Text art from Ira Lightman

*Ira Lightman makes public art in the North East, and lately Willenhall and Southampton. He devises visual poetry forms and then asks local communities to supply words that will bring them alive. He is a regular on BBC Radio 3’s The Verb. Duetcetera (Shearsman, 2008) and volume forthcoming from Red Squirrel in 2011.

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Karen Whiteson's 'Espoir'


It begins with the mother’s announcement of her own impending end. The question of how will they all fare without her fills the screen. Outliving her prologue her face fading upon her pillow so death becomes imperceptible. The camera hugs the edges of each scene its ever-present proximity bringing the viewer into its sphere.  

Mouchette always the same yet different hovers and lurches. Her fetish for mud. For an instant lit up in a luminous smile as she negotiates the bumper car so fleetingly espoir can find no purchase there.  The camera drinks it all in her pouring of milk into the bowls. In this familiar economy she belongs to her mother and no-one else. That gin’s her father’s. Poverty like photography lays bare with the clarity of facts rendered visible.  At the final moment Mouchette is offscreen topping up the gin bottle with water. Its secret medicine she’s just administered to the dying.  Pouring it sans knowing the moment of mother’s death has come and gone for the unconscious has always been an orphan.

Viscous she passes through the terrain and it through her. She thinks she’s been through a cyclone which no one else in the village will and/or can corroborate.  Cyclone what cyclone?  Submerged into the ripples of the stream where you watch her drown.  An utterly private moment returned to its source.  Planted squarely in the thick of some mortal evaporation you’re left knowing you’ve seen her in the flux of monochrome.                                                                        

*Karen Whiteson has a story included in  Unthology 1 and her essay on Cocteau’s  La Belle et la Bete appeared in Artesian 3.

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Poems from Melissa Lee-Houghton and Joanna M Weston

The Weight
it was the lips, blackberry, bloody
and dried up,
I touched them, and I touched
the ribcage the breast the hands the thighs the legs
the stitched seam running the length
and I’m not sorry
the weight of the dead
and the nerve of the dead
I have written a thousand poems for her mouth
and her body
you can’t tell me
she never heard or listened
I see her at the bus stop all the time

*Melissa Lee-Houghton's debut poetry collection, A Body Made of You is published by Penned in the Margins. Her work is forthcoming in Poetry Salzburg Review.


did the moon take you
up ladders
propped against
shaken barns?

did you scuttle
through skeletal walls
to find your skull
as empty
as the hurrying night?

did you run, moonlit
through the alder copse
to be imprisoned
by shadows?

where did you go last night
when you closed
your eyes
against me?

*Joanna W Weston: Her middle-reader, Those Blue Shoes, published by Clarity House Press; and poetry, A Summer Father, published by Frontenac House of Calgary.

Moon-Walk was first published in New Hope International U.K.

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Alex Thornber on the 'Good Ones'

Good Ones

Sometimes I wish I lived in a movie from the 40's, where everything is black and white and it either is or it isn't.  Important moments are highlighted by jazz so that you know they are happening.  Girls cover up and the boys don't mind because they are just happy being able to hold your hand in theirs while you dance together.  And at the end of the night they get all embarrassed when they peck you on the cheek.  At least the good ones do.  There are no good ones in my school.  None come by me anyway.  One rumour and all the bad ones and the horny ones track you down and stick around like a bad taste.  I know all about bad tastes.

You can't trust the good ones much either.  My friend Amy had a good one, he wrote her songs and they were in love.  Love leads to things because people don't understand it. They were always careful but once got a little over enthusiastic and she got pregnant.  The good one freaked and begged her to get rid of it but she said she never could.  He said it would ruin his life so she told him to get lost and that she didn't need him.

Now she's four months and showing.  Everyone can see and I think she likes it.  She went for an ultrasound and they told her it was a boy.  She promised herself that she'd raise a good one.

Sometimes when I see her at school I wish I could be her foetus.  I could start all over again.  No regrets.  If Amy was my mum I know I'd be good.  I would wear shirts and cardigans and practice piano every day.  And she would read me Roald Dahl books to start and then I'd learn beautiful quotes from Austin novels and Shakespeare.

It wouldn't matter that I'd be a boy because I could be caring and sensitive because I would know how girls think and feel.  I'd be attractive to the good girls and I'd treat them well and maybe then I'll find out what love is.

I'm pretty sure it exists but TV love confuses things.

*Alex Thornber writes short stories, among other things, and has been published in places like Full of Crow, Metazen and The Pygmy Giant.

