26th April 2016 - Angela Leighton and Peter McDonald

Angela Leighton was born in Wakefield, and is a Senior Research Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge. The author of important critical works on, among other subjects, Victorian women poets and the concept of form, she has published three collections of poems with Shoestring Press. Her new book, Spills (Carcanet, 2016), combines poetry, memoir, libretto, short story, prose poetry and a experimental sequence of translations of the Sicilian poet Leonardo Sciascia.

'Outstanding among the excellent… the poems ring like bells.'   Anne Stevenson

'Angela Leighton is among the finest poets at work today in the language, a truth evident in these tangible, philosophical, anguished, ecstatic poems.'  Jay Parini

Peter McDonald was born in Belfast, and since 1999 has been Christopher Tower Student of Poetry in the English Language at Christ Church, Oxford, where he is also Professor of British and Irish Poetry. A significant critic, he has also edited a landmark edition of Louis MacNeice’s poems, and is current working on an edition of Yeats. Having produced several volumes of a poems and a 2012 Collected, in 2016 he published, with Carcanet, both Herne the Hunter and a translation of The Homeric Hymns, the latter a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

'His musicality is not just rich but endlessly varied and subtle. […] It embodies the values of accuracy, conscience, and restraint but with no skimping of intensity or ferocity.'  David Wheatley, Irish Times


It’s pitch and sudden in a brick siding.
Toadflax and stonecrop shiver in a draught –
precarious frills whiskering the brickwork,
tickling a shaft that dives to the dark

where an old cellar-smell wells up from a drain,
where walls contain the whisk and tarry
of blacker water, and a gate regulates
its Stygian takings, drop by drop.

We stop to watch a swallow draw
wish-lists of hills on the fossed flats,
where stacked mops of reed-mace make
populous outcrops, heads above us.

Below, a sluice-grid monitors the flow.
Water queues in straight dug channels,
where all its left detritus scums
in unmoved pools, in pausing stills –

till quick and under, a black coil of wet
sucks through the fipple of a blade.
We watch the runaway water swell
in undercurrents to the shining levels.

Angela Leighton


Ice in a swivelled glass
coats itself in vermouth;
the colder evenings pass,
and stars over the roof
back away to a mild
dome in the distance, as
each one is ranged and filed
by quadrant, azimuth.

The ice-cubes snick and clunk:
behind us, a cliff face;
ahead, pale and part-sunk
in shadow, the last trace
of daytime on broad streets
recedes, where traffic’s race
is a bright line that repeats
itself to bound this place.

If stars figure the truth,
it’s one that we can’t read;
in between lip and tooth,
ice numbs whatever need
there is to make my mouth
say what has to be said
long past the end of youth:
a good or a bad deed.

Peter McDonald

2015-2016 Venue

We have a new home for Autumn 2015-Spring 2016. Events will on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 8pm, upstairs at the lovely CB2 Bistro Café on Norfolk Street, where there is plenty of room for us to swing a poet or two, and a great bar/café downstairs where you can get all manner of drinks, cakes and savoury delights. Here is our venue information page. Now, we realise there is a slight possibility of confusion, so to be clear... we are still called CB1 Poetry, but we are at CB2 Café, not at our origin/namesake of CB1 Café on Mill Road. Good to get that off our chest...