Archive for July, 2016

And the Winner is…

July 29, 2016

The Stare's Nest

The fabulous Martin Figura has finished judging the Fledgling Award for the best “first book” by a poet over the age of forty, and we are both delighted to announce that the prize goes to:

Jemma Borg – The Illuminated World.

Jemma BW-14 (2)

Photo: Anne-Sophie Olive

Martin sent generous comments in his Judge’s Report about the ten books he read:

“A couple of years ago, I flippantly posted on Facebook that I was too old for a Gregory, too Young to die. It got a certain mileage, a good old moan about the young taking everything, or the usual suspects winning existing prizes. There was talk of creating a prize for the over fifties publishing a first collection. I got as far as setting up an event, to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of The Who’s My Generation and then failed to organise it. Luckily Judi Sutherland is made of sterner stuff…

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Week 196: Queen Street, Cardiff, by Idris Davies

July 29, 2016

David Sutton

The Welsh poet Idris Davies (1905-1953) is probably best known now for his poem ‘The Bells of Rhymney’, which was set to music by Pete Seeger and has entered the folk tradition. Davies is not the most subtle of poets: the mainspring of his work is a fine socialist anger (he worked for some years as a miner and participated in the General Strike of 1926), but it is also characterised by a poignant urban lyricism, a genuine sense of identification with his fellow men and a deep rootedness in his time and place, Wales between the wars.

Queen Street, Cardiff

When the crowds flow into Queen Street from the suburbs and the hills
And the music of the hour is the music of the tills,
I sometimes gaze and wonder at my fellows passing by
Each one with dreams and passions, each one to toil and die.

And I…

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When I read poetry -by Mark Strand

July 28, 2016

Anthony Wilson


When I read                           poetry

I want to                           feel


suddenly                           larger…

in touch              with –

or at least

close                           to –

what I deem                           magical,


I want to                                        experience

a kind of                           wonderment.

And when you report              back

to your own              
daily              world

after experiencing                               …

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Judi Sutherland

July 28, 2016

Writers Against Prejudice

For Jo Cox

I’m thinking of the man who murdered Archduke Ferdinand
and how that shot would ricochet
along the trenches of the Somme, loud enough to echo
on the far side of the world. And all the men since then
who levelled the barrel of premeditated guns
and took aim at life, as though that could solve anything.

I’m thinking of the awful randomness of a death
that someone chooses for you
without permission, while all your future selves collapse
into a bullet hole. And afterwards, the press
decides if your killer was a mad lone wolf
or a terrorist, as if these two are mutually exclusive.

I’m thinking of that philosophical distinction we all make
between nature and nurture, although
motives are seldom pure and never simple –
and how they say there’s no free will at all;
that the finger muscles squeeze down on the trigger
before the…

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No Flags, Territory and War by Ruth Stacey

July 24, 2016

‘We Prayed for a Man Without a Beard’ by Judy Brown

July 24, 2016

‘Churchyard’ by Sue Hubbard

July 24, 2016

Two poems by Pippa Little

July 19, 2016

Reading Archive: April – June 2016

July 18, 2016

Martyn Crucefix

Up-dated June 2016

This is turning out to be the place where I often admit my lacks and ignorance. Elizabeth Bishop – apart from 3 or 4 of the obvious poems – has always been something of a blank spot with me. I have been re-reading her Complete Poems and understanding maybe my problem lies in getting to like her earlier work before A Cold Spring (1955). What I do begin to appreciate more clearly is her modesty, accuracy of observation and own-furrow-ploughing determination as a poet.


Anne Stevenson’s Five Looks at Elizabeth Bishop has been helpful with thoughts such as “Bishop’s instinct was to look hard enough at nature to lose herself in it – and thus, as in the Biblical paradox, find herself”.


As has Seamus Heaney’s ‘Counting to a Hundred: on Elizabeth Bishop’ (from The Redress of Poetry). He argues, at her best, she reveals how…

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July 16, 2016

Melancholy Hyperbole

I’m  9 and behind the wheel of our green and white ’55 Olds.
I start to check the mirrors,
but my father tells me not to worry what’s coming from behind–
though I know he always does.
The Belt curves around to the right near the Bay Parkway exit
and I see houses and parks and empty lots in the distance
and people walking on Shore Road, dressed for the weather.
What’s missing is the Verrazano up ahead,
that behemoth that looms over everything on land and on the sea
and whose towers you can hardly ever see in the morning fog.
It’s 1958, building it had not yet begun.
Careful, Aloysius, he says to me, though he knows I’m scared
and more apt to wander from my lane unwittingly
than be foolhardy or reckless:
I am my father’s son.

This is a game I call Before
and as…

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