Two Poems by Samuel Strathman w/ a Drawing by Robert Frede Kenter

IceFloe Press

Frog Meets Sweater

After “Frogments From the Frag Pool” by Gary Barwin and Derek Beaulieu.

Frog tries on a turtleneck,

it fits swimmingly.

Later, he puts his foot

in a pool, takes it back out
shakes the water off
mindful of his new apparel,

Not my bowl of biscuits.

He hops away,
he hops back,

then dives straight into the pool –
weighted down
by merchandise.

He appeals to an opossum
who shrugs their shoulders
then gestures at their size.

He appeals to his landlord
who asks the soggy top as payment.

When all else fails
he spots his ex-boyfriend, Badger,
who pulls him out only to slide him back again.
This time Frog catches the pool’s edge
with one foot, then another.

Before long backtracking
to the store
when he can’t make a return,

Sends that rat-racoon hybrid
who served him

                  Sailing out of a cannon.


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Apologies to all those awaiting my questions about their books. I am a month behind in my reading. I will get to your work soon. I am not requesting any further interviews until I have dealt with this backlog. I will be with you soon. Again, my deepest apologies.

Apologies to all those awaiting my questions about their books. I am a month behind in my reading. I will get to your work soon. I am not requesting any further interviews until I have dealt with this backlog. I will be with you soon. Again, my deepest apologies.

I am gradually learning how to manage this new addition to my options. I hope you will stay with me whilst I regain myself. I am extremely embarrassed.

Two Spacescapes – Anthony Etherin

IceFloe Press

In each of these two “Spacescapes”, two different poetic forms occupy the same space, combining as one multiformal poem. In “Wavescape”, a Shakespearean sonnet, in iambic dimeter, breaks into two monometer sonnets — one Shakespearean, the other Petrarchan. In “Colourscape”, a monometer Shakespearean sonnet runs through a pentametric ottava rima — the third metrical foot of each line of the ottava rima thus being shared with the central eight lines of the sonnet.

Anthony Etherin is a formalist poet, specialising in strict literary constraints. His latest book is “Stray Arts (and Other Inventions)” (Penteract Press, 2019). Find him on Twitter, @Anthony_Etherin and via

Banner: “Pattern” A Digital Art Work by Robert Frede Kenter

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. cherries .

sonja benskin mesher

ants come in the kitchen usually in february
leave at easter. it has not happened this year

they scurry

yesterday i looked out and thought how nice
i have always wanted to live near water.

there were floods as far as i could see, my
neighbour said we could have a boat.

wind skittered across the surface like it
did when he died

despite this beauty i feel for those damaged
with water this year

i live on the rise and look out across

some one wrote to enquire and we
agreed it seems this is all our own fault

i had cherries yesterday
real nice

i like ants


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Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Daniel Tobias Behan

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.

The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

Daniel Behan 2

Daniel Tobias Behan

London-based writer, who has performed at the London Irish Centre regularly as part of their Celtic Craic events, and has been featured in the Irish Post’s London Calling podcast series, interviewed by Ryan Price. Poetry published online, and via Foxglove Journal (‘Love Of Mine’).

Websites / etc:

The Interview
1. What inspired you  to write poetry?

I come from a family of poets and writers – my great uncle was Peadar Kearney the Irish poet and author of the Irish National Anthem; other uncles were writers Brendan and Dominic Behan, and my father was the political activist and writer Brian Behan. My mother was also a talented fine artist. (Three more of my sisters have also taken to writing in the time since then!) So, whilst it wasn’t forced upon me as a child, I grew up surrounded by books, attending plays, and with the knowledge that writing was in the family, and so I was somewhat of an avid writer and poet as a young child.

