Featured Poets, July 2018                     home page
 

Anne Sherry       Christine Michael       Denni Turp       Fokkina McDonnell       Gill Nicholson       Jan Bay-Petersen       Jean Atkin       Jill Boucher       Kathleen M Quinlan       Maria Jastrzebska       Mimi Khalvati       Shirley Bell       Shirley Wright       Vicki Morley      

Anne Sherry

Anne Sherry is a Writer and Management Consultant. She lives in Winchester but travels widely. Her first collection, Safe Passage, was published in 2014.

Long View

Sirens howl, scream for attention
fog my mind, cloud my senses
leave me lusting for silence.
I check in, check out my case
obsess over your note
two jagged words, ‘Suite Thirteen’.
 
Later, after sashimi and Saki –
‘c’est devenu notre tradition’ you say –
a summer storm batters New York,
drains spout sewage, traffic overflows
and we wade along sodden sidewalks
through spouts of brown steam.
 
And much, much later
alone on the balcony
I listen to your breathing,
thirty-seven storeys high, no sky
the sleepless skyscrapers
bunch together like prison bars.
 
                     ~~~
 
I escape that world, serve time
in a blue and yellow flat
perched behind the Old Town Square
feed dumplings to a scraggy sparrow
and grow plump on Prague –
her golden towers, gilded domes
marionettes, Mozart, Mucha
crystal and culture.
 
Calm.
 
Sub zero temperatures delete thought
cleanse my nomad mind
my days are swallow-free
but at night, reproach and regret
pace my dreams
hot as a lover’s breath.
 
                     ~~~
 
Summers merge, winters pass.
 
A soft sound, sly as spindrift
the mosquito net judders
as I claw the sheets
a rag doll push-pulling a broken puppet.
I hear your voice
as the misty dawn breaks in my eyes.
 

Anne Sherry

Poem published: Norwich Writer’s Circle 39th Open Poetry Competition Anthology 2010

Publications:
Safe Passage, a memoir in poetry and prose, 2014, Ashbrook Publications, ISBN 978-0-9927930-0-5, £7.95 +p&p,
(proceeds after costs to Alzheimer’s Research UK, www.cpibookdelivery.com

e-mail Anne Sherry

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Christine Michael

Christine lives in Warwickshire and is the rep for the Poetry Society’s Stratford-upon-Avon Stanza group. She started writing poetry (for the first time since school) in 2010.

New Year’s Day

Noon. The sun is sharp and cool as a sniper.
 
Ploughed fields are ridges of bitter chocolate,
puddles glazed with broken ice-panes,
molehills detonated on green verges.
 
Our steps startle sparrows from a hedge
thick with rosehips; they fly up in arpeggio,
circle and subside a few yards off.
 
But the distant thump of a shotgun
echoing from beyond the woods
does not disturb the cropping horse
 
or interrupt the blackbird’s prosecution
of a snail in its merciless assizes.
 
Clear sky. The sun keeps us in its sights.
 
A troop of crows deploys from its high bivouac
to skirmish in bare stubble;
ewes huddle round fodder in a frosted meadow.
 
This is a day to read signs in naked branches,
to piece together torn-up scraps of birdsong,
divine direction from a dropped feather;
 
This is the rutted route we walk afresh,
as the sun surrenders its arms to dusk.
 

Christine Michael

Christine Michael website
 
e-mail Christine Michael

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Denni Turp

Denni Turp writes mostly in English, and is a member of Lapidus and of two local writing groups where she lives in north Wales. She works as North Wales Field Officer for Disability Arts Cymru.

Monolopy

He had a cherry tree.
The cherries it produced
were deep of colour
and of sweetness,
full of juice, and
he didn’t want to share.
 
The birds would come
to taste some of the fruit,
and leave him songs
wrapped round the stones.
‘Not fair,’ he said.
‘This needs to change.’
 
So he built a cage
to keep the tree secure,
closed up all the gaps
and spaces totally
to keep them out,
so he could have it all.
 
Bees bounced in panic
against the wall.
Petals fell and clustered
at the roots, the birds
no longer sang,
and there were no fruits.
 

Denni Turp

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Fokkina McDonnell

Fokkina McDonnell was born in the Netherlands, but has lived in the UK for most of her adult life. Her poems have been broadcast, and published in over 20 anthologies and magazines, including Orbis, The North, Mslexia, Magma and Poetry News.

