Featured Publication – Metastatic by Jane Lovell

Our featured publication for February is Metastatic by Jane Lovell, published by Against the Grain Press.

Jane Lovell’s writing charts mysterious, unsettling trajectories: the invisible paths of bees, the journey of dead light, the routes found in folded and untied landscapes. These poems unmoor us, find beauty and strangeness in the everyday.’ Helen Mort

Jane Lovell’s poetry is rooted in the human body, which in turn is rooted in the earth, sheltered by the sky, and washed clean by the rain. This raw and unflinching collection reminds us that our lives are determined by natural processes, of which change and decay are as vital and relevant as new birth and growth.’ Katharine Norbury



Thrush, Covent Garden, 1792

She has waited over two centuries
for sunlight, beak raised towards
the edge of the page

her nestful of eggs washed grey
and the song of lost days pressed
like a leaf in her heart.

I can tell by her eyes
she’s lived without cloud or sky:
they are earth-brown
and accepting

but the line of her gentle form
aims skyward, pins patience
to an angle we all understand.

Bless this bird
bless her thin curved skeleton
her repeated song each morning
as the light seeps through.



Your name is on my lips.

It flies through cities finding tracks and lines,
the taste of rust and oil, a hiss of wheels
amidst a trance of lights

then slows to drift the calm of alleyways –
a gentle exhalation, the hum of
something brighter, settling.

Below the trees are angels, quietly
unpicking strands of destiny,
their limpid eyes blown blue.

Around lie strewn the skeins and scags
of dream, while in the dark, unseen
a spider bobbles on a ruined web:

a word pinned to a moment,
a world pinned to a moment
and the moment gone.

Your name is on my lips.
It has travelled continents, crossed saltpans,
oceans, crested unknown mountains.

It’s on my lips each dawn
when only lamplight finds the thrush’s eye
and chance lies curled and cold below.



Crows became symbols those dark months,
appearing like omens each morning in the juniper,
heads tilted to pin him in a world blacker
than hell.

Then came a night of angels, a distant song
from next door’s radio, net curtains blowing
to reveal the thinnest curl of moon, and a word
sent to him:

a message and a word, its syllables a bright shell
pared from a dark sphere.
There was hope. He could take ‘solace’.

He took it, kept it like a talisman,
rolled it around his fingers, whispered its mantra
again and again.

And in that bright room, when it was spelt out for him
so that there was no further question,
it cut away the desperation like a small, curved blade,
left him clear and calm.

Wheeling up and down the canyons of his body,
its vertebrae flaring like comets, they had no answer.
Their eyes slid to corners of the room, the space
behind him, refusing to gauge the days left to him.

In that silence, that room of moments,
he found solace in the altered step of time,
a world imaged through the curved eye of a lens,
and held onto his prayer.

He spoke the word, imagined the winds above
holding him until all that remained of the crows
were husks of feathers and bones
blowing in the half-light of some strange eclipse.


Perspective in a Hare’s eye

Skyline erupts into tree, backlit and spilling
its own horizon across a perfect black moon,
an anti-matter moon brimming

deep pool silence: a world where nothing moves
till a thousand fathoms down, blunt and primeval,
they drift at you, curious at your veins fizzing,

your mouth yielding glassy planets of air.
Jaws champ, lamp-eyes drift back into blackness.
The moment holds you in its ocean.

This is the place where no one will find you:
no one sees you, except the hare, sudden
and skyswept, poised on a grassblade of decision.


Previous publication credits: Thrush, Covent Garden, 1792 (Flambard Prize winner 2015), Listen (Agenda), Solace (Agenda online supplement), Perspective in a Hare’s Eye (Bare Fiction – 2nd prize Poetry Comp 2017).

Jane Lovell is the Poetry Society Stanza Rep for Mid Kent. She has had work published in AgendaEarthlinesPoetry Wales, Magmathe North, the Honest UlstermanDark Mountain, The Lonely Crowd, Ink Sweat & Tears, Zoomorphic and Elementum.
Jane’s poetry has also appeared in various anthologies including Templar’s MillIn the Cinnamon Corners from Cinnamon Press, Liquorice Fish Books What Lies Within, Zoomophic’s DriftfishDiversifly from Fair Acre Press and One for the Road from Smith Doorstop.
Jane was awarded the Flambard Prize in 2015, won 1st prize in the South Downs Poetry Competition 2017 and won the Wealden Literary Festival 2018 Writing Competition. In 2018 she was also joint winner of the Coast to Coast to Coast pamphlet competition. She has been shortlisted for the Basil Bunting Prize, the Wenlock Poetry Prize and Canterbury Poet of the Year and has been a runner up in the Poetry on the Lake’s Silver Wyvern award, the BBC Proms Poetry Competition, the Bare Fiction Prize and the Wisehouse International Poetry Award.

Metastatic is available to purchase from the Against the Grain Press website.

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