Featured Poets, December 2019                     home page
 

Alison Brackenbury       Susan Davies       Wendy French       Hilaire       Carolyn King       Kathy Miles       Liz Parkes       Daphne Schiller (poem since removed)      --> Elizabeth Soule       Nicola Warwick       Shirley Wright (poem since removed)      

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)  

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

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

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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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Wendy French

Wendy French is Chair of Lapidus, an organisation which promotes creative words for health and well-being, a facilitator for writing groups in healthcare settings and she works with Poet in the City to promote poetry and emotional wellbeing in secondary schools.

Wendy serves on the Second Light Network Committee. (see ‘More’ link below)

London Dry

A red bathmat destined for charity
lies in the moon’s path.
 
An empty bottle of gin floats
upright on bubble-less water.
 
Dressed in her best Harris Tweed
the colour of heather she’s dying
 
as she soaks in the bath. Her stale breath
and sauerkraut mouth will suggest
 
to the pathologist who teaches the art
of dissection that one’s own grief
 
isn’t so easy to stitch. In the half-lit orchard
moles bury themselves in the lawn.

Wendy French

Publications:
Splintering the Dark, Rockingham Press;
Sky over Bedlam, tall-lighthouse;
We Have a little Sister and She Hath No Breasts, tall-lighthouse

web-pages on poetry p f
 
e-mail

more...

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Hilaire

Hilaire is co-author with Joolz Sparkes of London Undercurrents. She was poet-in-residence at Thrive Battersea in 2017 and Highly Commended in the 2019 Live Canon International Poetry Prize. She writes and gardens in Battersea.

The Sheffield Man

Was it only our family he visited
at dead of night? Slipping bone-handled knives,
dimpled thimbles, an heirloom coffee spoon,
into his felt-lined pockets. His thefts small,
intermittent, occasionally reversed.
Look what’s turned up under the sink!
Triumphant, Dad held aloft a pewter
napkin ring, long lost. This was not
the stuff of nightmares.
 
Grown up, abroad, I found the Sheffield Man
unknown amongst my peers – a family quirk,
a joke I only got in retrospect.
 
But now he’s back and he’s greedy,
working daylight hours behind my mother’s back.
The peg tin, can opener, keys. Her reading glasses.
All magicked away out of sight.
He’s even filched the whatchamacallit
and the reason she first needed it.
 
I stab pins into a Sheffield Man doll
even though I know there’s no reversing
this final vanishing act.
 

Hilaire

Highly commended in the Red Shed Open Poetry Competition 2018 and published in The Quality of the Moment competition pamphlet, Currock Press

Publications:
indoors looking out, lower case press, 2020 ISBN: 978-1-5272-6319-2 £5
London Undercurrents,, Holland Park Press, 2019 ISBN: 978-1-907320-82-8 £10
Triptych Poets: Issue OneBlemish Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-9807556-1-9
Hearts on Ice, Serpent’s Tail, 2000 ISBN: 1-852426-63-2

Hilaire’s website
 
e-mail

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Carolyn King

Carolyn King is widely published in magazines & with three poetry collections. Competition successes over the last few years include 1st in Second Light and in Poetry on the Lake formal category and twice shortlisted for the Manchester Poetry Prize.

Krakow Ghetto – Winter 1941

is the title of the second track on my Christmas CD;
high on my wish-list – the theme from Schindler’s –
given to me by my daughter, who knows
that Itzhak Perlman’s violin makes me cry
(though she doesn’t understand why).
 
And if there was snow that winter of ’41,
I wouldn’t know – for I was one year old
and safe in England, warmly protected from the cold
by a mother whose major fear was the Blitz;
 
while Krakow infants stiffened at the dried-up paps
of starving mothers crying for Schindler,
and fathers wept for the ghost of a chance
of a place on that compassionate list.
 
My mother told me how the previous winter,
heavily pregnant, she fell in the snow and lay there,
helpless, hoping for a stranger – anyone –
to come along and set her on her feet;
 
while I, her unborn child, rocked back and forth –
rolled like a snowball, cradled like a dream –
my terra firma threatened by a natural force,
her yearning for a perfect baby put on ice.
 
Un-natural forces ruled in Krakow twelve months on
and strangers carried arms – not to assist
but to enforce fanaticism, warming to censure,
turning the gas full-on to fight the cold.
 
I’m the survivor – one who never faced
the unsound rationale that threatened every Jew
caught up by bigotry in that sectarian race:
a child born twelve months earlier than Krakow,
whose father used to play the violin.
 

Carolyn King

Latest publications (available from Carolyn):
Caviare and Chips, Human Writes, 2004, ISBN 0-9531860-2-4, £5.99;
The Reunion, ISBN 0-9531860-0-8;
Lifelines, ISBN 0-9531860-1-6

Woodleigh East
Madeira Vale
Ventnor
Isle of Wight
PO38 1QU
 
tel: 01983-852593
 
Carolyn King at poetry p f
 
e-mail

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Kathy Miles

Kathy Miles is a librarian and poet who has lived and worked in Wales since 1972. Her work has frequently appeared in magazines and anthologies. She is a Writer on Tour, and member of the Red Heron performance group.