The twins have set up a tattoo parlour

Some say it was self-inflicted;
he was tired of his demanding job.
Cosmo says he lost the right arm
in an accident at sea. He asks
me to sign a short disclaimer.
Damian is upstairs doing admin.
Cosmo pulls out a handful
of small beetles, insects, dragonflies
from the pockets on his legs.
I find it hard to choose among
swirling grey wings, shuttling black.
I thought a swift or starling?
Cosmo looks doubtful. He can
do a crow from memory. Yellow
eyes, curved beak, he says,
plucky legs. I can only nod.
 

Fokkina McDonnell

Poem published in Strix 3, Spring 2018.

Publications:
Another Life, 2016, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-1-9068566-7-0

Fokkina McDonnell website
 
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Gill Nicholson

Gill lives in South Cumbria. Since publication she is exploring set forms and ideas provoked by films, photographs and music. Pennine Platform, The Interpreter’s House, Seam and Other Poetry have published her work. Poem-and-a-Pint continues into its eleventh year.

Giardini

Too old for racing now, five brindled greyhounds
poke through rubbish trapped in cracks
and scattered on the grass. At six she lets them out
to find the winter’s rain has sluiced the roofs,
set off new scents.
 
The turtle-woman pulls her trolley full of cat-food
round corners as routinely as the dogs remember sex.
A beetle inside tree roots clambers out for air,
its crimson carapace caught by this nosing camera.
The park is destitute; each nation’s show-place
shuttered up.
 
Yet in some pebbles, bright as a clutch of marbles,
yellow cinquefoil grows. A worm stretched through
the water of a pool is shot in close up:
its ridged elastic body moves as though
the centuries have stopped.
 
At dusk, lamps light up walkways
bare of art’s contemporary shows.
Drops ping cold glass; drip down, drip down,
as fruitless trails make puddles whose reflections
only turn back on themselves.
 
Two church bells chime, collide and then divide.
At midnight, shadows breathe. A cigarette flares.
We think a man is waiting. Out of the dark,
he lifts his arms and holds another in the silence.
It’s a question that the camera shares.
 
Dawn comes again. Lights go out, reveal black trees
that regiment the avenues. He catches it: the moment
when the spider hides against a muted bark.
Sun will come out, birds flick their wings and twitter,
dogs, their muzzles down, will search.
 

     After the film by Steve McQueen. Venice Biennale 2009

Gill Nicholson

Publication: Other Poetry, 2011

Publications:
Naming Dusk in Dead Languages, 2009, Handstand Press, £8 (£10 with p&p), ISBN 978-0-9552009-5-3;
The Art of Tying Knots, £5 or digital copy at the LitFest (Lancaster) website

address:
7, Mayfield Road
Ulverston
Cumbria
LA12 0DU
 
tel: 01229 583203
 
web-site
 
e-mail

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Jan Bay-Petersen

Jan Bay-Petersen, a New Zealander, worked in agricultural development and lived for 20 years in Taiwan. She began writing poetry after she moved to Cambridge. She has published in several poetry journals and won the 2013 Poetry Society Stanza Poetry Competition.

It’s a Two and You’re Dead

The closer we live to our gods, the more we need games.
Luck isn’t random: it chooses and fondles, then flits,
while we phantom midges soar high on the breath
of the gods or are drowned in their spit.
If our buzzing offends, if we stick in their throat,
they may take as amends what we don’t want to lose,
and you pay with an arm and a leg. Let us pray.
 
Playing games gives a hint. They’re a rear-vision mirror
to show what is coming up close from behind.
They won’t stop the truck, but maybe you’ll pause
a significant tick while you’re sending a text
so your paths don’t collide. If you’re ten over par,
if your darts hit the wire – give the blind date a miss.
Don’t ask for a raise, not today. Catch the bus.
 
Wait till you throw double six, till your horse
gallops home, till the ball draws a line
from your boot to the goal, till the Queen, King and Knave
join the cloverleaf Ace. Though you can’t read the stars
you can tip them like Braille and the rhythms are good,
your sails belly and fill, the duck’s entrails are pink.
There’s a cat and he’s black and you’re blessed. Take the trick.
 

Jan Bay-Petersen

Poem published in The North, 50

Jan Bay-Petersen at poetry p f
 

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Jean Atkin

Jean Atkin is a poet & writer in education & the community. She has won the Torbay Open Poetry Prize and the Ravenglass Poetry Press Competition, among others. Her first full collection Not Lost Since Last Time is published by Oversteps Books.

