Interim Nation


Identity, language and landscape – and the poet’s hopes for an autonomous Cornwall – remain at the core of this collection; but there are also new expeditions and inventive forms here as Kent looks towards France, Brittany, New Zealand, America – even outer space – to offer an ‘interim’ picture of the poet’s spiritual journey.


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Interim Nation is Alan M. Kent’s first collection of poems since his acclaimed selected work, The Hope of Place, appeared in 2010.

“His work should be widely read…”

Times Literary Supplement

“Kent’s verbal artillery extends over a spectacular range.”

Western Morning News

“Even the domestic becomes political in Kent’s verse.”

About the Author
  • Alan M. Kent was born in St Austell. He studied at the universities of Cardiff and Exeter. He is a lecturer in Literature with the Open University and Visiting Lecturer in Celtic Studies at the University of Coruña, Galicia. As well as being a poet, he is also a novelist and playwright. His latest play, National Minority, was toured by Gwary Teg Theatre in 2015. He is Series Editor of Francis Boutle Publisher’s collection of anthologies, the Lesser Used Languages of Europe, and co-editor of New Perspectives in Cornish and Celtic Studies.
Mermaid’s Purse

From this distance,
on the tide-line,
you could be a black, horned beetle;
your membrane shimmering with salt,
and ready to snap those jagged jaws tight shut.

This, or a tiny fruit bat taking rest,
woven in leather and bladderwrack,
you are a minute Gothic structure.
Strewn on expanse of strand,
you’ve evolved as if to creep and float at once.

Closer, and I know you
as the clasp of the Mermaid,
as much a part of her,
as mirror and comb, scale and tail.
You glisten the way she did, to poor Mathey Trewella.

Black, brown, olive and yellow,
you carry a beard of seaweed,
or maybe even ringlets of your hair,
gone wild and wanton in current and tides.
Now you are adrift on white sand and grey pebble.

All of this is lore though,
carved into bench ends,
told by men to make the world magical,
the way humans do with everything
they do not understand, or wish not to know.

Yet you know your own poetry purse.
You are egg capsule,
fragile case of collagen,
your hatchling already gone,
floating now with real beasts of the deep.
Tendrils clasp at air and nothing,
showing that your rays are bred.
Proteins decompose; myths deconstruct.
Soon, on the high tide
you will be pulled back to your watery world.

Now in the dryness of my hand
my fingers feel your knots and swirls.
The purse carries no coins, no plunder.
Instead, in its small nation
is broad continuity of life; embryo of us all.


Number of pages115