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Watching the Moon Landing: my new poetry collection

January 26, 2022

I’m very happy to be able to say that my new poetry collection, Watching the Moon Landing, is published today by Hedgehog Poetry Press.

Following my 2020 collection Poetry After Auschwitz, these poems, mainly written in the last decade, cover a variety of themes. COVID-19 is there, but the poems also speak of love and loss, uncertainty, well-being, migration, power, violence, nature, superstition, memory, art and faith. Above all, they seem to explore connections, separation, nearness and distance in time and space, and the fragile frameworks we construct to make sense of and protect the (equally fragile) emotional, social, political and physical landscapes in which we live.

Many of the poems are based on imagined characters trying to comprehend the world they see and imagine – and the blurred lines between seeing and imagining. The title poem describes a person watching the landing of Christopher Columbus in the Americas, on live TV in 1492 Spain. Or are they watching the first moon landing on TV, in 1969? We aren’t quite sure.

Watching the Moon Landing on TV, in a taverna in Castile

We let the fire die,
the cheese and bread remain
untouched, beside the wine;
each heard his own heart beat;
no one could look away

as the pinaza beached,
and Colón stepped ashore
and knelt – the first to reach
and claim those talked-of lands,
with flags on upturned oars.

So much to understand:
the tapestries of hills,
heaped rain clouds, untrod sands,
dark here, but daylight there,
their bravery and skill…

He crossed himself in prayer –
God’s truth: for all we knew,
that glistening strand he’d dared
sail to and land on might
as well have been the moon.

But knowledge woke that night
in us: a wind had changed.
We roused the fire. The sight
of carabela sails
could never be the same.

This theme of exploring sometimes slippery connections across both time and space recurs throughout the book. It also provided the inspiration for Lebona Vernon's artwork for the front and back covers, mixing the Apollo space programme with 15th Century European exploration across the Atlantic.

Details of where and how to buy the book can be found here. Meanwhile, I'm launching the book online, alongside fellow Hedgehog Poetry Press authors Raine Geoghegan and Nigel Kent on 2 February at 7.30pm: free tickets available here. All comers are very welcome.

And the book will also be featured on Home Stage Poetry: Meet the Poet on 9th February. 
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