Vote for Your Pick of the Month for November 2017

We’re heading towards the end of the year and many of the poems shortlisted for our Pick of the Month for November are exhorting us to use our senses to their extremes: to inhale, to look, to see, to listen.

Please make your choice from the very fine works featured below (or see the ‘Vote for your Pick of the Month for November 2017′ 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 will be announced on Friday 15th 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. All winning poetry Picks, provided they the meet the eligibility criteria, will be considered as IS&T submissions for the annual Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.

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Elizabeth Rimmer




Queen of the Meadows

Much I do not envy them – the cold houses,
the meat-heavy banquets and bread like stone,
haphazard medicine, and tolerance of fleas,
mice, dogs under the table, and violent men
drunk by bedtime. But meadowsweet,
gathered in the summer and strewn
among the rushes when floors were swept –
this I love. The curds and cream handfuls
of blossom, the flossy stamens, like flecks
of ripening butter, and sunlight burning crimson
in the stems against the hedgerow’s deep green,
its scent of honey, freshness in stale air,
comfort in the aches of winter – this I would choose
for my house. A herb for the merry of heart.




Elizabeth Rimmer is the author of two poetry collections, Wherever We Live Now and The Territory of Rain, published by Red Squirrel Press. Her third collection, Haggards, will be published in 2018. She blogs at

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Kate Edwards


Frequency Violet

Some have misgivings about Violet. They believe
she is on the spectrum; somewhere at the very end,
in fact. None can account for it but we’re told
she hums inaudibly in the octave of ozone, and lives
in an airlock, loiters in restricted zones, makes
uncanny utterances, keeps marine snails, crushes
pencils into graphite dust, dances like it’s the seventies,
tattoos the world’s conspiracy theories onto uterine vellum,
stays up all night smoothing polymers under strip lights,
blinking. Rumours insist she has an eye for tactical missile
design and stockpiles blueprints, knows how to execute
the perfect gem heist and leave fingerprints all over it.
Her party trick will make volatile hearts and auras
of loneliness glow in the dark; despondency shine black.
Dreams of Violet often precede a wedding or a gas attack.




Kate Edwards lives in the Calder Valley in Yorkshire but hails from the Black Country. She is a graduate of the Warwick University Masters in Writing Programme and Co-Artistic Director of all-female theatre company, Jammy Voo.  Twitter: @k8_in_space

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Judith Taylor




The dog

in the early hours
the dog’s toenails click on the passage lino.

That dog has been gone
two decades, nearly:
sometimes one of them hears him, sometimes both.

Though they never say
they both remember
the night the boy died:

how the dog crept in
that one time
where he wasn’t allowed;

hollowed himself
a sleeping-place by the bed.




Judith Taylor lives and works in Aberdeen. She has written two pamphlet collections – Earthlight, (2006), and Local Colour (2010) – and her first full-length collection, Not in nightingale country, will be published this October by Red Squirrel Press.

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George Aird


The Doctor Will See You (As A Piece of Meat, Until You Start Bleeding Everywhere)

Measured in syllables,
the distance between the kitchen door and table
is not enough to
avoid the question.
The way that silence
makes a mess of you
if you really bite into it.
The way the bone
celebrates a break
with a crack of applause.

The surgeon looks at his handiwork
and is pleased by the naked flesh.




George Aird is a postgraduate student at Durham University, as well as an assistant editor of poetry at Butcher’s Dog Magazine. He is currently based in the North East of England, and can be found on Twitter at @G_Aird.

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George Szirtes for Remembrance Sunday




Chorus from The Returning


We are the people, the nation and the state

We are the inscriptions, the documents

The declarations, the pomp and the circumstance,

The structures of being, the bedrock of commerce

The official face of the face in the mirror



We are the people, the nation and the state

We are the stamps you must lick, the forms you must fill

The dues you must pay, the creditor at your door,

We are the duplicate, triplicate, quadruplicate infinitude

Of all you must say once, then twice and again

Until you have said it to our mutual satisfaction



We are the people, the nation and the state,

The statues in squares, the graven monoliths,

The bones of survival, the blindfolded judge,

We are the corpus of the corporeal

We are your heroes, your champions in the field

We are the field, the grass and the meadow

We are your long and terrible shadow






George Szirtes published his first book of poems, The Slant Door, in 1979. It won the Faber Memorial Prize. Has published many since then, Reel (2004) winning the T S Eliot Prize, for which he has been twice shortlisted since. His latest book is Mapping the Delta (Bloodaxe 2016).  For more information:

Note: This is the last chorus taken from an oratorio titled The Returning, about the end of the First World War.

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Word & Image by Helen Pletts and Romit Berger





I want to remember the way back.
It seems Orion has the compass’ foot,
Swinging his other leg out into the dark
With the confidence of a man who walks on stars.

I use the skills of the corncrake tonight.
I need to remember in the hatchling hour, that I was here, –
Under this weight of milk white galaxies,
Unable to lose my way, – still, – under this same star.






Words by Helen Pletts ( ) whose two collections, Bottle bank and For the chiding dove, are both published by YWO/Legend Press (supported by The Arts Council) and available on Amazon. ‘Bottle bank’ was longlisted for The Bridport Poetry Prize 2006, under Helen’s maiden name of Bannister. Working collaboratively on Word and Image with Romit Berger, illustrator, since 2012.

Image by Romit Berger who says  “I am a graphic designer. I met my very dear friend, Helen Pletts, in Prague, several years ago. Helen’s inspiration has led my graphic design career into that magical realm which combines illustration and poetry, and our creative wings continue to connect our souls through time and distance.”


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