The beautiful ‘…And tell the stars’ by Maryam Gatawa is our Pick of the Month for August 2018.

Maryam Gatawa, a young poet from northern Nigeria, is our Pick of the Month for August 2018 with many voters being stunned by her ‘uplifting’ ‘deep’ ‘reflective’ and ‘inspiring’ poem ‘…And tell the stars’.

Maryam’s works of poetry have been published in reputable journals inside Africa and overseas. She can be reached through Facebook at ‘Maryam Gatawa’ and Twitter @meegat12.

She has asked that her £10 ‘prize’ be donated to the Nigeria Muslim Forum UK which raises money for education schemes and the relief of poverty.

 

…And tell the stars

Then tell the stars
To take their leave too
For within our breasts
Shines the inward light
To sail us through
These fields of darkness

Why wait for the gardens to
Bear you sweet roses
Or rent the cloaks of your hope
To greedy mighty whales

Go forth with your hoe
And till the fertile land
Plant upon its face
Sweet corns and grapes
And  when the winter knocks in
Tell her to stay
You have enough grains in your home.

 

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Voters’ comments included:

Even from the title, it won

And Tell the Stars teaches strength, perseverance and inspires hope.

It’s beautiful!

Maryam’s style of poetry is simple and inspiring. Her use of metaphors is excellent. Her “…And tell the stars” has more than one meaning which is one of the most remarkable features of poetry. She definitely has my vote for that.

Maryam Gatawa is a new dawn to poetry in northern Nigeria…

Maryam is an amazing poet who inspires women to write and this poem reeks of awesomeness.

…a role model for the upcoming poets.

It’s simply captivating

It pricks at my conscience, inspires my senses, in mingled spews of nature and reality

It’s really touching and emotionally enlightening.

The poem is simple amazing, it’s flows directly from the recess of the soul.

It appeals to more, especially in this period that we expect to harvest our fields this farming season. I consider it a great art to construct your poems in short lines and still go on to make much sense and put out something beautiful.

The flow, the rhythm and the imagery. She just seem like a natural to me.

Maryam’s poetry is always fresh and strange to me anytime I read her. Through her poems, I come to terms with dreams and imagination. She writes poems that will stand the taste of time.

Her lines are daring.

A poem of wit and wisdom.

Lifelesson

 

 

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Suzannah V. Evans

 

 

Hatfuls of Brass and Gold
 
“So, that was it, there it was, that was what she gave me, when I asked something of her, when I asked for something that would be beautiful, or worth something, and she poured down, right into my hat, handfuls and hatfuls of brass and gold.

That’s what the moon’s like, that’s what she’s like, that’s what she gives, nothing silver, no, nothing white, no, just hatfuls of brass and gold.

I kept the brass and gold in my hat, wandered back into the forest, twined vines about my body, ate wild flowers, did some sort of naked dance with smears of soil on my chest and belly. That’s what she wanted, I think, some dance, some ritualistic thanksgiving for hatfuls of brass and gold.

And what could I do with it, really? I suppose I could have bought things, spent the gold on necklaces and bread, rings and vegetables. But I didn’t, I kept the hatfuls of brass and gold.

Now, sometimes, when I’m in bed, all heavy with sleep, breathing soft as feathers into my pillow, and I look down, there it is, next to my bed, hatfuls of brass and gold.”

 

 

*Note: this poem uses a line from Richard Scott’s ‘Dancing Bear’ as it’s title

 

 

 

 

Suzannah V. Evans is a poet, editor, and critic. She has written for the TLS, The London Magazine, New Welsh Review, The North, and elsewhere, and she is Reviews Editor for The Compass. A selection of her poems was recently longlisted for the 2018 Ivan Juritz Prize for creative responses to modernism, and she is an AHRC-funded PhD researcher at Durham University.

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Derek Brown

 

 

 

Douglas Dunn’s Elegies

A cold night in Kirkcaldy, November,
Winds from the Forth examining the town.
An old college building near the water,
Gusts analysing the windows where my
night school class sits ingesting the poems
about a diagnosis and a death
about a poet searching for redress.
One minute they’re all sitting on their chairs
quietly absorbing the images,
The next, there is a sob of such deep pain:
One woman is in tears, others comfort.
We stop the class and go down for coffee.
Stories about their lives. About their pain –
A lesson for me in what readers bring
out in a poem, conjuring its life
from the raw power of words to hurt and heal.
In the cafe that might a woman talked
about her mum who’d died the year before,
Another talked about a scare she’d had.
The brother of a third receiving care.
The death toll mounted as we sipped our drinks.
We agreed it had been a catharsis –
The poems had read their way inside us,
Had brought out the sadness that we live with,
The consolations of November winds.

 

 

 

 

Derek Brown lives in Clackmannanshire. He published a book on global citizenship for young people in 2015 and recently completed a novel, A Modern Noah. The poems here are part of a collection, Between an Idea and a Wish.

