The Lovely Disciplines (Seren Books, 2017)

Martyn’s most recent full collection of original poems is called The Lovely Disciplines, published by Seren Books in Summer 2017.

A Boat..._quicksand coverAn Italian translation of ‘The renovation near Sansepolcro’ from this collection can be viewed here.

‘Stuart Buck’s review of this collection for Write Out Loud can be read here.

D A Prince’s review of this collection for London Grip can be read here.

Ian Brinton’s review of the book for Tears in the Fence can be read here.

Blurb: Martyn Crucefix’s most recent collection steps straight into a contemporary world where cursors blink, people Skype, consult Google Street View, make erotically-charged visits to the opticians, find ATM receipts in secondhand books of poetry. Acuteness of observation is one of the ‘lovely disciplines’ in this beautifully accomplished book. Poems of flair and delicacy become haunting, slowed-down, perfectly realised waking dreams including a motor-biking boy-racer, strange meetings at Heathrow and images from Crucefix’s native Wiltshire: a toll cottage, the West Kennet long barrow, the weir at Tellisford.

Language itself is the other ‘lovely discipline’ of this book and Crucefix’s untrammelled, unpunctuated lines ebb and flow with an economy and grace that has been honed through his recent translations of Rainer Maria Rilke and the Daodejing. At the centre of the book poems trace family grief in the decline of an older generation as in the cool yet achingly precise description of the unearthing of a mother’s ashes. But Crucefix’s fearless intelligence anticipates a wider, more joyful reconciliation of opposites; in The Lovely Disciplines the ultimate value is love experienced “as if each was at last all creatures / and all things all empty ways / all stones all metals and all streams”.

Here is an audio recording of Martyn reading ‘R_O_M_J_X’ from this collection:

Here are two further poems from this collection:


Skype  (first published in Stand)

Over the patchwork levels of eastern England

that familiar image

of a banking Spitfire beyond their shoulders

between them it roars

as the war bound them sixty years together

loving to talk though struggling still

to unmute to get the camera going

yet it’s better this way

since he sees who’s talking more easily

he can be more involved

though sometimes the laptop screen

is angled so I catch only the crowns

of grey heads then a giant hand

reaches forward to re-adjust

re-appears holding The Wiltshire Times

its crashes and floods and marriages

and something else too blurred

even if the connection holds

but if it wavers faces split to stained glass

or cubist fragments or fairground mirrors

still talking blithely asking me still

if I can see these crocuses

the lawn in sunshine their bird table

where sparrows in pairs come for food and drink


Boy-racer  (first published in Magma)

It’s this has been

snarling about our bed

shearing sleep

to fourths and sixteenths


until we crack

we climb in the car

head for the beach

he roars back to mock us


in a burst of cylinders


bobbing back-wheel

bouncing dangerously


skids onto the road

from some blind track

this boy-racer bare-

headed breaking sixty


squirms in his seat

dodging flies and grit

grimacing back at us

as he whips left


right now he guns

through glittering traffic

his face all grin

above a dark brake light


left arm threading

a black helmet by his side

speed and dust please

his bald black bride