The Children of Lir

His hands were folded. He seemed
to be waiting. I saw him lower
his eyes to earth
 
as I landed, a brother at each wing tip.
Behind us the sea lough tolled with the bell.
When it had stopped, he spoke.
 
I remember the coarseness of his robe,
his mudstained feet. His voice was narrow
as reeds. Rain fell.
 
We heard him out.
I searched my brothers’ eyes: and then
we spread our wings. I felt the loosening
 
of flight feathers, saw them fall;
I watched smooth plumage snow
from thinning bones.
 
I folded, for the first time, shriven fingers
and with my stranger’s hand I touched – and found
skin slack on flesh and desert dry.
 
My hair curved round me
long and faint and grey.
White down fanned to ground.
 
Shameless, my favourite brother stood
and stared into the sky. I saw him lank
and naked.
 
His eyes filled. I took his hand.
 
The monk prayed. Rain fell.
 

Jean Atkin

Poem published: Poetry Ireland Review 106 (2012)

Publications:
Not Lost Since Last Time, 2013, Oversteps Books, 978-1-906856-3-8-0, £8
The Dark Farms, 2012, Roncadora Press, 978-0-9571994-2-2, £9
Lost at Sea, 2011, Roncadora Press, 978-0-9535804-6-0, £10
The Treeless Region, 2010, Ravenglass Poetry Press, 978-0956539502, £4.99

Jean Atkin website
 
e-mail

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Jill Boucher

Jill Boucher lives in rural Warwickshire. Her past life roles include actress, secretary, speech and language therapist; wife, mother, smallholder; academic neuropsychologist and author; grandmother and gardener. She has ‘always written poetry’.

Hippocampi

Deep in the brain
where psychedelic fishes
flick and sway
amongst the reefs and rocks
sea-horses pick their way
pitching and bobbing,
omnivorous scavengers
of day’s debris
cousins of deep-sea monsters
Neptune’s steeds
tamed, now, to be
custodians
of memory.
 
When they are gone
the undigested waste of timeless days
flocculates
smothering reefs
asphyxiating fishes.
Algae proliferate
and in the gathering darkness of the brain
the ghosts of galloping monsters
clatter and bray.
 

Jill Boucher

The hippocampi are sea-horse-shaped subcortical structures which play a critical role in the formation of new memories. Damage or degeneration of the hippocampi causes amnesia and contributes to dementia.

Poem published in Penine Platform, 2017

Publications:
The Autistic Spectrum: Characteristics, Causes, and Practical Issues (2nd edn), 2017, Sage (London).

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Kathleen M Quinlan

My poetry, recently placed in journals such as Acumen, Saw, Gargoyle, Bloodroot, Journal of Family Social Work, Journal of Poetry Therapy and Touch: The Journal of Healing, explore nature and social issues. An American, I teach at Oxford University.

Flight from the Countryside

     World Bank: For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s people live in cities.
 
I miss the stars the most.
 
Not that first twinkling
nursery-rhyme character
wished upon at the bedroom
window in the still-twilight blue.
 
Not the familiar patterns – imagined
silver dippers and rescued sisters outlined
in connect-the-dots on charcoal skies.
 
Not even Perseid’s meteors – August nights
on a blanket in the back yard, wondering
which way to turn to catch
the next stolen kiss.
 
But, the unbounded arch of the Milky Way –
its band of scattered moon-dust
spilling over me the night
the peepers announced spring.
 
These riches were in our grasp –
a trillion diamonds
gifted from heaven.
 
And we left it all behind.
 

Kathleen M Quinlan

Poem published in Bloodroot Literary Magazine, 2013

Address: Abingdon, England
 
e-mail Kathleen M Quinlan

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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
 
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Mimi Khalvati

Mimi Khalvati is the founder of The Poetry School, is on the Council of Management of the Arvon Foundation, the Editorial Board of Wasafiri and is a PBS selector. Her latest collection is The Meanest Flower (Carcanet 2007, PBS Recommendation).

The Valley


Through a thin spray of flowers from the valley
(and frailer for the shyness you gave them with),
through sprigs of blue, their minute suns, many
and angled to many corners of the earth,
I saw, not the valley or even the hill
that rose in front of me, but half-imagined
plateaux that lay beyond these disused mills:
meadows waist-high, horizons mountain-rimmed.

