Nov 8, 2012

2001 Competition Winner: Catherine Smith

We saw in the new century in with Catherine Smith and her winning pamphlet The New Bride. It is an astonishing collection of poems: startling, unpredictable and enigmatic.

Since then, we've been delighted to publish three further collections, The Butcher's Hands, Lip and her hot-off-the-press, Otherwhere.

Today we give you the title poem from the collection.


"When I found out I was a first stage winner in the Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet competition, I allowed myself to think of myself as a 'real' poet. This meant my own colourful 'slim volume', my own ISBN. The slim volume was shortlisted for The Forward Prize for Best First Collection (2001). It didn't win, but it did open lots of doors. I was included in both the Mslexia Top Ten Women Poets list, and the PBS/Arts Council 'Next Generation' promotion. These things wouldn't have happened without the faith and support of the brilliant small but perfectly formed publisher that is Smith Doorstop." — Catherine Smith



Dying, darling, is the easy bit. Fifty paracetamol,
bride-white and sticking in the throat, ten shots
of Johnny Walker, and the deed is done.
A twilight day of drowsing, then the breathing
slows to a whisper, like a sinner in Confession.

Death is dead easy. No, what happens next
is the difficulty. You bastard, howling in public,
snivelling over photos, ringing round for consolation.
And you have me burnt, like a dinner gone wrong,
you keep the charred remains of me on show

at the Wake, inviting everyone I hate. Oh God,
they come in packs, sleek as rats with platitudes
and an eye on my half of the bed, hoping to find
leftover skin, a hint of fetid breath. I leave them
no hairs on the pillow; there are none to leave.

And a year to the day since I shrug off the yoke
of life, you meet the new bride. In group therapy.
You head straight for a weeper and wailer,
telling strangers all her little tragedies. You love
the way she languishes, her tears sliming your neck,

you give in to her on vile pink Austrian blinds.
The Wedding is a riot of white nylon. Everybody
drinks your health and hers, the simpering bitch.
She and Delia Smith keep you fat and happy
as a pig in shit. I want her cells to go berserk.

Some nights I slip between you. The new bride
sleeps buttoned up, slug-smug in polyester. You,
my faithless husband, turn over in your dreams,
and I’m there, ice-cold and seeking out your eyes
and for a moment you brush my lips, and freeze.


Full details of the 2012/13 Book & Pamphlet Competition here

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