Susannah Pickering


Shades of earth & sky
with me between them
on a blue morning
your red ticket stub
in the cold lined pocket
slipping through fingers
leaving me wanting

*Susannah Pickering is a poet, playwright and knitter with poems previously published in the likes of Mslexia, Other Poetry and Smoke. Her first pamphlet – Digging Up The Dead – is due out next year from Red Squirrel Press.

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Grace Andreacchi

First Love

My first great love
was a boy with green hair
whom I saw in a movie of the same name.

He was the saddest boy in the world
on account of the green hair
he suffered and shed many tears.

But I thought – How beautiful it is
that green hair
And wanted it for myself.

Thus began a preference for
the melancholy and exotic lover
that’s caused me trouble all my life.

*Grace Andreacchi  is a novelist, poet and playwright. Works include the novels Scarabocchio and Poetry and Fear, Music for Glass Orchestra (Serpent’s Tail) and the chapbook Berlin Elegies.

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Branko Manojlovic

Weekend Affair

Monday I really missed you —
your long fingers, hair curled round my fingers and all that.
Tuesday I was terribly busy.
Wednesday something about a girl at the office
reminded me of you for an instant.
Thursday at the office I caught myself watching her
fingers, curvier than yours, flicking the pages of some book.
Friday I was libidinously unfixed.
Saturday morning I am reinventing myself:
I don’t really miss you, or anyone.
When we meet later on at 6 (you’ll be slightly late of course)
I’ll be reluctant to hold hands.
By Monday I’ll be missing you of course —
your long fingers, hair curling and all that.

*Branko Manojlovic is a Serbian born poet/musician. He lives and works in Kyoto, Japan. Poems published in Magma, Verse.

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Tom Kelly

The Holy Ghost

I didn’t know;
Christ had thorns stuck in his head,
God Almighty was in everything,
even Goblin pies I hated.

The Holy Ghost a mystery
until he came:
burning coals,
shuggy-boating above my bed,
placing his blood into me.

(For Father Conlin)

Our priest was a saint,
who else would wear suede boots
turned-up at the toes?

You could taste his prayers;
he bowed to the cross
in the presbytery
with no-one there.

His beatific smile,
like Jimmy Stewart
at the end of,  ‘It’s A Wonderful Life.’

Tom Kelly
is a Jarrow-born poet and playwright who now lives further up the Tyne at Blaydon. ‘The Time Office: New and Selected Poems from Red Squirrel is launched this month.

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Andrea Holland wins the Cafe Writers Norfolk Commission

The 2012 Café Writers Norfolk Commission, in collaboration with IS&T

Poet and UEA tutor Andrea Holland is £3,000 better off after being announced the winner of the fifth Café Writers Norfolk Commission.  Also included in the award is publication of a poetry pamphlet by Gatehouse Press and the opportunity to read at Café Writers and the Poetry- Next-the-Sea festival.

The prize established by the Norwich-based writers network Café Writers, and in collaboration with the webzine Ink Sweat and Tears, is to encourage an emerging Norfolk-based poet in the difficult early stages of their writing career.  Every year, Norfolk poets are invited to submit a proposal for a new pamphlet of work that responds to Norfolk in some way.  Andrea Holland’s winning proposal this year is focussed around the war effort in Breckland, when in 1942 the residents of four villages and nine parishes were given little more than a week to leave their lands and homes to make way for military training. She will looking at the effects of dislocation on local residents, and in particular at Lucilla Reeve, a remarkable woman who refused to leave her home until the tanks forced her out. [full synopsis below] Andrea comments ‘It is wonderful to be selected as winner of the Cafe Writers Norfolk Commission and have the opportunity to give voice to the forgotten villages North of Thetford and the thousand or so inhabitants compulsorily evicted from their homes, with no official relief or relocation for villagers, some of whom could trace their families back 500 years in the community’.

The standard of entries for the award, which was this year opened out to all Norfolk residents was outstanding. Judges George Szirtes, Helen Ivory, Kate Birch and Chris Gribble also shortlisted Tom Warner (Faber new poet), Heidi Williamson (Bloodaxe author), Julia Webb (winner of Stanza Poetry Comp.), Caroline Gilfillan (Winner of East Anglian Book Award), Richard Lambert (Rialto author) and Laura Helyer (Winner of George Crabbe Memorial Prize).  Helen Ivory commented: ‘The judging process was physically painful once we’d selected a shortlist.  In then end we focused on the strength of the Commission proposal, and then looked at the sophistication of the writing.  Andrea Holland’s idea and her poetry ultimately sang out.’

Café Writers supports writers at all stages of their development from beginners right through to well established names. The Norfolk Commission Patrons are Dominic Christian and Kate Birch.  Kate who is also one of the judges and part of IS&T  said: “The Commission has proved to be an ideal way to celebrate the richness and variety of Norfolk, while at the same time promoting and supporting at least some of the many talented poets who are inspired by it.”

