Nov 29 2023
The Winter 2023 issue of London Grip New Poetry features:
*Teoti Jardine *Anne Berkeley *Alison Campbell *Mary Mulholland
*Greg Smith *Jennifer M Phillips *Jack Houston *Roisin Tierney
*Tim Love *Zack Rogow * Kurt Luchs *John Tustin
*Norton Hodges *Glenn Hubbard *Michael Mintrom *Matthew Paul
*Glen Hunting *Philip Dunkerley *Oleg Semonov *Tim Cunningham
*Tony Beyer *Pam Job *Briege Duffaud *Julia Duke
*Rosemary Norman *Oliver Comins *Caleb Murdock *Paul Stephenson
*Stuart Pickford *Rennie Halstead *Bridgette James *Gordon Scapens
*Jayne Stanton *Deborah Harvey *Julian Matthews * Rachel Burns
* Sultana Raza * Kate Maxwell * Colin Pink *Olivia McClelland
*James Fountain *Martin Bennett *Bethany W Pope
London Grip New Poetry appears early in March, June, September & December
SUBMISSIONS:Send up to THREE poems & a brief bio to email@example.com
Poems should be in a SINGLE Word attachment or included in the message body
Windows: December-January, March-April, June-July & September-October
Readers may be surprised to learn that this is the 50th posting of London Grip New Poetry. We ourselves only realised a few months ago that we were approaching this significant milestone; and we have chosen to let the occasion speak for itself without advance publicity. We have thoroughly enjoyed producing all these quarterly selections of new poetry and are grateful to our loyal readers and to our contributors, whose creative efforts have ensured that each edition of LGNP has in itself been a cause for celebration, encouraging us to keep looking forward to future editions.
LGNP first appeared in its present form in September 2011 and its style and layout have changed very little apart from the additional offer of a printable version of the magazine from issue two. All previous issues are still available here .
However there was poetry in London Grip before the current editorial team arrived. The magazine was founded in 2007 by Patricia Morris and has had two previous poetry editors: Fred D’Aguiar (until 2009) and Robert Vas Dias (until 2011). Literary historians will be glad to know that all the fine poems they selected for publication in London Grip can still be found by visiting our archive .
There is of course more to London Grip than poetry and my colleague Stephen McGrath and I have enjoyed posting many reviews of books, films, shows and exhibitions written by our enthusiastic and perceptive reviewers.
Even without prior warning of our half-centenary, at least one of our regular contributors has done the mathematics for himself and we are happy to feature Teoti Jardine’s gentle commemorative poem as the first item in this issue. Thereafter we have another rich mix of poems through which our contributors have once again succeeded in generating some intriguing conversations among themselves.
This year we have included some not-very-celebratory seasonal poems (bleak-mid-winterish one might even say) which can perhaps be seen more as a critique of commercialised traditions than an undermining of deeper beliefs and hopes. And it is certainly in the spirit of those older promises of peace and goodwill that we wish our readers a Happy Christmas. We hope you will enjoy this issue at least as much as you have enjoyed the previous forty-nine.
Teoti Jardine: Homage to London Grip’s Fiftieth Issue I know 50. Turned fifty twentynine years ago. Made it there with some serious editing and rewrites along the way. Eleven years ago my first submission to London Grip, ‘How to make a Summer Radio with Discarded Objects’, was greeted by Mike with a “Give this line another look,” “What does this word mean?” “I do like ‘jostled in the air waves’.” My friends were impressed with Mike’s feed back, saying, most Editors don’t take the time to engage. It is more often a ‘No’, or a, ‘Happy to publish it.’ Since then, several poem have made it. It is always a thrill to see my words in London Grip, being brought to life, enhanced by Mike’s chosen theme. I look forward to another London Grip 50 issues. If I can fill my lifes pages until then, I will have written a very blessed ninetyone.
Anne Berkeley: Bendicks Bittermints He was not a man for confectionery but my father loved the way the spartan shell cracked against the tongue to yield an inner sweet asperity. A small box would last all January. A second mint, he said, would taste the same, so why would you eat another straight away? Anne Berkeley: Notes beginning with a line from William Kentridge That which we do not remember is up in the loft packed in tissue paper somewhere in the dust and wasps’ nests . Sister arranges cards by subject matter: snow scenes, robins, other wildlife, stables, wise men, modern abstract. Pick it up on Christmas Eve, the butcher says, it will keep better in our fridge than in yours. An old shower curtain protects the floor when at last we haul the tree in from the yard. All night in the dark another presence in the hall, bristling, scented. Do not put the liver with the gravy giblets but fry it lightly in butter and serve on toasted brioche. The goose is too big for the roasting tin. The goose that died for our sins. The tree that died for our sins. Let us pull our party crackers not for curl of riddle, trinket, hat, but for the bitter, bang-stained air.
Alison Campbell: Fake
We slot the metal vertebrae together
fan out the ferny plastic branches
stick it naked on a square table
by the window as we decorate –
red baubles, tinsel, a glittering origami star
made at primary school.
A friend up the road
has a real tree, small and growing in a pot
straw decorations hang pale
against dark branches.
silver holders clipped around the tree hold candles –
she lights them one by one with a long match
draws the wooden window shutters
and we can see her
a girl in Switzerland looking for the first time
at that tree on Christmas Eve.
I walk home up the stairs
stand in front of our tree
cover the triangular base with more tinsel
pick up a fallen reindeer
switch on the fairy lights.
Mary Mulholland: Carolling
Midnight and the congregation bursts into Hark
the Herald, smiling conspiratorially at one another,
minds on preparing the turkey, wrapping presents,
the pretty girl who's squeezed into the pew, as they
breathe incense air. Candles flicker. Bowed heads
are sprinkled with holy water. Then a shudder, a rumble
thunders from the back. A young man in black flings
wide the doors and runs up the aisle like an ominous bird.
Don't listen, he shouts, it’s lies. All lies! People shift,
with nervous glances; the priest talks louder.
Believe me, young man cries, but only the children
still look, rubbing tired eyes as he returns to the dark.
Drunk, says the old woman in mauve to the colonel, and
the old boy in charge of collections hurries to bolt the door.
Greg Smith: Christmas is Over
Upright and miniature, on Mary’s knee,
the baby Jesus sits. Three kings stoop.
Two umber cows look on, doe-eyed
in wonder. Overleaf rain bleeds blue ink:
Merry Christmas: Joe, Doris and the boys.
Next, a snaking team of reindeer lead
an open sleigh above a winter village,
moonlit roofs crusted with tinsel. Santa
leans out, a yellow sack across his back.
Inside: From Uncle George & Auntie Betty.
Here is a disembowelled gold cracker
with its scrolled joke still inside
the cardboard tube, against the mandatory
monarch’s crown of weightless paper.
