#30DaysWild 1st-30th June. Day Twenty. Identify A Wildflower .What wildflowers can you find in this virtual wildwood, wild garden, wild meadow? I will be adding to this virtual landscape all today. 30 Days Wild is The Wildlife Trusts’ annual nature challenge where they ask the nation to do one ‘wild’ thing a day every day throughout June. Your daily Random Acts of Wildness can be anything you like – litter-picking, birdwatching, puddle-splashing, you name it! I would love to feature your published/unpublished photos/artworks/writing on your random acts. Please contact me.

Day Twenty

Identify a wildflower

Cowslips

I wanted to write a poem about cowslips, because, taking
my Covid 19 exercise, I saw some on a grassy bank
beside the beck and thought Oh they’re not extinct at all,
remembering fields of them on walks with Dad,
those freckled yellow bells where Prospero’s sprite
Ariel couched, wobbling above tooth-nibbled green rosettes,
scent similar to apricots, petals distilled to pale wine sipped
by country maids, bucolic vicars in Elizabeth Gaskill novels.
St Peter’s Keys, the rustics called them – they sprang up
from where he dropped the means of getting into Heaven.
Then I discovered the most likely origin of their name.
Cowslip.
They like to flower where cows have slupped or slopped,
bob among the pats, the crusty mottle wobbling above
liquid green, where skinny orange flies paddle and probe.
I remember plodging a plastic sandal accidentally in,
watching white sock soak up the viscous sludge.
My kids, out on the same walks, would taunt each other,
threaten to drop stones – plop – into the shite,
spray it up legs, up backs, sometimes did.
Cowslup, Cowslop. Cowslip.
I still like them though.

-Ann Cuthbert

LADY CONVOLVULUS

Pretty as a picture in white and pink
Lady Convolvulus lifts up her head.
The jewels of the morning adorn her cheeks
and her green gown winds about her legs.

And my lady creeps and my lady runs.
On a summer wind she blows.
When she tilts her chin to kiss the sun
she will follow where he goes.

Yet my lady sighs and my lady weeps.
My lady cleaves and clings.
Till she binds her lover where he sleeps.
A green and fecund web she spins.

(first published Hysteria Poetry Competition, Winners’ Anthology, 2014)

THE HONEYSUCKLE

The honeysuckle hides her jewel
in hedgerows thick with thorn.
And blackbird sings most tunefully
where weeds in wheels conceal his song.

To blossom and to sing we too
require a privacy.
To flourish occurs best
in hearts attuned to mystery.

CAMPION

Sweet campion comes late in May
when golden king cups raise their heads
and all about the tawny carn
a merry May-time madness spreads

As bluebells fade like ghosts away
and bow their faces to the dust
while hedgerows sing and daisies dan.e
and grass leaps up because it must.

It’s then in pink and white and red
this spring-time’s maiden green is dressed.
And all through June she lingers on
as summer’s modest, lovely guest.

VALERIAN

Once pretty in pink
you are innocent no longer
but frowsy now
under the sun.

Your head lolls
like a drowsing drunk’s
towards the lulling,
oblivion of sleep.

Briefly you flourished
where the old wall cracks,
your slender roots
fingering this dust.

Now you dig down deep
for the cooling dark,
grimly holding out,
holding on.

-Abigail Elizabeth Ottley

Daisies

Pluck all on the lawn, turn my back and more
appear. I should poison them all, be rid.
But, I do not want to open the door
of making our cats ill, which is sordid.

Whenever a child dies God sprinkles earth
with Daisies. Freya’s favourite flower.
I would slaughter innocents for the worth
of a pure lawn. It’s within my power

to purify the green destroy yellow.
I deem, dictate what’s a weed and what’s not.
Perhaps, I should rewild a bit, allow
Daisies in only one part of my plot.

Delusions of grandeur, an obsessive
space manipulator, an oppressive.

-Paul Brookes

Bios and Links
-Abigail Elizabeth Ottley
writes poetry and short fiction. Her work has appeared in more than two hundred magazines, journals and anthologies. A former English teacher with a lifelong interest in history, Abigail lives in Penzance where she cares for her very elderly mother and is currently writing her first novel.

#30DaysWild 1st-30th June. Day Nineteen. Watch Sunrise, or Sunset .What can you hear in the wild? I will be adding to this virtual sunrise/sunset all today. 30 Days Wild is The Wildlife Trusts’ annual nature challenge where they ask the nation to do one ‘wild’ thing a day every day throughout June. Your daily Random Acts of Wildness can be anything you like – litter-picking, birdwatching, puddle-splashing, you name it! I would love to feature your published/unpublished photos/artworks/writing on your random acts. Please contact me.

Day Nineteen

watch sunrise sunset

December Lake Manvers

Manvers Lake Sunset by Paul Brookes

5 sunsets, beach

The sky is metal-cold above flattened sea.
For now, the haven’s safe but will it hold against the sea?

Indigo is not a violent hue
yet bruises bloom like mould upon the sea.

Stranded, we gaze where mottled sky
zigzags rose-gold, seeks the open sea.

A full-stop moon closes the day in shadow
while old ideas are scrolled across the sea.

At this distance, detail’s lost, amorphous.
Are life and death still doled out by the sea?

-Ann Cuthbert

Stewart Carswell both

-Stewart Carswell

Sunset

As the sun sets I seek.
Before closing the curtains.
Watching the colours between the trees.
Indigo, peach and cloudy blue.
Would I have noticed this before the lockdown?
As we remain here, still, in the present.
Watching wistfully, as I hear my neighbour’s muted talk from next door.
We are all weary, but remain focussed on the frontline of life.
Germinating from the springboard of our fertile imaginations.
There is no illusion, on the still picture book outlook, that I am gazing, and admiring for the first time.
Perhaps it has always been but not noticed before.
The view from my window.

-Geraldine Ward (previously published in The Sunday Tribune)

Soundside by Mary RoweRosebrook by Adran Rice

-Adrian Rice (The Strange Estate: New & Selected Poems 1986-2017, Press 53)

Sunset over Galway Bay

For Dave

He’s out on the patio,
reading. The sun is just
starting its slow slide
seaward,
dipping russet toes
into the bay.

He pours coffee,
scalding hot, into a blue
and white striped mug.
The mountains are hennaed.
The Atlantic Ocean burns
as the sun goes down in flames.

He makes his way indoors,
marking his place with care,
bringing cafetière and coffee cup,
smiling as the sun finally drowns itself,
and the moon comes into her own.

-Angela Topping (from I Sing of Bricks (Salt 2011))

Alex Guenther Sunset

-Alex Guenther

 

Menai Morning

Dawn rises slowly over the Straits,
A creeping light slips through mist.
The pines observe like sage old men
who have seen it all a thousand times.
Across the water the mountains
keep fast their secrets. I would
bring you a morning such as this
for walking through woods, our skin
turning from blue to ivory as broad day
replaces the shreds of night.

Angela Topping (from The Way We Came (Bluechrome 2007))

Across the River

Those summer evenings
so easy and dusty.
We hung out on the village bridge
dangled our bruised legs over the drop
three – four solemn trout fidgeted
amongst slimy rocks.

