The final pick of the Month for 2019 is ‘No more ordinary mornings’ by Mick Corrigan

For December’s  Pick of the Month, the future and the state of our planet knocked everything else into touch – even the fine slant of our 12 Days of Christmas shortlisted poems – and Mick Corrigan‘s ‘No more ordinary mornings’ emerged as the final IS&T Pick for 2019 and, fittingly, for the decade. This ‘brilliant’ poem resonated because many voters felt it was true. Or would be.

Mick‘s debut, Deep Fried Unicorn, was released in to the wild in 2015. His poems have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize (USA) and The Forward Poetry Prize (UK). He is currently completing his second collection Life Coaching for Gargoyles which, when finished, will be launched like a clown from a cannon.  He spends his time as though he has an endless supply of it, between Ireland and the island of Crete. He plans to do wild and reckless things with his hair before it’s too late.

 

No more ordinary mornings

There are no more ordinary mornings
when Greenland comes pouring through your letterbox
and the chickens have stopped giving milk,
when you don’t have to go to the sea anymore
as the sea is now coming to you.

There are no more ordinary mornings
when anger clouds like ink in water
and the cure seems worse than the disease
to those who should know better but don’t.

There are no more ordinary mornings
when the rain dark clay of March
refuses the spade and turns its face away,
when the dusty bed where a fertile river ran
is home now to nothing but the rushing diarrhoea
of blogging, vlogging and reality tv.

There are no more ordinary mornings
when the last days of summer
are the last days of summer ever,
when undertakers mutter about
how that was a very popular glacier,
how it’s bound to be a very big funeral
how a very large casket will be needed
for all the thoughts and prayers.

 

Voters comments included:

It may seem odd, the idea of poetry making something real, but that’s what happens here, making climate change real because it’s mundane.

It resonates so well with the times we live in

This is a ‘wake-up’ poem, its sincerity written in simple language. I love the ideas and the scary notion of  ‘No more ordinary mornings’.

Mick’s use of imagery and clever wordplay sways my vote.

Mick Corrigan has been a wordsmith and voice for some time now roun’ & roun’ the block on both sides of the pond. Foresight in technicolor and 2020 hindsight fitting of this starboard listing ship of fools, friends, and countrymen.

Touched a nerve

Because, there are no more ordinary mornings.

Bleedin’ fabulous

Enjoyed immensely!

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December 2019’s Pick of the Month: Vote for Your Favourite Poem Now!

Our shortlist for December 2019’s #PickoftheMonth, the last of the decade, reflects the unease that has pervaded the year. Some poems have come from our #12DaysOf… Christmas feature but these are not scenes of comfort and joy. Santa’s ‘girls’ are striking back in ‘His Daughters’ by Joanne Key, Pippa Little looks to the past and the ‘Sparklen Bottle’ of her grandmother’s ‘winterdark house’ and we are falling into an unknown, dystopian future in John Greening‘s ‘At Christmas’? Mick Corrigan hints at a similar fate in ‘No more ordinary mornings’ and Matt Merritt‘s ‘Peninkulma’ also suggests an unknown threat. Perhaps the wry humour of Anita Goveas with ‘Titles of my autobiography I have discarded’ shows how to cope.

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 December 2019 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.

Voting has now closed. December’s ‘Pick’ will be announced on Sunday 19th January.

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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And the IS&T Pick of the Month for November 2019 is Elisabeth Sennitt Clough’s ‘Ague’

It was oh so close with only a few votes between the top group of poems but Elisabeth Sennitt Clough’s ‘Ague’ emerged from the fog to be the IS&T Pick of the Month for November 2019. This intense, ‘evocative and darkly mysterious’ poem brought out all sorts of emotions in our voters, reducing some to tears and others to wonder.

Elisabeth 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. www.elisabethsennittclough.co.uk

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Ague

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.

 

 

Voters’ comments included:

[This gets my vote] because of the way the poet captures the poignancy of the moments and places shared. Because the talk of forgetting happens and there is too much to forget and there is a wonderful reality in all the things that are not forgotten that makes the reader pause and remember their own.

