Featured Poets, December 2017                    home page
 

Moira Andrew       Denise Bennett       Nadine Brummer       Janet Fisher       Katherine Gallagher       June Hall       Helen Ivory       Pauline Kirk       Kaye Lee       Myra Litton       Angela Platt

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)  

Moira Andrew

Moira Andrew lives in Somerset. She has six poetry collections in publication: latest, A Box of Sky. Her new collection Breakfast with Swallows is due out late 2017. She has written poetry for children and a number of books for primary teachers.

My mistake

A warm hand on the small of my back –
such a broad sexy hand, a scattering of fine hairs
above the knuckles – signalled his return.
        That and the smell of his skin.
 
I daren’t turn round. He stood behind me, breath
fluttering against my left ear. ‘It’s me,’ he said –
as if I didn’t know. And I was happy, relief
        gushing through my body.
 
How could I have doubted him? Of course
he wasn’t dead – I’d been kidding myself
all this time, what with the funeral, winding
        up his affairs, binning his clothes.
 
My mistake. Except that it wasn’t. I woke up
alone, just me and the cat, to an even bigger mistake.
It was hard to get up and face the day, his voice
        begging me to believe him.

Moira Andrew

Publications:
Breakfast with Swallows, 2017, Austin Macauley, ISBN 978-1-7871039-8-6. price £5.99
A Box of Sky, 2017, Integral & CLP (Bucharest), ISBN 978-6-0687826-0-7. price £5
Grandad’s Party, 2016, Poetry Space Ltd, ISBN 978-1-909404-34-2. price £2.50
Man in the Moon, 2014, IDP, ISBN 978-1-9093573-7-2. £7.99
Wish a Wish (poems for children), 2012, Poetry Space, ISBN 978-0-9565328-9-3. £5.99

Moira’s website
 
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Denise Bennett

Denise Bennett has an MA in creative writing & runs poetry workshops. She is widely published. In 2004 she won the inaugural Hamish Canham poetry awarded by the Poetry Society. She regularly reads at Tongues & Grooves poetry and music club Portsmouth.

Water Chits

     Gallipoli 1915
 
I joined the band to play the flute
to chivvy the men to war –
but mostly I was lackey to the medic,
sent out with the water chits;
scraps of paper with the words,
please let the bearer have some drinking water;
sent out to the lighter
to fetch the water shipped from Egypt.
Even in dreams I can hear
the medic’s call –
water, water – we need more water –
as if by magic, I could conjure up
eight kettles of water to wash
the wounded, to cook the meal,
to clean the mess tins,
to give ten dying men a drink.
In all this dust and heat, no one
said we would have to beg for water.
 

Denise Bennett

     inspired by a letter written by a marine bandsman
     at the time of the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915

first published in Poetry News, Summer 2015;
title poem of forthcoming pamphlet (Indigo Dreams, 2016)

Publications:
Parachute Silk, 2015, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-1-906856-55-7.
Planting the Snow Queen, 2011, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-1-906856-20-5.

Denise Bennett at poetry p f
 
e-mail Denise Bennett

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Nadine Brummer

Nadine Brummer Has had poems published in many magazines and in many anthologies. First full collection ‘HalfWay to Madrid’ (Shoestring Press, 2002) was made a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

The Frog’s Princess


That night, finding him in my bed,
within kissing distance,
I wanted to take the stare
off his face – those eyes
all bulge and goggle.
Then I saw their depth, a look
that could take me anywhere
backwards in time. I recalled
an aquarium under the sea where
I’d pressed my face to the glass
of a wolf-eel’s tank, mesmerised
by a little reptilian head
with eyeballs lifting off
like spaceships that settled
into an expression beyond
a seal-pup’s dopey smile
or the pout of fish –
like that of some new-born child
you swear has been here before.
The frog was like him,
but when he gulped and a mouth
smelling of weed or bull-kelp
came close to my lips
I flinched and held out my hand
to stop his jump and touched
a spasm of green, a creature trying
to slither out of himself.
I’ve been so often trapped
In flesh that didn’t feel mine
I wondered what he could see
when he gazed into a pond;
he took my sigh as a signal
to kiss. I loved him best
the moment before he changed,
a small, crouched, alien thing
in need of a body.

Nadine Brummer

Poem published: Poetry London, May 2003

Publications:
What Light Does, Shoestring Press, 2017, ISBN 978-1-910323-90-8 £10
Any Particular Day, Shoestring Press, 2013, ISBN 978-1-907356-66-7 £9
Out of the Blue, Shoestring Press, 2006, ISBN 987-1-904886-31-0 £8.95
Half Way to Madrid, Shoestring Press, 2002. ISBN 1-899549-70-6 £7.50 (Poetry Book Society Recommendation)

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Janet Fisher

Born in Birmingham in 1943, Janet Fisher worked in publishing for several years before moving to Yorkshire. After a period of illness, she began to develop as a writer. She co-ran The Poetry Business for twenty years, retiring in 2008.

