Anthony Lawrence

 

 

 

Difference

 

The once-in-a-thousand-year-flood came and went.

We listened as though blood were a tide

our bedroom an ark. At dawn we understood

the full extent of what had occurred:

as there was no sun, we attended a critical mass

in our underwear. A town went by, followed

by a stunned population, all wearing plover masks.

You were at the window, giving a commentary

on the direction of the wind. I lay on the bed

listening to a public broadcast of the dangers

of being out alone, after dark. You reported

people walking through the steady rain

of a pamphlet-drop. I put the words diaspora

and exodus up for discussion. Your voice broke

with news of street executions being carried out

by gangs by torchlight. They say that hardship

calls forth the best and worst in relationships.

The sky was red, the ground white with ash.

By such extremes were our differences exposed.

 

 

 

Anthony Lawrence has published sixteen books of poems and a novel. He teaches Creative Writing and Writing Poetry at Griffith university, Gold Coast, Queensland and lives on the far north coast of New South Wales. Click here for more:  http://www.poetryinternationalweb.net/pi/site/poet/item/24676/15/Anthony-Lawrence

 

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Word & Image by Helen Pletts and Romit Berger

 

 

 

 

 

 

Words by Helen Pletts (www.helenpletts.com ) whose two collections, Bottle bank and For the chiding dove, are both published by YWO/Legend Press (supported by The Arts Council) and available on Amazon. ‘Bottle bank’ was longlisted for The Bridport Poetry Prize 2006, under Helen’s maiden name of Bannister. Working collaboratively on Word and Image with Romit Berger, illustrator, since 2012. Word and Image Cards now on sale in The Over Gallery .

Image by Romit Berger who says “I am a graphic designer and artist, living in Prague for the past 
ten years. In 2008 I joined a writing group – English is not my native
 language but I graduated from an international school, so it is a part 
of my life ever since. I feel that the dual process of finding words to
 describe mind images and illustrating written words, opens a new 
exciting dimension of creativity for me.

 

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Jennifer Hambrick

 


*

here the sunflower
stood this summer …
my late friend

 *
the clicking
of the ice storm
his anger
 *
Christmas afternoon
the quiet snow
*
cracked nail polish
Easter morning
 *
the dog’s footsteps on my back snooze alarm
 
 
A Pushcart Prize nominee, Jennifer Hambrick is an award-winning classical musician, broadcaster, and poet in Columbus, Ohio, USA. Her poetry has been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies worldwide. Jennifer Hambrick’s blog, Inner Voices, is at jenniferhambrick.com.

 

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And our Pick of the Month for April 2017 is David Subacchi’s ‘Cross Country’

 

More than 250 of you voted – a record for us – leading to a sprint finish that saw ‘Cross Country’ by David Subacchi as our Pick of the Month for April 2017. This fine poem struck a nostalgic nerve with many of you although it was 50/50 as to whether you loved or dreaded the sport itself!

David lives in Wales (UK) where he was born of Italian roots. He studied at the University of Liverpool and he has three poetry collections with Cestrian Press First Cut (2012), Hiding in Shadows (2014) and Not Really a Stranger (2016).  David has also recently published a collection of Sonnets A Terrible Beauty in commemoration of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising. He writes in Welsh and Italian and blogs at http://www.writeoutloud.net/profiles/davidsubacchi

David will receive a National Book Token for £10.

 

Cross Country

A reluctant concession
For those of insufficient bulk
Or violent disposition
To take part in the awful
Battle of blood and mud
Laughingly referred to
As a game.

Unsupervised
Our route wound
Far away from
The killing fields
Past gasworks
And railway lines
Through the village.

Once out of sight
A walking pace
Cigarettes
Sweets
Talking to local girls
Cursing the brutality
Of the egg shaped ball.

Then returning
To the jeers
Of shirt ripped
Casualties
Our mock exhaustion
Too dramatic
Fooling no one.

 

Voters comments included:

David Subacchi has the human touch – when you read him it is like you thought that, but didn’t know how to put it into words.

Distills the essence of a very familiar experience!

Rhythm of verses felt like running

Love David’s precision of language

I like the skew of it. Interesting language from a surprising angle.

It brings back so many memories, it made me smile

It evokes so many memories of cross country at my school. This poem creates so many visions and is so poignant.

Brings back the memories. Short cuts, false panting, an unnecessary puff on the inhaler to fool the teacher. Fantastic.

Reminds me of those awful childhood treks!

Brings back happy memories of my school days, seeing the boys running past the perimeter fence of our school and laughing & joking (sometimes jeering lol) with them

David’s poetry always helps you to see the ordinary transformed.