However, as things go sometimes, in my teenage years I didn’t pursue it as much, until the death of both my parents within a two-year period rekindled the notion that it would be good to take it up again, possibly to continue in their memory. However, after a few bits of stopping and starting, it was in 2016 that I seriously made an effort to recommence. My sister Janet had had success with her play Brendan At The Chelsea, and it was published in an Irish academic journal by Edinburgh University Press, which impressed me, and probably excited me enough to give it another go.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

I would have to say my father. He would make up these wonderful stories about the adventures of  a mouse for me and my sister, verbally reciting them to us. I really wish he’d written them down and had them published, which is something I’ve reflected upon recently. Other than that, some of my earliest favourite poetry would have been Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, which is a wonderfully grisly collection of children’s poems based on fairy tales, which my mother introduced us to.

3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?

Well, having had poets in the family going back a few years, such as my great uncle who had begun writing songs and poetry during the Edwardian period, I felt somewhat of a connection with them, although even to this day I find the language of older poetry is often so mind-bogglingly precise and evocative. It’s certainly a presence to be reckoned with; there must have been something in the air or water back then which made people so adept with language.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

Ideally, get at least something written, but honestly, my pattern is more that I might take a break from writing, then get a sudden flush of inspiration which leads for weeks or months on end, during which time I could be working on pieces for protracted hours and rewriting obsessively.

5. What motivates you to write?

Inspiration. That sounds cliché and vague, but it has to come from passion, energy, and interest. It’s important to write for yourself, but also to consider the reader’s perspective, and also potentially the casual reader who might otherwise not have much of an interest. For me it’s about creating something sensual and engaging, which interests me, and hopefully others.

6. What is your work ethic?

I would say my main work ethic when it comes to writing is that you – or rather I – shouldn’t be afraid to rework, to rethink, and to be as creative as possible. I just love engaging writing.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

They laid the foundation. Whether it was a book we read over an hundred times times before sleeping, or something we were forced to study for school or university, the language bit of our brain is always taking it in and learning, which we can then unconsciously make use of in later writing; it’s the miracle of human culture that we have a shared learning experience across periods of time and great distances, including within our own lives.

8. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?

I admire Irvine Welsh for what he did to shake up British writing from the 1990s onwards. I recall a quote about my uncle Brendan that he lit a bonfire under the arse of Irish literature – actually it might have been my father who said that, but others said the same thing in a less blunt way! I saw Welsh doing a similar thing. I recall hearing he was a fan of Brendan’s actually; you can see the connection particularly to Brendan’s book Borstal Boy.

9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?

I’ve dabbled in making some music (on a computer, not proper music!) – but, my strength is primarily with words, although I haven’t ruled out doing some more musical stuff in the future, possibly with some poetry worked in, in some manner.

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

Read, write, get involved! Keep at it. The only slow bit is the bit before you begin, before you get started.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

Presently, working on building up my collection of poems – as to what we’ll do with them, we’ll see. There will be a short filmed performance of a poem of mine called The Visit by a couple of friends which we did just before xmas, so maybe some more of that kind of thing too, audio / visual stuff.

12. Why sonnets?

Well, funnily enough, a friend had made a suggestion of a poetry exercise of writing a poem a day, which then lead on to me setting up the blog. Being a fan of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and also somewhat familiar with Donne, etc, I had thought it a good exercise to practise writing Shakespearian sonnets (in structure), but on whatever subject or theme I felt like writing about. I never quite managed a poem a day, but I do feel it was a good writing exercise nonetheless, and led on to the further poems which are more free-form in nature.

Rejections and the Business of Being a Writer

Jamie Dedes' THE POET BY DAY Webzine

“I would go home in the evening and write short stories and mail them to magazine editors in New York. The stories, no matter how many times I rewrote them, were always returned, usually without comment, with unfailing promptness. I received so many rejection slips, and such an interesting variety, that I passed them neatly into a stamp collector’s album.  The only consolation I ever got out of them for many years was in visualizing how big a celebration bonfire I could make with them when I had my first short story accepted and published in a magazine.” Erskine Caldwell, “Call it Experience,” in The Creative Writer

Many many years ago – circa 1964 – I read The Creative Writer (quoted above), which is out of print now. You can find old copies, not that you necessarily need to. Much is outdated but at that time, I found it…

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Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Matthew M. C. Smith

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.