After a while when nothing happened
we slinked over to Bob’s bench
on the corner hoping for something
other than the smell of Edna’s cooked vegetables.
We counted down the days for hours mouthing
trailers for sale or rent

as one car purred by like a film star.
We imagined Hollywood, silk blouses, love
and how that day would come.
Tarmac stayed warm and soft walking home,
sky slipped from the pines, smeared lipstick pink,
a blackbird sang across the river.

Kerry Darbishire

(Published in own collection, A Lift of Wings – Indigo Dreams Publishing 2014
Published in The Interpreter’s House issue 57)

Heavenly Love

Your father paints amongst deer,
northern rain,
sunrise, sunset, kitchen tables
glazed in lamp light.

His sheep graze hawthorn shadows
hiding below an orange sun
dipping slowly behind indigo fells.
You would have learned to draw,

how light falls, how blue and orange
make you feel, the brush of clover,
daises, buttercups against your legs,
peat-cool dubs after school,

the crunch of snow, moon silvering
a pillow the way your pearl-eyes searched
that dead-sea-stillness for a door.
There is no blame, in loss

some words can never be found,
just a prayer
the moment you weren’t born.

Kerry Darbishire

(published in own collection Distance Sweet on my Tongue – Indigo Dreams Publishing)

Recall Your Dreams by Merril D Smith

Fifteen Hours in Sifnos

From behind the massive night bone of mountain
the sun’s un-cracked yolk slips its perfect form
over earth’s contour, into sky.

The silent mountain
glows pink, aroused, announces
the blue and white Sifnos day

in which we walk six shining-sea miles
on a tiny mountain track to Kastro, ancient capital.
You’re looking good today in electric blue.

Around us
the heady scent of wild basil, oregano, thyme.
The roofs, first mountain-strewn, now close, are balled

in perfect domes, blue on white, in anticipation of volcanoes.
Clusters of tiny churches, white and blue too, emit a scent of frankincense
and in their cool insides we intrude on precious ikons,

gilded for private reverence. An organ plays.
These rough-hewn walkways are carved from the mountain.
Through white arches, the blue surprise of the Greek sea.

At lunch we share tiropita,
feta, olives, tomatoes and the generous
free dessert. Warmed by wine

I find an azure brooch
in an Aegean doll’s house-shop.
Seven Cycladic cats swamp us

with their climbing, purring,
furry welcome when we get home to Sifnaika.

The sea laps milk and blue in and away,
splashes the moon’s gentle light, spreading it
in tiny sea-horse crests.

We watch the ferry come in at Kamares,
dots of light flash
in hectic green/blue coda,
as lorries spew out on cue.

-Alison Dunhill (soon to be published in her forthcoming SurVision chapbook)

Bios and Links

-Kerry Darbishire

lives in Cumbria where most of her poetry is rooted. Her two poetry collections are with Indigo Dreams Publishing. Her biography Kay’s Ark published by Handstand Press. Her poems have appeared widely in magazines and anthologies and have won or been short listed in several competitions. Kerry’s third collection (joint winner of the Full Fat Collection, Hedgehog Press) will be published in 2022.

-Alison Dunhill

Originally a Londoner, Alison Dunhill had a poetry pamphlet published in her early twenties in Paul Brown’s Trans Gravity Advertiser, 1972. She was also published in Martin Stannard’s Joe Soap’s Canoe #15 in 1992. She was tutored at the Arvon Foundation by Michael Laskey and Martin Stannard in the early 1990s, and has given readings at Pentameters, St Catherine’s College, Oxford, St James’s Piccadilly and Torriano Meeting House. Having moved to Norfolk in the new millennium, she has participated in open mikes at Fenspeak in King’s Lynn and Ely, Café Writers in Norwich and at CB1@CB2 in Cambridge. She has participated in almost ten years of stimulating workshops with Sue Burge. Sue acted as mentor for my forthcoming SurVision chapbook. She had two pieces longlisted for the Fish Flash Fiction Prize in March this year. Two of her poems are published in the current issue of SurVision magazine (July 2020) and two are  published in the December 2020 issue of Fenland Poetry Journal. She won Second Prize in the James Tate International Poetry Prize, 2020 and has a consequent chapbook forthcoming in 2021.  She has always worked concurrently in the visual arts and in recent years is incorporating poetry into her art practice. An art historian too, her MPhil thesis forges links between interwar surrealism and 1970s US photography (please see her WikiPedia entry).

Camp Fire Poem

Kate Williams Poetry

Very pleased that my poem, ‘What makes a camp fire glow’, first published in The School Magazine, is today’s poem – June 18th – on Paul Brookes’s camping poems for June. Thanks Paul!

Here it is again, for quick viewing:

What makes a camp fire glow?

The thrill of the wild
the dare of the dark
the acrid air

the crackle and spark
the chatter and laugh
the soothe of share

You’ll know when you’re there

Copyright: Kate Williams

View original post

#30DaysWild 1st-30th June. Day Eighteen. Set Up Camp In, Or Outdoors . What will you hear, smell, taste in this virtual poetry/artwork camp? I will be adding camping experiences to this virtual camp all today. 30 Days Wild is The Wildlife Trusts’ annual nature challenge where they ask the nation to do one ‘wild’ thing a day every day throughout June. Your daily Random Acts of Wildness can be anything you like – litter-picking, birdwatching, puddle-splashing, you name it! I would love to feature your published/unpublished photos/artworks/writing on your random acts. Please contact me.

Day Eighteen

30Days Wild set up camp

What makes a camp fire glow?

The thrill of the wild
the dare of the dark
the acrid air

the crackle and spark
the chatter and laugh
the soothe of share

You’ll know when you’re there

Copyright: Kate Williams

#30DaysWild 1st-30th June. Day Seventeen. Visit Your Local Park At Dusk And Look For Bats. What bats will you find in this virtual poetry/artwork park? I will be adding bats to the virtual park in virtual dusk all today. 30 Days Wild is The Wildlife Trusts’ annual nature challenge where they ask the nation to do one ‘wild’ thing a day every day throughout June. Your daily Random Acts of Wildness can be anything you like – litter-picking, birdwatching, puddle-splashing, you name it! I would love to feature your published/unpublished photos/artworks/writing on your random acts. Please contact me.

Day Seventeen

bats 30 Days Wild

pipistrelles by Steven Stokes

-Steven Stokes

Bats

Let us begin at slant-light
with cut felt flickers,
unhooding cubic skulls,
furtive and hungry.

Trace our loopy symmetries
beneath the canopy as we feed,
follow our dance with open faces –
long diverged from the birds.

You cannot hear us but you’ll feel
our hunting song across your teeth
defiling the laws of physics
with frequencies beyond this.

Watch our velvet forms take on
three dimensions or four
as we vanish into sky space,
a filigree of apple tree

bursting into fret-work,
scraps of jinking balsa,
flicking the Vs, skimming
odd quick trajectories.

We are fickle as kits,
wombed and jewelled
with kidneys, ovaries,
rows of studded teats.

Born to kill, we are strung
on struts of steel; dissolve
in darkness to anti-matter,
turning widdershins,

bewilderingly separate,
a tapestry of gremlin flight
angling on planes of sound,
almost sightless, blind-to-green.

Turn your ears towards us,
bearing truths in our pitch and fall;
forest-worlds and gardens returned
in sonic negative, transformed.

Hold us in dry hands
when you find us in the woods,
stroke our underbellies
with something approaching tenderness.

