Featured Poets, May 2021                     home page
 

Anne Sherry       Clare Crossman       Helena Hinn       Joolz Sparkes       Kathleen Swann       Margaret Wilmot       Merryn Williams       Nicola Warwick       Robin Winckel-Mellish       Sue Spiers       Wendy Pettifer      

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)  

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.

Failing to Find Old Sarum

Border-line bothered
weekend-weary
I turn into a business park
stop by open field, reach
a place of silence, of slow time.
 
A brilliance of blue
in a bank of quitch
harebells fat and juicy
sturdy as hyacinths
a few fussy in old lady pink
 
and a singularity, tall
stocky with hairy
heart-shaped leaves
tiny blooms, cream centres
an absolute blue.
 
This is Germander
a veronica of the Figwort family,
cousin to heath, common field
slender, ivy, thyme-leaved
and loud lousewort.
 
In the distance, ancient buildings
hangers with Belfast roof trusses
a Tiger Moth drones overhead
fast followed by a Dragonfly.
A place of old time.
 

Anne Sherry

Published by Mudfog Press December 2019 in pamphlet of same name

Publications:
Failing to Find Old Sarum, 2019, Mudfog Press, ISBN 978-0-9927930-1-2, £5.95 (free p&p)
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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Clare Crossman

Clare Crossman grew up in Cumbria and now lives with her husband near Cambridge. She runs poetry workshops for various school and community groups with START Arts and CCC. She has an MA in Theatre Studies, and loves being involved with poetry in performance.

The Winter Crown
(poem at Christmas)

From the small wood, I cut spiked sloes,
regal and hardy, against winter’s grain.
 
I threaded them through the willow ring,
wired on a paper butterfly, woven with gold silk.
 
I tied on foil stars, for girls with glittering bracelets,
silver pendants dropping from their ears.
 
Pine and sandalwood for boys
in dinner suits, dignified and tall as trees.
 
I placed it in the church porch beside the others.
Who had chosen laurel, lilies to lie on stone.
 
Ribbons of blue and green for first love,
to keep the memory of the lost, the dead.
 
Ghosts, amongst twisted strands of bryony stalk,
as dry as straw, and the red dogwood canes.
 
The light inside was gold, all the lead lights lit.
Carols rang, for miracles, (how a lemon tree flowers in December).
 
An old man died, bombs blasted lives away,
a child was found in a dark hole.
 
Those unbroken circles,
that catch and hold how we connect.
 
In the hope of angels passing over,
to reach across borders with their wings
 
where all crowns are barbed with distance.

Clare Crossman

Publications:
The Shell Notebook Poems, in Take 5 04, Shoestring Press.
Fenlight, CD, Sequence of poems and music with acoustic musician, Richard Newman. Performed Cambridge, Norwich, Ely.

tel: 01763 261300
 
e-mail

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Helena Hinn

Helena Hinn lives in Newcastle upon Tyne. She has been published by Virago, Faber and Faber, and in Women’s Press anthologies and has a published collection of prose, Histories of the Imagination.

Pins

pins are silver – the colour of the moon
long ago women would throw pins into wells
giving back to the earth
a tiny part of what had been taken
 
the tiny insignificant pin
which is invaluable to women
: to secure when sewing
: to fix, to enable work to happen
 
women work for pin money
an insubstantial amount to the world
but essential to them
 
if women had an emblem
I would promote the pin
to the world it seems a small unimportant object
but women understand the value of a pin
 
and women’s values
know the essential nature of the tiny
and its part in the whole

Helena Hinn

Helena’s website
 
e-mail

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Joolz Sparkes

Joolz Sparkes is a poet and fiction writer based near the Arsenal football stadium. She reads at various spoken word nights and was shortlisted for The Bridport Poetry Prize 2010. None of her poems are about football.

Gloucester Reimagined
    A dedication to anyone who gets dug up in a car park 200 years later

Now is the winter of our user generated content
Made glorious summer by this sun of Steve Jobs;
And all the clouds that unhappy faced upon our cribs
In the deep bosom of the t’internet buried.
 
Now are our status updates bound with victorious emoticons;
Our bruised texting thumbs hung up for monuments;
Our stern whatevs changed to merry alright bruvs,
Our dreadful hunched shoulders to delightful massages.
 
Grim-visaged reality TV hath smooth’d his wrinkled front;
And now, instead of mounting crowdsourced steeds
To fright the souls of fearful pop-up adverts,
He capers dimly in a virtual lady’s chamber
To the lascivious pleasing of a webcam.
 
But I, that am not shaped for IT support,
Nor made to court an amorous chat roulette;
I, that am rudely stamp’d, and want love’s majesty
To sext a wanton ambling nymph with naked pictures of myself;
 
I, that am curtail’d of this fair proportion,
Cheated of social skills by dissembling nature,
Deformed, unfinish’d, posted before my time
Into this videoed world, scarce half made up,
And so lame and awkward
That dogs bark at me as I watch them on youtube
 
Why, I, in this weekly updated time of peace,
can hide behind a screen and keyboard,
and spy on my ex partners on facebook
And post false pictures hiding mine own deformity:
 
And therefore, since I can prove an emotionally cheating lover,
To entertain these fair well-emailed days,
I am determined to prove an internet troll – obvs
And unlike the idle pleasures of these days.
 
