09 April 2015

Poetry Thursday - Tides by Jenny Joseph


There are some coasts
Where the sea comes in spectacularly
Throwing itself up gullies, challenging cliffs,
Filling the harbours with great swirls and flourish,
A theatrical event that people gather for
Curtain up twice daily. You need to know
The hour of its starting, you have to be on guard.

There are other places
Places where you do not really notice
The gradual stretch of the fertile silk of water
No gurgling or dashings here, no froth no pounding
Only at some point the echo may sound different
And looking by chance one sees ‘Oh the tide is in.’

- Jenny Joseph (found here)

Born in Birmingham in 1932, Jenny Joseph was publishing poems while reading English at St Hilda's College Oxford, then had a variety of jobs: newspaper reporter, lecturer in language and literature, and landlady of a London pub.

Her first book, The Unlooked-for Season, appeared in 1960. In 1992 the bulk of her first four books of poems was reprinted in Selected Poems by Bloodaxe Books. Her varied output includes poetry for children as well as adults, books that combine prose and poetry (Persephone) and different forms of prose fictions (Extended Similes). She has collaborated with photographers (Beached Boats), painters, musicians, actors and dancers, and worked with speakers of poetry and voice teachers to encourage the learning and speaking of poetry.

She is the author of these famous lines, in the poem "Warning" -
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.

Hear her reading some of her poems here.

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