The next guest on the podcast is Helen Ivory. Here she is reading a poem from her latest collection The Anatomical Venus. Helen’s readings are always captivating. The poems contain striking language and vivid imagery and her explanations about where they came from are fascinating. Helen will be sharing some more poems from The Anatomical Venus and discussing how she wrote them along with how to use primary historic texts to write poems.
Here’s a poem from upcoming podcast guest Ramona Herdman. Ramona lives in Norwich and her latest pamphlet, ‘A warm and snouting thing’, was published by The Emma Press in September 2019. It is shortlisted for the 2020 East Anglian Book Awards.
How can we blame you for blurring life
with alcohol and barbiturates,
when we all want to rub our faces blind
on your soft stomach, your breasts,
have you breathe sad bourbon fumes
into our mouths, sing a song
then sparkle a quip, tap a tune
in perfect syncopation?
You were born with one bit of luck (your looks)
and you used it like a mountain –
years of work, snow-blindness, crampon hooks,
and the whole of your life climbing.
They tell your marriages like a fairy tale –
the boy next door, the sports star,
the sensitive intellectual –
like counting to three means happy ever after.
Holly Golightly was written for you:
wild animal, living on change
for the restroom. The mean reds, the blues.
Poor slob, poor cat with no name.
Marilyn, you’re the ghost of trying.
Snowfield face and sequinned sheath.
Work and wanting and wanting in that white-out smile.
You make me hold my breath.
I watch you shimmy, in clothes too tight to walk in –
jello on springs, kissing Hitler – in heels that hurt,
thigh sliding round thigh, down the platform.
Hassled by steam and a wah-wah tune. Perfect.
This week’s podcast guest is Paul Chambers. Paul is an award-winning haiku poet and the Editor of the Wales Haiku Journal. To date he has published two full-length collections of poetry, and has had work appear in some of the world’s most prestigious journals and anthologies, including Modern Haiku, Presence, Frogpond, the Heron’s Nest, the Atlanta Review, and the Red Moon Anthology. A selection of his haiku has also been published in the celebrated North American poetry series, A New Resonance.
He will be be discussing this ancient and often misunderstood poetic form and offering a simple exercise to help anyone write a haiku. Here is a selection of his work:
the thawing stream
sunlight in the hairs
along my son’s ear
plumes of breath
from a cattle truck
the meadow holds the shape
of a deer
the day’s heat lingers
in lilac scent
We are the pencil boys
not the posh propelling ones
but the shitty bookie’s kind
you find on our estate.
We never bring pens to lessons
yet our teachers don’t lend us theirs:
they think ink’s too permanent
and pencil’s easily rubbed out.
Pushcart Prize nominated poet, Nigel Kent, has been shortlisted for several national competitions and his poetry has appeared in a wide range of anthologies and magazines. In 2019 Hedgehog Poetry Press published his first collection, ‘Saudade’, following the success of his poetry conversations with Sarah Thomson, ‘Thinking You Home’ and ‘A Hostile Environment’. In August of this year Hedgehog Poetry Press published his pamphlet, ‘Psychopathogen’. Website: www.nigelkentpoet.wordpress.com Twitter @kent_nj
Jonathan Davidson is the next guest on the podcast sharing poems from his latest book, A Common Place. It is a collection of Jonathan’s poetry and much more. There is a commentary, a selection of influential poems by other poets, a gazetteer with all the places mentioned in the book and footnotes – a lot of footnotes!
You can find out why Jonathan chose to publish in this unusual format on the podcast as well as hearing a few poems. He will also be offering valuable advice and inspiration from a writing career of more than 30 years.
I walked with my invisible father
out into the fields on the edge
of town. But they are gone now:
new roads, new names, new people.
Dad, stay here for a while, I said,
and I’ll go and find out what
has happened to our lives. He sat
on the newly installed bench.
And when I returned, furnished
with stories of change, I found him
utterly dead, his cold eyes
on the cold world closed. So
many years he had lived here
and then this: his roads re-named,
his fields built over, his people
now coming into view as strangers.