The infant trinket is a tiny orange whistle.
This delicate and shattered little egg
is a trodden-on bright emerald bauble.
A dust of crumbs inside tartan shortbread box
where kilted highlanders perform a soundless jig
beneath deep purple mountains.
Then a half mince pie, one bitten-into
sausage roll with perfect teethmarks,
Inside a Sainsbury carrier bag, the relic
of a turkey dinner, its stripped ribs
vaulted like a ruined abbey.
In each wheelie bin, below sound’s threshold:
a barely whispering unshrivelling of cellophane,
minutely quacking plastic, the whole heap gradually
subsides. Inside Selfridges the waiting escalators
already glide, each striplight whiter than a star.
Jennifer M Phillips: A Child's Magnificat
As though they had camped too long and too close to the fire
attic dust cowled them all in mystery:
three glass-gemmed magicians, a lamb, an ass, a camel,
three shepherds and the homely family,
while they waited for the shuffle-round of time
and a fresh revelation beside the solstice font.
Their quaint hope velveted my childhood dreams
opening a far country where mysterious stars
summoned, and angels drifted in visitation;
where a girl threw her sandal in the cogs of empire
so the whole orbit shifted and a fierce light pierced
like a wail commuted into a triumph-song,
as that child and her child carried the weight of day
while the old and the rich slunk guiltily away.
Jack Houston: Lame
Over 12,000 pupils in Hackney who are entitled to free school meals
will be offered vouchers to help with food during the summer holidays.
My arms are killing me. The fox limps. Two
three-kilo bags of fusilli all
the way from Stamford Hill Asda. The fox
has one leg folded to its gut. I pass the school gates
as it slips behind the line
of parked cars and glances back. I keep on.
Roisin Tierney: Infestation
We were many, too many to count
and stood, each, raising our chins, in our lit
doorways, gardens, bedroom windows,
fiddling with spectacles, passing binoculars,
blinking and peering up at the bright
points roiling in their starry soup.
We thought something must come of it,
this celestial coupling over our heads
of the Great Benefic and the Great Malefic,
that some eerie evanescence
would shudder to earth and give fruit.
It was the right time of year too, more or less
the darkest day, the longest night
just before the waxing of the light.
The coming of brightness, heat.
So we were, you might say, expectant,
we did foresee something, but not this, not this:
The young refusing to procreate, fleeing
the cities for the forests, the tundra,
the vast open spaces, leaving us here to rot
in our terraces, our crumbling estates,
intent on creating, somewhere out there,
protected places where the plants
and the beasts and the birds of the air
can all mingle and grow unmolested by us.
They say they are righting a most grievous wrong.
And it does feel, strangely, amid all this destruction,
the death of our customs and mores,
our old way of life, our beliefs,
as if our own planet, like some rough beast
is standing up out of her dung
and shaking her pelt, hard, casting us off,
as if we were, as if she had overcome,
an attack of fleas, of lice, of scurfy mange.
Tim Love: Illness and the Arts
The Black Death was a boon
to tapestry makers - everyone
wanted their windows covered.
When Holst took up the trombone
to cure his asthma, neighbours
tried in vain to end his career.
Hergé wrote "Tintin in Tibet"
while in therapy, loving the calm
of eternal snow and cloudless skies.
Poets have thrown away their masks,
shaken off punctuation like alphabet's measles.
No doctor ever checks their beat nowadays.
They tell us each year that
poetry's never been so healthy.
Someone’s forgotten to take their meds.
Zack Rogow: Passing Strange Strange to be living at this time in history and not in the Dark Ages ........when no memorable events happened Except in Baghdad To exist at this very moment and not during a future millennium ........when merpeople will inhabit the oceans and wingèd humans will ...............hover on thermals like hawks It feels so weird that I’m even typing this and not living in the era before writing ..........was invented by Babylonian merchants trying to thwart bandit captains ...................who skimmed sheep and barley off their shiploads It seems downright peculiar That I’m part of a so-called “intelligent species” instead of an orange starfish ..........in a tidepool laved by cooling wavelets And how is it I can plaster this poem to a website ..........accessible from any point on Earth at the same instant when I could just as easily be writing pamphlets hawked on Paris streetcorners ....... by vendors trying to earn enough sous for the night’s bottle of blood-dark wine Almost arbitrary That I’m writing this in a language that somehow survived wars famines and plagues Strange to be communicating through this medium called poetry ......... and not through.a thin telegraph wire pulsing Morse code from one station to another ....................across a prairie night endless as the Milky Way
Kurt Luchs: Poetry
The window seat in the breakfast restaurant
at LaGuardia gives me a clear view of it
there’s a construction crew laboring at 7 o’clock
in the morning on a cloudy Saturday
the cloddish dance of the earth digger machines
the tower cranes poised at impossible angles
a delicate balance as Edward Albee would say
if he were still alive to say it again
but poetry is forever, yes? No? Maybe.
I say construction crew though in truth
it could just as easily be a deconstruction crew
it’s difficult to tell whether anybody’s building up
or tearing down these days and anyway
would it make a difference?
As usual my vote is not required for things
to take their course. You could call me
an interested observer, but no. Don’t call me.
One of the diggers has got hold of a massive piece
of broken concrete and tries to lower it
into a pit of unspeakable filth
nearly tipping over into the hole itself
and then righting its muddy metal body
at the last possible moment
either a reckless narrow miss
or showing off in the manner of all artists everywhere.
Bravo! I say to my coffee cup
as empty as I am, emptied even of emptiness
as restless and ready to be refilled
with mysteries yet to be named
widening like bottomless holes in the earth.
John Tustin: Fill
Not even looking at her,
he holds out the coffee cup,
twirling it by the handle
and the cup demands –
He tells the cup to demand
that it be filled.
Not even looking in him,
she opens up her heart
and her heart demands –
fill me. Fill me.
She tells her heart
to demand to be filled
by a man
without enough inside
to even fill himself.
She pours the coffee
into his cup.
At least this morning,
He keeps looking elsewhere
as she does it
so will she.
Norton Hodges: Naming
And what if someone calls you darling? Not
the bus driver or the shop assistant
but someone closer, who breathes into
your neck in the morning too closely.
The guilty boy never heard it
lying on his bed with an open book.
He was used to asking for scraps,
exaggerating scrapes for some kind words.
Now it echoes in an empty church,
too overwhelming a sacrament
for an unworthy soul. For what if
she finds him hollow like some cheap chocolate egg
and the inside doesn’t merit the name
she so desperately wants to taint him with?
Glenn Hubbard: Completing Sappho
I have used Sappho’s words (in italics) as a scaffold for my imagination.
Lines in which no italics appear are entire lines that were missing and that I have invented.
From Fragment 300A
You are lovely, as I have often told you.
