Tag Archives: English poets

Jo Hemmant’s ‘The Den’

Jo Hemmant

Jo Hemmant

Jo Hemmant spent many years working as a journalist and editor and only began writing poetry the day her youngest son started school. Her work has appeared in or is upcoming at Horizon Review, qarrtsiluni, blossombones, bluefifth review, Equinox, South, Decanto, Dream Catcher, Fire and Obsessed with Pipework. She lives with her husband, her two sons, aged eight and six and a menagerie in the burbs outside London. Last year she co-founded ouroboros review, a poetry and art journal that appears both online and in print, and set up Pindrop Press, a small independent poetry press. The first book is due off the presses in 2010.
The den
Jo Hemmant
For his sixth birthday, a tent.
Two-man, pop-up, no tripping
over a cat’s cradle of guy ropes and pegs.
It covers most of the floor in his room,
is kitted out with what boys like –
Top Trumps, action figures, plastic insects.
He begs me to read to him there that night.
Crawling in, I notice that the millimetre-thin skin
cuts out noise, the air’s new with polymers.
We shine a moon on the roof with the torch
and find ourselves in a field, staring up
through a plastic square at a sky
deep and dark as a coal mine’s throat.
Outside, the fire has cooled to amber.
Menace storybooks the woods.
Read more of Jo’s work in Horizon Review.

Roy Woolley

Roy Woolley has had poems published in The Wolf, The Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review, Poetry News and the anthology Saturday Night Desperate from Ragged Raven Press. He also compiled a pamphlet celebrating ten years of the Gay London Writers’. He recently graduated with distinction from the Mst in Creative Writing at Oxford University.
from The Pasiphaë Treatment
Roy Woolley
Scene 1. An open field. A white bull grazing.
Haunches muscular and clean.
Pasiphaë is helped from the carriage by a servant.
Close-up. Her face as she studies the bull.
The rope in her hands. Fade-out. Country sounds.
Scene 2. Flashback to the cord she wears at her wedding.
Brassy light. Crowds in the forecourt. The tinnitus
of instruments being tuned. Soft snowfall
of flowers at her feet. Her husband’s backward glance
as a bridesmaid leans over the balcony.
Scene 4. The present. Her room in the palace. Night.
Her face in the mirror. The stars above Crete.
Close-up to the costume Daedulus made –
a white sheet to cushion her body.
The horns for her temples. The cool felt mask.
Scene 9. She’s in the mirror again, facing herself
sideways, tracing the shape of her belly
with the palms of her hands. Night songs.
The city shutting down. The sound of the sea.
She feels her child move when she looks at the stars.
Scene 15. Fade to the balcony spyglass. A room
draped in black. Mirrors facing the wall.
The scars on her hands. Her bandaged breasts.
Her deep set eyes. The camera pans across the city.
Construction sounds grow louder. Our first sight of the maze.

Julia Copus on writing poems

“Writing poems is a bit like panning for gold. You have to be prepared to sit for a long while in the cold murk of the river-bed and grow heavy with alluvial dust for the sake of the gold it contains.”
– Julia Copus, New Blood (Bloodaxe Books, 1999)

Simon Freedman’s ‘Unfolding’

Simon Freedman
On the empty desk
in the numb light
he shreds an origami bird
Walking home
he does his best
to lose his way on kindred streets.
Under Waterloo bridge
he fails to picture
the face of an old friend
while the crumpled drift recedes
into the squint
of the evening sun.
He cups his hands
a makeshift seashell
to sound the absent shore
on which he used to dream
in the vagrant winds. 
Forthcoming in South Bank Poetry Magazine.
Visit Simon’s website.

Tim Wells’ Rougher Yet

A Ruffer Version
Tim Wells
That time in Efes, when the killer strolled in, I’m sure Mehmet saw it coming ‘cos he blanched, and his eyes moved from the door to the barman, then finally to the man. The gunman walked behind him, as he sat leaning back in his chair, pulled slightly back and popped him in the head.
               I’d thought a skull would burst from a shot, but it was quite the opposite. As Umit said, “There never was much in that head of his.”
               No explosion, no fountain, no split peach. Just a brief spray of blood. I remember the claret splashing the ear of a girl at the next table. Just that effusive spurt and then a dribble. He slowly leant to one side and settled. I’ve slept drunk at that self-same table many a time and looked deader.
               The quiet was disturbing. Everyone’s Thursday night after-hours teetering on a chasm of murder, police and questions, questions, questions.
               The assassin held the gun at his side, gave an embarrassed smile and said, “Sorry. So sorry, everybody.” With that, he calmly walked the length of the bar, around the side of the pool tables, and was gone into the night.
               His calm lingered in the room for a few moments. It was only when a chap knocked over a glass as he fumbled for a drink that the first scream erupted.
Anyway, as I told the Old Bill, I was in the toilet when it happened.
‘A Ruffer Version’ is included in Rougher Yet (Donut Press, 2009).
Read more about Tim.
Read Heather Taylor’s interview with Tim here.
Read Anna Goodall’s interview with Tim in The Guardian.

