Vote Vote Vote for Your Pick of the Month for October 2018

 

The nights are closing in and it’s time to choose your Pick of the Month for October. Change is in the air and we have shortlisted two of the submissions for our National Poetry Day #Poetryforachange feature, excellent works from Jenny Hope and Angela Readman. But some things cannot be changed as we are movingly reminded by Nicholas McGaughey and Abegail Morley. And for Maggie Butt and Gboyega Odubanjo, some things that should change and can change, do not change quickly enough and we must remain vigilant.

Do, please, take the time to go through these six fine poems below (or click on ‘Vote for your October 2018 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.)

Please VOTE HERE. Voting will close at 9pm on Wednesday 14th November.

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 All shortlisted poetry Picks, provided they remain unpublished and meet other eligibility criteria, will be considered as IS&T submissions for the annual Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.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 has just been Highly Commended by the 2018 judges. It features in The Forward Book of Poetry 2019.)

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Amy Kean is our Pick of the Month Poet for September 2018

 

Our Pick of the Month poem for September 2018 could only have been written in the 21st century and the depth, wit and brilliance of Amy Kean’s ‘I put make-up on for the Deliveroo driver’ resonated with many voters

Amy is an author and advertising creative from London. Her first book – The Little Girl Who Gave Zero Fucks – is out in October, and she’s had work published in The Guardian, Disclaimer magazine and Litro amongst many others.  www.shitsandgigs.com

Amy has asked that her £10 ‘prize’ be donated to PDSA, the charity that offers reduced cost and free veterinary care for pets in need.

 

 

I put make-up on for the Deliveroo driver  

Pornography implies this a fruitful strategy for lonely women.
Often their husbands are out of town, but you could be anywhere.

I put make-up on for the Deliveroo driver, hot ribs and bang bang cauliflower hint at my intentions.
The miso aubergine and Chilean Malbec brazen, our language: body and artisanal oriental fusion.

I put make-up on for the Deliveroo driver, barely-there razzmic berry shorts simmer on my thigh tops.
These neatly boxed breasts ready and protein-heavy like five days of meal prep in airtight tupperware.

I put make-up on for the Deliveroo driver, painted my lips crimson as a blood clot five centimetres in length.
Pinched my cheeks so hard the rest of my body forgot how pain feels.

I put make-up on for the Deliveroo driver to prove my fruit is not forbidden. I am Eve, original biblical MILF. I am the childless witch in a gingerbread house, I am his stepmother, I am your cracked, overheated induction hob.

I put make-up on for the Deliveroo driver but the helmet hid his face. It might have been you. He might have been wearing make-up too. A woman with appropriated braids was vaping in the car.  He was late, forgot my spring rolls and the sticky shredded chilli beef still breathing. I imagined it was you. Delivering sustenance in disguise to check I’m alive.

 

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Voters’ comments included:

I thought that its structure seemed effortlessly worked and loved its ‘killer’ humour which belied such pain. Great poem, seemingly light but full of deep emotion.

Bold and vivid imagery, long lines, primary colours, unashamed sexiness and brilliant that the braids are “appropriated”.

Very heartfelt poem

Amy is corky and [a] brilliant writer. She is super intelligent and [has a] great sense of that old traditional English sarcastic humour

Inspirational and motivational magic

It’s so real – it really landed with me.

I love the idea of non judgemental cosmetic application. I agree, when I wear lippy & mascara it shows I value me!

It’s honest, sad, real, in-your-face and ultra modern. Love it.

Loved the humour.

Human, fallible, wonderful writing

It’s funny and fresh and oddly real!

It’s hilarious

Quirky. Funny. Relevant.

Just brilliant

Resonating themes.

We all do it

So original.

I love her sharp incisive wit

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Vote for your Pick of the Month for September 2018

 

It seems appropriate on the eve of National Poetry Day that we launch our shortlist for September 2018’s Pick of the Month particularly when two past winners, Jess Mookherjee and Antony Owen  are amongst the six selected. Our shortlist this month, including also Amy Kean, Aaron Kent, Amanda Oosthuizen and Gareth Writer-Davies, takes us to other times, other lands, maybe even other dimensions. We are on our own doorstop or revisiting places that we must not forget. It is a wonderfully eclectic, talented group with three newcomers to Ink Sweat & Tears and three IS&T stalwarts.

Do, then, take the time to go through the superb poems below (or click on ‘Vote for your September 2018 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.)

Voting has now closed. The winner will be announced at 4pm on Monday 15th October.

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 has just been Highly Commended by the 2018 judges. It features in The Forward Book of Poetry 2019.)

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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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Vote for Your Pick of the Month for August 2018

The long hot days of summer have drawn to a close but there is still time to take one last look back and vote for your Pick of the Month for August 2018. These shortlisted poems, wistful and reflective, with several inspired by music and one including a stop at a lonely diner, have either been chosen by Helen and Kate or received the most attention on social media.