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Two poems from James Owens


For some of us death is a black leather suitcase.
We carry it everywhere and savor
the smell and texture while unpacking
in motel rooms, hear the swish of underbrush
against its sides, notice rainwater
beading on the flat surfaces when we hitchhike.
It is full, and we are always surprised —
a suitcase like sleep, or like the third brother’s
pouch of wonders he got from an enchanted fox.
Then one day, at the bottom of all the shirts
and combs and guidebooks and underwear,
we uncover a bright bird hiding,
and it flies, looking neither right nor left,
through the ceiling on the whistle of its wings.


The flock of small bones in my hand
have settled to sleep on your breast,
chirping together as they sink back
through the hours of this long day,
back to the darkness around us and in us.

*James Owens’s poems appear widely in literary journals. He maintains a blog for poetry and photography at http://circumstanceandmagic.blogspot.com

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Two reviews by Beverly Ellis

Experiments in Poetry

The Night Pavilion by Naomi Foyle, pub. Waterloo Press, Hove
ISBN 978-1-906742-05-8

Days of Roses, ed. Declan Ryan and Malene Engelund, London
ISBN 978-0-9568223-0-7

There is a great deal to enjoy in The Night Pavilion.  The collection is divided into three sections: Darkroom Debutantes, Aphrodite’s Answering Machine and The Night Pavilion and – whilst some of the poems refer to Akhmatova, Plath and Dickinson – Naomi Foyle’s work is always resolutely original.  Writing in the guise of a persona or not, the poet’s frankness establishes a close connection with the reader and I felt there was a strong, underlying truth about female experience in what I was being told.

From the outset, the reader is aware that this is the work of a daring female poet who is prepared to take risks, especially in terms of subject matter.  Some of the poems take you to dangerous places – often mediated via the physical body – but the concerns are genuine, the poetry is assured and I never once wanted to turn back.  

Her take on myth is impressive and makes familiar stories surprising, producing new insight, as in the work of Vicki Feaver.  The subtle but unmistakable threat contained within the carefully-constructed envelope rhyme of Portrait of the Snow Queen as a Young Bitch resounds long after the poem ends.

But for all the skill of her more formal work, it is when Naomi Foyle cuts loose that the full force of her power is unleashed, for example in the visceral and incandescent prose poems from Aphrodite’s Answering Machine.  Some of these erotic pieces are superb, but disturbing and definitely not for the faint-hearted, e.g. For Achilleas: Because I Wouldn’t Let Him Watch.  Once read, never forgotten.  Another edgy treat from elsewhere in the book is Cruella Degenerates, a spot-on roller-coaster rant about the insidious effects of fashion on female self-esteem.  The boldness and direct engagement with contemporary issues in this poem were reminiscent of certain American poets, e.g. Barbara Hamby and Marie Howe.

This collection makes a lasting impact and my only criticism is that the book is based around a number of themes/projects, when there were certain strands that I just wanted more of – and would have been quite prepared to sacrifice something (e.g. the riddles) in order to get.  But that’s just a quibble and I’m eagerly anticipating Ms Foyle’s second collection…  Hope it’s due out soon.

* * * * *

Another lively book which offers variety is Days of Roses, an anthology of work by twelve up-and-coming poets who have performed at the ‘Days of Roses’ reading night, based at a pub in Bloomsbury.  It is edited by the hosts, with a foreword by Polly Clark and preceded by The Elements, four poems by Jo Shapcott.  The book is intended as a showcase, with each poet contributing three, four or five poems.

As might be expected from this format, a wide range of styles and subjects is represented – each poet offering at least one very memorable poem.  I had already encountered some of them in poetry magazines and was very pleased to be re-acquainted, e.g. with Liz Berry’s extraordinary dramatic monologues.  Of the poems met with for the first time, Gareth Jones’s tender love sonnets formed a very well-integrated series and I was struck by Marianne Burton’s intriguing slant on myth and domestic violence in The Singer and the Catch.  

Come to think of it, I could spend ages talking about the many individual poems I enjoyed in this book – and agree with the foreword that we will definitely be hearing more from these poets in years to come.

….reviewed by Beverly Ellis


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Maureen Weldon's Garden

It is such a beautiful evening
blue tipped with gold.
Along the low brick wall
where we sat (before
the chairs were gathered in),
the tall tree waves greenly
to the sky.
Nothing is lonely
there is too much joy in the air.
and long shadows like ships
billow across the lawn.

*Maureen Weldon lives in North Wales. Loves reading poetry, and trying to write it. Also enjoys performing poetry, incorporating music. Her poems have appeared in many small press magazines and journals.

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