AUGUST 2009


CHRISTOPHER JAMES

A Star Shell by Christopher Richard Wynne NevinsonChristopher Richard Wynne Nevinson
A Star Shell exhibited 1916
© Tate
Oil on canvas
50.8cm x 40.6cm 
 

Christopher James presents his poem, 'A Star Shell', based on Christopher Richard Wynne Nevinson's work of the same name. This is currently on display in Tate Modern on Level 5 'States of Flux,' in Room 2.
Visit the Tate Collection online.


 
       A Star Shell
 
In a moment the world is shattered,
    sub-divided into fractions of itself.
We freeze in its mathematics.
    The trench floods with rivers of light;
mud quickens into life and the barricades
   become the linked arms of children.
 
All of the universe turns on this point,
   a precursor of the final reckoning,
the second before the sun implodes;
    a flash of beautiful clarity when God
presents himself, shining on the wasteland:
   a tender eye over his razed creation.
 
It is not the moment after I remember
  but the fabric of our tunics, the accent
of light on our helmets, the spots of rust
   on our belt brass and the olive green of the
subaltern’s eyes;  the star drifts peaceably
   to the earth and in an instant – gunfire. 
  
 

CHRISTOPHER JAMES has won the Bridport and Ledbury poetry prizes and the 2008 National Poetry Competition. He is a graduate of the Creative Writing MA at the UEA, and is a recipient of an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors.

Born in Paisley in 1975, he works in London and now lives in Suffolk with a banjo and a mortgage. His poems have appeared in Poetry Review, Magma, The Rialto, Smiths Knoll, Poetry London and Iota. His first collection, The Invention of Butterfly, is available from http://www.raggedraven.co.uk/

Britain's top single poem competition since 1978, the National Poetry Competition is judged anonymously and the top prize is £5000. Judges this year are Daljit Nagra, Ruth Padel and Neil Rollinson. To enter or further information, please visit http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk/content/competitions/npc