Featured Poets, November/December 2021                     home page
 

Angela Croft       Caroline Carver       Gill Learner       Judith Taylor       Kaye Lee       Maria Jastrzębska       Maureen G Coppack       Pam Zinnemann-Hope       Susan Jane Sims       Vivien Foulkes-James (poem since removed)       Wendy Pettifer      

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 Carver

Caroline Carver: I’m not a Jamaican or a Bermudian or a Canadian or even a Cornishwoman but a curious mid-Atlantic mixture of all of these with a bit of Inuit thrown in and therefore somewhat like a coelacanth: confused about origins and the big Why?

Sedna the Sea Goddess

The bird turned into a man
so beautiful
snow lay on his shoulders
like ermine

was he petrel or fulmar?
he didn’t say
 
At first he came
only in dreams
one summer night
lay with her
 
at dawn she left her house
to marry him
 
Who could explain
her father’s rage?
His storms reached
across oceans
 
she knew full joy
only six days     before
 
he killed her husband
threw her in his umiak –
pushed her overboard
when winds frightened him
 
she wouldn’t give in
gripped the boat so hard
he had to chop her fingers off
one by one
did not know
as she sank into her new Kingdom
 
they would transform
become    whales   narwhals   seals   walruses…
 
Among those she loves best
Singing Midshipmen
fish which  like humpback whales
sing to the seabirds
 
make sailors who hear them
believe in mermaids

Caroline Carver

Poem published: Acumen.

Publications:
Three Hares, Oversteps Books, 2009. ISBN 978-1-906856-06-9, £8
Jigharzi An Me, Semicolon Press, 2000. ISBN 0-9533525-2-8, £6.95 (from Caroline)
Bone-Fishing, Peterloo Poets, 2005, ISBN 1-904324-32-0, £7.95

address:
Michaelmas Cottage
14 Passage Hill
Mylor
Cornwall
TR11 5SN
UK
 
web-pages on poetry p f
 
e-mail

Copyright© of all poems featured on this site remains with the poet

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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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Judith Taylor

Judith Taylor lives in Aberdeen, where she co-organises the monthly Poetry at Books and Beans events. Her first full-length collection, Not in Nightingale Country, is published by Red Squirrel Press, and she is one of the Editors of Poetry Scotland.

Requiem

   (after a sculpture by Barbara Hepworth in Aberdeen City Art Gallery)
 
You want to think
it’s a human shape. It isn’t
quite.
 
You want to think it’s a bone flute
for the wind to play, but too much
is eroded out.
 
You want to think
that smooth surface resigns itself:
a ruined tree, made furniture.
 
You want to think its pierced places
fill with light, when the heart of it
is a pool of shadow.
 
You want to think.
You want some form of containment
the form itself will not give
 
for memory
for enduring grief.
You want an explanation.
 
You circle it
closer in this time.
There isn’t an explanation.
 

Judith Taylor

Poem published in Not in Nightingale Country (Red Squirrel Press, 2017)

Publications:
Not in Nightingale Country, Red Squirrel Press, 2017. ISBN 978-1-910437-69-8 £8.99
Local Colour, chapbook, Calder Wood Press, 2010, ISBN 978-1-902629-34-6. £4.50. (out of print. contact author for copies)
Earthlight, chapbook, Koo Press, 2006, ISBN 9780955307539 £3.50 (out of print)

Judith Taylor website
 
e-mail

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Kaye Lee

An Australian living in North London. Retired from nursing – time now to pursue a love of poetry. Published in various magazines and a prize winner in several competitions.

Hand in Hand

Years ago I held your hands
to guide you on the long
walk to hospital. Beneath
their patches your eyes
oozed tears to wash away
woodchips thrown there
by the giant saw.

Your hands were large,
calloused. Black sap
emphasized lines and folds,
darkened every nail. Skin,
brown and tough from the sun,
still let splinters skewer in –
you’d prise them out with Mum’s
fattest darning needle.

Though I led you, all
the strength of our bond
lay in your hands not
in my small, anxious
eight-year-old fingers.

When I hold your hands again
to help you from your wheelchair
mine are the weathered, rough hands,
yours are Persil white, baby soft.
You do not recall the pain
of penetrating wood and your hands,
calm, delicately trusting, accept
that now the strength is mine.

Kaye Lee

email

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Maria Jastrzębska

Maria Jastrzębska’s fifth collection is Small Odysseys (Waterloo Press 2022). She co-edited Queer in Brighton (New Writing South 2014) and was the writer for cross-arts project “Snow Q” (2020). Her work is translated into Polish and Romanian.

Old Knives

Old knives lie still
in wooden drawers, lined
 
with shiny paper. They smell
of rust, belong to a family
 
of broken scissors, brass
tongs, tarnished platters
 
and screws stored in tobacco tins.
You could clean round them.
 
They lack conviction. Old knives
can’t cut in straight lines
 
anymore, but their handles
fit warmly into your hand.
 