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Zoe Broome

 

 

 

Don’t Blame Eve
 
I know that a storm is due.

Dance with me on a tin-roof
while you wait for him
to grab you, snatch you, toss you
like so much skip-rag.

No,
you won’t wait
(although you’re sure
you could take him
if you wanted).

Anywhere the Fee-Fie-Foe comes, you are else-
where, crouched under branches at the gard-edge, crunching cores
‘til they lodge, thick as pistols, in your throat.

Don’t blame me.

Somoene must stay,
await the Black Beard Brute
whose horns scalp skin at angles.

Flirt with him in our garden
where scorched puddles splash patio slabs.

Deliver us to Evil.

 

 

 

 

Zoe Broome published her first collection Back To Yesterday in May 2016 and it’s available from Amazon. She finished Milwordy in May 2018 and is writing at a slower pace these days.

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John Vickers

 

 

Oberwolfach
 
Travelling on a local train,
Not knowing a colleague’s name,
Inside the guard room on metal benches.
I dream of fatherhood,
One whose body never changes
The beneath of the tracks.
The momento mori where I survive
In devious flakes. The Black Forest
Backdrop and gateau and beer
Reading Stephen King, someone aims
To be a cosmonaut. Oberwolfach,
The single fly keeping one awake
Through the night, where one no longer senses
The lights on the garage across the hill,
On the single road, that sells cigarettes and alcohol.
A blemish on the lungs
The rhizomatic alveoli, difference and repetition.
I can only rotate my midnight walks in the dark ether.
To drink alone the different mathematical areas.
And again, accelerating towards
The dry, brittle cold of Berlin
Where the freezing lakes
Envelop the city’s historical regrets,
The odour of the Unterbahn
Where one waits patiently for a signal.

 

 

 

Dr John Vickers has published over 50 poems in UK Journals including Smiths Knoll, Under The Radar, Orbis, The Lighthouse, The Journal, Brittle Star. He mini-blogs at https://johnvickerstopos.weebly.com. Mathematician , Poet, Philosopher, Psychoanalyst.

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Antony Owen

 

 

 

Lidice

 

On June 10, 1942, the German government announced that it had destroyed the small village of Lidice, Czechoslovakia, killing every adult male and some fifty-two women. All surviving women and children were then deported to concentration camps, or if found suitable to be “Germanized”, sent to the greater Reich. The Nazis then proudly proclaimed that the village  of Lidice, its residents, and its very name, were now forever blotted from memory. Holocaustresearchproject.org

 
With each sped up massacre
birds shot out from trees with each shaking luger,
let me report the apple orchard of drunk soldiers and wasps,
let me edit out the keen underling inebriated on cleansing a whole town.

With each slowed down massacre
I see men in rows of ten queue to meet their unmaker,
I see children humanised then germanised then heavenized.
Let me edit out the beautiful daughter now gargoyle of the cruel miasma.

With each decade Lidice moves a yard further from the surface.
Take my hand and walk us in single file to the orchard trees,
tell me that fascist butchers are ashamed of their meat,
how they rush bury the remains and guilt eats them.

Tell me that the ride to Lodz for the children was short,
that they never slept in their urine on gestapo floors,
tell me that their faces never went haggard in fog,
show me that all the things I know are too evil.

 

 

 

 

 

With five collections of poetry focusing on conflict Antony Owen is a well respected writer known for investigative poetry which took him to Hiroshima in 2015 to interview atomic bomb survivors. His subsequent collection, The Nagasaki Elder (V.Press) was shortlisted for a Ted Hughes Award in 2017

 

 

 

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Cliff Forshaw

 

 

 

404

404 is “page not found”, dead link,
the way the world forgets the things you did;
its chain got twisted up, got oddly kinked,
and all you’ve done’s undone, your thoughts unsaid.
You’ve been written out, in code, in secret ink:
No sense in asking why. You’re doubly dead.
Damnatio memoriae.

Some youthful indiscretions may live on,
(That foolish photograph is never gone!)
but books are burned, your body’s rotting in the ground,
your magnum opus is a “page not found”.
What was your life? What filled your time till now, now it’s later,
far later than you’ve allowed yourself to think?
You’ve snuffed it, and they’ve deodorized your old-time stink.
You’re at a loss. Senior moment. Don’t know why
you came in here.  [Comment deleted by Moderator.]
Damnatio memoriae.

 

 

 

Cliff Forshaw has been writer-in-residence in California, France, Kyrgizstan, Romania and Tasmania, twice a Hawthornden Writing Fellow, and guest poet at the International Poetry Festival,Nicaragua 2016. Collections include Vandemonian (Arc, 2013), Pilgrim Tongues (Wrecking Ball, 2015) and Satyr (Shoestring, 2017). http://www.cliff-forshaw.co.uk/

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