Natalie Perman studies English and German at St John’s College, Oxford. She is a 2017 and 2018 winning and commended Foyle Young Poet and has won the Forward Student Critics’ Award as well as the Mapleton-Bree prize 2020 for work in the creative arts. She has been published with the Poetry Society such as as first-prize winner of the ‘The Poetics of the Archive’ and ‘Civilisation and Its Discontents’ challenges on Young Poets Network. She has served as Editor-in-chief of the Oxford Review of Books and is a current Deputy Editor of The Isis Magazine, the longest-running student magazine in the UK, a Poetry Reader for The Adroit Journal and Oxford Editor of The Mays Anthology. She is published or is forthcoming with bath magg, The White Review and The ASH, among others.
New Voices First Pamphlet Award winner 2021
Natalie won her Award in our New Voices competition in 2021. Her first collection, Cataclysm, is due to be published as a pamphlet by Frosted Fire in the Autumn.
Below are two poems from Natalie’s forthcoming pamphlet Cataclysm
The Poem in the Locket
Winner of the ‘Bloodaxe Archive Challenge #1’ on Young Poets Network
After ‘The Photo in the Locket (For Louise)’ by Jackie Kay
There are things I don’t tell her
private things, words eaten
in sleeping bookshelves,
a waitress watering plastic flowers.
My new friends speak fast
write less often; they come over
and strip the sheets, leave the house
bare. We smile and eat alone
rushing through stages of life
in torpor. In a film they carried
powdered sugar in urns like ashes `
and I stopped having sugar cubes.
Once I bought an egg that was not
all yolk; I cried in the laundry machine.
I’m ashamed I haven’t kept this.
I dream of dressing moments up absurdly
in silk and crimson; but I search in circles
for the bus and keep missing it. I want
to show hummingbirds flickering in and out
of view sipping sweet sugar-water and swooning
not when I ran into shallow water and was
submerged. Not even the clouds rippled.
I want to have some physical remembrance;
a black and white orange carved
the shape of my grandmother
an ode to my grandfather’s depression
his rage engraved in a cherry pit.
I forget things. Sometimes I see
the steps to the old house shining
like a clavicle, green buzzing like
In the locket I’m in the waiting room again.
It smells of instant coffee and printer
paper and the stairs keep stretching further
upwards. The doctor congratulates me
on my recovery and the stairs. The room
only has two walls. He’s trying to release me
but the file has been
forgotten, the papers
The Disappearing Act/performed to mediocre success/not a scatter of applause but/the groan of a classroom losing one more/as the desk had a line of sweat/where your hands had been/polystyrene pants on the carpet/like in a dream where you are only half-dressed/and we folded cardboard chairs/into suitcases of worn leather/Oxfam tokens and the badge from when you volunteered/at the local museum/which served cake that coated the tongue like butter or/ash/if your life was a movie it was/an indie production/spending far over budget/Marvel or Disney or Pixar/sponsoring an empty space.