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Full English by Jeff Skinner

Full English

Tight Lacoste polo, Nike shorts,
are teamed with black ankle socks

as if he doesn’t care
what voters think. It’s sunny-side up

for the pap though, clutching a flat white
like a torch, delivering news

of victory. More kids this year than last
at the breakfast club:

dreamy-eyed prospectors, children
panning skimmed milk for golden flakes.

Later, they’ll do homework,
they’ll wait for Mum or Dad to pick them up,

with a cake for their class to share.
Sipping coffee, fair trade, you turn

the pages slowly; grind your own beans,
breakfast like a king.

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Jeff Skinner’s poems have been published in the Morning Star, Clear Poetry, Ground Poetry, Poetry Space, Poetry News, Prole, South, Poetry Shed, and on a Guernsey bus. He was commended in last year’s Ver and Poetry Space competitions. He reads occasionally with Exeter Poets Uncut, tweets infrequently.

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Pseudo by Seán Kennedy

“Pseudo”

I sat beside your dying grandfather
(not “dying” but “soon-to-be-dead”)
thinking of those locks teenagers leave
on the walkway over the motorway
from the bus stop to the shopping centre

Paracetamol, opened gusset – crush,
we’re a go… always or forever, choose;
we can’t close those gates to granddad
on the walkway over the fire-rivers
from the casket to the afterlife

He shook the blood-thinners, like;
the bottle was a maraca – it might
have been once, on a cruise ship, frozen
on the walkway over the Atlantic
from the Motherland to the Freedomland

One of the best things about visits
to the pharmacy: the little leather area
where you can sit and wait – fantasy
on the walkway over the junction
from the hotels to the garages

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Seán Kennedy is a twenty-three-year-old writer whose poetry has appeared in online journals Dodging the Rain, The Honest Ulsterman, and The Bangor Literary Journal, as well as in the online edition of Porridge magazine. He began writing poetry after finishing an MA in English at Maynooth University in 2017; his decisions haunt him. He lives in Ireland.

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Memorial by Sharon Phillips

Memorial
after Ivor Gurney and Tom Denny

Squaddies on a lads’ weekend
are raucous after pints at the airport.
You scan the in-flight menu; below,
the Severn weaves through meadows
and dawn glints on the cathedral
where you once saw sunlight splash
the flagstones blue and amber,

Gurney’s poems of loss and longing so
poignant in stained glass, it’s only now
that you recall his ordinary pleasures:
cigarettes, comradeship, good bread;
aeroplane wings iridescent at dawn;
being alive after a night of dread.
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Sources
Ivor Gurney (1921-2), ‘Laventie’
Tom Denny (2014), Ivor Gurney Memorial Windows, Gloucester Cathedral

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Sharon started learning to write poems a few years ago, after she had retired from her career in education. Her most recent publications are in The High Window, Bonnie’s Crew, Algebra of Owls and the WoLF competition anthology 2019. Poems are forthcoming in Snakeskin, Three Drops from a Cauldron and Eye Flash Poetry.

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An interview with a Cigarette by Tristan Moss

An interview with a Cigarette

How do you cope?

Sometimes, I watch old movies
where I am a symbol
of rebellion and bike-sheds
of good times had,
or a moment
of pensive freedom,
or a last request.

Or I recall
when you would call me
Gauloises or Gitanes
and I was the height
of left-bank existential angst,
nearly everyone
wanting to be seen with me.

And I ask myself,
Could I really have changed so much?

Which of your smokers
do you like the most now?

Those who buy my tobacco in pouches,
like vagrants, revolutionaries
and young romantics.

I feel the roll
of their gentle fingers, thumbs,
the lick of their tongues
on my skin –
not just plucked from a pack
by a stranger.

I know I’m still a product
of their desire to have me,
but at least we share some history,
and however imperfect
my newly formed skin,
they always savour me.

What do you think caused
your fall from grace?

People like you
starting to believe
you’d found within me
an obsessive need to be liked.
How could this be
when the heavier your drag
the more quickly I turned
into ash.

But wasn’t burning bright a part
of that success you so enjoyed?

Perhaps.
But it’s strange,
because in my dreams,
I am not this searing cylinder,
cured and oversold.
I am a leaf.

