Featured Poets, September 2021                     home page
 

Mary Anne Smith Sellen       Dilys Wood       Joy Howard       Margaret Eddershaw       Niki Strange       Anne Ryland       Daphne Gloag       Jane McLaughlin       Judith Taylor       Mary Wight       Patricia Helen Wooldridge       Sue Wallace-Shaddad       Veronica Zundel      

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)  

Mary Anne Smith Sellen

Mary Anne Smith Sellen’s work has been recognised in both national and international competitions, also widely published in print and online. She was longlisted in the 2023 Indigo Dreams First Collection competition.

Autumn Leaves

     (For Louis MacNeice)
 
A tree always knows when its leaves have passed their season,
slips them off unobtrusively, lets the wind spirit them away.
Suddenly, all that’s left is a row of empty hangers.
But tricks of memory keep fleshing shapes, expecting colour;
absence is itself a form of presence.
 
A spider will fling a single silken thread up into the breeze,
wait until it’s caught by a distant, beckoning branch,
then make an unperceived escape across the chasm of the night
to wake gleaming, in the shrouded autumn dawn.
A dying star within a star, fallen from the roof of the sky.
 
The language of last roses still faintly resonates with love,
heads down and eyes averted, a promise never quite fulfilled.
Yet just enough remains to save a hibernating heart,
their message breathed through barely parted lips –
I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
 

Mary Anne Smith Sellen

Published in Wildfire Words online anthology on the theme of Leaves and Leaving.

e-mail Mary Anne Smith Sellen

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Dilys Wood

Dilys Wood has connections to Wales, Yorkshire, London and Sussex. She returned to writing in late middle-age and founded Second Light in 1994, her interest in greater opportunities for women having been re-inforced by her experience as Secretary of the Women’s National Commission.

Dilys is the founder and organiser of Second Light Network. (see ‘More’ link below)

Mid-wife

A poem is as new as beginnings,
as fresh as the first day at school.
 
A poem is as bright as our admiration
for courage, our respect for freedom.
 
A poem is as early as the first leaf,
as white as the most swan-white cloud.
 
A poem is a drop of rain, a little
convex mirror with the prime of day in it.
 
A poem is so raw, so young that it has grown
no first, second or third skin.

Dilys Wood

Publications:
Antarctica, Greendale Press, 2008 (all proceeds to Second Light Network funds). Direct from Dilys, 5.95.
Women Come to a Death, Katabasis, 1997.

address: 3 Springfield Close
East Preston
West Sussex
BN16 2SZ
 
e-mail [NOTE: tiscali address is redundant. Please amend your record to btinternet address]

more...

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Joy Howard

Joy Howard’s poems have featured in several anthologies. Now retired from social services, she works as a freelance consultant, lecturer and editor. She is a co-founder of Grey Hen Press and a contributor to Grey Hen’s inaugural publication Second Bite.

Stranded

and anchored in a fretwork of foam
over sea-shimmering silver gilt sand
I’m bliss-basking like an old grey seal
beached and loving it
 
so till the seventh wave
lolls over me and nudges me back
to the sea   let your hands glide
over mounded flesh and soft pelt
while you plumb my fathomable eyes
and marvel at my stillness
 
believe me
I’m more graceful in water
 

Joy Howard

in collection Foraging, 2017, Arachne Press;
previously published in anthology Running Before the Wind,
2013, Grey Hen Press

tel: 01535 645711
 
Grey Hen Press
 
Joy at poetry p f
 
e-mail

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Margaret Eddershaw

Margaret took early retirement to live in Greece. She has had over 100 poems published individually and one collection, Spectators’ View (Peer Poetry International, 2002). In 2008: Cinnamon Press, Leaf Books, iota, Purple Patch and commendation in Barnet poetry competition.

Golden Rule

In a forgotten drawer
my father’s wooden rule,
brass-hinged to unfold
sideways and lengthways
for measuring boat timbers.
 
I hear the slap and click
of its closing,
before I can say ‘lifeboat’,
see it vanish
into that long pocket
on the thigh of blue overalls.
 
Indicator of his precision
love of numbers
a life measured
in feet and inches
business takings
cricket scores
football pools
bingo calls.
 
His emotions kept in check,
marked off by pencil,
held in columns,
buttoned up in cardigans,
till an outburst
a sea-squall soon past.
 
Now he’s gone to talk
spans and cubits
and dead-reckoning with Noah.

