Introducing the May 2008 Readers: 1. Claire Askew

Here’s a brief bio and poem from Claire Askew, one of four poets reading at the Great Grog on Sunday May 11th.

Claire Askew’s work has appeared in Brittle Star, Pomegranate and the Glasgow Herald, and is forthcoming in the Edinburgh Review, Textualities and Snakeskin. She is the Editor in Chief of the ‘Read This,’ a magazine which encourages submissions from new and young writers. Claire was awarded the Grierson Verse Prize 2008 and the Lewis Edwards Award for Poetry 2008, and was also joint-winner of the Sloan Prize for a short story in Lowland Scots.

Built in

I am still in here, despite the siege. Still here,
behind the maze of scaffolding and duckboards –
business almost as usual, though I daren’t leave.

I watch the men through the drawn blind like TV,
as they paint over the rotting windowframes,
drink tea from flasks, sandblast, dig up pipes outside.

I keep the windows locked, just in case – paranoid,
I hide the jewellery box . On cold days, they slither
about on the slats, four floors up – a precarious ballet.

Some nights, I like to haul myself through
the wet window with a steaming cup, and sway
on the scaffold, scaring myself. I can choose –

to look out over the rainy slates, streetlights, the stretch
of council yards, or plunge. (Cobbles wink in the alley
below, its discarded mattress a festering fall-breaker.)

But it will be gone soon, this crows’ nest, climbing-frame
for drunks, this cage. They will come in the morning,
wake me early, and pack it away, whistling.

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