For you that means little since
to become the people’s champion is all you desire.
As when I rode all night to see you, you ignore me.
Where now our hoarsely whispered vows?
Where those pillows?
Hope no longer grants an audience.
The doors of her residence are barred.
It’s true we made love yesterday and it was
not unpleasant despite my misgivings.
Since then, though, I have learnt that
you had horses when you told me you had no means of transport.
For you there is no other wish than to receive
decoration from the Elders, to have glory and enjoy the adulation of the demos.
Now she must know, your latest lover, that you have
gone beyond the reach of those who hold out their arms to you.
Michael Mintrom: Wallace Stevens, Automatic Reply
Thank you for your email, which breathlessly
I wait to open. Please be advised
I’m away from the office, internet access
intermittent, like vulgar jokes at cocktail hour.
Take my word. I’ll follow up. Should the palace
be stormed by hoons, Mille Fleur bantams will soon
Jackson Pollock the town. If insurance be
your interest, plonk a jar in Tennessee.
I did that once. Have you a mind for the blue guitar?
Best approach a Sotheby’s agent.
For anecdotes, march the dirt road from Hartford
to Parnassus. About gift ideas or orders
try the Key West sales team. And, if you’re
wondering why the house is quiet
consider it part of the meaning.
Commiserations — Wall
Matthew Paul: Half Board at the Alum Sands Hotel Again
My brothers and I comb the whole, brown edifice,
like Alfred Hitchcock’s Three Investigators, uncovering
clues in a haunted house. The birdcage lift grumbles
and judders its Meccano heave, while the intercom
mumbles cryptic instructions for ‘Lemonade Doreen’.
In the TV lounge, we never watch what we want to—
residents are hooked on Crossroads and Emmerdale Farm.
We get sucked in too. At dinner, Mum orders us to stop
fidgeting, pipe down, and not use our forks as shovels.
The Brylcreemed, Italian waiter teases me, the youngest,
by asking, every evening, if I’d like ‘some jelly ice’.
Back from the beach one baking afternoon, we gawp
as a luxury coach swings into the car park: top-flight
Middlesbrough F.C., managed by big Jack Charlton,
in town for a pre-season friendly versus Fourth Division
Bournemouth, who’ve ditched ‘and Boscombe Athletic’
since the printing of my bible, The Observer’s Book
of Association Football. Takes us all week to click
her name is Room-maid Doreen.
Glen Hunting: Travellers
When you stumble into the hostel foyer
with your two-day grime and too-heavy packs
and fatigue is invisible quicksand, I’ll be waiting
to shoulder your load and show you my map
and you’ll see your plan was right all along.
We’ll hymn every gable and stone. We’ll flavour
each moment with laughter that neither of us
could have found on our own, plucked from
the stucco and spires of the venerable country
we came to absorb. We’ll goad each other:
I’ll study the guides and you’ll fossick out
every new byway and dare me to follow you.
The hues of the land will ripen and deepen,
along with the vintage we’ll sip, triumphant,
in the shade of some airy veranda. But then,
our inevitable parting will whisper its name,
though we may not agree on the timing.
The apricot dusk will anoint new paths—
we’ll each book a different tour on our own
or return to the firelight of home.
And we’ll wonder, alone, if we’ll ever be so
unbridled again, as we were when the highway
seduced us, and newness was virtue and vow.
We’ll wonder where the other wound up:
if we’re travelling still, if we’re lost or found.
We’ll flicker in each other’s minds for years,
each like a dying streetlamp in some part
of a faraway town where nobody lives.
Philip Dunkerley: In Transit him not there her & her girls rabat an alien culture alone three no-ones in their eyes because of an interpretation a sixth - century text men having to be out by twelve them stuck in the foyer 8 hours to kill two little ones tired looking daggers because of a book and man power because they could 8 hours tired feeding nappies mess her determined but them knowing finally the plane would come disdaining her contempt defiance jack-knifed worlds them stuck in the past disrespect since he wasn’t there Philip Dunkerley: Remembrance He might well be from Terry Street, but isn’t, a Viking with long blond hair and cheapo boots. He’s cutting the green grass, green like Helmand, laying neat stripes, marking a safe way home. Summer’s ending. Soon no one will want him. Still he goes trudging about the town pushing, incongruously, his petrol lawn mower, looking for work, trying to keep control. November now, and see, he’s there again, old combat jacket, wool hat, busy weeding. It’s a long way down for such a big-boned man, but he’s grateful to have any job at all. And killing weeds is good - destroying them, or eradicating pests - like on a mission. They got the others. Somehow he survived. But still he keeps them with him, in his head. Remembrance Day, the Cenotaph, he’s there, alone, behind the crowd, tears in his eyes. And then a kid cadet butchers the ‘Last Post’. In the wounded silence, everything explodes.
Oleg Semonov: The Cherry Tree
raising its hands to the heavy sky
to the rolls of thunder;
searching for the shield in the air
to protect its crown –
against the falling metal fragments
in this local garden;
squeezing in its palms the ripe
dark red cherries –
the juice slowly dropping down
its broken branches
to ease the pain it feels
and that of this burning ground.
Tim Cunningham: A Scribe for the Ghosts
I am here, a scribe for the ghosts.
At my elbow, the shade of my grandmother,
A woman made of tears
And with a voice as soft.
Ellen Hartnett, a name never forgotten
Because never known,
Just another mother of sorrows
From an age of grief
When poverty plucked sons and daughter
For ‘the boat’, casually
As children picking berries
From the thorn.
That the bush does not bleed
When a berry
Tony Beyer: With us yet
Cousin Minna’s young man
still lies dead in France
beside his comrades
after her whole life
has passed in a direction
neither of them planned
we knew her first as a gaunt
retired school mistress
childless of course
tending her veteran
brother and a widower cousin
on their Karaka farm
until the place was sold
and the absence of surviving
choices continued to the end
she visited us driven by
a lady companion in a tall
terse and aloof and a
stickler for form but somehow
necessary as part of the whole story
the men who never grew older
missing from their own lives
and the women who went on beyond them
relics of an empire
that consumed futures for the sake
of a questionable past
her unspoken grief like a handkerchief
scented and folded
put away in a drawer
Pam Job: Blighty Blues
After ‘Not Yet at Ease’, art works commemorating WWI
British Commonwealth wounded and shell-shocked soldiers,
(The RAQS Collective, First Site Gallery, Colchester, 2018)
We’ve got those ragtime, boogie jazz-time
hospital blues; we wear them, uniforms
blue as the skies on which we draw maps
of our nerves. We’ve come through
the forest of war into this clean day -
though every sigh opens up another wound.
We walk on our hands to see our world
upside-down; to not see bodies stacked
by fresh dug graves, graves to be filled
with the new snow of the dead, whirling
in their shrouds until a white reverie holds
sway. Sikh gravediggers measured the clay.