Wildflowers grow there in abundance, so many
you could reap armfuls of them, cauldrons
of colour stoked with their dyes, cornflowers, teasels
snarling your hair and on your headscarf, apron,
shirt and shawl, the whole sky would spill a pinny
studded with seeds. But thank you, thank you for these.

Mimi Khalvati

Poem published in collection, The Meanest Flower

Most Recent Publications, all from Carcanet:
The Meanest Flower, 2007. PBS Recommendation. Short-listed for TS Eliot Prize.
The Chine, 2002.
Mimi Khalvati: Selected Poems, 2000.
Entries on Light, 1997.
Mirrorwork, 1995, ACE Writer's Award.

web-site

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Shirley Bell

Shirley Bell edits The Blue Nib Literary magazine. Her work is widely anthologised & appears in many magazines. She has given readings & workshops all over the UK. Her work is archived in the Special Collections Library at the University of Lincoln.

Tell it to the Bees.

The garden hums. Bees guzzle in the throats
of the lush flowers and butterflies clot the blossoms.
The simple flowers are full of nectar. Sometimes
the hives are dressed in mourning. Someone has
rapped softly and told it to the bees. Their hive servant
who managed their perfect world has gone.
 
As the coffin settles in its grave so gentle hands
lift and set down the colony with its waxen cells
like catacombs. And reverently lay out their share of
funeral meats and drinks at the entrance where the bees
dance their maps; carry the pollen in their baskets
to feed the hive in their secret waxen chambers.
 
Cells dripping with nectar metamorphosing into honey:
that gold that gives the gift of prophecy. Telling the bees.
But there is a stutter in the rituals. The threats grow like
the larvae in their elaborate chambers,
those perfect hexagons. The doubled flowers
flounce their skirts. Nectarless. The bees in their quietened hive
are alive instead with Varroa mites, crawling in their plush.
 
And all the words of prophecy roll on the tongue.
Foul Brood and Nosema,
Colony Collapse and neonicotinoids.
 
Tell it to the bees.
 

Shirley Bell

Poem published in The 2016 TEMPLAR ANTHOLOGY

Publications:
Dark is a Way and Light is a Place: Published Poems 1982-2016, redplantpress ISBN: 1-530895-13-8 £5.75
behind the glass, pamphlet created as part of MA in Creative Writing, University of Lincoln, 2013 lulu for redplantpress ISBN: 978-1-2913358-3-5 £9.95
Poetry of Hospitals and Waiting Rooms Paperback, 2013, a collection of her blog poetry written in the lead up to her husband’s heart surgery, and on sale in aid of The British Heart Foundation, redplantpress, ISBN: 978-1-2915600-1-5 £8.95
Anvil New Poets: 1 anthology including Shirley Bell, Oktay Rifat, Patricia Doubell and Mimi Khalvati and 6 more, 1990, Anvil Press Poetry, ISBN: 978-0-8564623-0-6 £5.99
Poetry Introduction: No. 6 anthology including Shirley Bell and 7 others, 1985, Faber & Faber, ISBN: 978-0-5711354-3-1 from £0.01 (Amazon, search by ISBN)
Six: The Versewagon Poetry Manual anthology edited by Ian McMillan including Shirley Bell and 5 others, 1985, Rivelin Grapheme Press, ISBN: 978-0-94761213-9-3 £7.18

Address:
Glenhirst
Station Road
Swineshead
Boston
Lincs
PE20 3NX
UK
 

Tel: 07972 588161

 
The Blue Nib
 
e-mail Shirley Bell

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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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Vicki Morley

Having worked at GCHQ and been head of two comprehensives, took early retirement and moved to Penzance, which is mostly slug free and writes poems. Taken part in Golowan and Penzance literary festivals.

Cairo chorus

Javelins of light slice the night sky.
The yellow glow slowly
approaches the city fringes
where huddled in rags,
workers sleep in the cemetery
below the Mokattam hills.
 
Mullahs, weary with arthritis,
climb endless stairs of stone
to switch on a
recording.
 
As the call to prayers
ricochets
across street canyons,
drones into cafes and shuttered windows,
the sound is echoed
by a canine chorus.
All the Cairo dogs tune up
for the day ahead.
They howl loud and long
to mourn the end of night.
 

Vicki Morley

Poem published in Hysteria 3 anthology (judge for Hysteria 4 2015).

e-mail Vicki Morley

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