Featured Poets, November 2020                     home page
 

Jan Bay-Petersen       Anne Boileau       Carla D'Antonio       Wendy French       Hilary Hares       Carolyn King       Marilyn Longstaff       Jenny Morris       Jo Peters       Mary Robinson       Elizabeth Soule      

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)  

Jan Bay-Petersen

Jan Bay-Petersen, a New Zealander, worked in agricultural development and lived for 20 years in Taiwan. She began writing poetry after she moved to Cambridge. She has published in several poetry journals and won the 2013 Poetry Society Stanza Poetry Competition.

It’s a Two and You’re Dead

The closer we live to our gods, the more we need games.
Luck isn’t random: it chooses and fondles, then flits,
while we phantom midges soar high on the breath
of the gods or are drowned in their spit.
If our buzzing offends, if we stick in their throat,
they may take as amends what we don’t want to lose,
and you pay with an arm and a leg. Let us pray.
 
Playing games gives a hint. They’re a rear-vision mirror
to show what is coming up close from behind.
They won’t stop the truck, but maybe you’ll pause
a significant tick while you’re sending a text
so your paths don’t collide. If you’re ten over par,
if your darts hit the wire – give the blind date a miss.
Don’t ask for a raise, not today. Catch the bus.
 
Wait till you throw double six, till your horse
gallops home, till the ball draws a line
from your boot to the goal, till the Queen, King and Knave
join the cloverleaf Ace. Though you can’t read the stars
you can tip them like Braille and the rhythms are good,
your sails belly and fill, the duck’s entrails are pink.
There’s a cat and he’s black and you’re blessed. Take the trick.
 

Jan Bay-Petersen

Poem published in The North, 50

Jan Bay-Petersen at poetry p f
 

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Anne Boileau

Anne Boileau writes poetry about the natural world, the environment, history and her friends and neighbours. Her pamphlet Shoal Moon was published by Grey Hen in 2016. Her novel Katharina Luther – Nun. Rebel. Wife. came out in 2016.

Ghazal: The Memory of Bronze

Within its very substance dwells the memory of bronze.
Smiths at Giza treadling giant bellows forging bronze
 
Two small pyramids back to back, the size of a cricket ball.
Hold it like a seashell, you’ll hear craftsmen beating bronze.
 
Eight sides, eight faces: each displays a different attitude,
But every face and attitude tells the ancient tale of bronze.
 
It waits upon my windowsill, imbibes the heat of the sun,
Within its core remembering well the alchemy of bronze.
 
Take copper with a hint of tin or arsenic or zinc:
You have the stuff of resonance, church bells cast in bronze.
 
Before men thought to write things down, they extracted, analysed
And fired up fearsome forges, smelted ores, created bronze.
 
She weighs Gill’s sculpture in her hand, senses gravity.
Anne has travelled to that Age when Man discovered Bronze.
 

Anne Boileau

This poem was written during a collaboration with Mosaic Stanza in Colchester; eighteen visual artists were paired up with eighteen poets. My partner was a sculptor called Gill Southern. I was responding to her bronze sculpture titled From Fire

published in Stone’s Throw – art from poetry poetry from art, ed. Karen Dennison,
2016, Mosaic Stanza, mosaicpoetry.wordpress.com

Publications:
Katharina Luther – Nun. Rebel. Wife., 2016, Clink Street Publishing, ISBN 978-1-9111106-1-3
Shoal Moon, 2014, Grey Hen Press, ISBN 978-0-9926983-2-4

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Carla Scarano D’Antonio

Carla Scarano D’Antonio moved to England from Rome in 2007, she obtained her MA in CW in 2012. She won the First Prize of the John Dryden Translation Competition 2016. In her day-to-day life, she teaches Italian language and literature in an international school in Woking.