Fiona Pitt-Kethley’s Selected Poems

Song of the Nymphomaniac
Fiona Pitt-Kethley
From Baffin Bay down to Tasmania
I’ve preached and practised nymphomania,
Had gentlemen of all complexions,
All with varying erections:
Coalmen, miners, metallurgists,
Gurus, wizards, thaumaturgists,
Aerial artists, roustabouts,
Recidivists and down-and-outs,
Salesmen, agents, wheeler-dealers,
Dieticians, nurses, healers,
Surgeons, coroners and doctors,
Academics, profs and proctors,
Butchers, bakers, candle-makers,
Airmen, soldiers, poodlefakers,
Able seamen, captains, stokers,
Tax-inspectors, traders, brokers,
Preachers, canons, rural deans,
Bandy cowboys fed on beans,
Civil-servants, politicians,
Taxidermists and morticians.
I like them young, I like them old,
I like them hot, I like them cold.
Yet, I’m no tart, no easy lay –
My name is Death. We’ll meet one day.
‘Song of the Nymphomaniac’ is included in Fiona Pitt-Kethley’s Selected Poems (Salt Publishing, 2008).
Read more about Fiona and her Selected Poems here.
Visit Fiona’s blog.

Tom Chivers’ How to Build a City

Your Name Has Been Randomly Selected
Tom Chivers
Pennie Rakestraw emailed details of my order;
she claimed it helped performance in the bedroom.
Freuden Ginnery agreed and lodged himself between
the hard drive and the fan. He squeaks his sales pitch
on reboot. Morace Shakoor was kind enough to send me
excerpts from Victorian novels (he knows my taste),
cut up and reassembled as techno-futuristic porno;
all tongue and motor, bonnets upturned in the mud.
I let the Trojan in. I’m nice like that. Besides,
I got the note from Hartshorne Settlemire,
installed the relevant import hooks and re-subscribed;
ham, bacon and eggs (my account is blocked)
converted to plain text by Waynick Quibodeaux,
who knows a thing or two about naming.
From How to Build a City (Salt Publishing, 2009).
Read more about Tom and How to Build a City here.
Visit Tom’s blog.
How to Build a City (Tom Chivers), Unexpected Weather (Abi Curtis) and The Migraine Hotel (Luke Kennard) will be launched on Saturday, 13 June (8pm), at The Slaughtered Lamb, 34-35 Great Sutton Street, London, EC1V 0DX. Entrance is free. Ross Sutherland will be your compere for the evening. The reading will begin at 8.30pm.

Alison Brackenbury’s ‘The button factory in Bologna’

Alison writes:
“This poem is loosely based on the life of Francesca Cuzzoni, one of Handel’s most difficult divas, who became a factory worker.”

The button factory in Bologna
Alison Brackenbury
I throw the final buttons in the tray.
They rattle, bone on bone, the hollow day,
The dusk I drink in. No one knows me here.
I knot my rosy shawl. Strip twenty years:
‘I won’t sing that! It is too plain.’ Then Handel
Flung up the sash, grabbed my waist, let me dangle
Above the rushing street. ‘I am Beelzebub,
You devil!’ Onioned breath. How close to love
Hate runs. How close my singing came to war.
I scratched my rival, drank my crowd’s applause.
Yes, I did trust the men would never leave.
But I was choosy with the flowers they gave.
I threw the lilies at them. ‘This room stinks.’
I took no cottage trash, Sweet Williams, pinks.
I wanted roses, with their greedy crowns’
Rich pollen, sharp leaves, petals tumbling down.
I wanted armfuls, scattered on each bed.
But breasts are fat, voice, muscle. Now, instead
Of lovers, I drain drinks. I gave up all
Wine for a week, for my rose-printed shawl.
Did thick books tell you, I threw it all away?
I laugh like gulls. This town tonight hangs grey
As your dull ports. Listen. I hear the ice
Crack like my boots. Your tastes will not stay nice
When coasts flood, wires go down. I drank the worth
Of one small voice. You threw away the earth.
That is your business. I will carry on,
Hungover, silent in the women’s song.
The shawl waits on its hook. And I would say
Mine are the finest buttons in the tray.
‘The button factory in Bologna’ was broadcast on
BBC Radio 3’s breakfast programme on May 24th,
in the Poems for Today series.
Read about Alison and her most recent collection,
Singing in the Dark (Carcanet, 2008), here.
Visit Alison’s website.