Poems from ‘On Becoming a Fish’ by Emily Hinshelwood

In the lead up to xx minifest we shall be posting teaser extracts of writing from our artists so that you can see how great they are and remember to buy tickets. Today we are pleased to direct you to a selection of poems from Emily Hinshelwood’s new collection On Becoming a Fish.

Emily Hinshelwood’s new poetry collection, On Becoming a Fish was inspired by a series of walks around the 186 mile Pembrokeshire coastal path in West Wales, known for its spectacular views from cliffside paths skirting the Irish sea and the Bristol Channel. Deeply engaged with environmental issues through her work in community energy and climate change, the author is also a keen observer of human nature in the context of this beautiful coastline.

The author says: “This collection explores ‘what happens at the boundary’ – not just the topographical boundary of sea meeting land – but the concept of boundary in itself: political borders, social barriers, environmental limits, historical divisions; the boundary between fact and fiction, between you and I.”

You can read the title poem below…

On Becoming a Fish

Milford Haven

Tales of the sea didn’t prepare me for this.
It all seemed so Jack Sparrow, so Barti Du,
perhaps a mermaid flung on a rock,
whales. Jonah.
You know what I mean.
Even the fish stall with its ice trays
and neat lines of flat eyes, even he spins yarns
as he slices heads into a bucket.

When you stop coming up for air,
when your lungs implode to a stillness
all that talking ceases.
All that endless talking.
And you half-remember poking
at a lobster with rubberbanded claws
noting how prehistoric it was
and someone said something about the future.

Sounds now are just noise
against my body.
This is my story.
I keep telling it over and over.
For it’s just me
defying gravity.
The swish of my tail

It’s starting to feel like I’m dancing.

To peek further inside Emily’s new collection, visit the Seren website and click your mouse on the cover of the book on the top right of the page.

Emily xxEmily Hinshelwood has published poems in magazines such as Poetry Wales, won the John Tripp Award for Spoken Poetry (2003), and was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and the Forward Prize for the best individual poem in 2010. She has two daughters and runs a smallholding with her partner in south Wales. Her first full-length collection of poetry, On Becoming a Fish, inspired by a series of Walks around the Pembrokeshire coastline, is published this autumn by Seren.


Seren’s Poetry Editor Amy Wack hosts readings and discussion with three poets who have just published their first collections: Forward Prize-shortlisted Rhian Edwards, Orange/Harper’s Bazaar short story competition winner Anna Lewis, and John Tripp Award winner Emily Hinshelwood.


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