Featured Poets, October 2021                     home page
 

Ann Milton       Elizabeth Rapp       Kaye Lee       Melinda Lovell       Alison Brackenbury       Carolyn O Connell       Elizabeth Birchall       Jean Atkin       Maggie Norton       Myra Litton       Ruth Sharman       Susan Davies       Vivien Foulkes-James      

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)  

Ann Milton

I am a housewife and mother, living in Brussels. I’ve been writing poetry for my own satisfaction and pleasure for some years, now I am exploring how to make it accessible to (enjoyable by, useful for?) others.

who will hear?

How can I dare to speak
what must not be heard? Where is it safe
to voice a naked thought?
I live with dreams that cannot
be realised, nightmares I cannot cast off
because the burden is unshared
 
I need some-one to listen to me,
without cruel judgement or kind pity,
so that the merciless noise will be driven
from inside my head, guided
to a distant home.
 
I would not burden the wise
with my foolishness, nor could any-one innocent
receive my guilt.
But if you have seen the wilderness
You could be the one to hear my story.
 

Ann Milton

e-mail Ann Milton

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Elizabeth Rapp

Elizabeth Rapp lives in Somerset. She runs residential and day poetry workshops at various South West venues. She is a graduate teacher, Lay Minister, and has worked with the homeless and with children.

Ice Garden

I begged him for a garden,
hollyhocks and delphiniums.
He gave me grottoes of ice.
No birds sing here: only the sound
of moonlight dreaming snow at midnight.
 
I have become bone carved from ice.
I spin on a needle’s point,
watched by an angel huddled
in snow with icebound wings;
his stricken face as I twirl and twirl.
 
Those dark and subtle hands
have locked me in this kingdom,
this palace of death-white ice.
Floors are as slippery as his lies.
I wander through cubes of refracted light
 
where indigo and jade dance on my silver dress,
turn into birds of paradise.
But today a small brown bird
perched on my wrist, then
gave me a pomegranate seed
from his beak.

Elizabeth Rapp

Poem: Winner of the A.A. Sanders poetry prize, 2000
 
Publications:
Dancing on Bones, full collection, Rockingham Press, 2000.
Living Proof, The Amate Press, Oxford.
Hare and Sixpence, The Rigmal Press, Devon
A CD of Elizabeth’s poems is available, 7, direct from Elizabeth.

The Lodge
Dillington
Ilminster
Somerset
TA19 9EH
 
tel: 01460 259898
 
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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Melinda Lovell

Melinda Lovell lives in the Cantal, France. She is much published in magazines The SHOp, The Frogmore Papers, Agenda, etc). Her collections are Walking the Hillside (Waterloo Press, 2015) and Breath and Sap (Chrysalis Poetry, 2018).

Woodlanders

For one August week they robbed me
of my walk, a loop in the woods.
An electric fence skewered the path
to stop their three sheep short
 
An odd economy. They forgot
their patch is an old right of way
for any shade-lover, same clan,
to pass by, hat over eyes
 
Why, with their courtly camps
scoring the glade with chores and games
sitting cool among berries and husks
in their rickety nut palace
 
did they forget my haunting
my scudding through shores of leaves
collecting nothing growing
but the ghosts between the trees?
 

Melinda Lovell

poem first published in Tears In The Fence

Publications: Melinda Lovell's second collection, Breath and Sap (Chrysalis Poetry; June 2018) is now out, and available from Melinda.
collection Breath and Sap, 2018, Chrysalis Poetry, ISBN 978-0-9956800-1-2. Avail from Melinda.
collection Walking the Hillside, 2015, Waterloo Press, ISBN 978-1-906742-64-5. Avail from Melinda. (Also as a Kindle book from Amazon). For 3 video clips of Melinda reading 3 poems from the collection, click on the following link: video readings.

Address:
Inchivala
Rouziers
Cantal, 15600
France
 
Melinda Lovell website
 
e-mail Melinda Lovell

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Alison Brackenbury

Born in Lincolnshire, 1953. Lives in Gloucestershire, works in family metal-finishing business. Seven collections of poetry published, received both Eric Gregory and Cholmondeley Awards. Competition judge. Tutor for the Poetry School. Main aim: smuggling poems out to wide world.

