Jo Burns & Emily S Cooper

Jo Burns & Emily S Cooper

The Conversation is a collaborative collection written by Jo Burns and Emily S Cooper that centres around three of Picasso’s lovers: Marie-Thérèse Walter, Dora Maar and Françoise Gilot.


Dora, life hasn’t made space for us in the time
we’ve been bigger than stars and vows. Straddling

the years, his duplicity plays out. Between old
world and new we wake, ashes in our mouths.

Wildfire, you started out full of direction
but a man like this has seen enough smoke

to know both sides of a story, how to divide two by one
and especially that three never stops being odd.

Hearts aren’t as gentle as we imagined.
You could say we were tributaries trying to entwine

and that infidelity kept us both alive, although
evidently the wrong person wins sometimes.

As a poet put into words, the things that destroy
are the things you desire. I’ve tried on your face

as my own skin, not unlike yearning for the already taken.
I’ve learnt how disposable I really am, how want is a verb

of narrow perspective. The truth is cubic, a split
dimension, a ring, a child, an artist’s muddy mochas.

Dora, tell me how to end this poem.
Should I tell my daughter love is never enough?

[Nature Morte]

All my life I have carried a field camera
The weight of it was a child by my side

The things it steals from the world belong
Not to me but to the streets and faces

The botanics and the piss against the wall
You ask me about love, Marie-Thérèse?

It is as fleeting as the negatives I drag
From inside my Rolleiflex baby

You have sought permanence
In your own flesh. A mistake I think

You can pour yourself into multiplication
But this dilution must be acknowledged

The love he had for you diminished
As it must. We were tributaries

You sought to be a dam

JO BURNS grew up in Northern Ireland and now lives in Germany. Her pamphlet Circling for Gods was published by Eyewear, London. Her first collection White Horses was published in 2018 by Turas Press, Dublin. Twitter: @joburnspoems.

EMILY S COOPER has been published in the Stinging Fly, Poetry Ireland Review and Banshee, among others. She is writing a book on solitude and her first pamphlet Glass will be published by Makina Books in 2020.