Featured Poets, April 2021                     home page
 

Angela Kirby       Bridget Somekh       Diana Helen Pritchard       Gill Horitz       Janet Lees       June Webster       Liz Parkes       Marion Ashton       Nicolette Golding       Sarah Westcott       Thelma Laycock      

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, Gill Horitz, Mimi Khalvati, Lottie Kramer, Gill Learner, Gill McEvoy (read by Anne Stewart), Maggie Norton, Jennie Osborne, Elizabeth Soule, Jill Townsend, Marion Tracy, Fiona Ritchie Walker, Sarah Westcott and Lynne Wycherley.
 
Select and listen here               Poets of the Month (other dates)  

Angela Kirby

Angela Kirby was born in rural Lancashire and lives in London. She has a D.Phil in Creative Writing from Sussex University, gives regular readings in the UK and abroad, and her poems have won prizes in several major competitions and are widely published.

Trizonia

O most excellent donkey who,
not having heard of the sleep button,
woke me three times this morning
with your ancient and execrable lament,
do you bemoan the start
of your over-burdened day
and the end of your brief night’s rest
in this unpromising patch of scrub
or do you, perhaps, grieve for me
who today must leave this incomparable islet
where there are neither cars
nor motorcycles, where nothing
very much happens, apart
from the occasional birth or marriage
and the rather more frequent deaths,
where there is little to see, just Iannis
repainting the peeling mermaid
on his taverna, and his grandmother
taking a broom to the six hollow-ribbed cats
who have stolen yet another chicken-leg,
and the three old men who,
having finished their backgammon
and the last of the ouzo, now take
the sun’s path home across the harbour
in a boat as blue as that clump of scabious
you are considering?

Angela Kirby

published in anthology, Speaking English, Five Leaves Press, 2007

Publications:
collection, The Days After Always, new and selected poems, Shoestring Press, 2015, £12, ISBN 978-1-910323-38-0
collection, A Scent of Winter, Shoestring Press, 2013, £9, ISBN 978-1-907356-67-4
collection, Dirty Work, Shoestring Press, 2008, £8.95 incl p&p, ISBN 978-1-904886-83-9
collection, Mr Irresistible, Shoestring Press, 2005, £8.95 incl p&p, ISBN 1-904886-19-1 (2008: 2nd re-print)

121 Hurlingham Road
London
SW6 3 NJ
 
tel: 020-7736-3965
 
web-pages on poetry p f
 
e-mail Angela Kirby

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Bridget Somekh

Bridget Somekh read English at Trinity College Dublin. She has performed her John Clare poems at the Poetry Café and the open mic at CB1 Poetry, Cambridge. Her one act play ‘Aliens’ was given a rehearsed reading by WRiTEON in the ADC Theatre bar.

Yurim’s Bowl

     In Korea we might talk about how big a bowl you have in your mind.
          Yurim Gough, ceramic artist.
 
     The past lies hidden beyond the mind’s realm and reach, in some material object.
          Marcel Proust
 
We found the studio up a lane, following
a notice pinned to a fence and through a rickety gate.
It felt like a private space, ceramics set out
severally on shelves along the walls.
I was minded to buy and made a
tentative suggestion – and you said,
“what about spending a bit more?”
 
I came to look.
The hand-moulded form of the bowl
was like the smooth interior of a skull,
and deep inside a man posed naked
on his elbow against a blue cushion,
his left arm crossing his groin
where his bent legs curved.
 
“I am Seventy” Yurim told us was its title.
A year younger than you, our first thought,
not knowing then what I know now.
You chose our bowl and when I hold it in my hands
and look inside I feel the weight of your head,
and delight in the bright eye and curving cheek bone
under the long contour of your brow.
 
Forty-seven years ago in the period of incubation,
our two selves probing, inspecting, discovering
the unknown of the other,
you excoriated material possessions,
the frippery of objects scattered about my house –
and I unwrapped their meanings in stories
of what had made them mine.
 
In a lifetime we found each other’s rough edges and soft spots,
and inter-locked our foibles and obsessions,
collecting pottery becoming a shared passion.
At seventy-one you bought Yurim’s bowl for me:
in its depths, the snaking lines of your physical presence
with your strong, agile fingers interlocked
and your face watching in profile.
 
How could I survive without this bank of stories,
so many memories that made us break off to think and laugh.
Yurim’s bowl is glazed and fired with a lip of continuous gold,
the man inside is for me to have and hold.

