Polly Atkin

Polly Atkin lives in Grasmere. Her first collection, Basic Nest Architecture, was published by Seren in February 2017. An extract from this was awarded New Writing North's Andrew Waterhouse Prize in 2014 for reflecting "a strong sense of place or the natural environment." Her first pamphlet bone song (Aussteiger, 2008) was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Pamphlet Award in 2009, and her second, Shadow Dispatches (Seren, 2013), won the Mslexia Pamphlet Prize in 2012. She has taught English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University and at the universities of Strathclyde and Cumbria. She is interested in site-specific work, as well as where poetry might intersect with Disability Studies and in writing about the body, in poetry and prose.


Photo: Kay Adkins


Border Crossings »

Reading: Polly Atkin, Gerry Loose

Sun 11 March | 14:15 - 15:15 | £4.50/£3.50 | The Undercroft, St John's House, South Street

Past & Present »

Polly Atkin on Jane Cooper; Jan Baeke on H.H. ter Balkt

Fri 9 March | 14:15 - 15:15 | £4.50/£3.50 | The Town Hall, Queens Gardens, Council Chamber

Collective Poetry Reading »

Join us for a moment of solidarity in our collective reading of Stairs and Whispers

Sat 10 March | 19:10 - 19:25 | FREE | The Byre Theatre, Abbey Street, Level 2 Foyer

Imprisoned Poets Reading »

Readings from the work of imprisoned poets

Sun 11 March | 18:30 - 19:00 | FREE | The Byre Theatre, Abbey Street, Studio Theatre


Moon Salutation
This is what you came home for, you
and the mountain and the forest and the stars in the dark
and the moon, half a blink from full,
low, white and cool as the eye
of a jackdaw in the feathered night. You move
slowly at first, where the trees block the light.
The wood expands, contracts you down
the gallery of its ribs. Your breath is a tight
hiss in your ears, strange as the voices
you catch spilling up from the village, mixed
with hoots of an owl, the crunch of boots
on leafmeal and gravel. The open is silvered,
fixed in reverse – a daguerreotype portrait.
You stop at each curve of the path and stare.
The valleys drown under floods of fluorescing
cloud. The high ground glints and shifts.
Noises rise like sounds above surface
heard under water, distorted – a shout –
a motorbike’s revs as the church clock strikes
midnight. You count the chimes, climb
far out at sea, dreaming land
from the ghost of a ship’s bell tolling. Scared
of falling, but more of sinking. You keep
pushing uphill. Your bare arms shine
like armour. You are a crescent, waxing.
A few feet further, half an hour longer,
and you’ll be complete: a perfect mirror,
spheroid and luminous, reflecting everything,
unable to go back, ever.

Polly Atkin

From Basic Nest Architecture (Seren, 2017)