Vote for Your July 2018 Pick of the Month!

It is an emotional and powerful group of poems that makes up the shortlist for our July 2018 ‘Pick of the Month’. They will hit you hard and it will be equally hard to choose the one that affects you most. But do take the time to go through the six exceptional works below (or click on ‘Vote for your July 2018 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 will be announced at 4pm on Friday 10th August.

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 All shortlisted poetry Picks, provided they remain unpublished and meet other eligibility criteria, will be considered as IS&T submissions for the annual Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.

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Rebecca Sandeman




And I can’t
do the 7:45 wetness
on the bathroom floor

I step in it
And my socks
are sad on the way to work.

Conduit Road is more
having items which
weep unexpectedly.

I’m sorry that I break
every 28 days.

It’s an unfortunate side effect
of pins in your arm
and love.

And you,
Tell me everything’s
going to be okay
in a voice I abhor

offering orgasms
and cups of tea,
to talk me down
from the ledge.

I tell you I’ve got cold feet
And that I miss
my Waitrose deliveries.

I say I don’t want
you to touch me
and that your family
are annoying.

(Which they are)

And then
And then

We turn off the light
With our
new clean bed sheet

which you have blow-dried
along with my knickers
for work

and we kiss in the dark
for hours

my tongue tells your teeth
how much of a fool
I am.



Rebecca Sandeman is a PhD student at the University of Sheffield and Events Organiser for a lawyers firm. She is editor at @CicatriceJournal and her work has appeared in Route 57, Edinburgh Inkwell, Llady and Prole.

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Caleb Femi



Rose of Jericho

I am waiting for water;
do not blame my Father though he made me
a curling spine of dried roots.

In a home not built for foliage
he did his fatherly duty to pass on
only what is necessary to survive.

The night I thought I became a man
he handed me a drink of warning:
a closed hand holds no water.

Since then I have broken my skin
into soil good for worms,
good for willow trees.

Hardened my bones into a holding container
to become the bucket my grandmother
would put outside to collect rain.

I am a desert fist waiting for water;
do not blame my father.
He was not the stretch of coast

that held the first break of water,
my mother spilling into labour
as the nurses shout germinate, germinate!




Caleb Femi was the Young People’s Laureate for London (2016-2018) and is an English Literature teacher. Caleb is featured in the Dazed 100 list of the next generation shaping youth culture. He has been commissioned by the Tate Modern, The Royal Society for Literature, St Paul’s Cathedral, the BBC and the Guardian.

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Louisa Adjoa Parker



Those wild, pre-Brexit days
after Josephine Corcoran

Do you remember those wild, pre-Brexit days
when immigrants filled our seas with their bodies,
floated death onto our beaches
forced us to see images of dead immigrant children
while we were eating our cereal and drinking our tea?

And a man couldn’t take a shit in his own toilet
without finding an immigrant squatting over the bowl
and when he went to work the immigrants had run off with his job
and when immigrants crawled out of gutters
and when immigrants crawled out of the seas

Do you remember those wild, pre-Brexit days
when the immigrants killed our language
how when a man walked down his own street,
it was like living in Syria, or Poland or some godforsaken place,
and a man had to listen to them chattering like monkeys

and when he went to the corner shop
the immigrants had bought all the white sliced
and immigrants owned the shop, too!
And when he went to the job centre they’d run off with his benefits.
And when immigrants crawled out of gutters
and when immigrants crawled out of the seas

Do you remember those wild, pre-Brexit days
when immigrants stole all our women
and when a man tried to make love to his own wife
an immigrant had climbed into his bed,
slid between his cotton sheets
and was running his immigrant hands
all over her English rose skin
and a man had to watch while the immigrant took her –
while he whispered sweet nothings in foreign!
And when a man went downstairs to make tea
an immigrant poured himself out of the kettle.

And immigrants crawled out of the gutters.
And immigrants crawled out of the seas.




Louisa Adjoa Parker is a writer of English/Ghanaian heritage. Her poetry collection, Salt-sweat and Tears, and pamphlet, Blinking in the Light, are published by Cinnamon Press. Her work has appeared in various publications, including Bare Fiction; Envoi; and Wasafiri.


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Peter Watkins



The pursuit of the absolute

It emerges then disappears again;
it come and goes;
it’s there and then elusively it slips away again.
Fuck it. FUCK IT!
It is impossible you say,
head in hands.
It cannot be done.
Nothing is ever finished,
you’d need a hundred lifetimes. 

You work at the figures
putting on then taking away,
the plaster or the clay.
The figures get thinner,
paired down as if there
is something at their core
you seek; and perhaps it is
that nothingness
that haunts us all,
that we deny,
that we festoon with trappings
that make us feel that we are something,
to sustain the lie.

And In the gallery they stand
in their nakedness,
alone or in groups:
the walking man,
the pointing man,
the standing woman,
the falling man,
stripped back to their nothingness,
but nonetheless
undeniably something,
something magnificently human.


Peter Watkins is a Suffolk poet. He is interested in the consolations of poetry: how poetry can help us press back against the pressures & adversities of life.  A collection of poems ‘Enough to Love a Multitude’ is published early in 2018.


Note: Homage to Alberto Giacometti

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Paul Grant



There is something more

Mostly now
I want to
Slit the throat
Of every sunset
Then stroke its cheap bleached hair
And tell it
Everything will be ok

This sadness is
So sweet
That all you can do
Is smile
As the tingle
Moves all through you
As you remember
How beautiful
Up is

So I wait
At train stations
In the rain,
Sure that’s romantic,
Tell myself
The next train
The next one

And as they close up
For the night
I’m a small boy
Hearing thunder
For the first time
And looking for his father
As all the lights
Go out.



Paul Grant is a cleaner who sometimes writes.


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Jean Taylor



The Shape of the Gap

I give you the gap in my body
shaped like a conference pear.

You might keep it in a silver box
or else
in your anorak pocket
wrapped in a man-sized tissue.

The surgeon who gave me the gap
said I was looking down both barrels
of a doubled barrelled shotgun
assumed it was a metaphor
for bleeding to death
a hind caught in the crosshairs
of a huntsman’s rifle

so I let him take my womb from my body
zipping my face into a smile
as he zipped up my abdomen
tooth by tooth.

I held on to the gap
hugging myself from within

but the gap has grown bigger
the weight  of its absence
filled with the keening
of unborn children.

I give you my gap.

You might wrap it in a man-sized tissue
or else
plant it in the garden
beside the daffodils.
Jean Taylor belongs to Words on Canvas – a group of writers who work in collaboration with the National Galleries of Scotland. Her poetry has been published in a range of publications including Orbis, Northwords Now, Freak Circus and Envoi.

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