The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet

TKCC cover Feb 2014

Sonnets for the Sea

                Inspired by the exhibition of paintings by Bruce Killeen

                (Sonnets of  the Sea)

 I: Metaphorical Distance

Out at farthest focus, drifting, peaceful:

Green ladled with mauve like a healing bruise.

Light lies heavy on the horizon; chooses

To lean its languid body westward. The pull

Of the rolling planet quickens, and the full,

Swelling, murmurous mass of the tide looses

The bonds of gravity, dropping the deep, pellucid,

Purpleness of light gracefully into the ocean’s well.

Dipping my toe into the water, gasping

At the cold, desiring to go deeper and far,

I stare outward along the long divide

Of the horizon; the waves on the sand rasping

At the edge of the land, my feet, my heart:

Like this sea-coloured bruise I am trying to hide.

II: Formalising the Atlantic

Where will you go from here? You’ve measured exactly

The angle of sunlight that, striking the cloud layer,

Refracts through the prism of the horizon, neat and square,

A thousand shades of aquamarine; laying them delicately

End to end along the proper horizontal, modestly

Masked with shadow. With dividers and set square

You’ve drawn the perfect perpendicular, straight and set fair

To indicate the strict statistical limits of visual accuracy.

But how can you calculate clearly, precisely,

The creeping numbness of toes, cormorants, the stark

Face-slap of salt, the way the selkies sing?

Or the kick of the tiller against your wrist, turning nicely

Into the wind? Formal analysis misses the mark:

The poet is in this landscape. That changes everything.


III: Like the Sea

Why is a sonnet like the sea? For one,

When you start to search it recedes from you,

Seeping away towards the distant, blue

Hazy hover of light on the horizon.

Its going reveals deep clefts, exposed to the sun:

Vulnerable. Laid open to the view

Of the inner eye: arid fields of conflict; overdue

Reminders of other projects, left undone.

On a moment, while your back is turned: the change.

Moving effortlessly with the moon’s quiet pull,

Thought washes back, inescapable.

The mind’s tide rises. Words rearrange

Themselves. The ocean inspires: limpid, brimful

Of creativity. Not to write would be intolerable.



Sunlight on the bay:

Golden promise of summer

Holds rain in its lap.



Flower essences

Flow from the midnight pen of

My garden poet.


Feeling bookish

Jo Bell’s a poet I admire. I may have more to say on this subject in future, but this reblog is really about Gilbert White. White’s Natural History of Selborne is one of those magical books whose mundane title conceals wonders. It sits on my shelf alongside Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (and would probably be quite comfortable with Thoreau, if I could stand him). White’s gift was to observe with care, and to make us care when we read his words; his world was quite small, and parochial, but he gave us all of it. Here, in Jo’s poem, she gives me the cockiness of rooks, and makes me regret that I’ve still never heard the nightingale sing. She’s made me want to read old Gilbert again, and that’s all to the good. (Scroll down to go straight to the poem.)

The Bell Jar: Jo Bell's blog

This Spring, I will mostly be plugging my own book. Forgive me. If you follow me for more general poetry news, there will still be plenty of that. The stream of ME ME ME announcements will soon dwindle but for now, here’s a short summary of both title and book.

It’s a plain-speaking book but not, I hope, a simple or crude one. By my reckoning a poet should be in the business of windows, not chandeliers. I want to look through a poem, not at it, to see the world more clearly.

My world may be different than yours. Mine probably has more boats in it, for a start. If Kith revisits the themes of my last book Navigation, that’s inevitable. I still live on a narrowboat, making my England both smaller and larger than that of the average bank dweller. My love life still mimics John Arnold’s description of war – “long periods…

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Review of Parallax by Sinead Morrissey

the StAnza Blog

sinead-morrissey-parallaxAs part of our project to make available reviews of poets taking part at StAnza 2015, we are obliged to DURA – the Dundee University Review of the Arts – for allowing us to re-post this review from their website. Written by staff and students, DURA supports independent cinema & publishing. DURA promotes diversity and supports local and regional arts. See more reviews of poetry and prose on their website at

Parallax (Winner of the 2014 TS Eliot Poetry Prize)

Sinéad Morrissey
(Carcanet, 2013); pbk, £9.95

Parallax is an astronomical term for the apparent displacement of an object caused by a change in the point of observation. In this wide-ranging collection of the same name, short-listed for the 2013 Forward Prize, Morrissey considers from different angles how our position affects what and how we see.

In several poems, Morrissey’s lens is taken from the visual arts. She writes about…

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