Featured Poets, Jun 2020                     home page
 

Elaine Briggs       Kate Foley       Daphne Gloag       Lesley J Ingram       Denise McSheehy       Moya Pacey       Maggie Sawkins       Martha Street       Jay Whittaker       Pam Zinnemann-Hope       Veronica Zundel      

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)  

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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Kate Foley

Kate Foley’s first (of 4) collection, Soft Engineering, was shortlisted for the Aldburgh Festival prize for best first collection. She is a tutor ( wordsinhere , SLN, freelance), editor (Versal, Amsterdam) and this year’s judge for the David Reid Poetry Translation Prize.

Kate is a tutor for Second Light Network and serves on the committee (see more... link below).

Ga Maar Lekker Slapen
(Sleep well now)

Ga maar lekker slapen, you say.
 
It’s 4 am. I have been standing on a blue dock.
Ice lights in the water. A ship against the quay
 
is rumbling in its guts. Steel threads run to the lip
of the gang plank. A freight wagon rolls to the edge,
unstoppable as coals down a shute. I know
it is full of my sins. I make myself
 
look at its logo, hoping it’s in Cyrillic,
something I can’t read. It’s the turning away
 
that creates furrows in our bed. When morning
comes and I open one saurian eye, I see
 
your collar bones arrow together as you bend.
In one hand a brown coffee mug, the other
 
wafting little pursed lips of fierce-smelling
wake-up coffee steam towards my sleep.
 
If I said to you I need to be sorry you’d ask
to whom, for what? since you have taught me
 
finally how to be kind. That’s just how it is,
you would say.
 
Ga maar lekker slapen.

Kate Foley

Publications:
The Silver Rembrandt, Shoestring Press, 2008
Laughter from the Hive, Shoestring Press, 2004
A Year Without Apricots, Blackwater Press, 1999
Soft Engineering, OnlyWomen Press, 1994

web-pages on poetry p f.
 
e-mail

more...

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Daphne Gloag

Daphne Gloag lives near London. Many poems have appeared in magazines etc, especially since she retired from medical publishing. A third book, Beginnings, is due in 2013. The end of the title poem won a Second Light competition first prize.

Dark Matter *

That Volvo must be doing 70, I said
as we drove home from the museum. Words
as bridges, the road smooth as thought, sun low,
its brightness undone. Not so much traffic now.
Words as cushions. The engine’s so quiet, you said.
 
It was a kind of peace.
What did you like best today? I asked you. –
Well, the wise men – their huge star – on that ivory…
oh look at that,
I knew that car would pull out.
My silent agreement merged with the quiet.
 
Long as memory it seemed, the road:
it could have gone on for ever, knowing nothing
of the souls it carried.
Today, I said, won’t last for ever
but our poems will remember it.

 
Clarity of being, bright surfaces
plain to see. Nothing to explain, except the comfort
of the banality of breath, except the ease
of words and silence
smooth as our speed,
 
except the way
two beings were held together by their hidden life,
just as in the galaxies
what cannot be seen
holds together the luminous stars.
 

Daphne Gloag

*Invisible matter – dark matter – is generally thought to be the main reason for the gravity holding the galaxies together.
 

Poem published in earlier version in Ambit and, as part of the long poem sequence Beginnings, in the collection Beginnings and Other Poems.

Publications:
collection, Beginnings and Other Poems, 2013, Cinnamon Press, £8.99
collection, A Compression of Distances, 2009, Cinnamon Press, £7.99
collection, Diversities of Silence, 1995, Brentham Press, £4.50

Address:
12 Ludlow Road
London
W5 1NY
 
Daphne Gloag at poetry p f
 
e-mail

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Lesley J Ingram

Born in Doncaster, Lesley lives in Ledbury. She runs the Herefordshire Stanza, and has been printed here and there – is working on everywhere. It may take some time.

Unzipping

This is more than dibbing in, but not quite
rifling through. The zip defensively tooth
and nail, bites, snatching the tremor from my skin,
scratching my rouge noir. Deep breaths.
This has to be against some law.
 
