January 2016 Pick of the Month

It’s that time again: Voting is now open for the Pick of the Month – your favourite poem – for January 2016

Our shortlist of six is below (or see the Vote for your January 2016 Pick of the Month in the Categories list to your right on the screen). These have either been chosen by Helen and Kate or received the most attention on social media.

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.

(*Ink Sweat & Tears reserves the right to refuse certain charities if we feel they are too controversial.)

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And the final Pick of the Month for 2015 is ‘The Alchemist’ by James Parris

We can now announce that December’s ‘Pick of the Month’, and our final one for 2015, is James Parris’ ‘The Alchemist’ which featured on the first day of our ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ series. James writes from East London and has only just begun to turn his mind to poetry.

James will receive a copy of our Christmas anthology TWELVE: Slanted Poems for Christmas and has asked that his prize (£10) is donated to St Martin-in-the-Fields.

 

The Alchemist

The house was strange without one.
Corners where it could be swelled
daily in their emptiness
and threatened to topple the festivity.

Contrary under her gaze, he determined
that a squat bought thing just wouldn’t do,
and, shedding skeptics,
picked me as acolyte for misadventure.

And so in speckled overalls, like skins,
treading dampness into itself,
we left Crosby-carolling
for the trees who shivered at garden’s end

and saw in hand and hand on trunk,
he hoisted me into the twiggy innards
and spiced stench of sap
to amputate a branch or two or three

that we might puzzle together
in counterfeit of Christmas.
Metal teeth chattered bark to pulp
until my knuckles roared.

Then on the grass he laid our loot
and crouched and bent and sculpted,
rehearsing imperfect forms
gloveless, beneath the limbs’ original,

and twisting out an edifice, like origami
patterned from some secret
blueprint, invisible to me,
he stood content over his design.

Inside, we propped our patchwork nature,
boughs shot out like a mad star,
where he hoped it might not
shout its own lie loud enough

for her to tear it all to pieces.
Still, she came, and stood, and, silent,
circumspected for a hanging second.
And she smiled.

From one angle it was almost a tree.
But from every side his alchemy
now seemed to warm the house,
fuller in its strangeness.

 

Voters made the following comments:

The wonderful use of words that give it such a unique rhythm but mostly the sentiment and the pleasure the alchemist finally brings.

I liked the idea of building a Christmas tree and it being perfect despite its imperfections

For it’s extreme originality.

The most well-written, insightful poem of the list.

Subtle, understated, great word-pictures – like “knuckles roared”.

This gets my vote because to me it symbolises families coming together at Christmas.

 

 

 

 

Comments on the rest of the shortlist included:

 

Lana Bella, Eleven Years Tasted Like a Thousand Year Old Chinese Egg

I liked the mystery in this.

 

Joanne Key, Watching Tai Chi in the Park in December

Loved the initial apparent simplicity of this poem, then it moves and weaves to become multi layered and full of depth.

 

Sally Long, The Door

Like the door,it opened my mind

 

Wendy Pratt, Undone

This one left me undone x

 

Andrew Turner, My father’s watch

I love the way the poet has described the passage of time inside the ‘carefully imagined tin’.

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December 2015 ‘Pick of the Month’

 

 

ONE LAST HOLIDAY TREAT.

Voting is now open for the Pick of the Month – your favourite poem – for December 2015

Our shortlist of six is below (or see the Vote for your December 2015 Pick of the Month in the Categories list to your right on the screen). Half of these have come from our 12 Days Of… feature for Christmas (which incorporates those poems published up to 3rd January 2016), the remainder from the rest of the month’s postings. They have either been chosen by Helen and Kate or received the most attention on social media.

Voting has 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.

November and December winners will also receive a copy of IS&T’s TWELVE: Slanted Poems for Christmas

(*Ink Sweat & Tears reserves the right to refuse certain charities if we feel they are too controversial.)

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And the Pick of the Month for November 2015 is ‘groundwater’ by Marcelle Olivier

We are pleased to be able to announce that November’s Pick of the Month is groundwater by Marcelle Olivier. Marcelle is a poet and archaeologist. Her translations of contemporary South African poetry appear in the recent edited collection In a burning sea (Protea, 2015), and you can read more of her writing in, amongst others, Oxford Poetry, New Contrast, Carapace, and The Mays. She receives a £10 National Book Tokens giftcard and, as a special holiday extra, a copy of IS&T’s TWELVE: Slanted Poems for Christmas.

 

 

groundwater

 

i will never be as innocent
as i was then. as ripe
as this root, as sound

as a lock of mistletoe to its tree.
i will never be as thirsty.
i will never again be as near

to gods.

when i walk back into my
phantasies, shoes shed,
my palms sweetly pleased

with the stain of groundwater
shorn away from your body;

when i slip into the fatty
memory of it, the two of me;
when i count the many

days i have lost at your ream,
courting the threads
like a wet, blossoming moth,

my world shrinks. the drought
of an obstructive moon

flourishing in my triad
lights at the dividends of bones
better left behind.

to gods

i offered my youth. those unmarked
moments of lust stargazers refuse
to divulge, and the chance to lie

with my arm across your back,
the two of us shackled together
by the melancholy of hope.

