savoured but not fully realized. We start with:

If this is the language of shadow
then darkness is something lighter than imagined

which then as it were ‘vapourizes’ into recollections or moving echoes. The poem ends with:

moving forwards,  holding a future moving backwards
into sheets of skin – raw.
I make no apologies in this sleepless
               magenta air
a bloodshed
               we hold like a moon in our hands.
Again in Christopher North’s Russian Trio – Garden Centre – Teulada at:
http://www.poetrymagazines.org.uk/magazine/record.asp?id=21834

we have striking descriptions of the trio: woman, escort and minder. The woman:

Her large feet encased in spiked heels the colour of glacé cherry. Her legs
     long – their anatomy
clear, each muscle honed, each tendon flexed. There’s a breath of skirt
     crossing the top of tough
thighs. Her fall of hair is asphalt black – her mouth a slash of magenta across
     chalk white.
Charcoal lines her eyes.

Descriptions of the other two are just as good. And if there’s any doubt about the nature of the relationship, the poem also signs off memorably:

They are by a stand of succulents. A tall Cereus nobilis is erect, spined and
     squirting a spermy
white flower at its tip. She leans down with interest. “Cactus” she says.

Peter De Ville’s Sit-in in Florence is at:
http://www.poetrymagazines.org.uk/magazine/record.asp?id=18359

Exact description, not simply original but setting mood and expectation, starts the poem:

The doors yawn and the audience flutter in like leaves
to settle, casually, under the chandelier’s icy flower.
Prize-giving oration, even the mayor himself, shimmering
us with syllables of welcoming confetti, pretty though.

With that confident aside ‘pretty though’ we’re let into the stream of consciousness:

When you’ve traipsed in Florence, done the things, seen

Maggie Out, we felt our 20s rise up in our bowels.
The prisoners respond, we’re all too 40s to be cruel,
we chitter him a thin, dry, courteous applause.

Finally, in Chris Beckett’s Optimistic Hopper
(http://www.poetrymagazines.org.uk/magazine/record.asp?id=18365)

we have what actors need from their scripts: words that take hold of us with a distinct voice.

Darling, if you’re going to wear that blood-red satin dress,
        with its bow blossoming out of your shoulder,
you should really play the piano with more than just one finger.

Which ends on sinister note:

Don’t take any notice of me. This is just a table
between us, not a wall. You know how I love to hear you play.

Much doesn’t work in the poetry published by The Wolf, but these are surely names to watch.
End Notes
1. Review by Stacey Sommerdyk of Jones, Cecily. Engendering whiteness: White women and colonialism in Barbados and North Carolina, 1627-1865. https://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/media/universityofexeter/collegeofhumanities/history/exhistoria/volume3/6_-_Sommerdyk_-_Engendering_whiteness.pdf

 

 

One Comment

  1. I think you have misread or misunderstood, The opening lines of Morley’s poem. It is clearly a warning to “white” women to keep their “black” women slaves in and under control. I see nothing in this poem that speaks of a common sisterhood.

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