(First published in Slant Light, Pavilion Poetry, 2016)

-Sarah Westcott

 

Homeless Ghost bats

Homeless Ghost Bats by Michael Leach (as published in The Blue Nib)

 

Chiroptera

A dark shred of disbelief attaches itself to a white
nightgown, throat clutched like a fist, she is alone

with the bat. Trapped in her room past midnight
and no one to wake for help. Illicit fingers steal her

peace, and he quivers, waiting.
She pities him, his radar found wanting. Little, by little,

she unfreezes, moves to the window, clings to the curtain.
The bat has spread leathery wings like her old hands, full

of instinct, and she sits for hours in the window, high
in the glass tower; an ageing princess, with her one suitor.

Her start, as the light clicks off, brings the bat from his dreams,
he swoops to life

and she screams the meaning of hers out into the night.

-Sarah Wallis

What is it like by Andy McGregor

-Andy McGregor

bats anjum

Bats by Anjum Wasim Dar

Poem

Evening shadows fell all over the lane
soon one could not discern the window pane
this one tree out of three we planted -gave
relief to heated pain, saved all from rain

but that evening it was pitch dark, the car
was parked in the shade, but wait -a sound
strange could be heard, the flurry rapid
flight of birds, small dark swooping round

left to right and right to left, flying in and
falling flat, disappearing from darkly sight
could hardly see them in the dim light-
not at full glare, wanted the birds to fly away scared.

But no, they kept coming and hovering around the car
preventing anyone from opening the door-what next
as fear increased -who had sent these bat-birds here?
small black sharp and shrill, recitation of holy verses

finally made the kill-all flew away as quickly as they
had come, and hoping that all had gone , we took the
back seat, the food basket in between us placed,
dinner to deliver at the hospital gate, trembling still

at the bat attack, cautiously moved on to the road
hardly a furlong had we gone, when sister let out
a loud scream-something shuffling, flapping dark –
Stop the car Oh Stop- Another scream, a loud screech

door crashed open-out flew a dark black bat,
somehow it had clasped the basket, and had
slipped inside -never ever so terrified was I
that night, Halloween or magic – wondered Why?

But then we knew Mother would not be with us
for long, doctors helpless signaled the Swan Song’
with food for Mother we were going, when Bats
flew around – Myths say they warn of Death –

soon soon Mother would be without life
without breath- to Heaven taken, to Heaven
gone-

-Anjum Wasim Dar

 

By the street light

A million thirsty-throated mosquitoes
crowd the street lights.

bats loose themselves
from their topsy-turvey day roosts,
stir the limpid heat.

Purple flowers
open their lightning-boom petals
for the gibbous moon.
Call the myriad mouths
of these night witches close.

They are my darling dreams.

Passing the day in shadow,
rising with the moon,
then, when their feasting is done,
slip upside down
into the leather purse of their
wings, like the richest body.

Black-winged-terrible
spell-casting, all the while.
I watch the street-light
like a moth, to see them dance.

-Susannah Violette

Echolocation

For many nights now I have stood on the threshold
listening.
Watching the sky turn from candle lemon to pink-flecked grey.
Soon you will come
falling from bridges, slipping from roofs.
Escaping the cracks, shoulders pushing through crevices
skin-breathing the valley
the scent of petrichor rolled between your fingers.
You are just a flicker at first
hand-wings like shadow puppets shape shifting
across a newly painted, magnolia bedroom wall.

These days we carry our lives folded like wings.
Carry our friends,
families from room to room. Hug them to us.
Tuck them under our arms.
Place them against our warm cheeks.
Press an ear against the machine.
In solitude, we tap, touch, stroke, click.
Try to navigate distance, obstacles. We hang in rows
amongst bookcases, posters, potted plants, bedside lamps.
Muted and framed in dark caves. We hover over the surface
of our being entombed beneath a surface gloss.

When I opened the door you were there
clinging to the door frame.
The weight of your small body wrapped in the nights’ skin.
Hands outstretched
fingers still clinging on. How long had you been there?
Had you crawled on elbows and knees to watch
as I stood night after night beyond the corridor of trees,
the light from the kitchen shining out into the dark,
the space between your world and mine.
Unable to hear when the dusk loosened your voice,
the clicking of tongues as you passed by.

-Marion Oxley (runner up in the Trim Poetry Competition 2021 judged by Jean O’Brien )

Seventh Spell by G Dronsart

-G. Dronsart

Bat by Palma

-Palma McKeown.

Bat in the House

How it got in we will never know
but getting it safe outside again
was not easy. Bats don’t fly,
they swoop, with such pure grace.

It first appeared in the kitchen
describing arcs. We opened the skylights,
turned off lights, closed doors
to help it find its way back to air

And thought we’d done it. Next night
it appeared again, perhaps slept
in daylight on the dresser top.
The pipistrelle glided into the hall

and skimmed its way upstairs
in a few wing beats. Hastily closing doors
I followed it to close doors up there,
turn off the lights, open landing window.

I had not gone out. It lay exhausted
on the carpet, until my husband
tenderly picked it up, placed it
outside on the extension roof.

We knew bats could not take off
from the ground, like other winged things.
Next morning it was no longer there.
It must have been hungry, exhausted.

Important not to invest human emotions
in an innocent creature. It didn’t visit us
nor convey any blessings. It was simply
in the wrong place to survive.

-Angela Topping

Daubenton's Bats by JLM Morton

Diaemus youngi/the lovers

Vampire chitters,
Licks gleaming strawberry
From another pinkred mouth
Coasting through fur and heavy warmth
Warm beads sit in a papered skull
Lying with a friend, reaching spinds out into the dark
Blinking gloom and the drops in a shared meal

-Laura Jane Round

Public Nudity

I stretched you across an asphalt sky
just to watch you yawn.
Oh, my love, you didn’t hear?
I am audience to your failure and success.
The typos turn me on: misstep my way. We’ll pretend
this bat billowing into our windshield isn’t a warning;
drive until the engine nearly explodes.
Zip my dress; wear something easy to slip
out of inside a cab on the way to another
party we weren’t really invited to, but let’s
be honest: everyone prays we’ll show.

-Sarah O’Brien (From her collection Shapeshifter)

how it feels to be a bat by Andrew Nightingale

-Andrew Nightingale

On the Wing

Beard of stars, star-beard, Barbastelle,
a little white beard distinguishes you
from Pipistrelle and Daubenton or Serotine.
It sprouts under your face’s dark brown fur.
This face is a gargoyle to fend off evil spirits
taken from the west portal of Chartres. An ageing ET with
a tiny squashed nose, black, round shiny eyes and
enormous white-edged ears, which are needed for echo-location,
your tracking of nocturnal insect life.
This combination of fur and wing disturbs like good surrealism.
Your tessellated wings in out-stretch are so fine,
they must have inspired Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome,
or at least the umbrella. And yes, you are a quadruped:
your front and rear stump-limbs elongate elegantly
into two rapturous wings,
which are huge in proportion to your kind-of-cosy furred body.
The three gently angled divisions of each wing
are surfaced in honeycomb mottling. The only mammal to fly.
This is, after all, a miracle.

