Featured Poets, June 2024                     home page
 

Anne Sherry       Denise Bennett       Gill Horitz       Jay Whittaker       June Hall       Liz Parkes       Marion Tracy       Mimi Khalvati       Rosalind Parkes       Sue Spiers      

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 Sherry

Anne Sherry is a Writer and Management Consultant. She lives in Winchester but travels widely. Her first collection, Safe Passage, was published in 2014.

Double Edged

My love who promised the earth
then pawned it all away
 
my love shouldered like Goliath
with the belly of a mollusc
 
my love with a cavalier’s exfoliated thighs
and the swaggering hips of a toreador
 
my love who adored my classic clothes
then recommended froth and flowers
 
my love with the feet of a ballerina
and the strut of a petulant brat
 
my love who liked my symbolic phrases
then told me not to play mind-games
 
my love with Blue Beard’s hooked nose
in the baby face of a petit ingénu
 
my love who appreciated my honesty
then devalued me for being naïve
 
my love who made me writhe and pant
then fled when I expected the same
 
my love with eyes like brackish pools
which obscured an Arctic mind
 
my love who hijacked my freedom
but clung limpet-like to his own
 
my love who chided me for vacillation
then revealed each endgame in his book
 
my love with the evasive tongue
which accused me of lying by omission
 
my love who scorned my secure life
then grabbed one for his own
 
my love with generous Gemini words
underscored actions of Scrooge
 
my love who promised to always be there
then scarpered when things got tough
 
my love whose past killed our present
contaminated my future.
 
That love who left me on a Pyrrhic fire
but missed this harpy eagle flying hope.
 

Anne Sherry

Publications:
Failing to Find Old Sarum, 2019, Mudfog Press, ISBN 978-0-9927930-1-2, £5.95 (free p&p)
Safe Passage, a Memoir in Poetry and Prose, 2014, Ashbrook Publications, ISBN 978-0-9927930-0-5, £7.95 +p&p,
(proceeds after costs to Alzheimer’s Research UK, www.cpibookdelivery.com)

e-mail Anne Sherry

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Denise Bennett

Denise Bennett has an MA in creative writing & runs poetry workshops. She is widely published. In 2004 she won the inaugural Hamish Canham poetry awarded by the Poetry Society. She regularly reads at Tongues & Grooves poetry and music club Portsmouth.

Water Chits

     Gallipoli 1915
 
I joined the band to play the flute
to chivvy the men to war –
but mostly I was lackey to the medic,
sent out with the water chits;
scraps of paper with the words,
please let the bearer have some drinking water;
sent out to the lighter
to fetch the water shipped from Egypt.
Even in dreams I can hear
the medic’s call –
water, water – we need more water –
as if by magic, I could conjure up
eight kettles of water to wash
the wounded, to cook the meal,
to clean the mess tins,
to give ten dying men a drink.
In all this dust and heat, no one
said we would have to beg for water.
 

Denise Bennett

     inspired by a letter written by a marine bandsman
     at the time of the Gallipoli Campaign in 1915

first published in Poetry News, Summer 2015;
title poem of forthcoming pamphlet (Indigo Dreams, 2016)

Publications:
Parachute Silk, 2015, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-1-906856-55-7.
Planting the Snow Queen, 2011, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978-1-906856-20-5.

Denise Bennett at poetry p f
 
e-mail Denise Bennett

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Gill Horitz

Gill Horitz has worked in the arts for over 30 years. She co-edited South 47. Her work has been published/placed in various magazines/competitions, including a shortlisting for the Bridport Prize. She belongs to a Poetry Group run by Paul Hyland.

What Lies in the Winter Wood

End of day, end of year – and she’s thinking what’s next,
her head against the pane and the wind slamming the gate.
 
When she looks up, the trees are moving through the half light
towards her, through snow piled over the vanished road.
Not a single thought holds her back.
All the meanings held by the trees she remembers,
and how their barks can be unrolled and written upon.
No ordinary wood moves like this, and time is short.
 