 

 

Voters’ comments included:

The mixture of sensuousness, wonder and elliptical phrasing, makers this poem both ‘knowable’ and ‘unknowable’ and therefore one to read again. And again.

Beautiful images. Strikes me in the core of being. Well structured poem!

I lose balance in the phrases, and I like “the dividends of bones”

I can feel her poem in my soul…

Original both in its structure and its imagery.

Every word precisely placed, like a master player of spillikens

…..

 

Comments on the other shortlisted poets:

Paul Burns bringing it home

[I like it ] because of the rich imagery without any waste of words or floweriness and the contrast – it really does what it says on the tin

 

JD DEHart Secondhand

I like the way the poet extends the “Secondhand” metaphor from clothes to thoughts and how the person described cannot escape the cycle/ Like a second hand going round in a watch.

 

Martin Figura School Room, Upper Silesia 1933: Freedom and Bread

This took my breath away, particularly the line – his face betrays that he already knows the use of words. A beautifully controlled an evocative poem.

 

Clare Marsh, Sibling

Point of view is spot on, references to gooseberries slipped seamlessly into the narrative and at the end we’re left (after we’ve laughed aloud) with a sense of anticipation …….. or trepidation.

 

Molly Miltenberger Murray Sanctuary: An Elongated Haiku

Sanctuary captures a feeling and illustrates it through nature… love it!

 

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November 2015 ‘Pick of the Month’

Voting is now open for the Pick of the Month – your favourite work published on IS&T  – for November 2015

Our shortlist of six is below (or see the Vote for your November 2015 Pick of the Month in the Categories list to your right on the screen). These have either been chosen by Helen and Kate or received the most attention on social media.

Please vote HERE. Voting will close at 11pm (GMT) on Monday 14th 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.

(*Ink Sweat & Tears reserves the right to refuse certain charities if we feel they are too controversial.)

 

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And the ‘Pick of the Month’ for October 2015 is Jody Porter’s ‘Heat’

We can now announce that October’s ‘Pick of the Month’ is Heat by Jody Porter. Jody is poetry editor of The Morning Star. His work has appeared in Magma, Best British Poetry (Salt) and elsewhere. Originally from Essex, he now lives in London and runs events at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival. Jody has asked that his prize of £10 be donated to the French Red Cross.

Heat was originally posted on 10th October as part of the Ink Sweat & Tears feature on Light for National Poetry Day.

 

 

Heat

 

In these heat days

when the sun displays a fiery godhead

and ordains the liquefaction of Tarmac

 

and the deadest of nights bring a crackle of crickets

and all the bedrooms burn in airless struggle

 

to turn the pillow then and face its coolness

is like the ocean’s hand upon your cheek

and is the sweetest saviour after love.

…….

 Voters’ comments included:

Succinct yet richly imagined.

It’s simplicity is refreshing

It’s beautiful

Powerful images, short and well constructed.

A maturely executed poem of sensual tension… control of language… pace… the imagery was tactile, I felt this poem on the pillow… language accessible, engaging and always en point, poised for that final cool resonance.

 …….

As always it was a close contest with a number of respondents noting how difficult it was to choose. Comments on the other shortlisted poems included:

 

Abigail Beene, Untitled

The wisdom. And we’re swept along by the writing.

So much truth…very refreshing :) x

 

Natalie Burdett, The Knight

I like the narrator’s ambivalence and the snappy way the piece is written.

I like this poem’s strong appeal to the senses which makes it very immediate and realistic.

 

Jennifer A. McGowan, Secretary of God

I love its sparse words, its sense of mystery. I’m not even sure why, but it stays.

Simplicity, the kind that makes you stop and catch your breath. Word perfect.

 

Bethany W Pope, Midnight Illness

Pope’s writing is dense and rich, packed with meanings, very exciting to read.

Atmospheric, insightful and lyrical. Plus its skilfully crafted.

 

Tim Turnbull, A Lucky Charm

A great story, beautifully written.

Tim Turnbull! Need I say more?

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October 2015 ‘Pick of the Month’

Voting is now open for the Pick of the Month – your favourite poem or short story – for October 2015

Our shortlist of six is below (or see the Vote for your October 2015 Pick of the Month in the Categories list to your right on the screen). Half of these have come from our week long feature on Light for National Poetry Day, the remainder from the rest of the month’s postings. They have either been chosen by Helen and Kate or received the most attention on social media.

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.

(*Ink Sweat & Tears reserves the right to refuse certain charities if we feel they are too controversial.)

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