Bridget Somekh

Poem published in Driech Chap Book, Ekphrastic, (end of August) 2020

Publications:
Love’s Cold Returning: John Clare’s 1841 Odyssey from Essex to Northamptonshire,
     by Ellis Hall and Bridget Somekh. Maps by Jon Harris. Illustrations by Pam Smy,
     2019, available from Thirteen Eighty One Press, £20

Bridget Somekh website
 
e-mail Bridget Somekh

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Diana Helen Pritchard

Hertfordshire born, married, one son, two daughters, Diana Helen Pritchard lives in Guernsey. A wilderness upbringing during the 1950s, and 1960s in British Columbia, Canada influences her poetry. She is a member of Guernsey Writers.

Stone

Beside my heart; the pump,
the one that circulates my blood,
there is another heart.
 
Not the heart guided by emotion,
but a gnarled, heavy, black, stone heart
invisible even to an X-ray.
 
It wasn’t born with me,
just entered my body one day,
found its way through my skin
 
through an unguarded fissure,
reached the essence of me
before I could mouth my own name.
 
Beady as a cock-robin’s eye at first,
this ‘anti-matter’ absorbing my childhood,
imploded to the size of the universe
 
until the ‘real’ heart; the pump,
the one that circulates my blood,
wanting to be rid of it, found a solution.
 
It started my body running
across fields, along riverbanks,
up gravel tracks, over the snows
 
into the medals on sports day
(never good enough of course)
always striving for the big burn.
 
The black-heart stone smouldered.
The body started marathoning
over the downs, into muddy ditches,
 
along highways, over cobbled streets
through green forests and desert dunes.
The black-stone heart caught alight,
 
flamed up, burned down,
became smaller than a cock-robin’s eye
and I opened my arms to my existence.
 

Diana Helen Pritchard

Poem published in Published in Jersey Arts 2005 Competition Anthology (Commended).

Publications (all available at Amazon):
One Wrong Foot, Shortcliff, 2022, ISBN 9781919614427, £6.50
My Paths to Freedom, autobiography, Shortcliff 2021, ISBN 9781919614403, £12.99
Poems Inspired by Objects, Shortcliff, 2022, ISBN 9781919614434 £6.50
 

Shortcliff Poetry
 
e-mail Diana Helen Pritchard

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Gill Horitz

Gill Horitz has worked in the arts for over 30 years. She co-edited South 47. Her work has been published/placed in various magazines/competitions, including a shortlisting for the Bridport Prize. She belongs to a Poetry Group run by Paul Hyland.

What Lies in the Winter Wood

End of day, end of year – and she’s thinking what’s next,
her head against the pane and the wind slamming the gate.
 
When she looks up, the trees are moving through the half light
towards her, through snow piled over the vanished road.
Not a single thought holds her back.
All the meanings held by the trees she remembers,
and how their barks can be unrolled and written upon.
No ordinary wood moves like this, and time is short.
 
Through the holly tunnels she sings a low song to the owl
and the night leans down, savouring her wintry breath.
What will I take from this? she thinks, looking back
as the moon hurries her along. To believe just once
that such a place exists, the imaginary heart
where everything worth moving towards lies.
 

Gill Horitz

Poem published in Smiths Knoll, Issue 50

State of Play Arts
 
Gill Horitz at poetry p f
 
e-mail Gill Horitz

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Janet Lees

Janet Lees is a poet and artist. She had two collections published in 2019 and her poetry has appeared in many journals and anthologies around the world. Her poetry films have been selected for a wide range of international festivals and screenings.

Mapping Hi-Zex Island

On the first day
we viewed the island from above:
a lightning flower flung across the skin of the sea
under the burning eye of the sun.
 
On the second day, we approached it from the water,
observing aspects of permanence –
three years and four months an island now,
its shape shifting between evening and morning.
 
On the third day we walked it, measured its synthetic
drumlins, its rope beaches, its tightly woven coves,
weighed the miles of clouded water beneath our feet.
Earth of a kind. Sea of a kind.
 
On the fourth day we went down to meet
this land mass in its own twilight. Ghost nets reached out
to finger our hair, calling us to the mausoleum
of the island’s rusted underbelly.
 
On the fifth day, we saw the ocean swarm –
angelfish and rainbow runners twisting through drifts
of polymer confetti that playact as food,
feeding the very body of our island.
 
