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Landing Stage by Joan Michelson | SPM Publications Poetry


In a tentative bid for permission “If not I, Who?” Joan Michelson begins her impressive collection. “… I assume my right / to cross the border of your voice.”... In this scrupulous way she enters into the traumas caused by the major displacements of recent history: from the Holocaust to the present day. Situations of enforced exile and alienation keep her alive to the tragic, at the same time, the tone of her writing is always pulling away towards the unsentimental and the laconic. She is a skilled storyteller with an acute sense of identification with the plight of others. Landing Stage is a perfect balance of the specific with the intensely imagined.

       - Martha Kapos | Author of The Likeness and My Nights in Cupid’s Palace


Michelson reveals shockingly unexpected ways of dealing with appalling experiences and betrayals: a wish to unsay the very worst can even lead to a perpetrator being described as ‘half an angel’.  Michelson’s eloquent sympathies extend to traumatised soldiers and their bewildered attempts to return to a civilian life...

      - Mike Batholomew-Biggs, | Author of Fred & Blossom and Tradesman’s Exit


These are poems of displacement voiced by displaced folk: people who have lost home, members of their family, limbs and identity. There is sentiment without sentimentality, and the ostensible unemotional texture centring on factuality is intensified via its distancing. The epigrammatic poems of Reportage read as if written in a bemused daze, the folk possessed by bewilderment in coming to terms with isolation and hardship. What helps to convey this is the skillful capturing of the speech rhythms of adopted English which in turn echoes the dilemma of communicating across cultures. The detached tone, the fragmentary and epigrammatic structures, and freely-associative imagery make for a moving, heart-searing read. 

       - Roger Elkin | Author of Marking Time  and  Blood Brothers.


Landing Stage by Joan Michelson
  • Paperback: 66 pages

  • Publisher: SPM Publications (31 May, 2017)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-13: 978-0-9935035-6-6

    £7.50 + P&P |
    Please allow up to 7 days for delivery in the UK, 14 days in Europe and 28 days rest of the world.

  • Bosnian Woman, Zagreb, 1994


    A rented room. Faces that I do not know. Two years waiting for new news. I feel unchanged. A refugee, sub-tenant, without hope. Today I step down from the bus. At first the telephone was working. I could hear the dear song from before the war. Then the lines were broken. The ground around my feet detached. One cubic foot to stand on like a stork. On a rock. In a void. I had my park bench. I had the man I love. I sit with the TV. I pray the war is a hard rain. I pray to Allah to bring the song of sun.



    The Netherlands, Winter 1940 

    Our foremost criminologist,

    Professor Bonger, tilts his head

    as if it is too heavy or he is

    reading the grey smoke that floats

    towards the ice we’re skating on.

    He doesn’t recognise her face

    although she never missed a class.

    Her question, ‘Will Democracy win?’


    He thinks yes, but it will cost

    the world several generations.

    As she turns to leave, she sees a look

    that hurts her heart. She takes his hands

    between her hands. She holds them

    like a prayer. He bows his head.

    He says, ‘My pleasure.’ An hour later,

    a neighbour hears the single shot.


    Joan Michelson won first prizes in the Bristol Poetry Competition, UK, 2015, and the Torriano Competition, UK, 2014. Recipient of the Hamish Canham prize 2012, her books include, Toward the Heliopause (2011), and Bloomvale Home, portraits of residents in a care home (2016). Originally from New England, USA, Joan lives in London, England. This new collection, Landing Stage won the 3rd Prize in the SPM Publications Poetry Book Competition 2016.

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