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Tristan Moss lives in York with his partner and two young children. He has recently had poems published in The Poetry Shed, Antiphon, Snakeskin, Amaryllis, Lighten Up Online, Open Mouse, Picaroon Poetry and Algebra of Owls.

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Poetry on the Lake 19th Open Poetry Competition


Poetry on the Lake 19th Open Poetry Competition

Two categories and an extra prize of €100 to the best poem in either of the two categories inspired by the theme ‘Spirit’ (may be interpreted widely). Other prizes to winners present at awards.

•Silver Wyvern: judged by poet, songwriter and broadcaster Paul Henry. Open theme, any form, max 42 lines. Prizes: 1st – SW & €500; 2nd – €200

•Formal poem category: open theme, max. 42 lines. €100 prize. For traditional poetic forms only: sonnet, sestina, villanelle etc…

•€100 for best poem on the theme ‘Spirit’

Visit their website HERE

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“White Label Collection – Deux” First Collection Pamphlet Competition CLOSES 28 February

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The Hedgehog Poetry Press is looking for three new poets who will have a debut pamphlet published and receive 100 copies of their collection.

Following on from the first White Label competition that saw Annie Maclean, Attracta Fahy and Philippa Hatton-Lepine join the array of Hedgehog Press poets in 2019, this competition is the next phase of the odyssey.

The search for Three More First Collections, with the ‘White Label Collection’ competition that will see each of the winners destined to have their work beautifully published in pamphlet form by the Hedgehog Poetry Press.

White Label collections are a new series that intend to provide a home to poets for their first collections, however there is no age limit or profile for these. Additionally, there are no restrictions if you have previously self-published a collection, you are still invited to enter. So whether you are 17 or 70, have just come to poetry or are returning to it after living a life, please enter your work.

Each winner will be published by The Hedgehog Poetry Press and receive 100 copies of their collection.

The competition will be judged by Mark Davidson, Editor of The Hedgehog Poetry Press.

GO TO THEIR WEBSITE

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Mersea by Karen Dennison

Mersea

We bicker in the car, heading east
to the Strood causeway, winter biting our tail.
The tide is low, the white-fenced road
dry and clear, flanked by stubbled fields.

We agree to disagree amid the clink
of sail-less masts. The boats are moored
in creeks, hung with ropes.
Paint-chipped wooden prows
lean between Blackwater, Colne, sea.

Silenced by the rhythm of our steps,
we pass dog-walkers, kite-flyers,
couples hand-in-hand, parents with children
in hats and mittens, windsurfers, beachcombers,
a row of pastel beach huts, padlocked for winter.

The salted air rushes our lungs
as we walk the sandbars and shingle,
crunching shells underfoot,
erasing footprints with footprints.

Shouts and barks and voices fade to wind.
The darkening mudflats stretch
beyond wooden groynes heavy with seaweed
out to a bank of metallic sea
glistening with possibility.

Two oyster pickers bend over buckets,
dark figures amongst golden pools of cats-paws.
The sun, swung low, huge in a cloud-flecked sky
dazzles us, bleaches our memories.

White heat glosses the cool sea
and Bradwell is like a ghost ship on the horizon.
Turning back, we stop to hear a curlew, and its trill
seems to rise from our throats, like a spell.

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First published in South and Counting Rain https://www.indigodreams.co.uk/karen-dennison/4560258365

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Karen’s first collection, Counting Rain, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2012. Her second collection, The Paper House, will be published by Hedgehog Poetry Press in February 2019. Karen is editor and publisher of the pamphlets Book of Sand, Blueshift and Free-fall and co-editor of Against the Grain Poetry Press.

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Children of the seventies by Luigi Marchini

Children of the seventies

A lipsticked girl dropped her purse
when snow fell hardest,
on the corner
between boulevard
and side road.
Ripped sleeves
and the black eyes
you’ll never forget.

You helped her search;
fingers grazed
as branches snapped,
crows cawed,
silence ripped away.
Just the two of you:
stand-off in the dusk
the white wet
and dripping.

Today you remember:
snowflakes, largest you ‘d seen,
wind music when the thaw came,
birds singing almost too close.
Flowers springing up in slush
trees growing taller.

