Featured Poets, September 2020                     home page
 

Kathryn Southworth       Isabel Bermudez       Angela Croft       Katherine Gallagher       Justina Hart       Thelma Laycock       Kaye Lee       Maggie Norton       Diana Pritchard       Joolz Sparkes       Nola Turner       Margaret Wilmot      

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)  

Kathryn Southworth

Kathryn Southworth, known as elmvillagepoet, is a retired academic. She was a founding fellow of the English Association, Vice Principal of Newman University College, review manager for QAA, governor in mental health and Rose Bruford Drama College.

Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls

Stopped outside Wigan Station on a rainy Tuesday
my eyes are drawn to writing on a factory wall – sweets –
and round the corner you can just make out
Uncle Joe’s mint balls keep…
 
Then childhood sweeps back on me –
my godfather, gentleman farmer, exotic
with Wigan accent and red wig, pressing on everyone
a sticky bag of amber globules –
these’ll keep thee warm.
 
His green eyes were the colour of country
to a town child, and the pocket watch
in his best black waistcoat shone
with the glamour of long ago.
 
My train moves on, and the writing on the wall
comes into full view, so now I know and how
could I forget – Uncle Joe’s mint balls
keep you all aglow.

Kathryn Southworth

Poem published in Between the Lines, City LIt Anthology

Publications:
Someone was here, 2018, Indigo Dreams Publishing, ISBN 978-1-910834-90-9
Wavelengths, poetry pamphlet with Belinda Singleton, June 2019, Dempsey and Windle, ISBN 978-1-907435-85-0

e-mail Kathryn Southworth

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Isabel Bermudez

Isabel Bermudez lives in Kent. Her chapbook collection, ‘Extranjeros’ (2015), is available from Flarestack Poets. Her full collection ‘Small Disturbances’ is published by Rockingham Press (October 2016).

Heron speaks

He says again, he
doesn’t know how he used
to fit everything in,
 
he doesn’t know where it goes,
the time, it just evaporates…
Watching from the balcony
 
it’ll all be wound up he says,
by the end of next year,
the old brewery

 
as two huge metal tanks
suspended in air like flies in aspic
are lowered over its brick wall
 
onto waiting barges
bound for elsewhere
and I find myself thinking
 
of odds and ends, how it was
always he who used to say, Don’t fret…
Now he sees it go,
 
a barge that slips away
as light returns again:
the empty river’s trick
 
a gleam of silverware,
those centuries of beer,
ship-loads of sugar, yards of steel
 
whose yellowed ledgers state
in neat black script
their clear economy of
 
trade and deficit, while love,
the one timepiece that endures,
waives past debts,
 
and borrows only to exchange,
is like the strange December moon,
the long-night moon,
 
keeper of the light, of human dust
and the vanished years, clocking
the measure of our fate.

 

Isabel Bermuez

in collection Small Disturbances

Publications:
Small Disturbances, 2016 (October), Rockingham Press, ISBN 978-19048516-6-0
Extranjeros, 2015, Flarestack Poets, ISBN 978-1-9064804-2-4

Address:

2 York Rise
Orpington
Kent
BR6 8PR  
Isabel Bermudez at poetry p f
 
e-mail Isabel Bermudez

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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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Katherine Gallagher

Katherine Gallagher (Australian-born) is widely-published; translator, tutor, committee member of SLN; London resident since 1979. The most recent of her collections is Circus-Apprentice. Formerly Writers Inc Education Officer, she also writes poetry for children and has poems in numerous anthologies.

Katherine is a tutor for Second Light Network and serves on the committee (see more... link below).

Gwen John Swims the Channel

September 3, 1939. Early evening
and the sea soughs, sways –
a sketchbook washing calm,
its ribs carrying the meticulous rainy births:
portraits from her many lives.

She has always loved the coastline,
come back to it, the waves’ fringed-grip:
daily swimming the Channel, testing herself
against its heave and push.
Ahead, Dover’s scribbly-white cliffs,
and beyond, the hills of Tenby –
its beach’s curve, her childhood’s
patch of sand. She has tested this sea’s glass

and painted herself into its mirror
like a cloud passing over. She has more
interiors to match and place, place and match
as again she gives herself to the water,
its moody mountains surging,
pacing her – the archetypal swimmer
planing darkness, with the coast
clearing and Paris-Meudon behind her.

Katherine Gallagher

Poem published: Mslexia; Circus-Apprentice

Publications:
Carnival Edge: New & Selected Poems, Arc Publications, 2010, ISBN 978-1-906570-42-2. pbk £11.99;
Circus Apprentice, Arc Publications, 2006, ISBN No. 1-904614-02-7. 8.99;
After Kandinsky, Vagabond Press (Rare Objects Series), 2005, (details from Katherine);
Tigers on the Silk Road, Arc Publications, 2000, ISBN No. 1 900072 47 5. 6.95;
Fish-Rings on Water, Forest Books, 1989, ISBN No. 0 948259 75 2. 6.95 incl p&p(UK);
Passengers to the City, Hale & Iremonger, 1985, Sydney, 1985, ISBN No. 0 86806 212 x. Hardback. 9.00 incl p&p(UK);
more on Katherine’s web-site... and poetry p f Poem Cards.

