Out of the blue …

Featured poet: Jessica Popeski

It’s an odd thing, the internet – it really does make the world a small place. I had an email the other month, out of the blue, from a young poet studying and teaching in Canada, who has local connections. She’d found out, via my website, that poetry is alive and well here in Penistone. As she was coming over from Canada, we organised a reading. We couldn’t advertise the event due to lack of space (the local cafe had offered to host and could only take an audience of 20 or so). It turned out to be a very special night. The room was packed with poetry enthusiasts (we’re lucky to have so many local readers and writers of poetry) and our young poet, who had only arrived in the UK that morning, really did have something interesting and illuminating to offer. Jessica Popeski’s poetry isn’t afraid of opening up language and exploiting the spaces where meanings can be multiple and fluid, yet she never tries to exclude the reader. There’s a consciousness of self at work, and if that sounds clumsy, it will have to stand, because I absolutely don’t mean ‘self-conscious’.  There’s just an acute awareness (often physical – focussed on the body) of being in the world and exploring how that experience feels. Jessica has kindly allowed me to reprint ‘Now, Sisters’ from her chapbook The Wrong Place (this and her second chapbook, Oratorio, are available from Anstruther Press, Canada) so I’ll  shut up now and let the work speak for itself.




Jessica Popeski is a Classical Voice and Creative Writing graduate from
Brandon University, where she was granted a distinction for her poetry
thesis, ‘Big Sky. Sickle Moon’. Her poetry has been published
internationally in Acta Victoriana, The Cadaverine, carte blanche, The
Irish Literary Review, Boston Poetry, Room, Leaf Press, The Nervous
Breakdown, The Windsor Review, Hart House Review
,  and more. She is in the
thick of a master’s in Creative Writing at the University of Guelph, for
which she has been awarded three prestigious scholarships to excavate and
compose a poetry collection on the grandmaternal inheritance of trauma. She
published two chapbooks – “The Wrong Place” and “Oratorio” – with
Anstruther Press in 2015. She was raised, for the most part, in Moscow and Sheffield
by her mother and grandmother, and writes poetry in Toronto, Canada.

Now, Sisters

If all I learned to be is small,
shrink string bean slim,
to eat the least, to eat last,
once everyone is sleeping,
seismic wave snoring,
perched stork-like
in the fridge’s celestial glow;

if I inherited this hymn
from my grandmother,
and her grandmother,
to use my littlest voice,
the shrapnel of it,
meant for inside only,
among quilted cushions,

despite my studying,
slowly, to fatten, to take
up more room, inching in,
elbows at severe angles;
I will ask my sisters,
once brothers, now sisters,
more woman than I will ever be,

stiletto-stilted, silver shadow
to their eyebrows, wigged
and gorgeous, glittering
and light, to bring the size,
they say, their forefathers
leant them, to ask aloud
questions on behalf of us all.


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