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.

Please VOTE HERE. Voting will close at 9pm on Friday 22nd 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 All shortlisted poetry Picks, provided they remain unpublished and meet other eligibility criteria, will be considered as IS&T submissions for the annual Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.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 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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Vote for your September 2019 Pick of the Month

It feels like all of life is in the September 2019 shortlist for Pick of the Month: Birth, death, love, hate, the past and the future (or lack of it.) Can you feel time in Cliff Forshaw‘s ‘Ice’ slipping away or see the futility in ‘Brick By Brick’ (Brian Rihlmann)? Do Judi Walsh‘s ‘Stone’ and  Helen Kay‘s ‘NIMBY and the Supermoon 2018’ captivate or unnerve?  And where is Madelaine Culver going in ‘Run’? Is it towards or away from that envisioned in Setareh Ebrahimi’s ‘ Galloping Horses’?

All six works 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 September 2019 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.

Voting has now closed. The winning ‘Pick’ will be announced on Tuesday 22nd October at 4pm. 

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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Aishwarya Raghu is our Pick of the Month Poet for August 2019

You might think it strange that ‘A Poem about Frost’ should be the Pick of the Month for the height of summer but Aishwarya Raghu’s ‘profound’ ‘melancholy’ and ‘beautiful’ poem took voters beyond nature and winter and there was something about its peaceful isolation that appealed.

Aishwarya is a 26-year-old content writer from Bangalore, India. Her work has previously appeared in magazines such as the Louisville Review, Glass Mountain Magazine, aaduna, and Vayavya.

 

A Poem about Frost

Swan resting
on an empty lake: white
but for the lake. Blue
but for the swan.
Winter will set in
from the
leftmost
corner of the lake.
Eagle swan.
I can no longer
tell bird from bird.
When winter sets in,
the swan will be trapped
left foot down.
Things will change. Moss
under snow. Earth
under moss. A scuba diver
would be trapped underwater
if the lake were the sea.
Lonely diver
with the left foot
of the swan for company.
The swan will fly. Bird
will turn into bird.

 

Voters comments included:

This poem took me into another, almost dreamy, imaginary land where the loneliness gave me a kind of weird satisfaction.

Reading this makes me feel something each time. I can’t quite tell what, and that’s why I like it.

the simplicity of words.

[ A description of ] nature and its beauty in a delightful and enthusiastic way. No words to express the joy of reading the poem.

The imagery; period!

Earthy and meaningful

Loved the poem structure; abrupt yet halting. The contradictions in the poem are reminiscent of the work of Robert Frost. Which then makes the reader wonder if the poem is about frost or just Frost’ian!

I love how the poem somehow makes me believe there’s hope and then suddenly makes me feel a sense of loss. It makes me feel like I am the scuba diver and I’m out there forever trapped in an infinity.

It’s about nature! Very descriptive in less words.

The poem causes chills with frost

I love the way this poem is structured and the imagery it builds. I almost feel like I’m there.

Reading the poem almost makes me feel like the swan. It gives me some strange feeling I can’t describe.

The poem is a word-picture: stark and simple but beautiful, with a child’s logic, e.g. the left foot of the swan being the one to freeze into the ice. There is an air of myth and mystery, and whimsy.

 

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July’s Pick of the Month is ‘He grows’ by Maxine Rose Munro

Voters loved the spareness – ‘concise and succinct’ – and ‘the absolute enormity of restlessness conveyed’ through the poem’s structure as well as its language. So for these reasons, and more, the excellent ‘He grows’ by Maxine Rose Munro is the IS&T Pick of the Month for July 2019. Huge congratulations to her!

Maxine is a Scottish poet who writes in both English and her native Shetlandic Scots. She is widely published in the UK, in print and online, including Ink Sweat & Tears, and her work has been nominated for The Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Find her here www.maxinerosemunro.com

 

He grows 

I gave birth to Restless, and oh how
he prowls this house, testing, testing
the strength of my walls. Pushing
at limits to find weaknesses he
stores for future use, careful
with his words. He knows
soon will come his
time, not mine.

I gave birth to Restless
and, oh! how he grows and grows.

 

Other voters’ comments included:

A simple encapsulation of what every parent goes through as they realise what they’ve brought into the world.

I like the abstract/personification ‘Restless’ moves through the poem. I also enjoy how the word lends itself to more than one significance in the context of the poem.

She captures a feeling of anxiety associated with restlessness in so few words. Spare. I like spare!

Her alliteration captures attention

An interesting way of exploring this topic.

