Featured Poets, January 2023                     home page
 

Alison Brackenbury       Anne Ryland       Chiara Salomoni       Doreen Hinchliffe       Iris Anne Lewis       Joolz Sparkes       Lesley J Ingram       Ruth Sharman       Wendy French      

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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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)

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Chiara Salomoni

Chiara Salomoni’s poems were published in Acumen, in Poetry Salzburg Review, in the PRS Review, in New Humanist and in Orbis. Her translation of a poem by Andrea Zanzotto was published in Poem. Her translations of a poem by Corrado Govoni were published in The Rialto and in New Humanist respectively.

Nonna Ida

Nonna Ida’s bag was in the cattleshed
for forty years, her beloved photos inside.
Paper perfect, colour intact
as if recently printed by a photographer.
 
                 Love is a strong thread
 
Photos of my parents’ wedding in the church,
my mother smiling under her veil.
My father standing in his uniform.
My father’s cousin, the embroiderer, laughing.
 
                 Love is a strong thread
 
One of my aunts flirting with a local bloke.
My cousin’s confirmation with her parents;
two other cousins shyly playing,
a view of sweet hills behind them.
 
                 Love is a strong thread
 
Nonna Ida wore black after nonno’s death,
and put her long hair up. But life went on.
Her big hands held her infant nephew
when his own mother suddenly died.
 
                 Love is a strong thread
 
Nonna Ida baked chestnut cakes for everyone,
told tales and folk stories, fought her battle
for her family safety during the war
when her Appennino was occupied.
 
                 Love is an endless thread
 
Nonna Ida longed to see me when I was born,
the only grandchild she never met.
Ida, from old High German, ‘woman warrior’,
the woman I would like to be.
 

Chiara Salomoni

Poem published on The Blue Nib Digital Platform, May 2020;
also at poetry p f, 2021

Note:

Publications:
The High Window, Italian 3, 2021, includes a number of Chiara’s translations of poems by Andrea Zanzotto

Chiara Salomoni at poetry p f
 
Chiara Salomoni at The Society of Authors

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Doreen Hinchliffe

Doreen Hinchliffe has been published widely in anthologies and magazines, including Acumen, Mslexia, Orbis, The Interpreter’s House and Magma. Her first collection, Dark Italics, was published by Indigo Dreams in October 2017.

The Art of Getting Lost

Practise the art of getting lost
in the deepest forest, not knowing where
it ends, like the leaf of an oak tossed
 
on a sudden wind, unaware
of anything except the flight
in dappled sun, the ripples of air,
 
conscious only of slanting light
through branches, of being borne and held,
indifferent to left or right
 
to future or to past, propelled
into the heart of now by powers
unfathomed, unseen, deep in the meld
 
and mould of earth, in its tiny flowers
(bluer than bluebells, whiter than frost)
that lie beyond the counting of hours
 
and the counting of the cost.

Doreen Hinchliffe

Poem published in Acumen, Issue 87

Publications:
The Pointing Star, sonnet sequence, Live Cannon Poems for Christmas CD, ASIN: B01N8Z2E1T
Dark Italics, 2017, Indigo Dreams, ISBN 978-1-910834-58-9

Doreen Hinchliffe website
 

e-mail Doreen Hinchliffe

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Iris Anne Lewis

Iris Anne Lewis is published in a variety of publications. She has featured in the Silver Branch Series of Black Bough Poetry. In 2018 she founded Wordbrew, a Cirencester-based group of poets.

I make myself a skirt of fish skin

Mother stitches mackerel eyes
as sequins on my bodice. They wink
dark gold in the sun.
 
My sisters leave their baskets
brimming full of gutted herring.
They braid my hair with seaweed.
 
Grandmother binds my thighs together,
strokes my silver scales. Her hands
are rough with barnacles.
 
Trawler men sing shanties of storm-
tossed ships and foundered boats.
There is salt in their voices.
 
Women lead me to the water’s edge,
show me how to dance to the surge
and suck of the waves.
 
They break in a bridal froth
of foam. Spindrift settles
as confetti on my shoulders.
 
I flip my tail,
rip through the tide,
dive deep in the ocean.
 
