Mike Ferguson



What if that leaf was a kingfisher
caught out of the corner of my eye

hovering above the river,

the autumn colours flapping in the late
afternoon’s light, a momentary
if ultimately teasing flight? But then
what of all the drowned birds
dead on the river’s bed; and where’s
the surprise of spotting one from
thousands on a tree amongst the other
thousands of trees in a forest of feathers
in this autumnal deception?

And don’t get me going about the
complexities of Spring and summer.



Mike Ferguson taught English for 30 years, but having left this job, now writes and reads and listens to music when not examining to earn extra having left that job.


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James Oates


At Brigflatts (6-6-10)

Braggadocio !

not here my friend
no fools call to higher powers
no rant, save for the
pique-ish bulls
who care not for silent prayer
nor Rawthey,
mixing lap and rush
to song-thrush backdrop,
nor hen, inquisitive in front
of camera,
nor Bruce scratching into sized paper
all fever and forgetfulness.

poets at the grave of poet
find words curious, alien,
no narrative to mind so
digitise source material;

  • eroding headstone
  • two mowed pathways
  • unkempt grass
  • half-burnt clothes-horse

talk of disrespect

talk of simplicity



James Oates is a seasoned performer on the North East and Edinburgh poetry scene, winning the Solo section of the first Team Slam in Edinburgh and Semi-Finalist in the 2009 Radio 4 Slam Poetry Contest. Wideyback was published by Red Squirrel Press  in 2007. You can find James’s work on seahampoet.blogspot.com



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Kiran Millwood Hargrave




Then: the light opened and closed around her;

slumped angels onto the carpet,

trumpeting grotesquely, their shadows

angled into corners, into anywhere and

anything but that safe, squared certainty.

grew larger and filled the air,

feathered and full-bellied,

web-toed as a demon and hot,

but white. Pure white. And soft.

Then: wings, leaving the darkness

no space, no place not to look

to be sure not to see as they pin her

in her chair and the last of the glare swells up

rears into the serpent neck that snips at her throat

Then: she is absented from herself,

poured, rolled, molten gold like the light at her feet,

shot through with hardening gems, mined roughly

as a coalface, as wholly,

until her thighs chaff with fable.


It leaves her opened, gift-like, on the stairwell

her lips bruised, her eyelids split as fruit,

wrists snapped back in greeting or farewell

as seeds aping love take root.




Kiran Millwood Hargrave was born in London in 1990. Pindrop Press published her first full collection, Last March in February 2012. She will be starting a Creative Writing MSt at Oxford University in September 2012. This is her website.

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Aldeburgh Poetry Festival

Ink Sweat and Tears is thrilled to announce that we are once again supporting the Discussion and its associated Short Takes at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, which runs from 2-4 November.

The theme of this year’s Discussion is ‘Poetry as a Lifeline’ which topic will be debated and dissected, vigorously no doubt, on the Saturday afternoon by Ingrid de Kok, Fellow and Professor in Extra Mural Studies at the University of Cape Town, Palestinian- American physician and translator Fady Joudah, Jackie Kay, professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle (who also brings a Nigerian perspective to the table) and Palestinian novelist, editor and poet Ghassan Zaqtan. This collective of  ‘intimate knowledge of the way that poetry can offer survival strategies when faced with a range of extreme situations’ will be chaired by Robert Seatter.

In the perfect little 15 minute vignettes that are the Short Takes,  D. Nurkse, Andrea Porter, Sam Willets and Warsan Shire will all ‘speak for themselves’ on the theme.

For the week leading up to the Festival and throughout it, we will be posting work on the ‘Lifeline’ theme and invite anyone interested in being a part of this to submit in the usual way with the Subject Heading ‘IS&T SUBMISSIONS: LIFELINE.’ Closing date for submissions will be 10th October.

And if all this does not have you excited about Aldeburgh then have a look at the short film here from The Poetry Trust that looks at the Festival’s journey over the years and its natural expansion into the superb facilities at Snape Maltings.