Margaret Eddershaw

Poem published: Iota, 2007

Publications: Collection, Spectators’ View, Peer Poetry International, 2002

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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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Anne Ryland

Anne Ryland’s first collection, Autumnologist, (Arrowhead Press, 2006) was shortlisted for The Forward Prize for Best First Collection (2007). Her poems are widely published in magazines and anthologies. She lives in Berwick-upon-Tweed, where she teaches adults and runs writing workshops for community groups.

For a Daughter

My name would not be your middle name.
 
You wouldn’t inherit my listomania, I promise:
I’d renounce list-making in honour of your birth.
 
The term Muscular Dystrophy would not be sewn within you.
 
I would not pass on my stony ova
or the euphemisms stuffed up the sleeve like handkerchiefs.
 
Thank You wouldn’t be your mantra; it trapped me at the amber light.
 
You wouldn’t stare at every dog and see only its bite.
 
You would never know that ‘worry’ derives from ‘wyrgan’, to strangle:
I’d lock the door to my mother’s worrymongery
 
but I would be your guide in the storehouse of the thesaurus,
assure you there’s no such curse as being too clever.
 
I’d even show you how to blow a trumpet in a long and steady tone.
 
My desk and my blue propelling pencil would be yours.
 
I’d hand you your great-grandmother’s last letter to her daughter
from the hospital – ‘bye bye, dear’
 
All my words would be yours, so you’d observe me on the page,
learn all that I am and was and should have been.
 
And, my daughter, each night I’d hum you a lullaby.
You would remember me as a song, not an apology.
 

Anne Ryland

Poem published: Mslexia, No. 34. Runner-up, Mslexia Women’s Poetry Competition, 2007.

Publications: Autumnologist, Arrowhead Press, 2006, ISBN 1-904852-11-4, £7.50.

Anne Ryland website
 
e-mail (via SLN)

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Daphne Gloag (1933-2024)

Daphne Gloag lives near London. Many poems have appeared in magazines etc, especially since she retired from medical publishing. A third book, Beginnings, is due in 2013. The end of the title poem won a Second Light competition first prize.

Daphne Gloag’s third poetry collection, Beginnings, was published by Cinnapress Press in 2013. The end of the title poem won a Second Light competition first prize.

Dark Matter *

That Volvo must be doing 70, I said
as we drove home from the museum. Words
as bridges, the road smooth as thought, sun low,
its brightness undone. Not so much traffic now.
Words as cushions. The engine’s so quiet, you said.
 
It was a kind of peace.
What did you like best today? I asked you. –
Well, the wise men – their huge star – on that ivory…
oh look at that,
I knew that car would pull out.
My silent agreement merged with the quiet.
 
Long as memory it seemed, the road:
it could have gone on for ever, knowing nothing
of the souls it carried.
Today, I said, won’t last for ever
but our poems will remember it.

 
Clarity of being, bright surfaces
plain to see. Nothing to explain, except the comfort
of the banality of breath, except the ease
of words and silence
smooth as our speed,
 
except the way
two beings were held together by their hidden life,
just as in the galaxies
what cannot be seen
holds together the luminous stars.
 

Daphne Gloag

*Invisible matter – dark matter – is generally thought to be the main reason for the gravity holding the galaxies together.
 

Poem published in earlier version in Ambit and, as part of the long poem sequence Beginnings, in the collection Beginnings and Other Poems.

Publications:
collection, Beginnings and Other Poems, 2013, Cinnamon Press, £8.99
collection, A Compression of Distances, 2009, Cinnamon Press, £7.99
collection, Diversities of Silence, 1995, Brentham Press, £4.50

Daphne Gloag at poetry p f
 
enquiry to Second Light

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Jane McLaughlin

‘Tightly-wrought sequences and lyrical pieces … poignant and often surprising’ (Katherine Gallagher). Jane McLaughlin writes poetry and fiction. She has been widely published in magazines/anthologies; her first collection is Lockdown (Cinnamon 2016).

The Lacemaker Travels to Seville

The silver hook slips to and fro.
Dark head bent over red sweater,
in the next seat she nets
a fine white band. Fingers arched,
thumbs steady. Turn of the wrist.
 
The train gallops the latifundios,
Cordoba fades behind golden hills.
Slant orange sun descending
paints white villages, backlights her hair.
The work grows, precise as frost.
 
Her small bones and tendons learnt
this craft from women whose maths
was in their heads, patterns
of chequered mesh, stars, flowers,
eloquent as a Moorish ceiling.
 
It does not need words: the yarn
is hooked into its own language.
In the lexicon of human gestures
her movements mean this and nothing else:
I am making lace.
 
