Monday, December 27, 2010

poetry snapshots: mavis gulliver

Breaking Dormancy

Time passed and I forgot

the envelope labelled in your precise hand,

‘Welsh Poppy seeds from my garden…for yours.’

Forgot the fine dust filtering through my fingers,

settling on stubborn soil.

Three years on, the ache of your death

has dulled…a little.

I have learned to speak of you without weeping.

Now you are back, you…and your poppies.

Pendulous buds expanding, shaking out their creases,

opening bright as suns,

spilling yellow petals



published in Envoi, Issue 146, 2007

Mavis says: I came to poetry relatively late in life and have Joanna to thank for her excellent constructive criticism on the OCA Course in 2006. I write mainly about nature, landscape, islands, family and memories - linking the different aspects together wherever possible.

Monday, December 13, 2010

poetry snapshots: anne stewart

Winter Loving

“Let us have winter loving that the heart

May be in peace and ready to partake

Of the slow pleasure spring would wish to hurry

… ” Elizabeth Jennings Winter Love

She lies awake listening to the storm.

It breaks in through open transom lights;

runs riot through the house, a vandal gouging

pristine walls. Bringing the outside in.

She hears the garden’s talk, thin as thorns

scratching glass, alpines clinging for dear life,

plastic chairs sitting themselves down hard.

And you lie close. Boats in safe harbour.

She tries to listen better, strains to hear

the scrape of firs digging in their heels

against the gale, but you snore too loudly,

content with life just lapping at your sides.

Thugs of rain shout and batter at the window

as though they’d come to sort you out. Listen!

Listen to the whale-song of the trees as they

wallow in it. See how they shake their fists.

Anne Stewart

shortlisted in the Frogmore Poetry Competition, 2007 and published in The Frogmore Papers, No. 70, Autumn 2007;

published in Flarestack Poetry anthology, Mr Barton Isn’t Paying, 2009;

included in collection, The Janus Hour, Oversteps Books, 2010 (, ISBN 978-1-906856-16-8)

Founder of the poet-showcase site,, Anne Stewart is administrator for Second Light Network and co-edited several issues of ARTEMISpoetry. She was awarded MA(Dist) in Creative Writing from Sheffield Hallam University in 2003 and won the Bridport Prize in 2008. The Janus Hour (Oversteps Books, 2010) is her first collection.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

review of centuries of skin in artemis poetry magazine

I admire Maggie Sawkins' poetry, and I'm proud that she has favourably reviewed 'Centuries of Skin' in ARTEMISpoetry magazine. She says:

'These are tales from the border told by an outsider, intent on recording...These thought provoking poems bring the past and present refreshingly to life.'

ARTEMISpoetry magazine

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

poetry: form and experience and tennyson too

What with all the moving house and novel redrafting and tutoring and assessing and visiting London, I haven't had a chance to post about the module that I've been revising and updating for the Open College of the Arts.
'Poetry: Form and Experience' is a Level Two poetry module (60 credits towards a degree). The workbook is illustrated with some wonderful paintings on the theme of writing, including the front cover painting 'Portrait of the poet Velimir Khlebnikov' by Mikhail Larionov.
I've included many interesting internet links, including this one to the Poetry Archive, where Tennyson reads 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' in an 1890 recording so crackly that he could have been reading in the battlefield itself:
Shivers down my spine.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

poetry snapshots: adrian green

Business Breakfast

On a blue September dawn
the tide ebbs under London Bridge.
We walk across – a crowd
alive but hypnotised.
So many left undead
for croissants and a cappuccino.

And in the knowing,
and knowing again
of things we never
thought would matter,
breakfast sages
read our fortunes
in the coffee spoons,
project their fantasies
on office walls.

Later, on the Circle Line,
the salesmen with their laptops
watch a couple sharing sushi
from a plastic box.

Adrian Green

Previously published in Well Versed, poems from the Morning Star (Hearing Eye, ISBN 978-1-905082-42-1)
and Chorus and Coda (Littoral Press, ISBN 978-0-9550926-7-1).

