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/

Poem, Poetry

First Kiss – Cara L Mckee

Today we celebrate the launch of the latest collection from Maytree Press, Cara L McKee’s stunning debut, First Kiss.

Heartfelt and passionate, First Kiss invites the reader on a journey of discovery and sexual awakening. Whilst the central theme may be one of coming of age, the collection evolves into a heartbreaking antiphon for independence and survival. A wonderful accessible collection that deserves to be enjoyed again and again and with cover artwork by leading British artist, Annie Ovenden, one to be cherished for years to come.

You can join Cara for an on-line launch of the collection today (Friday) via her Instagram page – search CaraLMcKee. The book is also available from the Maytree shop

 

I took from the sea

I took from the sea
you, my fisherman-sailor
patterned with koi fish,
needled into human clay
which reddens, washed by water.

I gave you kisses,
needled Xs into skin
to remember flesh,
to mark the spots I miss you,
still kiss you on the water.

I took from the sea
your hot kisses which returned,
washed out by the waves.
Your fish swirl into sea.
Kisses fade, washed in water.

I gave my sailor,
kissed him deep into the sea,
all the coy kisses
needled into white clay bone
fading, gone to the water.

Nick

who wasn’t me though we were born
on the same day, lived in the same house. Nick,
today I saw you on screen. You were
alive, so alive that I Googled you.
Did you know online our birthday’s wrong?
Did you let loose that year with a shrug?
Did you lie? Flutter your lashes
make yourself pretty? Did you do that for them?
You did that for me once. We might have been
joking about being carved from the same clay
until that morning. You came early,
bringing me your fears of all you’d given
in the night – your stories, hardly set, untold.
We kissed them right again, remade you as
the man you claimed to be, a dazzle
in our small world as we climbed together
shifting our horizons. As the dew soaked us
you pulled your stories straight. That was all, and
much later, I did not feel you go, which
was proof really, that all our similarities
didn’t make us the same. You are done, Nick.
I am told death was not your doing, yet
I blame you. It’s your turn to prove me wrong.

 

 

 

art, Poetry

Hannah Stone

Easter Hail Stones, Hanlith Moor 

The sky is surly today,
reluctant to twist the veil
and clothe us in its blue lining.

Spring trees are barely clad,
still stretch out their limbs
in dark longing.

After Gordale Scar refuses us
the moors embrace our feet;
saturated soil clogs our boots.

Then, sudden and brutal,
the weather front drops its pretence,
drapes us with white-out.

Hail stones beat and batter
any flesh exposed to its blows.
Visibility shrinks before our gaze.

This cold pierces Gortex layers,
stabs to the bones.
Cheeks redden from its flail.

Then, it is as if a hand
reaches down and lifts the scourge,
switches on the light.

There is a lane, pointing
in roughly the right direction.
On naked elders, birds start to celebrate.

We breathe new life
into stinging fingers,
raise bruised faces to the sun.

 

Hannah Stone has been widely anthologized and published on ezines and in The North, Dreamcatcher and other journals and collaborations. Solo publications include ‘Lodestone’ (Stairwell Books, York, 2016) and ‘Missing Miles’ (Indigo Dreams 2017). She collaborates with poets, composers and broadcasters. In other lives, she is a hillwalker, forager, singer and teacher.
Hannah’s new pamphlet, SŴN Y MORLOI ON PEN-CAER, is due in late spring 2019 from Maytree Press