Featured Poets, April 2023                     home page
 

Anne Sherry       Denise Bennett       Gill Fothergill       Jane McLaughlin       June Webster       Lynda O'Neill       Mary Anne Smith Sellen       Nola Turner       Stevie Krayer       Victoria Gatehouse      

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)  

Anne Sherry

Anne Sherry is a Writer and Management Consultant. She lives in Winchester but travels widely. Her first collection, Safe Passage, was published in 2014.

Double Edged

My love who promised the earth
then pawned it all away
 
my love shouldered like Goliath
with the belly of a mollusc
 
my love with a cavalier’s exfoliated thighs
and the swaggering hips of a toreador
 
my love who adored my classic clothes
then recommended froth and flowers
 
my love with the feet of a ballerina
and the strut of a petulant brat
 
my love who liked my symbolic phrases
then told me not to play mind-games
 
my love with Blue Beard’s hooked nose
in the baby face of a petit ingénu
 
my love who appreciated my honesty
then devalued me for being naïve
 
my love who made me writhe and pant
then fled when I expected the same
 
my love with eyes like brackish pools
which obscured an Arctic mind
 
my love who hijacked my freedom
but clung limpet-like to his own
 
my love who chided me for vacillation
then revealed each endgame in his book
 
my love with the evasive tongue
which accused me of lying by omission
 
my love who scorned my secure life
then grabbed one for his own
 
my love with generous Gemini words
underscored actions of Scrooge
 
my love who promised to always be there
then scarpered when things got tough
 
my love whose past killed our present
contaminated my future.
 
That love who left me on a Pyrrhic fire
but missed this harpy eagle flying hope.
 

Anne Sherry

Publications:
Failing to Find Old Sarum, 2019, Mudfog Press, ISBN 978-0-9927930-1-2, £5.95 (free p&p)
Safe Passage, a Memoir in Poetry and Prose, 2014, Ashbrook Publications, ISBN 978-0-9927930-0-5, £7.95 +p&p,
(proceeds after costs to Alzheimer’s Research UK, www.cpibookdelivery.com)

e-mail Anne Sherry

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Denise Bennett

Denise Bennett has an MA in creative writing & runs poetry workshops. She is widely published. In 2004 she won the inaugural Hamish Canham poetry awarded by the Poetry Society. She regularly reads at Tongues & Grooves poetry and music club Portsmouth.

Water Chits

     Gallipoli 1915
 
I joined the band to play the flute
to chivvy the men to war –
but mostly I was lackey to the medic,
sent out with the water chits;
scraps of paper with the words,
please let the bearer have some drinking water;
sent out to the lighter
to fetch the water shipped from Egypt.
Even in dreams I can hear
the medic’s call –
water, water – we need more water –
as if by magic, I could conjure up
eight kettles of water to wash
the wounded, to cook the meal,
to clean the mess tins,
to give ten dying men a drink.
In all this dust and heat, no one
said we would have to beg for water.
 

Denise Bennett

     inspired by a letter written by a marine bandsman
     at the time of the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915

first published in Poetry News, Summer 2015;
title poem of forthcoming pamphlet (Indigo Dreams, 2016)

Publications:
Parachute Silk, 2015, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-1-906856-55-7.
Planting the Snow Queen, 2011, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-1-906856-20-5.

Denise Bennett at poetry p f
 
e-mail Denise Bennett

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Gill Fothergill

I have written poetry off and on thoughout my life. Now that I have retired from teaching the urge comes more frequently.

To Pam
The Neighbour I have Never Met

I read your cook book, its pages stiff
With stains, hand-written notes skewiff,
Fiery sweat and a floury hand.
For you, Pam, nothing frozen or canned.
 
Loved wife, I know you only by repute.
He lists fondly your every attribute.
Truly, for him, you are just next door,
He will always await your step on the floor.
 
I know you bought fresh produce only
I bet you inspected market stalls closely.
Did you like to chat with with the greengrocer?
Ask the baker to see the loaf up closer?
 
I know that you and he liked walking
And would have seized the chance for talking.
I am sure you analysed the lives
Of children: their husbands and their wives.
 
I’ve seen you in some snapshots:
One young and slender, looking hot
In a black and white garden of your youth.
Can these pictures really reveal your truth?
 