We are used to our synapses snapping.
We hear them crackle as a mind grapples
with itself and the body canters free.
No. 5 sits over there in his red goggles
wearing medals and a watch he can’t see
while time crawls over him like trench fleas.
How easily my back unzips, how cleverly
its vertebrae fit together. I’ll feel inside myself
to see if my heart still beats. I think someone
opened me up too soon. Walk with me,
hold my hand. See, this is where I am from.
Hindustan. Aren’t my mountains beautiful?
Pam Job: A Frangipani Afternoon
I am reading the poet Anne Carson.
She is writing on visiting her mother.
Emily Bronte also features, but I focus
so intensely on the visit to the mother,
I am opening my childhood’s door again
to greet my mother who is watching tv
and cannot be interrupted. While I wait,
I realise why I have never read
Wuthering Heights. It’s the puppies,
it always comes down to those puppies.
And that chair back. Could I have seen off
Heathcliffe, all that doom, smouldering?
Another poem, and another Emily strides
across this blackbird strewn lawn, her white
dress billowing like the cloud of knowingness
she is, so certain of a hard joy at the core
of things, that I catch the next frangipani
petal as it falls and press it between the pages.
Briege Duffaud: After The Fall There’s a steep flight of stairs I can never climb again, from the bar where I used to drink my first warm glass of Merlot, up to the borrowed rehearsal room where poets meet and read and criticise. Workshopping… It goes on without me now; house-prisoned, wheeled to my desk, I wonder if I am sometimes missed. Or are they happy to forget the peasant poet whose strange provincial voice was never smoothed by Cambridge or by Oxford? Are they glad to be without my awkwardness, my odd dispraxic silences? I was diversity, held at arm’s length. Briege Duffaud: The Road To Versailles In Winter Sky a grudged half-guarantee of light, gawkiness of naked trees. The snow is grey, exhausted. A family dwarfed by cold plods up the hill, old woman bent across a stick, her scarf a small, neat shock of red. On the left, a gate, an ochre-coloured house: used I once visit there? To the right a wall, a slope: round that bend, surely, the barracks then my hometown opening like a promise: vast empty Square, mean shops, the Chapel. My childhood, before war demolished innocence … I walked this road a thousand times. Except, I didn’t. Not this road. Illusion. Pissarro’s road, I drove with children, once or twice: that house, the wall, the sloping gardens of the rich. Thin trees sparse from ancient storms, long grey shadows on soiled snow, a half-hearted lightening of the clouds. Small groups are dwarfed by winter. Round that bend, the Place d’Armes, the Cour Royale, Versailles. And here, his attentive eyes (before war, his house invaded, work demolished), chronicled the changing seasons of a half-fictitious road that weaves false memory with nostalgia.
Julia Duke: Avenue at Middelharnis It’s a mug’s game, trying to peer round corners, trying to fathom unanswerable questions, squinting into the future. Don’t you always want to walk that bit further, just to see round the next corner? Here’s a nice straight road, uncomplicated, easy to get your head around. Yes, there are one or two turnings, the possibility to take a detour, but basically straightforward. I like that. Tall trees line the roads, bending forward, looking as if they might be persuaded to divulge a secret or two about the meaning of life. Well, perhaps not. But their presence is comforting. A small cluster of dwellings is in sight, maybe a home. You never know where home may turn out to be. Someone is on the road, heading in the right direction. Heading for home.
Rosemary Norman: Distance
There’s no such thing as distance
the fog says, wrapping you
in blind damp that gives way
one step at a time
to thinness so you’ll see it
on all sides. Distance
is made of minutes, how many
between you and home,
breathing the grey in, breathing
silver feathers out
under lamp posts you count
although there’s no
number to hope for, no promise
in a sum. The school coat,
fog grey, offers you up to London’s
most treacherous weathers
as something of their own, a child
wouldn’t call for any answer
except to note the fog.
Oliver Comins: A Momentary Lapse
That distant loom of thunder had been present
all day, with swollen air resisting movement.
Jobs needed to be completed early or not at all.
The afternoon gardens were full of stuffy heat.
Evening seemed good enough for the dog and me
to take a walk, but we were wrong. By the time
we reached the park gate, it had become apparent
thick air would soon be filled with summer rain.
A few late clusters of blossom were being washed
into an ornamental pond our short cut ran beside.
Some trees at this point did provide a little shelter,
but we had none when the real downpour arrived.
Soaked to the skin, or deeper, we rounded a corner
into our street and met my next-door neighbour.
Walking arm in arm with her carer and in the same
wild rain, she was not hunched against the weather.
My neighbour’s face was pointing up, welcoming
the deluge. When she turned to greet us, she spoke
our names correctly she had not known for years,
as if the storm had somehow brought them back.
Caleb Murdock: The Forgotten The world is full of the forgotten— widows, widowers, the sick; grandparents that the grandchildren never call; old lovers rejected by one and all, no longer handsome enough for anyone to see; children of poverty whose parents have passed, the malcontents that no one can abide. Their relationships fail, and they are lost to the backgrounds of our lives. In Japan, people are found in their efficiency flats, having survived to work another day, or seen in the marketplace one more time before vanishing like sushi over date. Their bodies are busied away, their ashes interred in paupers’ graves. Their flats are cleared for bodies yet to come; rents are raised. I am becoming one. Caleb Murdock: May Miller When my grandmama was dying at the age of eighty-five, she pleaded for one more year. What was it she wanted? More time to watch TV? To sit on the couch and read? I understood. She wanted a chance to make it perfect, to make sense of the entire thing, the whole nine yards of a long life; to draw it together into a good reason, into the word “succeed”— a successful life, denied to all but a few. By being May Miller just another year, she might realize what she hadn’t in all the years before: an act of conscience that no one could forget; something to leave behind that might endure. To make an impact. But life is a three-legged stool, and it is hard to be perfect when you are about to fall. She was kind to me, and I remember that.
Paul Stephenson: Home Ownership
My good friend keeps promising me stuff.
Each time we speak she reminds me
of everything that’s waiting for me.
She likes to send me emails
with lots of links from Rightmove
for one-bed flats on the Holloway Road,
which might not be the best of areas
but once in, a small place to call my own,
I wouldn’t need to buy a thing.
There’s some of Henry’s possessions
I’m welcome to take a look at,
and all her mother’s things in boxes
but not her mother’s leg
because she drove that to Epsom
and left it outside the hospital,
leant it against the wall
by the main entrance
so someone would see it.
Stuart Pickford: Barista
It’s like an airport: gateways, the mezzanine,
signage, Starbucks inside the entrance.
I see the faces come and go but no one
sees me, the ghost at the shiny machine.
