Poems by Steven Blyth
Steven Blyth was born in 1968 in Bolton, where he still lives. He studied Literature and Philosophy at Bolton Institute of Higher Education and also Contemporary Poetry as a postgraduate at Manchester University. In 1994 his poetry won a Gregory Award and it has been published in a wide variety of leading magazines. It has also been broadcast on BBC radio. In 1997 he won first prize in the Staple Poetry Competition. He works in local government in Stretford, Manchester, and edits the literary magazine Prop. A first pamphlet collection, The Gox, was published by Redbeck Press in 1996 to widespread acclaim.
Baddy is Steven Blyth’s first full collection. The following reviews of his pamphlet The Gox will serve to illustrate the themes, subject matter and techniques of this volume:
“Blyth is a fluent writer who assembles a large cast . . . Many poems record comic misunderstandings and mishearings with a neat talent for dialogue and excellent imagery to boost the humour. A poet to watch.”
Anne Born, Poetry Quarterly Review
“Its singularity of style is astonishing. Nearly all the poems in this volume are in the voice of children, or adults recalling childhood, and dedicated to one subject, sound. Cherishing the child’s imagination before the facts of adulthood beat it into submission, Blyth’s best poems focus on the raw associations of a child’s tentative steps into literacy . . . we can expect to hear a lot more from this impressive new voice.”
Ra Page, Acumen
What mattered back then? I’ll tell you what:
Matter, that’s what. The solid stuff: the weight
Of the shot put, the thud of a soccer ball
Against your instep, the crack of a hurdle
Against your toe. That’s what counted. No medals
For kids who were good at trig; and girls
Weren’t impressed by a grasp of each type of verb
Or meanings of long, scientific words.
He’d try to dodge it, of course. Say he was sick,
Hide in the loos. On the fields we’d make
Life tough for kids like him – swots who were top
In all that airy fairy classroom crap.
He hated matter: boots walloping his shins,
Corkys bowled at his head and, worst, those javelins.
On sports day, they’d take us out to the track
To watch the best compete. He’d lie on his back
And stare at clouds, admire the way they floated,
Weightless. He’d identify the type of cloud,
Then wait for the inevitable rain,
The postponement, being sent back in,
Shouting their names as he ran back to school:
“Nimbostratus! Altocumulus!” Each one
Just like the words of a magical spell.
Price £7.95 per copy post free (£5.30 post free to Associate Members)
Cover illustration: ‘ No More Mr. Nice Guy’ by Chris Hart
Publication: SUMMER 1997 (55 pages laminated paperback)