Featured Poets, February 2023                     home page
 

Angela Kirby       Carolyn King       Denni Turp       Gill Learner       Jenna Plewes       Kathy Miles       Marion Ashton       Nicola Warwick       Simone Mansell Broome       Zoe Brooks      

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)  

Angela Kirby

Angela Kirby was born in rural Lancashire and lives in London. She has a D.Phil in Creative Writing from Sussex University, gives regular readings in the UK and abroad, and her poems have won prizes in several major competitions and are widely published.

Trizonia

O most excellent donkey who,
not having heard of the sleep button,
woke me three times this morning
with your ancient and execrable lament,
do you bemoan the start
of your over-burdened day
and the end of your brief night’s rest
in this unpromising patch of scrub
or do you, perhaps, grieve for me
who today must leave this incomparable islet
where there are neither cars
nor motorcycles, where nothing
very much happens, apart
from the occasional birth or marriage
and the rather more frequent deaths,
where there is little to see, just Iannis
repainting the peeling mermaid
on his taverna, and his grandmother
taking a broom to the six hollow-ribbed cats
who have stolen yet another chicken-leg,
and the three old men who,
having finished their backgammon
and the last of the ouzo, now take
the sun’s path home across the harbour
in a boat as blue as that clump of scabious
you are considering?

Angela Kirby

published in anthology, Speaking English, Five Leaves Press, 2007

Publications:
collection, The Days After Always, new and selected poems, Shoestring Press, 2015, £12, ISBN 978-1-910323-38-0
collection, A Scent of Winter, Shoestring Press, 2013, £9, ISBN 978-1-907356-67-4
collection, Dirty Work, Shoestring Press, 2008, £8.95 incl p&p, ISBN 978-1-904886-83-9
collection, Mr Irresistible, Shoestring Press, 2005, £8.95 incl p&p, ISBN 1-904886-19-1 (2008: 2nd re-print)

121 Hurlingham Road
London
SW6 3 NJ
 
tel: 020-7736-3965
 
web-pages on poetry p f
 
e-mail Angela Kirby

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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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Denni Turp

Denni is a Welsh-speaking Cockney writer living in rural north Wales, a green Socialist, a staunch republican since her early teens, a dog rehomer, and a woman with a very long working life (mostly in the not-for-profit community sector) behind her.

Held hard and fast

Thickness of earth between my toes
is not enough, and yet too much.
It draws me down, holds my skin
in such a tight embrace, I’m sound,
the ground my inescapable domain.
Some may wish for gills, a way
to breathe in water, insist the sea
could be their home again. Not me.
I want only air in waves that barrel endlessly
to lift me on the tides of warmth that rise
and let me spread once more my loss
of wings, a mattered memory of glide.
Inside my head I’m always airborne, escaping
every failure felt as astronaut, as kite,
as tiny skimming hummingbird in flight.
 

Denni Turp

poem published in Witches, Warriors, Workers: an anthology of contemporary working women’s poetry, ed. Jane Burn and Fran Lock (Culture Matters, 2020)

e-mail Denni Turp

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Gill Learner

Gill Learner’s work has appeared in magazines such as Agenda, Acumen, ARTEMISpoetry, South and The High Window, and many anthologies; it has also won prizes and commendations. She has lived in Reading since 1966, is a keen gardener and fan of Radio 3.

The power of thought

     With apologies to Derren Brown
 
The illusionist says
Think of a tune and write it on this card.
Let no-one see. Place it face down.

The conductor does as he is asked.
Please put your hands behind your back.
The illusionist binds them there, explains
The orchestra will start.           They can tune up, play scales,
however they choose to make a quiet noise.
You, thinking a tune, projecting it, will conduct with just your eyes
till they all pick up the theme.

 
The players begin: a soft cacophony of strings, woodwind, brass.
Random threads stand out then blend until
one rope of notes emerges from the blurry sound.
The conductor nods, the orchestra plays on,
the audience begins to hum.
 
The music spills into the street.
Passers-by stop, add their voices, la-la-la-ing
if they don’t know Schiller’s words.
Cabs, buses, cars slow to a halt as drivers, passengers join in.
Office cleaners silence vacuums, chefs pull pans from the heat.
Out in the suburbs TVs are muted, conversation stops.
Everyone is carolling.
 
Ferries carry the song to Denmark, Belgium, France and Spain.
The chorus grows, colonising continents:
Tibetan monks chant the melody, favelas samba it,
townships kwela to the cadences, Memphis bends it blue.
 
Now the whole world is harmonising Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’.
The illusionist smiles.
 

Gill Learner

Published in collection: Change, Two Rivers Press, 2021.

