We’ve got ‘Your location’ by Jane McCarthy Wilkinson as our Pick of the Month for May 2017

 

A definitive vote (unlike another significant, recent election) saw Jane McCarthy Wilkinson’s ‘Your location’ chosen as Pick of the Month for May 2017. Some of you fell a little in love with the poem, describing it as beautiful and evocative, enjoying its rhythm and form yet there was unease and mystery there too.

Jane was shortlisted for Lo and Behold!, the Poetry School’s 2014 Micro-Commission, and has a response poem to a Shakespeare sonnet in Live Canon’s 154 anthology (2016). She lives in London with her family and is a Landscape Architect.

 

Your location

Round the corner I hear you
coming I hear you coming
round the corner of the barn
I arrange my arms and legs
I hear around the corner
of the barn the gravel’s tough
back teeth working doggedly
on splintering a bone
I spin up a cloud
of smoke to be within
position myself beneath the salty buttered light
farm manure bellows cold pools like clouds of sound rising slowly as the milky way
we gather like water
and ripple open

 

 

Voters comments included:-

So many undercurrents indicated with such economy – powerfully visual, palpable – so much expressed, compressed.

Mysterious and rhythmic. Intriguing and seeped in longing(or fear). Loved the music. Every time I read it I find something else.

Enchanted by the rustic tug of the writing and the dreamlike agrarian imagery.

Fantastic sense of place, while creating uncertainty of subject

… this gets my vote for its strangeness and complex concision!

I love how the simple repetition of the first lines moves towards the beautiful language of the ending.

This poem speaks straight to me. I like the straightforward/no nonsense way it has been written.

…I like the form, repetition and flow of the poem plus the wonderful imagery of ‘the gravel’s tough back teeth’ and ‘salty buttered light’.

I love the free-yet-structured feel of it; so much thought in that opening stanza, the recreation of the excitement/game fear through repetition spot-on, and the beautiful ending, ‘we gather like water / and ripple open’. A really evocative recreation of childhood play, where the ‘I’ is at one with its environment.

Lovely broken lines

strong simple words building to a powerful image –

feelings of fear and expectation, finely wrought

I like the way way the poem is composed to reveal the situation in a simplistic way, each of your senses is engaged enabling you to paint a picture of the scene described with your imagination..

I felt that the line about the gravel’s tough back teeth splintering a bone was the best line from all of the poems – it captures something of what only poetry can do – put the sounds of the world into words that give you both a simple delight (at the joy of the words,) and a deeper empathy for the atmosphere and feelings of the poet herself.

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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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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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Moray Sanders’ ‘In my father’s pocket’ is February’s Pick of the Month

Pick of the Month time and February’s choice is ‘In my father’s pocket’ from Moray Sanders. Moray has written prose with the support of Creative Future for some years; through them she then won a mentoring opportunity with New Writing South and has been working with Vanessa Gebbie, who encouraged her to write poetry. This is her first poem, and first open submission, and ‘the spareness, and the ache’, as Vanessa puts it, struck a chord with many of you.

 

In my father’s pocket

Feel that square of paper
in your jacket pocket
next to your heart.
Unfold it.
Hold it out if you need to.

“This is my father.
He is loved,
not lost.
Please bring him home and
when you have read this,
put the paper back
in his pocket
where he can feel it
next to his heart.

He is loved.
Not lost.
Thank you.”

 

Voters’ comments included:

I loved how much feeling and narrative was packed into this spare, beautiful poem

What a wonderful first poem. It tells such a sad familiar story in such a spare, heartfelt way, full of love. What a lot to get into just a few short lines.

I feel I can relate to this in my own way. I can put a story, well life event, into this poem so it I feel the words.

Beautifully crafted and fleetingly precise.

I like the gentle beauty of the poem and the quiet sadness…

Me and my daughter both read this poem and she picked this as her favorite. Maybe because she doesn’t see her dad very often as he is in the army.

Poignant in its simplicity.

It is spare, understated and very moving. The word count belies the strength.

It connects with me as I lost my father as he committed suicide and I never knew him. The poem is uplifting and hopeful.

Moray is so economical with her words yet we understand the loss, feel the emotion, and hope for the future. Paradoxically we want more words, an explanation, an outcome – well a happy ending don’t we?

So true to life. My husband has Alzheimer‘s disease and carries a piece of paper with his details in case he gets lost. This poem really moved me.

In my opinion this piece is a tender and clever exploration of love and loss in its many forms and layers. Quite apart from the deep, profound love that one may feel towards an elderly parent, this poem hints at multi-generational accretion of love… This poem has the weight and feel of a modern classic.

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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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