It matches some of my own experience – though mine was more dull. Scared and useless at rugby & cricket.

Reading it twice and taking in the title, it reminded me of cross country as engaged in here in the States and the 2-word phrase “past gasworks” as an intended or not, echo of an early David Bowie lyric, using the phrase “past the gasworks” made me smile. It was a song called ‘Uncle Arthur’ from 1967.

David Subacchi is such an observant writer; I love the way he expresses what he sees, what he feels and somehow captures how the listeners feel too.

So much conjured up with so few words.

It has an element of Gritty Truth

It reminds me of when I opted out of netball, was sent on a cross country run and my friends joined me. From then on we ran regularly.

I love his style and it reminds me of my ‘yoof’ !!

Shows the pain of Cross Country!

 

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Jennie Owen

 

 

 

On the tracks

Paused amongst the debris scabs
and concertinaed pigeons,
over Herculean arches, grisly secrets lurk
in muck and smutty shadows.  Old stolen bicycles, rats,
and plastic bags floating like ghosts in the engine hiss.

Reptilian fingers grasp masonry,
green and scaled, vegetating against the odds.
Above in the promise of blue, circles one for sorrow,
seven for gold, eight for…grim trapped mornings
black beaked and round eyed.

The metal box shudders into life, delivering us
to the wipe clean city centre platform.
Thick communal air releases a gasp.  A pile
of spat out sunflower seeds crunches under our feet.

 

 

 

Jennie Owen is a teacher of creative writing and has been widely published in anthologies and magazines.  She is proudly dyslexic and lives with her husband and their three children in Lancashire.

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Alan Price reviews ‘Later there will be Postcards’ by Claire Booker

 

It’s rare to come across a new poet who not only has a confident voice, but more importantly, a sensibility that tackles death, the passage of time, ageing, childhood and a strong eye for the natural world. Such big themes are handled with wit, originality and insight. Claire Booker’s range is considerable. Her skill is evident. And the sheer musicality of her work in her debut collection Later There Will Be Postcards exciting.

With her first poem The Night Mare, you’re immediately thrown into powerful imagery of sexual anxiety and identity transference, jolted by reasoning and sadness. The nightmare’s the dream horse that the poet rides and feeds with a lemon.

 

I take the little tongue with a mind of its own.

Vice it. Force the rind down.

 

Waking up, the dreamer recalls the past.

 

When we were young enough to count ourselves in summers

And you my turkey cock with feathers and attitude.

 

Two great lines. Further great lines from her poems are worth quoting. In the moving Meeting my Mother she arrives at this consideration.

 

This is not my mother. Or has she now assumed,

In some slant way, aspects of the room?

 

That’s a beautiful, touching and exact way of imagining the presence of a dead parent. Whilst in Booker’s last poem Provencal Crosses she recalls playing, as a child, near a cemetery. A bell sounds and she wonders where the chimes go.

 

“…whether they hang

 

blind in the cave of immense sky and who

makes the bell sing each hour. I am too young still

 

to know that even God can be automated –

that there will be just this one time

 

Of course it’s unfair to simply cherry-pick lines from remarkable poems. But with poems as good as these it’s hard not to do so.

 

Booker has her influences – for me that’s early Samuel Beckett. In the beautiful poem Model in Love (after Giacometti’s “Walking Woman” sculpture) we have a spindly upright figure that’s inimitably the Italian artist’s yet also like a character in Beckett’s late prose. Her poem achieves a delicate balance – both praising and criticising the act of creativity.

 

how he came again and again

simply to touch

the intelligent slope of her shoulder.

 

This is followed by the dark constriction of the poem’s final lines.

 

still she knows that a girl must be free

to walk as she will –

that a pedestal impedes,

no matter how tenderly it kisses

the stems of her feet.

 

Claire Booker is also unafraid to experiment with form. And although I think poems like On Hearing the Bell Again at Chichilianne and Visiting My Father are

not as intense and as moving as her other pieces their technical dexterity should be applauded.

Later There Will Be Postcards is an outstanding debut pamphlet. Claire Booker’s humour, startling (but never over the top) imagery, compassion and tone convinced me she’s a genuinely original poet who takes great calculated risks and is able to quietly master her risk-taking. I eagerly await a full collection and even more surprises.

 

 

 

Alan Price‘s film reviews can be read online at Filmuforia.  A poetry collection entitled Outfoxing Hyenas was published by Indigo Dreamsin 2012, and his pamphlet  Angels at the Edge appeared in 2016.

 

Later there will be Postcards by Claire Booker is published by Green Bottle Press and can be ordered here: http://greenbottlepress.com/our-books/

 

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