Featured Poets, December 2019                     home page
 

Moira Andrew       Alison Brackenbury       Susan Davies       Wendy French       Hilaire       Carolyn King       Kathy Miles       Liz Parkes       Daphne Schiller       Elizabeth Soule       Nicola Warwick       Shirley Wright      

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
 
e-mail

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Alison Brackenbury

Born in Lincolnshire, 1953. Lives in Gloucestershire, works in family metal-finishing business. Seven collections of poetry published, received both Eric Gregory and Cholmondeley Awards. Competition judge. Tutor for the Poetry School. Main aim: smuggling poems out to wide world.

No

No one is ever good enough,
or kind enough.
No one stays awake
through the lovely rush of rain which fills our dark.
No one can hold the music.
They are counting coins or frowning
they are toppling, they are drowning.
No one is good.
 
But nothing is as quick as us,
no screen can match us
tape’s whirr catch us
nothing tilts like sun
to light from sad.
Nothing in all history
can reach to take your hand from me,
the dark, the rain’s gift, O
we should be glad.
 

Alison Brackenbury

Poem published: The Times Literary Supplement.

Selection of Publications, all Carcanet:
Singing in the Dark, 2008, ISBN 1 85754 914 7
Bricks and Ballads, 2004, ISBN 1 85754 751 9
After Beethoven, 2000, ISBN 185754 454
Selected Poems, 1991, ISBN 085635 924 6

Address:
c/o Carcanet Press
4th Floor, Alliance House
28-34 Cross Street,
Manchester
M2 7AQ
 
Alison Brackenbury web-site

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Susan Davies

I am a retired lecturer in English Literature. I write poetry and short stories and I have just completed a memoir, and I’m now working on a novel. I contine to write poetry as it is my first love.

23 Fitzroy Road, Primrose Hill

What picture soothed the mind’s eye
and brought her to life again?
Maybe the white pillow case on the line
puffed up and puckered like a barnacle goose.
 
Or the memory of my first love,
waiting for me in his room, while I
a callow, skimp of a girl – barely
seventeen, and not yet broken in –
carelessly lingered by the landing
window, where below, over the fence,
I saw a young mother, pegging
out nappies in the snow along
a frosted loop of rope – her red hair
plaited and coiled like a coronet
to frame the loveliness of her face.
 
And I found myself caught in the silent
beauty and rhythm of her movement –
arching down, and reaching up
on the ringing, frosted path –
her raw, worn hands pinching
the corners of her parchment poetry –
her masterpieces stretched out to dry.
 
I didn’t know then that her mirrors
were already sheeted, and her spirit
demised with every shot of breath.
I didn’t know she wanted a sarcophagus
stamped with the face of the moon – bold, too, with tigery stripes,
and her body embalmed in warm
honey to lie beside her copper cauldron
and rouge-pots, glowing vermillion
like the eyes of a predatory god.
And her heart to be wrapped
in brown paper, tied up with string
and tucked between her bare, crossed feet.
 

Susan Davies

23 Fitzroy Road is a prize winning poem: Sentinel Poetry competition, September 2012

Publications:
Short Story, Crake’s Troll, published in collection Significant Spaces,
Earlyworks Press, 2013, ISBN 978-1-9064518-6-8 £8.99

Susan Davies at poetry p f
 

e-mail Susan Davies

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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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Hilaire

Hilaire is co-author with Joolz Sparkes of London Undercurrents. She was poet-in-residence at Thrive Battersea in 2017 and Highly Commended in the 2019 Live Canon International Poetry Prize. She writes and gardens in Battersea.

The Sheffield Man

Was it only our family he visited
at dead of night? Slipping bone-handled knives,
dimpled thimbles, an heirloom coffee spoon,
into his felt-lined pockets. His thefts small,
intermittent, occasionally reversed.
Look what’s turned up under the sink!
Triumphant, Dad held aloft a pewter
napkin ring, long lost. This was not
the stuff of nightmares.
 