The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

Origin 21 poems

Matthew M. C. Smith

is a Welsh poet from Swansea. He is published in Icefloe Press, Anti-Heroin Chic, Seventh Quarry, Wellington Street Review and Back Story. He is the editor of Black Bough poetry. Twitter: @MatthewMCSmith @BlackBoughpoems FB: MattMCSmith ‘BlackBoughpoetry’
Origin: 21 Poems’ is on Amazon KDP and is £7.00

1. When and why did you start writing?

I started writing quite intensely as a teenager in my attic bedroom. I had views over the Swansea valley (I miss the sunsets) and the hills around my community. I used to look up at Drummau Mountain, where there are farms, woodland and traces of Neolithic culture. I’ve written about this in a piece called ‘Teithio / Journeys’, for Icefloe Press. And at the edge of the city, there were some starry nights beyond the glow. I listened to The Doors on repeat and went through notebook after notebook writing aphoristic poems. I’m sure a lot of poets start with Jim Morrison – ‘ghosts crowd the young child’s fragile eggshell mind’.

Then there was a gap. I wrote bits and pieces in my 20s and 30s, but I had a lot of other things I was into, including academic writing while I did a PhD, a lot of fad hobbies after this and then work commitments and parenthood became all-consuming (but ultimately rewarding, of course). After almost 25 years, I had a couple of drawerfuls of poems, gathering dust.

2. What else were you influenced by in your early reading?

As I mention, The Doors and Jim Morrison were key influences on my writing and some of their lyrics from ‘The End’, ‘Celebration of the Lizard’ and ‘Moonlight Drive’ are chillingly elemental. This led to reading Dylan Thomas, Emily Dickinson, Arthur Rimbaud, the Symbolists, T.S. Eliot and R.S. Thomas. Later, a lot of post-war American and Welsh poets.

I remember reading ‘The Force that through the Green Fuse’ at the age of 15 and being struck by the pulsing rhythms and the vivid choice of words. How Dylan Thomas directly translated nature into language was striking and ingenious. I love some of Emily Dickinson’s work. Much of her work is the product of an isolated imagination, estranged from too many influences.

My first poet is R.S. Thomas – bleak, harsh, existential poetry. I love ‘Counterpoint’ and ‘No Truce with the Furies’. T.S. Eliot’s aphoristic, fragmented modernist poetry reminds me to look outside the self and I love the polyphony in his writing. Wallace Stevens has real style and wit and although I can’t write like him and don’t aspire to, I’d love to have written ‘Sunday Morning’. All the American poets I studied at Swansea Uni like the imagists, Gary Snyder, Ginsberg, Levertov, Rich – they’re poets I go back to.

I wrestle with my favourite. Sometimes the solemn, haunting ghost of Alun Lewis drifts into my mind and the austere, uncompromising voice of R.S. Thomas fades. Then Alun Lewis gets barged out of the way by the beery, brilliant, bardic, Dylan Thomas.

3. When did you first publish your poetry?

Everyone approaching 40 needs a mid-life crisis. At the age of 39, I came up with a bucket list, of which writing a poetry book was one. In my 20s and 30s, I lost interest in writing and had very little idea about literary presses, or submitting. I decided to spend a year collating a poetry collection and wanted a quick and easy self-publishing experience before my 40th birthday. I worked hard for 12 months, burning the midnight oil and went with Amazon KDP, self-publishing ‘Origin: 21 Poems’. This was a real catalyst to learn the craft, send other work off, go to open mic evenings, locally, and start a Twitter profile. It’s been a whirlwind experience in the past year 18 months as I’ve gone from being a guy at a desk with no clue and no real links with any poets, to now being involved in the poetry community locally and globally. It’s been nice to see good sales of my self-published book and a second edition of the collection, which is refined and tweaked. I was grateful to have the fresh and expert eyes of Kyla Houbolt, Ankh Spice and Laura Wainwright look over it.

