Featured Poets, June 2021                     home page
 

Alison Mace       Caroline Gill       Doreen Hinchliffe       Helen T Curtis       Jill Gardiner       Lesley Ingram       Marion Tracy       Mimi Khalvati       Nola Turner       Shirley Wright       Zoe Brooks      

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, Gill Horitz, Mimi Khalvati, Lottie Kramer, Gill Learner, Gill McEvoy (read by Anne Stewart), Maggie Norton, Jennie Osborne, Elizabeth Soule, Jill Townsend, Marion Tracy, Fiona Ritchie Walker, Sarah Westcott and Lynne Wycherley.
 
Select and listen here               Poets of the Month (other dates)  

Alison Mace

After writing poems throughout her adult life, Alison Mace has at last got a full collection out: Man at the Ice House, published by The High Window Press at £10. Her work takes on difficult, often personal subjects, but is essentially positive.

A Glimpse of Eve

     on visiting a premature baby
 
Three weeks breathing, now, Eve,
twenty-one days in a box
under a measured glow.
Thirty-six weeks today,
that’s what the nurses say,
so another four to go
before you can start to live:
shouldn’t have smelt the air
till a day beyond New Year.
 
Your tiny pulsing weight
I lift, invited, and lay
you down, unwrapped, on the bed:
hot red torso, distended,
limbs like fingers and thumbs.
Your legs spring into the cross
of the foetal diagram
‘Your Baby at Thirty-Six Weeks’ –
I glimpse the child unborn.
 
You seek about, the mouth
wide in your turning head.
Last week you learnt to suck;
now I’ve given you back
you feed with an earnestness
that shows you mean to grow.
Eve, claiming your future:
whole woman in waiting,
exquisite miniature
 

Alison Mace

first published in anthology, Seven Ages of Woman, 2014, ed. Toni Wilde and Heather Randall; in pamphlet collection, Man at the Ice House, 2019, ed David Cooke, The High Window Press

Publications:
Man at the Ice House, 2019, The High Window, £10;
several poems in Seven Ages of Woman, Blue Funk, 2014, ISBN 978-0-9535473-5-7, price £6.50

Alison Mace website: http://alisonmacepoet.org.uk
 
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Caroline Gill

Caroline Gill won 1st Prize in the Petra Kenney Poetry Competition (gen. section) in 2007. Her poem, Preseli Blue, featured on BBC Poetry Please from the Guardian Hay Festival 2008. Poems published in UK, India, Romania & USA. Home: Ipswich.

Elegy for Idris Davies

Who hears the bells of Rhymney as they toll?
There are no drams to draw along the tracks:
the empty tarmac waits for laden trucks,
but hollows in the hillside tell their tale.
 
The winch and winder man have long since gone:
deserted pits are crudely steeped in slag.
Would Shelley’s spirit ring out once again
if flames of silver leaped to greet the lark?
 
A sloping cemetery will testify
to times when angry voices could be heard.
An echo rises from the Rhymney bard:
it rocks and rolls a piercing lullaby.
 
The grass is brown: brass bands have lost their sheen,
but April’s music trickles down the rill.
A shaft of sun makes rainbow-puddles shine
in terraced streets, to light the poet’s trail.
 
Allotments snake along the mountain road,
with weathered water butts of blue and green.
A raven waits while seeds of hope are sown,
but wigwam-canes stand vacant and betrayed.
 
A poet plants his footsteps in the mire,
through furnaces and forges razed to soil.
Bare strips of sky and horizontal moor
arouse defiant voices in his soul.
 
Stonemasons shed their monumental tears
in mounds below the monkey puzzle’s arm.
A sombre moon cast shadows on the dawn:
a valley dreams beneath the midnight stars.
 

Note: A dram is a cart for carrying coal

Caroline Gill

Poem published: THE SEVENTH QUARRY (ed. Peter Thabit Jones), no.3, Winter 2006. Also on the Poetry Library Southbank Centre Website.