-Alison Dunhill

Bats 2 by Neal Zetter

-Neal Zetter

 

The dynamics of the flight-initiating jumps of the common vampire bat

“… the jump sequence can be broken into three distinct phases, preparatory, jump and flight.”
Schutt, Altenbach, Chang, Cullinane, Hermanson, Muradali and Bertram:
The Journal of Experimental Biology 200 (23) 1997

They are a surprising species, still extant,
against all odds. My first observations,
made when I was very young, recalled

them raising themselves onto their hind legs.
Some were taller than most. Our scouts had
reported sightings where the creatures stood

in front of walls of water, pulled their fur out,
then covered themselves with woven grass,
stones, pieces of metal twisted to form

the shapes of whirlwinds. I grant you,
in these things they show an unexpected
intelligence. At times, I am told, they share

a kinship with us, suckling their young,
herding their own into strange caves
which only appear when they sleep.

When they group, they gather splinters
of wood around large flat rocks, and call
to the moon to light their way. They can be

such bewitching, sweet-blooded wraiths, yet
they hardly notice us, even when we quench
our thirst against their warm skins.

(Published in The North magazine, Spring Issue 2014, ed. Jackie Wills & Jonathan Davison)

-Fawzia Muradali Kane

Batty by Kim Russell

Bats Emerge

-Hannah Linden

bat market by Fisher

-John Bevis

M. lucifugus

Powder snout, fungus-muzzled,
your snuffled rasps mine the sediments,
wake you blink-eyed, gasping, early out
of your torpid seasonal penitence.
You wake alone. Outside winter holds
her grip, as one by one your smudge-nosed
colony stirs and chatters, the whole dank
chamber hacking like a typhus ship
until the hunger rush and you launch unison
on twigged wings out of your encampment’s
mouth to find a frozen, snow-blind land
where no insects fly and no birds sing.
And so return to your waiting roost
where you huddle and hang, fold
back into the nuzzled cloak of yourself,
slowly starve by increments.
Your dopplered heart stalls and stills. Your tiny
claws lose their grip as you slip light as a leaf
to the reliquary floor. As you, my Fledermaus,
will fall out of memory and fall out of myth;
Some old wives’ fairied tale of you catching
in a young girl’s hair or circling a bride
on her wedding eve, portensions of a doomed
romance or a violent end to a nuptial ring.
While a house frau’s batting broom
rests easy by an unlit hearth,
children sleep undisturbed by dreams
of your little teeth at their delicate throats.
* M. lucifugus (little brown bat) faces extinction across North America as a result of a condition named white nose syndrome — a
fungus inadvertently brought from Europe to North America

-Lisa McCabe

Air Siren's Song

pipisrellles

Pipistrelles by Amanda Bell

After reading Ted Hughes Defamation of American Bats

How could this poet,
in a book called “Birthday Letters”
claim that all American bats have rabies?
And what, then, did the smart bard mean by American?
Call it a slander in extremis
when the frivolous say that bats
are mere rats, but winged–
can’t they see, isn’t it obvious
that rats, as hares for the less-charmed,
have keen night-sights,
and wear permanent snarls,
while bats, with their bad eyes
and deep hearing
of the tune-fork stalactites
and snouts smelling a thousand shades,
come closer to canines, cousins,
and the companions of seers,
adversaries of all who raid.
And if dogs stay our good friends
then call bats our good friends–winged.
To say that all American bats have rabies,
is blasphemous in extremis.
I come from an island
where the bats don’t have rabies,
not one out of seven species,
they once engorged on offerings,
they swarm in seaside caves with archaic
names like Quadirikiri,
caverns like veiled onlookers
who overlook the coast
as if with longing–
The sea mends rabies.
Its waves cure anything,
anything other than longing.

-Arturo Desimones

Bat Child Found by Marsha Voyles

Mr Batsford

-MJ Simpson

Links To Other Bat Poems

Bios and Links

-Sarah Westcott

grew up in north Devon and lives on the edge of London. Her first pamphlet, Inklings, was a Poetry book society pamphlet choice and Slant Light (Pavilion Poetry, 2016), was highly commended in the Forward Prize. Her second collection, Bloom, also with Pavilion Poetry, was published this spring. Sarah was a news journalist for twenty years and now works as a freelance tutor and writer. Work has appeared on beermats, billboards and buses, baked into sourdough bread and installed in a nature reserve, triggered by footsteps.

-Alison Dunhill

Originally a Londoner, Alison Dunhill had a poetry pamphlet published in her early twenties in Paul Brown’s Trans Gravity Advertiser, 1972. She was also published in Martin Stannard’s Joe Soap’s Canoe #15 in 1992. She was tutored at the Arvon Foundation by Michael Laskey and Martin Stannard in the early 1990s, and has given readings at Pentameters, St Catherine’s College, Oxford, St James’s Piccadilly and Torriano Meeting House. Having moved to Norfolk in the new millennium, she has participated in open mikes at Fenspeak in King’s Lynn and Ely, Café Writers in Norwich and at CB1@CB2 in Cambridge. She has participated in almost ten years of stimulating workshops with Sue Burge. Sue acted as mentor for my forthcoming SurVision chapbook. She had two pieces longlisted for the Fish Flash Fiction Prize in March this year. Two of her poems are published in the current issue of SurVision magazine (July 2020) and two are  published in the December 2020 issue of Fenland Poetry Journal. She won Second Prize in the James Tate International Poetry Prize, 2020 and has a consequent chapbook forthcoming in 2021.  She has always worked concurrently in the visual arts and in recent years is incorporating poetry into her art practice. An art historian too, her MPhil thesis forges links between interwar surrealism and 1970s US photography (please see her WikiPedia entry).

-Sarah Wallis 

is a poet and playwright based in Leeds, UK. 2018 publications include EllipsisReflex FictionThe A3 Review, Please Hear What I’m Not Saying (MIND Poetry Project) and 50 Best British and Irish Poets from Eyewear Books. She has held theatrical residencies at West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds & Harrogate Theatre, which have supported her plays The Rain King and Laridae.

-Susannah Violette

A Pushcart Prize nominee Susannah has had poems placed or commended in the Plough Prize, Westival International Poetry Prize, the Frogmore poetry prize, Coast to Coast to Coast Pamphlet Competition and appeared in various publications worldwide most recently Bloody Amazing,  Pale Fire, For the Silent, Dreich, Alchemy Spoon,  Finished Creatures, Channel and Strix.

-Marion Oxley

lives amongst the flood plains of the Calder Valley, West Yorkshire. She’s had poems most recently published in The Blue Nib, Artemis, The Fenland Journal, The Poetry Village, Bloody Amazing Anthology(Yaffle/Beautiful Dragons) and Geography is Irrelevant(Stairwell Press). Her debut pamphlet In the Taxidermist’s House will be published in October by 4Word Press. 

She’s a Forward Prize nominee for Best Single Poem.

