My room is filled with black;
dresses, shawls, lace.
Silk slippers embroidered with fruits.
I lie still, face lifted up to heaven,
counting beads through my soft hands,
keeping my Bible close by.
My dead babies surround me;
our daughter lives like a ghost,
her presence a haunting.
I clutch the rope of the rosary
as a life-line,
its garnets and rubies shimmering
like seeds of the pomegranate
spilling in the firelight.
I dreamt myself in the deer park,
the weakened light
a sulphurous sun
embedded in rain-clouds.
Leaves faded scarlet and yellow-gold:
dying in truth, but displaying bold.
The hinds cluster, waiting.
The roar of a stag shakes up the air,
and I understand the danger
as he grunts and bellows,
I know I must avert my eyes,
not appear to challenge, or threaten.
He surveys his females from the rise,
wild with lust, desperate to mate.
He must have progeny.
Now, he challenges me,
and his eyes are dangerous.
Got my name in the hat for the poetry slam for the 17th Audlem Music and Arts Festival. Campsite nearby so planning to take my little tangerine friend with me. That's Hazey Jane my campervan, not Donald Trump! Loads of stuff going on there This FREE festival runs from Thursday 25th May through to Monday 29th May 2017
The Red Beach is a kernel of a story I have had in my head for a long time. To be "immoral" is one thing, and can be highly subjective. To be amoral is quite another. Meet David....
I received this e mail a few days ago, and although I would love to be reading I am delighted to say that no fewer than FOUR of my City Voices colleagues will be reading, two of whom are 6 x 6 virgins! I have no idea whether there is usually a reserve reader but who knows?
Thank you for sending in your submission for the 6X6 reading event on 14th March.
Our apologies for being so late in replying but as you know there are only six slots available and we had a really difficult task in choosing just six items from the many excellent items received.
Sadly, on this occasion, we have not had room to include your piece but do like it very much and would really appreciate it if you could be in reserve for the event.
So, the workshop with writer and author Judith Allnatt at Swinfen Hall yesterday. Having inspired us all with a poem by Caron-Ann Duffy “Warming her pearls” (so no pressure) and an extract from Gogol’s “Dead souls” about objects in a room, we were tasked by Judy to find inspiration in the hall. Imagine a room and some-one sleeping; the room must be that person’s room and the objects tell us about the person; finally, what is that person dreaming about. It did not have to be historical. “Good” I thought, as country houses are not really my thing, but I did see this portrait of an unknown woman which interested me because she does not look like an archetypical English rose type. I thought maybe Spanish. Maybe a poem about Katherine of Aragon making an imaginary visit to the house with Henry VIII? He has not yet tried to divorce her for Anne Boleyn, but she is under great pressure to produce a male heir and has lost several babies.
The weather on Sunday was dreadful, but I did venture into the grounds. The walled garden was winter-dead and a bit of a quagmire sadly. It was too far to see the deer park but I picked this little gem out of the guide “The deer are quite sociable…..however…the large stag is quite possessive of his harem so if he keeps staring at you, just avert your gaze and start to walk away so he knows you are not a threat”
Long story short – I am working a poem about Katherine and a dream sequence in the deer park. I must be slightly mad as “historical poems” are very difficult. It is easy to collapse in to cod (language), clash with cliché, and end up saying something not at all original. Ah well keep on keeping on, so I am. Wish me luck.
On 25th February I had a wonderful opportunity to discuss my poetry on a one-to-one basis with poet and tutor Judy Brown (organised by the Poetry Society) which turned out to be a relaxed but in-depth analysis of no less than six of my poems. I am very keen to develop my writing, as every poet should be, and this discussion was brilliant to look at strategies for taking my work forward. The session should have been one hour but in fact Judy gave me a good extra half hour of her time so there was plenty of time to talk about all the things I needed to know about writing, revising and submitting. The room at Derby Central Library was a bit chilly but I never really noticed, and I left the session on a real high. Judy was very good at setting up a rapport, and when you both come to the same idea at the same time that's a great feeling. I felt it was a very genuine critique and the discussion on fashions in poetry (as there are with everything in life) was enlightening. Of course I had to ask the question "so it's worth me carrying on then?" (needy little girl that I am) Happily the answer was very positive. Judy later emailed me some more links and poetry which she felt I should investigate, which I call going the extra mile.
During 2013 Judy was Poet-in-Residence at the Wordsworth Trust, at Dove Cottage in Grasmere. She is one of the Gladstone Library’s Writers in Residence for 2014, working there in June.
Her first book, Loudness (Seren, 2011) was shortlisted for the 2011 Forward/Felix Dennis and 2012 Fenton Aldeburgh prizes for best first collection.
Her first pamphlet, Pillars of Salt (Templar, 2006) was a winner in Templar Poetry’s pamphlet competition.
Work from the Wordsworth Trust residency appears in a pamphlet issued by the Trust, One of the Summer People (Wordsworth Trust, 2013).
Her poems have appeared in The Guardian, Poetry Review, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry London, The Spectator and the New Statesman as well as in various anthologies such as Identity Parade (Bloodaxe, 2010), Salt’s Best British Poetry 2011 and the Forward books of poetry 2006 and 2012.
Judy won the Manchester Poetry Prize (2010), the Poetry London Competition (2009) and the Hamish Canham Poetry Prize (2005). She won first prize in Café Writers Open Poetry Competition 2013 and the Kent & Sussex Open Poetry Competition 2013.
Author - June Palmer