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

Anna Avebury

I began writing poetry seriously when I gave up full-time English teaching. Poems in magazines and short-listed for Ver Poets Open Competitions twice. Pamphlet, Dress Rehearsal, self-published a few years ago. Now working on an OCA course on form.

The Door into the Dark

Stands half-open, Janus-faced, looking out,
looking in to a sunless room
 
where a curtain nuzzles the window
like a bird, in a bid to escape.
 
Shadows stalk the rocking-horse, flare
against the wall, silent flames of jet.
 
On the shelf, a doll stares, sapphire-eyed,
one shoe missing, pink bows undone.
 
Sombre-browed, Ted leans towards her, struck
dumb. Monkey grins. On the floor, snake
 
lies waiting, flicking its red felt tongue.
 

Anna Avebury

Publications: Dress Rehearsal, self-published, £2.50 (proceeds to Open Door – local charity)

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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

Jamie Dedes, born in New York, lives in N. California. A former columnist and feature writer, she runs an information site for poets and writers and founded an online arts collective that publishes a literary journal of which she is managing editor.

One Lifetime After Another

one day, you’ll see, I’ll come back to hobnob
with ravens, to fly with the crows at the moment
of apple blossoms and the scent of magnolia –
look for me winging among the white geese
in their practical formation, migrating to be here,
to keep house for you by the river…
 
I’ll be home in time for the bees in their slow heavy
search for nectar, when the grass unfurls, nib tipped –
you’ll sense me as soft and fresh as a rose,
as gentle as a breeze of butterfly wings…
 
I’ll return to honor daisies in the depths of innocence,
I’ll be the raindrops rising dew-like on your brow –
you’ll see me sliding happy down a comely jacaranda,
as feral as the wind circling the crape myrtle, you’ll
find me waiting, a small gray dove in the dovecot,
loving you, one lifetime after another.
 

Jamie Dedes

Poem published in Vita Brevis

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: “I never dared to write poetry since my teens, until mid-2016, when I took the plunge. I have written history, and had two books, some pamphlets, and many articles published. I now attend Pitshanger Poets workshop in Ealing.”

A few words from the Picts

Imagine
          a people who knew
          words were so wonderful
          it was sacrilege
                                it was Death
          to write them down.
 
Suppose
          they sang
          of magic dolphins
          silver fish
 
          told tales
          of how sun and moon
          hung balanced on the sky
          and lightning forked
          from one to the other
          flinging fire to earth
 
And suppose
          the lad with the squeaky voice
          stood apart
                                silent
          head humming with words
          heavy knife to hand
          saying to himself
 
          What should we do
          with all this stone?
 
          What would he do?
 
Just
          Imagine
 

Pat Francis

 
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:
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

e-mail Elizabeth Soule

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