Featured Poets, March 2021                     home page
 

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley       Ann Segrave       Denni Turp       Gill Fothergill       Jay Whittaker       June Hall       Lucy Crispin       Martha Street       Moya Pacey       Penny Dedman       Tina Cathleen MacNaughton      

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)  

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley’s work, mainly poetry and short fiction, features in circa 200 journals, magazines and anthologies since 2009, including The Blue Nib, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Atrium Poetry, The Atlantic Review and (in translation) Pro Saeculum.

House
Kennack Sands, Cornwall

House teeters on the cliff’s high edge
looks out across the drizzling grizzled shoreline.
 
House keeps her head in the clouds
is careful never to look down.
 
House is stubborn, built square and stout.
Once her feet were planted in tomorrow.
 
Now the red earth retreats, loosens its grip,
shifts a little more every day.
 
But House goes on, stares out the weather
hears the grey gulls squabble and screech.
 
Her blue eyes are dull. Her roof, her stone
know the end of things will come when it will.
 
Waves crash and roar, let wind have its way
let the elements do their worst.
 
House stands for all that, endures her undoing
loves her blisters and overgrown gutters
 
finds something to honour in her damp,
rotting timbers, her long neglected flaws.
 
House is bold, defiant. She nurses those cracks
that go creeping through her weedy foundations
 
where small creatures scuttle in the twilight hour
where one day she will open at the seams.
 

Abigail Elizabeth Ottley

Poem published in Atrium Poetry, 2017

Publications by Abigail Elizabeth Ottley (formerly Wyatt):
The Blue Nib, 38, 2019 (several poems)
Records, Rivers and Rats, ed. Kay Green, 2018, Earlyworks Press (several poems)
Wave Hub: new poetry from Cornwall, ed. Dr Alan M. Kent, 2014, Francis Boutle Publishers
Old Soldiers, Old Bones and Other Stories, ed. Simon Million, 2012, Lulu.com

Abigail at Facebook
 
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Ann Segrave

Ann Segrave lives in East Sussex and is inspired by the South Downs which surround her. Her first collection, Aviatrix, was published by Oversteps Books in 2009, followed by Persimmon in 2014. She has read at Dartington, the Troubadour and locally.

Aviatrix

To gain a bird’s eye view –
windhover’s sight.
Not counting scale or distance
but feeling the sweep and pull
of landscape in ascendance.
Roads thin, electric threads,
houses squat shelters pitched against the rain.

And she, my aviatrix – bird woman –
Will find her scope at last,
cease, like a hawk replete, to fret
and tangle in her forked routines.
See clearly or, renouncing sight,
let the wind take her to another place
where no thick objects cry out to be stacked,
no eyes and voices ground her urgent flight.

Ann Segrave

Poem first published in The Charleston Magazine, Issue 10, Autumn/Winter 1994;
and included in collection Aviatrix

Publication: Aviatrix, 2009, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978 1 906856 08 3, £8.

Ann Segrave website
 
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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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Gill Fothergill

I have written poetry off and on thoughout my life. Now that I have retired from teaching the urge comes more frequently.

To Pam
The Neighbour I have Never Met

I read your cook book, its pages stiff
With stains, hand-written notes skewiff,
Fiery sweat and a floury hand.
For you, Pam, nothing frozen or canned.
 
Loved wife, I know you only by repute.
He lists fondly your every attribute.
Truly, for him, you are just next door,
He will always await your step on the floor.
 
I know you bought fresh produce only
I bet you inspected market stalls closely.
Did you like to chat with with the greengrocer?
Ask the baker to see the loaf up closer?
 
I know that you and he liked walking
And would have seized the chance for talking.
I am sure you analysed the lives
Of children: their husbands and their wives.
 
I’ve seen you in some snapshots:
One young and slender, looking hot
In a black and white garden of your youth.
Can these pictures really reveal your truth?
 
Now Pam, I investigate your book
Searching for something new to cook,
And I can clearly hear your helpful voice
As you talk me through your recipe choice.
 
 
 
      I have decided to put poems that are very far from perfect (as if!) on my page. If I wait to achieve my best, it will never happen! Apologies for some poor scansion.

Gill Fothergill

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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
 
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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

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Lucy Crispin

Lucy Crispin is a former Laureate of South Cumbria and a person-centred therapist. Inspired by the natural world and the life of the spirit, she’s also interested in the way experience shapes us. She writes to celebrate the everyday extraordinary.

witness

Not 200 yards up the bridleway from where
the rabbit kit lies 4-by-4-ed on the tarmac,
its cream-fringed honey-brown coney
slashed with the pale pink sheen of gut –
clean still, not yet found by birds or flies;
 
in the muddy field corner, beyond
the white-flocked blackthorn, the glistening
red pennant of afterbirth still trails
behind the ewe whose head dips
to lick at her trembling, baggy-skinned young.
 
World-shocked, new to light and gravity,
shakily they lever themselves upright –
stand bemused, lift apprentice limbs, and crumple
onto mud, their untried bleats so faint
they scarcely trouble air. Nudged, nuzzled,
 
they blunder along her flanks, bunting her legs,
her rump, to find the waiting teats at last.
They butt. Comfort comes down, and quiet.
The ewe’s head lifts; she stares, and is still.
Startled by a walker’s footsteps, the pheasant
 
on the wall flounces magnificently off; crows
lift reluctantly from the tree – slow, deliberate,
like old men rising. The beauty and pathos
of all endeavour lie in the air: so many
endings and beginnings. Now. Forever.
 

Lucy Crispin

Published in Ver poets competition anthology 2019

Publications:
shades of blue, 2020, Hedgehog Press, ISBN 978-1-9134992-4-2, £7.99
wish you were here, 2020, Stickleback micro-pamphlets, Hedgehog Press, ISSN 2631-4126, £2

Lucy Crispin website
 

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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

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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.

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Penny Dedman

Penny Dedman is a retired TV Producer and script writer, and has been writing most of her life, even when she didn’t want to. She writes short stories, poems and is three-quarters of the way through a novel.

Crossing the Daintree

The car ferry crosses to the rainforest:
I heard the glissando whistle of the whip bird
You took the photo of me leaning on the rails,
You had said: ‘What if I just keep driving?’
 
The solitary sitter on the plane
The flight home to London,
mindful of family
and another life.
 

Penny Dedman

Footnote: The Daintree is a river in the Northlands, Australia.

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Tina Cathleen MacNaughton

Tina Cathleen MacNaughton divides her time between Crowthorne, Berkshire and home city, Portsmouth. Acupuncturist, writer, poet. Writes celebration poetry for WriteRhymes, her professional writing company.

Distance is kindness

Staying inside is now love
and this may seem unfair
but distance is kindness
and kindness is care.
 
This month will soon pass
we just need to sit tight
sometimes living quietly
is the best way to fight.
 
Each day that we do this
means one day we’ll be free
when your world is less busy
you accept and just be.
 
And when you know how to be
well, then you really are free.
 

Tina Cathleen MacNaughton

Poem published in Wokingham.Today 12/11/2020 Social Media ’ fb

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