Mariela Griffor

Mariela Griffor: The Psychiatrist


The latest collection from Eyewear Publishing is Mariela Griffor’s The Psychiatrist, which draws together poems spanning a 25 year period (1986 – 2011). The collection is divided into three parts with poems from Exiliana (Luna Publications, 2007), from House (Mayapple Press, 2007) and a larger section of new poems. Griffor offers us startling autobiographical poems, lays herself bare to our scrutiny and gives us a place to journey alongside her.

Exiliana charts the time in Griffor’s life in the underground Chilean revolutionary of the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front (FPMR).

In the first poem, Prologue I, Griffor invents a “you” which she carries through this section – it’s a voice she can talk to, an ear that can hear her, a way she can express how she feels, how the world feels and above all it becomes a way of surviving.

Prologue I

Out here, the snow is an insider,
its the haute couture of my days.
I invent a friend to pour out
remembrances of the old country.

Out here, I invent new sounds, new men, new women.
I assassinate the old days with nostalgia.
I don’t see but invent a city and its people, its fury, its sky.

I don’t belong to the earth but to the air.
As I invent you, I invent myself.
In 1985 her fiancé, Julio Santibáñez is murdered after which her exile in Sweden begins.

What do we do with the love if you die?
Do we put it in your coffin
together with the green, red and gray plaid shirt
you like so much?
With your khaki pants
and light brown shoes,
the ones you use in normal life?
Or do we wrap it around
the flag the Patriotic Front militia
will bring to cover you?

I spend nights sleepless
thinking about what to do
with the love if you die.

(From Love for a subversive)


This section rings clear as a bell, the poems balance horror with the beauty of language – there is disillusion, disappointment and heart-wrenching death of the young, but throughout, Griffor is tightly in control as she unpeels her history, layer by layer with the skill of a surgeon:

What can be more tragic than to die young?
The death of someone younger, maybe,
or the indifference of people to such deaths.

.(From Heartland)

From House Griffor has selected two poems Thirty: just in time for José Miguel Cruz where she “[d]reams of the ocean cold, dangerous, deep, dark, blue at dusk and dawn” and “[t]he sweet, bitter sandy taste of an oyster with lemon/reminded me of a place I was willing to die for”. Poem without a number: house is equally evocative, though in this she recounts her insomniac state:

I think about you and
the vision of my father fallen to his knees
praying for a miracle while
the rain disappears
in front of me.


The new poems make up the largest section of the collection and includes the disquieting title poem, The Psychiatrist.

If I remember correctly, I could not cry
until the baby was born. They wanted to shoot him.
I understood why Manuel Fernandez wanted
me to stay at the hospital after the birth.
I never told him anything about the group.
I could not trust him. I had to be strong
for my child. I needed to go to the pump room
and leave my milk. You are suffering a post
partum depression, he told me, before I shot him,
like the many other voices in my head.


Here we read poems of motherhood, alienation, political unrest and life under the “Scandinavian skies”. Griffor offers something new with each poem, she never overburdens us, but she doesn’t spare us either.  It’s a tough read, exquisitely written and haunting.


marielaMariela Griffor is an editor, translator and poet. She was born in the city of Concepcion in southern Chile. She is the author of Exiliana (2007) and House (2007) and founder of Marick Press. Mariela holds an MFA in Creative Writing from New England College. Her forthcoming publications include the translations Canto General by Pablo Neruda (Tupelo Press, 2013), and Bye, have a good time! by Kristina Lugn.

Eyewear Publishing
70 pages
Price £12.99

Here is the distinct voice of a poet stepping forward from her double tradition of American and Latin- American poetry. – Håkan Sandell

Her most affecting lines are phrased simply, often with a vulnerable air, yet they are tough. These lines carry great weight: that is no small achievement. – Robin Fulton

Cliff Forshaw

Featured Poet: Cliff Forshaw




62 seconds of the extinct Thylacine or Tasmanian Tiger on film. 

Within the box, it growls, it twists,
scowls through its repertoire of tricks,
ignores the camera — or gurns up close, turns
again, to flop, to gnaw that paw-trapped bone.

It paces out its trap of light; one hundred reps
while hindquarters zither bars of sun;
claws cage’s mesh, hangs stretched
as if to take the measure of itself.

You saw. You see. And what we’ve got is what was shot:
short clips, fragments caught and stitched
together in a loop of black and white.

Nine lives? Not quite. It’s down. It’s out.
It’s on its feet and born again. Like a repetition
compulsion, like… like reincarnated light.