It is thought provoking and evocative. It says a lot in a succinct way.

Wonderful, powerful and subtle all at once.

I think she is a amazing writer with such depth and clarity

Such a talented poet and I enjoy her work immensely.

This poem conveys an intense sensuality and malaise which is embodied in the landscape. A feeling of movement contrasts with its tight form.

Beautiful imagery

This poet is one of my favourites!

I love the darkness of the poem, and the secrets of the Fen

Elisabeth captures the aura of the Fen so vividly

 

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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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‘A conversation with my daughter about my brother’s suicide’ by Helen Calcutt is the IS&T October 2019 Pick of the Month

 

It is fitting that Helen Calcutt‘s ‘A conversation with my daughter about my brother’s suicide’ is the Ink Sweat & Tears Pick of the Month for October 2019. The theme of National Poetry Day in October was Truth and what can be more truthful, more honest than explaining to a child about the suicide of someone close? And then to write something so painful and so raw that also offers hope? As one voter put it: ‘Broke my heart. Then restarted it.’

Helen is the author of two books of poetry, Sudden rainfall (Perdika, 2014) a PBS Choice, and Unable Mother published by V.Press in September 2018. Her writing is published internationally, including award-winning essays and reviews for The Wales Arts Review, The Brooklyn Review, The London Review, Poetry Scotland and Boundless. She is creator and editor of Eighty-Four a poetry anthology on the subject of male suicide. Website: https://helencalcutt.org/

 

A conversation with my daughter about my brother’s suicide

She is awake.

The moon is bright and the clouds have parted.
The trees are painted trees, living a still life.

She tells me my brother is in the moon.
I’ve bathed her, given her milk
and as I fold the sheets from her knees

to her lap, she asks me how he died.
‘He was very sad’ I say
and she seems to understand.

She rubs the milk away from her lips with her hands
as if the moon had kissed her
and then asks why.

I try to explain.
‘Sadness can make you very tired.
It can make you want to sleep.

It can make you want to close your eyes on everything.’

Her hands are like two leaves
resting on the bedcovers. She asks me if I miss him
and when I say I do

her eyes go big and round
and she asks me again, how he died
if the sadness of missing him

will make me die.

I hold her then, I accept
the weight of her. I can feel her widening like the stillness of a tree –

my child, coming into a still life…

Then we talk about the moon being
the shape of an egg, upside down.
We watch branches touch on drifting clouds
and agree – we want to see everything.

We stay up half the night finding patterns on the walls.
Different kinds of windows.

 

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Other voters’ comments included:

Given the devastating statistics of male suicide this is one of those poems that pushes through the poetry landscape as a signpost to show people where suicide takes those left behind. It is so personal and brave that it takes the breath away but comforts, disturbs and educates like poetry should. It is a timeless poem like Frieda Hughes poem also about her brother Nicholas’ suicide. Beautiful

A painfully, beautiful and brave poem. I’m voting not for the subject matter alone, but for the quality of the poem, which is up to the task.

An honest, brave poem that tackles a very difficult subject

Unbelievably sad and hopeful in equal measure.

A beautiful piece. The pain, honesty and love found in this poem is captivating.

Heartfelt words. Moments shared between mother & daughter. As a parent how can you explain death, particularly suicide, to a child?! This poem addresses that precious shared time as death affects us all – beautifully yet so clearly written.

tough subject handled beautifully. ..such delicacy…and the charming innocence of her child…the deceptive simplicity and wonderful leafy images. An open window of a poem despite the sorrow of loss etc

Such a sad tale told beautifully

A poignant and sensitive piece evoking the aching resonance of grief yet offering a glimpse of a stronger future. Beautiful!

Deeply moving to read. So perfectly crafted, that the craft is practically invisible – which is quite something to do when the subject matter is so painful to the poet. Not a trace of self indulgence – which unfortunately can affect so many poems of this deeply personal nature. Really up there as a genuinely great poem – one that will last.