Now Pam, I investigate your book
Searching for something new to cook,
And I can clearly hear your helpful voice
As you talk me through your recipe choice.
 
 
 
      I have decided to put poems that are very far from perfect (as if!) on my page. If I wait to achieve my best, it will never happen! Apologies for some poor scansion.

Gill Fothergill

e-mail

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Jane McLaughlin

‘Tightly-wrought sequences and lyrical pieces … poignant and often surprising’ (Katherine Gallagher). Jane McLaughlin writes poetry and fiction. She has been widely published in magazines/anthologies; her first collection is Lockdown (Cinnamon 2016).

The Lacemaker Travels to Seville

The silver hook slips to and fro.
Dark head bent over red sweater,
in the next seat she nets
a fine white band. Fingers arched,
thumbs steady. Turn of the wrist.
 
The train gallops the latifundios,
Cordoba fades behind golden hills.
Slant orange sun descending
paints white villages, backlights her hair.
The work grows, precise as frost.
 
Her small bones and tendons learnt
this craft from women whose maths
was in their heads, patterns
of chequered mesh, stars, flowers,
eloquent as a Moorish ceiling.
 
It does not need words: the yarn
is hooked into its own language.
In the lexicon of human gestures
her movements mean this and nothing else:
I am making lace.
 
Flowing like high cirrus
it will trim an alb, perhaps,
or christening robe. Maybe
hem a sister’s wedding dress.
A rite begun, tissue of spider’s breath.

Jane McLaughlin

Highly Commended, Torbay Open Poetry Competition, 2015

Publications:
Lockdown, 2016, Cinnamon Press, link
The Abbot’s Cat (e-novella), 2014, Cinnamon Press, (Kindle, avail from Amazon) link
Quintet (poetry), 2005, Cinnamon Press
Quartet (short stories), 2004, Cinnamon Press

twitter &MclaughlinJane3
at Facebook
Jane at poetry p f

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June Webster

June Webster is a poet and short story writer. Her poems have been published in South Bank Poetry, DulwichOnView, Morley Poets A First Anthology, Lighten Up Online, SecondLightLive, Dreich Magazine & Haiku Journal. She was short-listed for the Plumstead Poet Laureate.

Cradle to Crib

It’s colic, they said,
it’ll pass, first three months
it’s normal, some do, others don’t.

Each time I held you close.
tiny legs curled tight to belly,
your screaming pain mine.
I soothed the spasms
until the meds took over
when cries hushed.
I placed you in your cradle.
 
It’s her age, they said,
it’ll pass, teens, always a worry.
You stayed out late,
danced till dawn, run wild
on the heath, gave me cheek
then hugs to allay my fears.
The day you celebrated adulthood,
you came home drunk and sick,
while the meds worked
I placed you in your bed.
 
It’s an auto-immune disease,
it will pass, just a few years
,
but it stayed, held on tight,
took a piece of you little by little.
Every twinge of your torment,
mine as I sat by you.
holding on, squirming
until the meds took over,
and irrevocable peace
placed you in your final crib.
 

June Webster

Publications:
Morley Poets: A First Anthology, 2018, Morley College, £6.99

e-mail June Webster

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Lynda O’Neill

Lynda O’Neill was born and brought up in Portsmouth. She lives in Winchester with her husband and has two children. She has been published by South, Poetry Nottingham International, Iota and The New Writer.

Double English

Her flowing clothes were always black –
never a twin set. They swished as she
patrolled the corridors,
crunching Polos and tutting.
She had high frequency hearing
and an x-ray gaze behind her
spit-on-the-brush mascara.
Other teachers wore no lipstick
or played safe with dolly mixture pink.
She favoured an Edith Piaf gash.
 
As we suffered Assembly on canvas chairs
she sat with the Catholics in the Library.
More laughter than scripture, they said,
and a bottle of Gordons in her bag
with its crocodile snap.
 
We’d known our place since the age of eleven
but she thought we deserved her best.
‘I’m going to have a bash at
Middle English with this Chaucer,’ she’d say.
Next week her ice blue eyes
would rock’n’roll with warmth
as she smacked her Revlon lips
over a chapter of Pride and Prejudice.