No

No one is ever good enough,
or kind enough.
No one stays awake
through the lovely rush of rain which fills our dark.
No one can hold the music.
They are counting coins or frowning
they are toppling, they are drowning.
No one is good.
 
But nothing is as quick as us,
no screen can match us
tape’s whirr catch us
nothing tilts like sun
to light from sad.
Nothing in all history
can reach to take your hand from me,
the dark, the rain’s gift, O
we should be glad.
 

Alison Brackenbury

Poem published: The Times Literary Supplement.

Selection of Publications, all Carcanet:
Singing in the Dark, 2008, ISBN 1 85754 914 7
Bricks and Ballads, 2004, ISBN 1 85754 751 9
After Beethoven, 2000, ISBN 185754 454
Selected Poems, 1991, ISBN 085635 924 6

Address:
c/o Carcanet Press
4th Floor, Alliance House
28-34 Cross Street,
Manchester
M2 7AQ
 
Alison Brackenbury web-site

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Carolyn O’Connell

Four poems have been published in ‘Mirrored Voices’ An Anthology of Emerging Poetsfrom around the world. It was incepted by the American fiction/non fiction author Paul Morabito.

Diamonds

Diamonds fall on glass, rain on the window
patterns of water shimmering in the dawn
not precious gems, eternal settings of graphite
pressed for millennia beneath specific rocks.
Worn by women as tokens of affection, pride
of their menfolk as they sport rich gifts,
the carat of a poor man pledging life
a bauble cast unheeding by the oligarch.
 
One set of diamonds a young mother wore
token not of love but duty to be done
her pledge no to a single man but
to a race she never wished was hers
 
and on that day the diamonds were returned
to wait in silence for another’s brow,
now a lifetime’s past, children then undreamt
walk streets changed beyond concept,
 
all that was sixty years ago.
 

Carolyn O’Connell

Poem published in collection, Timelines, Indigo Dreams, 2014

Collection: Timelines, Indigo Dreams, 2014, ISBN 978-1-909357-53-2, £7.99
Anthology: Mirrored Voices Emerging Poets Anthology, Star Investment Strategies LLC, 2015, ISBN 978-1-5077107-1-5, £6.95.

Tel: 07950 395607
 
web-pages on poetry p f
 
Carolyn O’Connell blog
 
e-mail

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Elizabeth Birchall

Elizabeth is long retired from social work, management and policy research. In her beloved Cotswolds, she fills her time with writing, reading, gardening, friends and pressing governments to do better! Her poems have appeared in numerous literary and poetry magazines.

OXFORD UNITED:
Luminox, March, 2007

They set Broad Street ablaze last week,
Expelled the cars and bikes,
Brought in two ambulances in case.
Cowley and North Oxford, all ages, mixed
In slow and quiet amazement
Inching along the crowded street.
 
A flaring pendulum hung from a bamboo spire
And swung a thousand slow rotations
In notation of the city’s age.
Black against orange glow, children clung
To railings, agog at pots of fire swagged
From the Clarendon's sober pediment.
 
Blazing at each meridian and latitude, a sphere
Lit, vivified the New Bodleian hulk.
A telescopic crane stretched into the dark
Bearing a chandelier whose blaze
Extinguished the stars with infinitely more
Élan than the usual sodium lights.
 
The gale tore banners of flame
From braziers and stove pipes
Red, yellow, white hot.
Galaxies of sparks blew in the cold night
And wrapped around crowds wondering
To be allowed so intimate
With such untamed energy.

Elizabeth Birchall

Publications: The Forest That Sailed Away

tel: 01608 677271
 
e-mail

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Jean Atkin

Jean Atkin is a poet & writer in education & the community. Her second collection How Time is in Fields was published in 2019 by IDP. She is Troubadour of the Hills for Ledbury Poetry Festival & BBC Poet for Shropshire for 2019 National Poetry Day.

The Children of Lir

His hands were folded. He seemed
to be waiting. I saw him lower
his eyes to earth
 
as I landed, a brother at each wing tip.
Behind us the sea lough tolled with the bell.
When it had stopped, he spoke.
 
