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> > > Sean Burn: Is that a bruise or a tattoo?
front cover of sean burn's poetry collection includes an image of a shadow of a figure falling across a path

Sean Burn's Is that a bruise or a tatoo is published by Shearsman Press

Sean Burn's third and latest full volume of poetry 'Is that a bruise or a tattoo?' has just been published by Shearsman Press. 

The poetry ranges from subjects like the great punk collage artist Linder, the little-known Cumbrian sculptor / painter Lorna Graves and a moving tribute to the incredible Tuvan singer Sainkho Namchylak. 

It includes 'bastilles englan' - a forceful multi-voiced psychiatric hospital break-out based on Sean's own history. This text was the basis for his live-art show of the same name which has had outings in Britain and abroad.

Follow this link to order the book or download a pdf sampler of his writing.

You can also hear him reading a number of poems from the book at

ravenswing (helvellyn) - for jeremy hilton

raven wings the blues above a rock giving finger to red tarn, striding edge
i eat baguette welsh-buttered, drink nicaragua fairtrade coffee
watch from wind-hollow the feathering shriek as winged-beat rolls
this is not co-ordinate, not an interstices, not a gridpoint
is as close to perfection as it gets, climbing out above it all
where raven tumbles a switchback shake, shimmies its feathers
reincarnation of elmore james burning his fingers taut up strings
raven slicing air as life depended, in flagrante again and in love
and with each sweetmeat moment, mix your exact beats per minute
your darkest shade, oil slick as, coming in under crackle of radar
truth feathers a reinforced aria, love of wing mediates love of wind
climbing out above it all - romantic or corny - i know, i know
on the other side is thirlmere - the most natural of lake and manmade
and folks washed from under and everywhere stone, stones stitching up the land
the lines of road, the lining of reservoir, lines of drystone wall, walling
and penned in fields, in cars, penned in, and two black sheep graze united utilities stone
and we tread volunteer-repaved ‘permissive paths’ - access a privilege not a right
walk treeline, bracken line, rough grass, grasses, knotts, pikes, crags
raven now lazying further off, gliding down to something like ten bpm
and though place-names mark the shift of language, land marked to the passage
of peoples, this palimpsest, i am above the stitch, climbing out above it all
- apart from my own breath, but everywhere the seam of stone
stone seaming up the land, the seam of stone stitching up the land
and winds arrow, coiled springs of air and wings flayed, there’s an energy to it all
ravens night is that pure dark only north, moors, rocks, scar can bring
an absence, its not a colour, its a leaching, a bleaching away
raven pearls the ten pence pale moon, bleached so far off, falling
i too have fallen many times, have fucked up, but above all i am
don’t belong to the canon of english, of literature, or a cannon of
or some small-arms fire or bayonet or rpg or non-existent wmd of
my north-words are simply me too in experiencing sadness, joy
wondering what its all about, wandering the north, finding how
before owning our own labour, we own our voice, our voices, plural
don’t matter whether its printed, spoke, signed, sung, danced, txted, performed
set out in form, runs down the page, across the page, to the edge or not,
whether its solid inkstone block or spattered, its voice, voices becoming
storm, a howl, protest, collision, elisions, harebells of voices, honeysuckling voices,
these blaeberry of voice, fruit, many flower, hung drop, a collective, a lullaby,
the jarrow marchers, the mass trespassers, we march, our voices trespass
raven lets out shriek, pure hysteria, a scar, a star, a star, a scar, one voice, many voices