Review of River Ghosts

Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

Luanne Castle has written the most wonderful review of River Ghosts, my first collection of poetry.

I am overwhelmed–and so thrilled by this thoughtful review. Thank you so much Luanne!

Available: https://www.amazon.com/River-Ghosts-Merril-D-Smith/dp/B09WZ8F9XJ/ref=sr_1_1?crid=2OOEBCQBA2YJD&keywords=merril+d.+smith&qid=1653323972&sprefix=%2Caps%2C231&sr=8-1

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Ken Head: Five Poems from Prospero’s Bowl

The High Window

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Ken Head (1944-2020)

*****

I take the opportunity today to publish a long-overdue tribute to Ken Head who was not only a very fine poet but also wonderfully courteous and unassuming man. If his poetry has not received the recognition it so self-evidently deserves this is because Ken was always more concerned to develop the quality of his writing rather than chasing worldly success. I first got to know Ken when after an inordinately long fallow period that had lasted for two decades I had started writing again and brought out a collection of my own poems called Work Horses. Much to my surprise it received an enthusiastic review in Helen Ivory’s popular ezine Ink Sweat and Tears. A positive review is, of course, always welcome but, more importantly, this was clearly a reviewer who ‘got me’ and whose idea of poetry was very similar to my own…

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Celebrate #WorldGothDay. I will feature your published/unpublished poetry/short prose/artworks. Please include a short third person bio.

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Whitby Abbey

-Whitby Abbey, photo by Paul Brookes

Deadly Nightshade

We lay outside the old Cathedral.
Ancient & Modern, Mediaeval.
Tourists say we look ‘wan’, and
‘under the weather’.
I mumble (tongue and teeth)
‘whatever’.

Mouthwater Memories. The Love We Made.
Never afraid of Deadly Nightshade.

Your lips so red. Your skin so pale.
Unabashedly Ashen Madonna.
So unafraid of Belladonna.

Policeman tells us to ‘move on’.
Public Spaces and Questions.
Can’t they see the future that’s brewing?
‘People pay to see these ruins’.

Close to the stones, living on shade.
We never rue the love we made.

Still unafraid of Deadly Nightshade.

-Ivor Daniel

The Secret Stuffer

Screenshot_2022-05-22-07-51-19-13_0b2fce7a16bf2b728d6ffa28c8d60efb

-Gill Winn

Bios and Links

-Ivor Daniel

lives in Gloucestershire, UK. His poems have appeared in A Spray of Hope,
wildfire words, Steel Jackdaw, Writeresque, iamb~wave seven, Fevers of the Mind, The
Trawler, Roi Fainéant, Ice Floe Press and The Dawntreader. Right now (May 2022) he has
poems forthcoming in After…, Alien Buddha, Block Party, Re-Side, The Orchard Lea
Anthology (Cancer) and The Crump’s Barn Anthology (Halloween). .
@IvorDanie

Celebrate #NationalStationeryWeek Day Seven. Celebrate #sendaletterdaysunday. Please join Leela Soma and I. Do you still send letters? Do you write your handwritten letters with a favourite pen? What joy in handwriting at work rather than typing? Your favourite writing paper? Mon 16th: #makeanoteday, Tuesday 17th: #penandpencil,Wednesday 18th: #worldstationeryday,Thursday 19th: #workhappy, Friday 20th: #fountainpenfriday, Saturday 21st: #stationeryshopsaturday, Sunday 22nd: #sendaletterdaysunday. I will feature your published/unpublished poetry/short prose/artworks Please include a 3rd person bio.

natstatweek

Letters
On rocks, palm leaves, leather, vellum, paper,
epistles penned with a chisel, quill, pen,
the beauty of words to express feelings
all human experience forged in many ways.
Blue crinkles of the Basildon Bond airmail pages of a letter
crossing the oceans, with words inscribed with love.
the delectable thud as the postie drops the envelope
heaving heart as one is transported to another world.
The rustle of a foolscap paper with blotches of ink spills
the fun of deciphering the scribbles on the lines
the joy of reading the good news and smiling inwardly
or the tear drops making patterns of hurt, a smudge.
No more scented letters, a pressed flower enclosed
or a satin ribbon-tied bundle of emotions, kept
in secret boxes, locked and lie secure, untouched
for years and traces a life in another century.
The pretty stamps collection, the world in tiny thumbnails
Philately, a hobby that expanded one’s horizons,
stamps a thrill to own, on the Stanley Gibbons
albums, painstakingly and lovingly created.
Lost now, in the techno world of emails, Instagram, Twitter
Switch a computer on to get an invite or a sympathy card
The joy of, ‘Lost in post’ gone forever now, a globalised world
of instant moments, sated, forgotten in the ether.

