Featured Poets, March 2020                     home page
 

Denise Bennett       Barbara Dordi       June Hall       Dorrie Johnson       Alwyn Marriage       Carolyn O’Connell       Elizabeth Rapp       Susan Jane Sims       Sarah Westcott       Sue Wrinch      

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)  

Denise Bennett

Denise Bennett has an MA in creative writing & runs poetry workshops. She is widely published. In 2004 she won the inaugural Hamish Canham poetry awarded by the Poetry Society. She regularly reads at Tongues & Grooves poetry and music club Portsmouth.

Water Chits

     Gallipoli 1915
 
I joined the band to play the flute
to chivvy the men to war –
but mostly I was lackey to the medic,
sent out with the water chits;
scraps of paper with the words,
please let the bearer have some drinking water;
sent out to the lighter
to fetch the water shipped from Egypt.
Even in dreams I can hear
the medic’s call –
water, water – we need more water –
as if by magic, I could conjure up
eight kettles of water to wash
the wounded, to cook the meal,
to clean the mess tins,
to give ten dying men a drink.
In all this dust and heat, no one
said we would have to beg for water.
 

Denise Bennett

     inspired by a letter written by a marine bandsman
     at the time of the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915

first published in Poetry News, Summer 2015;
title poem of forthcoming pamphlet (Indigo Dreams, 2016)

Publications:
Parachute Silk, 2015, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-1-906856-55-7.
Planting the Snow Queen, 2011, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-1-906856-20-5.

Denise Bennett at poetry p f
 
e-mail Denise Bennett

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Barbara Dordi

Barbara Dordi writes poetry, reviews and articles in English and French. She is the former editor of Equinox; she now edits The French Literary Review, which publishes poems, stories and articles with a French connection. Deadlines 30th July/31st December.

In the Footsteps of Achille Laugé

Under a savage Midi sun,
in these winds: the Cers, the Autan,
and the dreaded Tramontane,
where honey-scented broom and pale-pink
almonds line the narrow roads of the Aude,
he made all this his own
a legacy of the seasons.
 
Up with the lark and out of doors
to capture the sights of the south.
He knew the frisson of expectancy
of this special light that makes
everything glow, when all seems possible,
meadows glinting gold
under a cerulean sky.
 
Brushing borders of yellow broom
his roulotte atelier would rumble
by fields stacked high with hay
to-ing and fro-ing l’Alouette
home of his family, his art.
The house stands here still, holding
its breath, awaiting his return.
 
 
 
 
l’Alouette – Laugé named his home ‘the lark’
roulotte atelier – mobile workshop

Barbara Dordi

published in Achille Laugé, Neo-Impressionist 1861-1944 – A Brief History, 2015

Publications:
Achille Laugé, Neo-Impressionist 1861-1944 – A Brief History, Deco Partnership, 2015, ISBN 978-0-9536800-5-4, £11.95 (or 15 euros), incl p&p, direct from B. Dordi;
The Alfred Jewels, (bilingual), Illustrated in colour. Hayward, 2012 ISBN 0-9536800-4-5 £11.99
Moving Still, 2009, Cinnamon Press, ISBN 978-1-9056146-9-1 £7.99
Entre-Deux–Two Francophiles in Alaigne, (bilingual), Illustrated in colour, £7.95
Picture-Poems, ISBN 0-9536800-3-7 £11.99

Address for submissions to French Literary Review: 11 Bath Road, Emsworth, Hampshire PO10 7EP
 
Barbara Dordi at BlogSpot.
web-pages on poetry p f.
 
e-mail

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June Hall

June Hall is a former Faber editor. Death of her son and diagnosis of Parkinson’s drew her to poetry. Her work appears in Acumen, ARTEMISpoetry and elsewhere, incl. three poetry collections. She co-edited with Dr R V Bailey The Book of Love and Loss.

Uncharted

Your bone-hard mouth, like an open cave,
seaweed stretched over jagged rock-teeth,
gulps at the tide that sucks, in and out,
breathing rough, insistent spray. I hold
your drowning hand so tight blood drains
from it in white waves as if I were the parent,
you the child stranded in nightmare seas.
 
In the wreckage of lost life I don’t know who
or where you are, or if you know me at all.
I too am wrecked, a stranger to this vast ocean.
Muscles tighten and cramp, fearful
at your going, so far beyond my horizon.
Still, I hope my grip steadies you, that you feel
its squeeze, take in my muttered lovings.
 
Here by your bedside I want to call you home
though already you’re panting to push through
the storm’s growl and I’m rowing the wreckage,
one hand clutched to your fleshless claw, trying
to stay up and keep the rhythm of the stroke until
fingers twine around the rightness of your going,
reconciled at last to the distance between us.
 
