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.

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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/

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Review of ‘All the Time in the World’

Susan Jordan has written a very generous and thoughtful review of my Cinnamon Press pamphlet, All the Time in the World. I am very grateful indeed for her close attention.




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