Negotiating Caponata

First peel and chop potatoes in cubes
cook separately in a frying pan
then add peppers and aubergines in pieces;
salt, tomato passata, one or two tbsp., some water,
simmer for one hour or two. Stir.
The aloofness at times.
They are difficult to digest like peppers
or sour like aubergines,
floating adrift or biting back.
But the cut ingredients finally mash together in the sauce,
sensitive and vulnerable.
The body has no protection
when the light dims.
 

Carla Scarano D’Antonio

Poem published in Negotiating Caponata, 2020

Publications:
Negotiating Caponata, Dempsey & Windle, July 2020


A Winding Road, Chiaroscuro, 2011, ISBN 978-0-9569264-1-8 (self-published)

Carla Scarano D’Antonio website
 
Carla Scarano D’Antonio blog
 
e-mail Carla Scarano D’Antonio

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Wendy French

Wendy French is Chair of Lapidus, an organisation which promotes creative words for health and well-being, a facilitator for writing groups in healthcare settings and she works with Poet in the City to promote poetry and emotional wellbeing in secondary schools.

Wendy serves on the Second Light Network Committee. (see ‘More’ link below)

London Dry

A red bathmat destined for charity
lies in the moon’s path.
 
An empty bottle of gin floats
upright on bubble-less water.
 
Dressed in her best Harris Tweed
the colour of heather she’s dying
 
as she soaks in the bath. Her stale breath
and sauerkraut mouth will suggest
 
to the pathologist who teaches the art
of dissection that one’s own grief
 
isn’t so easy to stitch. In the half-lit orchard
moles bury themselves in the lawn.

Wendy French

Publications:
Splintering the Dark, Rockingham Press;
Sky over Bedlam, tall-lighthouse;
We Have a little Sister and She Hath No Breasts, tall-lighthouse

Address:
4 Myton Road
West Dulwich
London
SE21 8EB
 
web-pages on poetry p f
 
e-mail

more...

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Hilary Hares

Hilary Hares lives in Farnham, Surrey. Her poems have found homes online and in print and she has an MA in Poetry from MMU. Whilst waiting for the muse, she’s slave to a demanding bird table and lives in hope of meeting the perfect dog.

On sculptural figures looking out to sea

All Gormley’s kin each is his own man.
The local children call one Jeff.
 
They drown every day.
Like gods they have no smiles.
 
Sometimes Titian or Hockney
will paint them a dawn and,
 
when the tide recedes, jellyfish land
at their feet like green glass plates.
 
I watch as seagulls perch on their shoulders,
mirror their gaze, ask: Why stare so hard?
 
But they’re not letting on, their eyes fixed
as though they can’t bear to look down.
 
I persist: According to Frost nothing
we’re searching for is out far or in deep?

 
Their silence is deeper than the sea. I make
a final bid for conversation, tell them this:
 
I can see what’s happening behind you.
There’s no turning back.

 

Hilary Hares

Winner: Write by the Sea 2018 Literary Festival Competition, 2018

Publications:
A Butterfly Lands on the Moon, sold in support of Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care

e-mail Hilary Hares

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Carolyn King

Carolyn King is widely published in magazines & with three poetry collections. Competition successes over the last few years include 1st in Second Light and in Poetry on the Lake formal category and twice shortlisted for the Manchester Poetry Prize.

The Last Waltz

That night you came in out of the rain
and danced me across the landing, dripping
puddles of moonlight like stepping-stones,
I knew the carpet would never recover.
 
You said you liked me soaked to the skin:
we steamed together.
 
You’d been celebrating all the way home
(7-6 on a penalty shoot-out!),
the soggy remains of a till-receipt from The Angel
still in your trouser pocket.
 
I didn’t give a toss about the carpet, confident
you were made of sterner stuff.
 
But I was wrong.
 
And I saw the re-play this afternoon
when I went to collect your dry-cleaned jacket
– the moon, the cloudburst and the blue shirt
cling-filmed to your wiry frame;
 
for it swung into view, along with a long line
of others, cloaked in cellophane, all swaying
in 3 / 4 time like the torsos of carcasses
waltzing on abattoir hooks.
 
