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Slowly, As If

Karen Press

Slowly, As If
RRP: GBP£ 9.95
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Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 847771 36 0
Categories: 21st Century, African, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: June 2012
216 x 135 x 13 mm
156 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (EPUB), eBook (Kindle)
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  • I like the sad little poems that poets write to themselves
    when they’re sitting at windows on hot nights unable to write
    anything worth calling a poem. They’re like drinks you buy
    yourself in a bar on a rainy night when you’re feeling homeless and sub-human,
    you look at the guy next to you and know he’s also going to have the hardest time
    getting through the night, not even a dog would walk home with him,
    you buy him a drink as well and neither of you starts a conversation…
    from ‘The Sad Little Poems’
    In Slowly, As If, Karen Press looks clear-eyed at what it means to live in a complex society, a fragile world. She celebrates the connectedness that sustains us – in dance, in love, with the natural world, in cities where ‘strangers seem happy / to let you be’ – and sees it betrayed by our unreflecting complicity in poverty and violence. The death of a child who ‘barely scratched the air of the country’ resonates in her tender, devastating account: ‘When a child dies, who is responsible?’

    Slowly, As If asks hard questions with grace and wit, balancing the particular and the universal. ‘Being told / you’re made of stardust / is not helpful / as you sit holding a parking ticket’, but it is, none the less, a truth.
    ‘Photographing the building is forbidden until the war is over’     
    Your Saddam     
    Cyrus Vance sat on my couch    
    The Daisy Cutter    
    A cow and a goose    
    Specialised    
    Skypointing    
    And all the time    
    Monument to the South African Republic (on some photographs by David Goldblatt)    
    Ravenous    
    Eight frescoes from the lost palaces of Zanj
        the furious women bare themselves    
        the four students run for the border    
        he hides all night while they murder his family    
        they were caught and chained in a van    
        she gave birth while prison guards tortured her and laughed    
        a six-year-old boy is digging a grave for a baby    
        the colours there    
        like paper flowers unfolding in water    
    Local fauna    
    Be bear     
    Non sequitur    
    In the empty station    
    Man series I    
    Six eggs in the fridge    
    Mindfulness    
    Thank you Lee Smolin, thank you Mr Leibniz    
    If you wrote about domestic things    
    Once we did get out of the car    
    Men always have an idea    
    Shine    
    The sad little poems    
    Pasternak’s shadow    
    Love songs for Lake Como    
    Val di Bondo    
    Amsterdam night    
    Over there    
    Ten minutes on a Sunday morning in July    
    You never were much good at physics    
    Breakfast    
    Love and stories of love    
    If he’d been called Jesse    
    Letters to Tom    
    Really, there’s nothing    
    A man with no power    
    Fast asleep    
    Odd calculus    
    On fire    
    Whipped cream    
    Do you love yourself like this    
    Hotel Rwanda, 1 January 2006    
    Praise poem: I saw you coming towards me    
    Mnemonics    
    A child can’t be born    
    In Cameroon, August 2005    
    The pool attendant at the First International Inn in Limbé    
    The quality of postcards    
    Elaine’s garden    
    Three meditations on immortality     
    Three meditations on Why is there war, Mummy?    
    The last threshold    
    The passivity of the spectator must be countered at all costs    
    This is the bit where you live    
    Literary biography of the Nobel Prize-winning poet
    Out on the ocean    
    Closer than this – extracts from a source book for urban planners
        And on the eighth day    
        Connected    
        The things that survive are the things that survive    
        Statistics South Africa says    
        Unplace    
        City streets    
        To love it    
        Typology    
        The urban planner ruminates    
    Uses of useful plants    
    The one who dies    
    Tango for person and city    
    Deer on the freeway    
    Riffs for the caring girl    
    Great and true    
    Phendukani Silwani    
    Poem for which there was no title    
    Folk dancing for beginners
        He sets the tone    
        So where were you    
        The laws of physics are inviolable    
        Take your places    
        Where to from here?    
        The coastline seems endless    
        It goes like this    
        You are here    
        Balancing    

    Acknowledgements and notes
    Karen Press lives in Cape Town. She has published eight poetry collections as well as mathematics textbooks and children’s books. Her poetry has appeared in journals in South Africa, Britain, the United States, Australia and Canada, and in translation in French, Italian, Turkish and Tamil. She co-founded the publishing collective Buchu ... read more
    Praise for Karen Press 'It is largely a poetry of whispers, of hints, of indirect statement, yet with cables as strong as steel for its backbone.'
    South African Sunday Independent
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