Through the holly tunnels she sings a low song to the owl
and the night leans down, savouring her wintry breath.
What will I take from this? she thinks, looking back
as the moon hurries her along. To believe just once
that such a place exists, the imaginary heart
where everything worth moving towards lies.
 

Gill Horitz

Poem published in Smiths Knoll, Issue 50

State of Play Arts
 
Gill Horitz at poetry p f
 
e-mail Gill Horitz

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Jay Whittaker

Jay Whittaker’s debut poetry collection Wristwatch (Cinnamon Press) was the Poetry Book of the Year in the Saltire Society Literary Awards 2018, and her second collection, Sweet Anaesthetist, is published October 2020 (Cinnamon Press).

Canopy

     (day 20, first chemo cycle)
 
Do tree tips tingle, niggle like my scalp?
Most people’s hair (I’m told) comes out on day eighteen.
White hairs work loose first, waft down.
This late summer evening, my scarfed skull
as bald and vulnerable as a fledgling’s,
I stand under the row of sycamore, my neck sore
from looking up to the abundance of leaves.
Whatever happens to me, the earth is turning.
At the same hour in winter, haven’t I stood
in this very spot, watching bare branches
implore the sky for light?
 

Jay Whittaker

Poem originally published in Wristwatch, 2017, Cinnamon Press

Publications:
Sweet anaesthetist, 2020, Cinnamon Press, ISBN 978-1-7886408-3-1, £9.99
2 poems in Staying Human: new poems for staying alive, 2020, Bloodaxe Books, ISBN 978-1-7803739-0-4, £12.99
4 poems in Scottish feminist judgments, 2019, Hart Publishing, ISBN 978-1-5099232-6-7, (hbk) £95
Wristwatch, 2017, Cinnamon Press, ISBN 978-1-9108368-0-4, £8.99 Pearl, Selkirk Lapwing Press, 2005, 0953121267, out of print

Pearl, 2005, Selkirk Lapwing Press, ISBN 0-9-531212-6-7 (out of print)

Jay Whittaker website
 
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June Hall

June Hall is a former Faber editor. Death of her son and diagnosis of Parkinson’s drew her to poetry. Her work appears in Acumen, ARTEMISpoetry and elsewhere, incl. three poetry collections. She co-edited with Dr R V Bailey The Book of Love and Loss.

Uncharted

Your bone-hard mouth, like an open cave,
seaweed stretched over jagged rock-teeth,
gulps at the tide that sucks, in and out,
breathing rough, insistent spray. I hold
your drowning hand so tight blood drains
from it in white waves as if I were the parent,
you the child stranded in nightmare seas.
 
In the wreckage of lost life I don’t know who
or where you are, or if you know me at all.
I too am wrecked, a stranger to this vast ocean.
Muscles tighten and cramp, fearful
at your going, so far beyond my horizon.
Still, I hope my grip steadies you, that you feel
its squeeze, take in my muttered lovings.
 
Here by your bedside I want to call you home
though already you’re panting to push through
the storm’s growl and I’m rowing the wreckage,
one hand clutched to your fleshless claw, trying
to stay up and keep the rhythm of the stroke until
fingers twine around the rightness of your going,
reconciled at last to the distance between us.
 
Dying is a challenging business.
Over the crashing foam I cry out to you:
I’m here. Don’t worry, Mum. I’ll stay right here.
Hours later, though, I break my word and have
to leave your side. You let your grasp loosen
and, out of reach now, sink down alone
to the rock below, the uncharted sea-bed.
 

