Featured Poets, May 2022                     home page
 

Angela Kirby       Anna Avebury       Jan Bay-Petersen       Helen Ivory       Jenna Plewes       Hilaire       Jill Townsend       Marion Tracy       Marie Papier       Merryn Williams       Stevie Krayer       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)  

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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Anna Avebury

Anna Avebury was born of Ukrainian parents in Bradford. She now lives in St Albans where she is a member of Ver Poets. She writes on a variety of subjects including nature, memory, and art.

Love’s Refuge

    A corner of the artist’s room     Gwen John
 
Here, the air is cool and still,
curtains motionless at the window
as sunlight flares through,
stirs the scented posy on the table.
 
A wicker chair holds out
its arms, pink parasol folded
like her heart by its side;
blue dress, her abandoned pride.
 
Drowsy in mid-summer heat
Paris hums beneath.
 

Anna Avebury

poem selected for John Cotton’s Ten Liners 2023, published by Ver Poets, St Albans

Publications:
Dress Rehearsal, self-published, £2.50 (proceeds to Open Door – local charity)
Ver Poets anniversary anthologies; Locked Down, Poetry Space, 2021

e-mail

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Jan Bay-Petersen

Jan Bay-Petersen, a New Zealander, worked in agricultural development and lived for 20 years in Taiwan. She began writing poetry after she moved to Cambridge. She has published in several poetry journals and won the 2013 Poetry Society Stanza Poetry Competition.

It’s a Two and You’re Dead

The closer we live to our gods, the more we need games.
Luck isn’t random: it chooses and fondles, then flits,
while we phantom midges soar high on the breath
of the gods or are drowned in their spit.
If our buzzing offends, if we stick in their throat,
they may take as amends what we don’t want to lose,
and you pay with an arm and a leg. Let us pray.
 
Playing games gives a hint. They’re a rear-vision mirror
to show what is coming up close from behind.
They won’t stop the truck, but maybe you’ll pause
a significant tick while you’re sending a text
so your paths don’t collide. If you’re ten over par,
if your darts hit the wire – give the blind date a miss.
Don’t ask for a raise, not today. Catch the bus.
 
Wait till you throw double six, till your horse
gallops home, till the ball draws a line
from your boot to the goal, till the Queen, King and Knave
join the cloverleaf Ace. Though you can’t read the stars
you can tip them like Braille and the rhythms are good,
your sails belly and fill, the duck’s entrails are pink.
There’s a cat and he’s black and you’re blessed. Take the trick.
 

Jan Bay-Petersen

Poem published in The North, 50

Jan Bay-Petersen at poetry p f
 

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Helen Ivory

Helen Ivory, poet and visual artist; sixth Bloodaxe Books collection Constructing a Witch (2024). Editor, webzine Ink Sweat and Tears; poetry tutor, UEA/WCN online; work translated into Polish, Ukrainian, Croatian, Spanish and Greek for Versopolis.

The Fainting Room

When they laced me tight this morning
my body split asunder.
Clouds heaved themselves across my eyes.
 
Nobody heard the crack of rib
or witnessed the small moth of my soul
slip from my mouth.
 
All day I felt the separation so keenly,
yet the household continued about me
as if unaltered.
 
When Nell came to dust the parlor,
I feared for my soul – my little ghost –
settled on the mantle.
 
At dinner, my soul watched from the wallpaper
as I raised the soup spoon to my lips –
there wasn’t space beneath my corset for a single bite.
 
I rose to reach my hand out
but her wings blurred ash.
I felt the table and the diners fall away.
 
I awoke inside this little room
to find the doctor had been summoned,
with his new, mechanized instrument.
 
My binding had been loosed,
the doctor applied the treatment
until a paroxysm possessed me.
 
I breathed deeply of the whole earth.
My soul flew into my open throat.
My husband dropped some coins into his hand.
 

Helen Ivory

from The Anatomical Venus, 2019, Bloodaxe Books.

 

Publications:
Constructing a Witch, 2024, Bloodaxe Books
Wunderkammer: New and Selected Poems, 2023, MadHat Press (USA)
The Anatomical Venus, 2019, Bloodaxe Books
Maps of the Abandoned City, 2019, SurVision
Waiting for Bluebeard, 2013, Bloodaxe Books

Helen Ivory website
 
e-mail Helen Ivory

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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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Hilaire

Hilaire is co-author with Joolz Sparkes of London Undercurrents. She was poet-in-residence at Thrive Battersea in 2017 and Highly Commended in the 2019 Live Canon International Poetry Prize. She writes and gardens in Battersea.

The Sheffield Man

Was it only our family he visited
at dead of night? Slipping bone-handled knives,
dimpled thimbles, an heirloom coffee spoon,
into his felt-lined pockets. His thefts small,
intermittent, occasionally reversed.
Look what’s turned up under the sink!
Triumphant, Dad held aloft a pewter
napkin ring, long lost. This was not
the stuff of nightmares.
 
Grown up, abroad, I found the Sheffield Man
unknown amongst my peers – a family quirk,
a joke I only got in retrospect.
 
But now he’s back and he’s greedy,
working daylight hours behind my mother’s back.
The peg tin, can opener, keys. Her reading glasses.
All magicked away out of sight.
He’s even filched the whatchamacallit
and the reason she first needed it.
 
I stab pins into a Sheffield Man doll
even though I know there’s no reversing
this final vanishing act.
 

