The final pick of the Month for 2019 is ‘No more ordinary mornings’ by Mick Corrigan

For December’s  Pick of the Month, the future and the state of our planet knocked everything else into touch – even the fine slant of our 12 Days of Christmas shortlisted poems – and Mick Corrigan‘s ‘No more ordinary mornings’ emerged as the final IS&T Pick for 2019 and, fittingly, for the decade. This ‘brilliant’ poem resonated because many voters felt it was true. Or would be.

Mick‘s debut, Deep Fried Unicorn, was released in to the wild in 2015. His poems have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize (USA) and The Forward Poetry Prize (UK). He is currently completing his second collection Life Coaching for Gargoyles which, when finished, will be launched like a clown from a cannon.  He spends his time as though he has an endless supply of it, between Ireland and the island of Crete. He plans to do wild and reckless things with his hair before it’s too late.

 

No more ordinary mornings

There are no more ordinary mornings
when Greenland comes pouring through your letterbox
and the chickens have stopped giving milk,
when you don’t have to go to the sea anymore
as the sea is now coming to you.

There are no more ordinary mornings
when anger clouds like ink in water
and the cure seems worse than the disease
to those who should know better but don’t.

There are no more ordinary mornings
when the rain dark clay of March
refuses the spade and turns its face away,
when the dusty bed where a fertile river ran
is home now to nothing but the rushing diarrhoea
of blogging, vlogging and reality tv.

There are no more ordinary mornings
when the last days of summer
are the last days of summer ever,
when undertakers mutter about
how that was a very popular glacier,
how it’s bound to be a very big funeral
how a very large casket will be needed
for all the thoughts and prayers.

 

Voters comments included:

It may seem odd, the idea of poetry making something real, but that’s what happens here, making climate change real because it’s mundane.

It resonates so well with the times we live in

This is a ‘wake-up’ poem, its sincerity written in simple language. I love the ideas and the scary notion of  ‘No more ordinary mornings’.

Mick’s use of imagery and clever wordplay sways my vote.

Mick Corrigan has been a wordsmith and voice for some time now roun’ & roun’ the block on both sides of the pond. Foresight in technicolor and 2020 hindsight fitting of this starboard listing ship of fools, friends, and countrymen.

Touched a nerve

Because, there are no more ordinary mornings.

Bleedin’ fabulous

Enjoyed immensely!

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December 2019’s Pick of the Month: Vote for Your Favourite Poem Now!

Our shortlist for December 2019’s #PickoftheMonth, the last of the decade, reflects the unease that has pervaded the year. Some poems have come from our #12DaysOf… Christmas feature but these are not scenes of comfort and joy. Santa’s ‘girls’ are striking back in ‘His Daughters’ by Joanne Key, Pippa Little looks to the past and the ‘Sparklen Bottle’ of her grandmother’s ‘winterdark house’ and we are falling into an unknown, dystopian future in John Greening‘s ‘At Christmas’? Mick Corrigan hints at a similar fate in ‘No more ordinary mornings’ and Matt Merritt‘s ‘Peninkulma’ also suggests an unknown threat. Perhaps the wry humour of Anita Goveas with ‘Titles of my autobiography I have discarded’ shows how to cope.

All six of the shortlist 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 December 2019 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.

Voting has now closed. December’s ‘Pick’ will be announced on Sunday 19th January.

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.

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John Greening

 

 

 

At Christmas

All Easyjet flights
are cancelled – only
difficult journeys now.
Three in party hats
come dragging their presents
over a snowy car park.
A few attendants shepherd
them into a building:
the call to desert places.
Looking up for a moving
light or at Sky
News. Stasis over
the business empires.
A child has made an angel
by the automatic barrier
and a mother feeds her baby.
This breathtaking, breath-
making fall.

 

 

John Greening is a Cholmondeley, Bridport & TLS Prize winner, he’s published over fifteen collections, including in 2019 The Silence (Carcanet) and Europa’s Flight (New Walk). He is currently editing Iain Crichton Smith www.johngreening.co.uk

Down times

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Pippa Little

 

 

 

Sparklen Bottle

Grandma’s sparklen
in the winterdark house where I grew up
loved me the best:
I pushed my nose up close
to see fireflies leap and sputter,
glow-worms climb
and fall in tiny squeezes,
flayed hearts of angels –
I know she whispered
so those wandering would come
curious, too close,
then with a swift oblique
twist she’d have them
in. I like to think
it wasn’t wishing
only but in the black mantle
of that house her sparklen
throbs still with hostage stars
and deep-sea phosphors,
tinsel glitterings of those
she couldn’t kill.

(‘sparklen’ Middle English: also ‘sparken’, to spark)
 

 
Pippa Little runs reflective writing workshops for students and is working on her third collection.