False rumours have I spread and dangerous comments made,
hacked into accounts and unfriended many,
To set people I have never met
In deadly hate the one against the other:
 
And if they all be as true and just
As I am subtle, false and treacherous,
This day should I be blocked or reported
About the posting of a prophecy, which says that
Of Kate and Wills’s heirs the murderer shall be P for the press.
Dive, thoughts, down to my soul let me retweet this:
 
@thebard: For all the world’s a web and we but voyeurs on it. A tale told by a tweet signifying 140 characters of #nothing.
 

Joolz Sparkes

Footnote: Special thanks goes to the timelessness of William Shakespeare.

Publications:
Loose Muse, Autumn Anthology 2012 published by Morgan’s Eye Press, ISBN 978-0-9554303-5-0, £8

e-mail

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Kathleen Swann

Kathleen Swann is a Yorkshire poet, brought up in Cumbria, where her love of the countryside and it’s characters have influenced her poetry. Published in anthologies and magazines and a songwriter for the Leeds Lieder Festival.

Turpentine and Beeswax

Your tall frame bent over the bench
the tip of your tongue between your teeth
time meant nothing, dovetails and dowels
were fashioned with care, sharp chisels
shaped gentle curves across the grain
releasing the inner pattern of waves.
 
Smokey warmth from the iron range
carried the spicy smell of wood
through the oak-beamed rooms
of the old cottage cellar
oak sawn from trees that had
given way to age many years ago.
 
Outside a wool-white sky lay over hills
filled the wood with shifting mist
hung crystal drops on the cherry tree
as we drank sweetened tea from mugs
placed teacake dough in the bread oven
in memory of my grandmother.
 
Wood and workbench now long gone
I lift the old tool bag from its rusty hook
carefully wrap each implement
in its own soft cloth, lay them in the bag
the old smell of turpentine and beeswax
turn the dusty air to remembered perfume.
 

Kathleen Swann

Poem published in Ripples Beyond the Pool, Coverstory Books

Publications:
Oak Tree Alchemy, Coverstory Books, ISBN 978-1-9993027-4-0. £7
Ripples Beyond the Pool, Coverstory Books, ISBN 978-1-9993027-8-8. £7

e-mail Kathleen Swann

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Margaret Wilmot

Born in California, now living in Sussex. I am drawn by imaginative associations… memory, landscape, ideas, paintings, words. Writing, for me, is a tool for seeing; making connections, refining perception, always a search, some kind of amorphous truth the goal.

Clay-Lady

1
 
As Eve
 
The clay-lady steps forth
innocent as the child whose hands fashioned
arm-paws, hair-cape, the apple
she raises high as a chalice.
 
Her awkward radiance proclaims
a miracle: the first apple!
 
Salt-shine sprinkles her frock. A smile
cracks wide her face, emits kiln-light, and in its glow
we too see miracles:
 
a lump of clay – and look –
 
 
2
 
In Amsterdam
 
A clay-lady moves through
pewter streets. Her salt-freckled frock shimmers;
she leans high into her apple.
 
The burghers’ narrow hammered houses
cannot contain this fire-fangled clay. A smile cracks
wide her face, emits kiln-light.
 
 
3
 
In New York on a winter afternoon
 
The apple-woman sits
in the pewter chair, moon dimming in her lap.
Dusk filters through the gritty window,
absorbs, effaces
 
her salt-grey skirts, the strong dough-grey arms.
Her fire-fangled yearning salts
the moon with light.
 

Margaret Wilmot

Poem published in ARTEMISpoetry, Issue 8, May 2012

web-pages on poetry p f
 
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Merryn Williams

Merryn Williams’ life is currently divided, like ancient Gaul, into three zones – literary, family, Jeremy. She was first editor of The Interpreter’s House, which published around a thousand poets, and her own publications are too numerous to list.

P.N.D.

     post-natal depression
 
One fell off the fragile bridge,
others froze in horror.
Far below them, howling winds
and glimpse of raging water.
 
Four young women shared a house,
partied, shrieked with laughter.
All got married, scattered wide.
Three go on without her.
 
Driving rain, on clothes and skin;
you feel the great bridge shudder.
The baby knows there’s something wrong,
stares round and sees no mother.
 
Three go home. All night they weep;
why did no one save her?
while each, in fear, bears step by step,
a child across the water.
 

Merryn Williams

Poem published in Acumen and in The Fragile Bridge (see Publications)

Publications:
The Fragile Bridge: New and Selected Poems, Shoestring Press, 2019;
The First Wife’s Tale, Shoestring Press, 2007;
Jane Austen’s The Watsons, Pen Press, 2006;
The Latin Master’s Story, Rockingham Press, 2000;
The Chalet Girls Grow Up, Plas Gwyn Books, 1998

Address:
19 The Paddox
Oxford
OX2 7PN
 
tel: 01865 511259
 
Merryn Williams website
 
web-pages on poetry p f.
 
e-mail

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Nicola Warwick

Nicola Warwick has had work in several magazines and competition anthologies. She has published two full collections. In 2018 she was awarded an MA in Creative Writing from the Open University.