Twitter: @OxleyMarion 

-Hannah Linden

Based in Devon, Hannah Linden has been published widely including in Atrium, Lighthouse, Magma, Proletarian Poetry, Strix, The Interpreters’ House and the 84 Anthology etc. She is working towards her first collection, Wolf Daughter. Twitter: @hannahl1n

-Amanda Bell

is an Irish poet and author. She holds a Masters in Poetry Studies, and is a mentor with the Irish Writers Centre and Words Ireland. In 2020 she was appointed inaugural Writer in Residence for Harold’s Cross, and awarded a Literature Bursary by the Arts Council of Ireland. She is an assistant editor of The Haibun Journal. Previous publications include First the Feathers (Doire Press, 2017), which was shortlisted for the Strong Shine Award; Undercurrents (Alba, 2016),which won an HSA Kanterman Merit Book Award and was shortlisted for a Touchstone Distinguished Books Award; The Lost Library Book (Onslaught, 2017); the loneliness of the sasquatch, from the Irish by Gabriel Rosenstock (Alba, 2018); and Revolution, a chapbook of haiku and photographs (wildflower poetry press, 2021). <clearasabellwritingservices.ie>

-Steven Stokes

is a South Wales-based haikuist who began writing and sharing his poetry in 2020. Steven publishes his work via https://stevenlstokes.wordpress.com and three of his poems were included in the recent Dylan Thomas-inspired anthology ‘How Time has Ticked a Heaven Around the Stars’

-JLM Morton’s

pamphlets Lake 32 (published Field Notes on Consolation) and Sentient (published by Yew Tree Press). In 2021 Juliette was awarded an Arts Council grant to work on a collection exploring the role of trade cloth in colonial expansion. She is poet in residence for Stroudwater Textile Trust.

#RefugeeWeek2021 #WeCannotWalkAlone 14th-20th June. Refugee Week is a festival celebrating the contributions, creativity and resilience of refugees and people seeking sanctuary. I will feature your unpublished/published poetry/artwork on this post. Celebrate.

Refugee Week

Refugees not migrants by Peter Lilly 1Refugees not Migrants 2 by Peter Lilly

-Peter Lilly

Unbelonging

I’m ripples, swamped by water,
lifted by brother.
I’m girl watching home
wash away again, again.
I hover over flood
my only loves, our goat,
the bracelets of my grandmother,
now treasure of the force of nature.

I’m homeless in the smoke-grey
of a greedy monsoon.

-Maggie Mackay (previously published in the ezine, ‘Writers For Calais Refugees’ )

I will not see that fine shore again
Or feel its breeze upon my face
We are shackled to this human train
That passes through another’s place.

Graham Bibby

Bios and Links

#30DaysWild 1st-30th June. Day Sixteen. Go On A Bughunt. What bugs will you find in this poetry/artwork garden, or park? 30 Days Wild is The Wildlife Trusts’ annual nature challenge where they ask the nation to do one ‘wild’ thing a day every day throughout June. Your daily Random Acts of Wildness can be anything you like – litter-picking, birdwatching, puddle-splashing, you name it! I would love to feature your published/unpublished photos/artworks/writing on your random acts. Please contact me.

Day Sixteen

Go on a bughunt 30 Days Wild

Linda Ludwig DragonflyRachel deering dragonfly

-Linda Ludwig

bee 3

Photo by Marcel Herms

Legends of the Bee

Honey, elixir of dreams.
From Appalachia to Ancient Egypt
symbolic bee of royalty, health,
wealth and purity, good luck charm,
messenger between heaven and earth
for bees are wise. The oldest tribe
on earth, the San people of Africa,
tell the tale of a bee carrying
a praying mantis across the widest
river, exhausted the bee lay
the mantis on a floating flower
planting a seed in its body before
it died. The first human. Humans
and bees entwined for eternity.
In my pocket, I carry three ceramic
bees in a blue pouch.

-Suzy Aspell

Christina butterfly bleached butterfly

butterfly
clings to a bluebell
broken wing


-Christina Chin (A haiga in the inaugural issue of Bleached Butterfly Magazine)

 

BUTTERFLY

A Butterfly lands on a path,
by happy chance observed.
Foot’s raised and boot’s about to strike
when smallest prayer is heard.

Absurd demise averted.
Sweet insect rises up.
Foot’s much relieved – and Butterfly
resorts to Buttercup.

-Abigail Elizabeth Ottley

wazpz iz
zticky wit zweetiez

(yourz)

zticky with winez
your redz & witez

hangry drunk baztardz
yez haha

iz flying
one by one
by one by one

into earz
wizpering

mine

mine

mine

-Elizabeth A. McGowan

Monarch Butterflies at Watch Hill Light

They have come as far as I have, further,
and lighter, nothing but the breath of themselves,
and now they are going back.

Dozen by half dozen they do not pause,
but throw themselves into today’s stillness
over the ocean, lost to view instantly.

And I, too, will launch myself
over the Atlantic, taking with me
only this light. Walking its beam
into darkness.

Note: Monarch butterflies migrate impossible distances from the northern USA to Mexico. Watch Hill is in Rhode Island, and the light faces due south.

-Jennifer A. McGowan

Bios and Links

-Abigail Elizabeth Ottley

writes poetry and short fiction. Her work has appeared in more than two hundred magazines, journals and anthologies. A former English teacher with a lifelong interest in history, Abigail lives in Penzance where she cares for her very elderly mother and is currently writing her first novel.

-Suzy Aspell

lives in Bedfordshire. Her work has appeared in Sledgehammer Lit and will be published in Spelt Magazine end of June. Suzy wrote and directed plays for the Civic Centre in Tainan, Taiwan, on British pantomime theme. She is working on a pamphlet exploring themes of feminine cultural and historical tradition.  Twitter: @susisu371

-Polly Oliver

is a broadcast journalist, freelance engagement consultant and writer in South Wales.

She writes poems for enjoyment – and when they land in her head. 

Her writing has appeared in various editions published by Back Bough Poetry, as well as the Wombwell Rainbow, The Tide Rises, Falls and has featured as Spillwords Author of the Month.

Pushcart nominated.

-MW Bewick

is a writer and co-founder of the small indie publisher Dunlin Press. He grew up on the edge of the Lake District, lives in Wivenhoe, Essex. He is regularly published in poetry journals, also works as a journalist and sometimes lectures in creative writing. His second collection of poetry, Pomes Flixus, is available at https://dunlinpress.bigcartel.com/

-Annette Skade

is from Manchester, and has lived for many years on the Atlantic coast of Ireland. Most of her recent poems are about the sea, and her coastal community. Her poems are published in Ireland, the U.K., the U.S. and Australia, and her collection Thimblerig was published in 2013. She has just completed a PhD on the poetry of Anne Carson.

http://annetteskade.com/about

-Catherine Graham

is an award-winning novelist and poet. Her sixth poetry collection, The Celery Forest, was named a CBC Best Book of the Year and was a finalist for the Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry. Her debut novel Quarry won an Independent Publisher Book Awards gold medal for fiction, “The Very Best!” Book Awards for Best Fiction and was a finalist for the Sarton Women’s Book Award for Contemporary Fiction and Fred Kerner Book Award. She teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto where she won an Excellence in Teaching Award. A previous winner of TIFA’s Poetry NOW, she currently leads their monthly Book Club. Æther: an out-of-body lyric appears in 2020 with Wolsak & Wynn/Buckrider Books. www.catherinegraham.com. Tweets at @catgrahampoet

-Ann Cuthbert

writes and performs, usually with the Tees Women Poets Collective. Her work has been widely published online and in print, most recently in Dreich anthologies, Amethyst Review, Green Ink Poetry and the anthology Hard Times Happen (Black Pear Press.) She was Highly Commended in the 2021 YorkMix Poems for Children competition and her poem video, Dracula’s Café, was shown on BBC Upload Festival 2021. Her poetry chapbook Watching a Heron with Davey is published by Black Light Engine Room Press.