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Audrey Reynolds



The servant girl ran over to the men on the green to tell them about the noblewoman. That afternoon she had rode into the village on horseback looking for somewhere to spend the night. The girl told them about the bottle of lilac salts that the woman had poured into the bath. Then she let each of the men smell the hand she had dipped in the water.




Audrey Reynolds is an artist working in sculpture, painting and spoken word audio.  She is currently working on ‘Udrey & Egan’, a collaborative chapbook with poet, Megan Watkins. She is represented by Ancient & Modern, London.  Find out more here.

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Siegfried Baber



The Rainbow Trout


Last night, I dreamt we got ourselves a rainbow trout,

half-inched from some river in North America.

It caught our eye under the trembling surface

like sunlight moving over a mirror.


And when we opened it up, like a purse,

I imagined that instead of guts it contained gold.

And as I picked my way through its stomach

I was simply looking for loose change.





Siegfried Baber is a young, up-and-coming poet from Bath. Likes: Simon Armitage, Stephen Fry, and football.  Dislikes: Spiders, people who haven’t heard of John Cooper Clarke, and footballers.



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Angus Sinclair reviews ‘House of the Deaf Man’ by Porter and de Freston













The term ekphrasis and its relationship with poetry is one which troubles me. The word finds its roots in Greek; ek meaning ‘out’, and phrasis ‘speak’. The general understanding of this concept being that the work of visual art is spoken out on to the page, dramatically translated into written form. Before mass communication made it possible for us to see a work of art without actually being in its presence physically, one function of ekphrasis was presumably to ‘show’ us works of art in lieu of a reproduction. In the Google-age the poet’s engagement with the visual work of art must go beyond description. In House of the Deaf man Andrea Porter and Tom de Freston employ an intriguing mode of ekphrasis, giving a voice to fourteen of Francisco Goya’s paintings in a delightfully perverse act of ventriloquism.

Goya moved into Quinta del Sordo, the house of the deaf man, in 1819 and over a period of five years completed a series of works which would become known as the Black Paintings. By this point not only was he completely deaf, but beginning to lose his sight as well. The conversation that occurs in House of the Deaf Man then, is between three artists. The first cannot see, hear or speak for himself. He is instead spoken-out by Porter in a series of poems which restage these private works (the Black Paintings were painted directly on to the walls of Goya’s country house and never intended to be shown publicly) in contemporary Britain. One poem ‘Pap’, is dedicated to Rupert Murdoch and gives a voice to the two figures in Two Old Men Eating Soup


We like soup, it slips down easy,

saves us gumming away at stuff

that will never break down

to something we can swallow.


This gentle juxtaposition is typical of Porter’s understated humour and gentle satire. Here we are moved beyond ekphrasis-simple to something very subtle indeed, the evocation of Murdoch’s tabloid empire, the eroticism and violence of these publications juxtaposed with Goya’s skilful and anguished application of these themes.

The third speaker in this conversation, de Freston, answers the questions raised in Porter’s poems with further questions. In contrast to the epigram to ‘Negative Space’, a quote from Goya which states that for him there are ‘only forms that are lit up and forms that are not… only light and shadow’, de Freston’s illustrations employ hard ruled lines and skewed geometries, making little use of shading and where he does this is achieved with cross-hatching. The majority of these responses are claustrophobic dioramas, the rooms of the House of the Deaf Man are exploded on one side so that we can see in.

One motif which occurs in several of these images is a body from the neck down descending a staircase, emphasising the voyeurism one must feel in the face of Goya’s intimate paintings. We feel as though we are constantly walking in on something in Porter’s poems too; the narrative perspective shifts from poem to poem which can be jarring. Continuity is instead provided by themes of sex, violence and domesticity. As such, we may surmise that the mode of ekphrasis employed is one in which several voices speak over the top of each other; each responding with their own stories, told in their own idiom. A mode which is coherent, but only just, manically, and on its own terms.



House of the Deaf Man: poems by Andrea Porter, illustrations by Tom de Freston, 2012, Gatehouse Press   56pp | £10  Buy your copy here




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