Our final event of 2017 unites two Cambridge-based Carcanet poets who have recently published their second collections: Miles Burrows and James Womack. It promises to be a bracing and revelatory evening.

21st November - Miles Burrows and James Womack

Miles Burrows is a doctor who has worked among the Chimbu tribes of Papua New Guinea and in camps of refugee hill tribes on the Thai Laos Border. He has also worked as a literary critic for the New Statesman. He lives in Cambridge. Carcanet published Miles’s second collection, Waiting for the Nightingale, in 2017, fifty-one years after the publication of his first, A Vulture’s Egg.

'Elegantly constructed and wildly funny […] Burrows’s poem-like entities are a delight'  Carol Rumens

'I am proud to declare myself your fan. You are more a Mercedes than a minipoet'  Julian Mitchell

James Womack is a poet and literary translator, who teaches Spanish translation at the University of Cambridge. He has published two collections of poetry with Carcanet, Misprint (2012) and On Trust (2017). His collection of versions of poems by Vladimir Mayakovsky, ‘Vladimir Mayakovsky’ and Other Poems, was a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation in 2016, and he recently won the first PN Review Translation Prize.

'Inventive, clever, funny, rueful, ironic, hypnotised by the erotic.'  Craig Raine

'The poems display a wry, mordant romanticism which manages to be at war with itself while keeping a keen eye on the imaginative opportunities. On Trust is a witty, eloquent, troubling collection.'  Sean O’Brien


Despite your long silence, I write again.
I appreciate that you are dead, but even so
You could light a candle in that other room
And I would come to you singing like Jonas Kaufmann
Demonstrating a controlled diminuendo
On a high E natural. If we were spirits
I wouldn't have to wash. And that intimate sigh
Into the ear, that wakes me at midnight –
Is it really from the orthopedic mattress?
Or do they have ventriloquists where you are?
It is possible to fall in love with a woman.
There are people who have fallen in love with a postage stamp.
Fortunes have been left to cats
Who never spoke a word and never will.

Miles Burrows


That morning, N and the baby being asleep, 
I sat down to write a rebuttal to one of your love-letters. 
But you know how it is: 
you set out to perform some ordinary task, 
to buy the bread, maybe, or else I won’t be long, 
just taking the videos back to the shop, 
and then round a corner 
the full majesty of the goddess Freya 
strikes you in the face and blinds you. 
Which was how it was. I cannot live in this world, 
the goddess of beauty and death lounging 
at street corners. Was this what I meant to write? 
Anyway, I never took the videos back. 
One of them was our film, if you remember, 
or don’t think it odd that shared possessions 
are alleged to define or fix relationship. 
Our song, of course, is ‘Yakety Sax’, 
but the film behind my eyes admits of any soundtrack – 
your hair wet from the pool. 
And although my dream of you 
is not the same as you, 
it is in fact love, it is love. 
Write that often and it will be enough.

James Womack

Event Information and Venue

We continue at our new home of CB2 for Autumn 2017-Summer 2018. Events will be on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 8pm. Doors open from 7.30pm; ask for the sign-up sheet to secure one of our strictly-2-minute open mic slots. (N.B. it's first-come-first-served, though slots may well still be available at 8pm). All events are £5 / £4 concessions, payment by cash on entry. The venue is the lovely CB2 Bistro Café on Norfolk Street, which has a great bar/café where you can get all manner of drinks, cakes and savoury delights with a discount on meals for CB1 Poetrygoers. 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 and not at our origin/namesake of CB1 Café, formerly of Mill Road. Good to get that off our chest...