Do take the time to go through the six exceptional poems below (or click on ‘Vote for your August 2018 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 has just been Highly Commended by the 2018 judges. It features in The Forward Book of Poetry 2019.)

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‘Frequency Violet’ by Kate Edwards is Highly Commended in the 2018 Forward Prizes and appears in the ‘The Forward Book of Poetry 2019’

We are beyond excited to be able to announce that Kate Edwards’ poem ‘Frequency Violet’, which charmed and delighted us and was Pick of the Month for November 2017, has been Highly Commended in the 2018 Forwards Prizes following our submission of it for the Prize for Best Single Poem. Violet makes her print publishing debut in ‘The Forward Book of Poetry 2019’ available here.

Huge Congratulations to Kate

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Matthew Tett reviews ‘More than you were’ by Christina Thatcher

 

 

 

 
Losing a parent is hard and when it happens, it’s tough. It brings a glut of unexpected emotions and without a doubt, More than you were, Christina Thatcher’s debut poetry collection, deals with the death of her father in a beautiful, heartfelt way.

Thatcher, an American Ph.D student at Cardiff University, has written More than you were as a response to her father David’s death, in 2013, from a drugs overdose. Not knowing the deceased does not make the collection any less impactful. In fact, the poems deal with Thatcher’s grief in a multitude of ways from constructing her father’s obituary through to cleaning out his apartment.

In the opening poem, ‘First Drafts’, Thatcher explores the process of writing a suitably respectful piece for her father – and how, after she’d ‘read hundreds of them…’ she didn’t want her father ‘to look bad next to the other obituaries’. Further in the past is ‘Day One’ – and the room being ‘like molasses’ is poignant: time takes on a new meaning. It’s not something that can be imagined, or easily understood.

Interspersed throughout are ten ‘lessons’ – learning points, often focusing on what Thatcher learnt from her father, or has realised since he died. In ‘Lesson #3’, David Thatcher told his daughter that ‘some things were never mean to be loved.’ In ‘Lesson #5’, he kills eels, en masse, and explains this as a kind gesture. But learning is not just restricted to the ‘lessons’. In ‘There’, Thatcher realises how much her father was to her – ‘the everything in that room’. The disconnect of the nouns ‘expert, alchemist, front man composing lasagna’ show how much he meant to her – and how much fathers mean to many of us. In ‘Anticipation’, the focus is less positive – waiting for something that never comes. Thatcher was desperate for ‘the taste of cinnamon’ chewing gum but such desire was futile. It is fascinating how the adult memory can hang on to glimpses into the yesteryear of childhood. If only all responsible adults followed through with their promises.

Thatcher’s poems are short, often one-stanza affairs, each one conveying strong emotions that only the bereaved can ever fully understand. ‘Shaking hands at a funeral’ is reminiscent of Seamus Heaney’s ‘Mid-Term Break’ – the main difference being Thatcher writes about death’s impact on an adult, whereas Heaney wrote as a child. But the fall out (‘death would strip me, leave me barren, like winter’) is the same. The tragedy of getting older, with funeral attendance being the norm, is clear in ‘Multiples’. In ‘Sharing’, a warmer sense is felt – where Thatcher debates where to scatter her father’s ashes, listing beautiful potential locations in her adopted Wales.

What really rings true in this collection is the contrast between what was and what could have been. In ‘Out’, there is a strong element of wondering – with reference to ‘bottles of Bud’. One can’t help feeling empty with the thought of wasted opportunities. But this doesn’t stop Thatcher reminiscing – particularly when it is the anniversary of her father’s birthday in ‘When you sneak up on me’. The longevity of grief’s impact is evident here, as it is in ‘Echo’ with its sense of finality – with ‘Everything being paid up.’ After a loved one dies, there is a lot to organise, alongside the grieving and emotions. Even though such jobs can be unwanted and tempting to ignore, their completion leaves a sense of everything being done.

Towards the end of the collection, Thatcher reflects on the present day. In ‘On learning to help myself’, she uses the analogy of ‘luck’ – and that she doesn’t have to rely on this in order to have a good life. Finality is confronted in ‘Your estate has closed’ – and in ‘Resilience’, accepting the truth (and internalising the loss) is tackled. The concluding poem, ‘Finding You’, sees Thatcher returning to one of her father’s old haunts and the impact a guitar has on her. It is a reminder to us all that the small things in life can cause the strongest emotions.

Having recently lost my own father, albeit in very different circumstances, More than you were hit home. The collection should be read as a whole, such are the effects of grief. Thatcher candidly writes about the myriad ways that a parent’s death can affect a child – and no matter the situation, her writing is beautifully executed and deserves to be absorbed slowly, with consideration and a sense of peace.

 

 

Matthew Tett is a freelance writer and teacher based in the south-west of England. He is Reviews Editor for NAWE’s Writing in Education and writes for various publications, including the Cardiff Review.

 

You can buy your copy of More than you were by Christina Thatcher here: https://www.parthianbooks.com/products/more-than-you-were

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