Tag Archives: Lynley Edmeades

Poetry Shelf Poem: ‘Listening In’ by Lynley Edmeades

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Listening In


The mere presence of her was the necessary part.

Over-hearers, their little coves of ears

were, of course, listening in.

Together, we could hear history

painting a diagram of itself, and things began

to form layers. My mother’s hand

upon the pillow, the pillow soft upon the bed.


©Lynley Edmeades from  As the Verb Tenses Otago University Press 2016



This mother poem is a perfect advertisement for a collection that shows how real life can give poetry a vital tang; that poems excised from who you, where you and where you are from sometimes lack the power to kick start your heart from daily routine. The gaps are resplendent. The detail: lyrical, tender, uplifting, deliciously layered.

Everything slows down to a leisurely pace.

Elsewhere in the book: ‘You’re wondering what to do with this, this slowness.’

Absorb and connect. Absorb and connect. This is a terrific debut (oh! and a stand-out cover).




Fabulous poetry covers this year: Here is another

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‘As the Verb Tenses is the work of a reflective and sensitive poetic talent: one run with gleaming wires of joy. In poems that gather together the vivid details of childhood memory, the surreal juxtapositions of life in the contemporary West, the wry observations of a temporary expatriate, the deeply lodged pain of historical and personal loss, Lynley Edmeades speaks to us in delicately spun lines that press out ironies, dissonances and profound formative experience.’

from Otago University Press. Launched tonight with Chris Price.

Poem Friday: Lynley Edmeades’ ‘Imperial’ Sometimes an object in a poem reverberates with such exquisite frisson





There goes London with its scattered lights.

Like a bag of marbles spilt out onto concrete,

they’ve rolled towards fissures, pooled together

in conduits. They are the arteries

of this land-bound leviathan.

From the air, I can see it’s almost finite,

and feel the way a child might,

when her marbles have been counted, put away.


Author’s bio: Lynley Edmeades is currently writing a doctoral thesis on sound in avant-garde American poetry, at the University of Otago. Her poems, reviews and essays have been published in New Zealand and abroad. She lives in Dunedin.

Author’s note: I wrote this poem while I was living in Belfast. It was prompted by a conversation with poet Sinead Morrissey, in which she applauded the power of first lines. Put your readers straight in there, she said. No ideas but in things.

Paula’s note: Sometimes an object in a poem reverberates with such exquisite frisson the hairs on your arm do stand on end. In Lynley’s poem, marbles promote a grid of shivers—from the allure of the physical toy to the dips and peaks of childhood. That time of endless summers and wild darings. To overlap the potential of this ‘thing’ with the aerial view of London at night is genius. Magic slips from one to the other. The allure of night. The way a city’s particulars are soaked up into the unknowable dark (or apprehended from a different point of view). The way the city borders are at the edge of psychological unease. Then you get taken back to the moment of the child where the smallest moment can be utterly sharp. The game is over. Fleeting yet intense. What I love about this poem (and indeed other poems by Lynley) is the way ear, heart and mind are in harmony—words are deft on the line, images are fresh, simplicity partners complexity.  And the way, in this example, one word, ‘Levethian,’ can unsettle and add to the subtle discomfort (the engagement with the long-ago child, loss, larger-then-life cities, the unknown). Or the the way the poem catches hold of that child trespassing on the glittering lights of night. The complexities and possibilities of this small poem are enormous. I have barely started.