Inside she holds every voice
she’s ever known. She could give you
her grandfather’s last word,

her daughter’s first. In that archive
you can hear a hundred train announcements
over the metal of wheels.

She can speak with the voice of a liar
and the voice of a truthful man.
They sound the same.

In lonely places she’ll accompany herself
with the BT lady, next door’s cat,
the sparrows in the hedge.

She’s overplayed her favourite
to a crackle that could be sunlight, bees,
someone asleep beside her in the grass.


Suzannah Evans



Cut from the clay of the big pit, blade-bitten,
thumped and smacked, stacked up, left for dead;

a comfort after a winter of frost, to be made
at last, lying in wait, waiting for the moment.

The kiln won’t kill you, they tell us, You’re all
in it together, line-up, lie back, count to ten.

We wake in a kind of Hades, our hearts hard,
hollow-seeming, and we hold our brittle breath.

We cool on the racks, regretful, rueful, tired,
the best of us are silent, the rest confused.

They call us brother brick and sister brick,
they come for us and find us uniform, a unit.

We cross a continent of country, our song
is build we, build we, build we now or not.

We make the world, we do what we are told,
go where they place us, in whatever bond,

and build the walls, hold the earth at bay,
culvert the rivers, shoulder the new roads,

tell ourselves we are happy, shout hurrah,
try to move but can’t; try to think, can’t.


Jonathan Davidson


Suzannah Evans and Jonathan Davidson are reading as part of a Poetry Business event.

Suzannah Evans was a winner in the Poetry Business Competition in 2011, judged by Carol Ann Duffy. A former editor of Cadaverine, she runs writing workshops and is currently Writer in Residence at Bank Street Arts. Her debut pamphlet, Confusion Species, appeared from Smith Doorstop in 2012. Tough/tender lyric poems in which the language crackles with life whether addressing the urban or the rural and possessed of a truly exciting inventiveness. – Carol Ann Duffy

Jonathan Davidson works tirelessly on behalf of other writers (at Midland Creative Projects and as Director of the Birmingham Book Festival), which may be why it was seventeen years between his brilliant first collection and his second, the brilliant Early Train. Thoughtful, lucid, deceptively simple poems… their eye is clear and their approach graceful… They find truths in the prosaic details of our lives – such as bike frames and Sunday papers in the garden. – Stuart Maconie