Angela France has had poems published in many of the leading journals in the United Kingdom and abroad and has been anthologised a number of times. She has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Gloucestershire and is studying for a PhD. Her second collection, Occupation is available from Ragged Raven Press and her new pamphlet Lessons in Mallemaroking is now out from Nine Arches Press. Angela is features editor of Iota and an editor of ezine The Shit Creek Review. She also runs a monthly poetry cafe, ‘Buzzwords’.
“Between the lines of Angela France’s poems an ardent force is at work. Lessons in Mallemaroking rewards our curiosity, capturing the reality and truth at large of a nonchalant world that has been perfectly observed just when it thinks no-one else is looking. France urges us to Look inside. Learn to wait, to feel the weight of loss, of hidden lives, of the darkness and hope gathering at the future’s edge.”
“Angela France conjures a world of absences and menace with precise and elegant language. Things have begun to fall apart; the creatures are already wise to it. Dogs whimper at night and the horses are watchful of changing weather, they creak light from their joints/as they stamp, swish tails. Buddleia is sprouting through the concrete of driveways and petrol stations. We watch the river, the barrier,/the water rising. These excellent poems come as a warning.”
– Martin Figura
“Here are poems that inhabit fully the physical world and explore the ever-shifting boundary between the physical and the metaphysical. Angela France has the craft to sustain her compelling and varied subject matter, and she uses language with controlled intensity, lyric energy, and an unerring sense of how to balance a poem. She is a poet not content with anecdote, but one who engages with the tough uneasy realities of experience.”
– Penelope Shuttle
frowns rows of windows down
on ‘The Tall Ships’ where crisp
packets and fag-ends cluster
at the base of the menu blackboard.
She stands, folded into herself,
hugs the faux-fur closed; arched feet
fidget in red straps as wind
lashes her scarlet-tipped toes with grit.
Cosy-painted longboats rock
and nudge each other, seagulls wheel
over the oil-shimmered water to yawp
above the roar of an excavator
shuddering a bite of stone.
He shifts his shoulders, lifts his shades,
grumbles about the risk
of dirt on his lens. He adjusts his dials
C’mon darlin’, let’s get on with it.
Angling her head to let the wind lift her hair,
she spreads open her coat. Her clenched
calf muscles drive her feet down
onto stilettos; a quiver races
over the skin of her improbable breasts.
The camera clicks, whirrs, clicks:
her pink and white smile shivers
like the ripple that chases
across the grease of the dock basin.
A Letter Home
The well is full of dead rabbits, Mother.
Night after night I watch them: some hop,
some run, they all leap in a determined arc
over the rim. The cockroaches multiply
every day but your advice about pots
of paraffin keeps my bed clear. I heard
of a woman whose baby was bitten by rats
in its crib: who’d have a baby now,
even if they could? The radio is down
to an hour a day. They give us
the daily warnings then fake an upbeat
story, usually one with children, or heroic
dogs. The sunset was spectacular last night.
The paper said that the sunsets
show how bad things are; the radio said
that the paper is subversive propaganda.
There have been some new families
in our water queue this week.
They have teenagers and I have watched
a boy and girl look, and look away;
flirt and grow close. I don’t know now
whether rabbits are wiser
in choosing a shorter arc.
Sarah Talks to the Social Worker
If I’d known what he was thinking
I’d never have let him go.
Some Father-Son time, he said.
A bit of quality time, me and my son
and the mountain.
No, I didn’t throw him out
straight away; I didn’t know
what happened. Isaac was quiet,
I thought it was bullying at school,
maybe, or worry about tests.
When the nightmares started,
I couldn’t understand what he meant.
I wondered if thugs had moved
into the area, worried about knives
Once I understood,
his father’s bags were packed
and on the doorstep before
he got home from work.
He’s got a nerve to complain
about supervised visits.
He isn’t the one left holding
a screaming child
whose nights are sharp
with the raised knife, the gleam
in his father’s eye, the blood
of that poor lamb.
Hide and Seek Champ Found Dead in Cupboard
‘Sunday Sport’ Headline
As a boy, he hated the foolish feeling
of being found; the too-narrow tree
he stood behind, the cupboard door that wouldn’t close
from inside though his fingertips gripped
to whiteness on a slim batten, the shudder
in his chest when he suppressed noisy breath.
He worked at being lost, taught his joints to fold
and squeeze in small spaces, schooled his breath
to ease, his heart to slow. It tooks years
to train his blood-flow to thin or pool under his skin,
to shade and pattern the surface.
He hides as a party trick, challenges strangers
in bars to find him; vanishes at work, disappears
on dates. He’s filmed for a documentary,
shut in an empty room, slowly fading into wallpaper.
He hides from taxes and utility bills, paternity suits
and parking tickets.
His house is riddled with small spaces
under floorboards, hollows in cavity walls,
false walls in alcoves. He perfects the art
of cupboard backs; trompe l’oeil on high shelves
with dusty suitcases, sports equipment
and a carefully woven cobweb of nylon fibre.
The fit is perfect, handles on the back
to pull it tight, a can of silicon sealant
stops even his scent from betraying him.
He makes his muscles relax, his limbs
settle into their contortions. He waits
for someone who’ll seek.
‘Hide and Seek Champ Found Dead in Cupboard’ was previously published in the Arvon Competition Anthology 2010.
from Lessons in Mallemaroking (Nine Arches Press, 2011).
Order Lessons in Mallemaroking.
Order Occupation (Ragged Raven Press, 2009).
Read more of Angela’s work at poetry p f.
Listen to Angela reading some of her poems at PoetCasting.