Featured Poets, February 2020                     home page
 

Marion Ashton       Nadine Brummer       Margaret Eddershaw       Nicolette Golding       Helen Ivory       Melinda Lovell (poem since removed)       Lynda O’Neill       Anne Ryland       Mary Anne Smith Sellen       June Webster       Lynne Wycherley      

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)  

Marion Ashton

Marion gained a Creative Writing MA from Royal Holloway in 2010, tutored by Andrew Motion and Jo Shapcott. Her poems have appeared in a wide range of magazines and a Cinnamon anthology. Her first collection ‘The Threshold’ was published 2018.

Skitter of Wings

We drive mile after mile through Houston sprawl –
a flashing succession of leering signs:
 
shopping-malls, car lots, eating joints,
to reach the ferry across Galverston Bay. Reeling
 
in the heat of Texan sun, hassled by screeching gulls
We finally arrive and have this long sweep
 
of Bolivar Sands to ourselves. Strong wind gusts
in from the Gulf of Mexico, stirs up the ocean,
 
sends rollers crashing on the beach – to drift back
in rasping sighs. We walk in calm silence,
 
faces turned upward, gulping salt-spray air,
bare feet squelching warm, damp sand,
 
approaching a colony of birds: terns, herons,
pelicans, preening and calling in congregation
 
along the water’s edge. We lap up the display
wanting to get closer – when, as at a gunshot,
 
they go up as one – an Alleluia of flapping,
a shaken sheet lifted, a skitter of wings
 
along the ribs – lung-filling gasps as they wheel
the sky and that lone hawk swoops back inland.

Marion Ashton

Skitter of Wings was one of the 5 Highly Commended poems in Kent and Sussex Poetry Society Competition March 2020

Publications:
The Threshold, 2018, ISBN 978-1-9770342-1-2

Marion at poetry p f
 
e-mail Marion

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

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Nadine Brummer

Nadine Brummer Has had poems published in many magazines and in many anthologies. First full collection ‘HalfWay to Madrid’ (Shoestring Press, 2002) was made a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

The Frog’s Princess


That night, finding him in my bed,
within kissing distance,
I wanted to take the stare
off his face – those eyes
all bulge and goggle.
Then I saw their depth, a look
that could take me anywhere
backwards in time. I recalled
an aquarium under the sea where
I’d pressed my face to the glass
of a wolf-eel’s tank, mesmerised
by a little reptilian head
with eyeballs lifting off
like spaceships that settled
into an expression beyond
a seal-pup’s dopey smile
or the pout of fish –
like that of some new-born child
you swear has been here before.
The frog was like him,
but when he gulped and a mouth
smelling of weed or bull-kelp
came close to my lips
I flinched and held out my hand
to stop his jump and touched
a spasm of green, a creature trying
to slither out of himself.
I’ve been so often trapped
In flesh that didn’t feel mine
I wondered what he could see
when he gazed into a pond;
he took my sigh as a signal
to kiss. I loved him best
the moment before he changed,
a small, crouched, alien thing
in need of a body.

Nadine Brummer

Poem published: Poetry London, May 2003

Publications:
What Light Does, Shoestring Press, 2017, ISBN 978-1-910323-90-8 £10
Any Particular Day, Shoestring Press, 2013, ISBN 978-1-907356-66-7 £9
Out of the Blue, Shoestring Press, 2006, ISBN 987-1-904886-31-0 £8.95
Half Way to Madrid, Shoestring Press, 2002. ISBN 1-899549-70-6 £7.50 (Poetry Book Society Recommendation)

e-mail

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

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Margaret Eddershaw

Margaret took early retirement to live in Greece. She has had over 100 poems published individually and one collection, Spectators’ View (Peer Poetry International, 2002). In 2008: Cinnamon Press, Leaf Books, iota, Purple Patch and commendation in Barnet poetry competition.

Golden Rule

In a forgotten drawer
my father’s wooden rule,
brass-hinged to unfold
sideways and lengthways
for measuring boat timbers.
 
I hear the slap and click
of its closing,
before I can say ‘lifeboat’,
see it vanish
into that long pocket
on the thigh of blue overalls.
 
Indicator of his precision
love of numbers
a life measured
in feet and inches
business takings
cricket scores
football pools
bingo calls.
 
His emotions kept in check,
marked off by pencil,
held in columns,
buttoned up in cardigans,
till an outburst
a sea-squall soon past.
 
Now he’s gone to talk
spans and cubits
and dead-reckoning with Noah.

Margaret Eddershaw

Poem published: Iota, 2007

Publications: Collection, Spectators’ View, Peer Poetry International, 2002

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Nicolette Golding

Nic has had stuff published in a few poetry journals, a couple of London buses and some anthologies.

The Seal Wife

I do OK, attend the W.I., make a nice Victoria sponge, am sociable, fit in.
My husband is a good man, works to fill our house with things,
But tell me why would a good man hide my skin?
 