-Dave Green

lives and works in Sheffield.  For 30 years he worked in education with vulnerable and neurodiverse children before belatedly discovering that recent governments may not be prioritizing the marginalized in society.  Now he trains people in positive mental health and how to recover from the pandemic.  He writes poems, paints, chops logs, cycles everywhere and shops local.

Wombwell Rainbow Book Interviews: “Lyonesse” by Penelope Shuttle

Lyonesse

Penelope Shuttle

lives in Cornwall. Her thirteenth collection, Lyonesse, appears from Bloodaxe, June 2021. Covid/Corvid, a pamphlet written in collaboration with Alyson Hallett, appears from Broken Sleep Books, November 2021. Father Lear, a pamphlet, was published by Poetry Salzburg in June 2020. Shuttle is President of the Falmouth Poetry Group, founded in 1972. She is widely published, and her radio poem, Conversations on a Bench, set in Falmouth, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in March 2020. She is currently working on a new collection, History of the Child.

The Interview

1. How did you decide on the order of the poems in the book?

That is a big and essential question.  The main and subsidiary themes of Lyonesse set me writing full-tilt and in three big separate surges over about 18 months I wrote many more poems than a full collection would warrant, and indeed as I wrote I knew that not all would make the final cut, but I felt that in these first and early drafts I had to let everything come through, and deal with it later.  All of this I find exhilarating as a process.  And I got to a place eventually, after much re-drafting of these too many poems, when I then had a longish break from the Lyonesse poems.  This was in order to let the whole absorbing process or matrix settle down, to be able to come back with fresh eyes and make the cuts that I knew would be necessary before I could work on the running order.  When I came back to this still unruly mass of material I soon saw which poems were weaker, which ones repeated what I’d said more trenchantly in other poems, and I dropped these from the book.  I still had far too many poems, and I had a sense  (pun intended) of being inundated with poems about Lyonesse.  I have always found that bringing draft poems to a workshop group, particularly the Falmouth Poetry Group, was a helpful and useful process.  Indeed I’ve been a member of Fpg since it was founded in 1972.  But though single poems were workshopped there with helpful comments, I still felt overwhelmed by the work in progress that was Lyonesse.  So I asked my friend and colleague Katrina Naomi to close-read the manuscript and comment on it.  This proved to be a real turning-point in the process, her insights, comments and suggestions aided  me in cutting out further less-energised poems from the collection, and dropping these poems gave me elbow-room to start, at last!, thinking about the running order.  I took a long time over this, trying this order and that order, and wasn’t satisfied until I decided to put the longish prose-poems called ‘An Account of the Submergence’ at the mid-point of the collection, and not as I had always had it as the opening poem.  This prose poem then acted as the hinge upon which the book turned.  This in turn enabled me to put on either side of ‘An Account…’ two poems which give the phrase ‘land under sea’ in many different tongues.  This central hinge, bracketed with the ‘land under sea’ pieces made a strong structure and the running order then almost fell into place on either side.  I have employed in Lyonesse a number of very short ‘ribbon’ poems throughout (as in Heath, at the suggestion there of editor Jane Comane) and these ‘ribbon’ poems act as little respites in the narrative, and let the reader pause  before plunging back into Lyonesse.  Finding ways to modulate the onward movement of the book was an ever-present concern as I worked on the running order.  It is astonishing how when a poem fits in place it creates a mental, lyrical and narrative harmony and adds to the overall shape of the book, whereas a poem in the wrong place soon tells you ‘I’m in the wrong place and this doesn’t work!’  So I tried always to listen to each individual poem, and sense the rightness or wrongness of the placing.

2. In the preface you talk about getting the “colour palette” right. What did you mean by this?

Cornwall is famous for its painterly light, its colours.  Because Cornwall is a narrow peninsula at the very end of England, it is almost an island, there is sea on all three sides, and this creates our vivid brightness of light and colour, as the light bounces off all that sea, refracting and dazzling and magical.  The colours of Cornwall are predominately, then, green and blue.  But what greens and blues, every modulation and variation of blue and green.  And in the spring the vivid blossoming shrubs add their multiple colours.  As Lyonesse is the submerged land beyond the Isles of Scilly, I am imagining that Lyonesse possessed the same brilliance and variety of light and colour, sea-refracted, sea-rinsed, sea-related as Cornwall does today.  I can’t, alas, draw or paint, but I’m an avid enjoyer of paintings,  and I’ve drawn that element into the poems of sea-sunken Lyonesse, I’m imagining in the poems the colours we might see or glimpse beneath the clear waters, the ruins of palaces and squares, this underwater quivering of Cornwall’s colours.  So the colour-palette is the vocabulary of engagement with the greens and blues that predominate in a maritime county where i climate and atmosphere and light are unique.  I focused also on the colours of gardens, hence roses are mentioned at times, and by weaving colours into and through the poems I hope to give vivid life to the lost land, Lyonesse.  I think in our poems we can usefully aim for a synaesthesia of the senses,  to imbue the vocabulary of our poems with sounds, perfumes, perspectives, say,  inspired by paintings.  Our present historic moment, of corrupt politics, of a sleep-walking electorate, of pandemic, of deliberately-underfunded social services and infrastructures, means that life turns drab, dull, depressed. I’m not immune to feeling depressed at where we are, post-Brexit, in the UK where only man is vile, and so I needed to remind myself of a different palette, to describe, yes, a lost city, but also to describe a living reality, not so much as escapism, for there is grief and deep regret in Lyonesse, but to remind myself that we don’t need to live in accepted ruinous ways.  I suppose it is another approach to ‘you must change your life’.

3. Why do you think so many writers associate water with grief?

Being in grief is an inundation, we are immersed, drowned in grief, and so the element, ‘water’, symbolises that overwhelming oceanic feeling that comes from loss of all kinds.  The association is there with tears, with weeping.  But also water is a cleansing substance, and perhaps the way of moving through grief is to be washed clean of our most intense sadness, enabling us to contain the overflow of our grief.  Perhaps writing about inundation, creating images and patterns, is also a container for grief, or a way of coming to terms with it.  For some religions immersion and baptism enable a new beginning, a new sense of self.  In writing Lyonesse I was aware that the ocean is a powerful player in the collective unconscious.  Early humans lived along shorelines where food was abundant.  Proto-humans came out of the ocean.  A great deal of human emotion is bound up with water, both as a paradigm for grief, for birth and rebirth, and renewal. The images and associations that poets write from are drawn from this process, and from collective unconscious.

4. What is to the significance of the two quotes at the beginning of the book?

During the writing of Lyonesse I became aware that overdosing on research was going to make the book top-heavy, so I kept research to a necessary minimum, to keep the imagination free to work.  I’m quite a fan of the random giving a poet a nudge now and then, and the quotation from The Anathemata by David Jones was a nudge given to me by a random library angel.  I hadn’t re-read ad this amazing key text from David Jones for many years but one day a library angel suggested to me that I might like to re-read it.  Doing so, I discovered that in the voyage described in the early part of the book the ship goes by the coast of Cornwall and the text remembers the sunken land of Lyonesse, with its 140 drowned churches.  This felt like a message from a greatly-admired poet, a thumbs-up, if you like, for Lyonesse.  It also gave impetus to my seeking out elder and alternate names for Lyonesse, as in ‘Leonnoyes’ in The Anathemata.  Lyonesse in the historic record is also referred to as ‘Leonois’ and ‘Lethostow’ and ‘Lyonnaise’. 

