Vote for your Pick of the Month for September 2018


It seems appropriate on the eve of National Poetry Day that we launch our shortlist for September 2018’s Pick of the Month particularly when two past winners, Jess Mookherjee and Antony Owen  are amongst the six selected. Our shortlist this month, including also Amy Kean, Aaron Kent, Amanda Oosthuizen and Gareth Writer-Davies, takes us to other times, other lands, maybe even other dimensions. We are on our own doorstop or revisiting places that we must not forget. It is a wonderfully eclectic, talented group with three newcomers to Ink Sweat & Tears and three IS&T stalwarts.

Do, then, take the time to go through the superb poems below (or click on ‘Vote for your September 2018 Pick of the Month′ in the Categories list to your right on the screen.)

Voting has now closed. The winner will be announced at 4pm on Monday 15th October.

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 All shortlisted poetry Picks, provided they remain unpublished and meet other eligibility criteria, will be considered as IS&T submissions for the annual Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.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




A Concert at the Doge’s Palace with Fans
I’m chased by airbnb on facebook, instagram,
twitter, Ebay, there is its fluttering gif, checking
me out, even on, which is perverse.
I search for Palladium, Copernicum, Moscovium. 
£98 a night, it blares. But hopefully less, I think. 
I sleep in a crumbling palace behind a shabby door,
and one afternoon, taste an orange Aperol spritz 
in the shadows of a backstreet bar, listening to the cheesy 
songs of gondoliers. 
A Danish man pulls up a chair, tells me he’s lost and frightened.
‘No one knows I’m here,’ he says. I search his case
of bagged-up shoes and clean, pressed shirts 
for a sign, a clue that might help, but all I can do
is put his phone on charge. 
One steamy night when the Doge’s Palace 
is abandoned by visitors; in my bright green dress
with its too-tight belt and my shoes like rooks, I believe
I’m a lion. With linen fans on beechwood struts, 
the air is wafted in violent beat to lute, crumhorn, 
portative organ. Lyrics tell of journeys over Adriatic 
seas and long-gone people searching 
for the element of surprise.





Amanda Oosthuizen’s stories and poems have featured on the London Underground, in art galleries, Winchester Cathedral, in anthologies and numerous competition listings. Recent work is at Cosmonauts Avenue, Storgy, Under the Radar, Ellipsis, 3:AMMagma, Somewhere to keep the Rain, the Pre-Raphaelite Society’s Reviewand is forthcoming in LossLit, RiggwelterCabinet of HeedPrelude, Humanagerie and Ambit. She earns her living by writing and arranging music and teaching woodwind. 

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Jessica Mookherjee




Honey Shot
Samson knows the sound of lies
and scissors, clings to some muscle he used
to have. Jumping through hoops
to stay alive. You don’t need to impress me.           

Snip, slash in a dirty flat, he gathers
bottles, cans, vials, he couldn’t let go,
and I say, aren’t you pleased to see me
again? And What was she like? And how
could you love her so much when she cut
you like that? He wants me to slice
off his head. I tell him it will grow back,
as he sings fragments remind me,

I tricked him too, got to the truth,
out of the strong comes something sweet.
Let out he’d sucked something unclean,
rubs blind eyes, waves his hands, says

he can’t remember any times he told
me he loved me, only the girl who blinded
him, gave him the honey, cut his hair,
took his money. He says he can’t see me.




Jessica Mookherjee has been widely published. Her pamphlets are The Swell (Telltale Press, 2016) and Joyride (BLER Press, 2017). She was highly commended in the Forward Prize 2017 for best single poem and is author of Flood (Cultured Llama 2018).

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Antony Owen






On June 10, 1942, the German government announced that it had destroyed the small village of Lidice, Czechoslovakia, killing every adult male and some fifty-two women. All surviving women and children were then deported to concentration camps, or if found suitable to be “Germanized”, sent to the greater Reich. The Nazis then proudly proclaimed that the village  of Lidice, its residents, and its very name, were now forever blotted from memory.

