Featured Poets, April 2018                     home page
 

Elizabeth Birchall       Robyn Curtis       Wendy French       Ruth Hanchett       Judith Kazantzis       Daphne Milne       Lynda O’Neill       Marg Roberts       Elizabeth Soule       Vivienne Tregenza       Merryn Williams

Elizabeth Birchall

Elizabeth is long retired from social work, management and policy research. In her beloved Cotswolds, she fills her time with writing, reading, gardening, friends and pressing governments to do better! Her poems have appeared in numerous literary and poetry magazines.

OXFORD UNITED:
Luminox, March, 2007

They set Broad Street ablaze last week,
Expelled the cars and bikes,
Brought in two ambulances in case.
Cowley and North Oxford, all ages, mixed
In slow and quiet amazement
Inching along the crowded street.
 
A flaring pendulum hung from a bamboo spire
And swung a thousand slow rotations
In notation of the city’s age.
Black against orange glow, children clung
To railings, agog at pots of fire swagged
From the Clarendon's sober pediment.
 
Blazing at each meridian and latitude, a sphere
Lit, vivified the New Bodleian hulk.
A telescopic crane stretched into the dark
Bearing a chandelier whose blaze
Extinguished the stars with infinitely more
Élan than the usual sodium lights.
 
The gale tore banners of flame
From braziers and stove pipes
Red, yellow, white hot.
Galaxies of sparks blew in the cold night
And wrapped around crowds wondering
To be allowed so intimate
With such untamed energy.

Elizabeth Birchall

Publications: The Forest That Sailed Away

tel: 01608 677271
 
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Robyn Curtis

Robyn Curtis is a poet and photographer living in Derbyshire where she frequents the hills and the cafes for places to find poems and pictures.

Arachne

See me now, a loathsome lob,
mantling the May
shrouding September in lurex knit,
each intricate design
mathematically marked
with my own round cob of a body.
 
My thread finer than any goddess’ silk,
its ductile strength bears the weight of creation;
my colours, luminous in sun-spectrum,
silvered by moonlight.
What do Athene’s dull-dyed wools have on me now?
 
I knew the game was up,
put the noose of silk around my own neck;
no one gets to outshine the gods, not even
with such displays of stunning craft.
 
But a quiver of my spinnerets
and a never-ending trail unreels –
lines for tightrope-walking; I tread out a trapeze web
maybe a funnel to catch a passing mite
or a sheet where a fly lands with heavy foot
and like a bite on an angler’s line
I am jerked awake to wrap it fast.
 
My web-work decorates the world –
all gods and mortals know its brilliance;
 
how each filament catches the dew
drop reflecting drop reflecting drop
and the whole world caught in its mirrors;
 
how my cobweb gauze can heal;
how patiently my many styles of silk
unreel in the night; I have my uses.
 
No one gets to outshine the gods –
but I have the last laugh
as I fling a line
into the glass air of morning.
 

Robyn Curtis

Poem published in Dawntreader Issue 40

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Wendy French

Wendy French is Chair of Lapidus, an organisation which promotes creative words for health and well-being, a facilitator for writing groups in healthcare settings and she works with Poet in the City to promote poetry and emotional wellbeing in secondary schools.

Wendy serves on the Second Light Network Committee. (see ‘More’ link below)

London Dry

A red bathmat destined for charity
lies in the moon’s path.
 
An empty bottle of gin floats
upright on bubble-less water.
 
Dressed in her best Harris Tweed
the colour of heather she’s dying
 
as she soaks in the bath. Her stale breath
and sauerkraut mouth will suggest
 
to the pathologist who teaches the art
of dissection that one’s own grief
 
isn’t so easy to stitch. In the half-lit orchard
moles bury themselves in the lawn.

Wendy French

Publications:
Splintering the Dark, Rockingham Press;
Sky over Bedlam, tall-lighthouse;
We Have a little Sister and She Hath No Breasts, tall-lighthouse

Address:
4 Myton Road
West Dulwich
London
SE21 8EB
 
web-pages on poetry p f
 
e-mail

more...

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Ruth Hanchett

Ruth Hanchett: ‘Endgame’ exemplifies how I seek economy of words, an approach that seems increasingly my own. My poems placed in competitions, magazines or anthologies have tended to be highly compressed. I find membership of the British Haiku Society helpful.

