Featured Poets, Jan 2024                     home page
 

Angela Croft       Caroline Gill       Diana Helen Pritchard       Gill Learner       Jennie Osborne       Juliet Humphreys       Kathy Miles       Margaret Wilmot       Pam Zinnemann-Hope       Sue Wallace-Shaddad      

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 Croft

Angela Croft, previously a journalist, is widely published (first 2 at South Bank Poetry, then at Poetry Kit, now over 120). 40 poems are anthologised in Caboodle by ProleBooks, and more recently, she was guest poet in South 68.

Waiting

I pour milk from the brown jug
into the bowl, like the woman
 
on the postcard you sent
from Amsterdam
 
crumble the bread to make
your favourite pudding,
 
sweeten it with sugar
stir in the fruit, grate the nutmeg
 
sunlight on my hands,
your shadow pegged to my shoulder.
 

Angela Croft

First published in South 46

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Caroline Gill

Caroline Gill won 1st Prize in the Petra Kenney Poetry Competition (gen. section) in 2007. Her poem, Preseli Blue, featured on BBC Poetry Please from the Guardian Hay Festival 2008. Poems published in UK, India, Romania & USA. Home: Ipswich.

Elegy for Idris Davies

Who hears the bells of Rhymney as they toll?
There are no drams to draw along the tracks:
the empty tarmac waits for laden trucks,
but hollows in the hillside tell their tale.
 
The winch and winder man have long since gone:
deserted pits are crudely steeped in slag.
Would Shelley’s spirit ring out once again
if flames of silver leaped to greet the lark?
 
A sloping cemetery will testify
to times when angry voices could be heard.
An echo rises from the Rhymney bard:
it rocks and rolls a piercing lullaby.
 
The grass is brown: brass bands have lost their sheen,
but April’s music trickles down the rill.
A shaft of sun makes rainbow-puddles shine
in terraced streets, to light the poet’s trail.
 
Allotments snake along the mountain road,
with weathered water butts of blue and green.
A raven waits while seeds of hope are sown,
but wigwam-canes stand vacant and betrayed.
 
A poet plants his footsteps in the mire,
through furnaces and forges razed to soil.
Bare strips of sky and horizontal moor
arouse defiant voices in his soul.
 
Stonemasons shed their monumental tears
in mounds below the monkey puzzle’s arm.
A sombre moon cast shadows on the dawn:
a valley dreams beneath the midnight stars.
 

Note: A dram is a cart for carrying coal

Caroline Gill

Poem published: THE SEVENTH QUARRY (ed. Peter Thabit Jones), no.3, Winter 2006. Also on the Poetry Library Southbank Centre Website.

Publications:Six poems in Hidden Dragons / Gwir a Grymus, (Parthian 2004), ISBN 9781902638393, £7.99

Caroline Gill website
 
e-mail

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Diana Helen Pritchard

Hertfordshire born, married, one son, two daughters, Diana Helen Pritchard lives in Guernsey. A wilderness upbringing during the 1950s, and 1960s in British Columbia, Canada influences her poetry. She is a member of Guernsey Writers.

Stone

Beside my heart; the pump,
the one that circulates my blood,
there is another heart.
 
Not the heart guided by emotion,
but a gnarled, heavy, black, stone heart
invisible even to an X-ray.
 
It wasn’t born with me,
just entered my body one day,
found its way through my skin
 
through an unguarded fissure,
reached the essence of me
before I could mouth my own name.
 
Beady as a cock-robin’s eye at first,
this ‘anti-matter’ absorbing my childhood,
imploded to the size of the universe
 
until the ‘real’ heart; the pump,
the one that circulates my blood,
wanting to be rid of it, found a solution.
 
It started my body running
across fields, along riverbanks,
up gravel tracks, over the snows
 
into the medals on sports day
(never good enough of course)
always striving for the big burn.
 