The second quote from Mark Goodwin follows this strand of alternate names for Lyonesse, where in his wonderful Cornish-set poem, ‘a St Juliot’ , Mark playfully renames Lyonesse as ‘Lea-on-Ness’.  Mark Goodwin has a strong connection with Cornwall, where he has often walked, and climbed the sea cliffs.  He was a good friend to Peter Redgrove, visiting him in Falmouth, especially in Peter’s last years.  The connection with ‘Lea-on-Ness’ and ‘Lyonesse’ was a meeting-place that, like the quoted lines from David Jones, gave a valued affirmation to my poems, and I wanted to pay tribute to both writers.  Writing playfully is, of course, a very serious business.

5. How important is form for you in poetry?

For a poem to be alive, a living entity, form and content need to be in equilibrium.  Too much form with too little content or a splurge of content without the containment of some form of form?  Neither give us a living poem.  

So how do we find that equilibrium between form and content?  For me, it is by paying very close attention to the poem through its drafts and revisions.  What does the poem want to be?  A sonnet? Free-form sonnet, or rhymed sonnet? To be cast in couplets, or in one long energised stanza?  To be long-lined, or very thinly-set on the page.  Poem, are you an ode, or are you a haiku?  How does the poem want to use the white space?  There is a perfect form for each poem, and teasing out that form, being in dialogue with the poem as to its desired form, is how I work with form. Form is essential, gives the language something to push against.  In Lyonesse I have occasionally justified a poem to the right hand margin, a use of form that resulted in this kind of conversation with the poem in the making

Somewhere Seamus Heaney says that every poem has ‘a binding secret’ and I think he means that its secret is the form, the container that makes and keeps the language alive.  A poem needs to do more than sit well-behaved on the page, being passive:  reading a poem is an integrative experience, the poem is a living entity, and the poet’s love for the poem will find the poem the needed form, enabling the ‘inner coherence’ of the poem to flow freely within that form, be it formally-traditional or experimental in the extreme.  There’s much also to be gained from starting at the other end, with form, and seeing if that generates living language, to ascertain if that way of writing permits fidelity to inner experience. 

5.1.What do you mean by “fidelity to lived experience”?

The phrase ‘fidelity to lived experience’ is a quotation from George Whalley’s ‘Poetic Process’.  It is an incredibly thought-provoking book that I go back to many times.  Whalley suggests that in writing poetry a key element very early on in the process is the charge of feeling and value created by the poet’s encounter with reality.  Whalley says that a poem works by ‘communicating feeling of an intricate and ordered kind.’  He uses quantum theory as an analogy through which to understand the coming-into-being of a poem.  Like everything that matters in life, this is complicated!  But by centring the perception of reality at the core of a poem he opens an amazing door of possibilities, and his writings have given me permission to address the oddness. the intensity, and  the relevance of the nature of reality as expressed in poems…And yet reality dissolves when we hold it in language.   So the holding and the dissolving in language is perhaps also the poem.  What is the reality of Lyonesse?   Is it my grief?  Is it the grief of facing human extinction and climate change?  Is it the grief of the twentieth and the twenty-first century, and the sense that human beings have failed at being custodians of the planet, and don’t deserve to survive?  Is it human folly?  It is all of these, though I have studiously avoided polemic and the climate change bandwagon in Lyonesse..    Lyonesse is paradox. Is living in imagination but dead historically.   Why is the world so beautiful and yet so despoiled?  Yet I don’t want to limit myself to theorising about reality, or Lyonesse, I work in language, that is all I can say, language that is allied to my own lived experience.

6. When I read it all the TV images of folk in Hebden Bridge, and a year or so ago when we had a lot of rain in Summer, flood victims kept coming to mind.

That’s interesting. The associations are there, aren’t they?  A few years ago after a lot of extreme rain the Thames at Staines flooded, and streets nearby were flooded, and we were concerned for my mum’s house.  Although she is a way from the river she’s near a stream, and the fear was that the water would come up through drains.  Didn’t happen, but yes, water will go the way it wants.  Inexorable.

7. How important is nature to you in Lyonesse and the sequence that follows it?

We’ve seen how in a crisis of the magnitude of the pandemic how important being out of doors, being in nature has become for people, and I think it is a basic part of being human.  In Lyonesse I imagined the forest being just outside the city, and that the city had gardens and parks.  And yes, evoking and portraying the natural landscape of Lyonesse before the inundation, and  the sea-floor situation of the sunk Lyonesse was an essential thing to do.  Bringing human nature into engagement with wider nature made outer and inner places to explore.  In ‘New Lamps for Old’ nature is woven into memory and the past.  I find it quite difficult to write about nature in relation to the two collections, because I don’t see it as set apart from any of the ongoing experiences I’m writing about, it is woven in, not a separate ‘thing’ I insert into the poems.  It is there in the air the poems breathe.   And often I only discern important threads and themes after the poems are written in first drafts.  The poems in process give me back the purpose and strategy I need to complete them.  So nature is inherent and embedded in the writing.  Is one element more important than another?  I hope all the elements work together to complete the poems.

8. Another theme that runs through it is music, sea shanties, Lully lullay, and so on.

When there’s not a pandemic on, here in Falmouth every June we have an International Sea Shanty Festival, and thousands of people come to enjoy it, you can’t turn a corner in Fal without a group of shanty singers being there singing away.  So they were in my mind.  But more seriously, when Katrina Naomi did a close-reading of an early draft of Lyonesse, among her comments, she flagged up the point that a lot of the titles of the poems were very neutral.  And then I realised, yes,  I’d put quite a lot of holding-pattern titles into Lyonesse.  I thought a lot about livening up the titles and eventually I realised that sea-shanties would give more force to the titles.  I think that musicality is an important part of poetry, it musn’t just be written for the eye, but for the ear.  I listen to music, mostly Radio 3, when I’m working, or reading, in fact I just have it on all day and have done since I was in my 20s, and so I think all that music has soaked into me, and is present in the poems.  And the Lully lullay is from an Old English poem I’ve always loved.  A friend of mine is planning to set some Lyonesse poems to music,  as songs, which will be thrilling.

9. “New Lamps For Old” is very different in tone and texture to “Lyonesse”. There seems to be a lot more journeys recounted and a lot of rain.

Yes, there is rain, and this is our constant companion in Cornwall!  

In ‘New Lamps’ I go back in time to memories of life with Peter, but I’m also writing about my life after Peter.  

A couple of years after his death in 2003 I went back to work as a freelance creative writer, running poetry workshops, tutoring on residential courses, and mentoring individual poets.  I was very involved in the poetry world also as a judge of many poetry competitions.  This work involved a lot of travel, and I also travelled for pleasure, and these journeys have woven themselves into the poems.  

The title ‘New Lamps for Old’ is intended to convey the complex, difficult yet also liberating process of making a new life after a marriage of almost 33 years.  Liberating because Peter had suffered from Parkinson’s Disease in the last years of his life, and so our life in general narrowed down a great deal.  I am thinking in respect of the title that our old life with all its shared illuminations (old lamps) has ended, and I am in the situation of needed to find new lamps, new purpose, new ways of being (involving work and travel and change).  A lot of rain?  Yes, I think there is a strand in the book where I am alone in our house and it is often raining, and I am meditating on change or struggling with fears and sadness.  

