Tuesday 24th February - Vahni Capildeo & Rebecca Goss

For our February reading we are delighted to present Vahni Capildeo, whose fifth collection was recently published by Peepal Tree Press and who was a judge for last year's Forward Prize, and Next Generation Poet Rebecca Goss, whose second collection was shortlisted for the 2013 Forward Prize for Best Collection.

This reading will be held as usual at The Gonville, although it may take place in the bar area as the function room we use is scheduled for renovation. For March, April and May's readings we have been fortunate enough to secure some excellent alternative venues in central Cambridge -- details to follow soon -- and from June onwards we return the The Gonville and its fully renovated glories.

Vahni Capildeo (Trinidad) works at the Commonwealth Foundation. Capildeo has worked at the Oxford English Dictionary, in academia, and as a volunteer (Oxfam Head Office; Oxford Rape Crisis). In Britain, she feels connected to the North (Yorkshire; Scotland). Capildeo is a Contributing Advisor to Sheffield’s Blackbox Manifold. She enjoys reviewing, translation, prose writing, and interdisciplinary/multimedia collaborations.

'Every topic springs to life, in a way that is both disturbing and beautiful. These are life-enhancing poems that stay with you long after you have closed the book.'  Bernard O'Donoghue

Capildeo’s fifth book is Utter (Peepal Tree, 2013). Her previous collections are No Traveller Returns (Salt, 2003), Person Animal Figure (Landfill, 2005), Undraining Sea (Eggbox, 2009), and Dark & Unaccustomed Words (Eggbox, 2012). Anthology appearances include The Best British Poetry (Salt, 2012), and Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe, 2012). Capildeo’s poetry has appeared in the Forward Prize anthology and been longlisted for the OCM Bocas Prize.

'It is like being brought up hard against an unmoveable rock amidst all the torrents of counterfeited poetry when you catch hold of any poem by Capildeo.' Rod Mengham

Rebecca Goss grew up in Suffolk. She returned to live in the county in 2013, after living in Liverpool for twenty years. Her first collection The Anatomy of Structures was published by Flambard Press in 2010.

'Fresh, fearless and utterly engaging' Tribune

Her second collection, Her Birth (Carcanet/Northern House), was shortlisted for The 2013 Forward Prize for Best Collection and winner of the Poetry Category in The 2013 East Anglian Book Awards. In 2014 she was selected for The Poetry Book Society's Next Generation Poets.

'The language, like sea-glass, has been ground by a tide that might have crushed words completely. Instead, it has shaped these translucent poems'  Helen Dunmore

Rebecca Goss' website is here.

Tuesday 24th February, The Gonville, Open Mic floor spots, books for sale. Doors 7.30, readings 8pm. Tickets on the door only, £5/£4.


Who’d try to tell the fish: it does not matter
about the air, but being hauled to light –
that’s memorable, new work for gills, that spatter
reddens silence, reddens red, reels in delight,
would you look at that, fished out of water.
Slow as the couples walking age in hand
between the blues and leaves, they steered this boat,
thinking their course by high points on the land.
The snap. The angler’s curse. The snarl. The engine caught.
The line cast further out than he had planned.

Vahni Capildeo


He comes across it by accident. 
His washing pile muddled with hers. 
It’s slippery, black, has a nice stretch to it. 

There’s a mirror, an empty flat, 
so he strips, feels goose bumps spread 
the back of his thighs. He pulls it up too fast, 

has to re-tuck his balls inside the narrow gusset. 
Once on, tight and shiny, he distorts his physique 
with high arm stretches. The cat purrs approvingly 

from the edge of the bed. One last glance, 
Lycra wrapping the round of each buttock, 
he inhales and exhales, gets ready to leap. 

Rebecca Goss