August 2019 Pick of the Month. Vote Now!

The shortlist for August’s Pick of the Month is a feast for the senses. Breathe in Gregory Kearns‘ ‘Perfume’, feel the touch of cold in Aishwarya Raghu‘s ‘A Poem about Frost’ and learn ‘When to stop eating chalk’ from Paul Grant. Taste supper with Ashleigh Davies‘ ‘Apollo’; hold Stephanie Limb‘s ‘Pearl’ tight; listen into a ‘Wake up call’ from Finola Scott and note its aftertaste.

All six works have been chosen by Helen or Kate or received the most attention on social media. They can be found below or by clicking on ‘Vote for your August 2019 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.

Please VOTE HERE.  Voting will close at 9pm (BST) on Saturday 21st September.

The winner each month will be sent a £10 book giftcard or, if preferred, a donation of the same amount will be made to a chosen charity. In the event of the winner being from outside the UK mainland, we will make every effort to provide a reasonable alternative. All shortlisted poetry Picks, provided they remain unpublished and meet other eligibility criteria, will be considered as IS&T submissions for the annual Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. (‘Frequency Violet’ by Kate Edwards was a Pick of the Month for November 2017 and was Highly Commended by the 2018 judges. It features in The Forward Book of Poetry 2019.)

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July’s Pick of the Month is ‘He grows’ by Maxine Rose Munro

Voters loved the spareness – ‘concise and succinct’ – and ‘the absolute enormity of restlessness conveyed’ through the poem’s structure as well as its language. So for these reasons, and more, the excellent ‘He grows’ by Maxine Rose Munro is the IS&T Pick of the Month for July 2019. Huge congratulations to her!

Maxine is a Scottish poet who writes in both English and her native Shetlandic Scots. She is widely published in the UK, in print and online, including Ink Sweat & Tears, and her work has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Find her here www.maxinerosemunro.com

 

He grows 

I gave birth to Restless, and oh how
he prowls this house, testing, testing
the strength of my walls. Pushing
at limits to find weaknesses he
stores for future use, careful
with his words. He knows
soon will come his
time, not mine.

I gave birth to Restless
and, oh! how he grows and grows.

 

Other voters’ comments included:

A simple encapsulation of what every parent goes through as they realise what they’ve brought into the world.

I like the abstract/personification ‘Restless’ moves through the poem. I also enjoy how the word lends itself to more than one significance in the context of the poem.

She captures a feeling of anxiety associated with restlessness in so few words. Spare. I like spare!

Her alliteration captures attention

An interesting way of exploring this topic.

How clever to turn the poet’s own restlessness into a third-person (male) entity to complain about, whilst acknowledging that she created the condition herself. And I love the poem’s concision.

I knew exactly what the writer was saying.

I love this poem, lots of lovely tension, it verges on eery for me. A snapshot in a big story.

For me, it captures the vitality and curiosity of a spirit that can’t be constrained.

The structure and language of the poem really gives strength to the feeling of restlessness.

It intrigues me. One of these hauntingly beautiful poems that leaves me wondering if I see the same as the poet in its words, or are we divided by a common language. Wonderful.

Her poetry is so fixed in the real emotions of everyday life.

The poignancy and relatability of it

A poem about the other self. I liked the layout, fretful lines getting shorter and then growing uneasily.

Her poems take me into my dream world

an instant connection from the first line

instant and vivid

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Vote! Time To Choose Your Pick of the Month for July 2019

There’s an energy and a restlessness that pervades the poems in our shortlist for the IS&T Pick of the Month for July! In fact, in Maxine Rose Munro‘s ‘He grows’, the narrator gives birth to a ‘Restless’ that cannot be held down, while William Stephenson refuses to hold back the ‘rising buzz’ in his ‘On the Origin of Electrofunk by Natural Selection’ and Jack Little reveals a sleeping beast in ‘The Metro after 1AM’. A tumultuous teenage past – ‘the addictive thrill of cheating/the drumming heartbeat’ – infuses Golnoosh Nour‘s ‘Blood Days’ and we feel an extreme tension, a ‘Struggling to breathe’, in ‘Seats’ by Dipo Baruwa-Etti. Finally, Chrissy Banks is on the edge of something both wounding and exhilarating with ‘If you don’t come back’.

All six works have been chosen by Helen or Kate or received the most attention on social media. They can be found below or by clicking on ‘Vote for your July 2019 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.

