Featured Poets, May 2023                     home page
 

Ann Segrave       Cathy Whittaker       Dorothy Baird       Jean Atkin       Julie Sampson       Lucy Crispin       Marion Oxley       Nicolette Golding       Ruth Hanchett       Thelma Laycock      

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)  

Ann Segrave

Ann Segrave lives in East Sussex and is inspired by the South Downs which surround her. Her first collection, Aviatrix, was published by Oversteps Books in 2009, followed by Persimmon in 2014. She has read at Dartington, the Troubadour and locally.

Aviatrix

To gain a bird’s eye view –
windhover’s sight.
Not counting scale or distance
but feeling the sweep and pull
of landscape in ascendance.
Roads thin, electric threads,
houses squat shelters pitched against the rain.

And she, my aviatrix – bird woman –
Will find her scope at last,
cease, like a hawk replete, to fret
and tangle in her forked routines.
See clearly or, renouncing sight,
let the wind take her to another place
where no thick objects cry out to be stacked,
no eyes and voices ground her urgent flight.

Ann Segrave

Poem first published in The Charleston Magazine, Issue 10, Autumn/Winter 1994;
and included in collection Aviatrix

Publication: Aviatrix, 2009, Oversteps Books, ISBN 978 1 906856 08 3, £8.

Ann Segrave website
 
e-mail Ann segrave

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Cathy Whittaker

Cathy Whittaker tutors in poetry and memoir and runs/co-runs various creative writing workshops – see www.openmindwriting.com. She is published in several anthologies and has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize.

My Father’s Desk

hardly ever used, made of oak
stuffed with letters,
square, sturdy pigeon holes
for sticking bills in and old invitations
not replied to.
He never sat there for long
too busy looking after the Herdwick sheep
he was failing at making a living from,
a dream gone wrong.
On days when the rain didn’t stop
he made angry attacks on forms
searched for cheque books
shouting we can’t afford to use electricity
go out, pay for petrol.
So my mother would search for jobs
for him in the Whitehaven News,
and he’d refuse to do any of them.
Bad days when we kept away.
He wouldn’t stay crumpled
in his utilitarian chair
even though it stormed outside.
He’d take his crook, shrug into a torn anorak,
whistle the dog, stride up the intake
to count the sheep cropping the grass.
At his happiest outside alone,
debts, loans, jobs, pensions, wills,
all falling away
into the mist and rain
crossing the fells.
 

Cathy Whittaker

Poem published in This Place I Know, a new anthology of Cumbrian Poetry, Handstand Press

Publications:
15 poems in Quintet and other poets, Cinnamon Press, ed. Jan Fortune

e-mail Cathy Whittaker

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Dorothy Baird

Dorothy lives in Edinburgh where she runs creative writing groups in the community and is a Human Givens psychotherapist. In 2009, she founded and for five years ran the Young Edinburgh Writers, a creative writing group for teenagers in the city.

It Never Stops

The antennae that once woke me
to catch a hiccup
before it revved to screams
now scan the quality of night
to read who’s out, who’s in.
 
And ‘out’ means stravaiging
in pubs and clubs, daundering
on streets with chittery bumps
they don’t feel, lurching for
taxis, friends’ floors, the last bus,
 
while I’m the missions’ sergeant
in my wakeful nightie,
alert for keys, creaking
stairs, the sloosh of taps,
counting them home.
 

Dorothy Baird

Featured on BBC Radio 4 in Ruth Padel’s programme on writing workshops.
Published in collection Mind the Gap (see below)

Collections:
Mind the Gap, Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2015, ISBN 978-1-909357-85-3
Leaving the Nest, 2007, Two Ravens Press, ISBN 978-1-906120-06-1

Dorothy’s website
 
e-mail

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Jean Atkin

Jean Atkin’s most recent books are Fan-peckled (Fair Acre Press) poems about the lost words of Shropshire, and The Bicycles of Ice and Salt (IDP) in 2021. She works as a poet in education & community projects.

Vik

Some mornings the van shakes on its wheels
and when I haul the sliding door, the ocean
roars its fury in a voice I’ve never heard
but feel I might deserve.
 
