Featured Poets, April 2018                     home page
 

Elizabeth Birchall       Helen T Curtis       Wendy French       Ruth Hanchett       Judith Kazantzis       Daphne Milne       Lynda O’Neill       Marg Roberts       Elizabeth Soule       Vivienne Tregenza       Merryn Williams

You may also wish to listen to poem recordings that have been added to our (small but growing!) digital archive. We have poems there by:
 
Nadine Brummer, Daphne Gloag, Jennie Osborne, Mimi Khalvati, Lottie Kramer, Gill McEvoy (read by Anne Stewart), Maggie Norton, Elizabeth Soule, Jill Townsend, Marion Tracy and Fiona Ritchie Walker
 
Select and listen here               Poets of the Month (other dates)  

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
 
e-mail

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Helen T Curtis

Helen T Curtis is a poet and photographer living in Derbyshire. Published in ARTEMISpoetry, Canon’s Mouth, Mother’s Milk Books and recently in Oxford School of Poetry Review where she continues to work towards a first pamphlet.

Crucible

Frame of oak the bark to bear you
boards carved where the green-crowned king
bowed low; offered himself
a vaulted ark, big-hearted.
 
Within,
limbs of willow cradle raked bones
sister-fingers braid a creche for you;
with memory of water, peel and shed
the unsuitable suit;
lie in lattice-weave, bassinet
rocking, lapping, weeping.
 
Extinguished
as your glorious hour receded,
burn again in frankincense
harvested from your red-bone desert
Boswellia
Salalah
the trees’ dripped tears
coil smoke around you, tendrils
soothe, soothe – balm for your flayed skin
 
almond flowers for your lips
blue hibiscus for your eyes
so your children will know you
 
Your essence rises, rich and fragrant;
oud of agarwood – born of corruption
Aquillaria
precious resin from black infection
in the heart-wood
now transmuted.
Breathe now, rare brother
the air in here is sweet.
 
Rest now, oak bears all
blood, bone, breath and grace.
 

Helen T Curtis

Poem published in Oxford School of Poetry Review#1

Tel: 07823 557876
 
Helen T Curtis website
 
e-mail Helen T Curtis

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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 is a member of the Poetry Society, two stanza groups, The British Haiku Society, Enfield Poets and Second Light. She writes particularly from close observation of people and of herself, exploring social and emotional themes arising.

from ‘Fall’ a sequence of seven poems:

Fall

I
 
I fell as from a great height into another world.
From a flat plane I stared up at the night sky
and moonlike faces which seemed to ponder
my angle on the slab of stone.
In a smudge of morphine I still screamed.
I lost myself, and, subject, patient,
was propelled into a timeless zone.
Rigid in ambulance straps, under lights, I could not
count the hours, could not recognise the place
but entered a country where people in white
told me what to do, what they would do. I heard
the snap of scissors through my new jeans,
heard murmurs that the hip was broken, felt
the catheter slip in, the movements
of shapes in the dark; floating in a hospital gown
I felt the lift into bed, sleep merging into the oblivion
of surgery, the awakening in the ward, the surgeon
above me, It’s gone well, it’s up to you now, but,
for weeks, the systems flowed over me, journeys
took me down dazzlingly long corridors then back
to staring at walls and waiting for visitors
who came like angels and didn’t tell me what to do.
Physiotherapists, lean and smiling, began to nudge me
nearer to myself and I moved towards it.
At home again the ground was rough, uneven
but my steps became discerning. I grew taller,
so much taller.
 

Ruth Hanchett


Pamphlet, Some Effects of Brilliance, 2019, Rafael Q Publishers, ISBN 978-1-901017-20-5, £5.00

e-mail Ruth

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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 moved to Australia from Cornwall in 2017.She has recorded two podcasts for Kalamunda Radio, is a member of OOTA Fremantle and WAPoets Inc.

Travellin’, travellin’ travelling on.

Here is the steam train leaving the station
heading towards its last destination.
Herded together like cows in a truck
prodded and threatened and treated like muck.
 
There is no privacy here.
In the corner a bucket
slops malodorously.
Pigs they call us
in the stinky dark.
 
Smuts in the hair, smuts from the smoke
the air’s so thick we almost choke.
 
We do not eat swine.
*Filth we have become
as the dung of the earth
vile we must be
in the eyes of God.*
 
Ticketty tack, ticketty tack, tick tack
we go to a place from where none comes back.
 
We are washed down
water icy as snow melt
swills over salt white flesh
heads shaved back to the bone.
*Lord have mercy.
 
Click clack, clicketty clack, click, clack, click
The train has reached its termination
*God grant us each to find salvation.
The engine cools.  Tick, click.  Click  tick.   Tick.    Tick.
 
 
* from Psalms of David 83 and 85
 

Daphne Milne

Poem published in Poetry SuperHighway Holocaust, memorial issue 2018

Publications:
The Blue Boob Club, 2019, Indigo Dreams

e-mail Daphne Milne

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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
 
e-mail

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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.

Praise to the hawthorn on the boundary of Chandos Street car park

Those moments when you open
to this morning’s blue and its retreating clouds
 
this symphony of sparrows    endless
fluttering of feathers   of feeding.
 
Those moments when under your shade
a baby is soothed in her mother’s arms
 
school kids scoot   skateboard   trudge
office workers balance coffee-to-go
 
croissants under heavy or light shoulders
hearts   gay   weary   counting days to
 
weekends. And above   pigeons like angels
almost suspended    skilled at drifting
 
at dozing in your branches after gorging
on blossom. And Paul asleep in his tent
 
under the ticket machine    water bottle parked
on top of his unfinished thriller    smell
 
 
of his last smoke. All this being    breath
non-breath this earthiness   this sky
 
this mix
and you a part of it.
 

Marg Roberts

Marg Roberts blog
 
e-mail Marg Roberts

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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

Elizabeth Soule’s poem, December 2011, a Memory of August 1968 (for Vaclav Havel) was selected as Second Light’s ‘Poem of the Year’ from those on the home page for 2017/2018.
Listen to the poem here

e-mail Elizabeth Soule

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Vivienne Tregenza is not currently a Member of Second Light.

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Merryn Williams

Merryn Williams’ life is currently divided, like ancient Gaul, into three zones – literary, family, Jeremy. She was first editor of The Interpreter’s House, which published around a thousand poets, and her own publications are too numerous to list.

P.N.D.

     post-natal depression
 
One fell off the fragile bridge,
others froze in horror.
Far below them, howling winds
and glimpse of raging water.
 
Four young women shared a house,
partied, shrieked with laughter.
All got married, scattered wide.
Three go on without her.
 
Driving rain, on clothes and skin;
you feel the great bridge shudder.
The baby knows there’s something wrong,
stares round and sees no mother.
 
Three go home. All night they weep;
why did no one save her?
while each, in fear, bears step by step,
a child across the water.
 

Merryn Williams

Poem published in Acumen and in The Fragile Bridge (see Publications)

Publications:
The Fragile Bridge: New and Selected Poems, Shoestring Press, 2019;
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.
 
e-mail

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