I remember the coarseness of his robe,
his mudstained feet. His voice was narrow
as reeds. Rain fell.
 
We heard him out.
I searched my brothers’ eyes: and then
we spread our wings. I felt the loosening
 
of flight feathers, saw them fall;
I watched smooth plumage snow
from thinning bones.
 
I folded, for the first time, shriven fingers
and with my stranger’s hand I touched – and found
skin slack on flesh and desert dry.
 
My hair curved round me
long and faint and grey.
White down fanned to ground.
 
Shameless, my favourite brother stood
and stared into the sky. I saw him lank
and naked.
 
His eyes filled. I took his hand.
 
The monk prayed. Rain fell.
 

Jean Atkin

Poem published: Poetry Ireland Review 106 (2012)

Publications:
How Time is in Fields, 2019, IDP, 978-1-912876-07-5, £9.99
Not Lost Since Last Time, 2013, Oversteps Books, 978-1-906856-3-8-0, £8
The Dark Farms, 2012, Roncadora Press, 978-0-9571994-2-2, £9
Lost at Sea, 2011, Roncadora Press, 978-0-9535804-6-0, £10

Jean Atkin website
 
e-mail

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Maggie Norton

Maggie is South Cumbria Poet Laureate 2007, and is having a wonderful time as Cumbria ambassador for poetry here and abroad. She is a writing tutor at Lancaster University. She adores waterways and lakes, preferably steering a 1.5hp Mariner engine on an orange inflatable.

Mrs Tennyson is Interviewed in the Morning Room at Farringford

And Life with the Great Poet?

I feel so privileged, being Alfred’s helpmeet
copying his works, for his hand is clarity itself.
All correspondence I attempt to answer in his style
and ink the pens for signatures during tea.

Interests?

Oh, yes, indeed, of course I have.
His poems I set to music on the pianoforte
and compose the hymns for family celebrations.

Between ourselves, my dear, I confess
to writing fiction of an autobiographical derivation,
but pray don’t make a note of that, for he
does not know of it but it is a comfort
that I might show it to the grandchildren.

Encouraged?

I always have, yes indeed.
Being late to marry at thirty-six
I had a very full life before and during
our long engagement, when dear Alfred
and I together made a name for him.

Family Life?

He’s built a sphere of love around us
in the houses I run both here and Aldworth.
So much to thank God and dear Alfred for,
so much, so much, and bless him,
he allows me to place upon his desk
handwritten notes (in what he charmingly
calls ‘my poetic prose’) on subjects
he might care to work up into poems.

Ah, yes – your interests?

Though not so much of late have I attended
to his needs, being easily fatigued
with a weary dragging pain that chains
me to this sofa, and dear Alfred
is so patient with what he terms
‘a womanly trouble’. He is my rock,
my fortress and my strength. What would I do without him?

Maggie Norton

Poem: Strokestown International Poetry Competition
in collection Onions and Other Intentions

Recent Pamphlets:
Onions and Other Intentions, 2012, Indigo Dreams, ISBN 978-1907401565, £7.99
Making Hay, with videopoem, commissioned for Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust and Sedbergh Book Town, in collaboration with videographer Kate Harrison Whiteside;
The Bundle on the Dresser, with DVD. The story of Tom, a hill farmer who wants his son to take over the farm. Then foot and mouth disease arrives;
Kurt Schwitters–in Praise of Life, a commissioned poem for radio, now with CD of two voices reading, with Maggie’s music.

web-page on wordmarket.org.uk

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Myra Litton

Myra Litton lives in London. Her work has been published in various anthologies and in Senior Times, ‘Ireland’s website for people who don’t act their age’ and https://bsfa.co.uk/bsfa-publications/focus/(Spring 2020 Issue Number 70).

