An excerpt from ‘Persephone in Oulipo’ by Vahni Capildeo

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EVENT: Four of the most interesting poets working today – Vahni Capildeo, Drew Milne, Luke Roberts and Eley Williams – will be at the Bookshop on Tuesday 22 August to launch issue 10 of the Cambridge Literary Review, in which their work appears. Book tickets here. Read on for an excerpt from Vahni Capildeo’s ‘Persephone in Oulipo’, taken from the issue.

#2

‘Radios / talk of Rhodesia’


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Snap. Crackle. Coup.


Riddle
In a hot land I was unrecognized and cold.
To name me summons the pale and wealthy dead.
My new first is lightning-like and a final sound.
What am I?


Haiku
the gold mines shut up
voices where old friends went dark
let us switch them off


Chat-up
Damn girl r u kitted out with transmission equipment? Cuz
I feel like I’m pickin u up


Mainstream English lyric
This afternoon I sat down slowly
with my golden notebook,
having no job and needing none
since you, Aunt Florrie, passed away
bequeathing me the sweets of leisure
and the ill-gotten, bankable treasure
of the lady agriculturist
you once were.
Your tobacco-farming, auntly kiss
lingers in me like nicotine;
(I mean this in a nice way,
not incest, of course
left-justified and justifiably
a winner)
as in your honour
I sip Colombard,
a strangely peacefully named
wine from an eternal war zone.
O so much to regret,
the shady media of the heart.


Taken from Vahni Capildeo, ‘Persephone in Oulipo’, Cambridge Literary Review 10 (Summer, 2017) Join Vahni Capildeo, Drew Milne, Luke Roberts and Eley Williams to launch issue 10 of the Cambridge Literary Review at the Bookshop on Tuesday 22 August. Book tickets here.

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