Claim the sea as my own.
 

Iris Anne Lewis

Poem published in Seaborne Magazine, 2022

e-mail Iris Anne Lewis

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Joolz Sparkes

Joolz Sparkes is co-author of London Undercurrents, with poet Hilaire, published by Holland Park Press, which uncovers London’s unsung heroines north & south of the river. Her poems and short stories are published in magazines and anthologies.

We live here

I am doing the walk you do when you’re in Soho –
the walk that says I’m a Londoner see?
Not a tourist. Don’t mess with me.

 
I do the walk past Soho Square at 9pm
on my way to late night jazz,
it’s been raining and the pavement
is something I don’t want to see
but the filth, oh how the filth, it beckons to me.
 
                – There!
See how quick it went?
What was it; a mouse?
Nah, the thickness of that slubbery tail, says
eugh [shivers] a baby rat’s in the house.
 
       – There it is
hunkering next to the railings
gnawing that scrap of a thing
… it’s, it’s looking back at me
little black eyes all lit up like bling.
 
A dirty evil smudge
the shape of infestation,
nasty filthy claws like the clattering
of lies told down the police station.
Rat, rat. Definitely rat.
It’s doing the walk you do when you’re in Soho.
 

Joolz Sparkes

Poem first published in South Bank Poetry Magazine, Issue 15;
published in Some Kind’a Soho by David Russell and Daniel Saunders published by Central Books 2021

Publications:
London Undercurrents, Holland Park Press, 2019, ISBN 978-1-9073208-2-8, £10.00

e-mail

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Lesley J Ingram

Born in Doncaster, Lesley lives in Ledbury. She runs the Herefordshire Stanza, and has been printed here and there – is working on everywhere. It may take some time.

Unzipping

This is more than dibbing in, but not quite
rifling through. The zip defensively tooth
and nail, bites, snatching the tremor from my skin,
scratching my rouge noir. Deep breaths.
This has to be against some law.
 
I finger-skim the surface shapes, reading
the contents like braille, a sharp edge, a cold key,
a press of leather, a prickling of guesses.
Time washes in, pools in the notebook
I know holds your days, your
coffee mornings, keep fit classes, chemo
 
dates. Your variations in temperature.
I recognise your lipstick mirror by the ring
of bling round its top. I can’t open it.
I would see you. Drowning in your Youth
Dew, choking in your tissues and
mini-sudukos, half-dying
 
in the deeping and the laws
of nature … I see you shake your head.
‘Dive in’, you say, ‘dive in – we have no secrets
you and me’. Already half way round
the bend I nod. Had. You mean had.

Lesley J Ingram

* written for the theme ‘Into the Deep’

Poem published: Mslexia, April 2010

Publication:
Scumbled, 2015, Cinnamon Press, ISBN 978-1-909077-72-0, £8.99

Lesley J Ingram website
 
e-mail Lesley J Ingram

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Ruth Sharman

Ruth Sharman’s poems and translations are widely published and prize-placements include the National & Troubadour. ‘Scarlet Tiger’ won the Straid Collection Award 2016. A new collection is due from Templar in 2021, focussing on her Indian roots.

Fragments

So, where does time go?
All the days of our lives,
the hours we’ve spent waiting
for buses, or rehearsing
conversations round and round
in our heads? Isn’t it there still,
located in brain cells,
each moment freighted
with every moment gone
before, the memory of people,
places, things? Fragments
reach us now and then
from those distant galaxies –
tiny, random and bright,
like that moment in the garden
when we stood watching
a trail of mercury in sunlight,
so far away we couldn’t be sure
if they were geese or swans.
 

Ruth Sharman

Poem first published in Scarlet Tiger, 2016, Templar Poetry;
reprinted in Staying Human, 2020, Bloodaxe Books

Publications:
Scarlet Tiger, 2016, Templar Poetry
Birth of the Owl Butterflies, 1997, Picador (available from the poet)
Two + Two, 1997, Staple First Editions (anthology)
The Cansos and Sirventes of the Troubadour Giraut de Borneil, 1989, CUP

Ruth Sharman website
 

e-mail Ruth Sharman

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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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