I am lonely, hungry for the sea, tired of human company. He knows
my longings. I do as he does, go where he goes,
wheel my Tesco trolley in these heavy clothes,
 
eat far too much these days, weight’s piling on my hips and thighs.
I nibble mackerel in the bath, pour salt in, watch it dry,
Hide receipts, sit on rocks, cry.
 
Nights I pull on headphones, when we make love I close my eyes,
trawl CDs for echoes of my mother’s song. His body never tells me lies
but I go diving under softer skies
 
and when he falls away, sleep with one eye open.
Tomorrow I rise early, beloved one,
to search this place, as I have always done.

Nicolette Golding

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

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Helen Ivory

Helen Ivory, poet and visual artist; sixth Bloodaxe Books collection Constructing a Witch (2024). Editor, webzine Ink Sweat and Tears; poetry tutor, UEA/WCN online; work translated into Polish, Ukrainian, Croatian, Spanish and Greek for Versopolis.

The Fainting Room

When they laced me tight this morning
my body split asunder.
Clouds heaved themselves across my eyes.
 
Nobody heard the crack of rib
or witnessed the small moth of my soul
slip from my mouth.
 
All day I felt the separation so keenly,
yet the household continued about me
as if unaltered.
 
When Nell came to dust the parlor,
I feared for my soul – my little ghost –
settled on the mantle.
 
At dinner, my soul watched from the wallpaper
as I raised the soup spoon to my lips –
there wasn’t space beneath my corset for a single bite.
 
I rose to reach my hand out
but her wings blurred ash.
I felt the table and the diners fall away.
 
I awoke inside this little room
to find the doctor had been summoned,
with his new, mechanized instrument.
 
My binding had been loosed,
the doctor applied the treatment
until a paroxysm possessed me.
 
I breathed deeply of the whole earth.
My soul flew into my open throat.
My husband dropped some coins into his hand.
 

Helen Ivory

from The Anatomical Venus, 2019, Bloodaxe Books.

 

Publications:
Constructing a Witch, 2024, Bloodaxe Books
Wunderkammer: New and Selected Poems, 2023, MadHat Press (USA)
The Anatomical Venus, 2019, Bloodaxe Books
Maps of the Abandoned City, 2019, SurVision
Waiting for Bluebeard, 2013, Bloodaxe Books

Helen Ivory website
 
e-mail Helen Ivory

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

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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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Anne Ryland

Anne Ryland’s first collection, Autumnologist, (Arrowhead Press, 2006) was shortlisted for The Forward Prize for Best First Collection (2007). Her poems are widely published in magazines and anthologies. She lives in Berwick-upon-Tweed, where she teaches adults and runs writing workshops for community groups.

For a Daughter

My name would not be your middle name.
 
You wouldn’t inherit my listomania, I promise:
I’d renounce list-making in honour of your birth.
 
The term Muscular Dystrophy would not be sewn within you.
 
I would not pass on my stony ova
or the euphemisms stuffed up the sleeve like handkerchiefs.
 
Thank You wouldn’t be your mantra; it trapped me at the amber light.
 
You wouldn’t stare at every dog and see only its bite.
 
You would never know that ‘worry’ derives from ‘wyrgan’, to strangle:
I’d lock the door to my mother’s worrymongery
 
but I would be your guide in the storehouse of the thesaurus,
assure you there’s no such curse as being too clever.
 
I’d even show you how to blow a trumpet in a long and steady tone.
 
My desk and my blue propelling pencil would be yours.
 
I’d hand you your great-grandmother’s last letter to her daughter
from the hospital – ‘bye bye, dear’
 
All my words would be yours, so you’d observe me on the page,
learn all that I am and was and should have been.
 
And, my daughter, each night I’d hum you a lullaby.
You would remember me as a song, not an apology.
 

Anne Ryland

Poem published: Mslexia, No. 34. Runner-up, Mslexia Women’s Poetry Competition, 2007.

Publications: Autumnologist, Arrowhead Press, 2006, ISBN 1-904852-11-4, £7.50.

Anne Ryland website
 
e-mail (via SLN)

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

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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

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

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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

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

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Lynne Wycherley

Lynne Wycherley finds herself drawn to light-haunted landscapes – a legacy, perhaps, of childhood by the Fens. Her lyrical and sometimes metaphysical poems have featured widely. (Her recent prizes include the Second Light poetry competition and the E.A. Fellows’ Prize).

Leaving Burray

Beyond the Barrier, fear’s grey wall,
it appears from nowhere –
 
a strip of blue, transcendent blue,
as if a thousand kingfishers
fell from heaven.
 
Glance again and it’s gone,
mist’s sleight of hand,
its voltage trace still printed on your soul.
 

 
* Barrier – Churchill Barrier (Scapa Flow)

Lynne Wycherley

in collection Poppy in a Storm-Struck Field

Publications (selection, all with Shoestring Press):
Brooksong & Shadows, 2021
The Testimony of the Trees, 2018
Listening to Light: New & Selected Poems, 2014
Poppy in a Storm-struck Field, 2009, ISBN 978-1-907356-00-1. £9
North Flight, 2006

e-mail Lynne

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

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