'Namazu at the Physicist's Funeral' was commended in the 2018 National Poetry Competition.

From the judges: "The epigraphs of poems often point us to the kernels from which the poem began – the moment of inspiration, and the beauty then is seeing how the poem grows out from that becomes its own contained world, its own event rather than an account of an event. The Japanese myth of the catfish that causes earthquakes is the background of this poem, but what it grows into is a reflection on the various tremors, like grief, that might pass through our own bodies." - Kei Miller

Namazu at the Physicist’s Funeral

by Kirsten Irving

“Technology may yet show that there is something to the old catfish legends.”
Motoji Ikeya, Earthquakes and Animals: From Folk Legends to Science

The catfish pulls on a trenchcoat, slides a sweet-wrapper fin
through each sleeve, turns up the collar. This is
the first funeral Namazu has been to since being
hatched by lightning and foddered on wrecks
some thousand years before. What does one do?

They were not so much captor and captive
as colleagues. Ikeya caught him on a small, white day,
a blowy day, so the light-play on the water
covered his pounce. From then on, home for Namazu
was a tank in a lab in Osaka U.

Ikeya pulsed Namazu, not to torment,
nor bring him to being, but to find out
what he knew of earthquakes:
their building, their coming,
their electric drumming on the hill.

What Namazu knew of earthquakes?
Plenty. Shivers born in the rips of his gills,
fanned by his slapping tail, made thug
by Namazu himself made swole,
to cut the waves, and bring back skulls.

Ikeya would flick the switch hundreds of times,
sending blue-bold charges through Namazu’s body
as long, lazy whiplines, as dragonfish teeth.
The catfish felt them as seismic echoes,
as wigs of sea fog, rumpled skies.

Namazu dulls his scales to black,
pulls on a hat and shades, and smoothes
his unkempt barbels. At the graveside,
a woman sobs silently, trembling, as life
flows through her, again and again.

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.

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Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 @ForwardPrizes! Revisit @no1_emily's podcast with Fiona Benson from 2018, or listen to our most recent podcast with Stephen Sexton discussing his Felix Dennis Prize winning collection: poetrysociety.org.uk/news/congratul…

test Twitter Media - Congratulations to the winners of the 2019 @ForwardPrizes! Revisit @no1_emily's podcast with Fiona Benson from 2018, or listen to our most recent podcast with Stephen Sexton discussing his Felix Dennis Prize winning collection: https://t.co/Gq5audTeQW https://t.co/IYAgrjlscN

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Fiona Benson wins Forward Prize for Best Collection theguardian.com/books/2019/oct…

Huge congratulations to Fiona Benson, winner of the #ForwardPrizes for Best Collection! twitter.com/ForwardPrizes/…