Pennine Poets

Andrew Boobier

Andrew was born in Haworth, West Yorkshire in 1963, home of the Bronte sisters and just over the moors from Ted Hughes' birthplace. He attended York University and gained a first class degree in English where he also won the Ursula Wadey Memorial prize for his translation of Georges Bataille's Histoire de l'oeil.

After spending a number of years on an aborted PhD on Seamus Heaney, he got down to writing his own poetry rather than writing about others, and has published poetry and translations in the UK & USA in magazines such as Pennine Platform, Aesthetica, nthposition, The New Yorick, versus, The Rue Bella, The Schuylkill Valley Journal, The Pedestal Magazine, Poems Niederngasse, Eclectica, The Drunken Boat, Verse Libre Quarterly, Spume, and Snakeskin. He was nominated in 2003 for a Pushcart Prize. He is the former editor of the Alsop Review's prestigious online quarterly magazine, Octavo.

His first full collection of poetry, Reader, help me, is available from Graft Poetry.

Selected Poems


Here in the park with our twins,
James and Sam,

we chew over the merits
of dandelion clocks and daisies.

In the mid-distance a plastic bag
vaults into the air,

hangs - momentarily -
then shillyshallies

across the blue haze
of the box trees.

It flips again, turning, over and over
through cornea, humour and lens

to the back-projected retina
and optic nerve;

a pure white
negative space

beyond the dull fact of itself

like a breeze-bloated soul,
as Anaximenes would have it.

And so it is:
hard pressed upon the earth,

you feel defined by the absolute
weight of gravity and light,

as if that blue space
between the trees

is the only glue
holding it all together.

So many years
I've tried to grasp

the significance of this,
only to find my hands

cannot bear the heft
of these shifting absences,

just as a bag cannot bear the weight
of its own airy nothingness

getting caught in the damp twist of roots.

A dog flits by
licking sunlight from the grass;

James looks up warily
from dog to Sam and then to me,

a minor distraction,
as we get on

with the looking at
and the naming of things.

First published in Three Candles (

The Check

for J.A. et al.

Sappho sweeps across the marble floors
To the room where Anacreon sits to write.
She has come to talk of Theocritus and his golden-haired lover,
Catullus, staring with honeyed eyes at the boys
Selling wine in the marketplace. Strato goes
To the river to bathe, passing the soap to Rumi.
Hafiz has travelled for many years. He is
On the road to Norbury in the company of Kit
Marlowe; they are looking for Richard Barnfield.
Reclining in a shady grove, Michelangelo
Reads his favourite lines from Thomas Gray.
Herman Melville walks down Greenwich Street searching
For a strong cup of coffee, he meets Walt Whitman climbing
An espalier of roses leading to Garcia Lorca's bedroom.
Rimbaud has just left to catch the evening steamer
Leaving Verlaine sore and wounded, pouring
His heart out to Swinburne. Oscar arrives at customs,
Brimming with confidence. Taking the hand of Edward
Carpenter, they walk deep into the bustling continent.
Lord Alfred Douglas stands on the street corner
Refusing to speak to anyone but Constatine Cavafy.
Hart Crane cranes his neck to watch a Kahnawake brave
Walk the narrow irons high above New York; Robert Duncan
Takes out his notepad and licks his oily pencil.
Cernuda sits in the Chelsea Grill hiding his original fire.
Down in Cambridge A.E. Houseman stares wistfully
At the athelete of his youth. John Addington Symonds
Enters with a flourish and lays down the second
Edition of The Farmer's Wife by Charlotte Mew.
Wilfred Owen thanks the nurse for his cup of tea,
Though Amy Lowell thinks he looks a bit 'peaky'.
Gertude Stein a kind of Parisienne a thinking sphere.
In Berlin Stefan George is at a party dressed
As Dante; Tsvetaeva wraps herself in feathers
Like a swan. Brecht would have come along
But he's stuck in L.A. transliterating
The Communist Manifesto into rhyming couplets
With an increasingly supine Charles Laughton.
Langston Hughes is off to the Cotton Club thinking
About America and what Countee Cullen's up to; he looks up
And sees Muriel Rukeyser in a Gipsy Moth looping the loop
Skywriting 'Not Sappho, Sacco' to Elizabeth Bishop.

                                       Christopher Isherwood runs into a room
And opens the windows to accommodate Auden's brain;
Stephen Spender lights a cigarette, feeling the draught.
Something's happening in 'Frisco. Thom Gunn talks
About the decline of British motorcycle industry
With a gang of bikers from Oakland. Harold Norse
Is mooching around the harbour with Peter Orlovsky.
Meanwhile on the other side of town Allen Ginsberg
Heads for the City Lights bookshop, emerging hours later
With Frank O'Hara's Lunch Poems. Frank died today
in a most stupid way. We're all mortified. John Ashbery
Looks into the urban chaos, all deadpan and sad. James
Schuyler hauls himself off his cross and
Heads down to Fire Island with Kenwood Elmslie
Who's singing a song that goes on for 26 minutes,
It's celebratory, and makes Richard Howard roll with laughter.
Jack Spicer is doing some crazy dance while
Frank Bidart holds on to his hat in a fandango.
It's getting pretty crowded so Edgar Bowers
suggests everyone meets up at the Townhouse
On East 58th Street. J. D. McClatchy grabs his coat, grabs
William Meredith by the arm and off they go.
Alfred Corn calls James Kirkup to say what's going on,
Asks him to tell John Ash when he's back from Turkey.
James Merrill is assumed Master of Ceremonies
And spikes the punch. Adrienne Rich
Is wondering if Marilyn Hacker might show up
But she's in Vassar at a reading by Rita Mae Brown.
Everyone's having a great time. Daryl Hine
Has brought along Nicole Brossard, they are humming
Along to Rufus Wainwright's 11.11. Even Edwin Morgan's singing.
Edward Field would have preferred Copland or Barber
But, hey, it's a party and here's Reginald Shepherd already.
Mary Oliver has crossed the green river to join in.
Timothy Liu puts down his worry beads, nods his head
To Jack Anderson who stands against the bar en pointe.
The sun's dipping and James Broughton is getting it all down
On celluloid to a jazzy script by Stephen Jonas.
Mark Doty is fashionably late and brings along his dog.
Everyone is close and raises a glass to Essex Hemphill
And drinks to the health of William Dickey and John Wieners.

First published in Octavo

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© pennine poets 2016