Your October 2020 Pick of the Month is ‘Here Come the Crows’ by Amy Rafferty

An overwhelming response to our October Pick of the Month vote sees Amy Rafferty’s ‘Here Come the Crows’ as the ultimate winner.  This beautiful, moving ‘ethereal and yet beautifully observed’ poem both spoke to the times we are living in and was timeless, captured a West Glasgow moment but explored the universality of sleeplessness.

Amy is a writer, photographer and musician based in Glasgow. Her writing has been published in Magma, Envoi, the Interpreter’s House and From Glasgow to Saturn.

 

Here Come the Crows

I drew a sudden dark line under it all.
Emphatically,
and with the fulsome flourish of a full stop dot.
Knowing that this was not what I wanted:
the rows of chimney pots, red-rouged and boring
in the dreich, mossed and encroaching in sombre lines.
The antennae and the satellite dish,
mournful and grey faced,
desperate to spill the beans of bad news and scandal.

I ignored it all, and ploughed on regardless,
watching the neighbours’ windows for inspiration,
waiting for the curtains to rise or the blinds to roll,
a patchwork of frosted tiles diminishing as sun rises behind buildings,
the shadow of the cloistered tower sliding slowly down the roof.

And with these words you now have the tools to orient yourself within the poem,
to settle down with a cup of tea,
and wait for the tropes to arrive, uninvited and well worn;
here come the magpies,
here come the crows,
that speak of dead fathers and family heroes
The seagulls, who glide and circle through the ghost smoke,
heralding rain,
the offspring of the offspring of the offspring
of those before them, who bore witness to my childhood days
and my insomnia, staring into the endless grey window of mornings.

 

*********

Other voters’ comments included:

Absolutely magical. Gave me goosebumps 

I vote for this as it has beautiful imagery of my own neighbourhood as I read I can almost hear The Blue Nike play in the background 💙 

I love the way the scene is set for the inspiration to arrive. It seems to glide in effortlessly. 

The unusual metre, imagery and narrative work together to build a hugely evocative poem 

c’est très bien. j’aime l’imagination.

Because it made me cry and reminded me of my late gran. Because it is beautiful. 

As an insomniac, Amy’s poem resonates with me for so many reasons…I got lost in the language and reminisced on many of my own sleepless nights, both past and more current. 

There is a dark unsettling beauty in her words. A cinematic view of an innocuous moment in time. 

It was very moving with beautiful touches of humour…unusual clever use of language too 

I find this piece profound yet familiar. 

Wee Amy’s poem is beautiful and heartfelt..so full of emotion mixed with gentle humour..poignant and wonderful use of dialect. Deserves full recognition. 

I love its urban melancholy, its deft meter and birds-eye mournfulness of environment, the astute reminder of life’s reincarnated repetitiveness. 

A beautiful, sad, dystopian poem for today, with just a nod of wry humour and self-knowledge. 

I love the Valkyrie drama and double meaning of the ‘Here come the crows section’. The ‘ghost smoke’ is a wonderfully evocative phrase, and I am lead into a rich mental landscape. 

I got goosebumps, my body never lies.

A powerful poem, filled full of imagery which enables us to connect, relate and query what is unfolding within strongly structured line breaks and a captivating pace. 

It invokes a feeling and imagery that few pieces of prose have managed in my adult life. Left me feeling haunted, elated and, oddly curious. 

liked the rhythm as I read it, and the use of colours/shades to set the moods.

Use of language incorporating Scottish words. Drew a picture of the West End of Glasgow skyline, conveyed the emotion and mood powerfully. 

Depicts life viewed from a tenement window in these times. Initial anxiety soothed by a cuppa…and breathe. 

Breaks the fourth wall, and brings us into the poem in a very fresh way 

There was a lot to entice the reader across a few of these poems but ‘Here Comes the Crows’ had a jangling sense of the timeless and dehumanising quality of sleeplessness, which gave the poem real character. 

It speaks of the moment. We’re all locked down, looking out of the window, searching for inspiration in dark days, and remembering. 

Perfectly ‘Dreich’. 

Not an easy choice as they’re all good, but I like to ‘hear’ poems in a live setting and so each one got recited, first in my head and then out loud. This one I can hear out loud. That’s it. 