And I hugged you to me, feeling as though
you’d been handed back again;
 
last-waltzing around the shop, irrespective
of puzzled looks from passers-by uncertain
whether to laugh or cry at the sight of a woman
so obviously deranged.
 
But friends who’d laid wreaths on your grave
and had known us for thirty years
would have smiled to each other,
seeing that little had changed:
 
I was dancing on borrowed time
– and you were legless.
 

Carolyn King

winner of Myeloma Awareness Poetry Competition, 2004 and published in The Interpreter’s House

Latest publications (available from Carolyn):
Caviare and Chips, Human Writes, 2004, ISBN 0-9531860-2-4, £5.99;
The Reunion, ISBN 0-9531860-0-8;
Lifelines, ISBN 0-9531860-1-6

Woodleigh East
Madeira Vale
Ventnor
Isle of Wight
PO38 1QU
 
tel: 01983-852593
 
Carolyn King at poetry p f
 
e-mail

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Marilyn Longstaff

Marilyn Longstaff lives in Darlington and is a member of Vane Women. Her work has appeared in a number of magazines, anthologies and on the web. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Newcastle University and has had published 5 books of poetry.

Alioth Al-Jawn

The black horse John
 
Always beware the quiet ones my mother said
muttering something about hidden depths,
still waters and dark horses.
 
Unlike an Arab stallion, according to my dad,
John had no rump; needed a belt
to hold his trousers up.
 
I couldn’t say he raced into my life in 1968,
 
maybe trotted quietly, tossing his faintly curling mane –
long, with auburn lights; blinkered, myopic,
Mona Lisa smile.
 
My parents should have listened to their own advice.
While they were fantasising Christian weddings
with fiery Geoff or beaming Dave or sober Stuart,
 
the black horse, John, remained invisible,
galloped below their radar, nuzzled his dark way
into my affections.  
 
 
note: Alioth Al-Jawn – Arabic, ‘black horse’; can also be translated as a star name.

Marilyn Longstaff

Poem published in Articles of War (see below)

Publications:
The Museum of Spare Parts, 2018, Mudfog, £5
Articles of War, 2017, Smokestack Books, ISBN 978-0-9934547-6-9, £7.99
Raiment, 2010, Smokestack Books, ISBN 978-0-9564175-4-1, £7.95
Sitting Among The Hoppers, 2004, ISBN 978-1-9048520-5-6, £7.50
Puritan Games, 2001 , Vane Women Press, ISBN 0-9522349-9-8, £4

Vane Women website
 
e-mail Marilyn Longstaff

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Jenny Morris

Jenny Morris writes poems and fiction. She has taught in the UK and abroad. Her writing has won awards, been published in numerous magazines and anthologies and read on radio. She has read at literary festivals and in prison.

Accident of Birth

The family tree can hold you fast
with ties of guilt or love or pride.
Opprobrium may haunt its past
but bonds of blood are sanctified.
Though you may choose your friends with care,
in kith and kin you have no choice.
Regarding them it may be rare
you find a reason to rejoice.
Yes, you can run away from home,
divorce your parents if you like,
escape from relatives and roam –
until you find you are alike.
Those inbred traits will bind you fast.
When you were made the die was cast.

Jenny Morris

Poem published in collection The Sin Eater, The National Poetry Foundation, 1993

Publications: Lunatic Moon, Gatehouse Press, 2006. ISBN 978-0-95547-700-3

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Jo Peters

Jo Peters lives in Yorkshire and has been published in various magazines and anthologies and has been successful in several competitions. Her pamphlet Play was published in 2015 by Otley Word Feast Press.

Goddess

Driving, I caught a glimpse
of Botticelli’s Venus
wearing blue jeans
walking over Otley bridge
where the swift Wharfe
had swirled her ashore.
 
She knows the mill girl
who dawdles by the forge
as the muscled smith
leans his back against
a massive flank to tip
up the feathered fetlock.
 