-Leela Soma

#DementiaActionWeek #DementiaActionAwarenessWeek 2022. 16th-22nd May. Day Six. Please join Stephen Paul Wren and I in talking about dementia. Have you written unpublished/published work about dementia? Created artworks about dementia? Please contact me if you would like your work featured this week.

dementia action week 2022

The chimp and the near-chimp

His head is not a man cave. It is far more. In this burrow, treaties are signed without him knowing. His head drives the chimp and the near-chimp. The chimp with the high IQ and the struggling near-chimp. In this burrow, he turns pages. Their printed words are losing their meaning. His brain cells see signals and numbers dance (on good days). Patterns forms, codes get set, and then break. The chimp is a smiling, sleek gift. A blessing to others. The near-chimp is trying to be these things.

The chimp imagines his final hours. Head in hands. The near-chimp almost solves a riddle. In this burrow, his true self lives. The chimp and the near-chimp both love others. The confused, weakening grip of the near-chimp and the defiant steps of the chimp. These are traits that belong to one man and one heart.

The near-chimp glimpses a memory. Holding his mother’s hand. The chimp prays for a new medicine.

-Stephen Paul Wren

Bios and Links

Dr Stephen Paul Wren

is a chemist and his poetry can be read at www.stephenpaulwren.wixsite.com/luke12poetry and @Stephen34343631 (twitter). His book ‘Formulations’ (co-written with Dr Miranda Lynn Barnes) was published by Small Press (2022). His ‘A Celestial Crown of Sonnets’ (co-written with Dr Sam Illingworth) was published by Penteract Press (2021).

Celebrate #NationalStationeryWeek Day Six. Celebrate #StationeryShopSaturday. Please join Dave Garbutt and I. Do you have a favourite stationery item? Mon 16th: #makeanoteday, Tuesday 17th: #penandpencil,Wednesday 18th: #worldstationeryday,Thursday 19th: #workhappy, Friday 20th: #fountainpenfriday, Saturday 21st: #stationeryshopsaturday, Sunday 22nd: #sendaletterdaysunday. I will feature your published/unpublished poetry/short prose/artworks Please include a 3rd person bio.

Day Six
natstatweek

The MUJI small is great, thin paper but thick.

The Kokuyo Paracuruno is my fave, B5 plus so wider than A5 and a page of my writing is 300 words. Good for pacing. Great thin paper excellent with fountain pens. 180 pages. Easy to stuff in a bag in roll up. Cut edges so easy to flip through.

I also use Whitelines for scanning like the typography page.

Honorary mention to Leuchtturm1917, better than Moleskin and cheaper.

dave garbutt notebook 2dave garbutt notebooks 1

-Dave Garbutt on notebooks

Bios and Links

-Dave Garbutt

has been writing poems since he was 17 and has still not learned to give up. His poems have been published in The Brown Envelope Anthology, and magazines (Horizon, Writers & Readers) most recently on XRcreative and forthcoming in the Deronda review. His poem ‘ripped’ was long listed in the Rialto Nature & Place competition 2021. In August 2021 he took part in the Postcard Poetry Festival and the chap book that came from that is available at the postcard festival website. https://ppf.cascadiapoeticslab.org/2021/11/08/dave-garbutt-interview/.

He was born less than a mile from where Keats lived in N London and sometimes describes himself as ‘a failed biologist, like Keats’, in the 70’s he moved to Reading until till moving to Switzerland (in 1994), where he still lives. He has found the time since the pandemic very productive as many workshops and groups opened up to non-locals as they moved to Zoom. 

Dave retired from the science and IT world in 2016 and he is active on Twitter, FaceBook, Medium.com, Flickr (he had a solo exhibition of his photographs in March 2017). He leads monthly bird walks around the Birs river in NW Switzerland. His tag is @DavGar51.

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Robin McNamara

under robin mcnamara

-Robin McNamara

is an Irish poet. Under a Mind’s Staircase his debut chapbook was published in 2021 with Hedgehog Poetry Press. 