the entitled ex wife and pals

She thought she had her ‘passport to the higher echelons’, and associate status for life
She had Cosmo, Hello and OK credits – she’d really made it
She had a continental lineage and was modelled unconsciously from female ancestors to be like an old-style courtesan
To be a perfect hostess in the kitchen and to ‘please her man’
She had a perfect exterior,
And held herself to be quite superior
Intellectual and a connoisseur of the finer things
It came as a shock when she lost the right to wear that ring
She had three homes, one a tasteful mews, one by the sea side
And a house on the south coast somewhere like Brighton
She’d sometimes get involved in trendy movements quite right-on
like anti-fracking
But secretly was not averse to email hacking
When the marriage dissolved and he found another girl she could barely
hold it together, oh she wailed they’ll get their karma
To negotiate a mortgage at her age, oh what a drama/trauma
Her mate had persuaded an ex beau to buy large shares in a football club and she listened avidly to her woes
United in their sense of superiority they would plot and scheme against common foes
And the entitled ex wife with her ego dented, really became quite demented
She loved caviar and foie gras
But also was not averse to a line of coke and Mary Jane grass
Her pals were like the Witches of Eastwick
And the last time I heard they were in a Macbethian thicket
 

Myra Litton

Publications:
Diaries, 2014/15/16/17/18, Rennie Grove Hospice Care;
Between the Lines, 2017, anthology, City Lit;
Camden/Lumen anthologies 2014 to 2019 (Soaring Penguin Press/Salmon Poetry);
I am Woman Anthology Volume 2, 2013, Kindle Edition, FCM Publishing , available at Amazon

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Ruth Sharman

Ruth Sharman’s poems and translations are widely published and prize-placements include the National & Troubadour. ‘Scarlet Tiger’ won the Straid Collection Award 2016. A new collection is due from Templar in 2021, focussing on her Indian roots.

Fragments

So, where does time go?
All the days of our lives,
the hours we’ve spent waiting
for buses, or rehearsing
conversations round and round
in our heads? Isn’t it there still,
located in brain cells,
each moment freighted
with every moment gone
before, the memory of people,
places, things? Fragments
reach us now and then
from those distant galaxies –
tiny, random and bright,
like that moment in the garden
when we stood watching
a trail of mercury in sunlight,
so far away we couldn’t be sure
if they were geese or swans.
 

Ruth Sharman

Poem first published in Scarlet Tiger, 2016, Templar Poetry;
reprinted in Staying Human, 2020, Bloodaxe Books

Publications:
Scarlet Tiger, 2016, Templar Poetry
Birth of the Owl Butterflies, 1997, Picador (available from the poet)
Two + Two, 1997, Staple First Editions (anthology)
The Cansos and Sirventes of the Troubadour Giraut de Borneil, 1989, CUP

Ruth Sharman website
 

e-mail Ruth Sharman

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Susan Davies

I am a retired lecturer in English Literature. I write poetry and short stories and I have just completed a memoir, and I’m now working on a novel. I contine to write poetry as it is my first love.

23 Fitzroy Road, Primrose Hill

What picture soothed the mind’s eye
and brought her to life again?
Maybe the white pillow case on the line
puffed up and puckered like a barnacle goose.
 
Or the memory of my first love,
waiting for me in his room, while I
a callow, skimp of a girl – barely
seventeen, and not yet broken in –
carelessly lingered by the landing
window, where below, over the fence,
I saw a young mother, pegging
out nappies in the snow along
a frosted loop of rope – her red hair
plaited and coiled like a coronet
to frame the loveliness of her face.
 
And I found myself caught in the silent
beauty and rhythm of her movement –
arching down, and reaching up
on the ringing, frosted path –
her raw, worn hands pinching
the corners of her parchment poetry –
her masterpieces stretched out to dry.
 
I didn’t know then that her mirrors
were already sheeted, and her spirit
demised with every shot of breath.
I didn’t know she wanted a sarcophagus
stamped with the face of the moon – bold, too, with tigery stripes,
and her body embalmed in warm
honey to lie beside her copper cauldron
and rouge-pots, glowing vermillion
like the eyes of a predatory god.
And her heart to be wrapped
in brown paper, tied up with string
and tucked between her bare, crossed feet.
 

Susan Davies

23 Fitzroy Road is a prize winning poem: Sentinel Poetry competition, September 2012

Publications:
Short Story, Crake’s Troll, published in collection Significant Spaces,
Earlyworks Press, 2013, ISBN 978-1-9064518-6-8 £8.99

Susan Davies at poetry p f
 

e-mail Susan Davies

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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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