Publications:Six poems in Hidden Dragons / Gwir a Grymus, (Parthian 2004), ISBN 9781902638393, £7.99

Caroline Gill website
 
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Doreen Hinchliffe

Doreen Hinchliffe has been published widely in anthologies and magazines, including Acumen, Mslexia, Orbis, The Interpreter’s House and Magma. Her first collection, Dark Italics, was published by Indigo Dreams in October 2017.

The Art of Getting Lost

Practise the art of getting lost
in the deepest forest, not knowing where
it ends, like the leaf of an oak tossed
 
on a sudden wind, unaware
of anything except the flight
in dappled sun, the ripples of air,
 
conscious only of slanting light
through branches, of being borne and held,
indifferent to left or right
 
to future or to past, propelled
into the heart of now by powers
unfathomed, unseen, deep in the meld
 
and mould of earth, in its tiny flowers
(bluer than bluebells, whiter than frost)
that lie beyond the counting of hours
 
and the counting of the cost.

Doreen Hinchliffe

Poem published in Acumen, Issue 87

Publications:
The Pointing Star, sonnet sequence, Live Cannon Poems for Christmas CD, ASIN: B01N8Z2E1T
Dark Italics, 2017, Indigo Dreams, ISBN 978-1-910834-58-9

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Helen T Curtis

Helen T Curtis is a poet and photographer living in Derbyshire. Published in ARTEMISpoetry, Canon’s Mouth, Mother’s Milk Books and recently in Oxford School of Poetry Review where she continues to work towards a first pamphlet.

Crucible

Frame of oak the bark to bear you
boards carved where the green-crowned king
bowed low; offered himself
a vaulted ark, big-hearted.
 
Within,
limbs of willow cradle raked bones
sister-fingers braid a creche for you;
with memory of water, peel and shed
the unsuitable suit;
lie in lattice-weave, bassinet
rocking, lapping, weeping.
 
Extinguished
as your glorious hour receded,
burn again in frankincense
harvested from your red-bone desert
Boswellia
Salalah
the trees’ dripped tears
coil smoke around you, tendrils
soothe, soothe – balm for your flayed skin
 
almond flowers for your lips
blue hibiscus for your eyes
so your children will know you
 
Your essence rises, rich and fragrant;
oud of agarwood – born of corruption
Aquillaria
precious resin from black infection
in the heart-wood
now transmuted.
Breathe now, rare brother
the air in here is sweet.
 
Rest now, oak bears all
blood, bone, breath and grace.
 

Helen T Curtis

Poem published in Oxford School of Poetry Review#1

Tel: 07823 557876
 
Helen T Curtis website
 
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Jill Gardiner

Jill Gardiner is a former Chair of Brighton Poets, whose work has been published in The Interpreter’s House (2015) and ARTEMISpoetry (2018). Also a historian, known for From the Closet to the Screen – Women at the Gateways Club 1945-85 (Pandora 2002).

At the Opera

after the painting by Mary Cassatt
 
I have seen her each night from afar
Across a salon, or in some distant room
And often on his arm. And, tonight,
I have followed her to the opera.
In the picture, you do not see her:
Her bare shoulders; the three strings
Of pearls I gave her; the shock
Of that white muslin dress in November.
 
You only see me in my tight black gown,
And my opera glasses fixed on some point
Beyond your sight, and the yellowing fan
I am hardly holding. Any moment now
My grip will tighten as she turns
From him and catches my eye again.
One time she blushed. We are rarely alone.
Our intimacy is confined to public places.
 
In a distant box, you see another man:
Where I go, he follows. And grown so bold
That his opera glasses are trained on me
As if that whole wide audience were not there.
I have heard them whisper in the drawing rooms:
‘She’s handsome still, and alone too long.
Why does he wait?’ He has asked. I freeze.
I am spoken for and cannot say to whom.
 

Jill Gardiner

First published in The Western Mail (among other winners in the 1992 Cardiff International Competition)
and subsequently in The North 1992.

