Claudia Daventry

Claudia Daventry has studied languages, literature and psychology and has lived and worked as a writer and translator in various European cities. She moved from Amsterdam to St Andrews in 2007 to do a Masters and focus on her poetry. Her work has been widely published (including anthologies from Bloodaxe, Bridport, Arvon, Irish Literary Review, Poetry London and The Dark Horse) and has won several awards and commendations, notably taking first place in the Bridport, Ruskin and Hippocrates prizes. Her choral commissions have been performed by the BBC Singers and at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Claudia is currently researching the effect of light pollution on circadian rhythms and mental health. 'Twilight' was awarded 2nd place/runner-up in the 2019 Wigtown Poetry Prize.

Claudia Daventry

Events

Wigtown Poetry Prize Showcase »

Listen to winners and runners up from the biggest poetry competition in Scotland

Fri 6 March | 13:00 - 14:00 | £4.50/£3.50 | Parliament Hall, South Street

Poem

Twilight

after Philip Larkin

I drink all day, and get to work at night.
In waiting, early evening sunlight slants
across the fields and sets the panes alight
while complicating nets of midges dance
a reel of glinting mica-flecks,
a frantic airborne rush of death and sex,
its dancers heedless of their looming fate.
Their loose abandon fills me with a dread:
no sting in being dead
when all your purpose is to procreate.

The drink I drink all day’s not drink, but dreck
-- the seeds popped from a cherry: burn and sluice
with scalding water till the water’s black.
A single shot of canephora juice
grabs your cortex right behind the eyes,
to overdose is said to be unwise
but, in the end, it helps me stay awake
which doesn’t seem a monumental ask
-- no other way to multitask.
I have no clue how many shots I take

or what it’s doing to my viscera.
I don’t reject the dark sarcophagus
but focus on the mind. How Cicero,
in kindly baring his oesophagus
to ease his captors’ hacking tracheotomy
allowed the ultimate dichotomy:
the father of all freedoms now turned mute,
the flock of birds inside his skull set free,
the head and hands nailed up by Antony
too late to unwrite what the thinker wrote.

A house is all we strive for, in our head
-- the ultimate game-changer is a roof.
No sooner do we have one than we dread
being stuck: the broken-marriage stats are proof.
No matter how much love it took to build
the thing, or pleasure in the task fulfilled,
far greater is the impulse to destroy
-- as Pascal has it, I will never be
contented in the room I built for me,
where curtains, furniture, then people, cloy.

The light is fading. Though the stuccoed wall
of this old farmhouse glows a roughcast pink
as shadows stretch across the hall,
beyond, a tap drips on a wineglass in the sink
its drip and drip percussive with the clock
-- an orchestra too subtle, still, to mock
this Dutch interior, its borrowed slate,
its out-of-whack perspective. Like a psalm,
a quiet crackle in the calm:
his stack of letters burning in the grate.

 

Claudia Daventry