Featured Poets, January 2021                     home page
 

Isabel Bermudez       Angela Croft       Bridget Fraser       Pauline Kirk       Denise McSheehy       Carolyn Oulton       Julie Sampson       Kathryn Southworth       Jill Townsend       Cathy Whittaker      

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)  

Isabel Bermudez

Isabel Bermudez lives in Kent. Her chapbook collection, ‘Extranjeros’ (2015), is available from Flarestack Poets. Her full collection ‘Small Disturbances’ is published by Rockingham Press (October 2016).

Heron speaks

He says again, he
doesn’t know how he used
to fit everything in,
 
he doesn’t know where it goes,
the time, it just evaporates…
Watching from the balcony
 
it’ll all be wound up he says,
by the end of next year,
the old brewery

 
as two huge metal tanks
suspended in air like flies in aspic
are lowered over its brick wall
 
onto waiting barges
bound for elsewhere
and I find myself thinking
 
of odds and ends, how it was
always he who used to say, Don’t fret…
Now he sees it go,
 
a barge that slips away
as light returns again:
the empty river’s trick
 
a gleam of silverware,
those centuries of beer,
ship-loads of sugar, yards of steel
 
whose yellowed ledgers state
in neat black script
their clear economy of
 
trade and deficit, while love,
the one timepiece that endures,
waives past debts,
 
and borrows only to exchange,
is like the strange December moon,
the long-night moon,
 
keeper of the light, of human dust
and the vanished years, clocking
the measure of our fate.

 

Isabel Bermuez

in collection Small Disturbances

Publications:
Small Disturbances, 2016 (October), Rockingham Press, ISBN 978-19048516-6-0
Extranjeros, 2015, Flarestack Poets, ISBN 978-1-9064804-2-4

Address:

2 York Rise
Orpington
Kent
BR6 8PR  
Isabel Bermudez at poetry p f
 
e-mail Isabel Bermudez

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Angela Croft

Lived in North Wales, Cornwall and London, worked as a journalist – published in a wide range of magazines and anthologies including ‘Ordinary Magic’ and recently commended in the British Red Cross competition which attracted 750 entries worldwide.

Dancing with Chagall

It’s all very well allowing him to fling
you up into the air
your purple skirt waving like a flag
above the rooftops
your feet in the clouds
 
but what will you do if it turns to rain
up in the sky without a hat
 
those strappy shoes, that scrap of cloth
that hardly passes as a blouse
slipping off your shoulder
to show your luminous skin
your fragile bones
 
him with fire in his eyes clasping
your hand as if he’d never let you fall
 
and you so very, very brittle
 

Angela Croft

First published in the French Literary Review

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Bridget Fraser

Bridget Fraser founded the Free Range Poets (FRP) several years ago. Currently a flexible ten members meet monthly to workshop new poems. FRP read regularly for the Henley Literary Festival and publish an annual collection of new work.

Maps

Time was
we sailed our carefree seas
braved tides and currents
breasted jeopardy of waves
to seek safe harbour
you sure-tied and safe within my lee
umbilical to mother-ship
 
To circumnavigate our world
we plotted by the stars
discovered islands kind or cruel
safe shores and treacherous seas.
 
Then in due course
you followed your own star
aligned your compass opposite to mine
to mark your own Odyssian tides.
I handed on to you
that two-edged blade
of freedom,
watched you loosen ropes
untie old knots
and cast off onto seas of your own making.
 
The mother-ship, becalmed yet far from calm,
could only flutter prayers in semaphore
to keep you safe
protect you from dark seas
unfathomed
fathomless
 
My tattered sails once caught the winds of promise –
carry that promise on to new horizons.
May I still be your anchor
though my sails lie slack
my rigging creaks
with missing you.
 

Bridget Fraser

This seems to be a much-demanded favourite especially by mothers of the brides to be.

Poem published in And still the grass grows; Ruffling Feathers; Treading on Eggshells;
A River Runs Through Us; South
44; Inspirations … Central England 1995;
Women’s Perceptions … 1997

Publications:
And still the grass grows…
Ruffling Feathers
Treading on Eggshells
Against the Grain
A River Runs Through Us
All published by Granary Press, £3.99 each incl: p&p

Address:
Southbrook
Hambleden
Henley On Thames
Bucks
RG9 6SX
 
Tel: 01491 579989
 
Barn Galleries website
 
e-mail Bridget Fraser

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Pauline Kirk

Poet and novelist Pauline Kirk lives in York. She is editor of Fighting Cock Press, a member of the Pennine Poets group and on the editorial board of ‘Dream Catcher’. She also writes the DI Ambrose Mysteries with her daughter as PJ Quinn.

