Vote Vote Vote for your March 2020 Pick of the Month.

Despite the uncertainty of everything, our Ink Sweat & Tears’ Pick of the Month still goes on and we have a fine shortlist of poets that it will be difficult to chose from. Will it be Kitty Coles’ ‘The moon is a cannibal:’ that eats you from within or ‘The Opposite of Pygmalion’ by Gillie Robic that tickles the hairs on the back of your neck? Can you catch a ray of hope from Moyra Donaldson‘s ‘A Sudden Shaft of Light’ or enjoy being ‘In the shower with Gerard Manley Hopkins’ (and Jo Bratten)? Does the edge in Sanjeev Sethi‘s ‘A Factory of Feelings’ appeal or would you prefer to take comfort from Patrick Deeley‘s ‘Homing Pigeon’?

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

Voting has now closed. March’s Pick will be announced on Tuesday 14th April.

For the lockdown period, our normal Pick ‘prize’ of £10 towards the UK 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.

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Gillie Robic




The Opposite of Pygmalion

She’s breaching the limits
climbing the scaffolding
hauling herself up poles
rolling over the lip of the kick-board.

My hands race like a card sharp
trying to confuse the eye
not wanting to let her off the plinth.

I don’t want to release
this unlovely construct into the world
slithering over edges and ladders
filling space with clammy earth.

As fast as I squeeze her
between my fingers
she gobbles air
grows out of my reach.

I try stuffing what I can
back under the cloth or into the bin
but she stretches

breaks away like over-rolled dough
till I sit in a litter of ripped tarpaulin and gobbets of clay
coated to the elbows in grit-pitted fleshly slip,
cold with guilt for the future.



Gillie Robic was born in India and lives in London.  Her first collection, Swimming Through Marble, was shortlisted and published in 2016 by Live Canon, who also published her second collection, Lightfalls, in October 2019.

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Moyra Donaldson




A Sudden Shaft of Light

My demented mother
who doesn’t know me anymore,
looks up as I come into the room.
Ach – there’s my wee darling Moyra
she says, such love in her voice

that everything falls away but love.
The slate is clean,

and I, new born again and perfect,
know myself beloved daughter
before the darkness closes in again.

Moyra Donaldson from Co Down has published eight collections of poetry, most recently Carnivorous, Doire Press, 2019, and is a recipient of a Major Individual Artist award from Arts Council Northern Ireland.

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Patrick Deeley




Homing Pigeon

From the high window ledge of the house next door,
he looks down into our kitchen.

Two days since he landed, and whether we dance
to the radio or open a newspaper,

whether we chatter about nothing or argue over
whose turn to cook, whose to dish-wash,

our routines seem to matter more because he is there.
Nightfall, the iridescence braceleting

his neck, the rings – one pink, one emerald –
on his feet grow dim.  We puzzle the compass of his

iron-tempered beak, said to catch
the magnetic register of the world, imagine him

blown off-course, or as a spy, or taking time out
to develop the photos he snapped

on the wing, to embellish the traveller’s tales he will
regale his friends with.  Is he lonely

for a family we don’t know, whose resemblance
he sees behind our window?  Or maybe

there’s a message he intends for us, about the fleeting
nature of everything, the tricky business

of enjoyments and how, late or soon,
we’ll feel at a loss on glancing up to find he has flown.



Patrick Deeley‘s seventh collection, The End of the World, recently appeared from Dedalus Press.  He is the 2019 recipient of the Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Poetry Award.  His best-selling memoir, The Hurley-Maker’s Son, was shortlisted for the 2016 Irish Book of the Year Awards.

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Jo Bratten




In the shower with Gerard Manley Hopkins

Bless me father for I have sinned again
Rejoice in soapy foam-fleece fountain furled
For I have lied and cursed and fucked with men
Flashing quenching sing-shower curtain-curled
In hurting self and friend have careless been
Water of world of self-dew flesh-dew whirled
I wish to be blessed with some peace amen
With shower shining all sin stanched and swirled

Teach me the secrets of your skin so fine
Fresh-fire flashes off face fling soft and sing
The healing balms that help the hair to shine
Thirst quails parches quelled in the steam-sweet spring
I’ll wash your bruisèd back if you wash mine
Wet wind-washed lovescape manshape rinse and wring



Jo Bratten is a writer and teacher. Originally from the USA, where she grew up off-grid on a farm in eastern Ohio, she completed a PhD on the modern novel at the University of St Andrews before settling in London. Her poetry has been published in Acumen, Ambit and Fire.

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Sanjeev Sethi




A Factory of Feelings

Your biog is your own, wash it with as many adjectives.
Entitlement and empathy are opposites. Dissimulation
is elementary to past lovers, like dissemble to ex bosses.
Facebook and Twitter are placeboes for amour proper.
Drapes of familiarity hang when socials happen. If you
are a turophile there is space for another helping in a
hero sandwich. Tonight my sky is crowded: sulfur and
saltpeter from crackers have eroded its nostril and mine.
With you gone umpteen poems are astray.



Sanjeev Sethi is published in more than 25 countries with over 1200 poems. Wrappings in Bespoke  is Winner of Full Fat Collection Competition-Deux (Hedgehog Poetry Press UK). It’s his fourth book. It will be issued in 2020. He lives in Mumbai, India.

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Kitty Coles




The moon is a cannibal:

she consumes her own body.
Flat-footed in her fatness,
she sweats and lumbers,
ashamed, in the pure of night,
of her vast heft.
She nibbles her flesh:
the taste is oily, repellant,
but she swallows it down:
the gulps rise in her gorge.
In a couple of weeks, she is half
the woman she was.
Then one night she wakes
and is nothing, a beautiful absence.
What sickness makes her suck
the darkness in and grow herself,
by increments, again?

The stars disdain her,
arrayed in their small perfection.
They are bundles of corners,
effortlessly, always.

Kitty Coles debut pamphlet, Seal Wife (2017), was joint winner of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize. Her first collection, Visiting Hours, will be published in 2020 by The High Window.

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