Angela France has had poems published in many of the leading journals, both 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 previous publications include Occupation (Ragged Raven Press) and Lessons in Mallemaroking (Nine Arches Press). Angela France is also features editor of Iota and runs a monthly poetry cafe, Buzzwords. Hide (Nine Arches Press, 2013) is her third full collection of poetry.
“In Angela France’s third poetry collection, Hide, what is invisible is just as important as what lies within plain sight. Layers of personal history are lifted into the light and old skins are shed for new; things thought lost and vanished long ago are just on the edge of perception, yet certainties before our eyes vanish in the blink of an eye.
These poems possess their own rich heritage of stories and experiences; themes of magic, wisdom, age and absence are woven into the fabric of this skilful and succinct collection. Readers should also keep their wits about them, for these poems are cunning and quick; they hide nothing, but delight in camouflage, disguise and secrets, patiently awaiting someone who will seek.”
“France’s writing engages sensitively with the world as she searches for meaning in the ordinary and movingly explores the borders between shared and private experience. These are poems that make an honest deal with discomfort, following the trails and ‘ghostly outlines of existence’ with integrity, thoughtfulness and care.”
– Deryn Rees-Jones
“‘Invisibility must be achieved for success’, writes Angela France, revealing one of the truths of why the best poets serve language and are annihilated in the process. Hide is a book of wisdom, dignity and first witness. It offers poems of scrutiny and strength of character. And the poet’s language possesses and is possessed by a gloriously sheared weight and shared music.”
– David Morley
“Angela France’s new collection is a deft and resonant exploration of the half-hidden, taking us ‘over there’ and ‘in there’ under the hide of the ‘other’ and the liminal spaces they inhabit, all evoked with an uncanny command of language and image.”
– Nigel McLoughlin
Some of These Things are True
I learned about waiting, the sour tang of it
I had long conversations with my bicycle
I lived in a cave, learned the rhythms of bats
I stopped whispering, tongued the roundness of breath
I discovered a mad child and held the door open
I spoke a long truth and lived with it
I discovered an ocean with too many waves and no shore
I built a shelter in the valley, roofed it with paper
I wore khaki and army boots, but couldn’t keep in step
I learned to walk on stilts, saw a different horizon
I found a new land with no borders, no checkpoints
I told a lie and gagged at the lingering taste
I learned about weight and what I could carry
I swam a sea and found a lake within it
I counted rats running from a dog in the stable
I cut through strands and tangles, took longer strides
I lived on a cliff-edge, looked down every morning
I made a people, named each one a colour
I sipped at displacement, turned it over on my tongue
I watched a fox stalk a goose, counted leaves on clover
I found a hidden door, felt a songbird fly from my hand.
Living with the Sooterkin
Every home has them, nesting in dark corners
or playing in the rafters; dusty grey faces
peeping from under beds and round chair legs.
Sooterkin are sly, secretive about their long lives,
their complicated families. No-one knows
why they migrate at random times of year
or why they breed in some houses, congregate
in others. I’m on to them; I glimpse their sharp faces
at dusk as they slip along the skirting, see glints
from black eyes on my back seat when I drive
at night. Sooterkin are bold in the dark;
anxiety excites them; they chitter in packs,
sliding over and under each other, claws tapping
a tarantella on the floor. They grow strong on insomnia;
slither over the bed-head, under the covers, tangle
my hair with their long toes, tease bare skin
with soft whiskers. They communicate in scuffles
and squeaks at the edge of hearing; I am learning
their language, studying scratches on the floor
and recording noctural creaks. I can read
their discomfort growing; they don’t like to be known.
I think they’ll leave.
The Evolution of Insomnia
Men don’t tend the fire;
they follow their spear-points
to the hunt’s rank heat and fury,
limp back to fall into sleep
filled with fight and fear.
They don’t make old bones.
Younger women are busy
with breast-suck or belly-weight;
their gaze on the seeking and keeping
of a mate. They watch the fire
between other demands, attention
like sparks from green wood.
Past child-bearing, past mate-catching,
older women give their nights
to the fire, stare into the flame
and serve its sullen greed. They learn
to doze and wake through the dark hours,
leave behind the feel of long sleep.
Awake in fidgety heat at 3am,
I know it started with fire, the mystery
and need of it, its fickle demands;
I know it’s my place to foster the blaze
and watch the coming dark.
The Man on the Clapham Omnibus, to a lawyer, is synonymous with the pinnacle of reason in humanity: an ordinary London transit rider as representative of all rational thought and action.
– Gray’s Law Dictionary
The man on the Clapham omnibus is tired
of being reasonable. He is bored
with his average intelligence and sees little use
for being moderately educated.
From the window he can see tidy houses,
rows of cars parked at the kerb.
He wants to jump from the bus while it’s moving,
run along the roofs and bonnets,
tap-dance to feel the satisfying dint and ping
while he yodels a rebellion. He wants
to leap over hedges and walls, bang on every door,
laugh from the far side of the road.
Tomorrow, he will wear an eye-patch and fix
a stuffed rat to his shoulder.
He’ll stand on the bus to declaim Shakespeare
on his way to the library
to become an expert on New Guinea Tapeworms
or Fungi on Stamps. He’ll share
his knowledge in the café for several hours
before he goes home to rest
on his doorstep with a beer bottle in his hand
and Handel’s Messiah at full volume.
He’ll shout occasional phrases from Zadok the Priest;
no-one will interrupt him.
from Hide (Nine Arches Press, 2013).