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Poems from ArtPoetry | 03-Sep-15

For our Special Edition event on Wednesday 1st July 2015, we commissioned three poets - Emily Berry, Richard Price and Rommi Smith - to respond to works from the Arts Council Collection's exhibition One Day, Something Happens, curated by Jennifer Higgie. 

With kind permission from the poets, we are publishing one of each of their poems from the event. You listen to the readings in their entirety on our Soundcloud page for free.  

Emily Berry

Drunken Bellarmine
after Renee So

In this spirit of affliction I beheld two things,
that shame is also revelry, and a body
is a spillage, or an addiction. I do not know
if this thing belongs to me, tipped-up set of weights
that promises, but never delivers, equilibrium.
I cannot make manifest this collection of feelings,
but look at me: I want to be loved for the wrong reasons.
I mean I want to be hated for the right reasons.
I have been lonely. Every time I say the word 'I'
I am ashamed. When I say 'I want' I am triply
ashamed. I want my shame to be a kind of proof
that deduces the world, and that's the worst
shame of all. I have been theatrical, entropic, 
parting with myself for company. This heartsore 
will not stop weeping and look, the sky is sick, 
knitted too tightly; my face is up your sleeve 
like a card trick. DON'T LOVE ME: I am guilty, 
hedonistic and sticky round the mouth like a dirty baby. 
I am a shitting, leaking, bloody clump of cells, 
raw, murky and fluorescent, you couldn't take it.

Richard Price

from Facing

I'd known her for years and the allergic reaction
which reddened her face like an infection,
raw, tender,
never alarmed me -
after all, I'd placed it there, with a movement of the hand.

With a deadpan look she'd leave a breast just exposed
and I'd say I enjoyed my visit, thanks for a lovely -.
I'd say I just popped in, but you're popping out,
and fasten her robe, sing, "All respectable again."

Over the years, sorrowful affection, slapstick, repetition,
quite the picture.

I'd known her for years but not her children, 
(the boy has a bad eye)
her affection for theatre.

There's a pattern to 'allergic reaction', a pattern to celebration.
It's all placed there,
with a movement of the hand.

Rommi Smith

The Ritual

I come here because 
it keeps me off the drugs,
it keeps me away from people 
who aren't good for me
who had me stoned-and-a-half, 
who had me so I couldn't tell 
my elbow from my arse.

My head's bloody heavy 
as it is.

I used to do it, 'til my heart stopped;
'til it got me smack-whacked and
skin-drunk, skunk and a half. You just had
to look at me to tell it wasn't LSD. 
For ages, I heard this clock
inside my head. I got scared.
"Addict!" strangers named me
yet, they didn't know my name. 

So, I went for it.
I didn't know how deep it was.
til the ambulance. The siren sound
of regimental blue inside the squat
that light forgot. 

Somewhere in the lost 
of things, I thought: 
on this scale you're gonna be history,

gotta get away 
from the Class As

or you'll lose Everything. 
And if you've got nothing to lose you might jump off the edge 
of things.

No one'll see 
if fate deletes you.

A guy at the church told
me about this place. The
first day I came, a
woman says to me: 

my name's Janice - 
what's yours?


Image 1: Renee So, Druken Bellarmine 2012
Image 2: Walter Sickert, Head of a Woman 1906
Image 3: Ryan Mosley, Northern Ritual 2011


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