Featured Poets, November/December 2021                     home page
 

Angela Croft       Caroline Carver       Claire Booker       Gill Learner       Judith Taylor       Kaye Lee       Maria Jastrzębska       Maureen G Coppack       Pam Zinnemann-Hope       Susan Jane Sims       Vivien Foulkes-James       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)  

Angela Croft

Lived in North Wales, Cornwall and London, worked as a journalist – published in a wide range of magazines and anthologies including ‘Ordinary Magic’ and recently commended in the British Red Cross competition which attracted 750 entries worldwide.

Dancing with Chagall

It’s all very well allowing him to fling
you up into the air
your purple skirt waving like a flag
above the rooftops
your feet in the clouds
 
but what will you do if it turns to rain
up in the sky without a hat
 
those strappy shoes, that scrap of cloth
that hardly passes as a blouse
slipping off your shoulder
to show your luminous skin
your fragile bones
 
him with fire in his eyes clasping
your hand as if he’d never let you fall
 
and you so very, very brittle
 

Angela Croft

First published in the French Literary Review

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Caroline Carver

Caroline Carver: I’m not a Jamaican or a Bermudian or a Canadian or even a Cornishwoman but a curious mid-Atlantic mixture of all of these with a bit of Inuit thrown in and therefore somewhat like a coelacanth: confused about origins and the big Why?

Sedna the Sea Goddess

The bird turned into a man
so beautiful
snow lay on his shoulders
like ermine

was he petrel or fulmar?
he didn’t say
 
At first he came
only in dreams
one summer night
lay with her
 
at dawn she left her house
to marry him
 
Who could explain
her father’s rage?
His storms reached
across oceans
 
she knew full joy
only six days     before
 
he killed her husband
threw her in his umiak –
pushed her overboard
when winds frightened him
 
she wouldn’t give in
gripped the boat so hard
he had to chop her fingers off
one by one
did not know
as she sank into her new Kingdom
 
they would transform
become    whales   narwhals   seals   walruses…
 
Among those she loves best
Singing Midshipmen
fish which  like humpback whales
sing to the seabirds
 
make sailors who hear them
believe in mermaids

Caroline Carver

Poem published: Acumen.

Publications:
Three Hares, Oversteps Books, 2009. ISBN 978-1-906856-06-9, £8
Jigharzi An Me, Semicolon Press, 2000. ISBN 0-9533525-2-8, £6.95 (from Caroline)
Bone-Fishing, Peterloo Poets, 2005, ISBN 1-904324-32-0, £7.95

address:
Michaelmas Cottage
14 Passage Hill
Mylor
Cornwall
TR11 5SN
UK
 
web-pages on poetry p f
 
e-mail

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Claire Booker

Claire Booker’s poems have been set to music, filmed, displayed on buses and published widely, including in Ambit, Magma, Poetry News, Popshot, the Moth, Rialto, Stand and the Spectator. She was awarded a Kathak Literary Award in Bangladesh in 2019.

The Fisherman’s Daughter

Dad was an artist with a needle –
woosh, woosh it would go, like Sunday rain
and I’d lie in bed listening to him
mending or making.
 
Nets came straight from the beach,
strung on a hook by our hearth, and he’d braid
right there, on a big old bedspread
between Mum’s dresser and the pull-out table,
 
unhitching stories
until the room started rocking like a beamer
and I could smell the fish shoaling,
feel their weight as they pulled against the trawl,
 
bubbles breaking.
You could say I made a good catch, but
it was strange that first dawn with Bill lying
beside me: not a sound from downstairs,
 
as if the house had stopped breathing.
I still miss Dad’s sure hands tightening the twine,
and his quiet ear for my life.
He was never one to tie on a smile,
 
but none of my worries
were too small to fling back and we’d sit for hours
looping and twisting the rows.
Dad called it cutting the holes out.
 
Once the little ’uns arrived, I knew
there’d be no hole big enough to wriggle through.
Fish don’t know how to go backwards.
That’s how it works.
 

Claire Booker

Poem published in Time and Tide Anthology, Arachne Press,
and simultaneously performed at The Solstice Shorts Festival in Lisbon, Maryport, Greenwich, Hastings and Clydebank.

Publications:
The Bone That Sang, 2020, Indigo Dreams, ISBN 978-1-912876-39-6, £6
Later There Will Be Postcards, 2016, Green Bottle Press, ISBN 978-1-910804-04-9, £6.20

Address:
26 Gorham Avenue
Brighton
BN2 7DP
 
Tel: 01273 302435
 
Claire Booker website
 
e-mail Claire Booker

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Gill Learner

Gill Learner’s poetry has been published in numerous anthologies and magazines such as Agenda, Acumen, ARTEMISpoetry, The North; it has also won a number of prizes and commendations. She lives in Reading, is a keen gardener and fan of Radio 3.