The Interview

1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

Originally I started writing poetry in my 20s around 1995, at a time I was exploring my creative side whilst living in Dublin with my Journalism, Graphic Design/Advertising, Law & But Studies journeys. I stopped completely in 1999, started again around 2015. The first phase of writing was as I mentioned was part of my creative self discovery & reaching out for whether creative path I was supposed to be on. Phase two re-emerged in ‘15 and led to the decision to commit fully to poetry in 2020, because it had become a therapeutic thing and a reawakening of what I was supposed to have been doing for years. 

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

My mind.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

As a working class poet I rise at 6:20am and I’m home around 5pm Monday to Friday. This leaves a very small window for poetry writing. I write during the weekend and re-edit or proof poems during the week after work. Saturdays are usually spent trying to read other poets books but I have great difficulty in concentrating because I then become inspired to write something after reading a poem or two from the books I’m reading. Midnight onwards usually up till 3am are fruitful hours for writing numerous poems in draft & finished form, whilst listening to music on iTunes. This pattern I created during lockdown. Every night midnight onwards with my recently reawakening of my love for music I write. This is how my first book was born. 

5. What subjects motivate you to write?

Everyone and everything.  

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

 I didn’t read any poets works when younger but I read Stephen King, James Herbert and Sven Hassel. All whom created my imagination and awareness of the power of the written word. 

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

Anne Casey. Persistent with her talent and consistent with her work and she’s the most talented Irish poet I know living abroad.

I also admire the numerous lesser known but just as important poets out there who are pub by indie publishers. David L O’Nan is a f****ing phenomenal poet. One of the best of his generation, who reminds me of Charles Bukowski.

 Elizabeth Castillo, a Brit-Mauritian poet is another  hugely talented poet who excites me with her work.   

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

I do do other things, I’m just better at this than other things. I do this because I don’t give a f**k about anything else. I admire people who are multitalented and can create both music and poetry etc 

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

I would say back to them “how long before your eyes glaze over” if they’re that interested they wouldn’t be asking the question. It’s a calling, it’s not something that you pick up from a “How to Write Poetry” book.

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

 Following up on my debut pamphlet Under a Mind’s Staircase published with Hedgehog Poetry Press, Monochrome Heart is my debut full collection coming soon. I’m working on how many poems to put into the book. Then I’ve got to send the manuscript to my proofreader in America and I’ve already picked out the cover artwork, with permission from Kate Ives a British sculptor, I’m using one of her pieces on the front cover.  

England on Fire by Stephen Ellcock and Mat Osman (Watkins Press)

Tears in the Fence

Which writer is not at some level engaged with place, landscape, mythology, folklore and stories? It may be overt, it may be in opposition to established histories or geographies, it may be about colonisation, rebellion or immigration, it may be about revisiting the past and present through the lens of gender, sexuality or identity, it might simply creep into our writing because we all live somewhere and hear and see things others don’t.

England on Fireis subtitledA Visual Journey Through Albion’s Psychic Landscape, the kind of phrase that smacks of vague New Age mysticism and woolly religious philosophies. It doesn’t do itself many favours by this kind of labelling, because the book – an anthology of carefully curated images accompanied by Mat Osman’s poetic prose – is much harder-edged and interesting than that subtitle and dour cover with a deer-headed figure against a circle of light suggests.

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#DementiaActionWeek #DementiaActionAwarenessWeek 2022. 16th-22nd May. Day Five. Please join Leslie Almberg, Beth Brooke and I in talking about dementia. Have you written unpublished/published work about dementia? Created artworks about dementia? Please contact me if you would like your work featured this week.

Day Five
dementia action week 2022

grandpa was a chemist

This piece reflects my appreciation for my brilliant and deeply flawed grandparents whose long lives eventually faded into the shadows of grandmother’s dementia.

-Leslie Almberg

Zoom With My Mother

Knows I belong to her
though not quite certain
how, she peers at the screen;
then smiles, reaches out
a tissue paper hand to try and
touch my face.
“Hello, sweetheart,”she says.

-Beth Brooke

Bios and Links

-Beth Brooke

is a recently retired teacher and education consultant. She lives in Dorset but was born and did important parts of her growing in the Middle East. The landscapes of both these places are strong influences on her writing. She has had work published in a number of online journals and has been placed in a couple of small poetry competitions. She loves writing poems and sharing them with other people.

