Tim Craven was raised in Stoke-on-Trent and lives in Edinburgh. He has an MFA from Syracuse University and a PhD from the University of Edinburgh, which explored the characterisation of mental illness in Confessional poetry. His poems have appeared in The Scotsman, The London Magazine, The Poetry Review, The Rialto and the SPL's Best Scottish Poems anthology. His pamphlet, Lake Effect, is published by Tapsalteerie.
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My job is to pick; I am a picker.
I harvest stock from the shelves
like ears of corn and pass it
to the ringer at the register
who compiles the orders
and onwards to the amender
who checks the consignment
against the warehouse manifest.
I staple a receipt to the pick-sheet
so it can be removed
by a dispatcher down the line.
A knot of days becomes a week;
weeks pile up like shed skins.
In the beautiful bite of coolness
at 5.30 am, before the sun hits its stride,
before the streets teem, a partial moon
hangs like a half-eaten egg in sky
the pink of a healing wound.
Change feels graspable.
I walk to my shift, my back
worked stiff from yesterday’s;
the only remedy is more work.
I pick. I pass. Repeat. Careful
not to suggest improvements.
Bone: the toil has reached the bone.
'I am thrilled and immensely grateful that my writing has been recognised in this way. The award is a terrific opportunity to focus on my poems as I work towards compiling my first full collection.'