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Acrobats of Sound by Colin Pink – Poetry Salzburg

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Acrobats of Sound; Colin Pink; Poetry Salzburg; November 2016. 92 pp. ISBN-13 978-3-901993-56-5
£10.50

Available here: Poetry Salzburg

In this debut collection the reader inhabits Pink’s past along, joins his walks in cityscapes, along rural paths, and never merely observes a paintings, but becomes part of them.

Pink’s collection has some killer last lines – something that thrills me as a reader. Once I’ve invested time and energy in a poem and the poet deliver’s beautifully, it’s a really rewarding experience… and Pink always delivers.

Some of the lines that still haunt me include: “I stand clasping to me an unbuttoned coat of certainties”, “a cruel shapeshifter of memories”,  and “the mythic memory of sap”.

But it’s obviously not just the last lines that are important. The variation in topics, form and structure are of equal importance and Pink covers a whole spectrum of subject matter in a highly observational manner. His keen eye as an art historian enables him to express himself in fine detail, unpicking the world around us and reconstructing it before our eyes.

For me, some of the most appealing poems are the ekphrastic ones and one would expect a number of these from an art historian, but they do not over-populate the 77 poems in this collection. Pink still provides a diverse range of themes, and whilst introducing me to Coroc, Twombly, and seeing Giotto, Picasso and others anew, Pink goes on to introduce me to a reassembled soldier returned from Afghanistan, whilst journeying through the American Civil War and back to autumnal Britain.

This collection is most definitely well worth a read.

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Freeze Frame

At the top of the hill the wind claws my face; chill
thoughts rustle through me, dry as autumn leaves.

Every year winter returns, its freeze-dried breath
a vampire feeding, inducing anaemia of dreams.

Desire for hibernation casts long shadows, seduces
the mind with the urge to sup the dregs of sleep.

Someone pressed pause and now everything seems
suspended, naked as a black bough against the sky.

Yet, hopes ascend, like a murmuration of starlings,
twisting and wringing fresh shadows from the sky.

Today I feel like an empty glove. Every path seems
a muddy palimpsest of aimless coming and going.

Time lies heavy as one of Dali’s flaccid clocks
and weary feet lack traction to pull myself along.

Aspirations twirl downward, like sycamore seeds,
describing the beauty of their own sure descent.

A sparrow flies from the storm into the hall: in one door,
out the other, wears a blink of warmth between winters.

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Icarus & Us (The Fall of Icarus by Pieter Bruegel)

No one notices
one tiny figure
fall from the sky.

The ploughman’s focus
is on his furrow, he likes
to get things straight.

The shepherd is a dreamer
lost among his sheep
back turned to distress.

The ship sails away
brings no rescue
to the struggling figure.

We all suspect our wings
are too flimsy
for extended flight

attached merely with
inadequate wax and
the sun rises every day

to whittle our bindings away.
So Bruegel has painted
the fate of Icarus and us:

to have our tragic demise
ignored by the busy world
wiped out without significance:

the sun still shining,
the birds still singing,
the people out working;

nothing stops,
time does not
hesitate in its stride.

No one notices
one tiny figure
fall from the sky.

 

“Colin Pink’s love of language and sound clearly shine through in this collection. There is a certain delicacy in his writing. His poetry is best read slowly and meditatively. Pink goes beyond the obvious and shows us what most people don’t see in day-to-day life.”  Katherine Lockton

Colin Pink is a British writer living in London, England. He writes scripts for theatre, radio and film, prose fiction and poetry.  He studied philosophy at the University of Southampton and the History of Art at Birkbeck College, University of London. He trained in play writing at Soho Theatre and the Chelsea Theatre, London and has three times won prizes in the London Writers’ Competition for his plays.
To learn a little more about Colin, his poetry and plays follow this link.
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Quagmire by Daley Nixon

Quagmire

Refresh the autumn crest
Split the winter sun in two
The northern wind is my shield
The hills are my brittle bones
The trickling rivers are sleeping
The brooks are whispering
The hillside trails are my vestibule
Storms on the shore of my content
Rainclouds on the crest of my sward
Drop a tear in my tarn
Stoke the embers of my fire.

Daley Nixon graduated from the University of Glamorgan in 2009 with BA Honours in Film & Video including Scriptwriting. Daley has written magazine articles, short stories, short films and feature screenplays, three of which have been optioned by film companies in the US and UK.  Daley is currently developing a number of projects for film and theatre.

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Kent and Sussex Poetry Society Competition: Closing date 31st January 2018

helenThe deadline for the 2018 competition is 31st January 2018. The Judge is poet Helen Ivory and she will read all the submissions.

First prize: £1,000
Second prize: £300
Third prize: £100
Plus 4 x £50

 

 

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Last year’s winning poem by Janet Sutherland

Braided Wire

I wasn’t there. I heard this second hand, much later,
but textbooks show the methodology, the diagrams
for several presentations and for monstrous deviations

from the norm. For calves long dead in situ and for those
just recently deceased. For calves too big or those
whose odd shape makes their birth impossible.