Some mornings I walk down to the beach
at Vik. Black sand is soaked to carbon
and the blistered air is stropped with foam.
I pull my hat over my ears.
 
Some mornings the ocean rumbles like an earthquake
just offshore. I ground my boots in raven sand.
The white comes frothing. Comes sliding up
the beach and I retreat.
 
Some mornings here it rains salt. Some mornings
the Atlantic flings stones at the beach. Some mornings
are a smashed sea bird and a gull-coloured sea.
Some mornings are hunters.
 

Jean Atkin

from forthcoming third collection High Nowhere;
first published in Raceme, Summer 2022, issue no. 13

Publications:
The Bicycles of Ice and Salt, 2021, IDP
Fan-peckled, 2021, Fair Acre Press
How Time is in Fields, 2019, IDP
Not Lost Since Last Time, 2013, Oversteps Books
Understories, 2019, Whalebone Music

Jean Atkin website
 

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Julie Sampson

Julie Sampson’s poetry is widely published and she’s been listed in various competitions. Her collections are Tessitura, It Was When It Was When It Was and Fivestones. She researches and writes about the lost history of Devon women writers.

We are hooked

by the tips of twigs in the linhay-field hedge.
She reels us, reels us in.
 
We, her ladybird t-shirted children
slip inside, fit snugly in the hollow
of her branch-nest bower,
swaddled in the coil of her moss-lined palm.
 
A chattery congregation, tiny twittery finch,
a dormouse, the rarer fritillary –
all pitch in with the chit-chat
of marginals, telling us how much she loves us.
We are her traveller’s joy.
 
Afraid of losing us
she lathes, then swashes our faces
with her wild-rose leaves,
 
her willows brush our long-hair tangles
and in the ambient whispers of sweet nothings
we lull to sleep in the canopy’s swing-harmonies –
backed by harps of hawhorn, beech, ash.
 
Knowing we are hers
we lie on our backs on her oak-leaf bunks
conjuring the scene –
 
Nancy and Peggy
at the helm
negotiate the Amazonian storm.
 

Julie Sampson

first published in Dawntreader in collection Fivestones, Lapwing Publications, 2022.

Collections:
Fivestones, Lapwing Publications, 2022, ISBN 978-1-7391642-7-0;
Tessitura, Shearsman Books, 2013, ISBN 978-1-84861-239-6;
as editor Mary Lady Chudleigh; Selected Poems, Shearsman Books, 2009, ISBN 978-1-84861-048-4

Julie Sampson website
 
e-mail

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Lucy Crispin

Lucy Crispin is a former Laureate of South Cumbria and a person-centred therapist. Inspired by the natural world and the life of the spirit, she’s also interested in the way experience shapes us. She writes to celebrate the everyday extraordinary.

witness

Not 200 yards up the bridleway from where
the rabbit kit lies 4-by-4-ed on the tarmac,
its cream-fringed honey-brown coney
slashed with the pale pink sheen of gut –
clean still, not yet found by birds or flies;
 
in the muddy field corner, beyond
the white-flocked blackthorn, the glistening
red pennant of afterbirth still trails
behind the ewe whose head dips
to lick at her trembling, baggy-skinned young.
 
World-shocked, new to light and gravity,
shakily they lever themselves upright –
stand bemused, lift apprentice limbs, and crumple
onto mud, their untried bleats so faint
they scarcely trouble air. Nudged, nuzzled,
 
they blunder along her flanks, bunting her legs,
her rump, to find the waiting teats at last.
They butt. Comfort comes down, and quiet.
The ewe’s head lifts; she stares, and is still.
Startled by a walker’s footsteps, the pheasant
 
on the wall flounces magnificently off; crows
lift reluctantly from the tree – slow, deliberate,
like old men rising. The beauty and pathos
of all endeavour lie in the air: so many
endings and beginnings. Now. Forever.
 

Lucy Crispin

Published in Ver poets competition anthology 2019

Publications:
shades of blue, 2020, Hedgehog Press, ISBN 978-1-9134992-4-2, £7.99
wish you were here, 2020, Stickleback micro-pamphlets, Hedgehog Press, ISSN 2631-4126, £2

Lucy Crispin website
 

e-mail Lucy Crispin

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Marion Oxley

Marion Oxley is originally from Manchester but has been living amongst the flood plains of the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire for many years. Her poems are published widely in journals and anthologies.