Maria Jastrzębska

Poem published: Zlati Coln / Golden Boat 2006, Apokalipsa 2007 Zlati čoln/Golden Boat mednarodna prevajalska delavnica Društvo Apokalipsa

Latest collections:
Small Odysseys, Waterloo Press, 2022;
Syrena, Redbeck Press

web-pages on poetry p f
 
e-mail Maria

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Maureen G Coppack

Maureen lives in North Wales. Poems published in Iota, Poetry Nottingham, Other Poetry, Second Light, Helicon, and various other magazines. Success in local competitions. Chapbooks: Shared Ground and Turtle Stone. She is currently working on a new collection, Alternatives.

Wading Through Green

It would have been a July afternoon
with everyone piling out into the sun.
And I remember the dog rose blooming
in a flush of pink, as we waded through green meadows,
hunting for lucky leaves among the purple clover.
 
Then someone made a daisy chain, and suddenly
we were all crowned in gold and white,
and there were butterflies,
(orange tip, common blue, cabbage white)
dancing around our heads.
 
And I recall those colours midsummer bright,
but any sounds have slipped away.
Memory runs a silent film, which is strange
and sad, because I’m sure, so very sure,
that all our hearts were singing.

Maureen G Coppack

Publications: Chapbooks, Shared Ground and Turtle Stone

e-mail

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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

Copyright© of all poems featured on this site remains with the poet

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Susan Jane Sims

Susan Jane Sims lives in Dorset with husband, Chris. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies. She founded the publishing company Poetry Space in 2010.

Bearing Gifts

A friend
has brought you
a book called Mortality,
by Christopher Hitchens.
The friend is a father,
almost twice over.
I could not think of anything
more appropriate

he said.
 
Another brings scrabble
and we play
on the end of your hospital bed.
On the white sheet you helped
the hca draw and tuck,
and demonstrate your skill
with hospital corners.
 
I find I have the letters
to spell tumour,
Instead I put down m o u t
up against h from hope.
 
A group club together
for expensive whiskey,
wrap it in pink tissue
you carefully peel away
like skin. You can imagine the sips
of liquid gold on your tongue.
Making it last.
Wondering who or what will
outlive who or what.
 
These days
have been surreal.
Secrets have been passed on
for you to guard.
Your hand has been held
through a long and wakeful night.
You have been told a hundred times
that you are loved.
 
The staff bring you every report
and test result. Offer to show you the scan.
call you respectfully, Dr Sims
and you wish yourself
into the role of blissful patient
with faith and blind trust.
What’s done can’t be undone.
What’s learnt becomes both curse and blessing.
 
First morning alone you ring
I’ve been writing
my best man speech for Dave
, you say.
What’s he going to do without me?
What are we all going to do
I say
without you in our lives.
 

Susan Jane Sims

My son Mark was diagnosed in February 2015 with Stage 4 metastatic cancer in lung, liver, spleen and gall bladder. It was also discovered later in his brain and his tonsils. The primary cancer was a malignant melanoma on his scalp when he was 15.
 
Mark died on 19th January 2017 aged 28.

published in Reach magazine in June, 2015. (edition 201)

Publications:
Splitting Sunlight, Dempsey and Windle, 2019. ISBN 978-1-9074357-9-9
Irene’s Daughter, Poetry Space Ltd, ISBN 978-0-9565328-2-4
A number of things you should know, Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2015, ISBN 978-1-9093576-8-6

Susan’s Poetry Space website
 
e-mail Susan

Copyright© of all poems featured on this site remains with the poet

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Wendy Pettifer

Wendy Pettifer has been writing poems since a teenager. Her first book was published during lockdown; her second, ‘The Witching Hour’, should be out in summer 2021. Her poems reflect life as a legal aid lawyer, lover, mum and traveller.

The Witching Hour

It’s in the dead of night that we decide
The witching hour when women choose their Fates
Our inner ear alert to tempting whispers
From those who ride the moon and reach the stars
Luring us into dreams of choice and change.
Husbands snoring gently by our sides
Children cocooned in maternal lullabies
 
It’s in the early hours that I creep home
From lazing with a lean and hungry man
Tattoed and pierced, sperm spent, satiated.
I cycle fast through smoky inner-city early haze
Open my door before the children wake, my partner stirs.
 
It’s when the men work far away
That we try other softer pleasures.
Snuggle curved like spoons behind each other’s cheeks
Listen to the seaside gulls cry for freedom
Wonder whether we should go home.
 
It’s down amongst the dirty dishes,
Scattered shoes, squashed toys, crummy carpets
We know those voices as our own
And keep them quiet within our hearts
Waiting for another Witching Hour
 

Wendy Pettifer

from collection The Witching Hour, 2021

Publications:
The Witching Hour, self-published, 2021
Lovelines, self-published. Available @lovelines.net or via Twitter account @WendyPettifer or from Pages Bookshop in Hackney

Wendy Pettifer website
 

e-mail Wendy Pettifer

Copyright© of all poems featured on this site remains with the poet

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