Featured Poets, December 2020                     home page
 

Denise Bennett       Clair Chilvers       Barbara Dordi       Katherine Gallagher       Ruth Hanchett       Maria Jastrzębska       Gill Learner       Alwyn Marriage       Marion Oxley       Myra Schneider      

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)  

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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Clair Chilvers

Clair Chilvers was a cancer scientist, and latterly worked for the UK National Health Service. She lives in Gloucestershire, UK and has had poems published in Ink Sweat and Tears, Amaryllis, Atrium, ARTEMISpoetry, Impspired and Sarasvati.

Cynara scalymus

Incongruous in a herbaceous border
an artichoke stands proudly.
The cruel thistle leaves pale green
against the dark, damp, Devon soil
the stem sturdy, woody
the globes with their triangular petals
densely packed.
A cook would say that it had gone to seed.
But no, the purple flower, spiky
as a punk’s haircut,
is a wonder for a day or two
until it darkens and dies back
to a quieter shape.
 
Too late to pluck these globes to eat.
I imagine boiling them for twenty minutes
dipping each leaf in melted butter
my teeth stripping off the inner softness
Then saving the best till last
cutting out the soft spikes from the heart
to eat the tender flesh.

Clair Chilvers

Poem published at Atrium, 2018

Publications:
Pilgrimage, pamphlet, 2017, ISBN 978-16909959-2-0
Featured Author in Impspired Issue 5, June 2020

Clair Chilvers blog
 
e-mail Clair Chilvers

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Barbara Dordi

Barbara Dordi writes poetry, reviews and articles in English and French. She is the former editor of Equinox; she now edits The French Literary Review, which publishes poems, stories and articles with a French connection. Deadlines 30th July/31st December.

In the Footsteps of Achille Laugé

Under a savage Midi sun,
in these winds: the Cers, the Autan,
and the dreaded Tramontane,
where honey-scented broom and pale-pink
almonds line the narrow roads of the Aude,
he made all this his own
a legacy of the seasons.
 
Up with the lark and out of doors
to capture the sights of the south.
He knew the frisson of expectancy
of this special light that makes
everything glow, when all seems possible,
meadows glinting gold
under a cerulean sky.
 
Brushing borders of yellow broom
his roulotte atelier would rumble
by fields stacked high with hay
to-ing and fro-ing l’Alouette
home of his family, his art.
The house stands here still, holding
its breath, awaiting his return.
 
 
 
 
l’Alouette – Laugé named his home ‘the lark’
roulotte atelier – mobile workshop

Barbara Dordi

published in Achille Laugé, Neo-Impressionist 1861-1944 – A Brief History, 2015

Publications:
Achille Laugé, Neo-Impressionist 1861-1944 – A Brief History, Deco Partnership, 2015, ISBN 978-0-9536800-5-4, £11.95 (or 15 euros), incl p&p, direct from B. Dordi;
The Alfred Jewels, (bilingual), Illustrated in colour. Hayward, 2012 ISBN 0-9536800-4-5 £11.99
Moving Still, 2009, Cinnamon Press, ISBN 978-1-9056146-9-1 £7.99
Entre-Deux–Two Francophiles in Alaigne, (bilingual), Illustrated in colour, £7.95
Picture-Poems, ISBN 0-9536800-3-7 £11.99

Address for submissions to French Literary Review: 11 Bath Road, Emsworth, Hampshire PO10 7EP
 
Barbara Dordi at BlogSpot.
web-pages on poetry p f.
 
e-mail

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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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Ruth Hanchett

Ruth Hanchett is a member of the Poetry Society, two stanza groups, The British Haiku Society, Enfield Poets and Second Light. She writes particularly from close observation of people and of herself, exploring social and emotional themes arising.

from ‘Fall’ a sequence of seven poems:

Fall

I
 
I fell as from a great height into another world.
From a flat plane I stared up at the night sky
and moonlike faces which seemed to ponder
my angle on the slab of stone.
In a smudge of morphine I still screamed.
I lost myself, and, subject, patient,
was propelled into a timeless zone.
Rigid in ambulance straps, under lights, I could not
count the hours, could not recognise the place
but entered a country where people in white
told me what to do, what they would do. I heard
the snap of scissors through my new jeans,
heard murmurs that the hip was broken, felt
the catheter slip in, the movements
of shapes in the dark; floating in a hospital gown
I felt the lift into bed, sleep merging into the oblivion
of surgery, the awakening in the ward, the surgeon
above me, It’s gone well, it’s up to you now, but,
for weeks, the systems flowed over me, journeys
took me down dazzlingly long corridors then back
to staring at walls and waiting for visitors
who came like angels and didn’t tell me what to do.
Physiotherapists, lean and smiling, began to nudge me
nearer to myself and I moved towards it.
At home again the ground was rough, uneven
but my steps became discerning. I grew taller,
so much taller.
 

