Featured Poets, April 2021                     home page
 

Angela Kirby       Bridget Somekh       Diana 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, Jennie Osborne, Mimi Khalvati, Lottie Kramer, Gill McEvoy (read by Anne Stewart), Maggie Norton, Elizabeth Soule, Jill Townsend, Marion Tracy, Fiona Ritchie Walker 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 Pritchard

Hertfordshire born, married, one son, two daughters, Diana Pritchard now lives in Guernsey. Her poetry is influenced by a wilderness upbringing in the 1950s, 1960s British Columbia, Canada. A volunteer CAB advisor. Member of Guernsey Writers.

Barefoot in the Snow

It’s Africa, a safari, a trek
in heat, flies and more heat.
Lion calls drown the air
as the tall barefoot man guides
us to the waterhole.
Our packs, heavy, we struggle,
stumble into the murky wallow
of mud and elephant dung to coolness.
 
Unlike the coldness of grandmother’s
bared feet as she trekked, distressed,
into that Norwegian winter night,
arctic moon over deep snow,
following her lost guide,
lost to his own self, lost
to his home and hearth,
circling straight northwards
towards his childhood.
 
Feet beyond thawing, she led
him back to his unfamiliar bed.

Diana Pritchard

Poem published in Fanfare (poems by contemporary women poets), Second Light Publications, 2015.

Publications: Publ: Woolgathering, The National Poetry Foundation, 1999 ISBN: 1-900726-61-0 ISBN, £5.00

e-mail

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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 has a Creative Writing Certificate from Open College of the Arts, studied Advanced Poetry at Morley College and City lit. Her poems are published in South Bank Poetry, DulwichOnView, Morley Poets First Anthology, Lighten Up Online

Unleashing Chaos

Sitting at my laptop on a dismal day with nothing in mind,
not a clue on what to write on the topic, change or routine.
 
I have no routine, so maybe, could start with a change there.
Should I have breakfast at a set time, not eat before or after?
 
That means setting my alarm, which would wake my husband
on his days off and almost certainly result in an argument.
 
That would be a change. We mostly bicker later in the day,
as we are both silent, nod or grunt-only, morning zombies.
 
I could plan my week, not go off whenever I feel the urge
to shop, wander aimlessly around the park or indeed visit
 
any gallery that takes my fancy. I could make a schedule,
map out days in advance. Create a filing system in alphabetical
 
or numeric order, instead of my usual, where-the-hell-did-I-put-
that-for-safekeeping method. Potential to transform, boundless!
 
Thought about the matter enough, deliberation is making me tired.
I need to think about what to write on topic, change or routine.
 

June Webster

Poem published in Published in Lighten Up Online Issue 45

e-mail June Webster

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Liz Parkes

Liz Parkes, a former teacher, runs a writing group. She is a member of many of the local poetry groups and hopes to have a pamphlet published at the end of the year. She has work in Offa’s press anthologies as well as short plays performed locally.

Staffordshire Clogg Almanac

It hung from the mantle tree, belt or door in the Northern lands
where moor, lake and forest were tamed.
Rough hands took wood to fashion it, square it, a cubit’s length,
made a moon ruler of months, weeks, days;
marking time to turn furrow, plant, lie fallow.
 
For the watcher in the night, silvered by waxing and waning light,
there was no adjustment of quarter days
– he hooked his year to the moon.
Wise as a beast, he followed the plough across the winter skies.
 
On its four sides, one for each season, he carved his runes
obedient to his church, the festivals and fasts remembered by
a saint’s shoes, a love knot; a cross, a sword an axe.
He called them his Moon Ruler, Rimstock or Primestave.
These smooth stafas, shaped the name of a place that
took root, leaved and flowered.
 
 
 
note: A Clogg Almanac was a rod or ring marked with dates, religious seasons and planting seasons. The British Museum has some lovely examples.

Liz Parkes

Poem published in The Poetry of Staffordshire, Offa’s Press

Publications:
The Poetry of the Black Country, Offa’s Press, ISBN 978-0-9955225-3-4, £7.95
The Poetry of Staffordshire, Offa’s Press, ISBN 978-0-9565518-9-4, £7.95

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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