Featured Poets, Nov 2023                     home page
 

Angela Kirby       Anne Stewart       Chiara Salomoni       Elaine Briggs       Iris Anne Lewis       Judith Taylor       Kay Syrad       Maria Jastrzebska       Niki Strange       Sue Lewis      

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 Kirby

Angela Kirby was born in rural Lancashire and lives in London. She has a D.Phil in Creative Writing from Sussex University, gives regular readings in the UK and abroad, and her poems have won prizes in several major competitions and are widely published.

Trizonia

O most excellent donkey who,
not having heard of the sleep button,
woke me three times this morning
with your ancient and execrable lament,
do you bemoan the start
of your over-burdened day
and the end of your brief night’s rest
in this unpromising patch of scrub
or do you, perhaps, grieve for me
who today must leave this incomparable islet
where there are neither cars
nor motorcycles, where nothing
very much happens, apart
from the occasional birth or marriage
and the rather more frequent deaths,
where there is little to see, just Iannis
repainting the peeling mermaid
on his taverna, and his grandmother
taking a broom to the six hollow-ribbed cats
who have stolen yet another chicken-leg,
and the three old men who,
having finished their backgammon
and the last of the ouzo, now take
the sun’s path home across the harbour
in a boat as blue as that clump of scabious
you are considering?

Angela Kirby

published in anthology, Speaking English, Five Leaves Press, 2007

Publications:
collection, The Days After Always, new and selected poems, Shoestring Press, 2015, £12, ISBN 978-1-910323-38-0
collection, A Scent of Winter, Shoestring Press, 2013, £9, ISBN 978-1-907356-67-4
collection, Dirty Work, Shoestring Press, 2008, £8.95 incl p&p, ISBN 978-1-904886-83-9
collection, Mr Irresistible, Shoestring Press, 2005, £8.95 incl p&p, ISBN 1-904886-19-1 (2008: 2nd re-print)

121 Hurlingham Road
London
SW6 3 NJ
 
tel: 020-7736-3965
 
web-pages on poetry p f
 
e-mail Angela Kirby

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

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Anne Stewart

Anne Stewart founded poetry p f in 2005. Her awards include The Bridport Prize, Southport Prize, Silver Wyvern (Poetry on the Lake, Italy) and a Hawthornden Fellowship. Her collections include The Janus Hour (2010) and The Last Parent (2019).

Anne is editor of the SecondLightLive web-site and serves on the Second Light Network Committee and as part-time administrator for the Network. (see ‘More’ link below)

sample poems and comments on ‘The Last Parent’
 

Body Language

            "I like the whisker of hair/ under her armpit. It suggests/
            that she’s not one of those women/ who are always trying
            to get rid/ of their smell."
 
                    Vicki Feaver, OI YOI YOI

 

Give me silky legs glistening in the sun,
bikini line and oxters done and no shame
for the dishonest shape-shifter I’ve become.
 
Give me orange and magnolia to bathe away
my scent – when it’s Woman-Ready-for-a-Man,
I’d just as soon my body said "Only if I say".
 
And when I choose to go against the master plan
by coating earthworm lips with New Dawn Rose
or copper pink, grape or cherry blossom balm,
 
it’s no more a disguise than wearing clothes.
Or would you have me naked? No deceitful lines
between my vulva and the twitching public nose?

 
Hirsute and unscented may be truth of a kind,
but there are worse things, when you feel exposed,
than silk and oranges, and roses, to hide behind.

Anne Stewart

Poem published: The Interpreter’s House, Nov 03, ISSN 1361-5610, and nominated for Forward Prize, 2004;
Discussed in Mary Michaels’ article How Does Your Poem Smell?, in Connections, Spring 2005 edition.
Strix Varia published Anne’s reflection on the writing of Body Language in their PoetSpeak series.

Collection: The Last Parent, Second Light Publications, 2019, ISBN: 978-0-9927088-3-2, £9.95 (Book Club offer £40 plus feedback).
Collection: The Janus Hour, Oversteps Books, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-9068561-6-8, £8.
Anthology: Ten Hallam Poets, Mews Press, 2005, ISBN: 1-84387-123-8, £7.99.
Glossy illustrated postcards: 2 of Body Language and 2 of Melting into the motorway on the inside lane, £1, from Anne.

20 Clovelly Way
Orpington
Kent
BR6 0WD
 
tel: 07850 537489
 
Anne’s web-site
 
e-mail

more...

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Chiara Salomoni

Chiara Salomoni’s poems were published in Acumen, in Poetry Salzburg Review, in the PRS Review, in New Humanist and in Orbis. Her translation of a poem by Andrea Zanzotto was published in Poem. Her translations of a poem by Corrado Govoni were published in The Rialto and in New Humanist respectively.

