Nuwara Eliya

 

Nuwara Eliya is a town in the mountains of Sri Lanka where Samuel White Baker, artist and big game hunter, set up an agricultural community from where he brutally slaughtered many hundreds of animals.   

 

 

The shore holds no footprints

where the big game hunter

once stood knee-deep in the lake,

the buffalo cornered,

 

its bellowing about to unecho

with its blood in the water.

 

The sum of the breath

of all the creatures he hunted

is now dust

on tusk and horn

 

or bone fragments

buried under scrub.

The prey was the island,

its land a trophy.

 

Its edges always uneasy –

always pounded by currents

at cross-purposes

full of separations,

 

divisions,

invasion, colonisation

bedded down

in the pestle and mortar of water.

 

 

© Rebecca Gethin

Picture 10546836, illustration by Samuel White Baker, 1854

 

 

Rebecca Gethin lives on Dartmoor in Devon. She had two pamphlets published in 2017: All the Time in the World by Cinnamon Press (who also previously published her full collection and two novels) and A Sprig of Rowan by Three Drops Press. She has been a Hawthornden Scholar and has had a Pushcart nomination. She edited A Poetry of Elephants, an anthology of poems to raise  money for DSWT, an elephant orphanage in Kenya which was shortlisted for a Saboteur Award. She currently runs the Poetry School Seminar in Plymouth every month. Her website is www.rebeccagethin.wordpress.com

 

Beuys Don’t Cry

 

I wear this coat as nothing else will suit.
The cold arrives after redwings, berates
old bones, judders us all. I wear this coat
with collar turned up, precisely like its
forerunners: the best came from Burton
which my dad hadn’t worn since the Sixties;
he handed it down to me in ’81 –
my Post-Punk coat, with cotton, capacious
pockets. Every autumn, I couldn’t put
off, not even till October, the time
to pluck it from the cloakroom and ease it
over my Harlequin school uniform.
I wear this coat as a doppelgänger –
for Beuys’s felt–fat waxwing-gatherer.

 

© Matthew Paul
Picture 10413954, photograph, 1971

 

Matthew Paul’s collection The Evening Entertainment was published by Eyewear Publishing in 2017 and he is a participant on the Poetry Business Writing School programme. He blogs at matthewpaulpoetry.wordpress.com and tweets @MatthewPaulPoet. Matthew is also the author of two collections of haiku – The Regulars (2006) and The Lammas Lands (2015) – and co-writer/editor (with John Barlow) of Wing Beats: British Birds in Haiku (2008), all published by Snapshot Press. He co-edits Presence haiku journal and has contributed to The Guardian’s ‘Country Diary’ column.

 

A Compass Rose

 

In my heart,
there is always a space
for a rose.
Whenever I am in the dark,
I plant one, a tiny bud.
It becomes my hope.

 

Soon its light fills in
this little spot,
then the whole sky,
and becomes thorns
to those who are playing blind.

 

I hear their mourning,
I see their paleness.
Teach me how to plant
one for them,
but do not ask me
to bury my own.

 

 

© Anna Yin

Picture 10637985, photograph by Brian Daglish, 1970s

 

 

Anna Yin was Mississauga’s first Poet Laureate. She has published four poetry collections, including Seven Nights with the Chinese Zodiac (2015) and Nightlights (2017), both with Black Moss Press. Anna won the 2005 Ted Plantos Memorial Award, two MARTY Awards and 2016/2017 West Chester University Poetry Conference scholarships. Her poems have appeared in Arc Poetry, The New York Times, China Daily, CBC Radio, World Journal, Literary Review of Canada and elsewhere. She has received three grants from the Ontario Arts Council for her poetry projects. She teaches Poetry Alive at schools, colleges and libraries. annapoetry.com

 

A Northern Snow Scene

 

All the kids are out today, and sometimes a dog

chases his pack down the hill, and sometimes

someone’s mam shouts from the ember of a doorway,

so that every head turns to see whose tea is ready,

who’s going for their bath and who will dare stay out

till the wide sky, leaning on the slope’s top edge,

tows the silhouettes of trees down to their shadows.