Ruth Hanchett


Pamphlet, Some Effects of Brilliance, 2019, Rafael Q Publishers, ISBN 978-1-901017-20-5, £5.00

e-mail Ruth

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Maria Jastrzębska

Maria is Polish and lives in Brighton. She has three collections and her work is much published in anthologies and magazines (UK, France, Finland, Slovenia, the internet). She is involved with SOUTH POLE, Queer Writing South, Outskirts and THE SOUTH.

Old Knives

Old knives lie still
in wooden drawers, lined
 
with shiny paper. They smell
of rust, belong to a family
 
of broken scissors, brass
tongs, tarnished platters
 
and screws stored in tobacco tins.
You could clean round them.
 
They lack conviction. Old knives
can’t cut in straight lines
 
anymore, but their handles
fit warmly into your hand.
 

Maria Jastrzębska

Poem published: Zlati Coln / Golden Boat 2006, Apokalipsa 2007 Zlati čoln/Golden Boat mednarodna prevajalska delavnica Društvo Apokalipsa

Latest collection:Syrena, Redbeck Press

web-pages on poetry p f
 
e-mail Maria

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Gill Learner

Gill Learner’s poetry has been published in numerous anthologies and magazines such as Agenda, Acumen, ARTEMISpoetry, The North; it has also won a number of prizes and commendations. She lives in Reading, is a keen gardener and fan of Radio 3.

Chill Factor

He tries to dream cool – of ponds he dared to step on
till he heard the gun-shot crack, stilled waterfalls
in Cumbria, of sleeping in an igloo or an ice hotel.
 
Sangin dust grits between his teeth, chafes
his shoulder blades, sticks to his sweat no matter
how much care he takes undressing, shaking out.
 
His final tour. It’s 48 degrees: he must think cool –
frost fairs on the Thames, blue light of glacier caves,
Shackleton’s Endurance trapped and crushed.
 
Heat beats at his helmet like a welder’s torch,
his nape’s on fire, eyes sear with watching
as the search team makes its slow way back.
 
His last long walk. The escort’s guns are poised.
Without his body armour he steps light
along the track. Tomorrow – home, to stars
 
in their proper places, Cathy’s frown, the garden
gossipy with birds, the children’s bikes to fix.
Soft-fingered sun. Rain. He lies flat, tools
 
to hand. The silence grows. Now he believes
cool – in Saturn’s rings, the Skaters’ Waltz,
a white bear on its lonely floe. He wipes his mind,
 
strokes away sand and earth, starts to unpick
a knotted mass of metal, batteries and wires.
The desert holds its breath.
 

Gill Learner

Poem published in collection: Chill Factor;
and in ARTEMISpoetry 11 and anthology Songs for the Unsung (Grey Hen Press, 2017)

Publications:
collection, Chill Factor, Two Rivers Press, 2016;
collection, The Agister’s Experiment, Two Rivers Press, 2011;
Anthologies include Fanfare, Second Light Publications, 2015; The Emma Press Anthology of Love, 2018; Vaster than Empires, Grey Hen Press, 2018

web-pages at poetry p f
 
e-mail

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Alwyn Marriage

Alwyn has been a university Philosophy lecturer, Editor of a journal, Chief Executive of two international NGOs and is now Managing Editor of Oversteps Books. Her poetry and non-fiction are published widely and she reads in Britain and abroad.

La Matelote

the restaurant was called la Matelote,
– the same word as le matelot
but ending in an ‘e’
and therefore feminine.
 
We debated what a female sailor
would be called in English
other than, of course,
a sailor –
 
‘fish wife’ hasn’t quite the same
éclat: shore-bound and down-to-earth,
she scolds her husband
wipes scale-covered hands on bloodied apron;
 
‘sailor girl’ sounds
far more jaunty, even saucy,
a jolly sea shanty of a lass
who’s good at knots, but lacks maturity;
 
a ‘woman of the waves’, though cumbersome,
has a more romantic ring,
laid-back and offering
her ebb and flow, her undulating curves.
 