Nonna Ida

Nonna Ida’s bag was in the cattleshed
for forty years, her beloved photos inside.
Paper perfect, colour intact
as if recently printed by a photographer.
 
                 Love is a strong thread
 
Photos of my parents’ wedding in the church,
my mother smiling under her veil.
My father standing in his uniform.
My father’s cousin, the embroiderer, laughing.
 
                 Love is a strong thread
 
One of my aunts flirting with a local bloke.
My cousin’s confirmation with her parents;
two other cousins shyly playing,
a view of sweet hills behind them.
 
                 Love is a strong thread
 
Nonna Ida wore black after nonno’s death,
and put her long hair up. But life went on.
Her big hands held her infant nephew
when his own mother suddenly died.
 
                 Love is a strong thread
 
Nonna Ida baked chestnut cakes for everyone,
told tales and folk stories, fought her battle
for her family safety during the war
when her Appennino was occupied.
 
                 Love is an endless thread
 
Nonna Ida longed to see me when I was born,
the only grandchild she never met.
Ida, from old High German, ‘woman warrior’,
the woman I would like to be.
 

Chiara Salomoni

Poem published on The Blue Nib Digital Platform, May 2020;
also at poetry p f, 2021

Note:

Publications:
The High Window, Italian 3, 2021, includes a number of Chiara’s translations of poems by Andrea Zanzotto

Chiara Salomoni at poetry p f
 
Chiara Salomoni at The Society of Authors

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Elaine Briggs

Elaine Briggs lives and works in France as a translator. Poems have received prizes in Segora and Hungry Hill competitions. A collection has been long-listed by Cinnamon.

The Translator and His Harp Sing the Iliad

A harp is a made thing,
the heartwood of Homer, an ode.
 
It’s a flightless wing
with speech in its keys
 
and strings taut and resonant
open for winds to frisk at sea.
 
It’s the prow of a boat
where Orpheus turned helmsman
 
set a rhythm
for oars to dip and rise
 
and the water that streamed from their blade
outsang the Sirens’ wolfish howl.
 
You stand alone, your frame
spindly as the African lyre you cradle.
 
Then, in Afghan headgear worn for a crown,
you swell – wind and breath
 
sing to me the Muse’s song
and the rage of Achilles is re-made.

Elaine Briggs

Address:
Tours, France
   
e-mail Elaine Briggs

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

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Iris Anne Lewis

Iris Anne Lewis is published in a variety of publications. She has featured in the Silver Branch Series of Black Bough Poetry. In 2018 she founded Wordbrew, a Cirencester-based group of poets.

I make myself a skirt of fish skin

Mother stitches mackerel eyes
as sequins on my bodice. They wink
dark gold in the sun.
 
My sisters leave their baskets
brimming full of gutted herring.
They braid my hair with seaweed.
 
Grandmother binds my thighs together,
strokes my silver scales. Her hands
are rough with barnacles.
 
Trawler men sing shanties of storm-
tossed ships and foundered boats.
There is salt in their voices.
 
Women lead me to the water’s edge,
show me how to dance to the surge
and suck of the waves.
 
They break in a bridal froth
of foam. Spindrift settles
as confetti on my shoulders.
 
I flip my tail,
rip through the tide,
dive deep in the ocean.
 
Claim the sea as my own.
 

Iris Anne Lewis

Poem published in Seaborne Magazine, 2022

e-mail Iris Anne Lewis

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Judith Taylor

Judith Taylor lives in Aberdeen, where she co-organises the monthly Poetry at Books and Beans events. Her first full-length collection, Not in Nightingale Country, is published by Red Squirrel Press, and she is one of the Editors of Poetry Scotland.

Requiem

   (after a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth in Aberdeen City Art Gallery)
 
You want to think
it’s a human shape. It isn’t
quite.
 
You want to think it’s a bone flute
for the wind to play, but too much
is eroded out.
 
You want to think
that smooth surface resigns itself:
a ruined tree, made furniture.
 
You want to think its pierced places
fill with light, when the heart of it
is a pool of shadow.
 
You want to think.
You want some form of containment
the form itself will not give
 
for memory
for enduring grief.
You want an explanation.
 
You circle it
closer in this time.
There isn’t an explanation.
 