Voting is now closed. July’s ‘Pick’ will be announced at 4pm (BST) on Tuesday 20th August.

The winner each month will be sent a £10 book giftcard or, if preferred, a donation of the same amount will be made to a chosen charity. In the event of the winner being from outside the UK mainland, we will make every effort to provide a reasonable alternative. All shortlisted poetry Picks, provided they remain unpublished and meet other eligibility criteria, will be considered as IS&T submissions for the annual Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. (‘Frequency Violet’ by Kate Edwards was a Pick of the Month for November 2017 and was Highly Commended by the 2018 judges. It features in The Forward Book of Poetry 2019.)

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Tom Bennett’s ‘Travelling Light’ is the Pick of the Month for June 2019!

It was the superb imagery, the hypnotic rhythm, the sense of mystery and the way Tom Bennett painted ‘an incredible picture of an ordinary scene’ that caught the imaginations of voters and saw ‘Travelling Light’ as the IS&T Pick of the Month for June 2019. This was a poem you could go back to again and again.

Tom (23) studied English at Durham University for his undergraduate, before doing an MPhil in American Literature at Cambridge. He is currently teaching English in Spain and will start a PhD on Women and Maximalism in American literature this October.

Tom has asked that his £10 ‘prize’ be donated to Mermaids.

 

Travelling Light

A balloon scuds through the train
an ‘L’ it is or is it a ‘7’? Evasive
though its wake is empty of pursuit
and the door gives way courteously.

In the second carriage a class
of children who gorge hard on toffee,
their waddle the product of a tight-laced boot
their flannel shorts a competition of kites.

In the third two entangled amours
soak themselves in saccharine red wines,
and remark upon the odd anatomy of the other’s ear:
the softness where the cartilage should be.

A sharp halt rocks these realities,
leaving bags topsy-turvy and a glass in smithereens,
awakening a wizened conductor
clutching the one string of a balloon shaped ‘0’.

*********

Voters’ comments included:

Evocative, thought provoking, an air of mystery about it.

I love the imagery and techniques that Tom evokes and uses fluently throughout, and these are scenes that I could identify with.

Tom manages to make this piece feel effortless despite its complexity. I really enjoyed reading.

Tom has the ability to make the reader relate to the content of his poems…. brilliance

Beautiful and clear imagery yet laconic language

A rich sensory journey!

A lovely narrative poem that leaves you a little lost, empty.

I thought it was clever, I liked the way sounds were played with.

I feel nostalgic for someone’s else’s past

Beautiful rhythm that rocks to the beat each carriage. More than a journey…

Evocative, thought provoking, an air of mystery about it.

I love the imagery and techniques that Tom evokes and uses fluently throughout, and these are scenes that I could identify with.

Tom Bennett’s ‘Travelling Light’ is disarmingly guileless. Though the poem’s title offers a vision of levity, its lines gather an increasing emotional weight. Its emotional depth is gained as a result of a careful sequencing of images rather than rhetorical embellishment: a contemplation over ‘an “L” it is or is it a “7”’, the ‘class | of children’, the ‘two entangled amours’. These passing moments come to exist for their own sake. And ‘Travelling Light’ captures the irreducible fragility of such moments: a fragility born more from an acute valuation of their particularity than their immediate transience. From the dangling ‘Evasive’ of the first stanza, eluded even by its own subject, to the arresting ‘sharp halt’ of the final lines, the poem extends a suspension of syntax. Accordingly, the challenge which ‘rocks these realities’ (a phrase steeped in modernist resonances) is a presence constantly felt, formally and conceptually; but this connection serves in fact to magnify the previous perceptions with their intrinsic value, not as isolated events in a passing journey but as a meaningful collective of human experience.

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Vote for Your IS&T Pick of the Month for June 2019

This month our shortlist embraces everything from Death to DIY. Melanie Branton exposes the underbelly in ‘Cemetery’ while the Hell that is flat pack furniture has made its way into Helen Rye‘s excellent and beautifully constructed (!) short story – published on National Flash Fiction Day – and Arji Manuelpillai‘s fine and melancholy poem. On the way we meet Sally Michaelson‘s heartbreaking ‘Night Raider’ and experience an exhilarating journey or two with Tom Bennett ‘Travelling Light’ and Colin Crewdson on ‘The Road to Kars’!

