Mary MacRae’s second collection
published Aug 10 by Second Light Publications. See order form (pdf file) for discount offers
Listen to Gill McEvoy’s poem Glass Bird in a Shop Window (read by Anne Stewart)
see Dilys’s Guest Blog on Ambitious Women Poets
info on our 2006 major anthology of womens’s poetry: Images of Women
Need help with travel to Second Light events? See Second Light Mary MacRae ‘Access to Poetry’ Fund
August completes our annual rounds of the Poem of the Month competition. Dilys Wood, founder and co-ordinator of Second Light judges the final and she has selected Jill Townsend’s Sun Block as the overall winner of Round 7. A recording of the poem will join our slowly-growing digital archive in due course.
There was the usual agonising over an overall choice as all the poems have that edge of sheer originality and expressive language that got them chosen for Poem of the Month in the first place. My reasons for selecting Jill Townsend’s Sun Block is that, within its short span of 15 lines, it springs a number of surprises in terms of both ideas and metaphorical language. The poem is full of edginess and, in fact, goes back and fore – conveying see-saw feelings of hope and anxiety which never quite resolve. I liked the way the last line doesn’t try to put the lid on things (as some last lines do rather too obviously) but leaves us with a mystery – “If I cry the grass scatters”. The realistic picture of a swan, “his little orange paddles / powering” leads on to the Leda legend, and rightly or wrongly the grass references in the poem took me to the Book of Isaiah and the idea that flesh is grass, which may relate to the “shuddering / glimpse of no future” in lines 13-14.
At last the sun gives some warmth.
My body unwinds, learns itself
sinuous as the river.
Sweet grass flows beneath my hand
like the hair of an overheated child.
Through half-closed eyes I see
a swan, his little orange paddles
powering against the calm,
the barely resisting water.
My eyes close. Seed heads hiss
and part to the sudden shadow
of his spreading wings:
glimpse of no future trembles through me
and a voice saying Easy, Leda.
If I cry the grass scatters.
First published in the Agenda on-line supplement to the Rilke issue, Vol.42 3-4
and in print in Seeking Refuge ed. Jan Fortune (Cinnamon press)