Featured Poets, October 2021                     home page
 

Ann Milton       Elizabeth Rapp       Kaye Lee       Melinda Lovell (poem since removed)       Alison Brackenbury       Carolyn O Connell       Elizabeth Birchall       Jean Atkin (poem since replaced)      Maggie Norton       Myra Litton (poem since removed)
Ruth Sharman       Susan Davies       Vivien Foulkes-James (poem since removed)      

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 Milton

After 25 years in Belgium, Ann Milton is preparing for the adventure of returning to the UK, an adventure which will furnish her with more poems as she draws on the daily life of herself and her family.

Not Drowning

Her descent through the water slows,
the threatening storm
no longer pulls her down, even creates
 
her buoyancy. Freed from
helplessness in a downward torrent
she begins to stretch out weary legs –
 
too light a motion to be called swimming, yet
the first sign of hope since the day she heard
her daughter had became her son.
 
The water grows warmer as her body reaches
for the light shimmering through the waves
still far above. The weight drains away
 
and empowers her to rise. She knows
life will never be the same again, lungs
made raw by long submersion, fingers frozen
 
in the unexplored depths: yet she laughs
because the dark fear of this time
has become the strength she needs.
 

Ann Milton

e-mail Ann Milton

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Elizabeth Rapp

Elizabeth Rapp lives in Somerset. She runs residential and day poetry workshops at various South West venues. She is a graduate teacher, Lay Minister, and has worked with the homeless and with children.

Ice Garden

I begged him for a garden,
hollyhocks and delphiniums.
He gave me grottoes of ice.
No birds sing here: only the sound
of moonlight dreaming snow at midnight.
 
I have become bone carved from ice.
I spin on a needle’s point,
watched by an angel huddled
in snow with icebound wings;
his stricken face as I twirl and twirl.
 
Those dark and subtle hands
have locked me in this kingdom,
this palace of death-white ice.
Floors are as slippery as his lies.
I wander through cubes of refracted light
 
where indigo and jade dance on my silver dress,
turn into birds of paradise.
But today a small brown bird
perched on my wrist, then
gave me a pomegranate seed
from his beak.

Elizabeth Rapp

Poem: Winner of the A.A. Sanders poetry prize, 2000
 
Publications:
Dancing on Bones, full collection, Rockingham Press, 2000.
Living Proof, The Amate Press, Oxford.
Hare and Sixpence, The Rigmal Press, Devon
A CD of Elizabeth’s poems is available, 7, direct from Elizabeth.

The Lodge
Dillington
Ilminster
Somerset
TA19 9EH
 
tel: 01460 259898
 
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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Alison Brackenbury

Born in Lincolnshire, 1953. Lives in Gloucestershire, works in family metal-finishing business. Seven collections of poetry published, received both Eric Gregory and Cholmondeley Awards. Competition judge. Tutor for the Poetry School. Main aim: smuggling poems out to wide world.

No

No one is ever good enough,
or kind enough.
No one stays awake
through the lovely rush of rain which fills our dark.
No one can hold the music.
They are counting coins or frowning
they are toppling, they are drowning.
No one is good.
 
But nothing is as quick as us,
no screen can match us
tape’s whirr catch us
nothing tilts like sun
to light from sad.
Nothing in all history
can reach to take your hand from me,
the dark, the rain’s gift, O
we should be glad.
 

Alison Brackenbury

Poem published: The Times Literary Supplement.

Selection of Publications, all Carcanet:
Singing in the Dark, 2008, ISBN 1 85754 914 7
Bricks and Ballads, 2004, ISBN 1 85754 751 9
After Beethoven, 2000, ISBN 185754 454
Selected Poems, 1991, ISBN 085635 924 6

Address:
c/o Carcanet Press
4th Floor, Alliance House
28-34 Cross Street,
Manchester
M2 7AQ
 
Alison Brackenbury web-site

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Carolyn O’Connell

Four poems have been published in ‘Mirrored Voices’ An Anthology of Emerging Poetsfrom around the world. It was incepted by the American fiction/non fiction author Paul Morabito.

