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 All shortlisted poetry Picks, provided they remain unpublished and meet other eligibility criteria, will be considered as IS&T submissions for the annual Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.

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Abegail Morley





Forget you. The ash of bone. The uncradled
heart, leaky valve long scorched. Forget
the unthinking arm that fell on my shoulder,
those times we crossed the M6 flyover
and you drove with one hand on the wheel
and I’d change gear, rather badly. Forget
the mix-tape, its erratic path through
teenage years, the growing up, beers, larking
about on bridges and piers and dancing
all night in the Zap Club. Forget the sea
and its snub-nosed wall, the hiss of shingle
on sand, the plans we made at 2am
to be bruised by life. Forget the headlamps
dimming on the Downs, the uphill walks,
the drinks in the Nelson, Trafalgar Street,
the way your heart beat. And beat. Remember
the dull ring of my doorbell, the slight tap
on glass, the way my stomach flipped when
I knew you were there, before you arrived.
Remember what longing means, the thick taste
of Milky Bars for breakfast, the crack of your elbow
broken on the stairs at 4am, the thud of your step
across floorboards. Remember how in that crowd
we found each other’s silence, feathered it out,
knowing we might make it from friends to lovers
and friends again. Remember how we felt that night
when we each held our breaths, met under
an invisible sky. Remember how we said
when you died, I’d try to forget.



Abegail Morley’s debut collection, How to Pour Madness into a Teacup, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize Best First Collection. Her most recent collection is The Skin Diary (Nine Arches Press) and The Unmapped Woman is forthcoming from Nine Arches Press. She is one of the co-editors at Against the Grain Press and editor of The Poetry Shed.

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Elisabeth Sennitt Clough



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.



Elisabeth Sennitt Clough, PhD, 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.

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Anna Maria Mickiewicz




The Hidden

Once they were hidden
Forest covered the fear
Drowned out the silence…
Darkness stood on the way home
The clock of the heart was beating in seconds

Dash up there quickly, spread the arms
Hair will fall down gently 

Hidden from brightness,
Hidden from fate

It is a dream…

In the London thicket they are still invisible
Yet they feel the power
Hidden in a short smile,
Just for a second.
They fix taps
They drink strong coffee
They don’t have to eat much,
Sometimes only a sandwich.



Anna Maria Mickiewicz ( is a Polish-born poet, writer and editor who writes both in Polish and English. Anna moved to California, and then to London, where she has lived for many years. She edits the annual literary magazine Pamiętnik Literacki (The Literary Memoir), London, and is a member of English Pen. Her first collection was published in 1985. Publications include short stories and essays Okruchy z Okrągłego Stołu (Breadcrumbs from the Round Table) in 2000, Londyńskie bagaże literackie in 2019, and collections Proscenium in 2010, London Manuscript, (Poetry Space, Bristol, 2014) and The Mystery of Time, (Flutter Press, USA 2019.) With Danuta Błaszak she co-editor of Flying Between Words, Contemporary Writers of Poland (Florida: 2015).

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Peter Daniels




Moments of Vision

The ultrafuturistic train glides in, and the station
crystallises round it, sparkling marble and sky blue daylight.

We glide out, the track beneath us imperceptibly smooth.
England is becoming Tuscany by stealth.

The cities opening their windows, the values
evident and shining; we are renewed, resettled.

But it’s not all you can do here, gaze at views.
The nightlife! The bars and cafés! Come again at twilight!

The local satisfactions, the nuggets of flavour, pools of joy.
Not for nothing the world’s most intelligent toilet.

Knaves are made emperors, the aces higher
than the angels. Virtue as enticing as adultery.

As you squeeze the toothpaste at bedtime,
you can’t fault this day on vision, heart or utility.



Peter Daniels has now had his third collection, My Tin Watermelon, published by Salt.  He has also translated Russian poetry and written obscene poems. Website:

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Carole Bromley




The Day his Father Left

He had to write about yesterday. How could he,
given what had happened? And how was it possible
to write about anything else? His classmates’ pens
were already moving, writing about the ordinary.
His pen was still. He looked down at it,
like an animal he’d never yet encountered,
an animal that could do anything with one swish
of its tail. An animal that was nothing to do with him.
And also everything. Then the pen began to move.
It could say exactly what it wanted so it wrote
about his father’s birthday, the movie,
the chocolate cake, the blowing out of candles.



Carole Bromley lives in York. Winner of 2019 Hamish Canham Award, she has a new collection due out from Valley Press in 2020 and a pamphlet, Sodium 136, is published by Calder Valley Poetry this month. Website: Twitter @CaroleBromley1

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Niall M Oliver




Straight off the bat

Straight off the bat, I reckon you know
better words than me. Big juicy ones
bathing in the pool of your tongue. Show-
stoppers on each fingertip, pointing me
towards the nearest dictionary. I’d say
you keep a few snugged up your sleeve
like a silk tissue. When lost for something
my great uncle Tommy used to say: always check
the last place first. So, times I go looking, hoping
to find treasure, but at best two or three might fall
from my cuff like dull pennies. Uncle Tommy
used to make those appear from behind my ear,
and a master of escapology, he hood-winked a slew
of heart attacks throughout his puff. They say number
sixteen finished him. Here’s two coming now, tickling
their way down my arm: Myocardial Infarctions
that’s what the doctor called them.



Niall M Oliver is an Irish writer who has recently returned home with his wife and two boys after a decade living in London. His poems have previously featured in Crossways, Burning House Press, The Lake Poetry and Visual Verse.

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