 

 

© Wendy Pratt, first published in Gifts The Mole Gave Me (Valley Press, 2017), originally commissioned in 2015 for a Northern Soul Christmas card

Picture 10239487, photograph by Shirley Baker, 1968

 

 

Wendy Pratt was born in Scarborough in 1978, and still lives in North Yorkshire. She worked as a biomedical scientist for thirteen years before becoming a full-time writer. In 2015 Wendy was highly commended in the Forward Prize and won both the York Mix and Prole Laureate Poetry competitions. Her first pamphlet, Nan Hardwick Turns into a Hare, and her first full collection, Museum Pieces, are both published by Prole Books. Her latest pamphlet, Lapstrake, was published by Flarestack Poets, and her latest full collection, Gifts the Mole Gave Me, was recently published by Valley Press. Wendy is poetry correspondent for the webzine Northern Soul. She has a BSc in Biomedical Science from Hull, a BA in English Literature from the Open University, an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester, and is working on a poetry PhD at Hull.

 

Scrooge Goes Last-Minute Shopping

 

I’m not buying gifts — do I look like a fool? —

but Humbug and Bah, I’ve run out of gruel!

The market is crowded and smelling of sweat,

with the most scowling and growling you ever have met.

I whip my way through the queue but what do I find? —

yes, there’s gruel but of every conceivable kind.

 

Patagonian organic gruel with added gingko.

Luxury Duchy gruel at £10.00 for ten grams.

Low-fat, gluten-free gruel infused with balsamic vinegar from Modena.

Vintage gruel with top-notes of citrus fruit and new-mown grass.

Festive gruel with a free glow-in-the-dark Father Christmas.

Early season hand-prepared Golden Gruel,

1234567891234567891234567891234etc. etc. etc.

 

To offer such choice is unnecessary and cruel —

all I want is traditional, non-nutritional, foul-tasting THIN gruel!

I buy one more thing and then I’m out of there,

pushing my way through rosy-cheeked choirboys in the square.

There’s a little blue-eyed lad holding out his charity tin,

so I reach in my pocket and … put a rusty metal bottle cap in.

 

Here I am at my door but I’m feeling quite odd —

those carols about a loving, beneficent, generous god

have sapped my greed. Of course! It’s Christmas Eve!

This happens each year, pesky visits I receive

from those blackmailing, wheedling, soft-hearted ghosts.

But I’m proof against compassion as I’ll now take a dose.

of high-strength gruel-flavoured 72-hour sleeping pills.

 

I’m drowsy already, I’ll be in the Land of Tight-Fistedness until

all  danger of remorse is past. So goodnight and good cheer —

old Scrooge will be snoring through Christmas this year.

 

 

© Derek Sellen

Picture 11784703, watercolour by Freddie McKeown, 1995

 

 

Derek Sellen’s work has been published widely and received awards over many years. He won the O Bheal Poetry Competition in 2015, Hungry Hill Poets Meet Politics in 2014, and the Poetry Pulse Annual Competition in 2017. Other recent successes include an award at Poetry on the Lake, and being shortlisted in various 2017 poetry competitions. A collection, The Other Guernica, will be published in summer 2018. He lives in Canterbury, Kent, and is an active member of SaveAs Writers.

 

Roast Chicken

 

I snuggle into mechanics,

chopping up breasts and rubbing flesh

from the neck, then scooping the heart.

A Sunday task, it absorbs me

till I find the flimsy wishbone.

 

 

© Matthew Stewart, previously published in The Knives of Villalejo (Eyewear Publishing, 2017) and Inventing Truth (HappenStance Press, 2011)

Picture 10144857, photograph by Tony Boxall, 1970s

 

 

Matthew Stewart works in the Spanish wine trade and lives between Extremadura and West Sussex. His first collection, The Knives of Villalejo, was published by Eyewear in June 2017. He blogs at: http://roguestrands.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Proverbs

 

Harada O-kinu of The Storm in the Night

was cherry-fresh; her shaved eyebrow

borrowed violet from the rainbow’s edge

the day she was sold to a pawnbroker.

She redeemed herself, shaving bamboo

into his sticky rice. The son of Osaka,

they say, ruined himself because of food.

 

The headsman served Takahashi O-den

with his cutter’s bill. She had murdered

for her lover, indebted over his brocade.

He left her in the cemetery, her haiku

cut in stone. A public lavatory stands

by her grave now. The son of Kyoto,

they say, ruined himself over clothes.

 

Hanai O-ume was a theatre woman

who became the subject of a play:

from geisha saving for a teahouse

to the pimp eyeing her up there …

By willows, in a fine soft rainfall,

she cut his lights. The son of Edo,

so they say, ruined himself looking.