Publications:
Collections: The Agister’s Experiment, 2011,
Chill Factor, 2016; Change, 2021, all from Two Rivers Press.
Anthologies: Fanfare (2015) & Her Wings of Glass (2014), Second Light Publications; The Emma Press Anthology of Love, 2018; plus over eight from Grey Hen Press, plus others from competitions.

webpages at poetry p f
 
e-mail

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Jenna Plewes

Jenna Plewes lives in Worcestershire, belongs to Cannon Poets and escapes to Devon whenever she can. Her poems appear in several anthologies, including Heart Shoots (for Macmillan Cancer Support). She was highly commended in the Hastings International Competition 2012.

Leave Me in the Light

When I die
don’t put me underground
cut down a giant oak
as they did
four thousand years ago
 
pull out the stump
drag it across the wide salt marsh
with honeysuckle ropes
upend it where the curlews call
 
lay me across its outstretched hand
under the sun, the moon
the turning stars
 
encircle me in
fifty trunks of oak
each split in two
fold a seamless skin of bark around my bier
 
leave me the smell of fresh cut wood
the shine of pale oak flesh
the sound of wind and tide
 
birds will clean my bones
midsummer’s rising sun will
find me through the keyhole of the east
and when midwinter sunrise looks for me
I will be gone.
 

 
 
Seahenge on the Norfolk coast is a prehistoric monument built in the 21st century BC.

Jenna Plewes

Winning poem in the Sampad competition and published in their anthology Inspired by my Museum.

Publications:
Pull of the Earth, 2016, Indigo Dreams Publishing, ISBN 978-1-9108340-6-0, £8.99 +p&p
Gifts, 2014, CreateSpace, ISBN 978-1-4953944-0-9 £5 – proceeds to charity (buy direct from Jenna Plewes)

Jenna Plewes website
 
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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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

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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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Simone Mansell Broome

Simone began writing poems in late 2004. She’s since been recorded, broadcast, published, & won several prizes. Simone also represented Wales in Radio 4’s performance poetry competition, 2009. She co-runs Ceridwen the Ceridwen Centre

Five Changes

If I tried to give you up, it would be like
buying a train ticket from Aberystwyth
to Hastings, on a Sunday or a Bank Holiday —
a reduced service, works on the line…
essential maintenance;
and I’d expected five changes, steeled myself for
Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton, Reading, Gatwick
and Brighton,
had psyched myself to tick them off, one by one,
but found cancellations,
my progress halted, my plans thwarted,
my route re-arranged on a chalked easel
with quirky spellings…inaudible apologies…
and instead of three-down-two-to-go,
time for a coffee, a quick last sidinged pass
at crossword or sudoku,
I’d find I was just travelling — locomoting slowly —
in a large reticulated arc
back
to you.

Simone Mansell Broome

Poem published: 1st Prize winner, Carillon magazine competition 2007, and published in Carillon issue 17, Mar/Apr 2007, ISSN 1474-7340.

Publications:
Cardiff Bay Lunch, Lapwing Publications (Belfast), 2010 – ISBN 978-1-907276-44-6 £8;
Not exactly getting anywhere but… – Ceridwen Press, April 2008, ISBN 978-1849231077 £3.50;
Juice of the Lemon, youwriteon.com, December 2008, ISBN 978-1849231077, £4.99

Simone Mansell Broome, Troed-y-Rhiw, Drefelin, Llandysul, Carmarthenshire, SA44 5XD
 
Simone Mansell Broome website
 
e-mail Simone Mansell Broome

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Zoe Brooks

Zoe Brooks worked with disadvantaged inner-city communities before returning to her native Gloucestershire. ‘Fool’s Paradise’ won best poetry ebook EPIC 2013 awards. Collection ‘Owl Unbound’ (IDP) published 2020. Director at Cheltenham Poetry Festival.

My Grandfather and Uncle

My grandfather and uncle
both returned to the earth
with untimely haste.
Although they worked it,
broke its back
for snow to bite into,
dragged sedge from ditches,
clawed back
lambs from snowheaps,
they did not inherit it,
unless it was
in the length and width
of a man’s form.
And it claimed them
early,
reaching up through the chest,
pain filling the arms,
which had gathered harvests.
And still they loved it
and still they cursed
on cold wet mornings,
as it worked
like ringworm into their hands.
In death
they shall inherit the earth.
Until this time
they have been living
on borrowed land.
 

Zoe Brooks

Poem published in Owl Unbound,2020, Indigo Dreams Publishing

Publications:
Owl Unbound, 2020, Indigo Dreams Publishing, ISBN 978-1-912876-36-5
Fool’s Paradise, 2012, White Fox Books, ISBN 978-09572341-0-9
Grandchildren of Albion, anthology, New Departures, ISBN 978-0902689145

Zoe Brooks blog
 

e-mail Zoe Brooks

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

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