The black-heart stone smouldered.
The body started marathoning
over the downs, into muddy ditches,
 
along highways, over cobbled streets
through green forests and desert dunes.
The black-stone heart caught alight,
 
flamed up, burned down,
became smaller than a cock-robin’s eye
and I opened my arms to my existence.
 

Diana Helen Pritchard

Poem published in Published in Jersey Arts 2005 Competition Anthology (Commended).

Publications (all available at Amazon):
One Wrong Foot, Shortcliff, 2022, ISBN 9781919614427, £6.50
My Paths to Freedom, autobiography, Shortcliff 2021, ISBN 9781919614403, £12.99
Poems Inspired by Objects, Shortcliff, 2022, ISBN 9781919614434 £6.50
 

Shortcliff Poetry
 
e-mail Diana Helen Pritchard

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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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Jennie Osborne

Jennie Osborne lives on the edge of Dartmoor, active in poetry around South Devon. One of organisers of Teignmouth Poetry Festival. Performer and workshop leader. Won 2015 Kent and Sussex Poetry Prize.

Signals From The Other

It’s a game that’s gone on for millennia
between those with an ear fit to listen
and that with a multitude of names
which speaks with more than tongues
has blown its whistle more loudly each decade.
 
Some find they need to put their heads
to the ground to catch the litany of mole rats
or the rattle of gods. Some swear
by dreams but their dictionaries disagree –
a case of pick and mix at the new age bazaar.
 
Some follow the tracks of tiger or vole
as they peter off towards extinction,
or interpret the bees’ last messages,
the kakapo’s failing language, witness
the redwood’s blazing groans.
 
These days, it’s more a matter
of shedding earmuffs, ripping off blinkers,
turning down the eat me, buy me white noise
and peeling off the plastic gloves, putting
an ear or a fingertip to any throbbing pulse.
 
And what we choose to be deaf to
has given up on subtle, given up on
the liquid language in lost eyes, diminishing
chords spring after spring, starved soil’s
crunch as it turns to sand.
 
Seas have tried tantrum, rivers given lessons
in weeping. Every day the assemblage of ghosts
thickens, their silent accusation nudging through the ether,
tapping out its Mayday in minds which have cracked
the carapace, dare to be naked to our own complicity.
 
It’s time for stormy crescendo, turning up
the heat, for waves of howl so strong
they lift us, hurl us, shatter us, drown us,
leave us to lie among oil-smothered fish, poisoned
cetaceans on a plastic-studded beach
 
and soon there will be unmaking, the first
threads are pulled. We can’t say
there was no signal.
 

Jennie Osborne

Poem in Signals From The Other, 2022, Dempsey and Windle

Publications:
Signals From The Other, 2022, Dempsey and Windle, ISBN 978-1-9133297-4-7 £10.50
Colouring Outside the Lines, 2015, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-1-9068565-8-8. £8
collection, How to be Naked, 2010, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-1-9068561-3-7. £8

Overall winner of the SecondLightLive Poetry Competition, Round 2, Nov 08 to Sep 09. Listen to Jennie reading There’s Something about a Woman Swallowing Flames

e-mail Jennie Osborne
 
web-pages on poetry p f.

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Juliet Humphreys

Juliet Humphreys’ poems have appeared in a range of magazines, including The North, The Rialto, Orbis, Acumen, South Bank Poetry, Obsessed With Pipework and (online) Ink, Sweat and Tears. In 2021 she was shortlisted for ‘Primers’ (Nine Arches Press).

Mrs Hitchcock takes a bath

I’m not so sure about showers –
if you must know it’s the sound
how it rushes, pounding,
drowning everything
and, dear, sometimes –
I know it’s probably only the pipes –
but sometimes it screams
 
so I’ll just take a bath
and if it’s all the same with you
I’ll lock the door.
Dearest, don’t look at me like that,
you know I care about the water too –
I’ll just put less ice in my gin.
 