The sixth day we spent logging life.
A shore crab. Clams. An albatross in flight
off the western peninsular. We collected old eel traps,
scraps like pastel coloured sharks’ teeth
 
with which to make a necklace for the children.
We bowed our heads under the weight of that night’s stars.
And when the seventh dawn came,
we saw our work was done.

Janet Lees

Third prize winner, Bristol International Poetry Prize 2016
 
Note: Discovered by Captain Charles Moore, Hi-Zex Island is made up of fishing gear, nets and buoys believed to have come from the 2011 tsunami that devastated parts of Japan.

Publications:
House of Water, Culture Vannin/Lily Publications, 2019, ISBN: 978-1-911177-54-8, £12.50
A bag of sky, Frosted Fire, 2019, ISBN: 978-0-9574129-4-1, £6.50

Tel: 07624 470941
 

Janet Lees website
 
e-mail Janet Lees

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June Webster

June Webster is a poet and short story writer. Her poems have been published in South Bank Poetry, DulwichOnView, Morley Poets A First Anthology, Lighten Up Online, SecondLightLive, Dreich Magazine & Haiku Journal. She was short-listed for the Plumstead Poet Laureate.

Cradle to Crib

It’s colic, they said,
it’ll pass, first three months
it’s normal, some do, others don’t.

Each time I held you close.
tiny legs curled tight to belly,
your screaming pain mine.
I soothed the spasms
until the meds took over
when cries hushed.
I placed you in your cradle.
 
It’s her age, they said,
it’ll pass, teens, always a worry.
You stayed out late,
danced till dawn, run wild
on the heath, gave me cheek
then hugs to allay my fears.
The day you celebrated adulthood,
you came home drunk and sick,
while the meds worked
I placed you in your bed.
 
It’s an auto-immune disease,
it will pass, just a few years
,
but it stayed, held on tight,
took a piece of you little by little.
Every twinge of your torment,
mine as I sat by you.
holding on, squirming
until the meds took over,
and irrevocable peace
placed you in your final crib.
 

June Webster

Publications:
Morley Poets: A First Anthology, 2018, Morley College, £6.99

e-mail June Webster

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Liz Parkes

Liz Parkes lives in Stourbridge, West Midlands. She writes plays, short stories and both page and performance poetry. She has been published by Offa’s Press, Grey Hen and Cannon’s Mouth.

The Coffin Works Wedding

She keeps it close, buried deep, out of sight;
the memory of a long attic room, the giggle
of girls when tight-lipped gossip fizzed hot
on the iron; the hiss of scissor blades as cloth
slid like water across the table; machines
where fat, coned bobbins jumped and jiggled;
those glossy bolts of pastel shades, lilacs, creams,
peach (for darker skins) ̵ and so much white.
 
Each night she hid guilt beneath her smile
folded satin off-cuts, ribbons, lace trims
warm as love letters tucked above her heart;
sealed her lips with a mouthful of pins
a secrecy that shrouded the artful
way death paid for her walk down the aisle.
 
 
Note: The coffin works, now a museum, is in the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham. Men made the metal furniture for coffins on the ground floor, women the satin linings and shrouds on the second floor.
 

Liz Parkes

Cannon’s Mouth, quarterly magazine, Issue 67, March 2018;
Sonnet or Not Competition.

Publications:
included in anthologies The Poetry of the Black Country and The Poetry of Staffordshire (both Offa’s Press, £7.95)
and in Grey Hen Press anthologies, ed. Joy Howard: Reflected Light – Responses to the Creative Arts and Lovely Dark and Deep – Poems about Woods.

Address:

 
Tel:
 
Liz Parkes website
 

e-mail Liz Parkes

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Marion Ashton

Marion gained a Creative Writing MA from Royal Holloway in 2010, tutored by Andrew Motion and Jo Shapcott. Her poems have appeared in a wide range of magazines and a Cinnamon anthology. Her first collection ‘The Threshold’ was published 2018.

Skitter of Wings

We drive mile after mile through Houston sprawl –
a flashing succession of leering signs:
 
shopping-malls, car lots, eating joints,
to reach the ferry across Galverston Bay. Reeling
 
in the heat of Texan sun, hassled by screeching gulls
We finally arrive and have this long sweep
 
of Bolivar Sands to ourselves. Strong wind gusts
in from the Gulf of Mexico, stirs up the ocean,
 
sends rollers crashing on the beach – to drift back
in rasping sighs. We walk in calm silence,
 
faces turned upward, gulping salt-spray air,
bare feet squelching warm, damp sand,
 
approaching a colony of birds: terns, herons,
pelicans, preening and calling in congregation
 
along the water’s edge. We lap up the display
wanting to get closer – when, as at a gunshot,
 
they go up as one – an Alleluia of flapping,
a shaken sheet lifted, a skitter of wings
 
along the ribs – lung-filling gasps as they wheel
the sky and that lone hawk swoops back inland.