Deluge

      after a Calderdale folktale of Gabriel Ratchets; spectral hounds and the hunting of Lady Sybil
     who takes the form of a doe and is also thought to be a witch.

 
The valley is saturated, full to the brim,
          a prayer bowl carried in anxious hands.
 
A woman strides out, walks the rim from moor to crag
          sings to the wind of the substance of things not seen.
 
Breath dances in droplets, shapes form in a mist
          spreading out beyond the black and white gates,
 
the lock unpicked, a question mark waiting; a cormorant
          lost, sea-wings spread; a crucifix in the cold sun.
 
A glide of Canada Geese heads held high
          hiss a warning, pink tongues quivering.
 
And the dog spoke of you last night
of the shiver of milk-white skin
of slender legs cleansed in the river
the pendulum swing of a racing heart
          of when suspicion slid to a stop
 
in the moonlight the turn and weight
of your belly, a boulder flung down
from the out-crop, the arch of your hips
sprung    making ready for the leap,
          flames licking at your heels.
 
You’ll burn in hell, they said.
 
Listen to the thrum coming up
          from underground, the hillside shifting, the movement.
 
In the rush and swell, push to the surface     a split in bedrock.
 
Riven   granite clouds   release a yelp   a howl left circling
          the siren’s wail chasing tales out across the valley.
 

Marion Oxley

Second prize in The Red Shed Poetry Competition 2019. Published in a pamphlet of winning poems by Currock Press.

e-mail Marion Oxley

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Nicolette Golding

Nic has had stuff published in a few poetry journals, a couple of London buses and some anthologies.

The Seal Wife

I do OK, attend the W.I., make a nice Victoria sponge, am sociable, fit in.
My husband is a good man, works to fill our house with things,
But tell me why would a good man hide my skin?
 
I am lonely, hungry for the sea, tired of human company. He knows
my longings. I do as he does, go where he goes,
wheel my Tesco trolley in these heavy clothes,
 
eat far too much these days, weight’s piling on my hips and thighs.
I nibble mackerel in the bath, pour salt in, watch it dry,
Hide receipts, sit on rocks, cry.
 
Nights I pull on headphones, when we make love I close my eyes,
trawl CDs for echoes of my mother’s song. His body never tells me lies
but I go diving under softer skies
 
and when he falls away, sleep with one eye open.
Tomorrow I rise early, beloved one,
to search this place, as I have always done.

Nicolette Golding

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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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Thelma Laycock

Thelma Laycock is a poetry tutor and the founder of Gabriel magazine. Her work is widely published and has been translated into Hebrew, Italian, and Romanian. Her most recent collection is A Difference in Direction (Indigo Dreams, 2015).

Nocturne in blue

It was often like that
if he came in first and she followed,
not so bad the other way round
but on a Friday or Saturday night
not totally unexpected
 
I could hear his key in the lock
heard the shaking, bronchitic cough
so I knew it was him:
I ran half-way down the stairs
seeking my usual shivering place
where they couldn’t see me
in case it blew over
 
But that night it was loud;
her Auntie Elsie’s clock, a wedding present,
came sailing through the air, lay broken,
I raced out to intercept his flying fists –
my little sister close behind me –
two soldiers in blue pyjamas
in the crossfire of battle
 
In the morning at school desks
we re-lived the night
dipping our pens into deep wells of ink
seeing Mam’s moon-pale face,
the purple fingermarks at her throat.
 

Thelma Laycock

in collection, A Difference in Direction, 2015, Indigo Dreams; in anthology, Her Wings of Glass, 2014, Second Light Publications.

Publications:
collection, A Difference in Direction, 2015, Indigo Dreams, £7.99, ISBN 978-1-909357-61-7;
collection, A Persistence of Colour, 2011, Indigo Dreams, £5.99. ISBN 978-1-907401-49-7;
pamphlet collection, Chameleon Days, 2007, Feather Press, £3.50 (sold in aid of Lakota Link), ISBN 978-1-84175-277-8

web-pages on poetry p f
 
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