So, let’s return to games with butter at the kitchen table
carving summer scrolls and corrugations, watching
beads of sweat emerging from the surface.

Look at the four of us, you’re telling the story.
My chair on two legs tilted on the dresser, and yours
steady by the Rayburn. You can’t remember much –

was it by the cedar of Lebanon or in the beech wood?
You mime the act of sawing. I wasn’t there
but I recall the field which had that slope, so steep

it made the little Fergie roar. The throttle out so far
the blue smoke coughed in rapid puffs and plumes.
The vet had laid his tools out in the field:

two buckets full of lubricant, three of warm water,
a hand pump, krey hook and a calving chain,
a length of braided saw wire with its introducer.

It was raining, water trickled through her hair.
Your hand on her flank felt the fat she’d come to,
her vulva swollen with two feet emerging.

Hooves, dew claws, pastern joints all faded yellow,
like the white rat I’d dissected in biology. She lay
in the copse under the beech trees, I wasn’t there

but beech mast crunched each time you moved your feet.
I’ve read how it’s done. I know the technicalities,
the rough dismemberment, and what that leaves you with.

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Guernsey International Poetry Competition 2018 |Closing Date: 15-Feb-18

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The competition, which has a first prize of £1000, gives you the chance to have your poems read by thousands, on the move, in the beautiful island of Guernsey. The winning poets will have the opportunity to see their work on the move, on Guernsey’s buses, and at the airport.

The Winners’ Reading will be hosted by Daljit Nagra at a special presentation event on 10 May next year, as part of the Guernsey Literary Festival.

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Daljit Nagra is from a Sikh background and was born and grew up in West London and Sheffield. He has published four books of poetry, all with Faber & Faber.

His poem Look We Have Coming to Dover! won the Forward Prize for Best Individual Poem in 2004, and his first collection, of the same name, won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2007 and the South Bank Show Decibel Award in 2008. His subsequent two collections, Tippoo Sultan’s Incredible White-Man Eating Tiger-Toy Machine!!! and his version of the Ramayana were nominated for the TS Eliot Prize. His latest collection is British Museum which was published this year.

As in past years, the competition, which is sponsored this year by Guernsey Post, will be split into three categories, Open (18 and over – first prize £1000), Channel Islands residents (18 and over) and Young People (aged 12-17).

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Jane Lovell

Jane Lovell Featured Poet

Jane

Plum

The wild plum, uprooted and filling
the garden with leaf and greenlight
offends you. It does not die
but sends out the most delicate of shoots.
I cover its roots with damp soil, support
its trunk with a spade and the prop
from the clothes’ line.

You need your trees to be vertical.
It knows your frustration and continues
to grow undeterred, quietly collecting
birdsong in its phloem
tucking it away in bright sharp notes.
It stores breezes in its leaves for still days,
rain in its roots for dry days,
holds in its heartwood the blessing
of patience.

In its cave I am held safe and invisible.
My whole world is green.
I am absorbed into the planet’s breathing.
I hide below, beckon you in.

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Wish

you will swim with the fishes tonight
your white face looming aghast at the deep
the rasp of fin on your cheek

they eye you like some monster
as your arms wind in sheets of water
from a windswept line

green makes a horrible black and the figures
and fairyworld lights swim above you
as if through a lens

wish hard you had not worn this full skirt
wish hard you had not drunk more
than you needed of wine

a necklace of planets bursts in the current
sweeps into space
while the river floods in

you really ought to swim
but it’s all too much trouble
you’re far down and drifting

panic, that darkly unsettled bird, has flown
doves bubble softly in your skull
bubble softly in your skull

they are here every morning
reminding you the window’s open
and there’s something you must do

there is something you must do
but the light slanting through belongs
to another

so sleep, sleep again,
there is no longer need to rise and breathe
the brittle air

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Jane Lovell has been widely published in journals and anthologies. Her work is steeped in natural history, science, folklore, the ‘black’ and the bizarre.  Jane won the Flambard Prize in 2015 and has been shortlisted for the Basil Bunting Prize and the Wisehouse International Poetry Prize. She is the Poetry Society Stanza rep for Mid Kent.

Jane is currently working on her first collection This Tilting Earth.  Her pamphlet Metastatic is to be published in 2018 by Against the Grain Press.

 

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Writing Armistice is the British Army’s 2018 poetry competition

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2018 is the year of national commemoration of the Armistice in World War One. Poets are invited to respond to these events, or any subject matter inspired by Armistice and to send us their resulting poems. Please remember that you can find inspiration from national and local museums nationwide, including The Museum of Military Medicine and you are encouraged to explore this resources site to start you off.

Prizes are to be awarded in several categories for the best single poem exploring Armistice in any way (eg, thematically, linguistically, formally).