Endgame

Walked by your river this morning.
Sunless. Clouds longed to let go
their rain. Boats clung
to their moorings. Cafés closed.
 
Ward windows struggle to bring in
trees and sky – your river
too far away.
You lie in bed, soft-skinned
downy arms by your sides,
hair wispy as a dandelion clock,
whitely transparent, face bone-cheeked.
 
Your ‘yeses’ are baby birds,
tiny attempts to fly out
of your mind into mine. Your eyes
speak. You open your mouth
to be fed. Wait. Clamp it shut.
 

Ruth Hanchett

Endgame won the Segora International Poetry Prize in 2016

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Judith Kazantzis

Judith Kazantzis has published ten poetry books, including one Selected and, the latest, Just After Midnight (Enitharmon), and one novel. She was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Sussex University (2005/6) and, in 2007, received the Cholmondeley Award for poetic achievement.

Eurynome

You know how all the mares lift their tails
to the north wind to conceive.
So in any field around here,
the mares stand in rows,
brown, palomino and chestnut and bay,
an elegant bay with four black points.
She swishes her long tail
and the old north wind takes a run at her,
huffing across the summer’s trodden grass
of the huge meadow: at first a mere seeming
heat quiver over the distant oak trees.
And the oak trees, another row, half haloes, far, black,
Knowlands Wood in the north-west,
a ridge of rich black seed arrayed
inside the pomegranate luscious in the west…

Well, the horses under the hedge,
their big flanks to a sudden wind squall
charioteering out of a hint,
the storm maybe.

Judith Kazantzis

Publications:
Just After Midnight, Enitharmon, 2004, ISBN 1904634028. £8.95
The Odysseus poems: Fictions on The Odyssey of Homer, Cargo Press, 1999, ISBN 1899980075. £8.50
Swimming through The Grand Hotel, Enitharmon, 1997, ISBN 1900564203. £7.95
Of Love and Terror, Saqi Books, 2002, ISBN 0863563163.
Selected Poems 1977-1992, Sinclair-Stevenson, 1995, ISBN 185619552-X. (Amazon)

Address:
32 St Anne’s Crescent
Lewes
BN7 1SB
 
Judith Kazantzis web-site
 
Judith Kazantzis blog
 
e-mail

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Daphne Milne

Daphne Milne is a member of Falmouth Poetry Group and OOTA, Fremantle, WA. Her work is published in various magazines and she runs occasional workshops in St Ives, gives readings at various local litfests.

Storm St Ives

Sand peppercorns against windows
counterpoints the wind’s echoing roar.
Below the sea makes its own landscapes
boils like grey/green lava.
Tomorrow the world will be scourged
into a different shape.

Daphne Milne

Poem published in Acumen, Issue 83

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Lynda O’Neill

Lynda O’Neill was born and brought up in Portsmouth. She lives in Winchester with her husband and has two children. She has been published by South, Poetry Nottingham International, Iota and The New Writer.

Double English

Her flowing clothes were always black –
never a twin set. They swished as she
patrolled the corridors,
crunching Polos and tutting.
She had high frequency hearing
and an x-ray gaze behind her
spit-on-the-brush mascara.
Other teachers wore no lipstick
or played safe with dolly mixture pink.
She favoured an Edith Piaf gash.
 
As we suffered Assembly on canvas chairs
she sat with the Catholics in the Library.
More laughter than scripture, they said,
and a bottle of Gordons in her bag
with its crocodile snap.
 
We’d known our place since the age of eleven
but she thought we deserved her best.
‘I’m going to have a bash at
Middle English with this Chaucer,’ she’d say.
Next week her ice blue eyes
would rock’n’roll with warmth
as she smacked her Revlon lips
over a chapter of Pride and Prejudice.

Lynda O’Neill

Poem published: South 37, ISSN 0959-1133

Lynda O’Neill at poetry p f
 
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Marg Roberts

Marg Roberts has been reading and writing poetry for about 15 fifteen years. She lives in Leamington Spa and loves cycling, gardening and family.

Question

This hard, upholstered chair is not mine.
Through the windows men and women
get out of cars to go shopping.
 
The door is not our door.
In the corner of the room is an aquarium
Angel fish, Zebra fish and glints of colour.
We have a dog called Roger; we aren’t keen on fish.
 