Brittle Bones

birds’ legs, dried stalks
a Chinese vase, a baby’s wave
slivers of green on dead laburnum
tracks translucent up an arm
chalk line on a pavement, a child’s logic
fingers pressing a wine glass stem
change of key on the downbeat
worn paths tracing the grass
a moon thumbprinted on a light sky
an old woman’s face, her knuckles
strands of breath on a sharp morning
cracked glaze on a bedroom jug
its pattern of blue ivy and pouting lip
the roots I clutch at on the way up

Janet Fisher

Poem published: Salt publishing web-page on Salt Publishing site.

Publications:
Brittle Bones, Salt, Jul 2008. (link);
Women Who Dye Their Hair, Smith/Doorstop Books, 2001. (link);
Listening to Dancing, Smith/Doorstop Books, 1996. (link);

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Katherine Gallagher

Katherine Gallagher (Australian-born) is widely-published; translator, tutor, committee member of SLN; London resident since 1979. The most recent of her collections is Circus-Apprentice. Formerly Writers Inc Education Officer, she also writes poetry for children and has poems in numerous anthologies.

Katherine is a tutor for Second Light Network and serves on the committee (see more... link below).

Gwen John Swims the Channel

September 3, 1939. Early evening
and the sea soughs, sways –
a sketchbook washing calm,
its ribs carrying the meticulous rainy births:
portraits from her many lives.

She has always loved the coastline,
come back to it, the waves’ fringed-grip:
daily swimming the Channel, testing herself
against its heave and push.
Ahead, Dover’s scribbly-white cliffs,
and beyond, the hills of Tenby –
its beach’s curve, her childhood’s
patch of sand. She has tested this sea’s glass

and painted herself into its mirror
like a cloud passing over. She has more
interiors to match and place, place and match
as again she gives herself to the water,
its moody mountains surging,
pacing her – the archetypal swimmer
planing darkness, with the coast
clearing and Paris-Meudon behind her.

Katherine Gallagher

Poem published: Mslexia; Circus-Apprentice

Publications:
Carnival Edge: New & Selected Poems, Arc Publications, 2010, ISBN 978-1-906570-42-2. pbk £11.99;
Circus Apprentice, Arc Publications, 2006, ISBN No. 1-904614-02-7. 8.99;
After Kandinsky, Vagabond Press (Rare Objects Series), 2005, (details from Katherine);
Tigers on the Silk Road, Arc Publications, 2000, ISBN No. 1 900072 47 5. 6.95;
Fish-Rings on Water, Forest Books, 1989, ISBN No. 0 948259 75 2. 6.95 incl p&p(UK);
Passengers to the City, Hale & Iremonger, 1985, Sydney, 1985, ISBN No. 0 86806 212 x. Hardback. 9.00 incl p&p(UK);
more on Katherine’s web-site... and poetry p f Poem Cards.

Address:
49 Myddleton Road
Wood Green
London
N22 8LZ
 
tel: Tel: 020 8881 1418
 
web-site
 
e-mail

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June Hall

June Hall is a former Faber editor. Death of her son and diagnosis of Parkinson’s drew her to poetry. Her work appears in Acumen, ARTEMISpoetry and elsewhere, incl. three poetry collections. She co-edited with Dr R V Bailey The Book of Love and Loss.

Uncharted

Your bone-hard mouth, like an open cave,
seaweed stretched over jagged rock-teeth,
gulps at the tide that sucks, in and out,
breathing rough, insistent spray. I hold
your drowning hand so tight blood drains
from it in white waves as if I were the parent,
you the child stranded in nightmare seas.
 
In the wreckage of lost life I don’t know who
or where you are, or if you know me at all.
I too am wrecked, a stranger to this vast ocean.
Muscles tighten and cramp, fearful
at your going, so far beyond my horizon.
Still, I hope my grip steadies you, that you feel
its squeeze, take in my muttered lovings.
 
Here by your bedside I want to call you home
though already you’re panting to push through
the storm’s growl and I’m rowing the wreckage,
one hand clutched to your fleshless claw, trying
to stay up and keep the rhythm of the stroke until
fingers twine around the rightness of your going,
reconciled at last to the distance between us.
 
Dying is a challenging business.
Over the crashing foam I cry out to you:
I’m here. Don’t worry, Mum. I’ll stay right here.
Hours later, though, I break my word and have
to leave your side. You let your grasp loosen
and, out of reach now, sink down alone
to the rock below, the uncharted sea-bed.
 

