Featured Poets, Oct 2023                     home page
 

Elizabeth Soule       Jo Peters       Kathryn Southworth       Margaret Wilmot       Maureen Weldon       Niki Strange       Sarah Westcott      

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)  

Elizabeth Soule

Elizabeth Soule studied English and Philosophy at Nottingham University and taught English for many years. She is a member of the Suffolk Poetry Society and has had work published in the Norwich Writers’ Circle Anthology.

December 2011, a Memory of August 1968
   for Vaclav Havel

In a starless chill before dawn
we stood by the water’s edge,
tiny points of candle-light,
as a solitary flute sang out our misery
to the vastness of a dark sea.
 
Some had crouched over the radio all night
and guessing the worst,
had woken us
to stumble from tents to our hopeless vigil,
while hundreds of miles away
another kind of darkness rumbled over the frontier,
grinding the dreams of Spring
beneath remorseless tracks.
 
Then in bitter, barren silence
one by one each candle was extinguished,
our futile tribute
to those who dared to dream.
 
But hope and freedom are seeds that will not sleep
and the dust of dreams is fertile ground.
Small bright shoots split stone
Shatter concrete,
their progress more inexorable
than any trundling tank.
 
The brave gardener whose fearless tending
of improbable seedlings
gave us back belief,
now returns himself to the nurturing earth
and reminds us
that when the darkness seems most complete,
dawn is not so far away.
 

Elizabeth Soule

Poem published in PEN anthology Write to be Counted, 2017

Elizabeth Soule’s poem, December 2011, a Memory of August 1968 (for Vaclav Havel) was selected as Second Light’s ‘Poem of the Year’ from those on the home page for 2017/2018.
Listen to the poem here

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Jo Peters

Jo Peters lives in Yorkshire and has been published in various magazines and anthologies and has been successful in several competitions. Her pamphlet Play was published in 2015 by Otley Word Feast Press.

Goddess

Driving, I caught a glimpse
of Botticelli’s Venus
wearing blue jeans
walking over Otley bridge
where the swift Wharfe
had swirled her ashore.
 
She knows the mill girl
who dawdles by the forge
as the muscled smith
leans his back against
a massive flank to tip
up the feathered fetlock.
 
She smiles at the lad
herding his flustered sheep
across the bridge
who will take his thirst
to the barmaid at the Black Bull
when the selling is done.
 
She sees the nursemaid
in Tittybottle Park turn,
push her charge up the hill
to New Hall where
the gardener’s boy once
threw her a rose.
 
The goddess steps
aside as the young folk,
now uniformed, homework
downloaded, throng up
to Prince Henry’s School where
the desire lines of courtship abide.
 
The invisible wind strews no roses,
but it whips her hair,
her glorious corn-coloured hair
that lifts, streams away
from the perfection
of her oval tilted face.
 

Jo Peters

Poem published in Surprise View, Poems About Otley, Otley Word feast Press, 2015

Publications:
Play, 2015, Otley Word Feast Press, ISBN, 978-0-9927616-5-3

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Kathryn Southworth

Kathryn Southworth, known as elmvillagepoet, is a retired academic. She was a founding fellow of the English Association, Vice Principal of Newman University College, review manager for QAA, governor in mental health and Rose Bruford Drama College.

Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls

Stopped outside Wigan Station on a rainy Tuesday
my eyes are drawn to writing on a factory wall – sweets –
and round the corner you can just make out
Uncle Joe’s mint balls keep…
 
Then childhood sweeps back on me –
my godfather, gentleman farmer, exotic
with Wigan accent and red wig, pressing on everyone
a sticky bag of amber globules –
these’ll keep thee warm.
 
His green eyes were the colour of country
to a town child, and the pocket watch
in his best black waistcoat shone
with the glamour of long ago.
 
My train moves on, and the writing on the wall
comes into full view, so now I know and how
could I forget – Uncle Joe’s mint balls
keep you all aglow.

Kathryn Southworth

Poem published in Between the Lines, City LIt Anthology

Publications:
Someone was here, 2018, Indigo Dreams Publishing, ISBN 978-1-910834-90-9
Wavelengths, poetry pamphlet with Belinda Singleton, June 2019, Dempsey and Windle, ISBN 978-1-907435-85-0

e-mail Kathryn Southworth

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Margaret Wilmot

Born in California, now living in Sussex. I am drawn by imaginative associations… memory, landscape, ideas, paintings, words. Writing, for me, is a tool for seeing; making connections, refining perception, always a search, some kind of amorphous truth the goal.

Clay-Lady

1
 
As Eve
 
The clay-lady steps forth
innocent as the child whose hands fashioned
arm-paws, hair-cape, the apple
she raises high as a chalice.
 
Her awkward radiance proclaims
a miracle: the first apple!
 
Salt-shine sprinkles her frock. A smile
cracks wide her face, emits kiln-light, and in its glow
we too see miracles:
 
a lump of clay – and look –
 
 
2
 
In Amsterdam
 
A clay-lady moves through
pewter streets. Her salt-freckled frock shimmers;
she leans high into her apple.
 