June Hall

in collection Uncharted

Publications:
Uncharted, 2016, Belgrave Press, ISBN 978-0-9546215-3-7, £9.99
Bowing to Winter, 2010, Belgrave Press, ISBN 978-0954621513, £7.99
The Now of Snow, 2004, Belgrave Press, ISBN 0-9546215-0-6, £7.99
First Sixty: The Acumen Anthology, 2010, Acumen, ISBN 978-1-8731612-3-4, £9.99
Cracking On, anthology, 2010, Grey Hen Press, ISBN 978-0-9552952-4-9, £10

web-pages on poetry p f
 
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Liz Parkes

Liz Parkes lives in Stourbridge, West Midlands. She writes plays, short stories and both page and performance poetry. She has been published by Offa’s Press, Grey Hen and Cannon’s Mouth.

The Coffin Works Wedding

She keeps it close, buried deep, out of sight;
the memory of a long attic room, the giggle
of girls when tight-lipped gossip fizzed hot
on the iron; the hiss of scissor blades as cloth
slid like water across the table; machines
where fat, coned bobbins jumped and jiggled;
those glossy bolts of pastel shades, lilacs, creams,
peach (for darker skins) ̵ and so much white.
 
Each night she hid guilt beneath her smile
folded satin off-cuts, ribbons, lace trims
warm as love letters tucked above her heart;
sealed her lips with a mouthful of pins
a secrecy that shrouded the artful
way death paid for her walk down the aisle.
 
 
Note: The coffin works, now a museum, is in the Jewellery Quarter of Birmingham. Men made the metal furniture for coffins on the ground floor, women the satin linings and shrouds on the second floor.
 

Liz Parkes

Cannon’s Mouth, quarterly magazine, Issue 67, March 2018;
Sonnet or Not Competition.

Publications:
included in anthologies The Poetry of the Black Country and The Poetry of Staffordshire (both Offa’s Press, £7.95)
and in Grey Hen Press anthologies, ed. Joy Howard: Reflected Light – Responses to the Creative Arts and Lovely Dark and Deep – Poems about Woods.

Address:

 
Tel:
 
Liz Parkes website
 

e-mail Liz Parkes

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Marion Tracy

Marion Tracy has an MA in English Literature and has been writing her own poetry for about 6 years. She’s been published by 14 Magazine, ARTEMISpoetry, Mslexia, Obsessed With Pipework, Poetry Express, Poetry Wales, Scintilla and Tears in the Fence.

Stones

He hears a sound, plip plop. It’s small stones thrown
or wet insects on glass. The noise is getting bigger.
It sounds as if stones are being shovelled onto the house.
He asks his cousin if she’s experienced anything like this.
 
He frowns when she says, It must be possums.
He smiles when his neighbour says, Perhaps it’s like
when my wife left me.
He laughs when his wife says,
Yes, I’ve been hearing it for a while, it’s like memories of home.
 
He looks up through the leaves of the tree.
Stones are coming down through the branches.
Stones are bouncing off each branch in turn.
Stones are plums falling down like blue stars.
 
His neighbour looks and says, Who can be responsible?
Is it the work of clever children?
His cousin gasps and says,
Is it the work of aliens, these bright disks as they fall?
Is it, asks his wife, all the words that need saying?
 
In the room, the stones are all over the bed.
The stones are all over the rug but there’s no holes
in the ceiling. He looks up and there’s no footprints on the roof.
The stones are raining down and he asks his cousin,
 
Why do the stones not fall straight down but seem to turn in the air?
He asks his neighbour, Why do the stones have no shadow?
Why do the stones fall on my house and not on yours?

Why, laughs his wife, it’s all the stones that ever got stuck in my shoe.
 

Marion Tracy

Poem published: Poetry Review Vol 103:1 Spring 2013.

Pamphlet Collection: Giant in the Doorway, HappenStance Press, 2012, ISBN: 978-1-905398-3-1, £4.

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Mimi Khalvati

Mimi Khalvati is the founder of The Poetry School, is on the Council of Management of the Arvon Foundation, the Editorial Board of Wasafiri and is a PBS selector. Her latest collection is The Meanest Flower (Carcanet 2007, PBS Recommendation).

