#NationalPoetryDay October 1st 2020 poetry and artwork challenge. The theme is “Vision”. Ocular or metaphorical welcome, unpublished/published work welcome. Join Rachael Ikins, Gregory Luce, Kit+CY and myself. DM me on Twitter or send a message via my WordPress site. I will feature all work submitted.

“Invisible Me” A photo series by Rachael Ikins

Gabby

Leonard

Rachael comments “I have always been fascinated with eyes and faces in all media of my artwork.”

Lulled

the giants are here
they mollycoddle me cuddle me feed me a jugful of uncurdled milk
they spoon pureed peaches into my gurgling mouth then sing lullabies to soothe me to sleep
they promise me the world and everything that’s not extinct by the time I’m old enough to know the difference between a rhinoceros and a hippopotamus
then while I dream they go and start a revolution to save the oceans the earth the skies
they leave Argus Panoptes to watch over me
and I am safe
protected
unaware a hundred cataracts haunt his dauntless eyes

-Spangle McQueen

See in the Dark

“When what you write about is what you see,
what do you write about when it’s dark?”
—Charles Wright

Faces of lost loves
and my sons when
they were small,
heat shimmer off
a Texas highway
when I was a boy,
the woman gesturing
to no one on the bus
this morning.
Even with the light off
it’s never completely dark:
I can see the pale green
numbers on a digital clock
and streetlight filtered
by the blinds and
ambient light from
who knows where.

-Gregory Luce

Tantalum Lenses
‘I did nothing wrong’—Dominic Cummings

I crossed the polished marble floor
and found the politician’s optician at home.
His door was always open
for eye tests and fittings.

He looked long and hard into my eyes.
He’d damaged his own eyesight
writing illuminated text
by candle light.

He said there was no need to change my prescription—
exposure to his line of sight
had scratched my tantalum* lenses
with his vision.

*Tantalum is a conflict resource used in mobile phones, DVD players, video game systems and computers.

-Kit + CY

Twenty Twenty Vision
Masked and long division
Nature human fission
The World or us…
Decision?
-Mivvy Tekchandani

. a vision request .

early while driving.                     omen repeating

sometimes the sun comes lower after the crest

one moment

imagine them marching,           slow & white.

will you name them?

in the wake all things come clear.

slow & white.

later below the peaks i tell him. he said it is

the dark crystal.

sbm.

A Vision by sonja

https://sonjabenskinmesher.wordpress.com/2017/11/09/a-vision-request/

. a470 .

sun hit the sea,

i was blinded,

by my own

shortcomings.

sbm.

Shortcomings By sbm

Picasso

Out of blank space
gouge out shapes
of apples and light,
as instrument digs
a blister into palm

He cannot afford mistakes,
steady handed controls
citrus bite of wives
and mistresses.

Strong stink of oxidized linseed oil,
resins, ground cork, wood flour
and pigment all pressed together
and flattened. In later life
after bull sunned atrocities.

If mistakes made
disguise, or begin again.
A head on challenge.
Black eyes carve the shapes,
Print bold red, yellow and green.
A still life, unstilled creation.

-Paul Brookes

#NationalTreeWeek I will feature your published/unpublished poetry/short prose/artworks about trees. Please include a short third person bio.

IMG20210415165416

The Barkskin – photo by Paul Brookes

So light passes through every leaf

From leaf
I long to learn
to let light
through every cell.

What is this light passes through leaf?

When the leaf does not eclipse my eye,
the light lands where I can see it,
subsumed in other light
(or being more mobile than leaf, perhaps I
am the one with agency to eclipse).

What light passes through leaf?
With eye within the penumbra I can barely see it;
such bright light shuts my pupil:
I shun the glare involuntarily:
it lands in my iris.

What light comes through?
In the umbra I dilate.
I dilate as if on purpose–
purpose–iris–unfallen leaf

From leaf I long to learn
to unimpede,
to look less solid,
as I know I am as much space between atoms
as the space between stars.