I finger-skim the surface shapes, reading
the contents like braille, a sharp edge, a cold key,
a press of leather, a prickling of guesses.
Time washes in, pools in the notebook
I know holds your days, your
coffee mornings, keep fit classes, chemo
 
dates. Your variations in temperature.
I recognise your lipstick mirror by the ring
of bling round its top. I can’t open it.
I would see you. Drowning in your Youth
Dew, choking in your tissues and
mini-sudukos, half-dying
 
in the deeping and the laws
of nature … I see you shake your head.
‘Dive in’, you say, ‘dive in – we have no secrets
you and me’. Already half way round
the bend I nod. Had. You mean had.

Lesley J Ingram

* written for the theme ‘Into the Deep’

Poem published: Mslexia, April 2010

Publication:
Scumbled, 2015, Cinnamon Press, ISBN 978-1-909077-72-0, £8.99

Lesley J Ingram website
 
e-mail Lesley J Ingram

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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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Moya Pacey

I am living in Canberra Australia after spending 2009-2010 studying at Goldsmiths College for an MA in Creative and Life Writing. I am working on a second collection.

Smalls

Keep the secrets of your laundry basket
close to home; should a visitor call,
on washing day, unexpected –
your french lace knickers
forlorn & ragged as a bed
of wild silk pansies
at the end of a hot summer’s day,
& his boxer shorts, extra large now,
shirring elastic sagging like a top
heavy sunflower – seeds all gone,
can be whipped indoors
double quick.

Moya Pacey

Poem published in Women’s Work, eds Hathorn and Bailey, Pax Press, 2013;
reading on Radio National Poetica, late 2013.

Publications:
The Wardrobe, 2009, Ginninderra Press, ISBN 978-1-7402758-0-4. £7.00.

Moya Pacey on Facebook
 
e-mail

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Maggie Sawkins

Maggie Sawkins lives in Southsea, Hampshire where she organises Tongues&Grooves Poetry and Music Club. Winner of the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry for Zones of Avoidance. Maggie works with people in recovery from addiction.

Zones of Avoidance

     (a short extract)
 
I’m reading ‘The Confessions of an English Opium Eater’ –
I want to understand what drove my daughter out in the snow
 
with no coat or socks, in search of a fix.
I want to understand what divinity led her
 
to set up camp in the derelict ‘pigeon house’
after running out of sofas to surf.
 
     *
 
I was a Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds girl myself.
I liked the way it made inanimate objects move,
 
until that day in Balham when my guy sang Rock n Roll Suicide
from a third floor window, and an Alsatian leapt
 
from the wood grain of the station door, and policemen
were penguins in disguise.
 
     *
 
Tough Love. The mantra of the support group for those
beaten by their loved one’s addiction.
 
When I was busted at nineteen and the bedsit landlord
tipped my belongings onto the street, the last person
 
I would’ve turned to was my mother.
You’ve made your bed. Lie on it. Lie on it. Lie on it.
 

Maggie Sawkins

Poem published in Zones of Avoidance, 2013

Publications:
Zones of Avoidance (multimedia live literature performance, directed by Mark C Hewitt), 2013;
The Zig Zag Woman, 2007, Two Ravens Press;
Charcot’s Pet, 2003, Flarestack

Zones of Avoidance website
 
e-mail Maggie Sawkins

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Martha Street

Martha Street lives in Bristol and meets in the city’s libraries with Bus Pass Poets.

Let the Trees

Let the trees advise you.
Listen to their leaves chanting spells
so ancient we’ve lost their meaning,
a wordless language of solace.
 
Let the strong torsos of trees
show you endurance, and age;
let the magical shedding of red garments,
the giving to wind of white blossoms
speak of time’s unveiling,
how, stripped bare, the living body
can become even more beautiful.
 
The fall and decay of one giant
will scribble a message on bark,
the calligraphy of lichen, of claw marks,
transparent shells of beetles, and moss.
 
Can you see where that dark figure stood
blocking the sun? Now light falls through that space,
into the green of the clearing.

