Selected by David Underdown, who also wrote the commentary.
The Dissolution of the Libraries
Words whirled away like thought untethering
itself. Stand here — dugdeep in boneshells
of abandoned bookbanks — and hear
their whisperlong as winds blow in.
The ransacked sky-stacks row after row
reaching to a roofdome now rent weather-wide.
Mouldmaps inbloom between shitsplat spines;
nestled nooks for house-spugs & mouserats.
Gone all the idolgold: the glimmerings
on paperthick and parch, that flare, facelit,
matchbright — magic as moonglare
suddenly uncloudclothed — picking out a path.
Wonder when whole worlds were ribbed in rhyme:
scriptsafe, bookbound. A hoard of heartsong.
Secrets storied like spells to ken, to keen,
to kindl warmfire in winterdarks.
O weary word-wanderer travelsore and tired
hopesmirched so homefar home. Timesgone
when sounds ink-sketched slips moutheasy
to meaning. Didn’t fur tongue taste foreignfull.
Emma Simon was born in Northamptonshire but now lives in London where, she says, she juggles writing with family and earning a living as a copywriter. Her debut pamphlet, ‘Dragonish’ has recently been published by The Emma Press. ‘The Dissolution of the Libraries’ with its inventive wordplay reminiscent of Gerard Manley Hopkins is taken from the Live Canon 2017 Anthology and seems sadly topical in the context of the financial pressures suffered by our public libraries.