-Karina Lutz

wounds

i want to know
bark intimately
by the bite
of early syrup.
i need the names
of the wrappings
around coarse
trees: the dry,
the thin-skinned,
the unravelling.
i must get familiar
with the flesh;
the pulped meat
like a jerky. my eyes
are pine blue.

— K Weber

Day-drenched

After a cloudburst, the tree
bark appears reptilian

especially the sweet
gum in its damp sloth

and the slither
of a slow trickle.

In unwavering verdure
the midday sneaks by, stainless.

Animal and insect resume
their wet warbling.

The robins disperse
from trunk and fence

as limpid sky invites
the bluest canopy.

The only video of this scene
will play in raw memory.

Baffled, batting eyes
adapt to the remediation

of sun in just this moment

***originally self-published in my 2019 collaborative poetry project, “This Assembly” (https://kweberandherwords.wordpress.com/2019/12/10/413/) featuring words donated by Tom Gumbert (reptilian), Oak Ayling (unwavering), Peach Delphine (verdure), Mathew Yates (warbling), Venus Davis (limpid), Reluctant Ringmaster (video), Cassie Coletta (baffled) & Madeleine Corley (remediation)

— K Weber

The Old Year

The satisfying crunch
of the grass underfoot
and branches newly jewelled
in first light

Watery sun bleeding
along the horizon
distant mists dispersing
as it climbs

Witnessing the garden
before the kettle boils
nothing much to report
of the old year

Scattered splash of yellow
and rust-red clinging on
with tendrils seeking still
a safer hold

These last few nasturtiums
whose heads wearily droop
till conquered by the frost
they’ll finally fall

The earth is sleeping now
you can hear the soil sigh
listen for what truth
you might discern

Then pause along the path
stare up at the ash tree
as if it held some lessons
you could learn

-Mick Jenkinson

Ash
(with all due respect to Richard Wilbur)

The High King of Summer, bent and ancient,
stands by my back door, bearing his crown.
The lawn respects his shade and dies, turning brown
and dry. My sons turn cartwheels and fence
with plastic swords across the throne room, bent
on mayhem, hardly noticing the regal frame
that looms over the garden. When I named
The Old King I did not intend prescience.

As autumn comes I watch him overwhelmed;
a poor, creeping end for Odin’s World Tree.
The King of Summer loses his crown and realm
to the usurping fungus: that sneaking, petty
thief. Generous giver: as ash keys fall like confetti,
will this year close the annals of the ash tree?

-Yvonne Marjot

Conkers on the Knavesmire

They remind me it’s mid September
despite the weather, an illusion

of summer, like the cows in the field
near the old Terry’s factory

are an illusion of the countryside.
They distract me from my déjà vu

of the last time I did this walk,
in the midst of lockdown.

It felt like summer then too,
though it was only April.

Low Moor, Hull Road Park,
St Nicholas’s Fields,

I’ve avoided them
like the painting by numbers

I started, as my grandad avoided loose tea.
A tea leaf on his tongue brought back the war.

-Peter J. Donnelly

Fountains Abbey

Built along the Skell by monks
banished from St Mary’s,
for the practical purpose
of the river, not the beauty
of the dale, to which they were blind,
how did they keep their faith
that harsh winter, in land
they considered only fit
for wild beasts? Did they foresee
that deer would one day graze
in neighbouring Studley Royal?
A Georgian garden they could never
have imagined, nor the Elizabethan hall,
their only shelter a thatched hut
by a great elm, their food
its leaves boiled in water
perhaps from the springs
that gave the monastery its name.
-Peter J Donnelly

Brain Tree not in Essex

From the Arcadia tree
I might pick the how-to
of simultaneous equations.
Tucked down a hole in the bark –
the key to the periodic table
and infusing the leaf tips
could release the power to
translate from any language

I choose.