Perfume fills the air like a disguise.
Two women
In uniform step into the room
Though no one is ill.
 
You frown.
You pat my hand.
I ask, ‘How are you?’
You do not answer.
In the palm of my hand a biscuit is melting.
I lick the chocolate
As delicately as a kitten.
 
Next to me, an elderly couple sit close on a settee.
She slips a hand into the front of his trousers.
Leaves
Fly
Off the trees.
 
You are frowning. Your lips move.
A woman says, ‘Time for tea.’
I get up from my chair and follow her.
A voice inside me, asks,
‘How did you know I was here?’
 
 
 
Footnote: I wrote this poem as a way of trying to understand my mother’s experience of dementia.
 

Marg Roberts

on display in Wilde’s Wine Bar, the Parade, Leamington Spa

Marg Roberts blog
 
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Elizabeth Soule

Elizabeth Soule studied English and Philosophy at Nottingham University and taught English for many years. She is a member of the Suffolk Poetry Society and has had work published in the Norwich Writers’ Circle Anthology.

December 2011, a Memory of August 1968
   for Vaclav Havel

In a starless chill before dawn
we stood by the water’s edge,
tiny points of candle-light,
as a solitary flute sang out our misery
to the vastness of a dark sea.
 
Some had crouched over the radio all night
and guessing the worst,
had woken us
to stumble from tents to our hopeless vigil,
while hundreds of miles away
another kind of darkness rumbled over the frontier,
grinding the dreams of Spring
beneath remorseless tracks.
 
Then in bitter, barren silence
one by one each candle was extinguished,
our futile tribute
to those who dared to dream.
 
But hope and freedom are seeds that will not sleep
and the dust of dreams is fertile ground.
Small bright shoots split stone
Shatter concrete,
their progress more inexorable
than any trundling tank.
 
The brave gardener whose fearless tending
of improbable seedlings
gave us back belief,
now returns himself to the nurturing earth
and reminds us
that when the darkness seems most complete,
dawn is not so far away.
 

Elizabeth Soule

Poem published in PEN anthology Write to be Counted, 2017

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Vivienne Tregenza

Vivienne Tregenza is working towards a first collection. She won first prize (Formal Poetry) in 2008 and third prize (Silver Wyvern) in 2010 at Poetry on the Lake, Orta, Italy.

The Kiss

Did you dream of being my lover
As you chipped at the white marble of my flesh?
Was this Paulo your former, younger
Self? Did you think you could truly cherish
My sculpted body? Alone in your studio,
Your rugged frame reflected in the glass,
Cherry blossom edging through the open window,
How could I, your student and disciple, ask
You to hold me in that perfect moment
For a lifetime? In the mid-day heat
You handed me some wine, some bread.
I gave you an apple, watched you eat.
 
Later, you moved on to newer sculptures, purer stone;
While I have crumbled, never learned to stand alone.
 
 
     C.C. Asile de Montevergues 1930

Vivienne Tregenza

Poem published: French Literary Review, (ed. B. Dordi)

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Merryn Williams

Merryn Williams is the editor of The Interpreter’s House magazine, founded in 1996. Her third collection, The First Wife’s Tale (Shoestring Press), was long-listed for the Welsh Book of the Year 2007.

My Cousin
Edith Hemp d. Bournemouth 1930

She came here–not to rest–to sweep the stairs
and empty chamber pots. The gilded chairs
still stand here, the enormous mirrors throw
my face back as they did hers, aeons ago.
Down these plush corridors she moved, her feet
not echoing–dusting, leaving all things neat.
Somewhere her midget room, a great way up
these stairs. Invisible beneath her cap
to Bournemouth’s guests, but I know who she was;
my flesh, my blood, thrown early from the nest.
A small skimped woman when she was alive,
all siblings lost, unmatched at forty-five.
No trace, not one. Still stands the Grand Hotel
but now she rests. Somewhere in Bournemouth still.
 

Merryn Williams

Publications:
The First Wife’s Tale, Shoestring Press, 2007;
Jane Austen’s The Watsons, Pen Press, 2006;
The Latin Master’s Story, Rockingham Press, 2000;
The Chalet Girls Grow Up, Plas Gwyn Books, 1998

Address:
19 The Paddox
Oxford
OX2 7PN
 
tel: 01865 511259
 
Merryn Williams website
 
web-pages on poetry p f.
 
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