If ‘truth’ were a poem, this is it.

It’s uncompromising, quiet power, its raw, intimate poignancy. She speaks of a motherhood I feel know, though I’ve never experienced what she has. The poem leads me to believe I have.

It’s a brave, beautiful, painful, but ultimately hopeful poem,and speaks with a clear, true voice.

Suicide being very close and personal to a lot of people hearts is still very unspoken about. This poem perfectly uses imagery to evoke the emotions surrounding this. It also depicts family, and the effect on small children, how do you explain suicide to young ones? This poem is fragile, yet strong. Sad, yet hopeful. But most importantly, truthful. When you read the poem it feels like it’s coming straight from the heart of truth and for me that is amazingly vulnerable.

The dynamic between mother and daughter over a painful subject is skillfully handled, the tension built and overcome together.

The tenderness and bravery of this poem is inspirational, it leaves an impression long after it has been read.

 

 

 

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Vote for your October 2019 Pick of the Month

 

National Poetry Day was all about Truth in October and poems, featured on that day and the week that followed, from Rachel Burns (‘Truth’), Linda Rose Parkes (‘A True Version) and Sharon Phillips (‘Something’s wrong’) have all deservedly made their way onto the IS&T #PickoftheMonth shortlist for that month.

But there is a truth in most literary works and we can add these from Helen Calcutt (‘A conversation with my daughter about my brother’s suicide), Miles Salter (‘Profuse’) and Jacob Silkstone (‘Night Train‘) without being said to stray too far from this essential theme.

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 2019 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.

Voting is now closed.

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. (‘Frequency Violet’ by Kate Edwards was a Pick of the Month for November 2017 and was Highly Commended by the 2018 judges.)

 

 

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Helen Kay is the September 2019 Pick of the Month Poet with ‘NIMBY and the Supermoon 2018′

It was an extremely close run thing but ‘NIMBY and the Supermoon 2018′ by Helen Kay edged over the finish line to be our Pick of the Month for September 2019. This topical and emotive poem naturally gelled with voters’ concerns over the environment, which thoughts are at the forefront of most peoples’ minds at the moment (or should be if they are not). And as one voter put it: ‘She has such a refreshingly novel way of describing everyday things and making us experience them anew.’

Helen’s poems crop up in magazines. She was recently placed second in the Leeds Peace Prize, Wakefield Sanctuary and Welshpool competitions and commended in the Shelter and Festival of Firsts Competitions.

She has asked that her £10 ‘prize’ be donated to Shelter.

 

NIMBY and the Supermoon 2018

The window by her pillow has the best job in the house:
it sneaks in day to kiss her awake to      a tail-thumping heart.

Curtains slice a piece of sky, twig-flecked, let her taste
the creamy dawn            shame it’s a #supermoontease.

She breaks open sleep-stuck, blackout linings. Her heart howls.
New houses, with scaffold ribs                      fatten on the fields.

Her hatred self-harms as the ‘stunning’ Wildflower estate
chews up trees and newts                    smirks at her terrace.

She is Sleeping Beauty. No sweet lips, just golden JCBs drilling
her mad. She goads the moon to flee       prays for a spindle prick.

 

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Other voters’ comments included:

Helen’s poem uses challenging language and form to bring attack to her argument. Her theme is relevant and relatable and the poem moved me.

Originality of language – ‘chews up trees and newts smirks at her terrace.’

It’s a cracking poem.

Imageful, rooted in reality

Her imagery is visually stunning.

Just a thought provoking piece of poetry.

This compressed so many thoughts and feelings into a short poem. ‘Nimby’ invites us to make a simple judgement but the poem exposes something much more complex.

Beautiful balance; quietly menacing language. Loved it!

This poem really resonated with me with its deft handling of an emotive subject – one that’s close to my heart.

I think this poem puts over its message in an economical but magical way.

Witty and relevant.

I just like the description it gives you, as you read it and takes on the journey with the pillow.

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