Allergy or intolerance? Grande or venti?
Consultants march straight through, eyes
fixed on the far distance. Some visitors
clutch bouquets. I’ve not the heart to say
they’re banned: flowers can host infection.
Any Danish pastries? Cinnamon whirl?
Surgeons down espressos, want to cut
their waiting lists. Nurses ask for water.
I stick here with my smile, avoid
the blank corridors and blind doors.
Press 3 if you want to donate to charity.
One lady escapee from Geriatrics asks
for Darjeeling, where the plane will land
and if the nurses sneak out the bodies
in their big black suitcases on wheels.
Would you like that hot and on the side?
Some text, fingers and thumbs, then order
what they don’t want, others wander off
or stare through me to the wall as if
they were being shown the X-ray again,
the shadows. Can I take your name?
One mum doesn’t want a coffee,
just some warmth to hold. She turns
to comprehend the shine on the light,
a new day with hours in its palms.
If you’re waiting, please go to the end.
Rennie Halstead: Turning down the bed
And every day I open the window, put fresh flowers by the bed,
plump the pillows, turn down the counterpane of wild geese,
dust the china pig, the photo taken when you started school.
I open the drawer, feel the soft wool of your favourite jersey,
bury my nose, search a scent, a reminder, a hope that one day
you’ll walk in, smile, say it was all a mistake, a great adventure.
You’d be eighteen now, a woman, perhaps a mother with child in tow.
The day turns to dusk, light fades, shadow drowns the room.
The door clatters, childish voices, my son has brought a friend,
they won’t stay long. The back door slams.
James comes in, calls I’m home. I pat the bed, close windows,
whisper your name, try to paint a smile in my eyes.
Bridgette James: My brother the shapeshifter
A shapeshifter my brother did not return from America in the form
he had emigrated, a lively and vibrant person, forty years before COVID.
His ashes minus a pacemaker landed at Heathrow, squashed up
in a biodegradable cardboard casket labelled: Clifford’s ashes wrapped in
a tie-dye blanket mum had provided because his flesh had an attachment
to soft, woolly fabrics and his body should have been
cocooned in a padded coffin during a proper burial in the shape of a whole corpse
committed intact, six feet under. Not charred fingers and
toes in microscopic, cremated bones replacing the delicate digits mum had counted
at birth, double-checking lovingly. His melted ring finger
was undistinguishable inside the remains my sister handed over to me
with his wedding band for keepsake. I placed my combusted brother
on my mantelpiece above the electric fireplace, unplugging the cable
to preserve his ashes in case he wished to reform into a human being.
Gordon Scapens: Walking With Mortality
starkly shows in flowers,
tied to the railings
of a busy marina.
Seagulls wheel, cry
their final thoughts
on embracing loss
they don’t understand.
Wind whistles hymns
to a dead stranger
of restless yachts.
The tableau convinces me
It’s only by fragile chance
I’ve so far avoided
wrong place, wrong time,
so I turn from a message
knowing everyone’s name
in the silent answer
to an unasked question.
There’s a suggestion here
I don’t want to face.
Life sometimes takes a step
that’s just not there.
is a catch in the throat
as I hurry from the threat
of pregnant clouds.
Jayne Stanton: Containment
I’d hoped for escape in a room full of friends. Cancer, having none of it, fights containment on the back row. Its baggage blocks the exit. Behind us, the sound technician tuts as the microphone is tested for cancer. Two rows in front, cancer extends an arm across a woman’s shoulders, as if the subject isn’t hot enough already. The afflicted party shifts across to an empty seat. An interloper fills the gap, offering her some bottled cancer. She declines it. Perhaps I’m misreading her body language but it appears she’s protesting about cancer’s invasion of her personal space. By now the audience has resorted to fanning themselves with their cancer programmes. The air is filled with the beating wings of cancer. The ceiling fan’s active treatment is an epic fail. As the headline act approaches the microphone and clears her throat of cancer, I seize hold of my mobile cancer, press ‘mute’ and remember to breathe.
Deborah Harvey: Heart failure
Two days is the longest you can get away with
before your aunt tells you your mother tells her she
never sees you.
Though in fact, it’s not that much of a burden:
only an hour or so after work
plus driving her to church and back on Sunday and
shepherding her through the aisles of Lidl every Friday morning for
Rich Tea biscuits, a box of Kelloggs cornflakes, two packets of
Tena Lady and the Daily Mail.
She’s stopped knitting baby coats and bed socks, now it’s
Christmas pudding hats all year round. You bring her more wool
green for holly leaves, scarlet for berries
though that green’s too dark, she says, you should have got emerald.
Sometimes when she’s breathless her lips look mauve.
She asks you your news but carries on talking.
How the Bears scored seven tries last night, though the ref
still lost them the match and Edith’s had another fall and you know
Marion who sits in the pew in front, well, her son’s just found out the baby
isn’t his after all, his wife’s gone off with the real father and taken
the little one with her and Marion won’t have to baby-sit him anymore
Back home you write down the other things she says so you won’t
gloss over them at some unspecified point in the future
when you find yourself face-to-face with a box of tissues and
someone who listens. You google the end stages of heart failure
learn you’ve visited this page many times.
Julian Matthews: Unfriend
I can't unfriend a dead friend on Facebook
I can't delete the number on my phone either
What am I expecting? A phone call?
A text message?
Heaven really needs to expand its
Hell only makes collect calls
I never pick up those
I know it's just a spammer trying to sell me
something I don't need
They must have a lot of free upgrade plans down there
Their marketing teams are killers
Friendship online can be a tenuous thing
Is a friend on social media a real friend
or just a means to an end?
Like a creeper on a wall clinging to a boundary
Or a border between two countries without
immigration checks or customs clearance
I have too much baggage, anyway
And always need to unload
I grieve at birthday reminders
I re-read your last posts, your last messages
You are a haunted house with broken windows
I peek in to see your ghost
'Come out and play', I say
You laugh, smile then walk away
Not my time, already?
But why did yours come so early?
It's like you took an elevator up and pressed the top button
You should have gotten off earlier
You missed my floor
I am still here
And all the elevators are broken
They only go down now
I take the staircase sometimes
Just to hear the echo of you
I could use a hug tonight
Do you give lots of those up there?
Do you receive any from the angels?
I never ever saw God as the huggable kind
Just an old guy with a long beard with a mean streak
Put us all on one planet and left us here
Go forth and multiply?
We overdid it I think
How do you embrace 8 billion people?
Even a thousand friends online is too much
One hug, truly given, is all I need tonight
But ghosts and gods don't hug, do they?