I love the specific physicality of the poet’s view through her windows, the mood that establishes, juxtaposed with the ghostly birds, bearing witness. And how the generations of birds suggest a timeline going eternally into the past and the future. 

This is a very clever poem, with its post-modern consciousness of being a poem. But it’s also very atmospheric, with its evocative descriptions of urban landscape. Most of all, it’s touching. We’ve all had those melancholy moments and it sums them up brilliantly. 

There’s a real power in the images here, along with a sense of meta-poetic examination (the bird tropes! we’ve all written them). Whether or not it ‘speaks to’ our present moment of lockdown intentionally or not, it resonates… 

 

 

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Vote for your October 2020 Pick of the Month!

 

A touch of menace lurks among the lines of our shortlisted poems for October’s Pick of the Month. It may be just outside the door that you cannot seem to get out of in ‘Dressed’ from Lucy Ashe or what is revealed in Niamh Haran‘s ‘Refurbishment’. It can be sensed in ‘To those who don’t want poetry in GCSE’ by Amlanjyoti Goswami. Or loom over you like Gabriel Moreno‘s ‘Angel of Fear’ or the tatterdemalion of Tim Murphy‘s ‘The Incident’. But faced fully, it can bring acceptance as in Amy Rafferty‘s ‘Here Come the Crows’.

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 October 2020 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.

Voting is now closed. October’s Pick will be announced in the next few days.

For the coronavirus period, our normal Pick ‘prize’ of £10 towards the charity of your choice or a National Book Token will rise to £30*. Charities and booksellers, both, have been hit hard by the shutdown and we wanted to make a (admittedly very small) gesture of support.

 

*Book tokens can only be used within the UK and will be divided between £20 for the winning writer and a £10 token for the person of their choice. Sadly, we are unable to find suitable cost-effective alternatives outside the UK.

 

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Amlanjyoti Goswami

 

 

 

To those who don’t want poetry in GCSE

It would be nice
If you didn’t spend all that time
Writing poetry.

He could be blunt
When he wanted to.
All that time.

What about reading it?
Yes, reading too.
Why read something you can’t use?

I sipped my tea slowly.
It was the late afternoon light.
Autumnal, the kind you like on your bare back.

What about watching it?
What?
Watching poetry.

You look out and watch the light turn.
Birds slide in like meaning.
A little light changes as you watch.

That’s a poem, he said, and added, for sure.
It would qualify.
What about us? I almost asked.

 

 

Amlanjyoti Goswami‘s recent collection of poems River Wedding (Poetrywala) has been widely reviewed. His poetry has been published in journals and anthologies around the world. His poems have also appeared on street walls in Christchurch, exhibitions in Johannesburg, an e-gallery in Brighton and buses in Philadelphia. He has read in various places, including New York, Delhi and Boston. He grew up in Guwahati, Assam and lives in Delhi.

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Niamh Haran

 

 

 

Refurbishment

mum says there’s that generation
that covered everything up
floorboards fireplaces and now
it’s like anti-clockwork
searching for original décor
I am moulding wet clay
into figurines in an unofficial
online art class in an unofficial
living room I underestimate
an old match box now
they are running down
the fire escape I am left
putting on my communion dress
and waiting

 

 

Niamh Haran is a queer non-binary poet based in London. They are an English Undergraduate at King’s College London and are a Roundhouse Poetry Collective member. Some of their poems appear in Perverse, The Interpreter’s House, Babel Tower Notice Board and Abridged.

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Gabriel Moreno

 

 

 

Angel of Fear

He turns up at night,
when clocks stop,
parading his wings
like a white peacock.

Shh! I say, It’s late
and I cannot sleep.
But he is just there
spinning the News.

He does not drink,
puffs menthols sadly
and scuffles around like
an unsettled duck.

I want to scream,
fold up his pennons
and dispatch him home
but he’s too shrewd.

Poetry is easy to write
but onerous to master.
You’re one step, he says,
from playing the fool.

When he finally goes
I line-up my pens,
I string my guitars,
and replay his voice;

I remember then
what angels are for.
They trick our fiends
into wrestling the void.

