Alicia Stubbersfield is one of the judges for the 2012 Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and also co-judges the writing section of The Koestler Trust Arts in Prison prizes for the northern region. She lectures in Creative Writing at Liverpool John Moores University, after living and working in Yorkshire, Wales and Gloucestershire. The Yellow Table is her fourth collection. She has been published in many magazines such as The Rialto, Magma, Smiths Knoll, The North, Ambit and The SHOp. She has read at and run workshops for Ledbury and Aldeburgh Poetry Festivals and for the South Bank Centre.
Poetry Review described her first collection The Magician’s Assistant as ‘confidently sensual and subtle.’
Maura Dooley described her poetry as ‘a world in which Marc Chagall, Angela Carter and Stanley Spencer might meet. Her world is witty, moving, affectionate and gaudy yet it is a place where the brilliance of the colours is haunted by what lies in the shadows. Her gaze is unflinching…’
Anne Cluysenaar says ‘It is rare to find a poet like Alicia Stubbersfield for whom real life, its untidy pains and delights and uncertainties are genuine, rich, exquisite material for poetry.’
Gillian Clarke says of her latest collection: The Yellow Table casts an alert eye on the lost and the lonely – the crazy boy pianist, the bright boy who became a drug dealer – in poems jewelled with images that surprise. A statue is someone waking from an anaesthetic; grief is a goldfish ‘quivering’. She conjures the times with period detail – that yellow Formica table, a red windcheater, the smell of shoe polish; the dispersals of divorce and breakage, then repair – life opening like a white peony in her own cupped hands, viper’s bugloss, like ‘splinters of sea, far inland.’ It is a humane collection about human vulnerability.’
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The Yellow Table
My mother’s defiance against post-war monochrome,
splayed legs sturdy on the lino’s primary colours,
four matching yellow chairs made of squashy plastic.
All wipe-clean, mid-century-modern surfaces.
My cousin from America swung back on his chair
until he fell, biting through his lip against the table edge.
My mother and her new friend, Audrey, drank wine and laughed
in the kitchen, sewing mini dresses for Audrey to dance at the Ritz.
The table came with my mother when she moved in with us,
we took it to Cheshire, Yorkshire and, after she died, to Wales.
When we divorced I kept it in my garage, the yellow smudged
from all the kitchens I’d painted, fifty years’ general wear and tear.
Now I’m throwing it away. No point imagining eBay auctions
or doing it up. I unscrew four pale wood legs, the extending flaps
from each end and place the top along the skip side,
yellow Formica facing outwards, still gaudy, still doing its best.