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An excerpt from Joelle Taylor’s C+nto & Othered Poems

Read Friday, 4 Mar 2022

One of the UK’s finest poets Joelle Taylor recently took home the T.S. Eliot Prize, Britain’s richest poetry prize, for her collection C+nto & Othered Poems. In advance of Joelle’s appearance at the Wheeler Centre on 9 March, we’re sharing Valentine, a poem from her award-winning collection.

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Born right body
wrong day, Valentine
flicks her lighter
in the corner of the club
& white women flutter.
Tonight, she has dressed
as the inside of a mouth
a handsewn suit excised
from a cured night sky
black leather has its own skin
care routine it listens
to its mother I have heard
it said some girls give birth
to themselves on the back
of motorbikes invent the wind
let the road uncurl from between
their legs, the infinite motorway
something British & unbidden
i know why we are drawn
to the corners it’s where the road
cannot reach us. Every part
of a woman is a weapon
if you know how to hold her
Valentine says. The corner
flicks a morse & in the dark
white hearts beat like moths
against a headlight.

Joelle’s latest poetry collection is out now, and appears at the Wheeler Centre on Wednesday 9 March. Read our Working with Words Q&A with Joelle Taylor here.

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