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Joanne Key

 

 

 

His Daughters

It wasn’t the life you’d imagine.
Most nights he’d be out,
on the sherry early doors.
Closing time, he’d come back and start.
Exploding over nothing,
he’d throw his tea at the wall,
smash the place up,
scatter elves like skittles.
He slept where he fell
and pissed himself.

We kept our heads down
and got on with the jobs.
There was nothing merry
about any of us.
Not dainty. Not delicate.
We were big girls,
built for the donkey work,
lugging boxes and sacks of toys
from the workshop by day,
nights in the loading bay.
More of a father to strangers,
he’d turn on us and say:
Who’d want you lot any way?
Ugly buggers.

Wild hair flying, clumsy,
we weren’t born for shining
or finery, couldn’t be trusted
with delicate mechanisms
or finishing touches,
but we knew hard labour
and every one of us could lift
a toddler’s weight in trains.
At the end of the day
there’s only so much you can take.

I’ll never forget his face that last time
he staggered in, Jack Frost in tow,
covered in snow, an abominable man,
brandishing a hammer.
I’ll give you bloody Christmas…
By then we’d all come of age –
girls that could turn
skipping ropes into snakes
with a flick of a wrist, each tail
a fist shaking a baby’s rattle.
A rage so great it woke an army
of sleeping dolls. Angel-faced,
they climbed down from the shelves –
all the beautiful daughters
he’d ever wished for,
marching towards him in their clumpy shoes.

 

 

Joanne Key won 2nd prize in the 2014 National Poetry Competition, and first prize in the 2018 Hippocrates Open Prize. She was the winner of the 2018 Mslexia Short Story Competition.

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And the IS&T Pick of the Month for November 2019 is Elisabeth Sennitt Clough’s ‘Ague’

It was oh so close with only a few votes between the top group of poems but Elisabeth Sennitt Clough’s ‘Ague’ emerged from the fog to be the IS&T Pick of the Month for November 2019. This intense, ‘evocative and darkly mysterious’ poem brought out all sorts of emotions in our voters, reducing some to tears and others to wonder.

Elisabeth is an alumna of the Arvon/Jerwood Mentorship scheme 2016 and Toast Poets 2017. She was also a Ledbury Emerging Poet 2017. Her debut pamphlet, Glass, was a winner in the Paper Swans inaugural pamphlet competition in 2016. It went on to win Best Pamphlet at the Saboteur Awards 2017. Sightings, was published by Pindrop Press (2016.) and won the Michael Schmidt Prize for Best Portfolio. A poem from that collection was highly commended in the Forward Prize and published in the Forward Book of Poetry 2018. Her second full collection At or Below Sea Level is a PBS Recommendation. Elisabeth is editor of the Fenland Poetry Journal. www.elisabethsennittclough.co.uk

*********

Ague

When it comes, it will scratch away the surface
of Fen, release the secrets of our soil.

It will sing its lullaby over a girl’s bones
at the bottom of a village well.

Its tongue will rouse small forms
to hatch in the eyes of a dying mare.

It will dry its claws along her dorsal stripe.
For my father, it will lay bare the hemlock.

 

 

Voters’ comments included:

[This gets my vote] because of the way the poet captures the poignancy of the moments and places shared. Because the talk of forgetting happens and there is too much to forget and there is a wonderful reality in all the things that are not forgotten that makes the reader pause and remember their own.

It is thought provoking and evocative. It says a lot in a succinct way.

Wonderful, powerful and subtle all at once.

I think she is a amazing writer with such depth and clarity

Such a talented poet and I enjoy her work immensely.

This poem conveys an intense sensuality and malaise which is embodied in the landscape. A feeling of movement contrasts with its tight form.

Beautiful imagery

This poet is one of my favourites!

I love the darkness of the poem, and the secrets of the Fen

Elisabeth captures the aura of the Fen so vividly

 

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IS&T November Pick of the Month: Vote Now!

It is time once more to choose your Ink Sweat & Tears #PickoftheMonth and this, at least, is one vote where there are no bad choices. You know whatever poem you pick will be a good one and also, that when the results come in, you definitely won’t have a horrible sinking sensation.

And, it may be the autumnal months closing in, but there is a sense of finality in these poems. Will you choose Carole Bromley‘s heart-breaking ‘The Day his Father Left’ or be drawn into the unease that lies just below the surface in ‘The Hidden’ by Anna Maria Mickiewicz? Will Elisabeth Sennitt Clough‘s ‘Ague’ grip you or the words in Niall M Oliver‘s ‘Straight off the bat’ be your undoing.  Are you in thrall to Peter Daniels‘ ‘Moments of Vision’ or is it Abegail Morley‘s ‘End’ that resonates the most.

All six of the shortlist 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 November 2019 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.

Voting is now closed. November’s Pick will be posted on Tuesday 17th December.

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.

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