Middleton, Emily

El Alto Fairytale

Where did you say
you wanted to capture the portrait?
In the backyard, when the sun sets?
Looking mournful?
...thick ochre dust coating our throats,
coughing in time with each step;
the rubbish-riddled pavements
flanked by funeral parlours
plying their trade with neon crosses...

You see, we were shut out of the house
(no reason given – lack of food, I suppose)
aged six and nine respectively.

...Continues >
Wilkinson, Ben - Sonnet


Sheffield’s spun in an outbreak of half-hearted snow –
the kind that doesn’t stick but blusters up streets
where cars, trams and bikes come and go
while workers trudge pavements on lunch breaks.
I don’t know what the hell I’ll say to you
when it comes to this catching up, four years on –
what else but to make small talk on the who
what where and whens of those years gone
like this flurry of sudden, street-sweeping whiteness?

The Cavendish spills open as the 95 pulls up:
six or so kids drift off towards campus
when suddenly my mobile’s relentless as gossip –

 Hi – no worries – I’ve booked us this place to eat…

          (hell, I know why I’m doing this…)
                                                      So, where shall we meet?

...Continues >
Abbott, Paul

Notting Hill Carnival

August bank holiday in Notting Hill,
Stuck in a two-thirds empty sushi bar,
I drink the cheapest soup dish on the menu
And discuss tactics: entry points, how far,
To walk or haggle, Who’s Who. Then the bill
Comes, and I pay. Pay cash, says Jimmy, then you
Won’t waste your cash on beer
. We all decide
Vaguely to join the one-way crowd outside,


And it begins, this packed conveyor belt
Of costumes, crowded streets, and creditcards.
Scaffolded billboards boast of low gun-crime,

...Continues >
Romer, Stephen


Trailing back, smitten through the small hours,
I thought of Anna’s bedhead languor
unchanged these many years,

her unreformed Romanticism
of the first wave – ein Uber-Kunst,
the All in One, the One in All ! –

her Decadence of the last,
draped women, green fairy, industrial smoke
from a Rimbaud pipe –

of her delectable heart-shaped lostness,
« What then is my Destiny ? », and
« I thought the Germans not much fun,

but then I came to live in France ! »

...Continues >
Robert, Saxton

Under the Greenwood Tree

See the songthrush and the barn owl
pray, each ensconced in its hood
of light: brown Franciscan cowl
whose alms, fat panoply of food,

swell to plenty in the twin globes
of the world, one eye at each side
of the head; while slits in robes
peer lustily at the unconfirmed bride,

equally watchful in their facial disc,
huge devil’s eyes computing the distance
from an angel, exterminating risk,
the iron will of happenstance

...Continues >

About Tower Poetry

Tower Poetry exists to encourage and challenge everyone who reads or writes poetry. Funded by a generous bequest to Christ Church, Oxford, by the late Christopher Tower, the aims of Tower Poetry are clear: to stimulate an enjoyment and critical appreciation of poetry, particularly among young people in education, and to challenge people to write their own poetry. Creative writing should be a central element in literary education, and learning about writing poetry can help students to think about ways of reading poetry.

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Robin Robertson's Sailing the Forest: Selected Poems, reviewed by Paul Batchelor

Robin Robertson was forty-one years old when he published his first collection of poems. Presumably it was his day-job as editor that led him to keep his apprentice work to himself; but whatever the reason, Robertson successfully dodged the indignity of growing up in public (a boast few poets can make...

...Continues >
Simon Armitage’s Paper Aeroplane: Selected Poems 1989–2014 reviewed by Matthew Sperling

Paper Aeroplane is Simon Armitage’s third selected poems. The first, simply called Selected Poems, was published by Faber in 2001, with 161 pages drawn from Armitage’s first eight collections, presented in the order in which the poems appeared in those volumes. The second, called The Shout, was...

...Continues >
Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting by Kevin Powers reviewed by Steven McGregor

‘I had a sense of being marooned,’ writes Graham Greene midway through his account of travelling in Mexico, The Lawless Roads.  When he reaches Chiapas, the ‘prison wall’ of the mountains, the dry season, the heat, the wary locals, his inability to speak Spanish, all catch him suddenly: ‘...

...Continues >
Simon Pomery reviews Ciaran Berry's The Dead Zoo

Dublin-born, Connecticut-based Ciaran Berry’s prize-winning first collection was The Sphere of Birds (2008);  The Dead Zoo continues the poet’s interest in science and nature, but struggles to move into new ground. His debut contained some striking descriptions of nature, and while there are...

...Continues >
The Hat-Stand Union by Caroline Bird reviewed by Richard O'Brien

'The people from the London suburbs don't believe in God,' writes Caroline Bird in her fourth collection, The Hat-Stand Union. It's the opening line of a poem called 'Genesis', and could serve as an origin point for the concerns of the whole volume. Speaking in the first-person plural, Bird's voice...

...Continues >

Poetry Matters magazine

Poetry Matters is an exciting on-line poetry magazine which provides a fresh, dynamic perspective on poetry issues through a mix of news, reviews and comment. It should appeal to students in the final stages of their secondary education, but its content and scope will also be of interest and relevance to the wider poetry community.

Read more

Latest Audio

Listen to the prizewinners read their poems from recent Christopher Tower Poetry Competitions.

Listen to 'Feather - small and still', one of the 2009 prizewinning poems, by Sophie Stephenson-Wright, set to music by Jonathan Pitkin and sung by Heather Uren, accompanied
by Guy Newbury - first performed on 24 March 2010.


Latest Video

2014 prizewinners read their poems; the Dean of Christ Church and Mrs June Tower in conversation about Christopher Tower and Tower Poetry.

2012 prize-giving introduced by Mishtooni Bose; Christopher Reid talks about the poetry; John Cartwright presents the prizes; and the winner, Sarah Fletcher from The American School in London, reads her poem 'Papa's Epilogue'.

'Feather -- small and still', one of the shortlisted poems from Tower Poetry's 2009 competition -- Villanelle - by Sophie Stephenson-Wright, set to music by Jonathan Pitkin and sung by Christ Church undergraduate, Heather Uren, accompanied by Guy Newbury. Part 1.

Tower Poetry's 2010 competition winner, Emily Harrison, reading Love has no Larynx.