Chill Factor

He tries to dream cool – of ponds he dared to step on
till he heard the gun-shot crack, stilled waterfalls
in Cumbria, of sleeping in an igloo or an ice hotel.
 
Sangin dust grits between his teeth, chafes
his shoulder blades, sticks to his sweat no matter
how much care he takes undressing, shaking out.
 
His final tour. It’s 48 degrees: he must think cool –
frost fairs on the Thames, blue light of glacier caves,
Shackleton’s Endurance trapped and crushed.
 
Heat beats at his helmet like a welder’s torch,
his nape’s on fire, eyes sear with watching
as the search team makes its slow way back.
 
His last long walk. The escort’s guns are poised.
Without his body armour he steps light
along the track. Tomorrow – home, to stars
 
in their proper places, Cathy’s frown, the garden
gossipy with birds, the children’s bikes to fix.
Soft-fingered sun. Rain. He lies flat, tools
 
to hand. The silence grows. Now he believes
cool – in Saturn’s rings, the Skaters’ Waltz,
a white bear on its lonely floe. He wipes his mind,
 
strokes away sand and earth, starts to unpick
a knotted mass of metal, batteries and wires.
The desert holds its breath.
 

Gill Learner

Poem published in collection: Chill Factor;
and in ARTEMISpoetry 11 and anthology Songs for the Unsung (Grey Hen Press, 2017)

Publications:
collection, Chill Factor, Two Rivers Press, 2016;
collection, The Agister’s Experiment, Two Rivers Press, 2011;
Anthologies include Fanfare, Second Light Publications, 2015; The Emma Press Anthology of Love, 2018; Vaster than Empires, Grey Hen Press, 2018

web-pages at poetry p f
 
e-mail

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Judith Taylor

Judith Taylor comes from Perthshire and now lives and works in Aberdeen. Her poetry has appeared in a number of magazines: her first chapbook collection was published in 2006 and her second will be out in February 2010.

Kingfisher

Flare.

And gone. A blue
was given this bird’s name,
but it scorches
over the water. Only a hawk,
tracking above, would see it
blue:
 
from here
it’s a fiery weapon,
the sear – one side to the other –
that of a flame
along its fuse. And all the shadow
detonates round it;
all the light
 
used
to fuel a single bird
to escape velocity, out of the sky’s
predator view.
 
Gone. The ground
resettles, mined
out, its ore
burned
 
blue.
 

Judith Taylor

Poem published in chapbook: Earthlight (Koo Press 2006)

Publications:
Local Colour, chapbook, Calder Wood Press, 2010, ISBN 978-1-902629-34-6. £4.50.
Meeting Points, anthology, Lemon Tree Writers, 2006. ISBN 0955308607 £3-50
The tide breathes out, anthology, Lemon Tree Writers, 2006. ISBN 9780955308611 £4-99
Skein of Geese: poems from the 100 Poets Gathering at StAnza 2007, StAnza/Shed Press, ed. E Livingstone, 2008, £5-00
Earthlight, chapbook, Koo Press, 2006, ISBN 9780955307539 £3-50

e-mail

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Kaye Lee

An Australian living in North London. Retired from nursing – time now to pursue a love of poetry. Published in various magazines and a prize winner in several competitions.

Hand in Hand

Years ago I held your hands
to guide you on the long
walk to hospital. Beneath
their patches your eyes
oozed tears to wash away
woodchips thrown there
by the giant saw.

Your hands were large,
calloused. Black sap
emphasized lines and folds,
darkened every nail. Skin,
brown and tough from the sun,
still let splinters skewer in –
you’d prise them out with Mum’s
fattest darning needle.

Though I led you, all
the strength of our bond
lay in your hands not
in my small, anxious
eight-year-old fingers.

When I hold your hands again
to help you from your wheelchair
mine are the weathered, rough hands,
yours are Persil white, baby soft.
You do not recall the pain
of penetrating wood and your hands,
calm, delicately trusting, accept
that now the strength is mine.

Kaye Lee

email

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Maria Jastrzębska

Maria Jastrzębska is Polish and lives in Brighton. She has three collections and is much published in anthologies and magazines (UK, France, Finland, Slovenia, the internet). She is involved with SOUTH POLE, Queer Writing South, Outskirts and THE SOUTH.