Flowing like high cirrus
it will trim an alb, perhaps,
or christening robe. Maybe
hem a sister’s wedding dress.
A rite begun, tissue of spider’s breath.

Jane McLaughlin

Highly Commended, Torbay Open Poetry Competition, 2015

Publications:
Lockdown, 2016, Cinnamon Press, link
The Abbot’s Cat (e-novella), 2014, Cinnamon Press, (Kindle, avail from Amazon) link
Quintet (poetry), 2005, Cinnamon Press
Quartet (short stories), 2004, Cinnamon Press

twitter &MclaughlinJane3
at Facebook
Jane at poetry p f

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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
 
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Mary Wight

In 2017 Mary Wight returned to live in the Scottish Borders where she grew up, after spending most of her life in or around Edinburgh. She is hoping to push some of her poems into the shape of a slim publication if they will co-operate.

Feasting

She brought thoughts,
words rather than grapes,
slipped out among
laundered clothes.
 
Little offerings best
but today he wanted more
and she couldn’t deny him.
Her tongue spilled stories
 
he devoured, egged her on
until the cough again,
                            lunge
for a cardboard bowl.
 
After he risked a laugh,
as if to test
he could, it still worked.
It did …
 
that look in his eyes …
both of them wanted more.
He raised
a plastic tumbler, toasted the day.
 

Mary Wight

Poem published in Ink, Sweat & Tears, January 2020

e-mail Mary Wight

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Patricia Helen Wooldridge

Patricia Helen Wooldridge composes much of her poetry while walking in Hampshire. She has a D.Phil in creative writing from Sussex University and her poems have been published in many poetry journals.

Obituary

     I’m nobody! Who are you?
     Are you nobody, too?    (Emily Dickinson)
 
With herring-gull grey
knitted in to her jumper,
she spent her last years
living by the sea.
 
She could be seen standing
on the shoreline staring out,
even though there was nothing there,
there could be.
 
Hardly anyone noticed,
for she liked to be up at first light
fuelled by the crying gulls,
which never made her think of death
 
but only about being alive.
 

Patricia Helen Wooldridge

Poem published in ARTEMISpoetry, May 2016

Patricia Helen Wooldridge on poetry p f
 
e-mail Patricia Helen Wooldridge

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Sue Wallace-Shaddad

Sue Wallace-Shaddad is a Suffolk- based poet with an MA from The Poetry School/Newcastle University (2020). Her poems are widely published and she is digital writer-in-residence for the Charles Causley Trust and Secretary of Suffolk Poetry Society

Rising

Head against cheek,
arms holding tight,
 
they rise from the water
like disembodied ghosts.
 
No words to explain
from where they have come.
 
The sea is a foreign place.
Not all will escape.
 

Sue Wallace-Shaddad

poem from Sleeping Under Clouds, a collaboration with artist Sula Rubens

Publications:
Sleeping Under Clouds, art and poetry pamphlet, 2023, Clayhanger Press, ISBN 978-1-7391770-2-7, £10
Art (anthology), 2021, Hybrid Press, ISBN 978-1-8734121-6-9
A City Waking Up, pamphlet, 2020, Dempsey & Windle ISBN 978-1-9133292-6-6, £8
A working life, self-published pamphlet 2014, out of print

Sue Wallace-Shaddad website
 
e-mail Sue Wallace-Shaddad

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Veronica Zundel

Veronica Zundel is a freelance writer for the Christian market, and has written poetry for over 50 years. She graduated (Dist.) in 2019 from the Poetry School/Newcastle Un. MA in Writing Poetry. Poems published in Magma, The Alchemy Spoon, Mslexia.

Violins

The Dresden Philharmonic are playing Jewish violins,
salvaged somehow – who knows? – from the ashes of camps,
force-played by the inmates for their torturers’ amusement
 
If I forget you, O Jerusalem
 
and rebuilt by this Israeli man, speaking French, in whose eyes
is the clarity of devotion. He has done this for twenty years.
On one fiddleback, a swastika and ‘Heil Hitler’ had been drawn
 
Let my right hand lose its cunning
 
but who’s to say if the music dragged from these guts
is disturbing the dead, or lament, or the dare of resurrection?
Who has the right to tell?
 
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth
if I forget

 

Veronica Zundel

 
poem based on a YouTube video

Poem published in Magma 75, 2019

Publications:
Going Out, Hodder 1990
Faith in her Words: six centuries of women’s poetry, Lion 1991
The Time of our Lives, BRF 2007
Crying for the Light, BRF 2008
All I know about God, I’ve learned from being a parent, BRF 2013

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