Invisibility is too high a wall to cross for now
It's a boundary you can't see, but always there
A border on a map made up of broken lines
This border between us is made up of broken hearts
I am just glad there is no unfriend button on your end
Because I am never going to unfriend you on mine
Rachel Burns: Probation Telephone Befriending Service He tells me about the rats, he breeds for a pet store. I ask, did you manage to get out of the house at all? Outside my window, gulls scrap over tossed bread. The bin lorry collects the recycling, I hear glass breaking. He says. The police have come to the house. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I watch a magpie, the comical hop, hop, hop across the clubhouse roof. He tells me, a man like me, was petrol-bombed not far from here. The gulls are circling as the postman goes from house to house. His voice is a scratchy whisper. I imagine him trapped. Fire engulfing the hall, engulfing curtains, the television screen cracking under the intense heat. The rats blind with panic, rattling the cage. Rachel Burns: I, Mrs Blake At sixty-two, she fails the work test for Universal Credit is placed in the all work-related activities group, thirty-five hours a week, job hunting, or face benefit sanctions no consideration of her stroke or panic attacks. She walks the long mile from the bus depot, up the steep hill towards the Job Centre stopping every few steps to catch her breath, heart pumping, anxiety tightening in her chest, she arrives at reception, a goldfish out of water, gasping starved of air & dignity, someone shouts, call an ambulance.
Sultana Raza: Mind the Gap
Don’t mind the gap between the dizzyingly rich, who’ve never
Risked enjoying the heady thrill of getting on the tube at rush hour,
and the cautiously poor, groping about in alleys,
unable to afford the pleasure of listening to repeated orders
of mind the gap, piped through cold hollow tubes, one imagines,
though perhaps they zing through electrical lines,
or some such incomprehensible means.
A pompous voice, glad at being chosen
to remind millions of hapless jobseekers
to just mind their own business, and
to stay focused on the gap between their dreams and reality:
the facts and potential fictions of their humdrum lives.
Lost in the labyrinth of a muddled chess board,
they prise out paltry crumbs of crunchy,
yet guilty crumbs of comfort wherever they can.
Mind the closing gap between your high blood sugar,
and growing weight, the voice adds for good measure.
Also, between your good and bad cholesterol.
Don’t forget to mind the gap between
the calories noted down rigorously on your diet chart,
and the tasty bits and morsels of high carb goodies
that manage to find their way down your digestive tube
giving extra work to your over-wrought liver and kidneys.
When offering a seat to the elderly, don’t be proud of your youth,
for you’ll close the gap to retirement age soon enough.
No need to pay attention to the gap between the messages of ads
Displayed proudly side by side on the tube:
a tasty chocolate bar, and a miraculous weight loss herbal mixture;
tempting discounts on (unnecessary) designer handbags, and
a savings plan at your (profit) friendly bank,
with a smiling model posing as a manager.
Think twice about the gap between the super cheap supermarket
suitable for your paltry income, and a bottle of a costly perfume,
which a suave star entices you to buy, as you struggle to hold on,
among the wave of sweating humanity on the tightly packed tube.
Kate Maxwell: My Subway Soul
The subway is a long, raw tunnel in my soul
most days. Rush of foul, warm wind follows
the last missed train and any hope of getting
to Maddie’s day-care before a late fee charge.
Sweaty with the wasted rush, toes squashed
sore in stupid, pointy shoes, I stand corralled
compliant, behind the yellow line. And now
here comes the thickening
pressing into skull like some metallic pungent
mould, clogging city arteries with drone and
fug of flickering screens and too much flesh
seeping into spaces behind elbows, thoughts
and scapula. Finally, crammed into a carriage
I hang on to the railing with one hand, fumble
to read texts with the other. Sam’s in a meeting
no response from Mum. Maddie will be whiney
by the time I get her: sticky fingers climbing up
my neck and nerves while the waiting teacher
signs us out: sullen and unsmiling. Nothing to
do but sway, keep time to the tap, tapping in my
temple, stale breath sighs, bump of breasts and
bellies, then watch a toddler sprawled loose over
his mother’s lap, stick a finger so far up his nostril
it might pop out his ear. Strap of handbag cuts
into my shoulder. Right ear buzzes with the high-
pitched prattle of Skinny Blonde and Bright Pink
Fingernails discussing Skinny Blonde’s new man
Oh, You the bomb, girl! You the bomb! We stop
at the next station for what seems like weeks but
must only be five minutes, delay announcement
just an incoherent mumble. Train screeches to slow
stop, start rhythm. By the time I scan my card and
rush into the shadows of the street, there’s a long
deep channel scoured through my soul. A rush of
foul, warm wind whistles through the emptiness
that owns me tonight.
Colin Pink: Fly Pry Prey
The helicopters circle overhead all night,
don’t care who they keep awake, young or old,
how loud they sound, thrashing the air without mercy.
What are they looking for, what can they see up there,
hovering above us like hawks searching for prey?
The helicopters circle overhead all night, sly
interrogators, taking it in turns to keep us awake.
The thrruuump, thrruuump, thrruuump of their blades
begins to get under your skin, stretching nerves
on a rack of questions, who or what do they want?
The helicopters circle overhead all night
loom over us like guilt, like noisy recriminations,
we begin to feel we should give ourselves up,
thrruuump, thrruuump, thrruuump, confess to whatever it is
they want to suggest, if only it would make them stop.
Olivia McClelland: I burn bridges
I burn bridges/ I do not just burn them by lighting a small flame/ I engulf a red fiery glow/ Bridge split in the middle/ Cracks rupturing the cement// I burn bridges/ And when I burn them, I crush them whole// My mother screams – be the bigger person/ Yet, I have only been taught how to break things in half// Sapphire water soaks the ground and belongings sink like wishes given to copper coins// I burn bridges/ And when I burn them, I do it well// Once the terrain is divided, there is no longer a way to connect/ To touch or to pass/ Yet, I like it alone// Intimate, ill isolation/ Away from ignominy, an Island to myself// I burn bridges/ And when I do it, I am the only one who sinks// I am accompanied only by the sounds of my delusions/ The wind howls and I tango sombrely/ Sun glowing on my land of independence// I burn bridges/// Why is it so much easier to break things, rather than fix them?/ I am afraid I do not know the answer// So instead, I burn bridges/ And when I do it, I too turn into ash.
James Fountain: At Gilman’s Point, Kilimanjaro
My feet step into million-year-old ash,
on vertical slope with steep drop,
jagged stones, volcanic rock structures.
I look back at the opposite mountains’
magnificent silhouette, carved into the dawn
skyline, steadily changing from red to orange,
above it electric blue, brightening,
feeling oxygen return to deprived lungs.
Martin Bennett: Travertines
‘Speak, ye stones,’ Goethe’s Roman Elegy I
Overheard by moonlight a slab of travertine
opines, ‘Thanks to Bernini and his colonnade
our services once verged upon the divine.’