A big old strong tree, gnarled
like an olive and full of owls –
Loll on in its generous shade
inhaling that uniquely exotic fragrance;
the power to command every quote and
epigram carried by the bees,
ivy-league messengers sweetly laden
with the harmony of the spheres.

-Jane Newberry

Woodbrains, woodbrides, woodwives

Grovemind, groovemind

synaptic branches
neuron tipped limbs
sacred grove recovery

oakbrain opens doors in my head
ashbrain spears my ideas
elmbrain plays the fey

electric gust moves limbs
inside my head

barkskin neural net
circumnavigates damage
fruited hemispheres
replenish, restore, reimagine

senses water roots
grove in my head
grooves in my head

between oaklimbs
between ashlimbs

her flaps of the wood
bride of the barkskin
her inner lips of the forest
fermented honey drip
not butterfly laced stained glass

fapleaf
lamina mulch make out

fragile doors into lust
nympha

tongue kindly these guardians

ashwives

grew from blossoming blood
of Sky’s balls and prick
hacked off by jagged edged
adamantine sickle wielded
by his son, Time,
goaded on by his mam, Earth,
distraught at Sky exiling
her one eyed bairns in hell.

Oakface

Blaze is agog at Oakface
funking it up in her dance.
Her dad is a river,
her body writhes,
as if under rocks,
tumbles o’er ravines.
Her mam is called ‘Many Gifts’.
She hums her mam’s sweet songs
as she dances.
Oakface wants nowt
of leering Blaze.

Oh, how cute! Oakface
is flushed when her friends
find a lost tortoise outside.

She sits down with her mates,
puts tortoise on her lap.
Tortoise writhes into a snake,
her friends scarper.

Snake becomes Blaze
who screws her
agin her will.

Sobbin’
pulled art an afeard
she runs to her dad,
River, and mam, Many Gifts.

Gives birth to bairn
she calls ‘Both’,
Takes him where a lotus
tree grows an hums her mam’s sweet songs
as she picks a flower

off of it
for bairn to play with,
blood trickles dahn
her wrist an ‘both’
feels his mam’s tit
harden as her feet
become roots
her flesh become
barkskin
of a poplar tree.

Lotus tree were woodbride
hiding from Penis
as were after her.

And bastard son of Blaze
is left pulled out
and bawling for his mam.

Whispering Forest

walk among us, as us

known as oakman
known as birchwoman
known as elmlad
known as ashlass

Each one gentle,
one is strong
one elegant
all older than they look

their voices not listened to
I talk to the tree
“Hug a tree
I am a tree
seen as signs of waywardness
to be laughed at,
pilloried and scorned.

later they will scream
when cut down
or have a limb amputated

we ought to listen.

-Paul Brookes (Excerpt from my book “The Headpoke And Firewedding”, still available second hand)

Bios And Links

-K Weber

has 6 online poetry book projects in digital and audio formats. Access these works at http://kweberandherwords.wordpress.com as well as all credits for her published writing, photography and more!

-Peter J Donnelly

lives in York where he works as a hospital secretary. He has a degree in English Literature and a MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales Lampeter.

He has been published in various magazines and anthologies, including Writer’s Egg where ‘Survival’ previously appeared.  ‘Peppered Moth’ was included in the Ripon Poetry Festival anthology ‘Seeing Things’. ‘One Day on Dartmoor’ was highly commended in the Barn Owl Trust competition and published in their anthology ‘Wildlife Words’. It was also published online by the National Trust on their Fingle Woods webpage.

-Karina Lutz
worked as a sustainable energy advocate for three decades. Earlier, she received an MSJ from Medill School of Journalism and worked as an editor, reporter, and magazine publisher. She’s currently collaborating to launch a permaculture community, Listening Tree Cooperative.