In our minds these women all
transmogrified into a mermaid,
sea-born and always breaking free
like words for which there’s no equivalent.
 
Consulting a dictionary to check
the latest addition to our French vocabulary
we found ‘la matelote’
simply means ‘fish stew’.
 

Alwyn Marriage

Poem published in French Literary Review and ARTEMISpoetry, Issue 6

Publications:
festo, 2012, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-1-906856-32-8. £8.
touching earth, 2007, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-0-9552424-7-2, £8.
The People of God, 1995, Darton Longman & Todd, ISBN 0-232-51989-7, £9.95.
New Christian Poetry (ed), Collins, 0-00-599207-9, £7.95.
Life-Giving Spirit, 1989, SPCK, ISBN 0-281-04430-9, £7.95.
Beautiful Man, 1977, Outposts Publications, 90p.

Alwyn’s web-site
 
e-mail Alwyn

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Marion Oxley

Marion Oxley is originally from Manchester but has been living amongst the flood plains of the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire for many years. Her poems are published widely in journals and anthologies.

Deluge

      after a Calderdale folktale of Gabriel Ratchets; spectral hounds and the hunting of Lady Sybil
     who takes the form of a doe and is also thought to be a witch.

 
The valley is saturated, full to the brim,
          a prayer bowl carried in anxious hands.
 
A woman strides out, walks the rim from moor to crag
          sings to the wind of the substance of things not seen.
 
Breath dances in droplets, shapes form in a mist
          spreading out beyond the black and white gates,
 
the lock unpicked, a question mark waiting; a cormorant
          lost, sea-wings spread; a crucifix in the cold sun.
 
A glide of Canada Geese heads held high
          hiss a warning, pink tongues quivering.
 
And the dog spoke of you last night
of the shiver of milk-white skin
of slender legs cleansed in the river
the pendulum swing of a racing heart
          of when suspicion slid to a stop
 
in the moonlight the turn and weight
of your belly, a boulder flung down
from the out-crop, the arch of your hips
sprung    making ready for the leap,
          flames licking at your heels.
 
You’ll burn in hell, they said.
 
Listen to the thrum coming up
          from underground, the hillside shifting, the movement.
 
In the rush and swell, push to the surface     a split in bedrock.
 
Riven   granite clouds   release a yelp   a howl left circling
          the siren‚Äôs wail chasing tales out across the valley.
 

Marion Oxley

Second prize in The Red Shed Poetry Competition 2019. Published in a pamphlet of winning poems by Currock Press.

e-mail Marion Oxley

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Myra Schneider

Myra Schneider has many collections of poetry. Other publications include novels for young people and books about personal writing. One is Writing My Way Through Cancer (Jessica Kingsley 2003). She tutors for the Poetry School in London.

Myra is a Consultant to Second Light Network, a previous competition judge, and is on the Tutor list. (see ‘More’ link below)

Lifting the Sky

Plant yourself in the quiet on a familiar floor
or on an uncut summer lawn
 
and, thinking of seabirds, stretch out your arms,
let them ascend through the unresisting air.
 
With palms facing upwards, travel your hands
till your fingertips almost meet,
 
then release your breath, begin to separate yourself
from the weight of all that lies on you.
 
Allow your mind to open to this moment and your arms
to rise as they lift the palpable blue
 
high above the crown of your head.
Your wings will fold away
 
but raise them slowly to the blue again, maybe
a lightness like liquid amber will flow through you.

Myra Schneider

Poem published: Lifting the Sky, Ward Wood Publishing, 2018

Publications:
Lifting the Sky, Ward Wood Publishing, 2018, ISBN 978-1-9087426-8-1, £9.99
Persephone in Finsbury Park, Second Light Publications, 2016, ISBN 978-0-9927088-2-5, £7.95
The Door to Colour, Enitharmon, 2014, ISBN 978-1-9075875-1-1, £9.99
Writing Your Self (with John Killick), Continuum, 2008, 978-1-8470625-2-9, £17.99
Writing Your Way Through Cancer, Jessica Kingsley, 2003, 1-843101-13-0, £19.95

Myra Schneider website
 
See Maitreyabandhu 2012 interview with Myra (40 minutes): Poetry East Interview
 
e-mail

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