Emma Simon – Dragonish

Emma Simon is the new Featured Writer this month. She has an astonishing pamphlet called Dragonish out with the inimitable Emma Press.

ES byline pic4

I first met Emma at a launch of The Interpreter’s House at the Albion Beatnik Bookshop in Oxford. Emma read her poem ‘We Never Realised We Could Fly’ which starts ‘ – not truly – not like the barnacle geese’ … which sounds very dragonish to me! It was rather chuffing for me that she approached me to showcase her work this time( implying she liked what she’d seen here before) and so this is really delightful for me to have her on the website.

Dragonish is surprising, inventive and magical. It makes me wish very much I had spotted that word, ‘dragonish’ in Shakespeare myself. It comes from Anthony and Cleopatra, ‘Sometime we see a cloud that’s dragonish, / A vapour sometimes like a bear or lion …’ It’s the perfect title. But I now find myself using the word in my everyday speech! (You see I did that in the last paragraph?)

What I didn’t realise about Emma is that she is a consumer journalist who writes about a personal finance, pensions and ethical investing for The Guardian and the Morning Star. https://www.theguardian.com/profile/emma-simon

There’s a lot of strange things bursting or slinking out of the lines when you open her pamphlet….though you’d expect this from a book with this title. To give you a flavour, there are severed limbs, the language of cat, milk that cries on the doorstep, angels, ghostly hitch-hikers, cockroaches etc. The poems inhabit a liminal space, between sleeping and waking, between what we think we see and what it might really be, the depths under our feet, the wonders we don’t notice like the London Planes’ dryads.

Among many wonders I’d like to quote from an astonishing pantoum of a poem called Snow Domes And Care Homes’ which beautifully re-invents its repeats so it would be easy to read without noticing them, so bound up as you are in the imagery of old age and dementia, or is it just life for us all?
‘….. Time to wake up,
rise from the meltwater, dig out the dresser, her jewellery box
memories, buried like early snowdrops

or snowdrips, the icy ticking of railing clocks: time to get up,
negotiate the black ice sheeting the floor
(so difficult to dig out buried snowdrops),
easy enough to lose your footing, slip from one day to the next

skating along the ice sheeting the floor. ….’

I have many favourites in this collection, another being ‘Plait’ as I also used to plait my daughter’s bottom-length hair in a hurry before school.

‘….. Let its criss cross
weave a tender magic, like a proverb handed

across generations, mourning there is not enough time, but
just enough hands.’

Playful and witty, Emma Simon chooses each word and each line and stanza break precisely: her range is wide and pamphlet feels substantial so that once you have read it, you want to pick it up again and again as you will always find more to chill or to beguile you. It’s available here https://theemmapress.com/books/the-emma-press-poetry-pamphlets/dragonish/


About Rebecca Gethin

Rebecca Gethin is a poet and a novelist. Cinnamon Press published her third collection, All the Time in the World in 2017. Another pamphlet is forthcoming with Three Drops Press. Her second novel, What the horses heard, was published by Cinnamon Press in May 2014. Her second poetry collection - A Handful of Water - was published by Cinnamon in 2013. Her first - River is the Plural of Rain - was published by Oversteps Books in 2009. Her novel Liar Dice won the Cinnamon Press Novel Writing Award in 2010 and was published in 2011. She lives on Dartmoor and writes occasional pieces about wildlife and nature. Her poems appear in a variety of poetry magazines and in several anthologies.
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2 Responses to Emma Simon – Dragonish

  1. valmor42 says:

    Great feature Rebecca – so enjoyed your tempting read and will definitely find the pamphlet. I had never realised where ‘dragons’ came from before but it is very infectious. Thanks for this.

    • valmor42 says:

      I meant ‘dragonish’ but it shows you I am not the only one who had not heard the word before – my computer hadn’t 🙂

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