‘Those were the days,’ states another from its pallet.
‘Maestro’s touch close and personal. Now what?
We get co-opted by some distant despot
for his second bunker; via internet,
oligarch’s consigned us to adorning an enth toilet.’
‘Farewell saints and angels, hello golden taps,
and that is that, no ‘by your leaves’, no ‘please’,’
speaks slab 3 tagged for new hypermarket.
Then silence, stone’s banter being limited.
Joist, hoist, cutter each hold their piece;
beetlish forklift squats under orders.
The moon dwindles to an insensate shard.
Horizon is a-thrum with dawn’s deaf lorries.
Bethany W Pope: On the Banks of the Yangtze Walking down to the bank of the Yangtze river my toe caught against a knob of black bone. I dug the fossil free of the yellow loess and cupped it, egglike, in the lines of my palm: the bottom edge of a reptilian femur, three times the size of my own — stumbled on. Chance almost sent me sprawling. This fossil was here, waiting (not for me) through dynasties as the river swelled and shrank around it, as buildings fell, and rose with humanity's implacable tidal press. The crushed shells of snails and freshwater oysters are scattered amidst the clover at my feet. At the edge of the water, an old man casts a line, draws it in, and casts it out again. The bone in my hand doesn't know its own nature. It has no memory of flesh. The old man’s unaware that I am watching him. The river shrinks and swells whether I am here, or not. Oysters are dropped onto the rocks, from great heights, by passing seabirds who only think of the landing. I will carry this fossil away from the riverbank, cupped in my palm, and when my hands have themselves returned to the earth, when my own small bones have been ground into soil of another type, it will settle down wherever it falls, and return to its unknowing rest. Bethany W Pope: Gaining the Knack It's terrifying, being happy, when life — until now — was like a tightrope slung between disasters and a net full of holes. The net is on fire and the rope is on fire and your feet are burning as you cross, and you can't speed up and you can't slow down because time only moves at the one speed, for all of us here, clinging as tight as we can to the swift-spinning world. But you're looking out, for the first time ever, out across the rooftops, over the sea, and the air, blowing gentle against your wet face, is cool and sweet and smells of salt and the faintest of flowers, and you're happy, so happy, breathing it in, and not looking down.
Back to poet list… .
Martin Bennett lives just outside Rome. He was 2015 winner of the John Dryden Translation prize. Recent poems have appeared in Quadrant (Australia), Stand, Arion (Boston) and Scintilla.
Anne Berkeley’s first collection The Men from Praga was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney prize a long time ago.
Tony Beyer writes in Taranaki, New Zealand. His print titles include Dream Boat: selected poems (HeadworX) and Anchor Stone (Cold Hub Press).
Rachel Burns is published in magazines including The Friday Poem, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Butcher’s Dog, The Rialto, The Moth, and Magma.
Alison Campbell, from Aberdeen, lives in London. She is a teacher/counsellor with poems in publications, including Pennine Platform, The Curlew, The Poetry Village, London Grip, Artemis and Indigo Dreams. She was shortlisted for the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize, and won the South Downs Poetry Competition, both in 2023.
Oliver Comins lives in West London. His poetry is collected in pamphlets from The Mandeville Press and Templar Poetry. Templar also published a full collection, Oak Fish Island, in 2018. Recent work in print / on-line at: Fenland Poetry Journal, Ink Sweat & Tears, Rabbit (AU) and The Alchemy Spoon
Tim Cunningham is Limerick-born, and has worked in education in Dublin, London, Delaware and Essex and now lives in Westport, County Mayo, in the west of Ireland. He has had nine poetry collections published since 2001, the most recent being Peristeria .which was launched by Revival Press in April 2023.
Briege Duffaud is a Northern Irish writer of poetry and fiction. Her poems and short stories have been published in English and European magazines, including PIR, French Literary Review, The Spectator, Acumen, London Grip … In the past she published two novels and a short story collection. She lives in London
Julia Duke is inspired by the landscape and her fellow humans, by diverse artworks and quirky ideas. She has poems included in Fifth Elephant and Digital Elephant (Newtown poets anthologies), the Suffolk Poetry Society magazine Twelve Rivers, Dreich, The Dawntreader, Obsessed by Pipework and the Ekphrastic Review. ‘Conversations’, her first poetry pamphlet, is published by Dempsey & Windle (2021).
Philip Dunkerley lives in Bourne, Lincolnshire where he runs a local poetry group. He takes part in open-mic readings and other activities whenever he gets the chance. A fair number of his poems have made their way into magazines, webzines and anthologies – London Grip, Magma, Poetry Salzburg Review, Acumen and IS&T, among others. He reviews for Orbis and has translated poems into English from both Spanish and Portuguese.
James Fountain was born in Hartlepool in 1979. Some of his poems have appeared in Acumen, The Journal, London Grip and Dream Catcher. His second pamphlet, The Last Stop, was chosen as a runner-up by Imtiaz Dharker at the Ilkley Literature Festival Chapbook Competition in 2018. He was long-listed for the Erbacce Prize in 2021 and 2022.
Rennie Halstead writes poetry, flash fiction and poetry reviews. He lives in Kent.
Deborah Harvey has an MA in Creative Writing and is co-director of The Leaping Word, which provides writing, editing and counselling support for writers exploring personal material in their work. Her fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, was published by Indigo Dreams Publishing in March 2022. She is currently writing poems on the theme of estrangement.
Norton Hodges is a poet, editor and translator. His work is widely published on the internet and in hard copy. He is the author of Bare Bones (The High Window Press, Grimsby, UK, 2018). He lives in Lincoln UK
Jack Houston is the author of The Fabulanarchist Luxury Uprising, published by The Emma Press, and convenes Hackney Libraries’ online Lockdown Poetry Workshop, for which the mailing list can be joined, by anyone and for free, by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
Glenn Hubbard lives in Newcastle upon Tyne. He has been writing poems since 2013. He occasionally is lucky enough to have his work published.
Glen Hunting is a writer living in Alice Springs, Central Australia. His poetry has been published in Plumwood Mountain Journal, Meniscus, Burrow, Portside Review, and elsewhere
Bridgette James has been published in various magazines. She is an English Literature, Criminology and Social Policy graduate. A collection she edited in 2022 is held in the National Poetry Library.
Teoti Jardine is Waitaha, K?ti Mamoe, Kai Tahu, Irish and Scottish. He attended Hagley Writers School, 2011. His poetry is published in London Grip, Te Karaka, Te R?naka, Ora Nui, and Catalyst. Short stories in Flash Frontier. He lives with his dog Amie in Riverton/Aparima, New Zealand.
