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

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:
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
Firebird, 2011, IDP, ISBN 978-1-9074015-8-9. £7.99

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, born in Manchester, lives in London and Dorset. She studied at London and Oxford Universities and taught at Goldsmiths college. Her work is much published in magazines and anthologies (including 2 of SLN’s and Entering the Tapestry (Poetry School/Enitharmon).

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:
Out of the Blue, Shoestring Press, 2006. ISBN: 987 1 904886 31 0. 8.95
Half Way to Madrid, Shoestring Press, 2002. ISBN: 899 549 70 6. 7.50 (Poetry Book Society Recommendation)
A Question of Blue Tulips and other poems, Shoestring Press, 1999. ISBN: 899 549 323. 3

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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

more...

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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

Pauline Kirk is a performance poet, novelist, editor and leader of creative writing workshops. Based in York, she is Senior Editor of Fighting Cock Press, a member of the Pennine Poets group, and judges poetry and short story competitions.

Risk Assessment

Although poets are covered by knowledge of their insanity,
it is vital that you take the utmost care of your poems,
and are seen to be doing so.
 
Risk Assessment requires poets to ensure the safety
of their creations. We ask you to reconnoitre your inspiration,
to check that you are thoroughly familiar with your route,
and take note of potential risks for readers. Bear in mind
that your audience may be inexperienced in terms of poetic
understanding, and fitness to undertake late night
philosophical discussions, or to wear outrageous clothing,
so extra care is required. This is especially true of writing workshops.
It is difficult to anticipate the size, or talent, of such groups.
 
Please look at this list of potential hazards. If any are present
(and remember risk is magnified by wet ink and coffee stains),
tick the appropriate boxes, and ensure that you inform participants.
Keep the party close together when passing the hazard
to ensure everyone arrives safely.
 
Hazard:             If present in the poem (yes or no) If yes indicate location(s)
                         Steep or rocky stanza divisions Slippery rhymes and concepts
Images with sharp metaphors      Jagged lines or limp endings
Fields with cattle or horses (risky for romantic poets)
Other (please specify)
In an emergency:
Go to the nearest computer to contact emergency services,
including the Broken-backed Poem Rescue Group.
In case of injury to rhythm or sense, ensure that the patient
is put into Recovery Position, and urgent action is taken
(e.g. rewriting) to provide shelter from hostile critics.
In the case of minor injuries (e.g. a twisted dactyl),
reach for the nearest thesaurus or writers’ guide, from where
a new idea can be summoned – have grammar check facilities
available also. Depending on the severity of the incident,
either stay with the individual and keep working
on the injured lines, or leave a responsible person with them,
before continuing on a truncated version of the poem.

Have a good and safe day!

Pauline Kirk

Publications:
Fighting Cocks – Forty Years of Pennine Poets: Mind and Body, by K E Smith, ed. Pauline Kirk, Fighting Cock Press, 2006, £12.50, ISBN 0-906744-29-6
Walking to Snailbeach: Selected and New Poems, Redbeck Press, 2004, £8.95, ISBN 1-904338-15-1
The Keepers, Virago, 1996 and 1997, £9.99 and £6.99, ISBN 1-85381-838-0
A Survivor Myself: Experiences of Child Abuse, ed. Pauline Kirk, Yorkshire Art Circus, 1994, £4.99, ISBN 1-898311-02-1
Waters of Time, Century, 1988, and Ulverscroft Large Print, 1991, £10.95, ISBNs 07126-22624 and 07089-23941

Pauline Kirk web-site
 
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: I have only been doing creative writing continuously for four years, but am enjoying it. I still need to do more courses and practice to improve.

Ripples of a Life

Ripples multiplying on the pond from my Olympic hurl
Remind me of the domino theory
Like the tree bark with its concentric rings
All showing the consequences of cause and effect
Of action, nature and ageing
I looked in the water not as healthy as it should be
And see the ducks swimming around the mother duck
Reminding one of a biology lesson
Of symbiosis
Unlike my relationship with Sue referred to Emotions Anonymous for unhealthy co-dependent relationships
I berate my having that last curry and one too many beers on a ‘study night’ for my Finals
And being spotted in the early hours by Sue’s friend Amy snogging a girl outside a club
Sue of the traumatised childhood and trust issues
I should have been clever enough to know everything gets around a small town
Now bereft I watch the ripples knowing that my own life is mutating before my eyes
A future of ongoing solitary walks and regrets
 

Myra Litton

Poem published in Rhyme and Reason Diary, 2014, Rennie Grove Hospice Care

Publications:
Diaries, 2014/15/16/17/18, Rennie Grove Hospice Care. order 2018 here;
Between the Lines, 2017, anthology, City Lit, please pick up from City Lit reception;
Camden/Lumen anthologies Prodding the Pelt (2017); Genius Floored: Uncompassed (2016), Salmon Poetry; Notes while waiting (2015) and Whispers in Smoke (2014), Soaring Penguin Press;
I am Woman, 2012, anthology, Vol2 ebook, available at Amazon;
Tally Koren song Positive, written from Myra Litton poem: listen to the song at SoundCloud

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Angela Platt

Angela Platt’s poems appear in a few competition anthologies and a dozen poetry magazines incl. Orbis, Spokes & The Interpreter’s House. She runs creative writing groups and is The Poetry Society’s Stanza rep. for Newport, S. Wales.

The Elephant Game

Between horizontal bars
he looks at him.
Sloe-eyed,
rhubarb leaf ears
knit barnacles of skin.
 
Trunk coil unfurls
a quizzical tentacle.
 
One baby to another,
my child splays arms.
 
The elephant’s boa slips
around his waist,
a crinkled belt pulled tight,
moves closer to the bars.
 
Crushed child beneath stumped feet
a rag doll flash,
my force opposes –
his force lifts him to the bar.
 
Arms vice his ribs,
my fingers knuckling
round my child –
elephant’s new-found toy.
 
Eternity, this tug of blood and bone.
 
I wonder if the stretch
will wrench the life from him,
how long the hold on gravity.
 
Reptile fury spits.
I pummel, grapple, gouge.
 
Without a sound
the slow unreeling.
I feel the slack.
 
Curled in my arms, oblivious,
this sturdy boy who dared –
and won.

Angela Platt

The Elephant Game won second prize in Southport’s Open Poetry Competition, 2015.

Publications:
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

e-mail Angela

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