 

The Judge

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Roy McFarlane is the author of the poetry collection ‘Beginning With Your Last Breath’, published by Nine Arches Press. He has held the position of Birmingham Poet Laureate and Starbuck’s Writer in Residence and is widely published in journals and anthologies. His webpage is at www.roymcfarlane.com

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The Bell by William Bedford

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The Bell

They couldn’t afford to buy you a bike,
so bought the bell instead, a Christmas present
wrapped in last week’s newspapers. It still rang.
You clanged it round the house for hours,

then up and down the cobbled yard outside,
excited by all the promise a bell implies.
They never managed the bike. Lost interest.
Forgot it then said you were too old.

You kept the bell instead of photographs.
Photographs can tell lies, those summer smiles
on Sunday School outings, picnics with no cider
and sandwiches of bread and margarine.

You did buy a bike, the year you married,
and kept a promise nobody else knew,
riding the long clouds of purple heather.

 

William’s poetry, short stories and essays have appeared in over a hundred magazines worldwide. His Collecting Bottle Tops: Selected Poetry 1960-2008 was published in 2009. His selected short stories and non-fiction, None of the Cadillacs Was Pink, was also published in 2009. He was on the Editorial Board of Poetry Salzburg Review from 2007 to 2016, and was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Oxford Brookes University from 2008 to 2011.

Recent collections include The Fen Dancing and The Bread Horse.

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Night Shift by Stewart Carswell

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Night shift

My headlights pick out
a deer at the side of the road
between the hospital
and the cemetery.

I slow as I approach. Shift gears down.
Take a long look:

it was dead, fresh, only just struck.
No sign of life. No other traffic around.

You know what it’s like
to die
alone on a hard surface,
no one watching over as taillights recede.

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Stewart Carswell is from the Forest of Dean. He currently lives and works and writes in Cambridge. His poems have recently been published in Envoi, Cadaverine, and Ink Sweat & Tears, and included in Best New British and Irish Poets 2016. His debut pamphlet, Knots and branches, is published by Eyewear.

 

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Mountain Tour, Kyaukme by Eleanor Beeby

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Mountain Tour, Kyaukme

‘That would be a new helmet in Austria!’
You guffawed as Kyaw salvaged his helmet
from the Monsoon-heavy earth.

‘This is Myanmar’ Kyaw spat;
adjusting his leather apron held together with string,
joking it was there to protect him from bullets.
I knew it was there to protect him from the wind
that murdered his sister when she was thirteen.
You were fascinated by the General.
His swagger;
and the badges on each side of his neck
glinting dully like dead eyes.
The shoulders only a coloniser could wear.

Lost in the childish thrill
of regiments and rocket launchers
and the crushing
of ‘rebels’.
You laughed at Kyaw’s pleas to leave,
still piling tomato slices into your hateful mouth.
I grabbed you by the cuff of your North Face jacket
and dragged you from the café
clutching the mountainside,
only thin bamboo poles between it and the inconceivable
space below.
Grease glinting off your hateful mouth,
lips flapping like the neck of an old hot water bottle.

And when Kyaw showed you the photographs of babies
folded into torn
rompers
dark red and wet.
The dribble of blood
a cenotaph
beneath the nose
of their dust-smeared mother.
An elderly man with his limbs twisted backwards.
Farmers slaughtered and dressed up in fatigues.
You shrugged your shoulders and stated
‘War is War’.

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Eleanor Beeby is a Belfast based poet. Her work explores the liminality between lived and universal experience through the lenses of feminism, mental health and international human rights. Her work has been featured in publications such as The North, The Moth and Wordlife. She is currently working towards a career in International Development and started her life in Northampton, moving to Manchester before travelling across and living in various places across South and South-East Asia.

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Freedom Zone by Phil Vernon

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Freedom zone

She pauses, lowers the blinds,
departs; the taxi pulls away;
she starts to leave herself behind;

sheds what her check-in baggage weighs,
the life her passport photo knows,
and layer by layer, herself decays,

dissolves, and then a new self grows,
holds court in the airport bar, portraying
an image drawn from movie roles.

The boarding pass still bears her name,
but unmoored, in the here and now
of transit, she can choose the game

and players, set the rules for how
they’ll play, and use her new-found flair
for risk to seize the winner’s crown.

The tannoy sounds. In striplight glare
the five-card poker hands she deals
are the columns and rows of solitaire.

Later she picks at her in-flight meal,
sobs silently at the film that’s shown,
at what the dark almost reveals:

to travel in this neither zone
simply unshackles her to feel
yet more detached, yet more alone.

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Phil Vernon has lived in Kent since 2004, after twenty years in various countries in Africa. Returning to poetry in 2012 after a long break, he now embraces formal forms, and finds his words, emotions and ideas thus surprise him more often. His poetry has appeared in a number of journals and been shortlisted in several competitions. Some of his poems can be read at https://philvernon.net/category/poetry/