4. You dedicated ‘Origin: 21 Poems’ to your father and two of your teachers, a friend, as well as your family.

Yes, my father died of cancer in 2012. I spent the last ten nights of his life in a fold-down bed next to him in a hospice. I have written about this in the poem ‘Dying King’, which is published with Anti-Heroin Chic. Like so many people, I find poetry a way to commemorate him and let his essence live on, despite being grief-stricken. I’ve written a lot of poems about him and I hope many would relate to the sense of loss and the attempt to make something of him – his soul – live on in words.

I also dedicated the book to Huw Pudner – an inspirational teacher at primary school. He helped me deal with having a stutter and gave his pupils an enriched education. He attends open mics now and likes my book, thankfully. He features in my Icefloe Press piece, which is about a school trip he led across Drummau mountain, where he opened up the local countryside to us despite the perils of aggressive farmers and dogs. Then there was Prof. M. Wynn Thomas of Swansea University; an expert on Welsh Writing, American poetry and Walt Whitman. An absolute guru and character. I did a PhD with him on Robert Graves and Wales, finishing in 2006. What a mind. No-one who meets Wynn forgets him.
I must mention my best friend, Michael. Although we only see each other a few times a year, due to distance, he always asks me how my poetry is and had enthusiasm for it when we were teenagers. He’s a talented writer himself and an Assistant Professor of Psychology. I’m proud of what he’s achieved since school. He’s reminded me many times over the years that I should write and I’m grateful for that.

My family always inspire me and I have written various poems about them although I’m quite private so I tend to avoid discussing them in any detail.

5. You mentioned stuttering. Does this still affect you and do you enjoy reading your work in public?

My father stammered and my maternal grandfather stammered. I had no chance. I started when I was 6 years old. The stammer and I waged a long war against each other and it’s been interesting. I’m fine most of the time and do poetry readings and tough jobs to challenge myself. In a strange way, I quite like the remnants of the stammer now. Like an old friend you can’t quite shake off but can ignore most of the time. Reading on the circuit is exciting but everyone gets a bit nervous. It makes me pause more and I’ve had a lot of compliments about how I read so performance has given me an exaggerated sense that I can do almost anything! I’ve kind of buried the stammer now but I think it gave me an interest in sound and language. I’ll write about it one day and exorcise a few more demons! Most people would have no idea I’ve had a speech problem.

6. How would you describe your poetry?

Hard question. I write about people, nature, transcendence, the power of myth, layers of time and cosmology. I love mysticism and attempting to use language to physically and mentally affect people. I’m also interested in shamanism and different ideas about the power of the imagination. Patrick Jones said my writing is like Seamus Heaney and Gillian Clarke. Prof. Daniel G Williams said Dylan Thomas, David Jones and Vernon Watkins. I’m taking those comparisons any day.

7. What are you working on?

I’m working on my second collection and have poems out to submission. Last year, I was writing cosmological poems but I’ve gone back into the earthly past now. I’m writing deep time poems inspired by Robert Macfarlane’s ‘Underland’ and doing my own research into ancient and neolithic cultures. I’ve done a bit of exploration of Gower, places around Wales and the West Country and this finds its way into my writing. I have irons in several fires, to use an irritating but apt metaphor, and am editing Black Bough poetry, my micropoetry journal, again soon. I’m looking forward to working with Jack Bedell, Ankh Spice and Laura Wainwright, as well as a mystery artist.

I’m also mentoring/ assisting several poets. Last year, I offered assistance with several poets in editing chapbooks – this was fun and a great learning experience.

