And our Pick of the Month for April 2017 is David Subacchi’s ‘Cross Country’

 

More than 250 of you voted – a record for us – leading to a sprint finish that saw ‘Cross Country’ by David Subacchi as our Pick of the Month for April 2017. This fine poem struck a nostalgic nerve with many of you although it was 50/50 as to whether you loved or dreaded the sport itself!

David lives in Wales (UK) where he was born of Italian roots. He studied at the University of Liverpool and he has three poetry collections with Cestrian Press First Cut (2012), Hiding in Shadows (2014) and Not Really a Stranger (2016).  David has also recently published a collection of Sonnets A Terrible Beauty in commemoration of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising. He writes in Welsh and Italian and blogs at http://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/davidsubacchi

David will receive a National Book Token for £10.

 

Cross Country

A reluctant concession
For those of insufficient bulk
Or violent disposition
To take part in the awful
Battle of blood and mud
Laughingly referred to
As a game.

Unsupervised
Our route wound
Far away from
The killing fields
Past gasworks
And railway lines
Through the village.

Once out of sight
A walking pace
Cigarettes
Sweets
Talking to local girls
Cursing the brutality
Of the egg shaped ball.

Then returning
To the jeers
Of shirt ripped
Casualties
Our mock exhaustion
Too dramatic
Fooling no one.

 

Voters comments included:

David Subacchi has the human touch – when you read him it is like you thought that, but didn’t know how to put it into words.

Distills the essence of a very familiar experience!

Rhythm of verses felt like running

Love David’s precision of language

I like the skew of it. Interesting language from a surprising angle.

It brings back so many memories, it made me smile

It evokes so many memories of cross country at my school. This poem creates so many visions and is so poignant.

Brings back the memories. Short cuts, false panting, an unnecessary puff on the inhaler to fool the teacher. Fantastic.

Reminds me of those awful childhood treks!

Brings back happy memories of my school days, seeing the boys running past the perimeter fence of our school and laughing & joking (sometimes jeering lol) with them

David’s poetry always helps you to see the ordinary transformed.

It matches some of my own experience – though mine was more dull. Scared and useless at rugby & cricket.

Reading it twice and taking in the title, it reminded me of cross country as engaged in here in the States and the 2-word phrase “past gasworks” as an intended or not, echo of an early David Bowie lyric, using the phrase “past the gasworks” made me smile. It was a song called ‘Uncle Arthur’ from 1967.

David Subacchi is such an observant writer; I love the way he expresses what he sees, what he feels and somehow captures how the listeners feel too.

So much conjured up with so few words.

It has an element of Gritty Truth

It reminds me of when I opted out of netball, was sent on a cross country run and my friends joined me. From then on we ran regularly.

I love his style and it reminds me of my ‘yoof’ !!

Shows the pain of Cross Country!

 

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Vote for your Pick of the Month for April 2017!

 

Time once more to choose your Pick of the Month. We’ve a wonderfully eclectic selection for April so take a few moments to pick your favourite from the shortlist of six below (or see the ‘Vote for your Pick of the Month for April 2017′ 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.

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And the Pick of the Month for March 2017 is ‘Stranger’ by Jessica Mookherjee

Our poem for International Women’s Day, Jessica Mookherjee’s ‘Stranger’, has been voted as the IS&T Pick of the Month for March 2017, its mystical aura and the beauty of the language having seduced our readers.

Jessica is originally from Wales now living in Kent. She has had poems published previously in Ink Sweat & Tears as well as Antiphon, Agenda, Prole, Interpreter’s House, Obsessed With Pipework and Tears in the Fence. Her pamphlet, The Swell – was published in October 2016 by Telltale Press.

Jessica has asked that her £10 prize be donated to The Sophie Lancaster Foundation, which, in memory of Sophie who was kicked to death in 2007 for looking different, focuses on creating respect for and understanding of subcultures in our communities.

 

Stranger

I’ll ask the Moon to do my dirty work.
In the backwash I wonder if the Welsh God
with his untidy name, painted her.
I’m the colour of the rock.
I’ll be a moon-glowing witch,
with cloud-hands getting slowly drunk, as I shrink out of the sky.
They ask me why I wear a bone in my nose and I laugh,
make their cows lame and their children fail.

Everyone’s asleep, I walk streets where lights
are still on in people’s houses –
to walk my coast path from West Cross
to the Mumbles Head, away from the village,
from that old infant school
with that big sign that told them to aim
for something they must have believed at the time,
where the milk was too warm and made them sick.

I want to flick a switch and turn
off all the stars. I can drop gold-crushed light
on the cliff paths, and sit
down here on Brandy Cove, sea-faced.
They spread rumours that I was the moon and chased me
with silver, I know I can’t drown
because I’m the water.

 

Voters’ comments included:

Bold, energetic, innovative and deeply feminine poem which takes the reader on a journey that’s both fabulous and believable.