All six works have been chosen by Helen or Kate or received the most attention on social media. They can be found below or by clicking on ‘Vote for your June 2019 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.

Voting is now closed. The winner will be announced at 6pm on Friday 19th July.

The winner each month will be sent a £10 book giftcard or, if preferred, a donation of the same amount will be made to a chosen charity. In the event of the winner being from outside the UK mainland, we will make every effort to provide a reasonable alternative. All shortlisted poetry Picks, provided they remain unpublished and meet other eligibility criteria, will be considered as IS&T submissions for the annual Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. (‘Frequency Violet’ by Kate Edwards was a Pick of the Month for November 2017 and was Highly Commended by the 2018 judges. It features in The Forward Book of Poetry 2019.)

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‘Because’ from Clementine E. Burnley is our Pick of the Month for May 2019.

When sifting through all the comments on our shortlist for May’s Pick of the Month, in amongst the ‘beautifuls’, ‘powerfuls’, ‘movings’ and ‘evocatives’, one comment in particular stood out. In response to Clementine E. Burnley’s poem which looks at the injustice and indignity associated with deportation, someone had written ‘relevant to me’. And at that point, ‘Because’ became more than just a poem. It is therefore fitting in this chaotic time, when it feels like the wolves are at the door, that it is our Pick of the Month for May 2019.

Clementine is a mother, writer, and community worker. In 2018 she was published in the the Emma Press Second Place Rosette: Poems about Britain, loss lit magazine, and die Neue Rundschau. You can find her on twitter @decolonialheart.

Clementine has asked that her £10 ‘prize’ be donated to the Hackney Migrant Centre.

 

 

Because

we have few means,
of dealing
with the night,
a door crashes open.
Closes.
with a woman standing barefoot at the airport,
in pajamas and handcuffs
with isolated instances. Rogue police officers
have never been isolated,
or dealt with
in any systematic way.

 

Voters comments included:

A beautiful poem about deportation, an image we try to unsee but that needs to be shared again and again

It’s so graphic BECAUSE the few sentences remind me of so many shoeless differently clad women behind closed doors.

Good visual through writing . Punchy .

Love the topic, the expression of the author

Poignant imagery through few words

Democracy did neva stands for DEMON-stration the CRAZYness.

because of the airports ; )

Beautiful and timely

Because it moved me to tears.

It says, showing mostly, a lot in so few lines.

Accurate!

It’s poetic, tells an important story and doesn’t shy away from the brutal reality of the West.

Injustice on so many levels

Stark imagery, laid bare and stripped. Tells a whole story in few words. Beautiful!

…Her books, poets, short stories although fiction, takes the reader into a world of hidden reality where events and practices are not much talked about or recounted for the future generations to know about…

It deals with a very PERTINENT and CURRENT issue.

Brings an image of immigration in simple way

The theme is relatable worldwide.

Inspiring, original and soul searching writing!

Because it tells a powerful story in such a small space of justice and of looking beyond what we see to the truth.

Clementine’s Because will get my vote anytime. Because, this piece resonates with me. It reminds me. I don’t get that lately! I really hope it wins.

It’s simple and beautiful with a message that’s particularly relevant at this time.

Very well written and topical

It’s simply beautiful.

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UEA FLY Festival 2019 Competition Winner 15-18 yr olds and Norfolk Prize Winner – Maud Webster

The 15-18 yr old group winner for the 2019 writing competition at UEA’s Festival Of Literature for Young People (FLY) is Maud Webster from City of Norwich School. The theme for this year’s competition was a poem of any length beginning with the word ‘Afterwards’.

As the winner of the Norfolk Prize, Maud wins the opportunity for her poem to be made into an animated film, courtesy of sponsors Somo Global.

 

 

 

AFTERWARDS

afterwards, we perch
baked by the sun, legs swing
laughing at the exploits of summer

this time, that time, and
the murmur of names bring
back the lazy, hazy faces
frame our existence in the minds of places

the soulless winter heralds
a crawling spring
long-awaited rays of gold
of which our memories told
to us, would be worth waiting for

beach riots and sandals slapping
the sandcastle king.
boardwalk encounters and
dune disasters, we missed this land.
land of being present and
land of sandwiches and swimming and

that ‘sweltering’ sun.

 

The runner up in this category is Jessica Holmes from Turing House School, Hampton.

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