How clever to turn the poet’s own restlessness into a third-person (male) entity to complain about, whilst acknowledging that she created the condition herself. And I love the poem’s concision.

I knew exactly what the writer was saying.

I love this poem, lots of lovely tension, it verges on eery for me. A snapshot in a big story.

For me, it captures the vitality and curiosity of a spirit that can’t be constrained.

The structure and language of the poem really gives strength to the feeling of restlessness.

It intrigues me. One of these hauntingly beautiful poems that leaves me wondering if I see the same as the poet in its words, or are we divided by a common language. Wonderful.

Her poetry is so fixed in the real emotions of everyday life.

The poignancy and relatability of it

A poem about the other self. I liked the layout, fretful lines getting shorter and then growing uneasily.

Her poems take me into my dream world

an instant connection from the first line

instant and vivid

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Tom Bennett’s ‘Travelling Light’ is the Pick of the Month for June 2019!

It was the superb imagery, the hypnotic rhythm, the sense of mystery and the way Tom Bennett painted ‘an incredible picture of an ordinary scene’ that caught the imaginations of voters and saw ‘Travelling Light’ as the IS&T Pick of the Month for June 2019. This was a poem you could go back to again and again.

Tom (23) studied English at Durham University for his undergraduate, before doing an MPhil in American Literature at Cambridge. He is currently teaching English in Spain and will start a PhD on Women and Maximalism in American literature this October.

Tom has asked that his £10 ‘prize’ be donated to Mermaids.

 

Travelling Light

A balloon scuds through the train
an ‘L’ it is or is it a ‘7’? Evasive
though its wake is empty of pursuit
and the door gives way courteously.

In the second carriage a class
of children who gorge hard on toffee,
their waddle the product of a tight-laced boot
their flannel shorts a competition of kites.

In the third two entangled amours
soak themselves in saccharine red wines,
and remark upon the odd anatomy of the other’s ear:
the softness where the cartilage should be.

A sharp halt rocks these realities,
leaving bags topsy-turvy and a glass in smithereens,
awakening a wizened conductor
clutching the one string of a balloon shaped ‘0’.

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Voters’ comments included:

Evocative, thought provoking, an air of mystery about it.

I love the imagery and techniques that Tom evokes and uses fluently throughout, and these are scenes that I could identify with.

Tom manages to make this piece feel effortless despite its complexity. I really enjoyed reading.

Tom has the ability to make the reader relate to the content of his poems…. brilliance

Beautiful and clear imagery yet laconic language

A rich sensory journey!

A lovely narrative poem that leaves you a little lost, empty.

I thought it was clever, I liked the way sounds were played with.

I feel nostalgic for someone’s else’s past

Beautiful rhythm that rocks to the beat each carriage. More than a journey…

Evocative, thought provoking, an air of mystery about it.

I love the imagery and techniques that Tom evokes and uses fluently throughout, and these are scenes that I could identify with.

Tom Bennett’s ‘Travelling Light’ is disarmingly guileless. Though the poem’s title offers a vision of levity, its lines gather an increasing emotional weight. Its emotional depth is gained as a result of a careful sequencing of images rather than rhetorical embellishment: a contemplation over ‘an “L” it is or is it a “7”’, the ‘class | of children’, the ‘two entangled amours’. These passing moments come to exist for their own sake. And ‘Travelling Light’ captures the irreducible fragility of such moments: a fragility born more from an acute valuation of their particularity than their immediate transience. From the dangling ‘Evasive’ of the first stanza, eluded even by its own subject, to the arresting ‘sharp halt’ of the final lines, the poem extends a suspension of syntax. Accordingly, the challenge which ‘rocks these realities’ (a phrase steeped in modernist resonances) is a presence constantly felt, formally and conceptually; but this connection serves in fact to magnify the previous perceptions with their intrinsic value, not as isolated events in a passing journey but as a meaningful collective of human experience.

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Vote for Your IS&T Pick of the Month for June 2019

This month our shortlist embraces everything from Death to DIY. Melanie Branton exposes the underbelly in ‘Cemetery’ while the Hell that is flat pack furniture has made its way into Helen Rye‘s excellent and beautifully constructed (!) short story – published on National Flash Fiction Day – and Arji Manuelpillai‘s fine and melancholy poem. On the way we meet Sally Michaelson‘s heartbreaking ‘Night Raider’ and experience an exhilarating journey or two with Tom Bennett ‘Travelling Light’ and Colin Crewdson on ‘The Road to Kars’!

All six works 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 June 2019 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.

Voting is now closed. The winner will be announced at 6pm on Friday 19th July.

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. It features in The Forward Book of Poetry 2019.)

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