Caroline Bird’s fifth collection with Carcanet confronts dark regions of the human psyche with surrealism, sharp observation and humour. From the judges: “powerful, disturbing – yet witty and very funny in places; redemptive.”


by Caroline Bird

She was eighteen, used ‘party’ as a verb, lashes
like the whiskers of an oil-soaked seal, devoured
books with names like Steamy L A Nights under
the duvet by flashlight. I was twenty-three, brooding
over John Ashbery between therapy sessions, hunched

at the smokers table like a misunderstood genius.
I was recovering from a bout of ‘goodbye world’.
We were both diligent pleasers. I fell in love
with the reflection of someone charming in her
sunglasses. I always wanted to be charming.

I forgot we were ill. When I finally touched her,
her skin dilated. She shuddered, licked her teeth
and crawled towards me across the bed.
It was like watching a child possessed
by the vengeful spirit of a murdered porn star.

I locked myself in the bathroom and then strode
to the nurse’s station to ‘confess’. Afterwards
my counsellor said, ‘We really dropped the ball
on this one, placing a sex addict in a room
with a lesbian.’ It’d never occurred to them.

She wrote me a ten-page love letter in red ink.
The nurses tried to lull my guilt: ‘If an alcoholic
screams for a whiskey, it’s not the bartender’s fault
if he pours.’ I didn’t like being compared to booze,
like I could’ve been anyone – that acne-scarred chef

who grinned at her once, the mouthy car-washer
at the NA meeting, the pin-eyed new boy – like it was
just because I was her roomie and she was a nympho
and nothing to do with real electricity or Stephanie
somehow spying the part worth saving in me.

The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote “a more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”.  Since then, it has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organisations, representing British poetry both nationally and internationally.  Today it has more than 4000 members worldwide and publishes The Poetry Review.

With innovative education and commissioning programmes and a packed calendar of performances, readings and competitions, The Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages.

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How is it Friday already? If you could please take advantage of the #followfriday tradition we would be forever grateful. We’d suggest these good people @KathrynAnna_x @davddcampbell33 @PoetrySociety @jimallthetime @BBCShropshire Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Looking ahead, if you'd like some one-to-one feedback from me on your poems, I'll be at the Poetry Cafe @PoetrySociety on Thursday June 18th… 📝 Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Portsmouth poets, musicians & residents have collaborated to each learn a poem by heart. Join us for this free celebratory recital of poetry through the ages. Sun 1 March 6 - 8pm at The Groundlings Theatre.… @PoetrySociety @PompeyBookFest Retweeted by The Poetry Society

Tonight in Norwich!… Here’s a description of my chosen subject, Anna Wickham, by her cousin... possibly the best description of a person ever... Retweeted by The Poetry Society

"Let the bulbs of the lamps / be my eyes / on the animal street." Check out @miriamnash's beautiful poem 'Prayer for My Father' in the latest #PoemsontheUnderground set. You can order a poster for just the cost of P&P:

test Twitter Media - "Let the bulbs of the lamps / be my eyes / on the animal street."

Check out @miriamnash's beautiful poem 'Prayer for My Father' in the latest #PoemsontheUnderground set. You can order a poster for just the cost of P&P:

Support poetry. Protest sexual harassment. Enjoy an excellent lineup. Get a free copy of our anthology. Raise funding for @UNWomenUK. Poets vs Sexual Harassment, 23 March 7pm @PoetrySociety. Book your place now! Only a few places left.… Retweeted by The Poetry Society

so excited for this new issue of The Poetry Review, the publication of the UK’s @PoetrySociety. and look, there’s my name right at the top, above this gorgeous cover art 💛 Retweeted by The Poetry Society