Jess’s poetry has layers of vivid imagery, dreams and ancient stories. As an artist working with the visual world, I like all the hidden depths – they recall everything and nothing of what i have experienced. Pictures and colours rise to the surface!

Because of the symbolism and how it captures a mystical angst of being different

The magical atmosphere evoked in the poem and the beautiful use of language – “gold crushed light “!

‘the Welsh god/with his untidy name’ – you know when you read something and think ‘I wish I’d written that’?

It has a feeling of sparkly abandon and the last three lines just melt me.

The last two lines: Miller ending – a sort of satisfying semi-paradox

Because the witch sings a strong song.

I love the beauty the words in this poem convey.

The imagery, the language and the sense of ancientness

Beautiful, lyrical, other worldly. We Welsh are very fey

Astonishing, luminous and mystical poem, utterly beautiful!

 

 

 

 

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Pick your Pick for March 2017

Once again it is time to vote for our Pick of the Month so spare a few minutes away from deliberating over the excellent shortlists for the 2017 Saboteur Awards and choose from the fine IS&T poets and poems listed below, or see the ‘Vote for your Pick of the Month for March 2017’ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.

The shortlist has 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.

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Vote for your IS&T Pick of the Month for February 2017

 

It comes around so quickly, this voting business. But it really is a very nice way to recognise some of our writers and poets and we appreciate you coming back to the voting booth again and again.

We’ve a largely softer tone this time, appropriate for the month of Love and we’ve even included Nik Perring’s flash fiction from Valentine’s Day. So revisit his story and have a look at the poems from Roz Goddard, Ian Heffernan, Moray Sanders, Akeredolu Tope and Miranda Yates. These shortlisted works can be found below  (or see the ‘Vote for your Pick of the Month for February 2017’ in the Categories list to your right on the screen)

They have 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.

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And January’s Pick of the Month is ‘Waiting’ by Rachael Smart

When we published our latest shortlist, we noted that it looked to the displaced and the vulnerable so it is perhaps no surprise that Rachael Smart’s ‘Waiting’, a poem that speaks to the vulnerability that is personal to so many of us,  is our Pick of the Month for January 2017.

Rachael’s short fiction and poetry have been published online, in literary journals and placed in competitions. She is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at The University of Nottingham. She writes best when the pencil loses its point.

And, in January’s spirit of looking to the vulnerable, Rachael has asked that her £10 ‘prize’ be donated to The Railway Children, a charity that provides ‘protection and opportunity for children with nowhere else to go and nobody to turn to’.

 

Waiting

At Swanpool
the sand is Demerara sugar
a dark heart floats: cocoa
on a cappuccino scurf.
Out there, the horses break
relentless, Shire hooves kicking up
pasts. Fairy lights string
the ships in, a bistro siren
big on gratuities and gulfweed.

The sea has taken a pea-green boat
and my son out with it,
he is only a dot. It isn’t that
I don’t trust his father’s rowing, only
his feet don’t touch the bottom.
I see goggles – lost
a midnight vigil
tiny rib bones
hooked on a rock.

*********

Voters’ comments included:

It captures a parent’s habit, almost need, to envisage catastrophe in the midst of the mundane, almost as if preparing for the unthinkable. The description of the scene is both precise and mythical. evoking fairy tale, so appropriate for the child, and the wildness that the parent fears may overwhelm the child. It haunts the reader in all senses of the word.

Beautiful evocation of a mother’s love. The lines took me in an instant to a memory of such a moment. My mother feared open water. 🙂 Imagery shimmers. Tingling last lines and perfectly formed.

This poem stands out in a sea of amazing poems. It’s a concise, tight study of an unnameable worry that I could totally relate to. I can’t ask for more.

I find I’m often floating around in a bubble of beautiful words then she pops you abruptly out of it with her dry sense of humour, then in a few words can make you heart wrenchingly sad. It’s a little roller coaster of a read.

Wonderfully poignant…startling images. A lot said in few words. Love it.

Struck a chord with me, thought provoking

…the horror-laced edge, a sugared seaside idyll spoiled by maternal anxiety

Concision allied with the sheer intensity of such remarkable, memorable imagery make this the stand-out pick in a very strong field.

Beautiful play with words, could visualize everything. Really lovely

 

And one final, very personal comment which shows even more why it struck a chord with so many of you:

She’s my girlfriend and my son is in this dark poem with me on the boat. We were on holiday in Cornwall. When she nailed the last line, we drank red wine. Makes my heart hurt to see it in this list. Just that.

 

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Vote for your January 2017 Pick of the Month

2017 brings with it insecurity and uncertainty and our January Pick of the Month shortlist, in part, reflects this as we look to the displaced and the vulnerable. The shortlisted works can be found below  (or see the ‘Vote for your Pick of the Month for January 2017’ in the Categories list to your right on the screen)

These have 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.

Read More