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Tracey Rhys



the poet

With a New Writer’s bursary from Literature Wales, Tracey Rhys finished her first pamphlet, Teaching a Bird to Sing. Its theme of parenting a child with autism, told through poetry, would later feature in two touring theatre productions, and as part of an exhibition at The Senedd. Tracey’s work can be found in journals from Poetry Wales and New Welsh Review to The Lonely Crowd and Ink, Sweat & Tears, and she's no stranger to being long and shortlisted for poetry competitions – the Cinnamon Press Pamphlet Competition, Poetry Wales Pamphlet Competition and Cardiff International Poetry Competition among them. Tracey was also among the 20 winners of The Poetry Archive’s WordView Now! competition in 2020. Her first full collection, 21st-Century Bathsheba, will be published by Parthian in 2025.

the poems


00:00 / 02:07

Flood woke up on the wrong side of her bed, flowed over the bank with displeasure. There was power in her upsurge, the great swell of her being. Birds who waded in, the egrets and cormorants, recalled that once Flood was happy, but now was better. By better, they meant Ocean. Flood was broad and tidal estuary. She left a salty ring around their beaks and gave them shells. Flood was beautiful, they said. She should stop and feel it. But how could Flood pause when she was all reflection? Moon-driven, surging to sea.


Flood recalled her first taste of tarmac. Compared it to fennel. Preferred it to liquorice. She drawled, No need for glass when you have fibreglass. Or slate stacks, when you have those aching aluminium greys: the skeletons of automobiles. Ever since she’d drunk her first bollard, Flood had regretted concrete. The way it sunk into her pit and stayed there, trolley-bound for years.   


Stories began circulating that Flood had been a stream, had thought big and got lucky. She was fast becoming folklore. It was true that she’d tried all the tricks; consuming lakes, spouting dams. I am braver than I know, Flood told the starlings. Bigger than is necessary. Beaks rippled in. The sun gave her prisms. Soon, she was run through with flowing, even as she was imbibed. I am always inside other bodies, she confided to the water rats on the underside of her skin. 

Interview with a Flood

00:00 / 01:41

I appreciate you must be busy …

Well, I’m nothing without my fans. 

And your fans love you. 

Why, thank you.

They want me to ask what your favourite colour is?

My favourite colour is calcite. Pearly, like the inside of a tooth, all pulp and tusk. It reminds me of better days; snow quartz skies, rain on the way, white horses rising to pummel the hard brick houses.

Where do you go on holiday?

The fat berg. 

Everyone will be surprised by that! I think we imagined the Maldives … 

The fat berg is an island destination, a busman’s holiday if you like. Not everyone’s choice but I confess to enjoy oozing up through a drain grille, along waste pipes to vanity units, coating myself slick on the gunge loaded with hair in the trap. The limescale on the U-bend is a good day out.

What keeps you going?

It has to be the Blob Fish. Have you seen how ugly they look, dead on land? That nose! Almost human. 4,000 feet under the sea they don’t look half bad. I live by that. 

What are you afraid of? 


What advice have you got for our youngsters, starting out? 

Get yourself a spot, it doesn’t have to be nice. Grow into it. To be small is no small thing. I always felt as big as I could be. As if the air was with me, walls parting at the dam.


00:00 / 00:43

                        Though she’s old enough to have forgotten      

                        all the embarrassing beginnings, 

                        Flood lets them in at night,      


                        which is when the wind rushes 

                        at her edges and the riverbank 

                        is audible in its silver spoons. 

                        Flood remembers her great 

                        shames, burns with them. 

                        Her vast stupidities.

                        Didn’t she once 

                        boast to the moon 

                        that she had the bigger tides? 

                        She pours herself into 

                        the earth, spreads herself 

                        thinner than vapour. 

                        Nothing will find her until morning, 

                        when the tinny glug of her belly  

                        will answer the flushing loos.

Publishing credits

Flood: Poetry Wales (Vol. 56, No. 3)

Interview with a Flood / Shame:

  exclusive first publication by iamb

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