Featured Poets, January 2018                    home page
 

Anna Avebury       Elaine Briggs       Jamie Dedes       Pat Francis       Victoria Gatehouse       Joy Howard       Thelma Laycock       Kathy Miles       Jennie Osborne       Susan Jane Sims       Elizabeth Soule

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)  

Anna Avebury

Anna Avebury began writing poetry regularly when she stopped teaching in the 1990’s. She joined a local group, Ver Poets, and continues to be a member having now stepped down from the committee. Main interests: the natural world, relationships, time.

Red Kites Over Home Farm

They ride the autumn air, forked tails fluttering
in warm up-draughts, wings out-stretched.
 
Together, they hover then stoop, a heart-beat apart,
each mirroring the other as the carousel turns
 
and they circle the field below, the practised rise
and fall, a daily rite, like hands at the piano,
 
in perfect time. They know the score, too well,
waiting for the cue, the breeze that spells decay,
 
then, the targeted descent to lunch below.
 

Anna Avebury

Poem commended in competition and published in Ver Poets 10 Liners Anthology 2017.

Publications:
Dress Rehearsal, self-published, £2.50 (proceeds to Open Door – local charity)
Ver Poets anniversary anthologies; Locked Down, Poetry Space, Oct 2020

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Elaine Briggs

Elaine Briggs lives and works in France as a translator. Poems have received prizes in Segora and Hungry Hill competitions. A collection has been long-listed by Cinnamon.

The Translator and His Harp Sing the Iliad

A harp is a made thing,
the heartwood of Homer, an ode.
 
It’s a flightless wing
with speech in its keys
 
and strings taut and resonant
open for winds to frisk at sea.
 
It’s the prow of a boat
where Orpheus turned helmsman
 
set a rhythm
for oars to dip and rise
 
and the water that streamed from their blade
outsang the Sirens’ wolfish howl.
 
You stand alone, your frame
spindly as the African lyre you cradle.
 
Then, in Afghan headgear worn for a crown,
you swell – wind and breath
 
sing to me the Muse’s song
and the rage of Achilles is re-made.

Elaine Briggs

Address:
Tours, France
   
e-mail Elaine Briggs

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Jamie Dedes

Brooklyn born, Jamie Dedes, now in Northern California and published widely, is Poet Laureate of Womawords Literary Press (Africa-based international), curator of The Poet by Day (info hub for writers and poets) and Founder/Editor of “The Bezine”.

Beyond Yearning to Hope

     Dedicated to the Senator Bernie Sanders, running for
     the Democratic nomination for president of the United States

 
The dreams can drive you crazy sometimes
The ones that envision a just world, one
Where equity is the backbone of endurance
A vineyard of bliss, so to speak, a garden of joy
Relative to the greed times of unworthy living
In a penthouse with a golden toilet, while
Others sleep on cardboard outside, urinating
In the streets, begging for lunch and walking
Barefoot in the snow, betrayed from day one
By the false ideal of rugged independence,
Of monied might is alright, of resource hording
By the richest and unconscionable trafficking of
Children for the unhinged pleasures of the elite
Oh my God, how did this happen? and who
Might have thought that the munitions factory
Of a deadly virus would bring us nose to nose?
How COVID-19 recognizes no bank account or
Prestigious position, just drops its noxious tidbits
Indiscrimanently, into lungs of princes, prime ministers
Those sleeping rough on city streets, its travels
Enhanced by an uneven distribution of access
To water, healthcare, space, living wages,
Paid time off, the rudiments of a civilized life
Girded by compassionate societies, lessons
Learned, we await implementation, and
Dare we move beyond yearning to hope
 

Jamie Dedes

Originally published in Brave Voices journal

Jamie Dedes blog: The Poet by Day
Jamie Dedes The Poet by Day Facebook page
Monthly Arts e-zine The BeZine

 
e-mail Jamie Dedes

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Pat Francis

Pat Francis: “After a lifetime (nearly) of reading poetry I took the plunge into writing it. Paekakariki Press are publishing a small book, of poems drawn from memory and history: ‘Recalling London East’.”

Steel-Tipped Boots

The pavement rang sharp and clear
at each clip-clop of steel-tipped boots.
Little spurts of sparks flew; sound
of steel, flash of fire as men and boys
went to work that bent their backs.
 
‘But WHY can’t girls wear Blakeys?‘
I asked my mother, sulky. If she had responded
with birthday boots I would have
danced my way along the singing streets
sparking my steel-capped joy.
 
 
       note: Blakeys were the caps attached to boots to strengthen them
 

Pat Francis

Pat Francis website
 
e-mail Pat Francis

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Victoria Gatehouse

Victoria Gatehouse lives in West Yorkshire and has an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University. Her poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies including Mslexia, Magma, The Rialto, Poetry News, The Interpreter’s House, Prole, Furies and Her Wings of Glass. Victoria won the Ilkley Festival Poetry competition in 2011 and was a runner up in the Mslexia Single poem competition in both 2014 and 2015.