She smiles at the lad
herding his flustered sheep
across the bridge
who will take his thirst
to the barmaid at the Black Bull
when the selling is done.
 
She sees the nursemaid
in Tittybottle Park turn,
push her charge up the hill
to New Hall where
the gardener’s boy once
threw her a rose.
 
The goddess steps
aside as the young folk,
now uniformed, homework
downloaded, throng up
to Prince Henry’s School where
the desire lines of courtship abide.
 
The invisible wind strews no roses,
but it whips her hair,
her glorious corn-coloured hair
that lifts, streams away
from the perfection
of her oval tilted face.
 

Jo Peters

Poem published in Surprise View, Poems About Otley, Otley Word feast Press, 2015

Publications:
Play, 2015, Otley Word Feast Press, ISBN, 978-0-9927616-5-3

e-mail Jo Peters

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Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson’s work is concerned with connections between people, place and nature. She is interested in text – reading, writing, interpretation, shape. She particularly responds to the visual and has worked on a poetry/photography collaboration.

The patron saint of hares

     for Helen
 
I came to an open gateway
and at that same instant a hare entered
my field of vision. I am still. I am seeding grass,
 
brambles, nettles. She follows her known path,
a few steps at a time, pausing for scent
in the air, a tremor of earth beneath her feet.
 
When does she sense my presence?
                                           She halts
a shadow’s length away. How quick she is
in her stillness, every hair of her pelt
pricked, every nerve taut as wire.
 
Which of us will break this moment?
 
I want the legend of the hare who hid
from the hunters under the skirts
of Saint Melangell at prayer to be true.
 

Mary Robinson

in collection Trace, Oversteps Books, 2020
first published in anthology For the Silent, ed. Ronnie Goodyer, Indigo Dreams, 2019

Publications:
Trace, 2020, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-1-906856-85-4, £8
Alphabet Poems, 2019, Mariscat Press, ISBN 978-1-9160609-2-0, £6
Out of Time (with photographs by Horatio Lawson), 2015, Westward Books, signed numbered edition, ISBN 978-0-9538477-3-0, £6
Uist Waulking Song, 2012, Westward Books, signed numbered edition, ISBN 978-0-9538477-2-3, £4.50
The Art of Gardening, 2010, Flambard, ISBN 978-1-906601-14-0

Wild About Poetry blog
 
Mary Robinson at poetry p f
 
e-mail Mary Robinson

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Elizabeth Soule

Elizabeth Soule studied English and Philosophy at Nottingham University and taught English for many years. She is a member of the Suffolk Poetry Society and has had work published in the Norwich Writers’ Circle Anthology.

December 2011, a Memory of August 1968
   for Vaclav Havel

In a starless chill before dawn
we stood by the water’s edge,
tiny points of candle-light,
as a solitary flute sang out our misery
to the vastness of a dark sea.
 
Some had crouched over the radio all night
and guessing the worst,
had woken us
to stumble from tents to our hopeless vigil,
while hundreds of miles away
another kind of darkness rumbled over the frontier,
grinding the dreams of Spring
beneath remorseless tracks.
 
Then in bitter, barren silence
one by one each candle was extinguished,
our futile tribute
to those who dared to dream.
 
But hope and freedom are seeds that will not sleep
and the dust of dreams is fertile ground.
Small bright shoots split stone
Shatter concrete,
their progress more inexorable
than any trundling tank.
 
The brave gardener whose fearless tending
of improbable seedlings
gave us back belief,
now returns himself to the nurturing earth
and reminds us
that when the darkness seems most complete,
dawn is not so far away.
 

Elizabeth Soule

Poem published in PEN anthology Write to be Counted, 2017

Elizabeth Soule’s poem, December 2011, a Memory of August 1968 (for Vaclav Havel) was selected as Second Light’s ‘Poem of the Year’ from those on the home page for 2017/2018.
Listen to the poem here

e-mail Elizabeth Soule

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