Kettle

My blue kettle has stood for years on the kitchen counter.
Boiled innumerably over years:
cups of tea, coffee, hot water for cooking, or a winter’s bed bottle;
gently doing its job – unacknowledged!
 
This morning as I lift it to fill it with water for a coffee
a shaft of sun glitters over its old surface.
 
I stop, my hand raised between the handle and tap
listening to the water running –
 
my thoughts pour-back to that old farmhouse
where water was precious – the only source
a single tap that piped rainwater from an open concrete tank
unfit for drinking, only for boiling.
 
Even in age my aunt twice daily, would hang two white metal buckets
on the handlebars of her bike, ride/walk to the pump
fill them with spring water, her only drinking water.
 
I look again at the kettle and recognize other women
who today have the same task: –
for drinking water is the source of life
prized by them as without a single bucket or bottle
they die.
 

Carolyn O’Connell

Poem published in Reach Poetry 300, 25 Anniversary Edition

Collection: Timelines, Indigo Dreams, 2014, ISBN 978-1-909357-53-2, £7.99
Anthology: Mirrored Voices Emerging Poets Anthology, Star Investment Strategies LLC, 2015, ISBN 978-1-5077107-1-5, £6.95.

Tel: 07950 395607
 
web-pages on poetry p f
 
Carolyn O’Connell blog
 
e-mail

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Elizabeth Birchall

Elizabeth is long retired from social work, management and policy research. In her beloved Cotswolds, she fills her time with writing, reading, gardening, friends and pressing governments to do better! Her poems have appeared in numerous literary and poetry magazines.

OXFORD UNITED:
Luminox, March, 2007

They set Broad Street ablaze last week,
Expelled the cars and bikes,
Brought in two ambulances in case.
Cowley and North Oxford, all ages, mixed
In slow and quiet amazement
Inching along the crowded street.
 
A flaring pendulum hung from a bamboo spire
And swung a thousand slow rotations
In notation of the city’s age.
Black against orange glow, children clung
To railings, agog at pots of fire swagged
From the Clarendon's sober pediment.
 
Blazing at each meridian and latitude, a sphere
Lit, vivified the New Bodleian hulk.
A telescopic crane stretched into the dark
Bearing a chandelier whose blaze
Extinguished the stars with infinitely more
Élan than the usual sodium lights.
 
The gale tore banners of flame
From braziers and stove pipes
Red, yellow, white hot.
Galaxies of sparks blew in the cold night
And wrapped around crowds wondering
To be allowed so intimate
With such untamed energy.

Elizabeth Birchall

Publications: The Forest That Sailed Away

tel: 01608 677271
 
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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Maggie Norton

Maggie is South Cumbria Poet Laureate 2007, and is having a wonderful time as Cumbria ambassador for poetry here and abroad. She is a writing tutor at Lancaster University. She adores waterways and lakes, preferably steering a 1.5hp Mariner engine on an orange inflatable.

Mrs Tennyson is Interviewed in the Morning Room at Farringford

And Life with the Great Poet?

I feel so privileged, being Alfred’s helpmeet
copying his works, for his hand is clarity itself.
All correspondence I attempt to answer in his style
and ink the pens for signatures during tea.

Interests?

Oh, yes, indeed, of course I have.
His poems I set to music on the pianoforte
and compose the hymns for family celebrations.

Between ourselves, my dear, I confess
to writing fiction of an autobiographical derivation,
but pray don’t make a note of that, for he
does not know of it but it is a comfort
that I might show it to the grandchildren.

Encouraged?

I always have, yes indeed.
Being late to marry at thirty-six
I had a very full life before and during
our long engagement, when dear Alfred
and I together made a name for him.

Family Life?

He’s built a sphere of love around us
in the houses I run both here and Aldworth.
So much to thank God and dear Alfred for,
so much, so much, and bless him,
he allows me to place upon his desk
handwritten notes (in what he charmingly
calls ‘my poetic prose’) on subjects
he might care to work up into poems.