Dying is a challenging business.
Over the crashing foam I cry out to you:
I’m here. Don’t worry, Mum. I’ll stay right here.
Hours later, though, I break my word and have
to leave your side. You let your grasp loosen
and, out of reach now, sink down alone
to the rock below, the uncharted sea-bed.
 

June Hall

in collection Uncharted

Publications:
Uncharted, 2016, Belgrave Press, ISBN 978-0-9546215-3-7, £9.99
Bowing to Winter, 2010, Belgrave Press, ISBN 978-0954621513, £7.99
The Now of Snow, 2004, Belgrave Press, ISBN 0-9546215-0-6, £7.99
First Sixty: The Acumen Anthology, 2010, Acumen, ISBN 978-1-8731612-3-4, £9.99
Cracking On, anthology, 2010, Grey Hen Press, ISBN 978-0-9552952-4-9, £10

web-pages on poetry p f
 
e-mail

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Dorrie Johnson

Retired health professional who likes walking and writing poetry; currently working on a longer series of poems.

Unnamed

I can’t say who it was
they closed my eyes
spared me the pennies to keep them closed
smuggled me out at night in a cardboard box
to a field for the living dead
where my carbon
is taken up by dandelions
left me a knife
as grave goods
and folk pass by sometimes
but don’t see
that where the turf is slightly raised
that’s where I am.
 

Dorrie Johnson

e-mail Dorrie Johnson

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Alwyn Marriage

Alwyn has been a university Philosophy lecturer, Editor of a journal, Chief Executive of two international NGOs and is now Managing Editor of Oversteps Books. Her poetry and non-fiction are published widely and she reads in Britain and abroad.

La Matelote

the restaurant was called la Matelote,
– the same word as le matelot
but ending in an ‘e’
and therefore feminine.
 
We debated what a female sailor
would be called in English
other than, of course,
a sailor –
 
‘fish wife’ hasn’t quite the same
éclat: shore-bound and down-to-earth,
she scolds her husband
wipes scale-covered hands on bloodied apron;
 
‘sailor girl’ sounds
far more jaunty, even saucy,
a jolly sea shanty of a lass
who’s good at knots, but lacks maturity;
 
a ‘woman of the waves’, though cumbersome,
has a more romantic ring,
laid-back and offering
her ebb and flow, her undulating curves.
 
In our minds these women all
transmogrified into a mermaid,
sea-born and always breaking free
like words for which there’s no equivalent.
 
Consulting a dictionary to check
the latest addition to our French vocabulary
we found ‘la matelote’
simply means ‘fish stew’.
 

Alwyn Marriage

Poem published in French Literary Review and ARTEMISpoetry, Issue 6

Publications:
festo, 2012, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-1-906856-32-8. £8.
touching earth, 2007, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-0-9552424-7-2, £8.
The People of God, 1995, Darton Longman & Todd, ISBN 0-232-51989-7, £9.95.
New Christian Poetry (ed), Collins, 0-00-599207-9, £7.95.
Life-Giving Spirit, 1989, SPCK, ISBN 0-281-04430-9, £7.95.
Beautiful Man, 1977, Outposts Publications, 90p.

Alwyn’s web-site
 
e-mail Alwyn

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Carolyn O’Connell

Four poems have been published in ‘Mirrored Voices’ An Anthology of Emerging Poetsfrom around the world. It was incepted by the American fiction/non fiction author Paul Morabito.

Diamonds

Diamonds fall on glass, rain on the window
patterns of water shimmering in the dawn
not precious gems, eternal settings of graphite
pressed for millennia beneath specific rocks.
Worn by women as tokens of affection, pride
of their menfolk as they sport rich gifts,
the carat of a poor man pledging life
a bauble cast unheeding by the oligarch.
 
One set of diamonds a young mother wore
token not of love but duty to be done
her pledge no to a single man but
to a race she never wished was hers
 
and on that day the diamonds were returned
to wait in silence for another’s brow,
now a lifetime’s past, children then undreamt
walk streets changed beyond concept,
 
all that was sixty years ago.
 

Carolyn O’Connell

Poem published in collection, Timelines, Indigo Dreams, 2014

Collection: Timelines, Indigo Dreams, 2014, ISBN 978-1-909357-53-2, £7.99
Anthology: Mirrored Voices Emerging Poets Anthology, Star Investment Strategies LLC, 2015, ISBN 978-1-5077107-1-5, £6.95.