Jackdaws

Wendy Pratt Writing

Photo by Daniil Komov on Pexels.com

Storm Arwen came and stripped the cover off my rabbit enclosure. It sucked two plant pots off the small wall between the patio and the garden, and smashed them to bits. Other than that, we didn’t do too bad. Even the dilapidated fence stood surprisingly firm and I was relieved to see the very old willow at the end of the village had survived. Scarborough had a lot of trees fall and someone in Filey had their car crushed by a falling tree. It was a bad one. I woke at five to the booming wind that sounded as if it wanted to rip the room straight off. But it didn’t. The next morning it raged on, the rabbit enclosure roof finally gave way and I decided enough was enough and the rabbits would have to come in. So with one soft white body…

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Entanglements of Two: A Series of Duets Eds. Karen Christopher & Mary Paterson (Intellect)

Tears in the Fence

My own collaborative writing often relies on processes and forms. Whether writing in response to agreed themes and/or what has just been written by someone else, it involves trusting the other writer(s) but also trusting the work itself as it emerges – which is often not what is expected. Editing and shaping is of course a collaboration too, and collaborations which are simply about the juxtaposition of each other’s discrete texts are as collaborative as texts where each author has written a line and passed the work to another.

There is little written about poetic collaboration. Robert Sheppard’s essays about poetics (1999) are helpful because of his open and inclusive approach, as is his anthology of collaboratively-created imaginary authors,Twitters for a Lark(2017) and what he has written about it on hisPagesblog (and elsewhere). I have also found Dan Beachy-Quick’sOf Silence and Song(2017) and Dean…

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Have you created any snow poetry/short prose/artworks? Love to feature them. Please include a short third person bio.

snowed unicorn spire

Snowed Wombwell Spire

-photo by Paul Brookes

The Igloo

The surveying field-course, and
Malham Tarn was frozen flat and
snowed on, a deep lagged mass
warming for spring and
breathing at its edges.

We set up tripods and pointed laser
beams across the ice, derived a number
called curvature of the earth, cut
blocks of ice and built an igloo,
warmed inside while waiting for the transit.

Months passed before I returned in early summer.
The ice-shell home was soft brown lake water
and a ring of snow survived in grass
to puzzle walkers and feed their children
summer evening snowballs.

-Cy Forrest

unseasonal snow by John Hawkhead

-John Hawkhead

Names_in_a_heart_on_a_snowy_beachSnow_dunes under Mussenden Templesnow_on_fernSnowy Clothes Pegs

-All photos by Gaynor Kane (Clothes Pegs previously published in Bangor Literary Journal)

Half Past Autumn

It’s half past autumn, the pumpkin, the smoke
and morning mist drops heavy dew
Trees sag, as if those few remaining leaves
hold the weight of the world

The last of the swallows have upped and gone
Thoughts turn to comfort, food, warmth
and gathering together for talks by the fire –
feeling the pull of home

It’s time to go foraging for winter store –
for plots and plans and sustenance
Treasure now those snow-hardy brassicas –
munitions against melancholy

This is how your heart learns to survive
as the world gets older and harder
Not quite winter, but a premonition –
bring on the snow angels

-Mick Jenkinson

THE WINTER GARDENER

The snow glitters, lifelike.
How nice to see snow,
thinks the winter gardener,

after a long summer of bad luck.
He throws some snow over his shoulder,
because he has no salt

and watches it fall,
moved by the grace of it.
His pruning hooks catch the white of it,

swinging in their dark mists.
The winter gardener looks long into
the cold, remembering when the earth

was blood rich and clotted with veg.
His winter head is a December hive,
his hands almost warm and blue with bite.

