And the first ‘Pick of the Month’ for 2016 is ‘Electricity and void’ by Mike Farren

It went right down to the wire, but we can now announce that January’s ‘Pick of the Month’, and our first for 2016, is Mike Farren’s ‘Electricity and void’. Mike is a freelance writer and ex-IT consultant. He lives near Bradford and has had poems published on the Leads to Leeds website and in anthologies from Beehive Poets, most recently alongside Ian Duhig, Steve Ely and others.

Mike receives a £10 National Book Tokens gift card.


Electricity and void

We are mostly electricity and void
and, mostly, it suits me to believe
matter illusion, time a mystery.
But on this warm-cold night in early spring
you lay your material, electrical void
next to mine, and nothing is important
but the solid and the here – unless
it’s the memory of the breeze that lapped
at our mezzogiorno sweat,
before standing at the window,
looking down on the whitewashed wall,
teeming with insect life,
ready to sing like angels.


Voters comments included:

It’s my kind of poetry. Reminds me of Douglas Dunn; almost Larkin. Very Farren too, no doubt.

One of those short pieces of prose that, as you read it several times, you come to gain a very vivid image of a place and time that holds great personal meaning to, and left an very enduring impression with, the writer. Very uplifting, and I love the final line.

A resonant poem sharing a touching personal moment; what it means to be present and alive to our experience and the world beyond.

The imagery seems familiar but is a challenge. I am hoping that my mezzagiorno sweat also goes when I stand at the window.

This poem has a resonance that I find deeply appealing

It stayed me with for days.

[I liked] the imagery and the sense of life

Captures the pain and beauty of being alive

Mike’s poem captured a very human moment, describing a great feeling of tenderness and hope in a few lines.

The unexpected imagery and the distance it travels.



Comments on the rest of the shortlist included:

Diana Brodie, Happy

Spare and precise expression, moving and surprising, mysterious and thought-provoking.

…it left a mark in my mind which remained with me long after I had finished reading all the poems.


Zelda Chappel, Exhalations

I love the way Zelda takes a relationship & turns it into something tactile – something that gets into your bones

The language, the way it sounds spoken out loud, the flow, the rhythm, the force of it.


Kitty Coles, The Thin Woman

Imagery that instantly grabs attention and is memorable; good robust language.

reminiscent of Sylvia Plath but different and very visual


Daniel Roy Connolly, Des bons mots

Such technical brilliance, such mordancy

‘All things considered takes ages.’ Simply the best opening line I’ve ever read.


Seth Crook, Three Years

Pure and limpid voice, restrained emotion, for me it’s word perfect.

One word leads gently and flawlessly into another, building an intimate world that nevertheless allows me to participate in it. It’s a loving, sad poem that makes me feel warm and loved.



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