Synopsis of Andrea Holland’s winning proposal

In June 1942 the British military decided they needed somewhere to train for D-Day, consequently six Breckland villages were requisitioned by the armed forces and residents were given seven days to leave their land and homes. As one village’s school mistress put it, ‘The war had taken our husbands and now our homes and way of life was to go’. 

Real and imaginary villagers who gave up their homes and their land, for what would have been described as ‘the war effort’,  will appear in this sequence of poems and in particular, Lucilla Reeve; a complex character within the community who refused to leave her home until tanks forced her out. East Anglian journalist Keith Skipper has written of her tenacity and ‘eccentricity’ as well as the book Reeve published, The Earth No Longer Bare, written under the plain label of “A Norfolk Woman” (she donated all profits St. Dunstan’s Institution for the Blind).

With this collection I hope to engage Norfolk readers who might not usually read much poetry via a significant episode in regional history which has nevertheless been almost entirely forgotten by the subsequent two generations.


Because of their origin, carrs are treacherous and uninviting…with dense wet undergrowth
                                                                –    R Jones, Birds of the Norfolk Broads

I thought it boatable, our Broad.  We came
prepared to row.  Ancient cuttings
have made things uncertain; bounded

by unstable banks as we are.  I thought
I was sinking.  I thought you would
take my hand.  Green light of Reedswamp

to cling to and I watch the water receding:
A consolidation into fen.  Still, I am not sure.
You climb through Purple-loosestrife, beat back

the flowering Rush.  Denser plants are establishing themselves,
my boots thick with alder, while wet woodland becomes carr.
Now you’re gone: a grey heron fished out and tree-bound.

I’m pulling the boat of us behind me, to solid ground.
I hear only water: it sloshes in my boots like wake,
so loud I wouldn’t recognize your call.

*Andrea Holland

(‘Consolidation’ is not part of the Commission, but formed part of Andrea’s original submission)

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Deborah Alma

Still Life

Rigby’s approach is to sweep things under the carpet.
Sometime, he hoovers them up,
But then he can’t sleep
Imagines them still alive in the clear plastic cylinder,
The ugly words,
The cunts the bastards the bitches
That lay wriggling round her,
That he threw, not imagining the mess.
Next time, under the carpet.
Definitely. Yes.
Then, if there’s still life there,
He will not see
As he stamps and stamps and stamps.

*Deborah Alma
was born in London and lives in Ludlow. She writes poetry, runs poetry
workshops for children and dementia sufferers and is studying for an MA
in Creative Writing at Keele University. She is also Emergency Poet in
her 1960's ambulance.

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Angus Sinclair reviews John Osbourne's new pamphlet

The New Blur Album by John Osborne, 2011, Nasty Little Press 28pp | £5 ISBN: 978-0-9563767-7-0

Reading critically and reading for pleasure can sometimes be at odds with one another. Reading through John Osborne’s latest collection the critical reader in my head asks questions like: Is the language put under enough pressure here? Are these rhythms too close to speech? It’s at this point the other reader in my head interrupts: Just listen. As it says in Our waitress is Employee of the Month, ‘it’s important/to appreciate the small things.’

The New Blur Album not only appreciates the small things but magnifies them with a humorous anxiety, often leading to peculiar conclusions:

[…] it reminded me of the time I was at Graham’s house
when I pulled down my trousers and pants
and showed everyone the massive bruise on my knob.
I just thought people would be more interested.

The cast which includes a bumbling tourist guide, a man cuckolded by the BBC continuity announcer, and a substitute goal-keeper are frequently coming to terms with adverse situations. The best of these are not merely anecdotal but concern our moment in history. In Pages from Ceefax the speaker is a hypocritical technophobe:

    “There are too many blogs,” I write on my blog
    and immediately it disappears
like when a little girl says, “I don’t believe in fairies,”
and at the bottom of the garden a family of fairies
grieve for their mum,
taken so young.

Talking to Machines also addresses difficulties of communication. In contrast to the speaker in Pages from Ceefax, the speaker here doesn’t ‘like talking to these machines’ yet finds himself able to express his feelings openly:

[…] I thought, if this is the person I am
after just 45 minutes with you
drinking coffee while you’re telling me about your job
then what would it be like if…?

Here the estrangement of machines acts as an enabling force. The language is simple and to good effect, sometimes it’s the hardest thing to speak candidly to people we feel close to. By the time I finish reading through my critical reader is still moaning a little: Some of the longer lines don’t carry the weight or rhythm one might hope for. But I’m won over by the strangely uplifting melancholy. Anyone who’s picked up a Nasty Little Press publication will already be aware that these pamphlets are handsome, portable little things. It might be a little while before we see a new record from Blur, in the meantime a fiver is a fair price for The New Blur Album.

*Angus Sinclair lives in Norwich. Last year Gatehouse Press published Another Use of Canvas, a pamphlet-length collection of poems about pro-wrestling in Norfolk.

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