-Natalie Crick

Photo credit: Lise Claire

Thanksgiving Weekend in Quebec

I see my daughter’s eyes, not quite brown—
a shifting coppery green
like the fallen oak leaves on snow—

as we trek through the Gatineau trails
in a late November morning light

where shadows grow long
and such reminders bring her close—
as only distance can

-Lise Claire

Bios And Links

-Mick Jenkinson

is a poet, songwriter, musician, and freelance arts practitioner from Doncaster, and is an associate member of Right Up Our Street, a nationally funded organisation dedicated to improving arts participation in Doncaster. He runs Well Spoken! – a monthly open mic night held at Doncaster Brewery, and his second poetry pamphlet, When the Waters Rise, was published last year by Calder Valley Poetry.

-Natalie Crick

Natalie Crick has poems published in The Poetry Review,The Moth, New Welsh Review and elsewhere. She is studying for an MPhil in Creative Writing at Newcastle University. Last year one of Natalie’s poems was commended in the Verve Poetry Festival Competition 2020 on the theme of diversity and awarded second prize in the Newcastle Poetry Competition 2020. One of her poems received a special mention by judge Ilya Kaminsky in the Poetry London Prize 2020. This year a poem was highly commended in the Folklore Poetry Prize, highly commended in the Wales Poetry Award and she received a nomination for The Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. Natalie is co-founder / poetry editor of a small literary press based in Newcastle and Prague, Fragmented Voices.

-Gaynor Kane

lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where she is a part-time creative, involved in the local arts scene. She writes poetry and is an amateur photographer, and in both is looking to capture moments that might be missed otherwise. Discover more at gaynorkane.com

-Cy Forrest

is from Manchester but now living in Wiltshire. Poems in the Honest Ulsterman, IceFloe Press and The Wombwell Rainbow. Poems due to appear in Stand in 2022. Strong Men, Carrying Horses was longlisted for the Fish anthology 2021.

Selected Poems 1968-1996 by Joseph Brodsky (Penguin)

Tears in the Fence

Brodsky, who died aged 55 in 1996, it can hardly be denied is a major Russian American poet. He took exile in the US from Russia in 1972, also translating some of his own works into English. He won the Nobel in 1987, and was US poet laureate in 1991. It is worth noting also that he has been praised for his essays includingLess Than One(1986).

Preceded by such high praise it can be difficult to an extent to form one’s own view of the poetry. This new Penguin Classics selection arranges the chosen poems near enough chronologically, but does not foreground the original collections in which they appeared, except maybe forA Part of Speech, from which the title poem is featured.

I would tend to the view that Brodsky’s writing is both fierce and unassuming. Two key figures to whom he relates are Akhmatova, of…

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Drop in by Patricia M Osborne

Nigel Kent - Poet and Reviewer

This week something different again. I have asked Patricia M Osborne to talk about her poetry conversation, Sherry and Sparkly(Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2021), with fellow poet, Maureen Cullen.

Thank you, Nigel, for inviting me on your feature to talk about a poem from my co-authored pamphlet Sherry & Sparkly. It’s not often you’ll find me writing narrative poetry from life experiences; however, I made an exception when Maureen Cullen and I came together in poetry conversation for Sherry & Sparkly. Here we draw on memories from childhood to the millennium.

My chosen poem is ‘First Day at Junior School’.

. I chose this one because it shows what corporal punishment was like in schools during the early sixties. Even, as in my case, if a child hadn’t actually done anything wrong. The poem recalls my class teacher when first going up to Juniors. Miss Evans (that wasn’t…

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#WhiteRibbonDay #Orangetheworld #16days International Day To End Violence Against Women. I will feature your published/unpublished poetry/short prose/artworks about this issue. Please include a short third person bio

Never Again

You were my prince
loving and kind
you caressed my body
also my mind

You were my lover
soul mate and friend
there when I hurt
ready to mend

Suddenly one day
a new you appeared
no longer my shining knight
but one to be feared

Hands no longer caressed
instead rolled up tight
my body your aim
as I faced my plight

My skeletal framework
left stained black and blue
you promised – never again
but that wasn’t true

You’d kneel on the floor
and weep your sorrow
I believed and trusted you
then re-lived – tomorrow

My abdomen swollen
your feet made their aim
I was your target
then you wept with shame

Scalding hot water
as I was flung in the bath
you said you were sorry
but enough was enough

It couldn’t go on
I couldn’t take any more
at night whilst you slept
I crept out of the door

Decades have past
since you lashed out that pain
I vowed then that night–
Never again.