Cliff Forshaw has been a writer-in-residence in Romania, Tasmania and California, twice been a Hawthornden Writing Fellow and won the Welsh Academi John Tripp Award. His most recent collection Vandemonian (Arc, 2013) pieces together a fragmentary history of Tasmania. Pilgrim Tongues will appear from Wrecking Ball in 2014. Cliff is also a painter and has exhibited his work in the UK and USA. He has made three short films accompanying collaborative anthologies focussing on East Yorkshire: Slipway (Wordquake commission 2013) Drift (Humber Mouth Literature Festival commission 2007) and Under Travelling Skies: Departures from Larkin, which won the first Larkin25 Words Award. Cliff lives in Hull where he teaches at the university.

Cliff’s website is:

For details of Vandemonian:


The Bridport Prize



Closing date May 31st

All entries submitted can be on any subject, and written in any style or form.  However, we do not recommend poems or stories written for children.

Flash Fiction

Judge: David SwannDave_Swann

Word limit: 250 words (no minimum). Title not included.

Entry fee:  £6 for each flash fiction submitted.

Prizes: 1st £1,000, 2nd £500, 3rd £250 + Highly Commended 3 x £25

What is flash fiction?

Flash fiction is a style of fictional literature of extreme brevity. There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category. Some are as low as 250 words (such as ours), while others consider stories as long as a thousand words to be flash fiction.

Other names for flash fiction include sudden fiction, micro fiction, micro-story, short short, postcard fiction and short short story, though distinctions are sometimes drawn between some of these terms; for example, sometimes one-thousand words is considered the cut-off between “flash fiction” and the slightly longer short story “sudden fiction”. The terms “micro fiction” and “micro narrative” are sometimes defined as below 300 words.

Flash-fiction often contains the classic story elements: protagonist, conflict, obstacles or complications, and resolution. However, unlike a traditional short story, the limited word length often forces some of these elements to remain unwritten – that is, hinted at or implied in the written storyline.

Short Stories

Judge: Michèle Robertsmimi_pic_1

Word limit: 5,000 words (no minimum). Title not included.

Entry fee:  £8 for each short story submitted.

Prizes: 1st £5,000, 2nd £1,000, 3rd £500 + Highly Commended 10 x £50



Judge: Wendy Cope

Line limit: 42 lines (no minimum). Title not included.wendy cope

Entry fee:  £7 for each poem submitted.

Prizes: 1st £5,000, 2nd £1,000, 3rd £500 + Highly Commended 10 x £50

Entry details here

Sharon Olds

Sharon Olds wins the TS Eliot Prize

Sharon Olds wins TS Eliot poetry prize for Stag’s Leap collection on divorce

Poet Sharon Olds

New York poet unanimous winner of £15,000 prize as judges praise ‘grace and chivalry’ in her writing

Sharon Olds has scooped the TS Eliot poety prize for Stag’s Leap. The title of her collection refers to her husband’s leap for freedom. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe

A series of poems that describe the sharp grief of divorce and the slow, painful, incremental creep of recovery is the winner of the 2012 TS Eliot prize for the best new collection published in the UK and Ireland.

Sharon Olds, the US poet whose work has pushed the boundaries of writing about the body, the emotions, and intimacy, was the unanimous choice of the judges for her collection, Stag’s Leap.

Poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, chair of the final judging panel, said: “This was the book of her career. There is a grace and chivalry in her grief that marks her out as being a world-class poet. I always say that poetry is the music of being human, and in this book she is really singing. Her journey from grief to healing is so beautifully executed.”

Among the shortlisted poets were fellow American Jorie Graham, and Britons Kathleen Jamie, Deryn Rees-Jones, Julia Copus and Duffy’s opposite number in Wales, Gillian Clarke, the country’s national poet. “It was a really strong shortlist, with so much talent and grace,” said Duffy, “and it was particularly strong in women. We were particularly pleased to have six fantastic books by women.”

Duffy’s fellow judges were the Northern Irish poet-classicist Michael Longley and the poet and editor David Morley.

The “stag’s leap” of the title of the collection refers to Olds’s husband’s leap for freedom – but also, perhaps, her own gradual attainment of a new equilibrium.

The collection operates as what the Observer described as a “calendar of pain”: we begin with her husband’s announcement of his departure while “two tulips stretched/ away from each other extreme in the old vase”, and we wind up years later when “…he starts to seem more far/ away, he seems to waft, drift/ at a distance, once-husband in his grey suit/ with the shimmer to its weave”. There comes a new, if harsh, clarity: “I did not know him, I knew my idea of him.”

The announcement followed readings at the Royal Festival Hall in London from all 10 shortlisted collections.

Two thousand people attended the readings confirming, said Duffy, poetry’s place “as our national art. The other poets on the shortlist were Simon Armitage, Paul Farley, Jacob Polley and Sean Borrodale.

