Vote for the IS&T January 2019 Pick of the Month.

 

It’s our first shortlist for 2019 and it is a good one. It almost feels as if all of human life teems here: the good, the bad and the very ugly – with escapes into the serene or a commonplace that is anything but common.

Will you rage with Alison Binney in ‘#WhyIDidntReportIt’ or be uneasily drawn to Alix Scott-Martin’s ‘Sisters’? Does Ian Heffernan, peering behind the scenes of ‘Hunters in the Snow’, compel? Maybe, you are intrigued by the everyday that becomes extraordinary in Sunil Sharma’s ‘Cages, urban, iron’ or ‘Off-Peak Single’ from Oz Hardwick? Or do you simply want to escape through a ‘Rhine Swim’ with Andrew Shields?

Do take the time to go through the six fine poems below (or click on ‘Vote for your January 2019 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen).

Voting has now closed. January’s ‘Pick’ will be posted at 4pm on Tuesday 19th February.

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 All shortlisted poetry Picks, provided they remain unpublished and meet other eligibility criteria, will be considered as IS&T submissions for the annual Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.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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And your Pick of the Month for December 2018 is Catherine Ayres and ‘Christmas Eve tea’

*The word ‘beautiful’ was repeated over and over in the comments and, although it is a word sometimes overused when describing poetry, in this instance it felt just right and voters made ‘Christmas Eve tea’ by Catherine Ayres the IS&T Pick of the Month for December 2018.

Catherine is a teacher from Northumberland. Her debut collection, Amazon, was published in 2016 by Indigo Dreams.

She has asked that her £10 ‘prize’ be donated to Cancer Research UK.

 

Christmas Eve tea

5 o’clock.
Light silvers the sill.
This is the season of curious moons,
when we’re lost in the velvet of ourselves,
undreaming the deep nights
 between tomorrow and the past.

Rooms flower slowly, like stars.

Here are steep steps,
a hexagon of doors,
two china dogs guarding
the gas fire’s slapped cheeks.

I find the Smarties tube of tuppences.
I shake the Virgin so the Holy Water swirls.
I am allowed to sink my face
into the Sunday furs.

In the kitchen,
a clutch of pinnied women
makes the china clink.

Cold meats,
trifle,
salad from a tin.

This is not a photograph –
it’s the warm edge of the past
where the women I love
are still alive.

I thought life would slot
into a snug line
by the sink.

My kitchen is neat and cold.
Light silvers the sill.
At the window, stars.

*********

Voters comments included:

The imagery of such a common place event comes through in an extraordinary manner in a beautiful aesthetic flow.

Strong images and I love the shape and mood of this poem

Best evocation of the past I have ever read – love the warmth and softness of it and remembered especially the 3 lines after ‘this is not a photograph’

Her use of description is incredible.

So effectively describes that slip through time where memory is the only way to get to people and things that are no longer actually here. I love the contrast between the warmth and coldness.

It’s a lovely light touch with a deeper sentiment

‘The warm edge of the past’ is so evocative of a world we have lost – the sense of a community that no longer exists, a momentary glimpse. This so delicately expresses those times when history briefly superimposes itself upon the present like a ghost. Beautiful.

The spare quality of her vocabulary underpins the universal ache of nostalgia without descending into bathos.

a lovely neat, crisp poem with lots to say in few lines

It is the essence of nostalgia without a shred of sentimentality, the smarties tube, China dogs and pinkies . Women I feel I knew.

I love the simplicity and yet the layered complexity of Catherine’s poem. She is able to convey emotion in the most creative ways for example ‘lost in the velvet of ourselves’. You can’t quite describe what that means whilst at the same time I know exactly what she means. Her words hit a sense that needs no other explanation – I immediately know what she means – like some long lost melody that we suddenly remember in our hearts.

This poem has a nostalgic feel to it but is written in a modern form. It is satisfying to read but leaves me thinking about the themes for a long time.

Like many of the best poems, this one is rooted in precise detail but at the same time leaves space for the reader to bring their own memories. I loved reading this on Christmas Eve.

Right from the first line, this poem is full of Christmas imagery – spare use of words with no shortage of story. A back-story that is nostalgic and a present that is cold and yearning – repeating the first line as the penultimate line, launches the final line full of hope.

It was the magic she found in the every day, the lightness of touch with the nostalgia across generations that also felt universal, inclusive and comforting to me as a reader. It was hard to choose between this and ‘Narrowing’, but this one just had the edge in terms of seeming positive and enchanting.

It’s such a beautiful, economical evocation of a woman’s life – and her connection with a previous generation of women.

This poem took me to a place that was at once full of something beautiful and consumed by sorrow.

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It’s our last Pick of the Month for 2018: Vote Now!

I think that we can all say that 2018 has been an ‘interesting’ year, maybe one that is glass half empty, and our Pick of the Month shortlist for December reflects this in part. With Catherine Ayres, Luigi Coppola and Laura McKee from our ’12 Days of Christmas’ feature* and Rebecca Gethin, Edmund Prestwich and Eloise Unerman coming in from the rest of the December cold, we’ve a group largely reflecting on loss. But because these are exceptional poets, those slants of light always shine through.

The shortlisted poems have either been chosen by Helen and Kate or received the most attention on social media. Do take the time to go through them below (or click on ‘Vote for your December 2018 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.)