 

 

© Ian Duhig

Picture 10122785, print by Kitagawa Utamaro, early 19th century

 

 

Ian Duhig has written seven books of poetry, most recently The Blind Roadmaker  (Picador 2016), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation shortlisted for the Roehampton, Forward Best Collection and TS Eliot Prizes. A former homelessness worker, Duhig still works with socially excluded groups but in a more creative writing capacity, He has worked with a wide range of artists in other media and is currently engaged in two projects involving music. He writes prose as well and contributed to Comma’s Refugee Tales II released this year. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Cholmondeley Award recipient, Duhig has won the Forward Best Poem Prize once and the National Poetry Competition twice.

 

Mata Hari

 

On the bridge we spot a woman on tip-toe,

in a bid to catch what is left of the light.

The bronze holds her steady – to silence

the jangle of bracelets and belts.

 

She presents her best angle;

chin raised to the December sky,

hands held in dramatic pose,

and looks back over her shoulder

 

at a barge disappearing from sight.

This was the view from her father’s shop,

where she tried on hats and pouted

at her own reflection in the glass.

 

 

© Stephanie Conn

Picture 10169205, unattributed photograph, 1905

 

 

Stephanie Conn was born in Northern Ireland in 1976. She worked as a primary school teacher and developed and taught the literacy programme Passport to Poetry.  In 2013, Stephanie graduated from the Creative Writing MA at the Seamus Heaney Centre, Queens University, Belfast. Stephanie’s poetry has been published internationally.  She is a former Poetry Ireland ‘Introductions’ poet.  Her work has been shortlisted in competitions including the Patrick Kavanagh Award and Red Line Poetry Competition; highly commended in the Doire Press, Fool for Poetry and Mslexia Poetry Pamphlet competitions and the Gregory O’Donoghue Poetry Competition; and placed third in the Dromineer Poetry Competition.  In 2015, Stephanie won the Funeral Services NI Poetry Prize, the Yeovil Poetry Prize and the inaugural Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing.  In 2016, she won the Poetry Business Poetry Pamphlet Competition.  Her debut collection The Woman on the Other Side was published by Doire Press in March 2016. Her pamphlet Copeland’s Daughter was published by Smith/Doorstep in June 2016.

 

The Breaks

 

Godrevy, Cornwall, August 2014

 

We’ve stopped here every day
this week, at least for an hour,
window shopping the sights.

 

The lighthouse off the coast
is weather-worn, a guide that
brings us back to our senses.

 

We’ve much to wring from each
and every look at this scene,
let it settle, then leave.

 

I’ve caught the sun and hold
it tighter still in my skin;
adding more to let go.

 

The homemade snacks are gone,
but feeling blue in this light,
near this water is hard.

 

Your warmed-up front and back
emerge, all tired from the waves,
sea-salt covered, surf-shined.

 

We’ll sit and watch you skip
over the wrought ironwork
made by the bladderwrack.

 

We swear returns and take
a stone per head, souvenirs
discarded once we get home.

 

 

© Mat Riches, previously published in Obsessed With Pipework 79

Picture 11357623, photograph by Andrew Besley, 1970

 

 

Mat Riches lives in Beckenham, Kent. He is a father and husband. By day he is a researcher for ITV, at night he is a trainee Bongosero. His work has been published in And Other Poems, Clear Poetry, Obsessed With Pipework, The Interpreter’s House, Atrium, Amaryllis, Under The Radar, and Ink, Sweat & Tears. He blogs at: https://matriches76.wordpress.com

 

Storm Gertrude

 

it was a very it was it was very

gusts of up to to up to here

homes without power bridges shut

shut shutters shut and so shutters so shut

wind windy night more prudent not to

not not to venture to not venture out

can cancelled not flights no flying not flight

is considerable what what is what

what which is what warnings

worst hit by them frequent and so

brought down and heavy the trees

and the trees trees windy down so

 

 

© Jill Sharp

Composite picture, with thanks to Jessica Talmage

 

 

Jill Sharp grew up in the New Forest and now lives in Swindon, where she runs regular writing workshops. Her poems have appeared in magazines, anthologies and newspapers, most recently in The Interpreter’s House, Envoi, Poetry Salzburg Review and Prole, online at Amaryllis, And Other Poems, and Ink, Sweat & Tears, and in The Morning Star and Los Angeles Times. Her book about literary connections to place, Written in Stone, was published by English Heritage in 2005, and her poetry pamphlet Ye Gods by Indigo Dreams in 2015.