Tag Archives: Angela France poet

Angela France’s Hide

© Image by Derek Adams

© Image by Derek Adams

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).

Order Hide.
Visit Nine Arches Press

Angela France’s Lessons in Mallemaroking

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
Dry Dock
Reynold’s warehouse
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,
started bed-wetting.
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
and gangs.
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.