So a very transitional feeling comes in at times, and the discoveries of travel, and the sense of poetry as a lifeline through a complicated time. 

I made a lot of new friends via my teaching and travels, and friendship is key to poems in the second volume.  

I think there is much more of the  interior life in ‘New Lamps’, whereas the Lyonesse poems are more extrovert, and the ‘I’ there is at a considerable remove from my own self, an invented ‘I’.  In ‘New Lamps’ the ‘I’ of the poems is  centrally me, speaking my experience.  They are on the brink, often, finding equilibrium,  of charting that journey from bereavement to reflection, to a calmer inwardness.  The ‘Swarthmoor Hall, Ulverston’ sequence, written on a retreat at Swarthmoor Hall, is a meditation written on and around the anniversary of Peter’s death.  It rains in Cumbria a lot, also!

During the writing of these poems I spent periods of time near London, either when working, or visiting family and friends, and so the thread of London poems that appears in my 2017 collection, Will You Walk a Little Faster, continues on into several  poems as London was such a part of my changed life.  Visits to friends in Normandie also feature,  as in ‘Village of La Baleine’.  There are poems drawn from visits to art galleries (Kandinsky at the Tate) (Ruby Loftus…)

So yes, the tone and the texture are very different from Lyonesse, with its oceanic sweep, and its otherworldliness/under the waves-ness, and its slantwise look at climate change…I suppose in a way Lyonesse has more a feeling of theatre about it, where New Lamps poems are often meditative and questioning.  In these poems I am encountering and reporting  processes of widowhood with its new possibilities and old sorrows.  Many of the New Lamps poems are written for sheer pleasure of the thing, of course, as in Ann Boleyn’s Music Book.  But overall the poems try to say, this is where the poet was, thinking/feeling these things, considering her options, welcoming new landscapes, and opening new doors while remembering the door to and of the past.

10. What fascinates you about ekphrastic writing, using paintings as inspirations?

I love going to galleries, and museums.  Visiting a good or sympatico exhibition is like plugging one’s whole spirit into a spirit generator, so that one is rinsed through with art, or energised by a museum’s objects.  Going to an exhibition is also a way of being free from the demands of poetry!  Devoted as I am to those demands, to enter an art exhibition as observer/participant/admirer and to have no professional responsibilities at all, but simply to be there to respond, is a very nourishing experience, and I greatly miss these visits since the pandemic changed things.  I enjoy curatorial text, and often take notes.  In the Kandinsky exhibition I became fascinated with the many different body-languages pf peoples’ responses to these paintings, and I imagined these in the poem as people swimming through the galleries in different ways.  Ruby Loftus, in Dame Laura Knights’ 1942 painting, fascinated me, I felt a real connection with her, and tried to give a sense of her personality in the poem.  So ekphrastic writing offers us the riches of close attention to another art form, of innumerable thresholds into worlds, and personalities.  Sometimes a painting will remind us of things in our own lives.  When I used to run poetry writing workshops I often used postcards from art exhibitions, and sometimes I gave everyone the same image .  I was always struck by how variously each poet responded to the image, some choosing a tiny detail, others giving a comprehensive overview.  An image gives you permission to write, it is a good solution to writers’ block, the fear of the blank page.  But I write poems inspired by paintings because I fall in love with them, or from a feeling that the painting has requested me to write a poem about it.  A kind of imploring, or a temptation.  It has been said often, elsewhere, that going to exhibitions has replaced going to church, and the intensity of feeling that can be experienced from a gallery visit does have a similar resonance.

11. After having read the book what do you wish the reader to leave with?

Readers are individuals so reactions will be as individual. 

 I hope that the reader finds in the book what s/he hoped for, or found something different or unexpected that had meaning for them.  

I hope the reader goes away wanting to write something of their own. 

I hope that the reader enjoys it above all,  gains pleasure from reading the book, pleasure is a very important thing!.  

But one of the best things written about how poems have their effect comes from Paul Valery (in his ‘Poetry and Abstract Thought’):

‘…the poem makes poetry happen in the mind of the reader or listener.  It happens first to the poet, and in the course of writing, the poet eventually makes something, a little machine, one that for the reader produces discoveries, connections, glimmers of expression.  Whatever it does, it can do again and again, as many times as we need it.’

I would love a reader to experience that from reading Lyonesse.

#30DaysWild 1st-30th June. Day Fifteen. Watch A Wild Webcam. 30 Days Wild is The Wildlife Trusts’ annual nature challenge where they ask the nation to do one ‘wild’ thing a day every day throughout June. Your daily Random Acts of Wildness can be anything you like – litter-picking, birdwatching, puddle-splashing, you name it! I would love to feature your published/unpublished photos/artworks/writing on your random acts. Please contact me.

Day Fifteen

webcam 30 Days Wild

https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/webcams

 

 

https://www.brockholes.org/wildlife-cameras

https://www.norfolkwildlifetrust.org.uk/news-and-articles/wildlife-cameras/view-all-wildlife-cameras

 

https://www.somersetwildlife.org/swtbarnowls

KESTREL CAM

I had imagined rapid-fire laying
after a heavy gravidity:
one after one after one after one
and a concentrated brooding.

Not one left in its newness, uneasy
whilst the falcon grew round inside,
flew quick flights around the nest-scrape
to ease the next’s passage. One.
After one. After one. Not till the fourth
did the lens fill with the female
covering all dedicatedly, chasing the male away
at food handoff time, tucking her head
this way and that, closing one eye
and sleep-watching. Shifting in high winds
that sang merry hell, spinning her about.
She faced them down, whilst underneath
eggs warmed, rocked, finally cracked open
loosing mouths equally fed, despite
size and age disparity. Feathers grew,
displaced down; soon they fledged.
One. After one. After one.

The last one sickened and failed.
Statistics say three out of four
beats the odds, but my thoughts
hover, play merry hell: a sudden decline,
a shuffling out of lens-reach.
Dying off-camera. Achieving in its last act
near-human privacy. The others flying on.

Note: In the absence of nesting peregrines, http://www.worcester.gov.uk/peregrine/ provided a live link to some city kestrels a few years ago.

-Jennifer A McGowan (first published in Obsessed with Pipework)

The Insect Sonnets (an occasional series) by Paul Brookes

Fevers of the Mind

Dragonfly, Insect, Wings, Winged

1. Sweet Pollen

Bigger wing beat gusts me from sweet pollen
billows, I must stick to its surface amid
buffet and blast. Now heavier, taken,
away from scented trail back home I skid.
Track my trail through vibration pulses, map
I will dance when home is reached to tell all
where sweet pollen will be found, waggle tap
the route after unloading my food haul.
As light fades our head sensors flop, my legs
wrap around others, I rehearse my days
forage, retrace my flight, my complex steps
mark vibration changes that radiate.
Bright warmth lifts our heads from sleep to again,
find our memory way, avoid harsh rain. 

2. We Poisoners l Ingest, store poison for feathers, her. Changed in white she must be stillness. I wait outside her cocoon, her wings fettered, unstretched, un-inflated, I pass fullness, into her with a generous capsuled gift, attracted by her poison…

View original post 307 more words