Vote for your IS&T November 2016 ‘Pick of the Month’

 

Time once more to choose your Pick of the Month, this time for November 2016. So tear yourself away from Christmas/holiday shopping and 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 November 2016’ 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.

You can VOTE HERE. Voting will close at 9pm on Wednesday 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.

Read More

‘Tree Surgery’ by Sally Beets is your Pick of the Month for October 2016

 

It was a tightly fought contest and from a dark and sombre shortlist, Sally Beets’ wonderfully caustic ‘Tree Surgery’ emerged as the overall winner and Pick of the Month for October. Maybe we all just needed to vent!

Sally is a poet and Young Adult fiction writer. She is completing a Masters in Children’s Literature and Creative writing at Goldsmiths University where she has had several pieces published in student publications.  She has worked as a teacher in the past and is involved in various local literacy charities and projects based in London.

 

Tree Surgery

I was growing tired of trees, already,
before the end. Tired of going to nature reserves, forests,
woods, with your tree index book, looking up words in
Latin: Quercuis ilex, rubra, robur,
chasing after your over-excitable stinking dogs,
that muddied and laddered my tights,
or worse, when you produced that battered bat detector.

Everything comes back to trees: breath, literature, doors: the
furniture of life. Your calloused hands
always smelt and felt like bark,
your hair too – that space between your neck and
hairline, it was like that forest in Centre Parcs
where we went together, and then I alone, ‘escaping’,
(my chest tight in the healthy air)
– fresh, smelling faintly of damp sweat from
a freezing wrapped up winter walk.

Your favourite is the Oak. Like you, I thought:
classic, strong, reliable. You, the least complicated of men/
Even trees understand you –
Like the one you climbed in Epping Forest
and shouted from that you were king of the world, while
I refused to join in.
I’ve always liked willows: reflective, flexible, lazy.
Like the one where we had that perfect Indian Summer
picnic and made love next to cows in the stream, there was a
wedding just beyond the hedge.

I retain knowledge against my will, on how to
fell or pollard a tree. I know that they go into shock,
how they heal themselves, how you studied that tree
like an archaeologist, in Grace’s garden in Essex,
twisted like hair, it wormed its way in and
out of the ground, how you found a body
hanged from a tree in Hampstead Heath.

*****

Voters’ comments included:

An extraordinary poem with alarming and poignant imagery.

Painful yet beautiful.

I especially like the way, in this poem, the poet creates very painterly bucolic scenes with an economy of language. I also like the depiction of common everyday activities which are suddenly shot through with darker notes.

Brilliantly combines the allusive with the particular – the poem draws you in as it opens out.

I like trees and this poem takes a surprising way to show us what the title means with respect to a relationships – both literally & figuratively.

 

 

 

Read More

It’s time to Vote for your October 2016 ‘Pick of the Month’

 

Our Pick of the Month shortlist for October is a sombre one. People and relationships are mourned, or not, and we’ve been drawn to the dark and macabre, perhaps befitting in a month that ends with the Day of the Dead.

You will find our shortlisted writers below (or see the ‘Vote for your Pick of the Month for October 2016’ 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. (You’ll note we have an extra this month. Competition on social media was fierce!)

Voting has 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

Our Pick of the Month for September 2016 is ‘Leda Meets Helen’ by Angharad Walker

 

A surge in voting in the final hours saw Angharad Walker just pip her nearest rival at the post with her moving ‘Leda Meets Helen’, a superb example of how much can be said in only a few words.

Angharad graduated from the University of Warwick with a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing in 2013. She lives and works in London.

She has asked that her £10 prize be donated to the Pembroke Unit Fund of the Salisbury District Hospital Stars Appeal

 

Leda Meets Helen

She is fresh on this globe from my globed belly and I am too scared to look. I dread the moment she opens her eyes. She could have his black beads.

