CB1 Poetry with Sarah Howe and Jodie Hollander @ CB2 Bistro, Cambridge [23 May]

CB1 Poetry with Sarah Howe and Jodie Hollander

20:00 - 22:00

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CB2 Bistro
5/7 Norfolk Street, CB1 2LD Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
We've a fantastic pairing for our May event: the remarkable Sarah Howe, with a festoonment of awards since her last visit to CB1, will surely need no introduction (but it's all below anyway), and, all the way from Colorado, Jodie Hollander is visiting to launch her collection My Dark Horses, just published by Liverpool University Press.

CB2 Bistro basement; £5/£4 entry; open mic slots available (ask on the night).


Sarah Howe is a British poet, academic and editor. Her first book, Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus, 2015), won the T.S. Eliot Prize and The Sunday Times / PFD Young Writer of the Year Award, and was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Prize and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Born in Hong Kong in 1983 to an English father and Chinese mother, she moved to England as a child. Her pamphlet, A Certain Chinese Encyclopedia (Tall-lighthouse, 2009), won an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors. She has performed her work at festivals internationally and on BBC Radio 3 & 4. She is the founding editor of Prac Crit, an online journal of poetry and criticism.


I watched the turquoise pastel
melt between your fingerpads;
how later you flayed

the waxen surface back
to the sunflower patch
of a forethought, your

instrument an upturned
brush, flaked to the grain –
the fusty sugar paper buckled.

You upended everything,
always careless of things:
finest sables splayed

under their own weight,
weeks forgotten – to emerge
gunged, from the silted

floor of a chemical jamjar.
I tidied, like a verger
or prefect, purging

with the stream from the oil-
fingered tap. Stop,
you said, printing

my elbow with a rusty index,
pointing past an ancient
meal’s craquelured dish

to the oyster-crust
at the edge of an unscraped palette –
chewy rainbow, blistered jewels.


Jodie Hollander was raised in a family of classical musicians. Her work has appeared in publications such as The Poetry Review, The Dark Horse, The Rialto, The Manchester Review, Australia’s Best Poems, 2011, and Australia’s Best Poems of 2015. Her debut pamphlet, The Humane Society, was released with Tall-Lighthouse in 2012. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship in South Africa, and was awarded a MacDowell Colony fellowship in 2015. She lives in Colorado, where she teaches skiing and creative writing. Her new collection My Dark Horses has just been published by Liverpool University Press.


After she returned from Argentina,
Mother started eating her steaks bloody,
half-cooked over the open grill—
the way they were eaten at the Estancias,
she told us, frying up her empanadas
and sipping a glass of Argentinian wine.
So it came as no surprise when she announced
she’d fallen in love with Argentinian music,
and planned to perform Piazzolla’s Oblivion—

Except, she no longer wanted Father
to accompany her while she played the ‘cello;
instead she found an Argentinian man
that could play the part just as well as Father.
Mother and the Argentine rehearsed,
while Father was away giving concerts.
Yet soon enough Father grew suspicious,
convinced that another man’s hands
had been all over his ’26 Steinway.
Father tried to have the man deported,
but Mother wouldn’t hear of such a thing.
So Father packed up his belongings:
his black suits and silk cummerbunds,
his pleated white shirts and concert shoes,
his bow ties and stacks of musical scores,
and moved to the other side of town.
Soon Father’s closet stank of leather,
and Spanish was the language of our home.
Mother developed the most unsettling laughter
as she and the Argentine rehearsed
Oblivion late into the night.
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