The Gift

She took it in both hands.
Examined it to see its colour, the quality,
what she might expect of it.
A surprise, she said, but still she smiled,
pale against the whiteness of the bed,
the wrappings from her present
scattered on the floor like a spilt
phial of pills. There was ribbon,
of course, a yellow bow, a card.
The air smelt of red carnations
and something else, something sweeter.
 
Her breath was a pearl in the hot room,
a slipstream too slight to stir a bee’s wing.
And the flowers were difficult,
competed with her for the sliver of air.
Her hands fussed over the covers
astonished fingers slid over silk.
And my gift, that small bequest
I took back home
was the moment our fingertips touched
and the air was brimming.
 

Kathy Miles

Poem published in Envoi, Issue 164 February 2013

Publications:
The Shadow House, 2009, Cinnamon Press;
The Third Day: Landscape, 1993, Gomer Press
Word, 1993, Gomer Press
The Rocking-Stone, 1988, Poetry Wales Press

e-mail Kathy Miles

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Liz Parkes

Liz Parkes lives in Stourbridge, West Midlands. She writes plays, short stories and both page and performance poetry. She has been published by Offa’s Press, Grey Hen and Cannon’s Mouth.

The Coffin Works Wedding

She keeps it close, buried deep, out of sight;
the memory of a long attic room, the giggle
of girls when tight-lipped gossip fizzed hot
on the iron; the hiss of scissor blades as cloth
slid like water across the table; machines
where fat, coned bobbins jumped and jiggled;
those glossy bolts of pastel shades, lilacs, creams,
peach (for darker skins) ̵ and so much white.
 
Each night she hid guilt beneath her smile
folded satin off-cuts, ribbons, lace trims
warm as love letters tucked above her heart;
sealed her lips with a mouthful of pins
a secrecy that shrouded the artful
way death paid for her walk down the aisle.
 
 
Note: The coffin works, now a museum, is in the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham. Men made the metal furniture for coffins on the ground floor, women the satin linings and shrouds on the second floor.
 

Liz Parkes

Cannon’s Mouth, quarterly magazine, Issue 67, March 2018;
Sonnet or Not Competition.

Publications:
included in anthologies The Poetry of the Black Country and The Poetry of Staffordshire (both Offa’s Press, £7.95)
and in Grey Hen Press anthologies, ed. Joy Howard: Reflected Light – Responses to the Creative Arts and Lovely Dark and Deep – Poems about Woods.

Address:

 
Tel:
 
Liz Parkes website
 

e-mail Liz Parkes

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Elizabeth Soule

Elizabeth Soule studied English and Philosophy at Nottingham University and taught English for many years. She is a member of the Suffolk Poetry Society and has had work published in the Norwich Writers’ Circle Anthology.

December 2011, a Memory of August 1968
   for Vaclav Havel

In a starless chill before dawn
we stood by the water’s edge,
tiny points of candle-light,
as a solitary flute sang out our misery
to the vastness of a dark sea.
 
Some had crouched over the radio all night
and guessing the worst,
had woken us
to stumble from tents to our hopeless vigil,
while hundreds of miles away
another kind of darkness rumbled over the frontier,
grinding the dreams of Spring
beneath remorseless tracks.
 
Then in bitter, barren silence
one by one each candle was extinguished,
our futile tribute
to those who dared to dream.
 
But hope and freedom are seeds that will not sleep
and the dust of dreams is fertile ground.
Small bright shoots split stone
Shatter concrete,
their progress more inexorable
than any trundling tank.
 
The brave gardener whose fearless tending
of improbable seedlings
gave us back belief,
now returns himself to the nurturing earth
and reminds us
that when the darkness seems most complete,
dawn is not so far away.
 

Elizabeth Soule

Poem published in PEN anthology Write to be Counted, 2017

Elizabeth Soule’s poem, December 2011, a Memory of August 1968 (for Vaclav Havel) was selected as Second Light’s ‘Poem of the Year’ from those on the home page for 2017/2018.
Listen to the poem here

e-mail Elizabeth Soule

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Nicola Warwick

Nicola Warwick has had work in several magazines and competition anthologies. She has published two full collections. In 2018 she was awarded an MA in Creative Writing from the Open University.

Muntjac

At heart, I am a small deer
crossing a quiet lane.
You are always the driver
in a dark car
riding the bends.
You are pressed for time
so we meet
for the inevitable.
I always yield
to the force of steel,
rupturing the parts
I should have kept protected.
You continue,
a little winded,
metal scraping tarmac,
a crunch of gears.
I am left twitching
at the side of the road,
hoping you will catch me
in your mirror
when you look back.
 

Nicola Warwick

published in collection Groundings, 2014, Cinnamon Press

Publications:
The Knifethrower’s Wishlist, 2017, Indigo Dreams
Groundings, 2014, Cinnamon Press

 

e-mail Nicola

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