– Patricia M Osborne

Ink

Like a squid I squirt ink filigreed words on virgin paper
the rhubarb lips that stained with blood, salted by tears
as you peeled me layer by layer till nothing was left of my core
controlled, loved, abused and shaken by last the vestiges of
love that you promised that I hoped for as years left their bruises
pomegranate to singed brown, patterns that laced my body
caged like the slave girl who dared to fall in love with a prince
Anar, the Persian fruit of love, transformed to the fruit of the dead
of Hades, like Persephone, the underworld beckons me.

Glossary: Anar is the Persian name for pomegranate.

-Leela Soma

Three Lions 11 July 2021

The first time in 55 years
I keep the supply of beer coming
cold, not cool, as he likes it

Losing puts him in a bad mood
in the debris of my life
sometimes I win, mostly I lose

From the kitchen, his reddening face
the pile of cans, like a mini citadel
grows on the coffee table

The pizza isn’t right
Undercooked he says
not enough pepperoni

After extra time it’s penalties
he’s on the edge of his seat
then it’s all over

The cans kicked off the table
I hope you’re happy
you Welsh bitch

The crunch of fist on cheekbone
a penalty he doesn’t miss

Published in the September 2021 issue of Yggdrasill.

-Annest Gwilym

TRIGGER WARNING
THIS WILL BE A DIFFICULT READ FOR SOME THAT MAY FIND THESE PIECES DISTURBING.

*****
Tears Of A God

My son’s eyes are ice.
I have seen this look before.

He lugs my dog Sheba by her mane,
hauls her along the floor

a piece of meat, slopping over gunnels
in an abattoir, blood down the drains.

Her paws scratch and scrape
he dumps her at my feet.

Bite its ear!
I shake my head.

If it’s done wrong, and it has
bite its ear. I shake my head

mumble
Done nothing wrong.

Eh! Speak up woman!
It ‘aint done nothing wrong. Jack!

Fine rain falls through grey skies
in the pub yard, and a yellow

fluid flows out from under the dog.
Dirty bitch!

He kicks Sheba in her side.
She whimpers, puts her head

pleadingly on the black shiny
surface of my court shoes.

I‘ll do it then!
Snatches her up

by the scruff
Getting a dog

and not bringing it up right.
Stupid cow!

He snaps at the silk of her ear.
She yelps. I cry.

Stupid sodding cow!
He slaps me hard

across my face. I feel
his gold rings on my cheek.

Stop whimpering!
Pushes me up against

the wet wall. His cold eyes
up close make me shiver.

One hand on my throat,
the other points at her. I mumble.

Not again Jack. Please.
My legs have gone.

Treat the bitch right
and it’ll treat you right.

Sheba inches against the wall,
low and hung back like the grey clouds.

Jack lets me fall. The pub door slams
Sheba, up on her legs again,

licks my face, lays down by my side
puts her head on my black court shoes.

Her neck is warm. My back hurts.
They call the rain the “Tears of a God”

First published in “Degenerates for Peace, Domestic Abuse edition, 2017”

Bios And Link

-Patricia M Osborne

is married with grown-up children and grandchildren. In 2019 she graduated with an MA in Creative Writing (University of Brighton).

Patricia is a published novelist, poet and short fiction writer. She has been published in various literary magazines and anthologies. Poetry pamphlets, Taxus Baccata and The Montefiore Bride were published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press in 2020 and co-authored poetry pamphlet Sherry & Sparkly to be published December 2021 by The Hedgehog Poetry Press.

