Featured Poets, June 2022                     home page
 

Anne Stewart       Diana Helen  Pritchard       Elaine Briggs       Hilary Hares       Jill Gardiner       Lyn Moir       Marilyn Longstaff       Elizabeth Soule       Nola Turner       Ruth Hanchett       Susan Jordan       Veronica Zundel      

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)  

Anne Stewart

Anne Stewart founded poetry p f in 2005. Her awards include The Bridport Prize, Southport Prize, Silver Wyvern (Poetry on the Lake, Italy) and a Hawthornden Fellowship. Her collections include The Janus Hour (2010) and The Last Parent (2019).

Anne is editor of the SecondLightLive web-site and serves on the Second Light Network Committee and as part-time administrator for the Network. (see ‘More’ link below)

sample poems and comments on ‘The Last Parent’
 

Body Language

            "I like the whisker of hair/ under her armpit. It suggests/
            that she’s not one of those women/ who are always trying
            to get rid/ of their smell."
 
                    Vicki Feaver, OI YOI YOI

 

Give me silky legs glistening in the sun,
bikini line and oxters done and no shame
for the dishonest shape-shifter I’ve become.
 
Give me orange and magnolia to bathe away
my scent – when it’s Woman-Ready-for-a-Man,
I’d just as soon my body said "Only if I say".
 
And when I choose to go against the master plan
by coating earthworm lips with New Dawn Rose
or copper pink, grape or cherry blossom balm,
 
it’s no more a disguise than wearing clothes.
Or would you have me naked? No deceitful lines
between my vulva and the twitching public nose?

 
Hirsute and unscented may be truth of a kind,
but there are worse things, when you feel exposed,
than silk and oranges, and roses, to hide behind.

Anne Stewart

Poem published: The Interpreter’s House, Nov 03, ISSN 1361-5610, and nominated for Forward Prize, 2004;
Discussed in Mary Michaels’ article How Does Your Poem Smell?, in Connections, Spring 2005 edition.
Strix Varia published Anne’s reflection on the writing of Body Language in their PoetSpeak series.

Collection: The Last Parent, Second Light Publications, 2019, ISBN: 978-0-9927088-3-2, £9.95 (Book Club offer £40 plus feedback).
Collection: The Janus Hour, Oversteps Books, 2010, ISBN: 978-1-9068561-6-8, £8.
Anthology: Ten Hallam Poets, Mews Press, 2005, ISBN: 1-84387-123-8, £7.99.
Glossy illustrated postcards: 2 of Body Language and 2 of Melting into the motorway on the inside lane, £1, from Anne.

20 Clovelly Way
Orpington
Kent
BR6 0WD
 
tel: 07850 537489
 
Anne’s web-site
 
e-mail

more...

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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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Elaine Briggs

Elaine Briggs lives and works in France as a translator. Poems have received prizes in Segora and Hungry Hill competitions. A collection has been long-listed by Cinnamon.

The Translator and His Harp Sing the Iliad

A harp is a made thing,
the heartwood of Homer, an ode.
 
It’s a flightless wing
with speech in its keys
 
and strings taut and resonant
open for winds to frisk at sea.
 
It’s the prow of a boat
where Orpheus turned helmsman
 
set a rhythm
for oars to dip and rise
 
and the water that streamed from their blade
outsang the Sirens’ wolfish howl.
 
You stand alone, your frame
spindly as the African lyre you cradle.
 
Then, in Afghan headgear worn for a crown,
you swell – wind and breath
 
sing to me the Muse’s song
and the rage of Achilles is re-made.

Elaine Briggs

Address:
Tours, France
   
e-mail Elaine Briggs

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Hilary Hares

Hilary Hares lives in Farnham, Surrey. Her poems have found homes online and in print and she has an MA in Poetry from MMU. Whilst waiting for the muse, she’s slave to a demanding bird table and lives in hope of meeting the perfect dog.

On sculptural figures looking out to sea

All Gormley’s kin each is his own man.
The local children call one Jeff.
 
They drown every day.
Like gods they have no smiles.
 
Sometimes Titian or Hockney
will paint them a dawn and,
 
when the tide recedes, jellyfish land
at their feet like green glass plates.
 
I watch as seagulls perch on their shoulders,
mirror their gaze, ask: Why stare so hard?
 