About Adrian Green:
Adrian Green lives overlooking the sea at Southend. A former editor of SOL and reviews editor of Littoral, poems and reviews have appeared in several magazines and anthologies. His current collection, Chorus and Coda (ISBN 978-0955092671), is available from the Littoral Press.
See more at or listen at

Monday, November 15, 2010

poetry snapshots: camilla reeve

The Long Journey of Humans

How old was I last night?
In the darkness and quiet
of my own back garden,
I looked up at a sky, deep indigo,
brushed with clouds of grey,
uplit apricot from the city,
and I felt so young.

The long journey of humans
stretched far ahead of me,
full of promise and wonder.
The eyes of unnamed stars
peered down between each cloud,
as strangers, hoped-for friends,
glance from the corner of a rock
and make a new land homely.

Standing there, I heard nothing
but wind riffling my hair,
rain dripping from leaves
the muffled stealth of paws
as a hunting cat passed by.

Now that the everyday
with its well-worn streets
and crowded timetables
is round me, I might be feeling
as old as humanity, as stale.
But I discovered in my mind
and smiling, the little girl
who stood in the dark.

She is still full of wonder
and delight, still looking out
and up and round her
at the enchanting and unknown,
where the return of daylight
has not this time achieved
the death of promise
or the end of mystery.

from collection, "Travels of a Spider",2006. ISBN 978-0-9556770-0-7, published through

Camilla says: Born too late to make sense of the last century I’m focusing on enjoying this one, by novel-writing, poetry and performance, a computer career, back-packing travel and chaotic attempts to transform my garden into a fertile wilderness. I’ve published two poetry collections and a third is underway, details at

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

poetry snapshots: michael wyndham

Know Your Enemy

The glitterball orbits the ballroom conjuring a flux
of nylon swing. Her calves twist, her Grable heels kick
out the fear of telegrams from the front line.

Chicago knights and New York zoots strut before
the White City girl like competing matadors; she slides
down a pageant of olive and khaki -

No rations tonight baby!

Blakeys clack-clack, club tie strides, a Brylcreem Moses
parts the dance floor, bringing down the tablets from
the judges' mountain. A tidy finger taps

the swinging shoulder of the GI -

"Strictly ballroom here laddie"

Michael Wyndham
"Know Your Enemy" was first runner-up in the 2006 Frogmore Press poetry prize and was included in the autumn 2006 issue. In June 2008, South Bank poetry magazine published 'Know Your Enemy' alongside other poems themed on London's past.

Michael says: I have been writing and performing poetry since May 2005. This poetic calling came to me while massacring London's insects and vermin during my former day job as a pest controller.

Monday, October 18, 2010

poetry snapshots: gill learner

A worm updates itself

Never mind the Tree of Knowledge:
I'd sooner get my teeth into a book, or
better still a row - complete works
from long ago, not bleached or sized.
Give me the tender wrap of calves shaved thin,
a volume in a warm damp room, its spine
relaxed in fishy corrugations. I've delved
into the great minds of the past, chewed over
their hypotheses, digested fantasies
and left behind a dust sucked dry of thought.

But things are harder now: I crack
my head on plastic, slip on silicon.
Yet I'll survive - I found a way
to tunnel the soft underside of 0 and 1.

Published January 2009 in Acumen 63.

Gill Learner lives in Reading and began writing poetry in 2001. She loves reading to an audience, has been published widely and was awarded the Poetry Society's Hamish Canham Prize 2008. Her first collection, The agister's experiment, is forthcoming from Two Rivers Press.

Monday, October 04, 2010

poetry snapshots: angela france


She looks in her mirror,
turns slowly and twists
to see over her shoulder.
She can number the marks,
scars of surgery and childbirth.
She peels back her lips,
admires the close fit
of her gums, her sinuous tongue.
She pulls further back.

She loosens her chin, her ears,
shakes her head back
to slip off her scalp.
The rest is easier: a sharp shrug
to free her shoulders, a stroke
down her upper arms.

Pulling the tips of each finger
in turn, she smiles, thinks of gloves,
Audrey Hepburn. She hulas
her hips clear of cellulite,
points her toes to slide off
dimpled stockings, steps free.

She palms over the perfect dome
of her head, strokes muscles
as they move and stretch,
feels her sculpted cheek.
She stands before her mirror,
watches winks of light reflect
from loops of bowel, counts
her heartbeats, her lungs' billow.
She can't help grinning.

Published in 'Occupation', Ragged Raven Press, 2009.