She has a successful blog at Whitewingsbooks.com featuring other writers. When Patricia isn’t working on her own writing, she enjoys sharing her knowledge, acting as a mentor to fellow writers.

Signed copies available on website:

https://whitewingsbooks.com/shop/

-Annest Gwilym

Author of two books of poetry: Surfacing (2018) and What the Owl Taught Me (2020), both published by Lapwing Poetry. What the Owl Taught Me was Poetry Kit’s Book of the Month in June 2020 and one of North of Oxford’s summer reading recommendations in 2020. Annest has been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies, both online and in print, and placed in several writing competitions, winning one. She was the editor of the webzine Nine Muses Poetry from 2018-2020. She is a nominee for Best of the Net 2021. Twitter: @AnnestGwilym

Wombwell Rainbow Ongoing Book Interview: “Spoil” by Morag Smith. Question 2.

this  is the link

https://www.brokensleepbooks.com/product-page/morag-smith-spoil?fbclid=IwAR0aMNZOoIKgql0pIKtSrsE1Y50rfuERQ7IT1s_HsEeMXtikCapNBzv5ero

-Morag Smith

is a Cornish poet, painter, writer, and performer. She graduated in 2020 with a first in Creative Writing from Falmouth University, winning a prize for her dissertation. In 2018 she won the Cornwall Contemporary Poetry Festival, Shorelines competition. Her pamphlet, Spoil, was published by Broken Sleep Books in October 2021. Her poetry is published in various literary journals including International Times, as well as the eco-anthology, Warming! As a New Traveller she brought her children up close to nature, in trucks, caravans, and houses. She writes about her experiences, about our ravaged landscape, and bears witness to the poverty of British people. At the moment she is publishing a book of poetry about plastic pollution in our oceans, a collaboration with artist Jasmine Davies, and the Clean Ocean Sailing charity.

The Interview

Q:2. How important is geology to your writing?

Geology is structure. To see myself as separate from the earth is delusional. The rock of Cornwall, rich in minerals, is a geology exploited. The lines of quartz insulated in granite communicate. I write into the stone, histories and herstories.

*******

More answers tomorrow.

Bioluminescent Baby by Fiona Benson (Guillemot Press)

Tears in the Fence

The mesmerising rhythm and sense of longing of Fiona Benson’s most recent collection accompany the reader in the world of arthropods. This elegant edition published by Guillemot Press includes woodcut illustrations by Anupa Gardner that counterbalance in an essential style the rich and sensual poems. The physical description of the insects and the parallel exploration of the potentials of language offer a transcendent quality that characterises the collection in a cycle of life and death that passes through mating. As Benson remarks in the acknowledgements, the poems were commissioned by Arts and Culture at the University of Exeter for 2019–2020’s Project Urgency. The poems are also part of sound piece collaborations with sound artists Mair Bosworth and Eliza Lomas.

Compared to her previous collections,Bright Travellers(Cape Poetry 2014) andVertigo and Ghost(Cape Poetry 2019),Bioluminescent Babystill lingers on the topic of love and procreation but does not…

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Life Here Is Full Of Tomorrows by Mélisande Fitzsimons (Leafe Press)

Tears in the Fence

In Mélisande Fitzsimons’ latest publication, thirty-nine characters give us brief, tantalising glimpses into their lives through the cryptic messages they write on the back of postcards. The voices are of different ages, social backgrounds and ethnicities, from people holidaying in Britain and overseas. Each text is paired with an image of the front of the card, witty juxtapositions which are very much part of the work’s appeal.

The vagaries of British weather feature in a number of the messages: pouring rain, wind, freezing temperatures, a few days of sunshine celebrated as a rare treat. One writer, staying in Torbay, records ‘happily watching people’s tents blow away…it’s great fun’. Another, writing from Ironbridge, complains of having to buy a hot water bottle and about the lack of tea cosies at the guest house. This message is matched with an image of a satirical nineteenth-century cartoon depicting the hazards of rail travel.

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