Judith Taylor

Poem published in Not in Nightingale Country (Red Squirrel Press, 2017)

Publications:
Not in Nightingale Country, Red Squirrel Press, 2017. ISBN 978-1-910437-69-8 £8.99
Local Colour, chapbook, Calder Wood Press, 2010, ISBN 978-1-902629-34-6. £4.50. (out of print. contact author for copies)
Earthlight, chapbook, Koo Press, 2006, ISBN 9780955307539 £3.50 (out of print)

Judith Taylor website
 
e-mail

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Kay Syrad

Editor, novelist & poet, Kay Syrad’s third solo collection is What is near (Cinnamon, 2021). She co-runs eco-poetry courses as half of the composite eco-poet kin’d & kin’d. She lives in rural East Sussex.

out   there

caught by the sun  the fly zigzags   darts
disappears   another or the same fly appears
darts   disappears   the beech branches grow out
horizontally seeking light   the leaves bright green
and shadowing   some yellow   the oak
hooshes in its high canopy               the wind
the sound   the green   the yellow
 
           in   here
 
           shame happens and a proxy shame happens
           the feeling filters down through organs
           tissue   as if woven on a loom   as if the body
           is a loom and shame the warp the weft
 
out   here
 
is where I am   in the all-ish vastness of wrong acts
a half-thought   a said/unsaid      the buzzing
isn’ continuous but pulses at intervals   re-charging
in the (de) forest   in the parched soil
 

Kay Syrad

Poem from collection What is near, Cinnamon Press, 2021

Publications:
What is near, 2021, Cinnamon Press
Wild Correspondings: an eco-poetry source book, 2021, Elephant Press
Inland, 2021, Cinnamon Press
Exchange, 2015, Little Toller
Send (novel), 2015, Cinnamon Press

Kay Syrad website
 
e-mail Kay Syrad

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Maria Jastrzębska

Maria Jastrzębska’s fifth collection is Small Odysseys (Waterloo Press 2022). She co-edited Queer in Brighton (New Writing South 2014) and was the writer for cross-arts project “Snow Q” (2020). Her work is translated into Polish and Romanian.

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 collections:
Small Odysseys, Waterloo Press, 2022;
Syrena, Redbeck Press

web-pages on poetry p f
 
e-mail Maria

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Niki Strange

Niki Strange won second prizes in the Sussex Poetry Competition 2019 and Second Light 2021. Published by Lighthouse, Flight of the Dragonfly, The Storms and Hedgehog, she was Arts Council funded poet in residence for Macmillan’s Horizon centre, 2020.

I can write myself

into an open top car,
careering on corniche roads
in the Cote d’Azur’s brûlée noon.
 
No factor 50,
for the facts of my melanoma
are of little consequence.
 
All is shadow-less velocity.
I am heliotropic to the blazing sun,
lit up, let loose.
 
Letter by letter,
I am matter transported.
Written reckless.
 
I can write myself
 
sprung from a high board,
suspended in defiance
of Earth’s pull,
 
my balance restored.
Lost nodes, radiated breast,
sleeved right arm
 
parts of this new entirety
that tucks, revolves
then plunges
 
as steel into the
quenching water.
Written stronger.  

Niki Strange

Second Prize in Second Light competition 2021;
poem published in Stickleback XXXI (Hedgehog) and Flights e-journal (Flight of the Dragonfly Press) 2021
and nominated for Forward, Pushcart and Best of the Web prizes.

Publication:
Body Talk, Flight of the Dragonfly Press, 2022
Close Up – poems on cancer (anthology), Orchard Lea Books, 2022

Niki Strange website
 
e-mail Niki Strange

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Sue Lewis

Sue Lewis is a South London writer of lyric poetry and haiku. She has twice won the Cinnamon Pamphlet Prize and has twice been shortlisted for the Bridport Poetry Prize. A member of Sutton Writers and Mole Valley Poets, she has been widely published.

Journey

Useful directions, so you tell me,
depend upon the starting point.
 
I must begin again.
 
Each turning that we take
depends on so much else:
 
how choices race towards us
while we’re all mis-reading maps;
how precious things
get left behind.
 
How soon the soft young
green of summer withers;
how the rain mists up the view.
 
How, when you drive out
from the centre of a starry sky,
you hold your breath against
the cold of winter coming.
 
And how the cat’s-eye of a
crescent moon, carved radish-thin,
will sometimes serve to light you
when you lose your way.
 
Go back and start again.
Take nothing with you
but the burden of your loving.
Carry it with care and, this time,
do not put it down.
 

Sue Lewis

from collection Journey,2021, Cinnamon Press

Publications:
Journey, 2021, Cinnamon Press, ISBN 978-1-78864-132-6
Texture, 2020, Cinnamon Press, ISBN 978-1-78864-075-6

Sue Lewis website
 
e-mail Sue Lewis

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

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