Martha Street

Publications:
Stone Soup, Palores Publications, 2010 ISBN 978-1-906845-19-3 £4.50 from author (includes p&p)
Little Book of Poems, pamphlet, Forward Press, 2002
Little Book of Poems, pamphlet, Forward Press, 2000

e-mail

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Jay Whittaker

Jay Whittaker’s debut poetry collection Wristwatch (Cinnamon Press) was the Poetry Book of the Year in the Saltire Society Literary Awards 2018, and her second collection, Sweet Anaesthetist, is published October 2020 (Cinnamon Press).

Canopy

     (day 20, first chemo cycle)
 
Do tree tips tingle, niggle like my scalp?
Most people’s hair (I’m told) comes out on day eighteen.
White hairs work loose first, waft down.
This late summer evening, my scarfed skull
as bald and vulnerable as a fledgling’s,
I stand under the row of sycamore, my neck sore
from looking up to the abundance of leaves.
Whatever happens to me, the earth is turning.
At the same hour in winter, haven’t I stood
in this very spot, watching bare branches
implore the sky for light?
 

Jay Whittaker

Poem originally published in Wristwatch, 2017, Cinnamon Press

Publications:
Sweet anaesthetist, 2020, Cinnamon Press, ISBN 978-1-7886408-3-1, £9.99
2 poems in Staying Human: new poems for staying alive, 2020, Bloodaxe Books, ISBN 978-1-7803739-0-4, £12.99
4 poems in Scottish feminist judgments, 2019, Hart Publishing, ISBN 978-1-5099232-6-7, (hbk) £95
Wristwatch, 2017, Cinnamon Press, ISBN 978-1-9108368-0-4, £8.99 Pearl, Selkirk Lapwing Press, 2005, 0953121267, out of print

Pearl, 2005, Selkirk Lapwing Press, ISBN 0-9-531212-6-7 (out of print)

Jay Whittaker website
 
e-mail Jay Whittaker

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Pam Zinnemann-Hope

On Cigarette Papers, Pam Zinnemann-Hope’s debut collection, was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize. It was adapted by her for the Afternoon Play on radio 4 in which she also acted. She runs poetry seminars near Dorchester.

Marriage to Lazar – 1905

On the day my bankrupt father married me off
the luck sat more in my husband’s cup
than mine, believe me. Lazar broke the glass
for us in Krakow; a broken glass
is meant to bring you luck. But I’d already
turned my back on my dreams, cut up
my ball-gown stitched with seed pearls,
the dumb song-birds on my own embrodiery;
I spoke sternly to my tiny stubborn heart;
I stood straight with Lazar under the canopy;
I dropped my eyes to his uncultured vowels.
What could I do while the gold band slid
onto my finger? Make a secret vow:
never forgive my father, or fall in love.

Pam Zinnemann-Hope

in collection On Cigarette Papers, Ward Wood, 2012

Publications:
On Cigarette Papers, Ward Wood, 2012, ISBN 978-0-9568969-8-8
Who’s In The Next Room, HappenStance, 2010, ISBN 978-1-9059395-1-0
4 Ned books, Walker Books, 1986/7/8, ISBN 978-0-744 5062-6-6 (& 3 following)
NW15, Anthology of New Writing, Granta, 2007

e-mail

Pam Zinnemann-Hope at Ward Wood

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Veronica Zundel

I am a freelance writer for the Christian market, have been writing poetry for over 40 years and had 40-45 poems published in anthologies and magazines. Now learning a lot with the Poetry School online and thinking about submitting to poetry journals.

‘Dear God, all the children can run except me’

Most children come out right. They come with all
their arms and legs, ten fingers
and ten toes, their brains
wired up the ordinary way.
They go to Brownies and have sleepovers,
they learn ballet and Tae Kwon Do,
they do the Duke of Edinburgh’s award.
No one avoids them, or their mothers
in the playground. When they grow up
they have good jobs, and partners
and get on the property ladder.
 
But you were never most children, and
never will be, your whole life long
my damaged, precious boy,
my baton passed to the future, my fear, my joy.
 

Veronica Zundel

Publications:
Going Out, Hodder 1990
Faith in her Words: six centuries of women’s poetry, Lion 1991
The Time of our Lives, BRF 2007
Crying for the Light, BRF 2008
All I know about God, I’ve learned from being a parent, BRF 2013

Veronica Zundel website
 
e-mail

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