Anna Crowe, 2011 Recipient

Anna-Crowe Born in Plymouth in 1945, and educated in France, she has an M.A. in French and Spanish from the University of St. Andrews. She is married with three grown-up children and five grandchildren, and lives in St. Andrews, Scotland. Poet, creative-writing tutor, and translator of Catalan and Mexican poetry, she is co-founder and former Artistic Director of StAnza, Scotland's International Poetry Festival. Twice awarded the Peterloo Poetry Prize, her work has been translated into Catalan, Spanish and Italian. Her Mariscat collection, Figure in a Landscape, won the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award and was a Poetry Book Society Choice. Her latest book of translations, Peatlands, features the work of the Mexican poet, Pedro Serrano (Arc, 2014). In 2005 she received a TravellingScholarship from the Society of Authors.

Publications:

Collections

Skating Out of the House (Peterloo, 1997)

Punk with Dulcimer (Peterloo, 2006)

A Secret History of Rhubarb (Mariscat, 2004)

Figure in a Landscape (Mariscat, 2010); Callum MacDonald Memorial Award, 2011; Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice. Also published in Catalan/English as Paisatge amb figura.

Finding My Grandparents in the Peloponnese (Mariscat, 2013)

L'Ànima del teixidor, with Stewart Conn (Proa, 2000)

Paisatge amb figura (Ensiola, 2011)

Punk con salterio (Cosmopoética, 2008)

Translations 

Music and Scurvy, poems by Anna Aguilar-Amat in Catalan, Macedonian, and English (Blesok, 2006)

Light off Water/Miralles d'aigua (Scottish Poetry Library/Carcanet Press, 2007)

Tugs in the Fog, poems by Catalan poet Joan Margarit (Bloodaxe, 2006); PBS Recommendation Strangely Happy (Joan Margarit, Bloodaxe 2011)

Six Catalan Poets, ed. Pere Ballart (Arc, 2013)

No hi ha treva per a les fúrieswith Joan Margarit, poems by RS Thomas, in Catalan and English (Proa, June 2013)

Peatlands, poems by Mexican poet Pedro Serrano (Arc, 2014)

 

Selected Poems

A Tentsmuir flora

(From Punk with Dulcimer, Peterloo 2006)

“Existing floras exhibit only one moment in the history of the earth’s vegetation.”
- Sir William Turner Thiselton-Dyer, "Plant Distribution," Encyclopaedia Britannica

A moment that you might fathom, you’d think,
reciting names like adderstongue and moonwort,
coralroot and yellow birdsnest,
listed in Tentsmuir’s resonant flora.
But then an owl at Morton Lochs disgorges
a pellet packed with fieldmouse fur
and tiny bones from a neighbouring parish,
and seeds that will grow into another moment.

And there are days when haar drifts in from the sea
and settles like drops of mercury on rhubarb leaves,
when you step out into the garden,
into the moment before; digging, you unearth
bits of clay pipe, the bowl inscribed with
Masonic symbols: a pair of compasses
like a Pictish V-rod; in shifting light
your fossil-heap a shellfish-midden.

Moments washed by Forth and Tay; Fife
a mesopotamia of silts and erosions;
a kingdom stretched between its firths
like a hide from the scriptorium at Balmyrnie,
barley-fields the colour of vellum.
Earth you may as well be fathomed in, you think,
instinctively at home, peninsular;
putting down roots almost by accident.

You heard a story about a plant that sprang up
when a ship from Tierra del Fuego sank
at the mouth of the Tay; how Patagonian fleeces
hung for weeks on Tentsmuir’s barbed-wire.
Wind was combing the wool with weavers’ fingers,
as you remembered the Huguenots who fled
here in an earlier wave; loosened seeds
of Norwegian Lamb’s Lettuce taking root.

The Cupboard 

(Published in 'The Dark Horse', May 2014) At this hour in Asnières,
the big burr-walnut cupboard

in the darkest corner of the hall
is waking up. Late afternoon sun,

low in the horse-chestnut tree
out in the windy garden, strikes

through the study-window
and begins to dance, waking the grain

so that the wood glows, comes alive
with hidden landscapes – hill-forts,

forest clearings, burns and pools where trout
break the surface in rings of gold.

Every day of that week of silent skies,
all planes grounded by volcanic ash,

I sat in the shuddering kitchen while TGVs
thundered south at the street's end, to watch

how the cupboard, for an hour, put on and wore
the hills and woods and burns of Fife, of home.

 

Explore Anna Crowe’s Blog 

Follow Anna Crowe’s discussion with the Catalan poet, Joan Margarit, at Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, 2006, from IN PERSON: 30 POETS filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce, who films poets reading their work for Bloodaxe's archive and DVD-books.

 

A brief comment from Anna Crowe about her visit to Greece, in 2011

My time spent in Greece, though brief, was a rich one. While in Nafplio, I found inspiration for a whole poem sequence when visiting the Archaeological Museum. Many of the artefacts were from tombs and burials, and were everyday household objects, like terracotta vessels, lamps, amethyst beads, a comb, a mirror, glass bottles, model ships. All of these things were the everyday objects of my grandparents' house in Cornwall, and I marvelled at how little their basic shape and colour had changed, though millennia apart. These thoughts became a meditation on the lives of my grandparents, and the same blue sea seemed to break on both Greece and Cornwall and bind both places together. Eventually, this sequence was published by Mariscat as Finding My Grandparents in the Peloponnese. The last three poems in the sequence were chosen by David Robinson to be part of 20 Best Scottish Poems 2013.