Duffy said she was delighted to see how proficient the poets had become at performing their poetry to a large audience. “Ten years ago I think they would have been muttering into their jacket sleeves,” she said.

Olds, who lives in New York and was born in San Francisco in 1942, received a cheque for £15,000 donated posthumously by Valerie Eliot, who died last year. The shortlisted poets each received £1,000.

The prize is run by the Poetry Book Society and supported by the TS Eliot estate and Aurum, an investment management company.

, chief arts writer. The Guardian, Monday 14 January 2013 19.30 GMT

Ayesha Chatterjee

Ayesha Chatterjee: Featured Poet



While we’re on the subject,
Let’s talk about the walls, Mr. A.,
Let’s count them, make sure they’re
All there and in perfect working order.
They are, after all, the arms of the thing,
The beat, the rhythm, the silent drum.
They’re the white telephones of  this whole shebeen,
The moonshine, if you will, the show of confidence.
And I am confident, Mr. A., that every wall,
Concave or convex, will portray what you
Want it to, buon fresco or secco finto, lotus
Or fish or green goddess micro-chipped into
Metamorphosis.  You can plaster your peacock feathers
And cure your luck, for good or evil.  Soak up
The sap and nurture the essence.
Okay, there are twenty-one of them. Twenty-one
Is a good number, I feel.  They’ll hold.



Born and raised in India, Ayesha Chatterjee has lived in England, the USA and Germany, and currently resides in Toronto. She graduated from Smith College, Massachussetts, where one of her most vividly remembered courses was a lyric poetry class taught by Joseph Brodsky.

Her poems have appeared in The Guardian Onlinenth position and Autumn Sky Poetry.  This October, she is thrilled to be reading at Toronto’s International Festival of Authors.  Her first collection, The Clarity of Distance, was published in 2011 by Bayeux Arts(  She blogs at and tweets at @profoundpapaya.

Maria McCarthy

Maria McCarthy: Featured Poet

Slipping down

Boxing Day, and when asked what you ate
for Christmas dinner you say,
‘I should remember’.

You are slumped in a high-backed chair,
covered with a name-labelled blanket:
someone else’s.

We are told that at the Christmas party
you boomed out the unerasable hymns,
rallied the others to sing.

Today you remember your daughter’s face,
not her name; and of your son you inquire,
‘Have we met?’

You search my face much longer than you
would have thought proper if you were not
as you are.

I am introduced, again, as ‘Rob’s friend.’
You scan from son to daughter,
and back again,

the half-formed thought refusing to set
like jelly made with too much water,
and you shout, ‘I’ll have to think about that.’

You’ve slipped further in your seat,
as your grandson does when watching TV.
Now it’s Roger Moore as James Bond and

the woman in the red sweater wanders
in front of the screen and demands,
‘Does anyone know what’s supposed to happen?’

Your hands are bony thin; your thumbnail
thickened like a split hoof; and as you slip further
your shirt breaks free from belted trousers.

I have seen old photos, tie and jacket,
dapper. A care worker says
‘We do put a tie on him,’

‘But there’s health and safety to consider.
Joggers, that’s what they need
when they get like that.’

Your skinny bottom changed by day
from too-loose pyjamas
to baby rompers.

Time to sit up for the latest snack: soup,
two triangles of bread and ham.
You are lifted by three tabarded women,

one at each arm, a third at your waist.
You growl as you are raised.
You want to be left to slip down.


Maria C. McCarthy writes poetry, short fiction and memoir, and has also written and broadcast as a columnist for BBC Radio 4’s Home Truths. Her first poetry collection, strange fruits, is published by Cultured Llama and WordAid to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. She writes in a shed at the end of her garden in a village in North Kent. Her website is

‘Slipping Down’ is published in strange fruits available from

Helen Mort

Helen Mort: Featured Poet

After Tarkovsky

A karner butterfly,
climbing the stairwell
of late evening,

through the shadows
cast by larches, up
into the last colour

this sun can give; how
it holds the pages
of its black-edged wings,

unreadable. At night,
I take a leather book,
switch off the lamp

and open it. So dark,
I barely even see
the white. It’s then

I settle on the bed.
It’s then I read
just what I like.


Helen Mort was born in Sheffield in 1985 and grew up in nearby Chesterfield. She has published two pamphlets with tall-lighthouse press, ‘the shape of every box’ and ‘a pint for the ghost’ (a PBS Choice). Her first full collection is forthcoming from Chatto & Windus. Helen received an Eric Gregory Award in 2007 and won the Manchester Young Writer prize in 2008. From 2010-2011 she was Poet in Residence at The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere where she published ‘Lie of the Land’, a pamphlet of poems written during her residency. She is currently working towards a PhD at Sheffield University.