Address:
49 Myddleton Road
Wood Green
London
N22 8LZ
 
tel: Tel: 020 8881 1418
 
web-site
 
e-mail

more...

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Justina Hart

Justina Hart was short-listed in the 2010 Second Light competition and has been published in the Daily Poem column of the Independent. Having worked in national newspapers and online, Justina is currently writing a poetry collection and a novel.

A Wire to Grief

When you flash upon me,
yanking the voice from my throat,
I’m usually peeling potatoes
or combing my just-woken hair
 
or, worse, in bed with my not-quite-lover
who’s helped pull me clear.
And you freeze me: peeler,
hairbrush, almost-lover in hand,
 
like that giant iguana I once saw
suddenly play dead, one foot high
in the air as if it was having a laugh,
not petrified, like me.
 
You rip all sound from the room
so it slips, cliffs rise, drop away.
There’s that pause when nothing happens
before everything does; and I’m falling
 
like David Niven in A Matter of Life and Death
when his bombed Spitfire plunges, and he pleads
to be spared – he loves the radio control chick
on the line he’s never even met.
 
Through the smoke and flames
I see, for a second, a reprieve for me, too –
if I had another life, I’d never walk out again,
leaving me and you just hanging.
 

Justina Hart

Publications:
Angels: millennial messengers, 2000, Seraphim Press, ISBN 0953577902
The Rhythm of Stones, 1995, Carnival Press, ISBN 1899378014

Address: Lichfield and London
 
e-mail

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Thelma Laycock

Thelma Laycock is a poetry tutor and the founder of Gabriel magazine. Her work is widely published and has been translated into Hebrew, Italian, and Romanian. Her most recent collection is A Difference in Direction (Indigo Dreams, 2015).

Nocturne in blue

It was often like that
if he came in first and she followed,
not so bad the other way round
but on a Friday or Saturday night
not totally unexpected
 
I could hear his key in the lock
heard the shaking, bronchitic cough
so I knew it was him:
I ran half-way down the stairs
seeking my usual shivering place
where they couldn’t see me
in case it blew over
 
But that night it was loud;
her Auntie Elsie’s clock, a wedding present,
came sailing through the air, lay broken,
I raced out to intercept his flying fists –
my little sister close behind me –
two soldiers in blue pyjamas
in the crossfire of battle
 
In the morning at school desks
we re-lived the night
dipping our pens into deep wells of ink
seeing Mam’s moon-pale face,
the purple fingermarks at her throat.
 

Thelma Laycock

in collection, A Difference in Direction, 2015, Indigo Dreams; in anthology, Her Wings of Glass, 2014, Second Light Publications.

Publications:
collection, A Difference in Direction, 2015, Indigo Dreams, £7.99, ISBN 978-1-909357-61-7;
collection, A Persistence of Colour, 2011, Indigo Dreams, £5.99. ISBN 978-1-907401-49-7;
pamphlet collection, Chameleon Days, 2007, Feather Press, £3.50 (sold in aid of Lakota Link), ISBN 978-1-84175-277-8

web-pages on poetry p f
 
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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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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Diana Pritchard

Hertfordshire born, married, one son, two daughters, Diana Pritchard now lives in Guernsey. Her poetry is influenced by a wilderness upbringing in the 1950s, 1960s British Columbia, Canada. A volunteer CAB advisor. Member of Guernsey Writers.

Barefoot in the Snow

It’s Africa, a safari, a trek
in heat, flies and more heat.
Lion calls drown the air
as the tall barefoot man guides
us to the waterhole.
Our packs, heavy, we struggle,
stumble into the murky wallow
of mud and elephant dung to coolness.
 
Unlike the coldness of grandmother’s
bared feet as she trekked, distressed,
into that Norwegian winter night,
arctic moon over deep snow,
following her lost guide,
lost to his own self, lost
to his home and hearth,
circling straight northwards
towards his childhood.
 
Feet beyond thawing, she led
him back to his unfamiliar bed.

Diana Pritchard

Poem published in Fanfare (poems by contemporary women poets), Second Light Publications, 2015.

Publications: Publ: Woolgathering, The National Poetry Foundation, 1999 ISBN: 1-900726-61-0 ISBN, £5.00

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

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Nola Turner

Nola Turner lives in South East London and came to writing poetry late but is making up for lost time. Themes include relationships, the state we are in and politics writ small.

On the Road

Most trees have shed their leaves
but here and there some scraps persist,
a camouflage of khaki brown;
in hedgerows spikes of hawthorn
flash berries scarlet raw.
 
A mud clad fox, back snapped in two,
is wedged among the gutter muck;
past victim of the speeding cars
that zip along this stretch
of sub-suburban road.
 
With opaque eyes wide open
and mouth set in a grin,
he seems to sneer at his demise;
rank carcass on a short-cut route
from Minns to Sittingbourne.  

Nola Turner

Highly Commended, Penge Poetry Competition, 2016

e-mail Nola Turner

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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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