Grown up, abroad, I found the Sheffield Man
unknown amongst my peers – a family quirk,
a joke I only got in retrospect.
 
But now he’s back and he’s greedy,
working daylight hours behind my mother’s back.
The peg tin, can opener, keys. Her reading glasses.
All magicked away out of sight.
He’s even filched the whatchamacallit
and the reason she first needed it.
 
I stab pins into a Sheffield Man doll
even though I know there’s no reversing
this final vanishing act.
 

Hilaire

Highly commended in the Red Shed Open Poetry Competition 2018 and published in The Quality of the Moment competition pamphlet, Currock Press

Publications:
indoors looking out, lower case press, 2020 ISBN: 978-1-5272-6319-2 £5
London Undercurrents,, Holland Park Press, 2019 ISBN: 978-1-907320-82-8 £10
Triptych Poets: Issue OneBlemish Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-9807556-1-9
Hearts on Ice, Serpent’s Tail, 2000 ISBN: 1-852426-63-2

Hilaire’s website
 
e-mail

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Carolyn King

Carolyn King is widely published in magazines & with three poetry collections. Competition successes over the last few years include 1st in Second Light and in Poetry on the Lake formal category and twice shortlisted for the Manchester Poetry Prize.

The Last Waltz

That night you came in out of the rain
and danced me across the landing, dripping
puddles of moonlight like stepping-stones,
I knew the carpet would never recover.
 
You said you liked me soaked to the skin:
we steamed together.
 
You’d been celebrating all the way home
(7-6 on a penalty shoot-out!),
the soggy remains of a till-receipt from The Angel
still in your trouser pocket.
 
I didn’t give a toss about the carpet, confident
you were made of sterner stuff.
 
But I was wrong.
 
And I saw the re-play this afternoon
when I went to collect your dry-cleaned jacket
– the moon, the cloudburst and the blue shirt
cling-filmed to your wiry frame;
 
for it swung into view, along with a long line
of others, cloaked in cellophane, all swaying
in 3 / 4 time like the torsos of carcasses
waltzing on abattoir hooks.
 
And I hugged you to me, feeling as though
you’d been handed back again;
 
last-waltzing around the shop, irrespective
of puzzled looks from passers-by uncertain
whether to laugh or cry at the sight of a woman
so obviously deranged.
 
But friends who’d laid wreaths on your grave
and had known us for thirty years
would have smiled to each other,
seeing that little had changed:
 
I was dancing on borrowed time
– and you were legless.
 

Carolyn King

winner of Myeloma Awareness Poetry Competition, 2004 and published in The Interpreter’s House

Latest publications (available from Carolyn):
Caviare and Chips, Human Writes, 2004, ISBN 0-9531860-2-4, £5.99;
The Reunion, ISBN 0-9531860-0-8;
Lifelines, ISBN 0-9531860-1-6

Woodleigh East
Madeira Vale
Ventnor
Isle of Wight
PO38 1QU
 
tel: 01983-852593
 
Carolyn King at poetry p f
 
e-mail

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Kathy Miles

Kathy Miles is a librarian and poet who has lived and worked in Wales since 1972. Her work has frequently appeared in magazines and anthologies. She is a Writer on Tour, and member of the Red Heron performance group.

The Gift

She took it in both hands.
Examined it to see its colour, the quality,
what she might expect of it.
A surprise, she said, but still she smiled,
pale against the whiteness of the bed,
the wrappings from her present
scattered on the floor like a spilt
phial of pills. There was ribbon,
of course, a yellow bow, a card.
The air smelt of red carnations
and something else, something sweeter.
 
Her breath was a pearl in the hot room,
a slipstream too slight to stir a bee’s wing.
And the flowers were difficult,
competed with her for the sliver of air.
Her hands fussed over the covers
astonished fingers slid over silk.
And my gift, that small bequest
I took back home
was the moment our fingertips touched
and the air was brimming.
 