Publication:
With Some Wild Woman – Poems 1989-2019, 2019, Tollington Press, ISBN 978-1-90934-716-8 (due out 15th November). For details of launch events, please email Jill.

e-mail Jill Gardiner

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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
 
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Marion Tracy

Marion Tracy has an MA in English Literature and has been writing her own poetry for about 6 years. She’s been published by 14 Magazine, ARTEMISpoetry, Mslexia, Obsessed With Pipework, Poetry Express, Poetry Wales, Scintilla and Tears in the Fence.

Stones

He hears a sound, plip plop. It’s small stones thrown
or wet insects on glass. The noise is getting bigger.
It sounds as if stones are being shovelled onto the house.
He asks his cousin if she’s experienced anything like this.
 
He frowns when she says, It must be possums.
He smiles when his neighbour says, Perhaps it’s like
when my wife left me.
He laughs when his wife says,
Yes, I’ve been hearing it for a while, it’s like memories of home.
 
He looks up through the leaves of the tree.
Stones are coming down through the branches.
Stones are bouncing off each branch in turn.
Stones are plums falling down like blue stars.
 
His neighbour looks and says, Who can be responsible?
Is it the work of clever children?
His cousin gasps and says,
Is it the work of aliens, these bright disks as they fall?
Is it, asks his wife, all the words that need saying?
 
In the room, the stones are all over the bed.
The stones are all over the rug but there’s no holes
in the ceiling. He looks up and there’s no footprints on the roof.
The stones are raining down and he asks his cousin,
 
Why do the stones not fall straight down but seem to turn in the air?
He asks his neighbour, Why do the stones have no shadow?
Why do the stones fall on my house and not on yours?

Why, laughs his wife, it’s all the stones that ever got stuck in my shoe.
 

Marion Tracy

Poem published: Poetry Review Vol 103:1 Spring 2013.

Pamphlet Collection: Giant in the Doorway, HappenStance Press, 2012, ISBN: 978-1-905398-3-1, £4.

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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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Nola Turner

Nola Turner lives in South East London and came to writing poetry late but is making up for lost time. Themes include relationships, the state we are in and politics writ small.

On the Road

Most trees have shed their leaves
but here and there some scraps persist,
a camouflage of khaki brown;
in hedgerows spikes of hawthorn
flash berries scarlet raw.
 
A mud clad fox, back snapped in two,
is wedged among the gutter muck;
past victim of the speeding cars
that zip along this stretch
of sub-suburban road.
 
With opaque eyes wide open
and mouth set in a grin,
he seems to sneer at his demise;
rank carcass on a short-cut route
from Minns to Sittingbourne.  

Nola Turner

Highly Commended, Penge Poetry Competition, 2016

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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
 
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Zoe Brooks

Zoe Brooks worked with disadvantaged inner-city communities before returning to her native Gloucestershire. ‘Fool’s Paradise’ won best poetry ebook EPIC 2013 awards. Collection ‘Owl Unbound’ (IDP) published 2020. Director at Cheltenham Poetry Festival.

My Grandfather and Uncle

My grandfather and uncle
both returned to the earth
with untimely haste.
Although they worked it,
broke its back
for snow to bite into,
dragged sedge from ditches,
clawed back
lambs from snowheaps,
they did not inherit it,
unless it was
in the length and width
of a man’s form.
And it claimed them
early,
reaching up through the chest,
pain filling the arms,
which had gathered harvests.
And still they loved it
and still they cursed
on cold wet mornings,
as it worked
like ringworm into their hands.
In death
they shall inherit the earth.
Until this time
they have been living
on borrowed land.
 

Zoe Brooks

Poem published in Owl Unbound,2020, Indigo Dreams Publishing

Publications:
Owl Unbound, 2020, Indigo Dreams Publishing, ISBN 978-1-912876-36-5
Fool’s Paradise, 2012, White Fox Books, ISBN 978-09572341-0-9
Grandchildren of Albion, anthology, New Departures, ISBN 978-0902689145

Zoe Brooks blog
 

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