 

 

Gabriel Moreno was born in Gibraltar in 1977. Graduated in Philosophy and Hispanic Studies at the University of Hull, Yorkshire, UK (1995-1999). Doctorate in Hispanic Literature at the University of Barcelona (2002-2007). Published works in Spanish include, Londres y el susurro de las amapolas,Omicrón (2007), Cartas a Miranda (2008) and Identidad y Deseo (2010). Works in English include The Hollow Tortoise, (2012) and Nights in Mesogeois, Annexe (2013), The Moon and the Sparrow, (2015), The Passer-by (2019).

 

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And our Pick of the Month for September 2020 is ‘The Anatomy of Boys’ by Nwuguru Chidiebere Sullivan

Nwuguru Chidiebere Sullivan’s poem ‘The Anatomy of Boys’ spoke to so many, and it is for this reason that this ‘fascinating’ ‘beautiful’ and ‘inspiring’ poem is the IS&T Pick of the month for September 2020. Huge congratulations to him!

Nwuguru is a budding writer from the Ebonyi State of Nigeria. He writes autobiographically about life, the boy-child, and about multiple aspects of the ebbing African culture. He is a penultimate Medical Laboratory Science student with lots of unpublished works to his credit. His works have been published at Quills, Ace World, Trouvaille Review, Ducor Review, The Lake, LiteLitOne, Inverse Journal, The SprinNG, Journal Nine, e.t.c. and he has also contributed to several anthologies.

He was the winner of the 2018 FUNAI Crew Literary Contest.

After careful thought, and with Nwuguru’s blessing – he asked that it be put towards a charitable cause of our choice – we donated his £30 ‘prize’ to the Nigerian Diasporans Against Sars fundraiser.

 

The Anatomy of Boys

Boys are cold birds
Boys are carrying broken wings

Boys are burning oceans
Boys are drizzling ashes

Boys are not the thorny rose
Boys are petals of hibiscus

Boys are rainbow
Boys are not cloaks for a deluge

Boys are glass prisms
Boys are bends stifling grief

Boys are untapped palm trees
Boys are cask for unharvested tears

Boys are cameras
Boys are libraries of cracks

Boys are dustbin
Boys are cavity for filthy blames

Boys are suns
Boys are shining in isolation without stars.

*********

Voters’ comments included:

I could feel every word, every line and every stanza of the poem, as it had an usual way of describing me

I love the poem’s construction, how it reminds me of what it means to be male— and what it should never mean.

lots of surprising images

I liked the vigour of it 🙂

It talks about the boy child and I can relate so well with every line of the poem.

The poem appeals to me

The anatomy of boys is a great metaphor depicting the future.

The lyrics of the poem are so deep but have captivating meaning which is very true.

I love the flow of the poem.

The poet was so explicit in his writing. I love the idea.

I love the simplicity of the poem and the way it carries the plight of the boy-child with scintillating metaphors

Simple, touching and reflective

Honestly his poem have really impact positive life unto me

His poem seems to be the best among all. Telling us the hiding things we don’t understand

Gives us an insight of the thought

He is passionate about what he does

 

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Vote Vote Vote for your September 2020 Pick of the Month

Our shortlist for September 2020’s Pick of the Month has a distinctly international feel about it, as we take off from Josephine Lay‘s Gloucestershire and head for Ireland – K.S. Moore (via Wales) and DS Maolalai – and beyond to Tunisia’s Ilhem Issaoui,  Nwuguru Chidiebere Sullivan in the Ebonyi State of Nigeria and Sekhar Banerjee in Kolkata, India. It is an indication of just how far-reaching Ink Sweat & Tears has become and these are only a few of the countries that our featured poets have come from over the years.

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 September 2020 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.

Voting is now closed.

For the coronavirus period, our normal Pick ‘prize’ of £10 towards the charity of your choice or a National Book Token will rise to £30*. Charities and booksellers, both, have been hit hard by the shutdown and we wanted to make a (admittedly very small) gesture of support.

 

*Book tokens can only be used within the UK and will be divided between £20 for the winning writer and a £10 token for the person of their choice. Sadly, despite our international shortlist this month, we are unable to find suitable cost-effective alternatives outside the UK.

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