Hilaire

Highly commended in the Red Shed Open Poetry Competition 2018 and published in The Quality of the Moment competition pamphlet, Currock Press

Publications:
indoors looking out, lower case press, 2020 ISBN: 978-1-5272-6319-2 £5
London Undercurrents,, Holland Park Press, 2019 ISBN: 978-1-907320-82-8 £10
Triptych Poets: Issue OneBlemish Books, 2010 ISBN: 978-0-9807556-1-9
Hearts on Ice, Serpent’s Tail, 2000 ISBN: 1-852426-63-2

Hilaire’s website
 
e-mail

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Jill Townsend

Jill Townsend has had poems published in many magazines and in the anthology Images Of Women. She has also had work included in over 60 children’s collections. For the last 35 years she has lived near the Surrey and Hampshire border.

Sun Block

At last the sun gives some warmth.
My body unwinds, learns itself
sinuous as the river.
Sweet grass flows beneath my hand
like the hair of an overheated child.
 
Through half-closed eyes I see
a swan, his little orange paddles
powering against the calm,
the barely resisting water.
 
My eyes close. Seed heads hiss
and part to the sudden shadow
of his spreading wings:
                                                  a shuddering
glimpse of no future trembles through me
and a voice saying Easy, Leda.
If I cry the grass scatters.

Jill Townsend

First published in the Agenda on-line supplement to the Rilke issue, Vol.42 3-4 and in print in Seeking Refuge ed. Jan Fortune (Cinnamon press)

web-site
 
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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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Marie Papier

Marie Papier is a French-Swiss novelist and poet. Author of three novels including the Prix Schiller. She studied English Poetry with London Poetry School. Published in several magazines, anthologies, online.

Woman Cutting an Apple

   For Dana Smith-Littlepage
 
She has a way with apples
as mothers have with babies
 
How she looks at them
silently smiling, as if about to
 
peck their flesh, relish
the smooth grain of their skin
 
and how tenderly she brings
her knife into play
 
the blade slicing through
the pulp, deftly sparing
 
the core – the fruit’s
intimacy unscathed –
 
as mothers hold the integrity
of their child until self breaks free.
 

Marie Papier

first published in The Lighthouse poetry magazine issue 23

Publications:

 
English, as Marie Papier
in anthology Voices for the Silent, 2022, Indigo Dreams Publishing, ISBN 978-1-912876-74-7
The Weather Indoors, 2020, Pandemic Poetry, Tangent Books, Bristol, ISBN 9781914345005
Calyx, 2019, Bristol Stanza anthology, Tangent Books, Bristol, ISBN 978-1-64606-889-0  

French, as Marie-José Piguet:
Petits Contes d’Outre-Manche, 1990, Editions de l’Aire, Lausanne, ISBN 2-88108-055-3
Une Demoiselle Eblouissante, 1987, Editions de l’Aire, Lausanne
Jean Fantoche, Portrait bouffon d’une auguste famille,, 1981, Ed. Bertil Galland, Prix Schiller 1982, ISBN ISBN 2-88015-064-7


 
e-mail Marie Papier

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Merryn Williams

Merryn Williams’ life is currently divided, like ancient Gaul, into three zones – literary, family, Jeremy. She was first editor of The Interpreter’s House, which published around a thousand poets, and her own publications are too numerous to list.

P.N.D.

     post-natal depression
 
One fell off the fragile bridge,
others froze in horror.
Far below them, howling winds
and glimpse of raging water.
 
Four young women shared a house,
partied, shrieked with laughter.
All got married, scattered wide.
Three go on without her.
 
Driving rain, on clothes and skin;
you feel the great bridge shudder.
The baby knows there’s something wrong,
stares round and sees no mother.
 
Three go home. All night they weep;
why did no one save her?
while each, in fear, bears step by step,
a child across the water.
 

Merryn Williams

Poem published in Acumen and in The Fragile Bridge (see Publications)

Publications:
The Fragile Bridge: New and Selected Poems, Shoestring Press, 2019;
The First Wife’s Tale, Shoestring Press, 2007;
Jane Austen’s The Watsons, Pen Press, 2006;
The Latin Master’s Story, Rockingham Press, 2000;
The Chalet Girls Grow Up, Plas Gwyn Books, 1998

Address:
19 The Paddox
Oxford
OX2 7PN
 
tel: 01865 511259
 
Merryn Williams website
 
web-pages on poetry p f.
 
e-mail

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Stevie Krayer

Stevie Krayer gave up university administration to have more time for writing and, since moving from London to Wales in 1993, has published six books, including three poetry collections, and an anthology of Quaker poets (co-edited with R V Bailey).

from “Mass for the Oort Cloud”
Agnus Dei

Thar she blows!
telltale trace
on the horizon. No
leviathan – behold
the speck of god-dust
that takes away
the weight
of that mighty
unaccounted for
dark mass
(well, maybe). Load
it up with all
your unanswered
questions, scientists!
If only
it could take
away our own
darkness – but
even if we
conscientiously put out
our garbage, there’s
no celestial dustcart
to call; and
where
could it be taken?
Out in that desert
no benign
kites and gulls
wait.

Stevie Krayer

Poem published in New Monkey, 2014

Publications:
New Monkey, 2014, Indigo Dreams, ISBN 978-1-9093574-7-1
A Speaking Silence (anthology, co-edited with R V Bailey), 2013, Indigo Dreams, ISBN 978-1-9093573-0-3
Questioning the Comet, 2004, Gomer, ISBN 1-843233-46-0
Voices from a Burning Boat, 1997, University of Salzburg, ISBN 3-7052-0132-8
The Book of Hours by R M Rilke (translation), 1994, University of Salzburg, ISBN 3-7052-0432-7

e-mail Stevie Krayer

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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
 
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