No longer sodden nor even pink,
it lays on the floor by her side;
you hesitate.
bend
down.

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‘Luigi Marchini was brought up in London where he spent many a happy maths and physics lesson at the National Film Theatre. Since escaping to Kent some years ago he been chairman of the Canterbury based SaveAs Writers’ groupSaveAs Writers’ group.

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Against the Grain Press 2019

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As Against the Grain Press is over one year old it is popping up on various indie press lists – Happenstance creates a well-compiled list and Mslexia has just been in touch to add up to theirs. So what have we been doing during this time?

Our first publication was Anna Kisby’s, All the Naked Daughters, that came out in November 2017. Anna is a Devon-based poet and archivist. After growing up in London, she studied Literature and Film at the universities of East Anglia, Sussex and Paris-Sorbonne, taught English in Prague and sold cowboy boots in Massachusetts, then training as an archivist and working with women’s history collections.

Read Emma Lee’s review HERE

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Following on Kisby’s heels, we were delighted to publish S. A. Leavesley’s, How to Grow Matches in spring 2018.

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S.A. Leavesley is a prize-winning poet, fiction writer, journalist and photographer. Author of seven poetry titles, two novellas and a touring poetry-play, she has had poetry featured in the Guardian, Financial Times, Bloodaxe anthologies and The Forward Book of Poetry 2016. Overton Poetry Prize winner 2015, her Against the Grain Press poetry pamphlet How to Grow Matches (2018) and her Nine Arches Press collection plenty-fish (2015) were both shortlisted in the International Rubery Book Award. Sarah runs V. Press, a poetry and flash fiction imprint. The High Window Resident Artist 2019, she’s also curator and photographer for LitWorld2, online photo-poem and photo-flash journal.

how to growHow to Grow Matches

Take the long matchsticks:
those like pink-tipped bulrushes,
those Gretel’s step-mum
might strike to light her oven.

Snap one – like a sharp blow
sideways behind a man’s knees.
Then another and another
for each jibe or slight.

Note how easily the wood splits
after years of hidden anger.
A felled forest at your feet,
and still the pile grows!

Lay the toppled pieces
against each other’s thinness,
rested on crumpled paper.
Now you have a bonfire.

Don’t think of Moses,
not Guy Fawkes or Jeanne d’Arc,
but of waking every day
to stroke your curves

into those clothes,
hip-sways and lip expressions
condoned for your office
as a woman.

Leavesley had a cracking launch and a whoppingly high level of reviews. Take a look over at her website HERE.

Summer brought us Flood-Junk from Sean Magnus Martin and another great launch at The Poetry Café. Sean Magnus Martin is a poet from the Lake District. He won the 2015 Battered Moons poetry competition and was shortlisted in the 2015 Outspoken poetry prize. He was also published in Bath Spa University’s 2017 MA anthology Plume. He has been published with Ink, Sweat and Tears, Riggwelter Press and AmberFlora, and has poetry forthcoming with Irisi.

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Check out this review of Flood Junk by Caitlin Miller. Here’s a snippet –
“A gripping and thought-provoking debut pamphlet, Flood Junk by Bath Spa Allumni Sean Magnus Martin… touches on both human and eco themes. It is layered and imaginatively crafted; a must read for enthusiasts of contemporary poetry who are interested in having a new and exciting reader-ly experience.”

In autumn we were treated to a performance of Metastatic by Jane Lovell accompanied at the launch by Timothy Ades. Lovell has been widely published in journals and anthologies. She won the Flambard Prize in 2015 and has been shortlisted for several awards including the Basil Bunting Prize, the Robert Graves Prize and Periplum Book Award. Her pamphlets have been published by Against the Grain Press, Night River Wood and Coast to Coast to Coast. Jane also writes for Elementum Journal.
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“Jane Lovell’s writing charts mysterious, unsettling trajectories: the invisible paths of bees, the journey of dead light, the routes found in folded and untied landscapes. These poems unmoor us, find beauty and strangeness in the everyday.” Helen Mort.

We’re really looking forward to our spring launches on March 16th from Michelle Diaz and Graham Clifford. We hope to see you there!

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Well that’s us in a nutshell. But of course later in the year we launch Claire Walker’s pamphlet as well as an exciting ekphrastic collection…