Paul Chambers – Haiku

river bridge the distance of my prayer

Paul Chambers

This week’s podcast guest is Paul Chambers. Paul is an award-winning haiku poet and the Editor of the Wales Haiku JournalTo 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:

freeing itself
of itself
the thawing stream

magnolia scent…
sunlight in the hairs
along my son’s ear

pre-dawn stars…
plumes of breath
from a cattle truck

morning coolness
the meadow holds the shape
of a deer

convalescence…
autumn revealing
the river

blue hour…
the day’s heat lingers
in lilac scent

www.paulchambershaiku.com


Poem: Pencil Boys by Nigel Kent

Nigel Kent responds to John McCullough’s prompt to write a poem using stationery as a metaphor. For a chance to be featured, send poems inspired by one of the prompts on the podcast here.

Pencil boys

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.

Nigel Kent

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 – Father

Picture: Lee Allen

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.

Father

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 – Soulcraft

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.

www.johnmccullough.co.uk

Soulcraft

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

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.” 

Surreal, joyful, political & queer – John McCullough's Reckless Paper Birds from Penned in the Margins on Vimeo.

Poetry of Angela Platt

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.

www.angelaplattpoet.com

Olly Watson – Jumper

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.

Jumper

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.

Olly Watson

David Hanlon – Taking Flight

Bristol-based confessional poet David Hanlon will be joining me on the podcast to discuss his debut chapbook Spectrum of Flight available from Animal Heart Press. Here’s a poem from the book:

Taking flight

Under night’s clawed grip
I still emerge
nestling into fledgling
into full grown

Small
bird into golden eagle

Overpowering size
I raptor-bully my way free
shimmer like a precious stone
broad wings extend into an equator

The warm-blooded
all of me

Each appendage a blade
a soldier on the front line
plumage-army

I embrace my feather-frilled distance

Feel my talons / scythes
cut
through earth / through stone
arrowhead beak / hooked
predator-sharp

Lion-boys stumble
at my earthquake-felt
beating

Whipping up sandstorms
choke-taste
metallic / smoke / dirt

Cyber yellow scale feet
unclench
hangings of fish hooks
thrown into the air

Tawny-coloured carnivores / nest-
twig-legged / look up
with dull
starved-sick eyes

See a small bird
glint-golden
in the mocking-blue sky
hear its nourishing barrage

David Hanlon

Christina Thatcher – How To Carry Fire

Cardiff-based poet Christina Thatcher is set to release her second poetry collection How To Carry Fire. Here is the title poem from the book due to be published by Parthian Books on April 2nd. Look out for the next podcast when Christina will be talking about the collection and sharing more poems.

How to Carry Fire

Conjure every fire you have ever read about—
London’s gutting, Brisbane’s breadless

factory, Boston’s burning. Remember
your aching home, the leftovers

of your childhood journals flaking
in the hot shell of your bedroom.

Bring these to a furnace at the front, stoke
with the poker your father pressed into

your mother’s neck. Take what those flames
can give you. Feel heat enter your stomach.

Stay wary now. You must never let the light
go out. Keep it lit until you learn to glow.

Christina Thatcher

This poem was originally published on Anthropocene poetry where you can also read two other poems.

How to Carry Fire was born from the ashes of family addiction. Beginning with the burning down of her childhood home, Thatcher explores how fire can both destroy and cleanse. Her work recognises embers everywhere: in farmhouses, heroin needles, poisonous salamanders.

Thatcher reveals how fire is internalised and disclosed through anxiety, addiction, passion and love. Underneath and among the flames runs the American and Welsh landscapes – locations which, like fire itself, offer up experiences which mesmerise, burn and purify. This poignant second collection reminds us of how the most dangerous and volatile fires can forge us – even long after the flames have died down.

Shortlisted for the Bare Fiction Debut Poetry Collection Competition in 2015 and a winner in the Terry Hetherington Award for Young Writers in 2016, Christina Thatcher’s poetry and short stories have featured in over 50 publications including The London Magazine, Planet Magazine, And Other Poems, Acumen and The Interpreter’s House. Her first collection, More than you were, was published by Parthian Books in 2017.

How to Carry Fire can be ordered here

Listen to Christina talking about her first collection More Than You Were in this interview from 2016

Andy Bennett – Farewell! Farewell! But This I Tell

Norwich performance poet and master of the sonnet Andy Bennett is the guest on the next podcast. He will be sharing some of his own sonnets, explaining the form and all its beautiful variations and telling us why we shouldn’t be afraid of sonnets but read them, love them and even try to write them. Here is one of his contributions to 28 Sonnets Later – an annual writing challenge he founded which runs each February. He and three other poets write a sonnet for each day of the month. You can read them all here.

Farewell! farewell! but this I tell

“Have you been stopping wedding guests again?
Ah, Dave, ya knobber! Sorry mate, he’s pissed –
he does this sometimes. Every now and then
he gets all strange and- well, you got the gist.
What was it this time? Grizzled Sailor, yeah?
Some supernatural yarn of salty weirdness?
Mate, don’t be fooled – ignore the crazy stare,
and this is fake – he’s actually quite beardless.
The smell, I’m sad to say, is all his own,
the suit, as you can see’s had better days.
The tie, the shoes, the cufflinks, they’re all mine.
I think he misses Julie, truth be known:
it’s weddings kinda make him act this way,
but odd enough, at funerals he’s fine.”