Richard Berengarten and Isobel Dixon

Born in London into a family of musicians, Richard Berengarten (formerly Burns) has lived in Cambridge for 40 years, as well as in Italy, Greece, Serbia, Croatia and the USA. In 1975 he founded the international Cambridge Poetry Festival, an event that lasted a decade. In 2008, the first five volumes in his Selected Writings series appeared from Salt: For the Living, The Manager, The Blue Butterfly, In a Time of Drought and Under Balkan Light.

"...visionary and restless, Berengarten is one of those fearless poets whose utter trust in honesty and clarity is, at times, breathtaking, at times heartbreaking." – John Burnside

In November 2009, the International Literary Quarterly published translations of his poem Volta into 75 languages. Richard is now working on a collection of short poems about hands entitled Manual and a bigger collection based on I Ching. The Salt Critical Companion to Richard Berengarten is due in 2010. Winner of Gregory, Wingate-Jewish Quarterly awards, Duncan Lawrie and Keats Memorial prizes, two Arts Council Fellowships, and the Great Lesson and Morava Charter prizes, Richard is a Bye-Fellow at Downing College and former Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newnham. (website) (profile)

"one of the major poets writing in English in the early years of the new millennium. There is no other voice like his." – Anthony Rudolf

"The Blue Butterfly is a magnificent book. The volumne is suffused with hope and bravery; and examines ethnic cleansing and mass hatred in a way that is particularly relevant." – Poetry Review


Isobel Dixon grew up in South Africa, where her prize-winning debut Weather Eye was published. She now lives in Cambridge and works in publishing. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Manhattan Review, Southwest Review, Dreamcatcher and Wasafiri, among others. She was commissioned to write poems for the British Film Institute, and her work is included in several anthologies, including Penguin’s Poems for Love (October 2009), The Forward Book of Poetry 2009, and the pamphlets Unfold and Ask for It by Name.

Her latest collection A Fold in the Map is published by Salt. Her website is www.isobeldixon.com.

"Poems that bring a sensual physicality together with lively, startling imagery." – Mail and Guardian, South Africa

"characterised by cultivation of sensuous natural imagery... 'the precious milk and honey of nostalgia'... Dixon's gift is in the presentation of a palpable, earthy presence and its accordant pathos of memory or displacement...

the transposition of Cambridgeshire and Africa produces... felicitous moments of dislocation" – PN Review

[Tuesday 9th February 2010, Michaelhouse, Doors 7.30pm Readings 8pm £5/£3]

Paleolithic Venus / Grainy Photo

Here is the paleolithic Venus of Lower Věstonice
in her padded box placed on the concrete windowsill
of the 4th floor office of the Director of the Museum
of Moravia    Brno    Czechoslovakia    March 1977
discovered July 1925     under a layer of ash

her left leg broken off     estimated
the oldest clay-fired ceramic in the world
moulded between 27,000 and 31,000 years ago
before Mnajdra    before Lepenski Vir    before Atlantis
and the living left hand next to her is mine



Richard Berengarten


Back in the Benighted Kingdom

I’m sorry to see
my mosquito bumps fade:
the love bites of a continent,
marks of its hot embrace.

If anything is dark,
it’s this damp island
with its sluggish days,
its quieter, subtler ways
of drawing blood.


Isobel Dixon