Juliet Humphreys

First Published at Ink, Sweat and Tears (online)

e-mail Juliet Humphreys

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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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Margaret Wilmot

Born in California, now living in Sussex. I am drawn by imaginative associations… memory, landscape, ideas, paintings, words. Writing, for me, is a tool for seeing; making connections, refining perception, always a search, some kind of amorphous truth the goal.

Clay-Lady

1
 
As Eve
 
The clay-lady steps forth
innocent as the child whose hands fashioned
arm-paws, hair-cape, the apple
she raises high as a chalice.
 
Her awkward radiance proclaims
a miracle: the first apple!
 
Salt-shine sprinkles her frock. A smile
cracks wide her face, emits kiln-light, and in its glow
we too see miracles:
 
a lump of clay – and look –
 
 
2
 
In Amsterdam
 
A clay-lady moves through
pewter streets. Her salt-freckled frock shimmers;
she leans high into her apple.
 
The burghers’ narrow hammered houses
cannot contain this fire-fangled clay. A smile cracks
wide her face, emits kiln-light.
 
 
3
 
In New York on a winter afternoon
 
The apple-woman sits
in the pewter chair, moon dimming in her lap.
Dusk filters through the gritty window,
absorbs, effaces
 
her salt-grey skirts, the strong dough-grey arms.
Her fire-fangled yearning salts
the moon with light.
 

Margaret Wilmot

Poem published in ARTEMISpoetry, Issue 8, May 2012

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Pam Zinnemann-Hope

On Cigarette Papers, Pam Zinnemann-Hope’s debut collection, was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize. It was adapted by her for the Afternoon Play on radio 4 in which she also acted. She runs poetry seminars near Dorchester.

Marriage to Lazar – 1905

On the day my bankrupt father married me off
the luck sat more in my husband’s cup
than mine, believe me. Lazar broke the glass
for us in Krakow; a broken glass
is meant to bring you luck. But I’d already
turned my back on my dreams, cut up
my ball-gown stitched with seed pearls,
the dumb song-birds on my own embrodiery;
I spoke sternly to my tiny stubborn heart;
I stood straight with Lazar under the canopy;
I dropped my eyes to his uncultured vowels.
What could I do while the gold band slid
onto my finger? Make a secret vow:
never forgive my father, or fall in love.

Pam Zinnemann-Hope

in collection On Cigarette Papers, Ward Wood, 2012

Publications:
On Cigarette Papers, Ward Wood, 2012, ISBN 978-0-9568969-8-8
Who’s In The Next Room, HappenStance, 2010, ISBN 978-1-9059395-1-0
4 Ned books, Walker Books, 1986/7/8, ISBN 978-0-744 5062-6-6 (& 3 following)
NW15, Anthology of New Writing, Granta, 2007

e-mail

Pam Zinnemann-Hope at Ward Wood

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Sue Wallace-Shaddad

Sue Wallace-Shaddad is a Suffolk- based poet with an MA from The Poetry School/Newcastle University (2020). Her poems are widely published and she is digital writer-in-residence for the Charles Causley Trust and Secretary of Suffolk Poetry Society

Rising

Head against cheek,
arms holding tight,
 
they rise from the water
like disembodied ghosts.
 
No words to explain
from where they have come.
 
The sea is a foreign place.
Not all will escape.
 

Sue Wallace-Shaddad

poem from Sleeping Under Clouds, a collaboration with artist Sula Rubens

Publications:
Sleeping Under Clouds, art and poetry pamphlet, 2023, Clayhanger Press, ISBN 978-1-7391770-2-7, £10
Art (anthology), 2021, Hybrid Press, ISBN 978-1-8734121-6-9
A City Waking Up, pamphlet, 2020, Dempsey & Windle ISBN 978-1-9133292-6-6, £8
A working life, self-published pamphlet 2014, out of print

Sue Wallace-Shaddad website
 
e-mail Sue Wallace-Shaddad

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