By Jonathan Davidson, from A Commonplace (Smith|Doorstop, 2020)
John McCullough is the next guest on the podcast talking his Costa Book Awards shortlisted poetry collection, Reckless Paper Birds published by Penned in the Margins. Here’s one of the poems you can hear him read and discuss.
It’s true: there is a light at the centre of my body.
If I could, I would lift aside a curtain of this flesh
and demonstrate, but for now it is my private neon.
It is closest to the air at certain moments,
like when buttercups repair a morning’s jagged edge.
Other times, a flock of days descends
and my soul flickers, goes to ground.
Without light, I’m all membrane; each part
becomes a gate. I pour across each margin
and nothing has enough hands to catch me,
my teeth knocking so fast I daren’t hold any piece
of myself near in case I start a banquet.
I’m only eased by accident. On the drenched path,
I pick up snails and transport them to safer earth
then feel a stirring. I watch as rain streams
from lopped-back elms, my face teeming with water
and―hello stranger―my soul glides to my surface
like it, too, belongs there; like a bright fish rising to feed.
John McCullough lives in Hove. His first collection of poems, The Frost Fairs (Salt), won the Polari First Book Prize in 2012 and was a Book of the Year for The Independent. This was followed by Spacecraft (Penned in the Margins, 2016) which was a summer read in The Guardian and shortlisted for the Ledbury-Forte prize. His latest book of poems, Reckless Paper Birds (Penned in the Margins, 2019) was recently shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award. The judges said “This collection – hilarious, harrowing and hyper-modern – offers a startlingly fresh insight into vulnerability and suffering.”
This month Newport poet Angela Platt sadly passed away. I knew Angela through the local Poetry Society Stanza group she ran. She welcomed a small group of poets into her home each month where we would enjoy conversation and discuss each other’s latest work in relaxed, homely atmosphere.
Angela always lived life to the full and her wealth of life experience came through in her poems. She remained active right to the end publishing her final collection Crossing the Bloodline with Cinnamon Press this year. She had hoped to record a podcast for Poetry Non-Stop but unfortunately this wasn’t possible.
It is however a pleasure to share this reading from an event I held in Cardiff back in 2016.
Next podcast guest is former Jehovah’s Witness and rave DJ Alexander Rhodes talking about how he discovered poetry and the story behind his award-winning verse play One Foot in the Rave which he has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe and around the country.
Olly Watson is a firm favourite on the Norwich spoken word scene and has performed all over the country including the National Poetry Slam finals in London and four solo shows at the Edinburgh Fringe. Tune in to the forthcoming podcast to hear more of his poetry and what inspires him. Here’s a taste of his poetry and you can see his Edinburgh show, A Thatcher’s Guide to Dogging in Bungay, below.
His jumper was to big for him, but it looked warm.
I sat alone because no-one I knew liked poetry
and I hadn’t asked.
“You want to come to see a poet with me?
So I don’t have to play on my phone, look busy, look wanted.”
he read and all I could think about was his jumper
where it would fall on my thighs,
how it would be great to sleep in.
I used to have a similar jumper, which you used to steal.
It had a hood, but his was yellow and sailorish
so they were probably equal.
I think I left it on a beach in North Norfolk
on that last holiday we had, when the kids were little
and we could barely stand each other,
and we hoped they wouldn’t notice that one of us
was always, “Popping for ice cream,” or,
“Just having a nap.”
One night it rained and we were all trapped in the tent.
One last night to be sure,
then, whatever came next.
Under night’s clawed grip
I still emerge
nestling into fledgling
into full grown
bird into golden eagle
I raptor-bully my way free
shimmer like a precious stone
broad wings extend into an equator
all of me
Each appendage a blade
a soldier on the front line
I embrace my feather-frilled distance
Feel my talons / scythes
through earth / through stone
arrowhead beak / hooked
at my earthquake-felt
Whipping up sandstorms
metallic / smoke / dirt
Cyber yellow scale feet
hangings of fish hooks
thrown into the air
Tawny-coloured carnivores / nest-
twig-legged / look up
See a small bird
in the mocking-blue sky
hear its nourishing barrage