Angela France has had poems published in many of the leading journals, in the UK and abroad. Her second collection, 'Occupation' is available from Ragged Raven Press.
Angela is features editor of Iota and an editor of ezine The Shit Creek Review. She also runs a monthly poetry cafe, 'Buzzwords'.

Monday, September 20, 2010

poetry snapshots: anne welsh

after Annette Messager's Story of Dresses

I am corseted in seal-bone to fit into this dress of ugly taffeta.
Inside my glass coffin I smell his skin beneath my fingernails,
the salt of my own body, the paint from the wall on which I hang.

It is cold here in the gallery, colder than the East Coast Scottish winter
and I am visible but not visible like hoarfrost on a morning fresh with snow.
You sound out the word in French that he pinned upon me:

and something in your harsh southern vowels breaks both glass and spell.
A slow bleed falls from my right wrist onto the paper, blotting out
his promissory note.
I hold my hand out to you, not knowing if you'll take it;
if this twin ache in my ribcage is from twenty years' seal-bone-too-tight-binding
or something ice inside it that your star-hard voice may also melt or shatter.

Photo: Naomi Woddis

Anne Welsh’s work has appeared in journals including Poetry News, Agenda Broadsheet and English and is forthcoming on

as part of its Bigger Picture project and in the Tate Poetry from Art anthology (launch event 25/09/2010 Tate Modern). She posts weekly writing prompts at
and blogs at

About the publication:

Stigmata was first published in Seeking Refuge, edited by Jan Fortune-Wood (Cinnamon Press, 2010), in support of the London Cold Weather Shelters. This is one of a series of anthologies to grow out of Ruth O'Callaghan's events at Lumen and Camden which bring together well-known poets and those just starting out.

Monday, September 06, 2010

poetry snapshots: dominic james

Afternoon Song

You there in your old, cold country
Do you think of me
As a bay in North Sicily,
Or rumpled bedroom flooded with heat and light
(From which you cannot keep out
a small cry in the night)
Hot despite all slats and flats of your
Shuttered North doors that can hardly withdraw
All the heat of the day,
At least you can park all your secrets in shade
Until evening takes some heat from your blushes,
Your burns and the drops of your foolish, salt tears

first published online Sentinel Literary Quarterly (January 2010 issue)

Dominic James, approaching middle age, William Yeats and holidays with caution, has been reading with the Bright Scarves poets in Richmond for two years. A prizewinning essayist and short story writer these days he says it's all poetry. Contactable on

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

the launch of 'Centuries of Skin'

There were about 50 of us in total. Friends, family, friends of family, fellow poets, partners, older children, local writers and one of my lovely students all came along to the Valentines Mansion on Sunday to help me celebrate the launch of 'Centuries of Skin' as part of the Redbridge Book and Media Festival 2010.

I was very lucky to have my launch in the Drawing Room of the 17th century Valentines Mansion in Gantshill. It was a beautiful venue, with its trailing vine wallpaper, Juliet balcony, and Queen Anne perspex chairs.

I wore my tried and tested grey dress, and read from 'Centuries of Skin' for twenty minutes. Then I enjoyed all the poems from the special guest readers.

It didn't rain, the cava and apple juice flowed, and although the event itself finished at 6.45, many of us stayed on till 8.

Thank you to everyone who came along, and special thanks to Chris, to Pat Livingstone who provided the wonderful music inspired by the island of Iona, to photographer Jen who is now going through dozens of photos, to Bob Mee from Ragged Raven Press for his introduction, poem and book table, to my special guest readers Christopher James, Shanta Everington, Adrian Green, Tim Cunningham, Ken Champion, Juli Jeana, and Anne Welsh, and to Shermain at Redbridge Council who worked so hard and was a great host.

My cousin Anne called it 'glorious'. Yes, I think it was.

Monday, February 08, 2010

bobby parker's 'pictures of screaming people'

I was lucky enough to get to write a blurb for Bobby Parker's pamphlet collection, published by Erbacce Press, 'Pictures of Screaming People'.

'These poems are heartbreakingly honest moments of loss and survival, full of fine rhythms, surprising humour, and ambitious imagery. A powerful new voice.'

It won't disappoint.

York Literature Festival HUB 2018 event, Tuesday, 20th March

I'm looking forward to my first event for absolutely ages - at the York Literature Festival HUB. Many thanks to YLF and Valley...