But they’re not letting on, their eyes fixed
as though they can’t bear to look down.
 
I persist: According to Frost nothing
we’re searching for is out far or in deep?

 
Their silence is deeper than the sea. I make
a final bid for conversation, tell them this:
 
I can see what’s happening behind you.
There’s no turning back.

 

Hilary Hares

Winner: Write by the Sea 2018 Literary Festival Competition, 2018

Publications:
A Butterfly Lands on the Moon, sold in support of Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice Care

e-mail Hilary Hares

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Jill Gardiner

Jill Gardiner is a former Chair of Brighton Poets, whose work has been published in The Interpreter’s House (2015) and ARTEMISpoetry (2018). Also a historian, known for From the Closet to the Screen – Women at the Gateways Club 1945-85 (Pandora 2002).

At the Opera

after the painting by Mary Cassatt
 
I have seen her each night from afar
Across a salon, or in some distant room
And often on his arm. And, tonight,
I have followed her to the opera.
In the picture, you do not see her:
Her bare shoulders; the three strings
Of pearls I gave her; the shock
Of that white muslin dress in November.
 
You only see me in my tight black gown,
And my opera glasses fixed on some point
Beyond your sight, and the yellowing fan
I am hardly holding. Any moment now
My grip will tighten as she turns
From him and catches my eye again.
One time she blushed. We are rarely alone.
Our intimacy is confined to public places.
 
In a distant box, you see another man:
Where I go, he follows. And grown so bold
That his opera glasses are trained on me
As if that whole wide audience were not there.
I have heard them whisper in the drawing rooms:
‘She’s handsome still, and alone too long.
Why does he wait?’ He has asked. I freeze.
I am spoken for and cannot say to whom.
 

Jill Gardiner

First published in The Western Mail (among other winners in the 1992 Cardiff International Competition)
and subsequently in The North 1992.

Publication:
With Some Wild Woman – Poems 1989-2019, 2019, Tollington Press, ISBN 978-1-90934-716-8 (due out 15th November). For details of launch events, please email Jill.

e-mail Jill Gardiner

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Lyn Moir

… edited 5 SLNewsletters, is in 3 SLN anthologies (IOW; Parents; Making Worlds), Prague Tales and Skeins of Geese, 100 poets (2008), was a teacher and lecturer in Spanish, and a Hawthornden fellow (2004). Her third collection is due (bluechrome 2008).

Travelling, Blue

     i.m. DJM
 
We’re all in a waiting room with people we don’t know
who have suddenly become our new best friends
even though we have never lived in Walthamstow,
and we are waiting for the ship or bus or train
which will take us from here to some destination
we don’t know either. And you are there,
a little fidgety boy, can’t sit still, waiting
for the great adventure to begin. And I am me now
and then and in some parallel world where all of us
of several generations are waiting patiently for
the opening of the ticket office or passport inspection,
but now we are going up a mammoth tower
in a lift with a spiral staircase and from the top
the view is marvellous so we slide down to form a queue,
collect our bags but I can’t carry all of them.
I lose the most important
and you.
 

Lyn Moir

published in Her Wings of Glass, 2014, Second Light Publications, ISBN 978-0-9927088-0-1

Publications:
Velázquez’s Riddle, Calder Wood Press 2011
Easterly, Force 10, Calder Wood Press 2009
Breakers’ Yard, Arrowhead Press 2003
Me and Galileo, Arrowhead Press 2001


2 Shorehead
St. Andrews
Fife
KY16 9RG
 
tel: 01334 472717
 
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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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Nola Turner

Nola Turner lives in South East London and came to writing poetry late but is making up for lost time. Themes include relationships, the state we are in and politics writ small.

On the Road

Most trees have shed their leaves
but here and there some scraps persist,
a camouflage of khaki brown;
in hedgerows spikes of hawthorn
flash berries scarlet raw.
 
A mud clad fox, back snapped in two,
is wedged among the gutter muck;
past victim of the speeding cars
that zip along this stretch
of sub-suburban road.
 
With opaque eyes wide open
and mouth set in a grin,
he seems to sneer at his demise;
rank carcass on a short-cut route
from Minns to Sittingbourne.  