The Valley


Through a thin spray of flowers from the valley
(and frailer for the shyness you gave them with),
through sprigs of blue, their minute suns, many
and angled to many corners of the earth,
I saw, not the valley or even the hill
that rose in front of me, but half-imagined
plateaux that lay beyond these disused mills:
meadows waist-high, horizons mountain-rimmed.

Wildflowers grow there in abundance, so many
you could reap armfuls of them, cauldrons
of colour stoked with their dyes, cornflowers, teasels
snarling your hair and on your headscarf, apron,
shirt and shawl, the whole sky would spill a pinny
studded with seeds. But thank you, thank you for these.

Mimi Khalvati

Poem published in collection, The Meanest Flower

Most Recent Publications, all from Carcanet:
The Meanest Flower, 2007. PBS Recommendation. Short-listed for TS Eliot Prize.
The Chine, 2002.
Mimi Khalvati: Selected Poems, 2000.
Entries on Light, 1997.
Mirrorwork, 1995, ACE Writer's Award.

web-site

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Rosalind Parkes

Rosalind Parkes began writing poetry at 64 and wishes she had begun earlier: it is the most exciting thing she has done. Poems have appeared in Littoral Press (online), Orbis, Strix, Obsessed With Pipework; and in South, Dreich and ARTEMISpoetry (2024).

Scarcely there

She’s scarcely there
a shadow on the grass
an outline filled with flowers and
obsolete intentions
 
Inhabiting this shape,
she hears her voice
an errant phrase or two
she sounds unlike herself
her voice is not her own
 
She feels her breath
the lifting falling diaphragm
the exhalation long.
Vapour condenses on her palms.
 
Sees, within, her heartbeat’s metronome
its stammering andante
 
and sometimes catches transiently
the scent of all her life
succumbed to time’s sheer passing.
 
Raised arms connect with sky
and feet commune with ground
face feels sun rain wind
body displaces thus much air
contends for life
 
But still, so still, she’s scarcely there
or there, or there
somewhere

Rosalind Parkes

poem published at Littoral Press online, 2022

Publications:
The Beholder’s Eye, 2022, Fisherrow

e-mail Rosalind Parkes

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Sue Spiers

Sue Spiers works with the Winchester Poetry Festival as treasurer and was SIG Sec, British Mensa’s poetry group 2016-2021. Her work has been published in Acumen, Ink, Sweat & Tears, The Interpreter’s House, Obsessed With Pipework, Stand and others.

.

De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da

Stook griiind, stook griiind
                                                the ventilator pulse
extends her life, thrusts air
                                                down her throat
into wizened lungs
                                                Her brain sucks
oxygen for its miserly self
                                                storing it
for her last memory of
                                                Shang-A-Lang
 
 
It robs muscle
                                                so she is still
it thieves liver
                                                so she pees brown
it purloins kidney
                                                so toxins thrive
 
 
Her mobile shrills
                                                Agadoo doo doo.
The nurse answers
                                                ‘Yes, I’ll tell her’
‘The Sassenachs send love’
                                                Her hand on the blue
waffle blanket flexes
                                                Her mouth moues
breathless unsound
                                                meaningless and true
 

Sue Spiers

De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da was commended in the Poetry Society’s 2020 Stanza competition

 

Publications:
De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da, 2023, ISBN 978-1-4475-2676-6
Plague – A Season on Senryu, 2020, ISBN 978-1-7167-0175-6
Best of British, 2017, Paper Swans Press, ISBN 978-0-9931756-6-4, £9
Hallelujah for 50ft Women, 2015, Bloodaxe Books, ISBN 978-1-78037-155-9, £9.95
Jiggle Sac , 2012, self published at www.lulu.com, ISBN 978-1-291-04430-0, £5

Sue Spiers website
 
e-mail Sue Spiers
 
Twitter: @spiropoetry
 

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