Ah, yes – your interests?

Though not so much of late have I attended
to his needs, being easily fatigued
with a weary dragging pain that chains
me to this sofa, and dear Alfred
is so patient with what he terms
‘a womanly trouble’. He is my rock,
my fortress and my strength. What would I do without him?

Maggie Norton

Poem: Strokestown International Poetry Competition
in collection Onions and Other Intentions

Recent Pamphlets:
Onions and Other Intentions, 2012, Indigo Dreams, ISBN 978-1907401565, £7.99
Making Hay, with videopoem, commissioned for Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust and Sedbergh Book Town, in collaboration with videographer Kate Harrison Whiteside;
The Bundle on the Dresser, with DVD. The story of Tom, a hill farmer who wants his son to take over the farm. Then foot and mouth disease arrives;
Kurt Schwitters–in Praise of Life, a commissioned poem for radio, now with CD of two voices reading, with Maggie’s music.

web-page on wordmarket.org.uk

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Ruth Sharman

Ruth Sharman’s poems and translations are widely published and prize-placements include the National & Troubadour. ‘Scarlet Tiger’ won the Straid Collection Award 2016. A new collection is due from Templar in 2021, focussing on her Indian roots.

Fragments

So, where does time go?
All the days of our lives,
the hours we’ve spent waiting
for buses, or rehearsing
conversations round and round
in our heads? Isn’t it there still,
located in brain cells,
each moment freighted
with every moment gone
before, the memory of people,
places, things? Fragments
reach us now and then
from those distant galaxies –
tiny, random and bright,
like that moment in the garden
when we stood watching
a trail of mercury in sunlight,
so far away we couldn’t be sure
if they were geese or swans.
 

Ruth Sharman

Poem first published in Scarlet Tiger, 2016, Templar Poetry;
reprinted in Staying Human, 2020, Bloodaxe Books

Publications:
Scarlet Tiger, 2016, Templar Poetry
Birth of the Owl Butterflies, 1997, Picador (available from the poet)
Two + Two, 1997, Staple First Editions (anthology)
The Cansos and Sirventes of the Troubadour Giraut de Borneil, 1989, CUP

Ruth Sharman website
 

e-mail Ruth Sharman

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Susan Davies

I am a retired lecturer in English Literature. I write poetry and short stories and I have just completed a memoir, and I’m now working on a novel. I contine to write poetry as it is my first love.

23 Fitzroy Road, Primrose Hill

What picture soothed the mind’s eye
and brought her to life again?
Maybe the white pillow case on the line
puffed up and puckered like a barnacle goose.
 
Or the memory of my first love,
waiting for me in his room, while I
a callow, skimp of a girl – barely
seventeen, and not yet broken in –
carelessly lingered by the landing
window, where below, over the fence,
I saw a young mother, pegging
out nappies in the snow along
a frosted loop of rope – her red hair
plaited and coiled like a coronet
to frame the loveliness of her face.
 
And I found myself caught in the silent
beauty and rhythm of her movement –
arching down, and reaching up
on the ringing, frosted path –
her raw, worn hands pinching
the corners of her parchment poetry –
her masterpieces stretched out to dry.
 
I didn’t know then that her mirrors
were already sheeted, and her spirit
demised with every shot of breath.
I didn’t know she wanted a sarcophagus
stamped with the face of the moon – bold, too, with tigery stripes,
and her body embalmed in warm
honey to lie beside her copper cauldron
and rouge-pots, glowing vermillion
like the eyes of a predatory god.
And her heart to be wrapped
in brown paper, tied up with string
and tucked between her bare, crossed feet.
 

Susan Davies

23 Fitzroy Road is a prize winning poem: Sentinel Poetry competition, September 2012

Publications:
Short Story, Crake’s Troll, published in collection Significant Spaces,
Earlyworks Press, 2013, ISBN 978-1-9064518-6-8 £8.99

Susan Davies at poetry p f
 

e-mail Susan Davies

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