Widow

     Following the death of her husband, artist Suzie MacMurray
     created a dress made entirely of pins.

 
You’ll find me glittering in doorways
waiting, like a bride, to snag everyone’s eye.
 
As a bride, I stood through countless fittings
knew the hopeful calculations of the measuring tape –
 
now I’ve taken shears to dreams, watched beads
of blood swell and break on the fingertips
 
of those who re-stitched the seams. Watch me
thread my way across the room. In my wake,
 
a shivering train, the clicking grief
of one hundred thousand adamantine pins.
 
From a distance they’re glossy with light,
lie like a pelt. Touchable. Come closer –
 
held in the smooth weight of each head,
a fleck of memory, the tight edge of a tear.
 

Victoria Gatehouse

Poem published in Mslexia, 2014; in anthology Her Wings of Glass, Second Light Publications, 2014

e-mail Victoria Gatehouse

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Joy Howard

Joy Howard’s poems have featured in several anthologies. Now retired from social services, she works as a freelance consultant, lecturer and editor. She is a co-founder of Grey Hen Press and a contributor to Grey Hen’s inaugural publication Second Bite.

Stranded

and anchored in a fretwork of foam
over sea-shimmering silver gilt sand
I’m bliss-basking like an old grey seal
beached and loving it
 
so till the seventh wave
lolls over me and nudges me back
to the sea   let your hands glide
over mounded flesh and soft pelt
while you plumb my fathomable eyes
and marvel at my stillness
 
believe me
I’m more graceful in water
 

Joy Howard

in collection Foraging, 2017, Arachne Press;
previously published in anthology Running Before the Wind,
2013, Grey Hen Press

tel: 01535 645711
 
Grey Hen Press
 
Joy at poetry p f
 
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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
 
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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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Jennie Osborne

Jennie Osborne lives on the edge of Dartmoor, active in poetry around South Devon. One of organisers of Teignmouth Poetry Festival. Performer and workshop leader. Won 2015 Kent and Sussex Poetry Prize.

Salmon

It’s too early
for salmon leaping
or too late.
 
I’m in the right place
thinking perhaps
no time is wrong
 
That I feel at home here
or anywhere
that isn’t home
 
and as I stand in that knowledge
the salmon come, leaping.
 

Jennie Osborne

Poem published: The Rialto, Autumn 2013.

Publications:
Colouring Outside the Lines, 2015, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-1-9068565-8-8
collection, How to be Naked, 2010, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-1-9068561-3-7. £8;
CD, Something about a Woman, £5 + 50p p&p, direct from Jennie

Overall winner of the SecondLightLive Poetry Competition, Round 2, Nov 08 to Sep 09. Listen to Jennie reading There’s Something about a Woman Swallowing Flames

e-mail Jennie Osborne
 
web-pages on poetry p f.

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Susan Jane Sims

Susan Jane Sims lives in Dorset with husband, Chris. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies. She founded the publishing company Poetry Space in 2010.

Bearing Gifts

A friend
has brought you
a book called Mortality,
by Christopher Hitchens.
The friend is a father,
almost twice over.
I could not think of anything
more appropriate

he said.
 
Another brings scrabble
and we play
on the end of your hospital bed.
On the white sheet you helped
the hca draw and tuck,
and demonstrate your skill
with hospital corners.
 
I find I have the letters
to spell tumour,
Instead I put down m o u t
up against h from hope.
 
A group club together
for expensive whiskey,
wrap it in pink tissue
you carefully peel away
like skin. You can imagine the sips
of liquid gold on your tongue.
Making it last.
Wondering who or what will
outlive who or what.
 
These days
have been surreal.
Secrets have been passed on
for you to guard.
Your hand has been held
through a long and wakeful night.
You have been told a hundred times
that you are loved.
 
The staff bring you every report
and test result. Offer to show you the scan.
call you respectfully, Dr Sims
and you wish yourself
into the role of blissful patient
with faith and blind trust.
What’s done can’t be undone.
What’s learnt becomes both curse and blessing.
 
First morning alone you ring
I’ve been writing
my best man speech for Dave
, you say.
What’s he going to do without me?
What are we all going to do
I say
without you in our lives.
 

Susan Jane Sims

My son Mark was diagnosed in February 2015 with Stage 4 metastatic cancer in lung, liver, spleen and gall bladder. It was also discovered later in his brain and his tonsils. The primary cancer was a malignant melanoma on his scalp when he was 15.
 
Mark died on 19th January 2017 aged 28.

published in Reach magazine in June, 2015. (edition 201)

Publications:
Splitting Sunlight, Dempsey and Windle, 2019. ISBN 978-1-9074357-9-9
Irene’s Daughter, Poetry Space Ltd, ISBN 978-0-9565328-2-4
A number of things you should know, Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2015, ISBN 978-1-9093576-8-6

Susan’s Poetry Space website
 
e-mail Susan

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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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