Old Knives

Old knives lie still
in wooden drawers, lined
 
with shiny paper. They smell
of rust, belong to a family
 
of broken scissors, brass
tongs, tarnished platters
 
and screws stored in tobacco tins.
You could clean round them.
 
They lack conviction. Old knives
can’t cut in straight lines
 
anymore, but their handles
fit warmly into your hand.
 

Maria Jastrzębska

Poem published: Zlati Coln / Golden Boat 2006, Apokalipsa 2007 Zlati čoln/Golden Boat mednarodna prevajalska delavnica Društvo Apokalipsa

Latest collection:Syrena, Redbeck Press

web-pages on poetry p f
 
e-mail Maria

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Maureen G Coppack

Maureen lives in North Wales. Poems published in Iota, Poetry Nottingham, Other Poetry, Second Light, Helicon, and various other magazines. Success in local competitions. Chapbooks: Shared Ground and Turtle Stone. She is currently working on a new collection, Alternatives.

Wading Through Green

It would have been a July afternoon
with everyone piling out into the sun.
And I remember the dog rose blooming
in a flush of pink, as we waded through green meadows,
hunting for lucky leaves among the purple clover.
 
Then someone made a daisy chain, and suddenly
we were all crowned in gold and white,
and there were butterflies,
(orange tip, common blue, cabbage white)
dancing around our heads.
 
And I recall those colours midsummer bright,
but any sounds have slipped away.
Memory runs a silent film, which is strange
and sad, because I’m sure, so very sure,
that all our hearts were singing.

Maureen G Coppack

Publications: Chapbooks, Shared Ground and Turtle Stone

e-mail

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Pam Zinnemann-Hope

On Cigarette Papers, Pam Zinnemann-Hope’s debut collection, was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize. It was adapted by her for the Afternoon Play on radio 4 in which she also acted. She runs poetry seminars near Dorchester.

Marriage to Lazar – 1905

On the day my bankrupt father married me off
the luck sat more in my husband’s cup
than mine, believe me. Lazar broke the glass
for us in Krakow; a broken glass
is meant to bring you luck. But I’d already
turned my back on my dreams, cut up
my ball-gown stitched with seed pearls,
the dumb song-birds on my own embrodiery;
I spoke sternly to my tiny stubborn heart;
I stood straight with Lazar under the canopy;
I dropped my eyes to his uncultured vowels.
What could I do while the gold band slid
onto my finger? Make a secret vow:
never forgive my father, or fall in love.

Pam Zinnemann-Hope

in collection On Cigarette Papers, Ward Wood, 2012

Publications:
On Cigarette Papers, Ward Wood, 2012, ISBN 978-0-9568969-8-8
Who’s In The Next Room, HappenStance, 2010, ISBN 978-1-9059395-1-0
4 Ned books, Walker Books, 1986/7/8, ISBN 978-0-744 5062-6-6 (& 3 following)
NW15, Anthology of New Writing, Granta, 2007

e-mail

Pam Zinnemann-Hope at Ward Wood

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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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Vivien Foulkes-James

Vivien Foulkes-James, formerly from Manchester now lives by the coast in North Lancashire. She is a founder member of local writing group, Bare Writers. She has published in several magazines and For the Silent poetry anthology.

Next Stop Milford

     (an alternative ending for Brief Encounter)
 
She’s taken the step
up onto the train,
she glances behind her,
there’s no going back.
She can’t explain.
The shrill of the whistle
signals goodbye,
she looks for a seat
where no prying eyes
can intrude on her guilt
can impinge on her joy.
She can’t explain
the case in her hand or
why she is leaving.
She sits by a window,
her eyes are closed,
shunning all contact.
She can’t explain.
And the words he said
are a chime in her head
to the incessant motion.
Thank you
for coming back to me
for coming back to me.
Then a shift in the points
and the rumblings change.
I love you Laura,
it seems to say,
I love you Laura,
but she couldn’t stay.
She left no note
she can’t explain.
Milford, next stop,
she heard someone say disrupting her thoughts.
She waits by the door
as the train trundles in.
Brakes screech,
whistles blow,
she steps off the train.

Vivien Foulkes-James

Poem published in Reach poetry magazine

Publications:
For The Silent, an anthology to aid the work of the League Against Cruel Sports, ISBN 978-1-9128760-4-4, £10
Reading Between The Lines, an anthology by Bare Writers, ISBN 978-1-7271289-2-5

e-mail Vivien Foulkes-James

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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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