‘Horned Animals, Mesolithic –
     – possibly handles’

In Maltese heat
three terracotta heads
challenge through museum glass.
Noses tilt, eyes appeal,
yet each is no bigger
than a fifty-penny piece.
 
Who fashioned you? Who
took clay six thousand years ago,
to fashion your exact ears,
slender horns and throat?
Each neck hints a missing handle
now crumbled back to dust.
 
Did you decorate jars
for a god, or perfume for a bride?
My mind shudders
beneath the weight of years.
My ancestors crouched in caves,
but they carved horses’ heads on bone,
 
still beautiful.
I turn to safer displays,
but a question nags on.
What of our time will amaze,
when the silt is cleared,
six millennia gone?
 

Pauline Kirk

Poem published in Pennine Platform, no 79, 2016;
in collection Time Traveller (see below)

Publications:
Time Traveller, Graft Poetry, 2017, ISBN 978-0-9558400-9-8, £8.50
Poetic Justice: A DI Ambrose Mystery, writing as PJ Quinn, Stairwell Books, 2017, ISBN 978-1-939269-77-5, £10.00
Thinking of You Always: the Letters of Cpl. Hill 1941-1945, Stairwell Books and Fighting Cock Press, 2016, ISBN 978-1-939269-36-2, £10.00
Border 7, Stairwell Books, 2015, ISBN 978-1-939269-25-6, £10.00; also available as an Audio Book: Amazon Audible, 2019, ISBN 978-1-939269-72-0, £22.00 or Audible subscription
Walking to Snailbeach: Selected and New Poems, Redbeck Press, 2004, ISBN 1-904338-15-1, £8.95

Pauline Kirk website
 
Pauline Kirk at poetry p f
 
web pages Pennine Poets
 
e-mail

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Denise McSheehy

Denise McSheehy lives in Devon. Her second collection The Plate Spinner was published by Oversteps Books in 2017. She is currently working on a collection of short stories.

See-through

     ‘Opposite her was a window luminous and cool as aquarium glass
     and warped as water ’
               Marilynne Robinson
 
The childhood window
new light pouring in, a white rat
running the drain pipe.
 
A veranda glassed, stuffy
jammed with boots and bikes, ill-fitting windows
vaulting the room into yellow.
 
The narrow window in that first house, jerked
open, the crumbly lilac giving off
its sweet cool thread.
 
Night, the children sleeping – a window cracked
for air, your face
pressed against the cold glass.
 
Found windows, framing roof tops chimneys
their intricate arrangement
of levels and slopes.
 
A room with a wall of glass, its interplay
of green and steady north light
swapped with black.
 
Windows scored with rain.
The brutal slots in castle walls.
Light’s geometry.
 

Denise McSheehy

Poem first published in Agenda, 2014; in collection The Plate Spinner, 2017, Oversteps Books

Publications:
The Plate Spinner, 2017, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-1-9068567-5-5
Salt, 2008, The Poetry Can, ISBN 978-0-9539234-3-4, available from Denise
Salt Prints, pamphlet, 2000, Jones Press, , ISBN ISBN cISBN, £

Denise McSheehy at poetry p f
 
e-mail Denise McSheehy

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Carolyn Oulton

Carolyn Oulton is Professor of Victorian Literature at Canterbury Christ Church University. She is the Director of the International Centre for Victorian Women Writers (ICVWW) and teaches on the Creative and Professional Writing BA.

Before I am old

     ‘And has the remnant of my life
     Been pilfered of this sunny Spring?’
 
       Dorothy Wordsworth
 
In the shadow of the woods
shapes push through like teeth,
bluebells hang steep,
bump against my tyres, through the field
the advance and retreat of a tractor.
 
I’m having that one for a start.
If I don’t go through
those toys, who will? Read those PhD
chapters today, I’ll never have time
to write comments before the review.
 
That’s a second generation
of arthritis.
The toys are in the shed.
The work is done. If I can’t get back
and look, I’m holding on to the wood and the cliff.

Carolyn Oulton

Poem published in Accidental Fruit, 2016, Worple

Publications:
Accidental Fruit, 2016, Worple, ISBN 978-1-9052083-5-7

Carolyn Oulton website
 
e-mail Carolyn Oulton

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Julie Sampson

Julie Sampson’s poetry has been widely published. Her debut collection Tessitura (Shearsman) came out in 2013. In 2009 she edited Mary Lady Chudleigh, Selected Poems (Shearsman) and she’s currently working on a second collection.

