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 All shortlisted poetry Picks, provided they remain unpublished and meet other eligibility criteria, will be considered as IS&T submissions for the annual Forward Prize for Best Single Poem.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




We observe this word, abscission

turn fashionable, hang in air.
Once botanists’ part-property, at least
cased in scientific sights; now –
in this most now of times – it’s ours.

Perhaps this year holds terms
longer, closer than is usual. Leaves
in every kind of autumn still a little,
thinwrist-clutch reluctant trees before

that glorious fall. Never gutter-sent.
Severing, their moves amaze
new-play with grace. All our seasoned
expectations have not prepared us

for their readiness in separation.
Watchful, we learn to accept abscission.


Beth McDonough’s poetry appears in Causeway, Antiphon, Interpreter’s Houseand elsewhere; she reviews in DURA. Handfast (2016, with Ruth Aylett) explores family experiences – Aylett’s of dementia. and McDonough’s of autism. She was recently Writer in Residence at Dundee Contemporary Arts.

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Andrew Turner



While the rope creaks

The tall red haired girl recollects
that she has balanced on
the frayed tips of forests
the mutant skins of rivers
the sawn edges of seas

that her precarious symmetry has taken
her along the uncertain beam
of the world but now
she balances in her Novembered room
one foot only on the slowly tipp-
ing chair
and I am rushing to her
my arms full of embroidered cushions
I will have spent far too long choosing








Andrew Turner has been published online and in print. He lives in Staffordshire.

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Skendha Singh




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
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.




Skendha Singh struggled with writing this bio. Strange, since she 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.

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Anna Milan



Five Times



Mother rubs her eyes at the kitchen table. Says she’s drunk.
The midnight light stares at me, and I wait for the shade of bed.



I am almost naked under a duvet of dried grass cuttings.
The morning sun warms me in this hidden place, but does not tell.



Each night I fling saucepans across the floor to make space.
But there’s never enough time, and I can’t fit into the cupboard.



His evening anger reaches fingers into every room.
They pull me back through closed doors, towards him.



A blackbird watches me compound the dusk rain under a holly bush.
She wonders if I have food for her, or if I’ve become a threat.





Born in Lincolnshire and currently living in Hertfordshire, Anna Milan is an established copywriter. After a recent bipolar disorder diagnosis, she has rediscovered a love of the way poetry provides a mechanism to share the perspectives of others.

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Peter Daniels




Home Truths

Here are the woods, managed by a skilled crew,
and one good straight birch picked out
with a red stripe — is it condemned or chosen?

Here are the characters: the magpies check out
glitter for the nest, the crows fidget in the wind,
jays drop in like big pink toys on a visit.

Here, as if it mattered, the groceries listed
and followed round the dull little supermarket,
every one crossed off, glad to be of service.

And the house in the woods, like a scene of crime
as usual. You have to find things like soap,
and gold, and logs for the stove, but it’s home.




Peter Daniels has two collections, Counting Eggs (Mulfran, 2012) and A Season in Eden (Gatehouse, 2016). His translations of Khodasevich from Russian (Angel Classics, 2013) were shortlisted for three awards. He has also written the obscene Ballad of Captain Rigby.

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Gopal Lahiri



First Birth

The two owls shout from the rooftop
A hurricane of bats flies around,
A father devours his own child in silence.

The rising stars struggle to breathe in
The first to go out in the dark is the slum boy
knowing no one is waiting,

A monster exchanges a bunch of flowers with a kid.

There are flutes and fiddle
A plenty of percussion stomping
The tram line is still wrapping the lone street dancer.

What if the moon melts away and shower silver coins
What if a blue-eyed cat start singing love song in a baritone.

The house and mansion drifts past each other
The pavement flies away, the lights turn dim
A martyr wears a joker hoodie,

The leaden sky seems to hold its breath,

We laugh, we cry, we break laws,
We have not been handcuffed, we have not been punished,

Slowly the night gives birth a poem in my secret diary page.




Gopal Lahiri was born, grew up and lives now in Kolkata, India. He is a bilingual poet, writer, editor, critic and translator and published in Bengali and English language. He has had seven collections of poems in Bengali and eight collections in English and edited one anthology of poems in English. @gopallahiri

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