Lynda O’Neill

Poem published: South 37, ISSN 0959-1133

Lynda O’Neill at poetry p f
 
e-mail

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Mary Anne Smith Sellen

Mary Anne Smith Sellen’s work has been recognised in both national and international competitions, also widely published in print and online. She was longlisted in the 2023 Indigo Dreams First Collection competition.

Autumn Leaves

     (For Louis MacNeice)
 
A tree always knows when its leaves have passed their season,
slips them off unobtrusively, lets the wind spirit them away.
Suddenly, all that’s left is a row of empty hangers.
But tricks of memory keep fleshing shapes, expecting colour;
absence is itself a form of presence.
 
A spider will fling a single silken thread up into the breeze,
wait until it’s caught by a distant, beckoning branch,
then make an unperceived escape across the chasm of the night
to wake gleaming, in the shrouded autumn dawn.
A dying star within a star, fallen from the roof of the sky.
 
The language of last roses still faintly resonates with love,
heads down and eyes averted, a promise never quite fulfilled.
Yet just enough remains to save a hibernating heart,
their message breathed through barely parted lips –
I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
 

Mary Anne Smith Sellen

Published in Wildfire Words online anthology on the theme of Leaves and Leaving.

e-mail Mary Anne Smith Sellen

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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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Stevie Krayer

Stevie Krayer gave up university administration to have more time for writing and, since moving from London to Wales in 1993, has published six books, including three poetry collections, and an anthology of Quaker poets (co-edited with R V Bailey).

from “Mass for the Oort Cloud”
Agnus Dei

Thar she blows!
telltale trace
on the horizon. No
leviathan – behold
the speck of god-dust
that takes away
the weight
of that mighty
unaccounted for
dark mass
(well, maybe). Load
it up with all
your unanswered
questions, scientists!
If only
it could take
away our own
darkness – but
even if we
conscientiously put out
our garbage, there’s
no celestial dustcart
to call; and
where
could it be taken?
Out in that desert
no benign
kites and gulls
wait.

Stevie Krayer

Poem published in New Monkey, 2014

Publications:
New Monkey, 2014, Indigo Dreams, ISBN 978-1-9093574-7-1
A Speaking Silence (anthology, co-edited with R V Bailey), 2013, Indigo Dreams, ISBN 978-1-9093573-0-3
Questioning the Comet, 2004, Gomer, ISBN 1-843233-46-0
Voices from a Burning Boat, 1997, University of Salzburg, ISBN 3-7052-0132-8
The Book of Hours by R M Rilke (translation), 1994, University of Salzburg, ISBN 3-7052-0432-7

e-mail Stevie Krayer

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Victoria Gatehouse

Victoria Gatehouse is a poet and researcher. Her poems have been published in numerous magazines and anthologies and have featured on BBC Radio. Competition wins include Iklley, Otley, PENfro and the Indigo International Wild Nature Poetry Award. Victoria’s second pamphlet, The Mechanics of Love, published by smith|doorstop, was selected as a Laureate’s Choice in 2019.

Burning Mouth Syndrome

The doctor says it’s nothing serious, something
she’ll just have to live with, a malfunction
of the nerves perhaps, not uncommon in women of her age
and she leaves with a script for a mild antidepressant,
a leaflet counselling moderation in alcohol, tobacco
and spicy foods and when she returns, he says it again
after taking a look at lips, teeth and tongue –
nothing to see and he says it with a smile when she can feel
the bees humming in her blood, the tips of their wings
chafing artery walls and she knows without being told
they’re house bees, the ones who feed, clean
and ventilate the hive, pack nectar into the comb
without really tasting it, the ones who wait for mid-life
to take their first orientation flights and she can really
feel the smart of them, the bees in her blood, unfurling
their proboscises to touch the corolla of her heart.
So many years spent licking out hives, all the burn of it
here on her tongue and they’re starting to forage now,
to suck sweetness into their honey stomachs, and the doctor
he’ll keep telling her it’s nothing when they’re rising
like stings, the words she’s kept in.
 

Victoria Gatehouse

Poem published in Mslexia

Publications:
The Mechanics of Love, 2019, smith|doorstop
Light After Light, 2018, Valley Press

e-mail Victoria Gatehouse

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