Marion Ashton

Skitter of Wings was one of the 5 Highly Commended poems in Kent and Sussex Poetry Society Competition March 2020

Publications:
The Threshold, 2018, ISBN 978-1-9770342-1-2

Marion at poetry p f
 
e-mail Marion

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Nicolette Golding

Nic has had stuff published in a few poetry journals, a couple of London buses and some anthologies.

The Seal Wife

I do OK, attend the W.I., make a nice Victoria sponge, am sociable, fit in.
My husband is a good man, works to fill our house with things,
But tell me why would a good man hide my skin?
 
I am lonely, hungry for the sea, tired of human company. He knows
my longings. I do as he does, go where he goes,
wheel my Tesco trolley in these heavy clothes,
 
eat far too much these days, weight’s piling on my hips and thighs.
I nibble mackerel in the bath, pour salt in, watch it dry,
Hide receipts, sit on rocks, cry.
 
Nights I pull on headphones, when we make love I close my eyes,
trawl CDs for echoes of my mother’s song. His body never tells me lies
but I go diving under softer skies
 
and when he falls away, sleep with one eye open.
Tomorrow I rise early, beloved one,
to search this place, as I have always done.

Nicolette Golding

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Sarah Westcott

Sarah has an MA in creative writing from Royal Holloway and has been widely published. She won the Awel Aman Tawe poetry competition and has been a runner-up in the Mslexia competition three times. Her debut pamphlet, Inklings, is out now.

Pool

I wait, quickening,
reflecting light,
holding darkness.
Will a hand break my skin,
rise out, bearing a knife?
 
Feel the fingers of a child,
stirring. Dog tongue;
ticklish, urgent.
Indents of rain
or tears –
a wish-bone, drifting.
 
Look down
to see my bed
ribbed with light,
soft and rich -
all the bright coins.
 
When the moon is high
lie on the bank,
come close,
smell wet clay,
breath, returned.
 
Sense your unborn
coming up,
her daughter
and her daughter,
each ripple
clear as plainsong.
 

Sarah Westcott

Votive wombs were offered to the gods to help with fertility problems in Etruscan times. They were left by sacred pools, much like coins are thrown into wishing wells today.
 

Publications:
Inklings, 2013, Flipped Eye, ISBN-10: 1-905233-39-6 £4

Sarah Westcott blog
 
e-mail Sarah Westcott

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Thelma Laycock

Thelma Laycock is a poetry tutor and the founder of Gabriel magazine. Her work is widely published and has been translated into Hebrew, Italian, and Romanian. Her most recent collection is A Difference in Direction (Indigo Dreams, 2015).

Nocturne in blue

It was often like that
if he came in first and she followed,
not so bad the other way round
but on a Friday or Saturday night
not totally unexpected
 
I could hear his key in the lock
heard the shaking, bronchitic cough
so I knew it was him:
I ran half-way down the stairs
seeking my usual shivering place
where they couldn’t see me
in case it blew over
 
But that night it was loud;
her Auntie Elsie’s clock, a wedding present,
came sailing through the air, lay broken,
I raced out to intercept his flying fists –
my little sister close behind me –
two soldiers in blue pyjamas
in the crossfire of battle
 
In the morning at school desks
we re-lived the night
dipping our pens into deep wells of ink
seeing Mam’s moon-pale face,
the purple fingermarks at her throat.
 

Thelma Laycock

in collection, A Difference in Direction, 2015, Indigo Dreams; in anthology, Her Wings of Glass, 2014, Second Light Publications.

Publications:
collection, A Difference in Direction, 2015, Indigo Dreams, £7.99, ISBN 978-1-909357-61-7;
collection, A Persistence of Colour, 2011, Indigo Dreams, £5.99. ISBN 978-1-907401-49-7;
pamphlet collection, Chameleon Days, 2007, Feather Press, £3.50 (sold in aid of Lakota Link), ISBN 978-1-84175-277-8

web-pages on poetry p f
 
e-mail

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