Helen Freeman

June 6, 2017

The Open Mouse

On the Back Burner

I crush roast beans with my pestle
then throw grounds into water on a high flame
stirring till the colour succumbs and bubbles.
Bitterness rises within.

As I brew Madam’s coffee,
she engages in more crucial matters –
manicures and massage, her driver’s lateness
and yet another Riyadh wedding invitation.
The employer’s affairs, they say,
are not for me to censure.
I must learn my place. I must salute.

I stir and stir to prevent the overflow
that leaves such a splatter to scrub –
there’s a clasp here to master.
I drop cardamom pods into the darkness
adjusting the scent, and I’m home:

the bombs, my father under Aleppo rubble,
the hawk who sometimes hooked
meat from my palm long gone,
my inheritance expunged.
Count to ten. Breathe Dad always said
but look where that got him.

Heat dissipates, coffee cools
in the pot of…

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NaPoReMo #13: We are sailing

April 13, 2017

The Bell Jar

Cava Island, Orkney

Today’s poem appears in a photo because I can’t do the indents properly in WordPress, and a poem’s appearance is important. The visual and aural content of poetry is part of what distinguishes it from prose. If you centre a poem, leave italics out, change punctuation or line breaks, then you’re changing the decisions made by the writer. So here is today’s poem as it should be seen:

There’s no older tradition in literature than the tale of a journey, drawing parallels between a physical voyage and the journey through life. It was probably one of the reasons for inventing poetry, making a long story memorable through patterns of sound. Even the Odyssey, composed in the Bronze Age, built on an existing tradition of heroic sagas. Andrew Greig’s adventure in Found at Sea, if smaller in scale, is full of salt and adrenaline. It’s a sequence of poems about a short…

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10 Great Literature Quotes about April

April 13, 2017

Source: 10 Great Literature Quotes about April

10 Great Literature Quotes about April

April 13, 2017

Literati Pulp

10 great literature quotes about the month of April.
[Collected by Regina Kenney]


“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”
― George Orwell, 1984

TS Eliot

“April is the cruelest month, breeding
lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
memory and desire, stirring
dull roots with spring rain.”
― T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land


“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.”
― William Shakespeare, Shakespeare’s Sonnets


“APRIL this year, not otherwise
Than April of a year ago
Is full of whispers, full of sighs,
Dazzling mud and dingy snow;
Hepaticas that pleased you so
Are here again, and butterflies.”
― Edna St. Vincent Millay


“Snow in April is abominable,” said Anne. “Like a slap in the face when you expected a kiss.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Ingleside

53b1322701379_matsuo_basho“April’s air stirs in
Willow-leaves…a butterfly
Floats and balances”
― Bashō Matsuo


“But it is…

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Week 232: The Sign-Post, by Edward Thomas

April 7, 2017

Asa disquisition on the journey on which our life takes us, I am much taken with these thoughts of Thomas.

David Sutton

This Sunday, April 9th 1917, marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Edward Thomas, on the first day of the Battle of Arras. I will celebrate it with the first Edward Thomas poem that I ever came across, around the end of the nineteen-fifties. At that time Thomas was still far from having the iconic status among general poetry readers that he now enjoys, and he certainly hadn’t figured in my English teacher’s rather conservative version of the school curriculum, which stopped with that daring modernist Wordsworth (and let us never forget that Wordsworth was a daring modernist). But I fell in love at once with Thomas’s combination of close observation, natural speech rhythms and rueful self-examination.

The Sign-Post

The dim sea glints chill. The white sun is shy,
And the skeleton weeds and the never-dry,
Rough, long grasses keep white with frost
At the hilltop by…

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Nature and Place Poetry Competition | Closing Date: 01-Mar-17

February 14, 2017

Abegail Morley

Nature And Place Poetry Competition 2017


The Rialto working with the RSPB, BirdLife International and the Cambridge Conservation Initiative

Poems are invited that deal with any aspect of nature and place and will be given a very wide interpretation by the judge.

1st prize – £1000
2nd prize – £500
3rd prize – A place on a creative writing course
at Ty Newydd Writing Centre in 2017

A personal tour with Mark Cocker of his most cherished wildlife places in East Anglia.
A personal tour with Nick Davies of his beloved Wicken Fen to learn about his research there.

Tŷ Newydd (Third Prize) National Writing Centre of Wales and offers an impressive range of Creative Writing courses in the beautiful coastal surroundings of north-west Wales. (www.tynewydd.wales).*

Mark Cocker is one of Britain’s most celebrated writers on nature. He is author of the magnificent Birds and People…

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Two poems by Kathy Pimlott

February 10, 2017

Week 222: Field Day, by W.R.Rodgers

January 27, 2017

W R Rodgers was one of the first vivid poets whose work woke me up to precision and accuracy of observation when studying his “A Stormy Day” at school in the late 1950s.
Glad to find another enjoyable poem of his here.

David Sutton

This poem by the Irish poet W.R.Rodgers (1909-1969), about how landscapes, or just odd scraps of landscape, can be numinous for us makes an interesting comparison with Patrick Kavanagh’s poem ‘Innocence’ and his love for ‘The triangular hill that hung/Under the Big Forth’ – see week 10. My own numinous field, the wheatfield that started at the bottom of my garden when I was a child, was not triangular but a great rectangle that dipped and then curved up to a line of woodland. Last time I went back they were building a new housing estate on it. Well, people need places to live, but they also need places to live.

Field Day

The old farmer, nearing death, asked
To be carried outside and set down
Where he could see a certain field
‘And then I will cry my heart out’, he said.

It troubles me, thinking about that man;

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Last night I couldn’t sleep for excitment

January 25, 2017

Roy Marshall

I attach the document to the e-mail. It consists of a title page, acknowledgements page, contents page, fifty-eight poems and a ‘notes’ page, this last being mostly white but for three small paragraphs. I check the attachment has loaded properly, scan the document to make sure nothing has altered.  Take a deep breath. My pulse is slightly elevated. In contrast, the book is serenity
itself.  It adjusts its seat and headrest, flips down the visor on its helmet, tightens belt buckle and shoulder straps, hits play on the music system. The speakers are off on the monitor but I know the book well enough to guess that it has chosen either ‘Gimme Shelter’ by the Stones or ‘Whole Lotta Love’ by Led Zeppelin.  We both know there is no turning back. Only one of us will ever be resigned to this fact. I can delay no longer. We’ll see each other on the other side.  Click.

From my hand to the printer’s inbox at a speed of approximately three hundred and six million miles per hour; a lot less than the blink…

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Hygge Feature #1

January 9, 2017

Angela Topping


Photo credit: Rachael Clyne

What She Missed

The cold slow of mornings,
fetching coal, with cloud breath,
to a rupture of rooks,
their throaty rasp
and the winter-bare tree
standing against pallor of sky.
Then henhouse flurry
with its warm-shit smell.
All those lengthening evenings,
coaxing flames to mottle her shins,
as she sank into her armchair-nest,
by the scuttle.  She missed her big iron pot,
brimming with soup-spells.
Never the same twice,
This might taste good with that’.
Curry for parsnips, tarragon for celeriac,
chilli to liven pumpkin.
Always better next day,
flavours melded into steamy comfort.
All these she missed, but mostly
the stillness that drank her to its core.

Rachael Clyne

The Night The Lights Went Out

She took a small canvas bag
from the cupboard under the sink,
filled it with an assortment of nightlights –
vanilla, blueberry, winter spice –
added a couple of…

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