Nola Turner

Highly Commended, Penge Poetry Competition, 2016

e-mail Nola Turner

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Ruth Hanchett

Ruth Hanchett is a member of the Poetry Society, two stanza groups, The British Haiku Society, Enfield Poets and Second Light. She writes particularly from close observation of people and of herself, exploring social and emotional themes arising.

from ‘Fall’ a sequence of seven poems:

Fall

I
 
I fell as from a great height into another world.
From a flat plane I stared up at the night sky
and moonlike faces which seemed to ponder
my angle on the slab of stone.
In a smudge of morphine I still screamed.
I lost myself, and, subject, patient,
was propelled into a timeless zone.
Rigid in ambulance straps, under lights, I could not
count the hours, could not recognise the place
but entered a country where people in white
told me what to do, what they would do. I heard
the snap of scissors through my new jeans,
heard murmurs that the hip was broken, felt
the catheter slip in, the movements
of shapes in the dark; floating in a hospital gown
I felt the lift into bed, sleep merging into the oblivion
of surgery, the awakening in the ward, the surgeon
above me, It’s gone well, it’s up to you now, but,
for weeks, the systems flowed over me, journeys
took me down dazzlingly long corridors then back
to staring at walls and waiting for visitors
who came like angels and didn’t tell me what to do.
Physiotherapists, lean and smiling, began to nudge me
nearer to myself and I moved towards it.
At home again the ground was rough, uneven
but my steps became discerning. I grew taller,
so much taller.
 

Ruth Hanchett


Pamphlet, Some Effects of Brilliance, 2019, Rafael Q Publishers, ISBN 978-1-901017-20-5, £5.00

e-mail Ruth

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Susan Jordan

Susan Jordan lives in Devon. She read English at Oxford, has an MA in Creative Writing (poetry and fiction) from Bath Spa University. She won the Maytree Press Three Trees Portfolio Award. Her work has appeared in various magazines and anthologies.

Missing Pieces

You had your stories: how you rode
an old bike with no brakes; how you
and your friends tied door-knockers
together with string, knocked and ran away;
 
how you couldn’t solder a spectacle frame
but passed with honours anyway;
 
how students from your polytechnic
marched through the streets in rag week
with a stuffed carrot on a pole;
 
how you played practical jokes more cruel
than you understood in the telling.
 
From Mum I heard your parents
treated you unkindly, you were bullied
by other boys,
 
how your brother-in-law didn’t like you,
your misshapen legs plagued your life.
 
Before you married you’d had
a cupboard full of empty bottles.
 
You’d been a communist like your brother,
till Mum, fearing McCarthy, got rid of your books.
You were an atheist, always a Jewish one.
 
What I knew of you wasn’t the stories:
long country walks on summer Sundays,
football and cricket in the garden,
 
your eyes glazed with tears as you listened to music;
the way we kept missing each other.
 

Susan Jordan

Poem published in pamphlet Last of the Line, Maytree Press, 2021

Publications:
pamphlet, Last of the Line, 2021, Maytree Press
collection, I never think dark will come, 2021, Oversteps Books
collection, A House of Empty Rooms, 2017, Indigo Dreams

e-mail Susan Jordan

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Veronica Zundel

Veronica Zundel is a freelance writer for the Christian market, and has written poetry for over 50 years. She graduated (Dist.) in 2019 from the Poetry School/Newcastle Un. MA in Writing Poetry. Poems published in Magma, The Alchemy Spoon, Mslexia.

Violins

The Dresden Philharmonic are playing Jewish violins,
salvaged somehow – who knows? – from the ashes of camps,
force-played by the inmates for their torturers’ amusement
 
If I forget you, O Jerusalem
 
and rebuilt by this Israeli man, speaking French, in whose eyes
is the clarity of devotion. He has done this for twenty years.
On one fiddleback, a swastika and ‘Heil Hitler’ had been drawn
 
Let my right hand lose its cunning
 
but who’s to say if the music dragged from these guts
is disturbing the dead, or lament, or the dare of resurrection?
Who has the right to tell?
 
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth
if I forget

 

Veronica Zundel

 
poem based on a YouTube video

Poem published in Magma 75, 2019

Publications:
Going Out, Hodder 1990
Faith in her Words: six centuries of women’s poetry, Lion 1991
The Time of our Lives, BRF 2007
Crying for the Light, BRF 2008
All I know about God, I’ve learned from being a parent, BRF 2013

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