8. What will you be working on in future?

My second and third collections, which have distinct themes. I have a lot of poems to choose from and need to put in a lot of shifts to edit, refine and collate. This will involve a lot of work but I’m hoping to complete my second one this year. I also want to experiment more with prose poetry as I’ve really enjoyed and been tested by this type of writing but I get a sense of freedom from it outside some of the constraints of poetry. I’d like to guest edit another writing publication as there are so many cool journals out there and continue to work with a range of artists and writers. I’m looking to record some of my work.

I should enter competitions more and increase my submissions. But it’s important to pace yourself and get your work out when it really has been worked over.

9. Black Bough is a really successful venture. What motivated you to start an online poetry publication?

On Twitter, I noticed a lot of poets complaining about rejections and frustrated about long waits to hear anything. I also noticed that it was hard to read people’s work without having to spend a lot of money on journals all the time so I started a free publication anyone can access and submit to. I’ve since learned that there are a lot of journals out there that are free. I had no concept of how popular it would be and the quality of work that would come in. I have worked with amazing people in the past year and getting Robert Macfarlane’s blessing to do an ‘Underland’-inspired poetry edition is as good as it gets.
There have been six editions of Black Bough and I have great memories of all the people I have worked with. In 2020, I’m looking forward to nominations of poets for ‘Best of the Net’ and the Pushcart Prize and I hope I can do this for at least a few years then I may go on to something else. I’m a restless person.

Thanks for this opportunity, Paul.

The Soft Fall of Midnight

I know the soft fall of midnight:
the film of dew on dark buds’ lips

a scent of lavender pressed underfoot
the celestial stream in the shallow brook

the pulsing throb of turning carp
in slick pool below willows’ dark

the fox’s tread and backward stare
the owl’s descent in the thicket’s air

hear the hush of shrouded hills
a quickening wind in star-filled fields

a curve of dawn in eastern light
drink the bitter wine of night

(first published in Other Terrain: Dec, 2019)

Dying King

I am with you. I am always with you.

You pulse with the click of the drive.
The dying king.

I press your paper-thin
shroud of skin, as thumbs curl

over balsa bones, ridges royal.
My eyes probe famine’s faultlines,

scan this lucent husk,
your twilight mask.

Under your arm,
now thin, translucent, I once slept,

sheltered from terrors in the night.
Now, I keep watch.

How did it come
to this?

Morphine dulls your silent ward. It keeps you
from fires in the fields,

from the sibilant hiss of the underworld,
the gaping maw of night.

We are skin, my dark
follows your dark.


Above tides, I feel winds of unconquerable spirit.
I stand at the edge, choking with loss.

(first published by Anti-Heroin Chic: ‘Grief issue’, Nov. 2019)

LABYRINTH – A Hybrid Suite by Justene Dion-Glowa

IceFloe Press

Justene Dion-Glowa is a bi, Métis poet and voice actor from Canada. She writes reviews for The Poetry Question and is EiC of 3 Moon Magazine. Her work has been featured in Burning House Press, Fevers of the Mind, Animal Heart Press and more. She tweets at @gee_justy and her work can be found at

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.the visit.

sonja benskin mesher

there is no one about down the back road

just two squirrels.

i wander up the slope to the studio

to see if she is in.


she had issued one invitation only.  a quaint
old fashioned idea,       that we may be friends

please come ,take a drink,              talk with me

maybe                                               walk with me

let us get to know each other                   gently

do not over stay the welcome   50 minutes will suffice

breaking cups    spilling tea will abuse the hospitality

please come. i have the kettle on.    this is not the time

for hostility


she knows this is a corpse road, an old           …

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.roy rogers.

sonja benskin mesher

it was hard to get through not

because of the seven minutes

i can talk a long time especially

with a coffee and donut. you ask


he said the work may have triggers

whatever it choked me here and there

is a sequel written and it moves

on as things do

thank you for listening that is a


i had hope my voice was improved

since the medication, i got a cold

last month and my nose is back all

over the place

the medicine works

though leaves the passages


triggers sets me thinking of cowboys

we don’t have those here either

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