Tel: 07950 395607
 
web-pages on poetry p f
 
Carolyn O’Connell blog
 
e-mail

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Elizabeth Rapp

Elizabeth Rapp lives in Somerset. She runs residential and day poetry workshops at various South West venues. She is a graduate teacher, Lay Minister, and has worked with the homeless and with children.

Ice Garden

I begged him for a garden,
hollyhocks and delphiniums.
He gave me grottoes of ice.
No birds sing here: only the sound
of moonlight dreaming snow at midnight.
 
I have become bone carved from ice.
I spin on a needle’s point,
watched by an angel huddled
in snow with icebound wings;
his stricken face as I twirl and twirl.
 
Those dark and subtle hands
have locked me in this kingdom,
this palace of death-white ice.
Floors are as slippery as his lies.
I wander through cubes of refracted light
 
where indigo and jade dance on my silver dress,
turn into birds of paradise.
But today a small brown bird
perched on my wrist, then
gave me a pomegranate seed
from his beak.

Elizabeth Rapp

Poem: Winner of the A.A. Sanders poetry prize, 2000
 
Publications:
Dancing on Bones, full collection, Rockingham Press, 2000.
Living Proof, The Amate Press, Oxford.
Hare and Sixpence, The Rigmal Press, Devon
A CD of Elizabeth’s poems is available, 7, direct from Elizabeth.

The Lodge
Dillington
Ilminster
Somerset
TA19 9EH
 
tel: 01460 259898
 
e-mail

Copyright© of all poems featured on this site remains with the poet

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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:
Splitting Sunlight, Dempsey and Windle, 2019. ISBN 978-1-9074357-9-9
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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Sarah Westcott

Sarah has an MA in creative writing from Royal Holloway and has been widely published. She won the Awel Aman Tawe poetry competition and has been a runner-up in the Mslexia competition three times. Her debut pamphlet, Inklings, is out now.

Pool

I wait, quickening,
reflecting light,
holding darkness.
Will a hand break my skin,
rise out, bearing a knife?
 
Feel the fingers of a child,
stirring. Dog tongue;
ticklish, urgent.
Indents of rain
or tears –
a wish-bone, drifting.
 
Look down
to see my bed
ribbed with light,
soft and rich -
all the bright coins.
 
When the moon is high
lie on the bank,
come close,
smell wet clay,
breath, returned.
 
Sense your unborn
coming up,
her daughter
and her daughter,
each ripple
clear as plainsong.
 

Sarah Westcott

Votive wombs were offered to the gods to help with fertility problems in Etruscan times. They were left by sacred pools, much like coins are thrown into wishing wells today.
 

Publications:
Inklings, 2013, Flipped Eye, ISBN-10: 1-905233-39-6 £4

Sarah Westcott blog
 
e-mail Sarah Westcott

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Sue Wrinch

Sue Wrinch is a poet, organises and presents Loose Muse once a month at Winchester Discovery Centre to celebrate women writers. She has had two poetry collections published, co-edited a Poetry Anthology with Abegail Morley and runs poetry workshops.

Twin

     After Terrance Hayes The Golden Shovel honouring Gwendolyn Brooks
 
 
Tiny hand clasps tiny hand as we
skip to school with a real
 
zeal to learn but a longing for cool.
One told off but we
 
weep together, a double bud, left
to sit side by side at school.
 
One attacked both become weapon, we
seek refuge as we lurk
 
in shadow, wait until safe, get home late
but make parents believe all is well when we
 
know we would strike
and starve for each other, straight
 
away chose our own style, we
will always be a twin-yolk, sing
 
in unison, believing it no sin
for we have each other and we
 
couldn’t care less what anyone thinks, not the thin
popular pretty or even the scary gin-
 
ger kid, psycho in making, no, we
just strive to avoid, skipping like jazz
 
our legs dancing like bees in June
sipping flowers careless and free we
 
don’t give a damn, never think we may die
we are bright reflections, not dimming soon.

Sue Wrinch

Poem first published on The Poetry Shed by Abegail Morley in 2018 and then in Stained Lips in 2019.

Note: The last word of each line forms a Gwendolyn Brooks poem when read vertically.

Publications:
Down by Wild Water, 2015, Morgan’s Eye Press, ISBN 978-0-9554303-1-2, £8
Stained Lips, 2019, Morgan’s Eye Press, ISBN 970-0-9955132-6-6, £8.99
Loose Muse Winchester Poetry Anthology, 2018, Sarsen Press, ISBN 978-1999-975654, £8

Sue Wrinch website
 
e-mail Sue Wrinch

Copyright© of all poems featured on this site remains with the poet

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