The burghers’ narrow hammered houses
cannot contain this fire-fangled clay. A smile cracks
wide her face, emits kiln-light.
 
 
3
 
In New York on a winter afternoon
 
The apple-woman sits
in the pewter chair, moon dimming in her lap.
Dusk filters through the gritty window,
absorbs, effaces
 
her salt-grey skirts, the strong dough-grey arms.
Her fire-fangled yearning salts
the moon with light.
 

Margaret Wilmot

Poem published in ARTEMISpoetry, Issue 8, May 2012

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Maureen Weldon

Maureen Weldon’s awards include: Highly Commended, SWWJ, Elizabeth Longford Trophy Poetry Competition, 2006. Her work is published in: Crannog, Poetry Scotland, Snakeskin, Ink Sweat & Tears, Coffee House. Autumn 2014, first pamphlet collection to be published by Poetry Space Ltd.

La Valse

The young woman winks at me
she will carry on and on,
seventy is no age at all.
Not like the nineteen fifties
a carbon copy of your Mum,
who always wore respectability,
the pleated skirt, the short tight perm,
the purple rinse.
But the young woman in a miniskirt,
or hotpants, with good legs and small
shapely breasts. Who along the way
acquired four husbands, one daughter
and a disappointed heart.
Until you, old poet-man
took her by the hand and she knew,
that sure as the stars dance in the heavens
seventy is no age at all.
 

Maureen Weldon

La Valse: runner-up in the Wirral Poetry Festival International Poetry Competition 2023
judged by David J. Costello, and featured reading at the prize-giving event.

Publications:
The Waking Hour, 2021, Red Squirrel Press. £6;
Midnight Robin 2014, Poetry Space Ltd, ISBN 978-1-909404-14-4
Breakfast at Kilumney, 2010, Poetry Monthly Press, ISBN 978-1-9063573-1-3. £5;
Earth Tides, 2002, Poetry Monthly Press, ISBN 1-90303-12-9. £4;
To Change These Hours, 2004, Kite Modern Poetry Series, ISBN 0-907759-39-4. £5.95;
Of Crossed Wires, 1996, Wire Poetry Booklet Series, ISBN 1-900462-60-5. £4;
Leap, 1993, Envoi Poets Publications, ISBN 1-874161-01-1. £5

Address:
3 Byrn Emlyn
Pentre Halkyn
Holywell
 
e-mail Maureen Weldon

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Niki Strange

Niki Strange won second prizes in the Sussex Poetry Competition 2019 and Second Light 2021. Published by Lighthouse, Flight of the Dragonfly, The Storms and Hedgehog, she was Arts Council funded poet in residence for Macmillan’s Horizon centre, 2020.

I can write myself

into an open top car,
careering on corniche roads
in the Cote d’Azur’s brûlée noon.
 
No factor 50,
for the facts of my melanoma
are of little consequence.
 
All is shadow-less velocity.
I am heliotropic to the blazing sun,
lit up, let loose.
 
Letter by letter,
I am matter transported.
Written reckless.
 
I can write myself
 
sprung from a high board,
suspended in defiance
of Earth’s pull,
 
my balance restored.
Lost nodes, radiated breast,
sleeved right arm
 
parts of this new entirety
that tucks, revolves
then plunges
 
as steel into the
quenching water.
Written stronger.  

Niki Strange

Second Prize in Second Light competition 2021;
poem published in Stickleback XXXI (Hedgehog) and Flights e-journal (Flight of the Dragonfly Press) 2021
and nominated for Forward, Pushcart and Best of the Web prizes.

Publication:
Body Talk, Flight of the Dragonfly Press, 2022
Close Up – poems on cancer (anthology), Orchard Lea Books, 2022

Niki Strange website
 
e-mail Niki Strange

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Sarah Westcott

Sarah has an MA in creative writing from Royal Holloway and has been widely published. She won the Awel Aman Tawe poetry competition and has been a runner-up in the Mslexia competition three times. Her debut pamphlet, Inklings, is out now.

Pool

I wait, quickening,
reflecting light,
holding darkness.
Will a hand break my skin,
rise out, bearing a knife?
 
Feel the fingers of a child,
stirring. Dog tongue;
ticklish, urgent.
Indents of rain
or tears –
a wish-bone, drifting.
 
Look down
to see my bed
ribbed with light,
soft and rich -
all the bright coins.
 
When the moon is high
lie on the bank,
come close,
smell wet clay,
breath, returned.
 
Sense your unborn
coming up,
her daughter
and her daughter,
each ripple
clear as plainsong.
 

Sarah Westcott

Votive wombs were offered to the gods to help with fertility problems in Etruscan times. They were left by sacred pools, much like coins are thrown into wishing wells today.
 

Publications:
Inklings, 2013, Flipped Eye, ISBN-10: 1-905233-39-6 £4

Sarah Westcott blog
 
e-mail Sarah Westcott

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