Muntjac

At heart, I am a small deer
crossing a quiet lane.
You are always the driver
in a dark car
riding the bends.
You are pressed for time
so we meet
for the inevitable.
I always yield
to the force of steel,
rupturing the parts
I should have kept protected.
You continue,
a little winded,
metal scraping tarmac,
a crunch of gears.
I am left twitching
at the side of the road,
hoping you will catch me
in your mirror
when you look back.
 

Nicola Warwick

published in collection Groundings, 2014, Cinnamon Press

Publications:
The Knifethrower’s Wishlist, 2017, Indigo Dreams
Groundings, 2014, Cinnamon Press

 

e-mail Nicola

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Robin Winckel-Mellish

South African-born Robin Winckel-Mellish lives and works in the Netherlands. She has worked as a freelance journalist for many years and runs a poetry critique group in Amsterdam. Recent publications in Versal and Dvoice.

The Leaf Rakers

Out of nowhere they appear,
women the colour of autumn,
scraping the heels of moon hills,
sweeping the bones of borders
 
as if sleepwalking.
Kraal women raking dust,
loose as water, rippling vessels
of clay and sepia, swathed infants

bundled on their backs.
Slack as cobras, broken shadow
is transmuted on paths
and pools and garden walls –
 
earth bodies. And I in silk gown
breakfast on mango and papaya
as crackling twig brooms herd
the bonanza spilled around.

Robin Winckel-Mellish

Poem published: Versal 5

Address:
van Bronckhorstlaan 2
2242 PX Wassenaar,
the Netherlands.
 
tel: 31 70 5114800
 
e-mail

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Sue Spiers

Sue Spiers works with the Winchester Poetry Festival as treasurer and as SIG Sec for British Mensa’s poetry group. Her work has been published in Acumen, Ink, Sweat & Tears, The Interpreter’s House, Obsessed With Pipework, and Stand among others.

De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da

Stook griiind, stook griiind
                                                the ventilator pulse
extends her life, thrusts air
                                                down her throat
into wizened lungs
                                                Her brain sucks
oxygen for its miserly self
                                                storing it
for her last memory of
                                                Shang-A-Lang
 
 
It robs muscle
                                                so she is still
it thieves liver
                                                so she pees brown
it purloins kidney
                                                so toxins thrive
 
 
Her mobile shrills
                                                Agadoo doo doo.
The nurse answers
                                                ‘Yes, I’ll tell her’
‘The Sassenachs send love’
                                                Her hand on the blue
waffle blanket flexes
                                                Her mouth moues
breathless unsound
                                                meaningless and true
 

Sue Spiers

De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da was commended in the Poetry Society’s 2020 Stanza competition

 

Publications:
The Pocket Poetry Book of Cricket, 2018, Paper Swans Press, ISBN 978-1-9998196-9-9, £3.50
Best of British, 2017, Paper Swans Press, ISBN 978-0-9931756-6-4, £9
Hallelujah for 50ft Women, 2015, Bloodaxe Books, ISBN 978-1-78037-155-9, £9.95
Hysteria 4 Anthology, 2015, ISBN 978-0-9927429-7-3, £5.50
Jiggle Sac , 2012, self published at www.lulu.com, ISBN 978-1-291-04430-0, £5

Sue Spiers website
 
e-mail Sue Spiers
 
Twitter: @spiropoetry
 

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Wendy Pettifer

Wendy Pettifer has been writing poems since a teenager. Her first book was published during lockdown; her second, ‘The Witching Hour’, should be out in summer 2021. Her poems reflect life as a legal aid lawyer, lover, mum and traveller.

The Witching Hour

It’s in the dead of night that we decide
The witching hour when women choose their Fates
Our inner ear alert to tempting whispers
From those who ride the moon and reach the stars
Luring us into dreams of choice and change.
Husbands snoring gently by our sides
Children cocooned in maternal lullabies
 
It’s in the early hours that I creep home
From lazing with a lean and hungry man
Tattoed and pierced, sperm spent, satiated.
I cycle fast through smoky inner-city early haze
Open my door before the children wake, my partner stirs.
 
It’s when the men work far away
That we try other softer pleasures.
Snuggle curved like spoons behind each other’s cheeks
Listen to the seaside gulls cry for freedom
Wonder whether we should go home.
 
It’s down amongst the dirty dishes,
Scattered shoes, squashed toys, crummy carpets
We know those voices as our own
And keep them quiet within our hearts
Waiting for another Witching Hour
 

Wendy Pettifer

title poem from forthcoming collection

Publications:
Lovelines, self-published. Available @lovelines.net or via Twitter account @WendyPettifer or from Pages Bookshop in Hackney

Wendy Pettifer website
 

e-mail Wendy Pettifer

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