Pam Job is an Essex poet, an active member of both Suffolk Poetry Society and Mosaic Stanza groups. Most recently she has been working on an ekphrastic project responding to a major exhibtion of contemporary women artists, ‘Big Women’, at Colchester’s First Site Gallery. She is currently putting together a pamphlet of her work over the past ten years and trying not to re-write every poem.
Tim Love’s publications are a poetry pamphlet Moving Parts (HappenStance) and a story collection By all means (Nine Arches Press). He lives in Cambridge, UK and blogs at http://litrefs.blogspot.com/
Kurt Luchs (kurtluchs.com and https://www.facebook.com/kurt.luchs/) won a 2022 Pushcart Prize, a 2021 James Tate Poetry Prize, the 2021 Eyelands Book Award for Short Stories, and the 2019 Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest. He is a Contributing Editor of Exacting Clam. His humor collection, It’s Funny Until Someone Loses an Eye (Then It’s Really Funny) (2017), and his poetry collection, Falling in the Direction of Up (2021), are published by Sagging Meniscus Press. His latest poetry chapbook is The Sound of One Hand Slapping (2022) from SurVision Books (Dublin, Ireland). He lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Julian Matthews is a Pushcart-nominated poet (Dream Catcher Magazine/Stairwell Books, 2022) and a mixed-race minority from Malaysia. He is published in The American Journal of Poetry, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Borderless Journal, among others. He stumbled onto poetry by accident at a creative writing workshop. That happy accident has turned into a rabid compulsion. He is still extricating himself from the crash. If you wish to support his recovery, Paypal him at email@example.com or send Wordle answers via http://linktr.ee/julianmatthews
Kate Maxwell grew up in the Australian bush. Now a city dweller, her interests include film, wine, and sleeping. Her work is published and awarded in many Australian and International literary magazines. She has published two anthologies, Never Good at Maths (2021) and Down the Rabbit Hole (2023). https://kateswritingplace.com/
Olivia McClelland (she/her) writes “I am a 21-year-old living in ?tautahi, New Zealand. I am currently unpublished but after graduating last year from the University of Otago I have started to put my work out there!”
Michael Mintrom lives in Melbourne, Australia. Recent poems have appeared in Cordite Poetry Review, Landfall, Meanjin, Softblow, Stone Poetry Quarterly, and Westerly.
This year Mary Mulholland’s poems have been published in bath magg, Stand, Finished Creatures, among others, highly commended in Bridport, Buzzwrods, longlisted in the National Poetry Prize, Rialto Nature & Place, placed in Wolves, Teignmouth and listed in others. Her debut pamphlet is What the sheep taught me (Live Canon, 2022). She founded Red Door Poets and co-edits The Alchemy Spoon
Caleb Murdock is 73 years old and lives in Rhode Island, U.S.A. He spent most of his life as a word-processing operator for law firms. He has written poetry since his twenties but didn’t lose his chronic writer’s block until his mid-sixties. He is now writing up a storm to make up for lost time
Rosemary Norman lives in London and has worked mainly as a librarian. One poem, Lullaby, is much anthologised and her fourth collection, Solace, was published last year by Shoestring Press. This year she and video artist Stuart Pound have published Words & Pictures, a book of poems and stills with a link to the videos online.
Matthew Paul was born and grew up in South London and lives in South Yorkshire. Matthew’s collection, The Evening Entertainment, was published by Eyewear in 2017. He regularly writes reviews and essays, and blogs at www.matthewpaulpoetry.blog.
A much-published bi-national immigrant, gardener, Bonsai-grower, painter, British-born Jennifer M Phillips has lived in upstate N.Y., Boston, New Hampshire, New Mexico, St.Louis, Rhode Island, & now Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Her chapbooks: Sitting Safe In the Theatre of Electricity (i-blurb.com, 2020) and A Song of Ascents (Orchard Street Press, 2022).
Stuart Pickford lives in Harrogate, and taught in a local comprehensive school. His second collection, Swimming with Jellyfish, was published by Smith/Doorstop.
Colin Pink co-chairs the Barnes & Chiswick Poetry Stanza. He has published two poetry pamphlets and two full-length collections; his latest book is Typicity. He reviews for London Grip and Acumen.
Bethany W Pope has won many literary awards and published several novels and collections of poetry. Nicholas Lezard, writing for The Guardian, described her latest book as ‘poetry as salvation’…..’This harrowing collection drawn from a youth spent in an orphanage delights in language as a place of private escape.’ Bethany currently lives and works in China.
Of Indian origin, Sultana Raza’s poems/fiction/CNF have appeared in 150+ journals, Including Columbia Journal, and The New Verse News. SFF work: Entropy, Columbia Journal, Star*line, Blaze Vox, Vita Brevis.Her fiction received an Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train Review. Her creative non-fiction will/has appeared in Literary Ladies Guide, Literary Yard, Litro, impspired, Dream Pop Journal
Zack Rogow is author, editor, or translator of twenty books or plays. Regal House published his ninth poetry collection, Irreverent Litanies. His play, Colette Uncensored, had its first staged reading at the Kennedy Center and ran in London, Indonesia, Catalonia, and the USA. www.zackrogow.com
Gordon Scapens is widely published over many years in many countries in numerous magazines, journals. anthologies and competitions, most recently winning first prize in the Brian Nisbet poetry award. His book History Doesn’t Die came out in August
Oleg Semonov currently resides in the city of Dnipro (Ukraine). His work has appeared in Electric Acorn, Eclectica, Poetic Diversity, London Grip and elsewhere.
Greg Smith is a retired Technical Author. He completed the MA in Writing Poetry at the Poetry School in 2018. He is the treasurer and membership secretary of Ver Poets. Recently, he won third prize in the Poetry Space competition and was commended in the Folklore competition.
Jayne Stanton’s poems have appeared in numerous print and online magazines, and anthologies. She has written commissions for a county museum, University of Leicester’s Centre for New Writing, UoL poems for International Women’s Day 2018, and a Leicester city writing residency. A pamphlet, Beyond the Tune, is published by Soundswrite Press (2014).
Paul Stephenson has three pamphlets, the latest Selfie with Waterlilies (Paper Swans Press, 2017). He curates Poetry in Aldeburgh. His debut collection Hard Drive was published by Carcanet in summer 2023. Website: paulstep.com / Instagram: paulstep456 / Twitter: @stephenson_pj
Róisín Tierney was born in Dublin, has lived in Spain and is now settled in London. Her pamphlet Dream Endings (Rack Press 2011) won the 2012 Michael Marks Award. A later pamphlet Mock-Orange (Rack Press 2019) was favourably reviewed in the Irish Times. Her first collection is The Spanish-Italian Border (Arc 2014) and her second, Tiger Moth (Turas Press 2022) was listed among Books of The Year in the TLS in December 2022
John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009. His first poetry collection from Cajun Mutt Press is now available at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C6W2YZDP . fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.