Charlotte Eichler is an award-winning poet based in West Yorkshire, UK. Her work has appeared in magazines and anthologies including Carcanet's New Poetries VIII (2021), The Island Review, PN Review and The Rialto. In 2020 she won the Barjeel Poetry Prize. Her debut pamphlet, Their Lunar Language, came out with Valley Press in 2018 and was one of the Poetry School's books of the year.
An introduction to Charlotte's work by the poet Laura Scott can be read over on Carcanet's New Poetries VIII blog.
Their Lunar Language
‘Their Lunar Language infolds named and imaginary, near and far-flung places. It assembles a disquieting array of feminine characters, later bringing in masculine figures of tenderness and fragility. This creates a powerful authorial perspective, not mistakable for any other voice. Brides and cuttlefish, wayward or broken forms of love, woodlands transposable with human manufacture: this is modern pastoral, not nostalgic, and well beyond the ordinary domestic lyric.’
– Vahni Capildeo
‘Every time you feel like you know where you're headed with this gorgeous-looking pamphlet something comes along and jabs you in the neck. Whether the little girl with her collection of tortured insects, the brooches of milk teeth, or the unchanging views of Prague in the red View-Master – there’s a kind of spooky dream world here, full of uncomfortable detail, beautifully rendered. More please!’
‘Their Lunar Language is a timely and discomfiting exploration of our ambivalent interactions with the non-human – and with each other. Eichler exposes our uneasy relationship with the natural world with subtlety and originality. [Hers] is a voice that deserves to be heard in this increasingly fractured world, in which so much is at stake.’
– Sarah Westcott, review for the Poetry School
Trapping Moths With My Father
You come to life as you name them:
camouflaged by day, like you.
Endlessly arriving on our beams of light
drifts of them
printing the white sheet.
Our heads lean close in this midnight silver
and our breath
curls together in the cold.
their dark wings are inscribed
with eyes and feathers,
hieroglyphs you understand but can’t explain.
They speak a lunar language
and are trying to get back.
Aunts drink tea for hours – they have no mirrors or clocks
but each other's faces tell the time.
Why do their hands shake and rattle the cups in their saucers?
We prowl the flat – the hallway dark with years of coats,
the dining room with carpets on the walls.
Each visit we think something will be different
but there's always the same red View-Master
with unchanging views of Prague, and no TV.
We draw elaborate tunnels and hold funerals for bees;
the cheese plant grows towards the window.
Our aunts show us a glass case of curled-up figures.
All we want is the china cockatoo and toy koalas.
Their arms come towards us lined with numbers –
we wriggle away from their touch.