Kathy Miles

Poem published in Envoi, Issue 164 February 2013

Publications:
The Shadow House, 2009, Cinnamon Press;
The Third Day: Landscape, 1993, Gomer Press
Word, 1993, Gomer Press
The Rocking-Stone, 1988, Poetry Wales Press

e-mail Kathy Miles

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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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Daphne Schiller

Daphne Schiller studied English at Manchester and Creative Writing at U.E.A. She's been a teacher and Relate counsellor. Her first collection was published by Outposts in 1981. Her poems have won prizes and appeared in magazines and on London buses.

Daphne du Maurier at Ferryside

You rowed across the Fowey
thinking of Rebecca in her boat
or the silk sails of the Frenchman
entering his hideaway. Gulls
mustered on a nearby roof
but you struck out for home.
 
I was named for you, and now
under a full moon in the estuary,
sandbags on the quay
awaiting high tide, I look across
to Polruan's golden eyes
sparking in the dark.
 
and want to take my own red boat,
stroke it across this softness,
listen to the creak of oars,
scoop up pools of moonlight
till I reach the white house
on the other side.
 

Daphne Schiller

Publications:
In My Element, Outposts Publications 1981
Cargo of Emeralds, Dodman Press 1986
Soundings, Queenscourt Publishing 1989
Saying Goodbye to the Sea, Queenscourt Publishing 1993
The Scarlet Fish, self-published 2002

tel: 01727-864898
 
e-mail

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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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Nicola Warwick

Nicola Warwick has had work in several magazines and competition anthologies. She has published two full collections. In 2018 she was awarded an MA in Creative Writing from the Open University.

Muntjac

At heart, I am a small deer
crossing a quiet lane.
You are always the driver
in a dark car
riding the bends.
You are pressed for time
so we meet
for the inevitable.
I always yield
to the force of steel,
rupturing the parts
I should have kept protected.
You continue,
a little winded,
metal scraping tarmac,
a crunch of gears.
I am left twitching
at the side of the road,
hoping you will catch me
in your mirror
when you look back.
 

Nicola Warwick

published in collection Groundings, 2014, Cinnamon Press

Publications:
The Knifethrower’s Wishlist, 2017, Indigo Dreams
Groundings, 2014, Cinnamon Press

 

e-mail Nicola

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Shirley Wright

Shirley Wright is a prize-winning poet, novelist and short-story writer. Her poems appear in many poetry magazines and her first full collection, The Last Green Field, is published by Indigo Dreams. Based in Bristol, she loves Cornwall, trees, and stones.

Reference Library

Here is the dark half-world
where roots weave earth
tight against the spin, the turn
of leaves, where night
 
owls swoop on echoes
from the wildwood, a vole perhaps,
the musk of history, things
dank or rustling.
 
Heads bow as though
to avoid the casual swipe
of low branches, the crack
and biro-click that herald
 
autumnal fruit. See
how it is garnered, one word,
one phrase at a time, acorns
in a grove of oaks from whence
 
all this transfigured landscape
had its being. Chairs creak,
tables groan beneath their load
of elbows and narrow fingers
 
fingering the black and white;
we might pause for coffee,
whisper thoughts on metempsychosis,
pick mushrooms from the forest floor.
 

Shirley Wright

Winner of 2nd Prize, Wells Literature Festival 2012;
published in Bristol Women Writers anthology Unchained., 2013

Publications:
The Last Green Field, 2013, Indigo Dreams Publishing, ISBN 978-1-9093573-2-7. £7.99
Unchained, 2013, Tangent Books, ISBN 978-1-9064777-7-6. £9.99
Time Out of Mind, 2012, ThornBerry Publishing, ISBN 978-1-7817668-4-2. £7.99

Shirley Wright website
 
e-mail Shirley Wright

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