I unwrap her. Not a feather in sight. I turn her over and over with delight, run my fingers over her human down. Her toes are angular, unwebbed. Her neck cannot hold up her head. Her lips are soft, pink, unfed.

I will never teach her to swim.

I will never dress her in white.

 

*****

Voters comments included:

The story behind the brevity is compelling – full of contradictory feelings of fear and attraction. Stunning compression of language.

A whole world, a whole myth, and what it’s like to greet your newborn, in so few words. A beautiful poem!

I like the uncertain direction of the poem.

It really spoke to my heart.

Read More

It’s time to Vote for September’s Pick of the Month

Women of grit, determination and strength – true Queens – feature in several of the works on our shortlist for September. And then there’s the worker ants and Trotsky at a birthday party.

Intrigued? You can find our shortlisted writers below (or see the ‘Vote for your September 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.

Read More

That time again! Vote for your Pick of the Month for August 2016.

You may have thought that we were neglecting August but late is almost always better than never so it is time once more to vote for your Pick of the Month.

Our shortlist of six can be found below (or see the ‘Vote for your August 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 has 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.)

Read More

And the Pick of the Month for July 2016 is Theophilus Kwek’s ‘Psalm 19 ‘

It was a particularly powerful and emotional shortlist this month out of which Theophilus Kwek’s transcendent ‘Psalm 19’ emerged as the overall winner.

Theo is the author of three collections, They Speak Only Our Mother Tongue (2011), Circle Line (2013), and Giving Ground (2016). He won the Jane Martin Prize in 2015 and the New Poets Prize in 2016, and was president of the Oxford University Poetry Society.

He has asked that his £10 prize be donated to First Story, the charity that changes lives through writing.

 

Psalm 19

To the Fathers at the Paris Seminary
Jean-Marie Beurel, Priest, Church of the Good Shepherd, Singapore

On still days, when this meridian city
becomes an image of itself – masts
hung with cloud on the water, sky

turned to stone above white cornices –
I lock the church, and, skirting the yard, go
past the padang with its whinnying horses,

through orchards’ shade, across the narrow weir
where streets run out beyond the forest’s edge
and find, just a little north of here

cathedral silence, and a leaf-stained light
lifted as prayer into the trees’ transept
to join branches with the flood and flight

of tropical birds, like a jewel intact.
Wonder with me: how faith follows sight
in this small harbour, where the rich and wrecked

gather to be blessed at journey’s end,
sand’s soft language fills the buttress roots
and wears our feet like another land.

Here He is, still. God of the distance
and river’s overflow, stars’ luminescence.
Harvest’s full, fell hour. First snow.

 

Voters’ comments included:

Hard decision, I loved them all…But admire Kwek’s ability to blend natural and supernatural, make us feel intimations of divine in the everyday; and courage to name it.

Original and haunting

Such vivid imagery throughout and the last stanza is simply stunning.

Great poem, very evocative of both source and Singapore then and now. And his way with words….

The imagery and use of language is beautiful and consistent with the Central theme and subject matter. The use of language speaks volumes of the sense of space and place. Contemplative, lovely and hopeful, this is a beautiful poem that is both clever and soul-filling.

The beauty of the language of the psalms is portrayed here in this poet’s song. It gives rise to a myriad of emotions and languages, evoking a swell of admiration as it reflects the creator’s marvelling of his Creator and resonates with his recognition of how small he is in comparison to the One whom he deems praiseworthy of All. A lovely piece; spellbound.

This poem combines words in surprisingly evocative ways, creating images that stay in the mind. “sand’s soft language” and “leaf-stained light” are among my favourites. the flow of the lines is precise, carefully balanced and all the energy is built from the poem’s core and brought to a graceful finish at the end, quite like a meditation and the release of breath.

Beautifully textured! I am deeply moved.

That stunning last line.

Artful and impactful portrait

I just like the imagery. The scenes´description is reflective and perceptive of the transcendent, in a positive way that uplifts.

Read More