Celebrate #NationalStationeryWeek Day Five. Celebrate #Fountainpenfriday. Please join Mark Fiddes, Leela Soma, Dave Garbutt and I. Do you have a favourite fountain pen? Mon 16th: #makeanoteday, Tuesday 17th: #penandpencil,Wednesday 18th: #worldstationeryday,Thursday 19th: #workhappy, Friday 20th: #fountainpenfriday, Saturday 21st: #stationeryshopsaturday, Sunday 22nd: #sendaletterdaysunday. I will feature your published/unpublished poetry/short prose/artworks Please include a 3rd person bio.

natstatweek

The Golden Age of Staples

The Stationer takes the sun outside his shuttered door.
Dust films the geometry sets and nibs in the window.
Flash Gordonite ballpoints orbit the day-glo price stars
like a future set aside should this one fail to work.
We talk of trade, the need for rugged brown envelopes,
Jack Linsky’s classic Swingline Speed Stapler Number 3.
He mourns the bulldog clip, put down by health and safety,
the success of the coated drawing pin over brass,
how lever-arch filing will return victorious
because humans need to feel the thickness of their lives,
refolding the facts year on tax year into A4,
to place themselves on reachless shelves or in choked attics,
mini Pharohs to the family and Inland Revenue.
He’s kept the enamel hole punchers in his stockroom
for a parade day like this when the punters file back
from diaphanous conferencing in the iCloud.
This much he will share but only if you buy something.

-Mark Fiddes (published in his collection ‘The Rainbow Factory’ (Templar) 

Stationery

the beauty of the myriad-coloured pens in clear packets
the stacks of notebooks in various designs
the colour of the rustling paper as one turns them over
feels the texture of handmade paper, felt, tissue
the calligraphy with ink on paper, breathes beauty
the smell of a newly minted book as one opens it
I stand stationary, as your sharpness rips
my paper heart in two, the red oozes out
colouring my life,
the cathartic lines fill my book.

-Leela Soma

The Bluebell Wood Postcard poem by Dave Garbutt

-Dave Garbutt

Bios And Links

-Mark Fiddes

Mark’s second collection *Other Saints Are Available was launched by Live Canon last May.

His first The Rainbow Factory was published by Templar Poetry in 2016 following the success of his award-winning pamphlet The Chelsea Flower Show Massacre. He is a winner of the Oxford Brookes University International Prize, the Ruskin Prize and Dromineer Festival Prize. He was placed third in the UK National Poetry Competition and runner up in both the Robert Graves Prize and the Bridport Prize. His work has been published in Poetry Review, POEM, The New European, The Irish Times, Magma, Aesthetica, The Moth and London Magazine among many other titles. He lives and works in temporary Brexile between the Middle East and Barcelona.

Mark’s new poetry collection *Other Saints Are Available is published by Live Canon. 

https://www.livecanon.co.uk/store/product/other-saints-are-available-mark-fiddes

-Leela Soma

was born in Madras, India and now lives in Glasgow. Her poems and short stories have been published in a number of anthologies and publications, including the National newspaper The Scotsman, The Grind, Visual Verses, New Voices, Gutter, Bangalore Review in India and Steel Bellows in the USA. ‘From Madras to Milngavie’ was her first poetry pamphlet. She has served on the committee for the Milngavie Books and Arts Festivals and on the Scottish Writer’s Centre Committee. Her work reflects her dual heritage of India and Scotland.

Author of ‘Twice Born’‘Bombay Baby‘ and ‘Boxed In’

Available on Amazon and Kindle.

Her website is http://www.leelasoma.wordpress.com

-Dave Garbutt

has been writing poems since he was 17 and has still not learned to give up. His poems have been published in The Brown Envelope Anthology, and magazines (Horizon, Writers & Readers) most recently on XRcreative and forthcoming in the Deronda review. His poem ‘ripped’ was long listed in the Rialto Nature & Place competition 2021. In August 2021 he took part in the Postcard Poetry Festival and the chap book that came from that is available at the postcard festival website. https://ppf.cascadiapoeticslab.org/2021/11/08/dave-garbutt-interview/.

He was born less than a mile from where Keats lived in N London and sometimes describes himself as ‘a failed biologist, like Keats’, in the 70’s he moved to Reading until till moving to Switzerland (in 1994), where he still lives. He has found the time since the pandemic very productive as many workshops and groups opened up to non-locals as they moved to Zoom. 

Dave retired from the science and IT world in 2016 and he is active on Twitter, FaceBook, Medium.com, Flickr (he had a solo exhibition of his photographs in March 2017). He leads monthly bird walks around the Birs river in NW Switzerland. His tag is @DavGar51.