1894; Fran Skating on the Manor Pond

She skates over and around its frozen surface,
then spins a pencil-pirouette,
muffs blue-heat her hands
and from her waist a scarlet whirl of skirt.
In hazy light veins seem to break in olive eyes
as the blades of her boots refract the scratching ice
and under setting sun
her shadow is half a pulsating heart.
 
Ida, in the kitchen sits and snips
the corners of the paper folds.
Brittle like ice.
Deft, her fingers snip and snap then
rippling like a fan the row of skating dolls
holding hand by hand.
 
Robert, in the other room
turns a page.
His book about the Ministry
is a weight upon his mind.
 
His sisters are making their mark;
each enacts a secret lore
on a slated sheet of white,
figure skating on the land of open-space
and inscribing a serrated pictograph.
 
Even the tiny feet of each minute dancing doll
are chipped away to equip them with the sharpest razor cut.

Julie Sampson

The poem was runner-up in the Exeter Poetry Prize 1999; published in anthology Making Worlds; One Hundred Contemporary Women Poets, (Headland, 2003).

Collection: Tessitura, Shearsman Books, 2013, ISBN 978-1-84861-239-6
as editor Mary Lady Chudleigh; Selected Poems, Shearsman Books, 2009, ISBN 978-1-84861-048-4

Julie Sampson website
 
e-mail

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Kathryn Southworth

Kathryn Southworth, known as elmvillagepoet, is a retired academic. She was a founding fellow of the English Association, Vice Principal of Newman University College, review manager for QAA, governor in mental health and Rose Bruford Drama College.

Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls

Stopped outside Wigan Station on a rainy Tuesday
my eyes are drawn to writing on a factory wall – sweets –
and round the corner you can just make out
Uncle Joe’s mint balls keep…
 
Then childhood sweeps back on me –
my godfather, gentleman farmer, exotic
with Wigan accent and red wig, pressing on everyone
a sticky bag of amber globules –
these’ll keep thee warm.
 
His green eyes were the colour of country
to a town child, and the pocket watch
in his best black waistcoat shone
with the glamour of long ago.
 
My train moves on, and the writing on the wall
comes into full view, so now I know and how
could I forget – Uncle Joe’s mint balls
keep you all aglow.

Kathryn Southworth

Poem published in Between the Lines, City LIt Anthology

Publications:
Someone was here, 2018, Indigo Dreams Publishing, ISBN 978-1-910834-90-9
Wavelengths, poetry pamphlet with Belinda Singleton, June 2019, Dempsey and Windle, ISBN 978-1-907435-85-0

e-mail Kathryn Southworth

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Jill Townsend

Jill Townsend has had poems published in many magazines and in the anthology Images Of Women. She has also had work included in over 60 children’s collections. For the last 35 years she has lived near the Surrey and Hampshire border.

Sun Block

At last the sun gives some warmth.
My body unwinds, learns itself
sinuous as the river.
Sweet grass flows beneath my hand
like the hair of an overheated child.
 
Through half-closed eyes I see
a swan, his little orange paddles
powering against the calm,
the barely resisting water.
 
My eyes close. Seed heads hiss
and part to the sudden shadow
of his spreading wings:
                                                  a shuddering
glimpse of no future trembles through me
and a voice saying Easy, Leda.
If I cry the grass scatters.

Jill Townsend

First published in the Agenda on-line supplement to the Rilke issue, Vol.42 3-4 and in print in Seeking Refuge ed. Jan Fortune (Cinnamon press)

web-site
 
e-mail

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Cathy Whittaker

Cathy Whittaker tutors in poetry and memoir and runs/co-runs various creative writing workshops – see www.openmindwriting.com. She is published in several anthologies and has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize.

My Father’s Desk

hardly ever used, made of oak
stuffed with letters,
square, sturdy pigeon holes
for sticking bills in and old invitations
not replied to.
He never sat there for long
too busy looking after the Herdwick sheep
he was failing at making a living from,
a dream gone wrong.
On days when the rain didn’t stop
he made angry attacks on forms
searched for cheque books
shouting we can’t afford to use electricity
go out, pay for petrol.
So my mother would search for jobs
for him in the Whitehaven News,
and he’d refuse to do any of them.
Bad days when we kept away.
He wouldn’t stay crumpled
in his utilitarian chair
even though it stormed outside.
He’d take his crook, shrug into a torn anorak,
whistle the dog, stride up the intake
to count the sheep cropping the grass.
At his happiest outside alone,
debts, loans, jobs, pensions, wills,
all falling away
into the mist and rain
crossing the fells.
 

Cathy Whittaker

Poem published in This Place I Know, a new anthology of Cumbrian Poetry, Handstand Press

Publications:
15 poems in Quintet and other poets, Cinnamon Press, ed. Jan Fortune

e-mail Cathy Whittaker

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