No Disposals


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Siobhan Harvey

A Book Removed from the National Library is a Ghost

They don’t belong here, except in words. The ghost
is housed in their stories, lines of narrative

poetry and memoirs resurrecting the displaced
lives they’ve otherwise erased. All this is invisible:

the daily retreat into the study; the sanctuary
found in characters who don’t exist,

except in words; the spirit bolstered
by every rejection-letter. The deep scars

no one sees; the blood oozing from
open wounds no one notices: these

the ghost shapes into inspiration, then writes.
Through the witching-hours and spells of

self-doubt, they endure ... materialising
a book, frail as fuse-wise, brilliant as

its illumination. Belonging is found in
a library where it awaits moments of request.

For to demand a book is to assimilate the word,
pages, ideas, theories, mind, author, study, home

and whakapapa of everything which enabled it to be.
Then, to remove it? Here’s an emptiness which haunts

the library always, a trace absence – a filament
broken – of a book, and its ghost exiled from

matter - words, pages, ideas, theories, mind, study,
home, whakapapa and everything - unknown to us now.


Siobhan Harvey has publised eight books of poetry and creative nonfiction (Ghosts OUP, 2021). She has won several fellowships and prizes, and been honoured overseas with various awards. She is a lecturer in Creative Writing.