Julia Bird grew up in Gloucestershire and now lives in London. She studied at Reading and Sussex Universities and has worked as an arts administrator and literature promoter since graduating. She works part-time for the Poetry School, and as an independent touring live literature producer. Her first collection Hannah and the Monk was published by Salt in 2008.
One sat, in plain sight, downstream.
The sun, pinning stars to the water.
Feathers the colours of jockey silks. Luck.
Whether that’s something I saw for myself
or a page turned down in a bird book or a feature
I watched on tv, I don’t know – though
I did once peck a fish clean from a plate
with a flat wooden fork. I have felt a thought
dart from its perch in my best imagination
to flash about the branches of a stranger’s brain,
and have brought home from the shop in a blue plastic bag
a half a dozen perfect tangerines.
Eleanor Stewart grew up in Scunthorpe and came to Norwich in 2008 to study for a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing at UEA. She was awarded the Malcolm Bradbury Prize for her dissertation – a collection of poems based loosely around trees. After graduating in 2011, she went on to complete the Creative Writing MA in Poetry as the inaugural Ink, Sweat & Tears Poetry Writing Scholar, completing the course in 2012 with a distinction. Eleanor lives and works in Norwich. She continues to draw on the natural world in many of her poems.
By The Icarian Sea
It was a good orange, firm
but with a spring to it.
Shepherd cast a glance
towards his sheep (all there)
then dug a fingernail in.
It was a good orange.
He proceeded, with care,
to carve out a land for himself,
smiling when the peel came away
in one piece in his hand.
He turned it this way and that
and pondered on what map it could be,
if he knew any geography.
He considered throwing it
at Ploughman, a little to his left,
but thought the better of it
(Ploughman had muscles).
Instead he threw it out to sea
in a high, wide arc,
where the wind caught it
and turned it to a scudding,
Shepherd watched its flight
leaning from the cliff-edge,
devouring juicy segments.
There was a mass of foaming
feathers amongst the crests
and peaks of waves and more
carried by the breeze.
One caught, sticky, in his fingers
and he wondered what strange
bird it came from.
The orange peel fell.
And in his last breath
before the water,
Icarus thought that the
sun had decided
to fall with him.