With each sped up massacre
birds shot out from trees with each shaking luger,
let me report the apple orchard of drunk soldiers and wasps,
let me edit out the keen underling inebriated on cleansing a whole town.

With each slowed down massacre
I see men in rows of ten queue to meet their unmaker,
I see children humanised then germanised then heavenized.
Let me edit out the beautiful daughter now gargoyle of the cruel miasma.

With each decade Lidice moves a yard further from the surface.
Take my hand and walk us in single file to the orchard trees,
tell me that fascist butchers are ashamed of their meat,
how they rush bury the remains and guilt eats them.

Tell me that the ride to Lodz for the children was short,
that they never slept in their urine on gestapo floors,
tell me that their faces never went haggard in fog,
show me that all the things I know are too evil.




With five collections of poetry focusing on conflict Antony Owen is a well respected writer known for investigative poetry which took him to Hiroshima in 2015 to interview atomic bomb survivors. His subsequent collection, The Nagasaki Elder (V.Press) was shortlisted for a Ted Hughes Award in 2017


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Amy Kean



I put make-up on for the Deliveroo driver  

Pornography implies this a fruitful strategy for lonely women.
Often their husbands are out of town, but you could be anywhere.

I put make-up on for the Deliveroo driver, hot ribs and bang bang cauliflower hint at my intentions.
The miso aubergine and Chilean Malbec brazen, our language: body and artisanal oriental fusion.

I put make-up on for the Deliveroo driver, barely-there razzmic berry shorts simmer on my thigh tops.
These neatly boxed breasts ready and protein-heavy like five days of meal prep in airtight tupperware.

I put make-up on for the Deliveroo driver, painted my lips crimson as a blood clot five centimetres in length.
Pinched my cheeks so hard the rest of my body forgot how pain feels.

I put make-up on for the Deliveroo driver to prove my fruit is not forbidden. I am Eve, original biblical MILF. I am the childless witch in a gingerbread house, I am his stepmother, I am your cracked, overheated induction hob.

I put make-up on for the Deliveroo driver but the helmet hid his face. It might have been you. He might have been wearing make-up too. A woman with appropriated braids was vaping in the car.  He was late, forgot my spring rolls and the sticky shredded chilli beef still breathing. I imagined it was you. Delivering sustenance in disguise to check I’m alive.



Amy Kean is an author and advertising creative from London. Her first book – The Little Girl Who Gave Zero Fucks – is out in October, and she’s had work published in the Guardian, Disclaimer magazine and Litro amongst many others.

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Aaron Kent




Invasion (The Slow Fall / Imbalance / Fall)

she held the rock close
both eyes bruises in
than we had either ever
methods to kill the waxing

waited for seaweed
avoidance / three nuclear
across the tonal majors
weighed our shins with

rain dances for fertility in
and heights confirmed our
her knees and floated like a
with all the grace of a

longer than we deserved
warranted / the sun
we ate the souls of
of our spectres





Aaron Kent is a poet/writer from Cornwall. He has had an experimental pamphlet published in 2018 with Dostoyevsky Wannabe (The Rink), a pamphlet due out mid-2018 with Knives, Forks, and Spoons Press (Tertiary Colours), and a collection of travel poetry around his home-county of Cornwall with photography by WIlliam Arnold due out late-2018 with Guillemot Press (The Last Hundred).

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Gareth Writer-Davies



Two Mutes

there were two mutes
and they were always together

which is not to say, they didn’t speak
(to each other)

they could read the other
like a book

knowing which line would be consequent
like thought upon paper

between them
all was smooth and slick

no-one saw
no-one heard them

but like a baton
they handed (to and fro) the doggerel of life

from absolutely knowing, what came next




Gareth Writer-Davies; Shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and the Erbacce Prize (2014) Commended in the Prole Laureate Competition, the Welsh Poetry Competition (2015) He is the Prole Laureate for 2017 and Highly Commended in the Welsh Poetry Competition. His pamphlet Bodies was published in 2015  by Indigo Dreams and Cry Baby, in 2017. His collection The Lover’s Pinch is due in 2018.


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