Poem, Poetry

Ian Clarke

Sunday School

No happy water giggling over pebbles,
just a slow river wide through the fen,
to the estuary, to a tern’s cry in a breaking wave.

From my window I could see the church tower’s stone owl,
our allotment’s skylark, clay pipes and cockleshells,
a field of wheat lace-wing green.

Home was jam on a rolling boil,
Victoria plums sweet as ice bright air,
where the dawn chorus spread from blackbird to thrush,
and on August evenings the moon still warm
by the jetty where steps sagged to the steep dark.

But that morning on the road to Sunday school,
a green car tangled under ice,
the wind sang in cold wires all the way to class,
hands frost nipped, waiting in line for the teacher’s
chairs on tables, fingers on lips.

On the way home, tyre tracks, blood on winter aconites,
black ice they said, where he lost control,
slipped under the river’s edge.

I thought of him during lessons –
All Things Bright and Beautiful, Onward Christian Soldiers,
all sure and steadfast, blood and fire,
listening to the wind’s prayer,
the tick of sleet on high windows.

Later, coming home as the light faded,
passing that tease of deep water,
me aged thirteen, freewheeling, whooping it up,
steel tips sparking the road from church.



Ian Clarke.  Fenland ex pat poet living in Harrogate. Published widely in anthologies, in magazines and on-line. Latest book Owl Lit published by Dempsey and Windle (2017).

Poem, Poetry

The Colour of Light – Anne Steward

We are delighted to help celebrate the twenty seventh publication from Maytree Press by sharing two poems from Anne Steward’s new collection, The Colour of Light.

Anne, an award winning writer from Huddersfield, has had work featured in numerous publications and her debut collection, Casting for Words, was published by CMP Press as part of an award by The National Association of Writers’ Groups.

In The Colour of Light we find the poet at a time of national lockdown looking back on the places, people and events that had once been her world. A sequence that slowly emerges from a philosophical investigation of the natural world and concludes with the echoes of life seen through the ripples of water.

An extraordinary collection that you will want to read again and again.

‘Anne Steward’s poetry is a miracle of observation. Her photographer’s eye and philosophical mindset gives us writing to feed both the senses and the soul.’ James Nash.

You can join Anne on-line this Friday (2 July) at 7pm for the official launch of The Colour of Light. Joining Anne will be guest readers Tim Taylor, George Simmons and, offering a preview of her forthcoming Maytree collection, Nicola Warwick. Simply email maytreepress@gmail.com with the word LIGHT in the title field for an invite.

The Colour of Light

Colour is left-over light,
where matter takes in
colours rejected,
to be caught by our eye
and artists of all schools
studiously recording
what they believe
they see. 

So …a sunflower eats rays
and throws back yellows
that shout of sunshine.

Dust at sunset
to mist hills to distance
as refracted, reflected light
giddily mixes tones to soft,
as a child, playing with paint,
will mix bright, clear tints,
then is surprised
that the colour is mud.

Light does it better,
but then, it has had time.

Ovid is Bloody Annoyed
(After reading the story of his exile)

What is this land, this foreign soil
that I have been newly exiled upon?
They speak, but, dear gods…
I cannot bring myself to mimic sounds
that grate so on my cultured ear.
My lovely Latin fails to impress
these clumsy-mouthed oafs. 
I must be grateful, so you say 
that I am, at all, allowed to stay.
There are options that could be worse
but if I have to eat more of that dish
so foul, and well, so simply coarse,
I may elect to take myself
and meekly walk out there, alone
where barbarians have their lair
and offer up my infected heart
for them to lance with their deadly darts
and let free the poison of this place
that I can never call my home.

The Colour of Light is now available direct from the author, from all good book shops and on-line direct from the publisher: The Colour of Light by Anne Steward | Maytree Press (bigcartel.com)

Poem, Poetry

Catching Air – 2 poems

Today, as another added extra, we celebrate the launch of the final publication of 2020 from Maytree Press.

Catching Air by Galway based writer, Vinny Glynn-Steed is a sometimes intimate and often powerful exploration of new fatherhood and the wild southern Irish landscape. A wonderful lyrical debut from this award winning writer.

If you are looking for those last minute stocking fillers then you’ll find a host of stunning books in the Maytree Shop including Catching Air which is released today.

Home | Maytree Press (bigcartel.com)

Catching Air

From an upstairs window I hear the procession
moan of horns, tyres jawing gravel
the sound of car doors like a round of applause 
from the Gods
and then the silence
but for rustle of rose, orchid, hyacinth 
and the people who tend their box of whispers 
the birch trees lurking in corners, four heavenly kings  
who watched us through time, settle with the mandible
of a wild boar, faces turned towards the rising sun
some bare-breasted artefact a guide in bewildering dark
to this point where a slab and stone border defines a memory
sustenance for all our ghosts
like a child catching air with a butterfly net 
or dreams of the astral cartographer
– ordnance survey of stars not yet discovered.



Bog Scripture

Not long after the obligatory dip of Sunday 
fingers we search again for meaning 
this time up high where curlew calls 
are unrestrained – we stand; imposters wind-blushed 
under the sanctuary of her hanging sun 
and amongst bog rush we measure the daylight in hands
blisters, sores, count the crusted callouses on a landscape 
horizontal – where the shadow of a sleán tells us nothing 
really changes in a thousand years, how only hands grow 
old, hands that found scripture in the sedges 
hidden in Faddan More, scattered stones and pebbles 
opened to the heat like breathless vowels  
and how on a bed of bladderwort, a history 
of ancient grammar lies sleeping.