June Hall

in collection Uncharted

Publications:
Uncharted, 2016, Belgrave Press, ISBN 978-0-9546215-3-7, £9.99
Bowing to Winter, 2010, Belgrave Press, ISBN 978-0954621513, £7.99
The Now of Snow, 2004, Belgrave Press, ISBN 0-9546215-0-6, £7.99
First Sixty: The Acumen Anthology, 2010, Acumen, ISBN 978-1-8731612-3-4, £9.99
Cracking On, anthology, 2010, Grey Hen Press, ISBN 978-0-9552952-4-9, £10

web-pages on poetry p f
 
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Helen Ivory

Helen Ivory, poet and visual artist; fourth Bloodaxe Books collection Waiting for Bluebeard (2013). Editor, webzine Ink Sweat and Tears; poetry tutor/Course Director, UEA/WCN online. Hear What the Moon Told Me is a book of collage poems with KFS.

Bluebeard the Chef

You coax the rabbit from its skin,
cradle the bruised flesh ripped with shot.
A deft incision and soon the tiny heart
is in your hand, its stillness
opens up a dark hole in the sky for you.
 
You climb inside
and all the stars are dying eyes
fixed into you like pins.
So you slice each optic nerve
and disappear.
 
The knife completes your hand
with such sweet eloquence
you part recall its amputation
when you were wordless
in your father’s house.
 

Helen Ivory

from Waiting For Bluebeard, 2013, Bloodaxe Books.

 

Publications: Hear What the Moon Told Me (collage poems), 2016, KFS Press, ISBN 978-1-9094438-2-2
Waiting for Bluebeard, 2013, Bloodaxe Books, ISBN 978-1-8522497-5-5
In Their Own Words: Contemporary Poets on their Poetry, (eds Helen Ivory and George Szirtes), 2012, Salt Publishing, ISBN 978-1-9077732-1-1
The Breakfast Machine, 2010, Bloodaxe Books, ISBN 978-1-8522487-3-4
The Dog in the Sky, 2006, Bloodaxe Books, ISBN 978-1-8522471-7-1

Helen Ivory website
 
e-mail Helen Ivory

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Pauline Kirk

Poet and novelist Pauline Kirk lives in York. She is editor of Fighting Cock Press, a member of the Pennine Poets group and on the editorial board of ‘Dream Catcher’. She also writes the DI Ambrose Mysteries with her daughter as PJ Quinn.

‘Horned Animals, Mesolithic –
     – possibly handles’

In Maltese heat
three terracotta heads
challenge through museum glass.
Noses tilt, eyes appeal,
yet each is no bigger
than a fifty-penny piece.
 
Who fashioned you? Who
took clay six thousand years ago,
to fashion your exact ears,
slender horns and throat?
Each neck hints a missing handle
now crumbled back to dust.
 
Did you decorate jars
for a god, or perfume for a bride?
My mind shudders
beneath the weight of years.
My ancestors crouched in caves,
but they carved horses’ heads on bone,
 
still beautiful.
I turn to safer displays,
but a question nags on.
What of our time will amaze,
when the silt is cleared,
six millennia gone?
 

Pauline Kirk

Poem published in Pennine Platform, no 79, 2016;
in collection Time Traveller (see below)

Publications:
Time Traveller, Graft Poetry, 2017, ISBN 978-0-9558400-9-8, £8.50
Poetic Justice: A DI Ambrose Mystery, writing as PJ Quinn, Stairwell Books, 2017, ISBN 978-1-939269-77-5, £10.00
Thinking of You Always: the Letters of Cpl. Hill 1941-1945, Stairwell Books and Fighting Cock Press, 2016, ISBN 978-1-939269-36-2, £10.00
Border 7, Stairwell Books, 2015, ISBN 978-1-939269-25-6, £10.00; also available as an Audio Book: Amazon Audible, 2019, ISBN 978-1-939269-72-0, £22.00 or Audible subscription
Walking to Snailbeach: Selected and New Poems, Redbeck Press, 2004, ISBN 1-904338-15-1, £8.95

Pauline Kirk website
 
Pauline Kirk at poetry p f
 
web pages Pennine Poets
 
e-mail

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Kaye Lee

An Australian living in North London. Retired from nursing – time now to pursue a love of poetry. Published in various magazines and a prize winner in several competitions.

Hand in Hand

Years ago I held your hands
to guide you on the long
walk to hospital. Beneath
their patches your eyes
oozed tears to wash away
woodchips thrown there
by the giant saw.

Your hands were large,
calloused. Black sap
emphasized lines and folds,
darkened every nail. Skin,
brown and tough from the sun,
still let splinters skewer in –
you’d prise them out with Mum’s
fattest darning needle.