Voting has now closed. We will announce the winner at approximately 4pm on Tuesday 15th January.

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.)

* We include 1st and 2nd January from ’12 Days of…’ when we make our shortlist.

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Skendha Singh is our IS&T Pick of the Month Poet for November 2018

 

We have all been there. And that is why Skendha Singh’s simple yet effective, still yet biting, accessible yet intense poem ‘Dear -‘, punctuating the end of a relationship, is the IS&T Pick of the Month for November 2018.

Skendha graduated with an M.Litt in Writing Practice and Study from the University of Dundee and has been writing and editing, since then, for her bread and butter. She currently lives in Delhi.

Skendha has asked that her £10 ‘prize’ be donated to the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

 

Dear –

or, maybe not dear. Or dear, as addressed
to an editor, an employer, a stranger one has
business with. But, not a stranger, intimate –
like an ex, but not estranged, close
as a friend, watchful like a long-nosed
neighbour.
You are too heavy a consequence. I spin
into you at the blind corner of each second, all
my paper bags ripped, my 200 mill
bottles of wishful thinking broken, spilling liqueurs
on the pavement.
And you rend my list of family and friends.
Elbow me in the gut then grab my shoulder. No, stop
bending over me in kind courtesy and offering
to pick up my things, to drop me home in that Eagle
wagon of yours which won’t ever brake at the bend.
You tip full cups down the drain,
and leave your scent lingering.

I’m done.

Come and pick up your things. Not tomorrow. Now.
As you read this, I’m blotting the echoes
of yesterday, all the old voices, like bat
droppings in the basement.
Boxing up the old clothes, my parkas, plaid shirt
socks: they never made me feel invisible, anyway.
I’ve folded your dark clouds, your damp of rain
You’ll find them piled on the balustrade.

But I’m taking the jokes that no one else gets.
And if you seek therapy, we might
go camping, with flasks of coffee, cling to clefts
of light culling the canopied woods. We might even
become friends when I can call you solitude.

 

*********

 

 

Voters’ comments included:

A stillness, and so many layers of emotion! Beautiful.

This poem compelled me to read on and into it. It has a great rhythm and is incredibly unique in style. I Love the way it bites!

Very intense [and] different

I enjoy how accessible this poem is, and its turns.

This poem really resonated with me.

Very emotional and experienced expression

The imagery and voice

… She is very talented and very natural….

I liked the poem and [wanted] to appreciate and motivate a budding writer

From the poet’s heart

Deep, Profound, yet abstract, in style. Subtle yet forces vivid imagery sans colours but those with emotions, feelings and under the layer one’s private voice in the head. It could mean different things to different people, yet effectively establishing an introspective and reflective connect…Great piece, fresh and bold piece.

 

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Vote for the IS&T November 2018 Pick of the Month

 

With three first timers to IS&T – Gopal Lahiri, Anna Milan & Skendha Singh – and three poets who have been shortlisted at least once before – Peter Daniels, Beth McDonough & Andrew Turner – the Pick of the Month shortlist for November 2018 promises to be a fascinating one.

The shortlisted poems have either been chosen by Helen and Kate or received the most attention on social media. Do take the time to go through them below (or click on ‘Vote for your November 2018 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.)

Voting is now closed. November’s Pick of the Month will be announced Thursday 13th December at 4pm BST.

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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Gboyega Odubanjo’s ‘Obit.’, a timely Pick of the Month for October 2018!

 

Rarely has an IS&T Pick of the Month reflected so entirely things as they are now. Four young men, ages 15-22, stabbed in south London between the 2nd and 6th November is four too many and Gboyega Odubanjo’s ‘Obit.’, though written and published before these dates, is a powerful and moving reflection on this. In the words of one voter it is ‘a devastating subject expressed with cool restraint and wry humour.’

Gboyega is a British-Nigerian poet born and raised in East London. In 2018 he completed an MA in Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of East Anglia. His debut pamphlet, While I Yet Live, will be published by Bad Betty Press in 2019.

 

Obit.
(After César Vallejo)

i will die in london in the neighbourhood
i grew up in outside the town hall
on the high street. i will have been stabbed
and my killer will look just like me so
no-one will look for him. my body
will remain dead in daylight for hours until
the sky turns more blick than blue. on the news
i will be smiling. i will be as handsome
as i have ever been. today a young man
has died they will say today a young man has died today
it will be a friday a young man has died young o so terribly
young. i will die again three days later
when i hand myself in no-one will believe it because
i will look just like me. i will look like i have died o so
many times already. i will be survived by myself
and the many times that i still have to die.

 

Additional voters’ comments include:

Another young man, today, in Anerley. Odubanjo engages so powerfully with this crisis.

I felt gutted by this poem, saddened and angered. It is incredibly powerful!

Very striking and the repeats work so effectively. I admire the simple language.

Poignant. Being handsome in the news was a nice touch.

It – quite literally – took my breath away. I gasped.

Every line packs a killer punch

Subtly surreal and innovative voice

Gboyega’s poem is heart-wrenchingly honest and political whilst still managing to create beautiful imagery with a strong, assured voice. wonderful stuff.

Bloody hell! Memorable before you even finish reading it. A proper punch of a poem

 

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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.)

Voting is now closed. October’s Pick will be announced on Friday 16th November at 4pm (GMT).

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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