Vinny Glynn-Steed from Galway is widely published at home and abroad. His work has appeared in journals and online in Mexico, the United States, Wales and Northern Ireland. He has featured in publications such as Windows 25th edition, Parhelion and Cinnamon Press anthology. Other publications include Galway Review, Headstuff, Skylight 47, Crannog, Into the Void, Bangor Journal, Tales from the Forest magazine, Ogham Stone, Ofi Press magazine, ROPES, All the Sins, Mediterranean Poetry, Flight, Boyne Berries, Dodging the Rain and Poems in Profile.

Vinny was the winner of the 2020 Allingham poetry competition.



Catching Air by Vinny Glynn-Steed | Maytree Press (bigcartel.com)

Poem, Poetry

January – two poems

Today we celebrate the launch of Sarah Barr’s new Maytree publication, January.

Sarah, originally from London, studied English at London University, Social Sciences at Southampton University and now lives in Dorset where she writes poetry and fiction, teaches writing, mentors writers and leads a Stanza group. Her poems have twice won the Dorset Award in the Bridport Prize. She has worked as a counsellor and as an Open University tutor of social sciences and creative writing. Sarah often writes about relationships and has particular interests in psychological, social and environmental issues.

The collection is already receiving favourable reviews and we’re delighted to share these words from award winning poet, John McCullough:

Sarah Barr writes subtle poems that probe the edges of uncertainties, the details of objects and landscapes gradually revealing her speakers’ unease. The disjunctions in the title piece evoke the sudden leaps of a mind actively thinking, the white spaces between stanzas inviting us to imagine what’s going on beneath the clipped surface of the language. Elsewhere, simple phrasing holds carefully nuanced images: the menace of cracking ice, a long-married couple surrounded by ‘masks / and stiff-limbed, velvet-dressed dolls.’ The writing carries on unfolding inside the reader long after their eyes have left the page.

John McCullough

Dartmoor Snow  

We stride out
and listen to the scrunch of boots
in the deep, dry powder.
Down the slippery path where frosted catkins
and hawthorn overhang
to the half-way metal bench
upholstered in white.
We track across the sloping field,
admire our footprints,
greet the only other human out today,
a swaddled woman with terriers
who roll, pat paws, and turn
into snow-dogs. 
We catch snowflakes on our tongues.
Neige, nieve, sneachta, eira, snaw,
a blurring of boundaries.
The sky thickens
and snow keeps falling.
Where are all the children?
Returning home, a fringe of icicles
hangs from the shed roof eaves.
We play music,
slice bread, pour wine. 




Ice 

As a child, cracking frozen puddles with my heel,
I delighted in their special creak,
their mud imprinted with stars.

We’d snap off icicles
hanging from low eaves like glass stalactites,
and brandish them in chilblained fingers.

I tried reading The Snow Queen –
a sliver of glass turned to ice in someone’s heart,
and I never reached the end of the story.

Walking across the lake at Zell am Zee,
towards the frosted wedding-cake hotel,
the curlers’ shouts chiming through the air,

the soft afternoon snow blurring our footprints,
I wonder, how do they know when the ice
is about to crack?  How will we know?




January is available direct from the Maytree online shop for £7.00.

https://maytreepress.bigcartel.com/

art, Poem, Poetry

Impermanence

To celebrate the start of November (yes, already), today we celebrate the impressive debut Maytree publication from Colin Bancroft.

Impermanence features a collection of both award winning and previously published poems which the author describes as his life’s work to date.

The collection opens with the stunning Tethered and gathers pace from there on with a series of poems entangled by relationships, nature and the North of England that have previously featured across a variety of publications.

Many readers will already be familiar with Colin’s work as an editor and poetry promoter – he recently established the hugely popular Poets Directory and has launched both the 192 magazine and Nine Pens Press. Now’s your chance to discover the talent that drives one of the hardest working people in the poetry publishing world.

Tethered

All I could think about when you told me
That we had lost it, was that night 
We spent camping in Braemar
And the wind funnelling down the channel
Between the hills at such a rate 
That it bent the tent poles and pushed
The fabric almost into our faces,
As though there were great pressure
Being applied on the outside
And the whole of the world
Was sitting on our refuge, crushing it down.
That crush has come again,
Though different now in the silence
Of the stairs, and the rain is now your sobs
And the wind the startled breaths 
You take on my shoulder.
That night I thought that we might blow away.
I could feel the guy ropes burying themselves
Deeper, holding on for dear life,
Knowing that if they weren’t tethered
In the ground that they could end up anywhere.
That tugging is you holding onto my shirt,
Pulling it tightly in your stooped sadness,
Holding you up. As though without a firm
Grip you might take off and end up somewhere
Beyond that valley, that field and these stairs.


Atmosphere

I suppose if I were to compare it to anything
It would be snow. That moment of wonder 
When you open the curtains on a morning
And find that the whole world is under
New conditions. Everything unwritten
And laid out with a brilliant innocence,
Every unsightly blemish neatly hidden
Beneath a moment that seems to be synchronous
With happiness. But it never lasts, as we know,
And soon it starts to melt down to slush:
The old dark world rising up from below
To lock us back into its inescapable crush.

Impermanence, published by Maytree Press, was released on the 30 October 2020. The cover features the wonderful original artwork, Autumn Glow by Kevin Threlfall.

The collection is available direct from Colin via the Poets Directory Shop, The Maytree Press Shop, Amazon plus all good book shops (ask them to order).

You can find out more here:

https://www.poetsdirectory.co.uk/

https://maytreepress.bigcartel.com/

https://www.threlfallart.co.uk/