Though I led you, all
the strength of our bond
lay in your hands not
in my small, anxious
eight-year-old fingers.

When I hold your hands again
to help you from your wheelchair
mine are the weathered, rough hands,
yours are Persil white, baby soft.
You do not recall the pain
of penetrating wood and your hands,
calm, delicately trusting, accept
that now the strength is mine.

Kaye Lee

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Myra Litton

Myra Litton lives in London. Her work has been published in various anthologies and in Senior Times, ‘Ireland’s website for people who don’t act their age’ and https://bsfa.co.uk/bsfa-publications/focus/(Spring 2020 Issue Number 70).

Covid Illegal Socials 2020

Once in summer and early autumn they would congregate
In the beer garden of a pub
’Neath an oak or pomegranate, wooden benches and struts
Now they get all tanked up
In allotment gardens and private garden sheds and huts
Paul Gascoigne, the footballer, was an example of this new habit
Dispatched by a new love for illegal get-togethers in a shed boozer
With the understandable paranoiac climate of Corona she was at her wits’ end
And his drunken lapses did not seduce her
Covid 19 socials in the open air were abundant
As summer went in to autumn, conkers, grey leaves replaced the verdant
Shadowy figures merged into the shadowy verge
After too many Tennants, not much observance of the two metre rule
The later Rule of Six sometimes gate-crashed by reprobates
Wanting a skin-full
The air is crisp and Paul Gascoigne is silhouetted ’gainst the night-sky
Drinking to his sorrows since his Missus has said goodbye
The middle-class can afford to buy ‘A Honololu Tikki Bar’, very genteel (from John Lewis)
But it only accommodates two people – for the Hoi Polloi, the addicted, get real!
It’s autumn now, a defining season with its slate sky and thinning, skeletal trees
A precursor to winter’s decimation in every area or diocese
These socials, of course, are not sanctioned by the State
But for the ‘alkies’ who can’t stay at home, it is a must-have ‘date’
It is of course not a role-model exemplar
A far cry from the Millennium Hotel (Sloane Street) bar
But it does the trick in this uncertain time of closures in the hospitality industry
Even if they’d be safer in staying with the Girlfriend being teetotal, drinking tea
 

Myra Litton

Publications:
Diaries, 2014/15/16/17/18, Rennie Grove Hospice Care;
Between the Lines, 2017, anthology, City Lit;
Camden/Lumen anthologies 2014 to 2019 (Soaring Penguin Press/Salmon Poetry);
I am Woman Anthology Volume 2, 2013, Kindle Edition, FCM Publishing , available at Amazon

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Angela Platt

Angela Platt’s poems appear in many anthologies & magazines (Orbis, Spokes, The Interpreter’s House & others). She runs creative writing groups and is Poetry Soc. Newsport STANZA rep. Her poem Skydive won 3rd in the Prole Laureate competition, 2020.

Imager of Light

I’m left here to silence
rusting in the rain.
 
Sun sinking fast, tree shadows
darken. Leaves and grasses fan
a cool breeze and darkling motes,
black shapes stirring.
 
Night creatures may disturb
my hide, dislodge me from
the solid branch you placed me on.
 
If I should fall, those images
you took such care to make
would shatter … your running laughing
children sliding dunes at Merthyr Mawr.
 
Footprint hollows shrink, elide.
Soon it will be as if they’d never been,
here at play on this one day.
 
The leaden sky above me fills
with ragged cloths. Night sounds
unnerve. Children’s likenesses
inside, but they are curled at home
asleep and may not grow in me.
 
That long same day, it’s dark.
You’ve come! How could I doubt?
You hunt carefully, recall at last
beside which tree you’d stood
freezing the tumbling laughter
with a click.
 
Fingers inch the knobbled branch
cold metal edge
find leather skin pulled tight,
retrieving my box-shaped frame.
Old friend, my clip fits your finger-stub
as if another limb.
 
You wipe away my tear,
sling my strap across your marbled shoulder,
march the long miles forward
into memory.

Angela Platt

Imager of Light, in collection Crossing the Bloodline

Publications:
Crossing the Bloodline 2020, Cinnamon Press, ISBN 978-1-78864-900-1
39 jazz poems featured in Jazzrounds 1994-2003, ISSN 1465-1319
Percussion of Living, 2001, Green Corner Press, ISBN 0-9-54022-00-9
I Like to Imagine, self-published pamphlet, 1994
Introduction to Sexism in the Secondary Curriculum (chapter), ed Janie Whyld, 1981,
Harper & Rowe, ISBN 0-0-63182-51-3

Angela Platt website
 
enquiry to Second Light

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