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?
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





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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Lucy Ashe





For hundreds of years
I’ve been trying to get out
That door. The front door.
The one onto the High Street.

At the end of the Dark Ages
I make my first attempt. But
Gilded net cauls, caging my ears,
Catch on the door frame.

I try again, dressed like a queen,
White lead setting my face in stone.
But a ruff, layers of lace, press
Into my throat, and I panic,

My breath short. I don’t give up.
Dressed in Rococo paniers, corset,
A hoop skirt, I approach the door.
Hips wide, crinoline cage shield.

But I crash, bouncing back,
Powder fluttering like snow
From my towering wig. I breathe
Relief in my empire line dress,

Draped in muslin, stretch
A foot out, slowly, but the rain
Soaks me, and I trip on my soiled
Skirts. A man outside laughs.

Did I hope he would rescue me,
carry me back to the drawing room? I
Stand again. This time in bloomers,
My legs bounding in time

To calisthenics.  I dance in frills, feathers,
Hem lines rise above my knees, small
Steps, in the doorway, breaking
Through to the porch.

My wardrobe spills out around
My bed. I sift floral mini dresses,
Flared jeans, crop tops, sweeping
Skirts. I pull on something,

Anything, my feet ready
In trainers, and stride to the door.
Young lady, where do you think
You are going dressed like that?



Lucy Ashe is an English teacher. She writes reviews for and currently has a feminist dystopian novel out on submission to agents. Her poetry and prose is soon to be published in Truffle Literary Magazine and 192, Poets’ Directory.  Twitter: @LSAshe1

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Tim Murphy




The Incident

The general mood was optimistic
precisely because everything
had been prepared
to go wrong,
and when the performance
was unexpectedly beset
by several predictable problems,
the general mood became
even more optimistic.
The incident itself
is not unmentionable
but may unnecessarily
be treated as such.
The individual at the center of the incident —
a tatterdemalion if ever there was one —
had been informed that attendance
at events of no relevance to him
would be compulsory;
when he agreed to this
his objections were warmly welcomed
with open suspicion.
It seems he was a very fine human being
whose malice and cruelty
will be missed by all,
although several people,
albeit a minority of those absent from his life,
said they had not only liked
but also loved him.
When the tatterdemalion was informed of this,
he immediately arranged for his life
to become imaginary again.



Tim Murphy is the author of two chapbooks, Art Is the Answer (Yavanika Press, 2019) and The Cacti Do Not Move (SurVision Books, 2019). 



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Amy Rafferty




Here Come the Crows

I drew a sudden dark line under it all.
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.



Amy Rafferty 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.

She is currently working towards finalising her two collections, Tenement and All Songs in Order.

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