Channel Swimmer

My poem ‘Channel Swimmer’ was published on Poems Underwater earlier this month, along with a brief text about the process of writing it and a beautiful illustration by Anna Benner.

The poem follows a swimmer who undergoes a metaphorical transformation into a seal in her preparation for the crossing. When the editors wrote to me I discovered I’d inadvertently hit upon the mythycal figure of the selkie, who live as seals in the water but ‘shed their skin to become human on land’. Having spent a year and a half in Iceland, I probably should have know about selkies before, as they appear in Icelandic and Faroese folklore.

Poems Underwater is a fabulous site full of all things mermaid. I particularly enjoyed listening to this song in Portuguese by Luciana Francis, but they’re adding new material all the time.

Poems Underwater also led to me uncovering a rich lexical seam in the root mer from ‘mermaid’, which became ‘mmm’ in this short poem (originally a tweet), which reminds me of the Russian Futurist Velimir Khlebnikov’s ‘Заклятие Смехом’ (‘Incantation by Laughter’):


mmm urky
mmm ermerous
mmm ythoreal
mmm ermerations of
mmm ermaids

Read ‘Channel Swimmer’ on Poems Underwater

or listen to a recording of it on Mad Hatter’s Review 13 (May 2012).

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