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Poetry Worth Hearing: Episode 24

Updated: Jun 18





The theme for this episode is 'other' and so I asked Jane Burn, who describes herself as working class, neurodivergent, pansexual and who has chosen to live off-grid, to make a recording about herself and otherness, including readings from her own work and from writers she values. I was prompted in part by a Facebook post where Jane described the experience of being 'othered' by some impatient attendees in a queue at a Raymond Antrobus book signing, only to be warmly greeted by the poet himself, which triumphantly put the boot on the 'other' foot.


As with all the prompts I offer, this one can be very widely interpreted and so the range of work it has attracted is correspondingly wide. Poems included come from Lucy Ingrams, Richard Lister, Siobhan Ward, Lizzie Ballagher, Heather Moulson, Trish Broomfield, Heather Shakespeare, Kate Young, Carmel McKeown and Slava Konoval.





Jane Burn is an award-winning, working-class, pansexual, autistic person, poet, artist and essayist. She has an MA in Writing Poetry from Newcastle University; she won the 2022 academic prize for best overall performance. In 2022, Jan explored her neurodivergent writer's theories funded by Arts Council England and is currently putting these ideas into a book. In 2023 she was awarded a grant by the Royal Literary Fund. Her poems are widely published and anthologised. Her laest collection, Be Feared, is available from Nine Arches press. She lives off-grid with her family in a Northumberland cottage for most of the year. She has recently won the Michael Marks Environmental Poet of the Year Prize 2023-2024, for her pamphlet A Thousand Miles from the Sea,which can be ordered from the British Library and Wordsworth Grasmere.



We would like to thank the poets Jane quoted for permission to use their work:

Ruth Middleton for 'Snow' in Anthology of Illness, ed. Amy Mackelden and Dr Dylan Jaggard, Emma Press, 2020.

Rachel Boast for 'The Infernal Method' https://www.badlilies.uk/rachael-boast

Raymond Antrobus for 'Lovable' in All the Names Given, Picador, 2021

Jane also quoted writers from Disability Visibility, edited by Alice Wong, Knopf Doubleday, 2020.

She also cited Fran Lock in White/Other, The 87 Press, 2022.

 

Lucy Ingrams


shadow

      ‘… will serve for summer’ – Shakespeare

 

what was  f r a c t u r e d

   by the rain                             

                                   

            feathered

               with gloom

 

                                    tamped in

                                       the intestines

                                       of a gale

 

            has                               opened

 

to coordinates

   of blue

 

and                   at              the                horizons

                                               

                                                along

                                                the

                                                ecliptic

 

             cumuli     

                                    sway

                                  cloud and un-     

                                    cloud                                                                                                                                                                  the face of                                                  the sun …

 


 so now walking’s

this sequence

of meetings


with a skinned

thin ancient

who spikes in 

and out      

of doors

of rye grass

to bare

her surprise  

again and

again


seeing

you back


after the

long squat


of winter’s

poorlight—





Lucy Ingrams' first pamphlet, Light-fall (2019) was published by Flarestack Poets 

and her debut collection, Signs (2023) by Live Canon. Awards for her work include the Manchester Poetry Prize and Magma’s poetry prize. She is based in Oxford.




Richard Lister


I was sand:

 

flurries shaved from a dune’s crest.

Pressed down in a sheltered dip       

 

with weight upon weight,     

fused grains without gaps: stone.

 

Shunted north on a tectonic tide

to split and slide into the sea.

 

I could be bread encased in ash,

grabbed while warm to the touch,

 

clutched as a girl’s last crust

before her frantic dash

 

for a low slung boat rammed tight

with frightened men, an ox and mule.

 

As a rock, I should not speak

yet have much to tell:

 

be wary of the black, rich soil

that, without toil, will spring your wheat.

 

For now, or in a thousand years,

that quiet hill will burst and let rip hell.

 

But who will hear my voice and heed?

A man may hold a conch up to his ear

 

and note the rumble of his blood

but no one stops to listen to a stone.



Watching the tribe

 

A poet needs to observe            

to catch life’s tics and tells:        

how a lady spreads her fingers  

or a man nibbles toast                 

with finely measured bites.        

 

They emerge midmorning    

in tone-perfect jackets,         

broaches and scarves;           

cluster like blackberries         

in slants of autumn sun          

 

and trade their lines:                       

grandson's prickly girlfriend,          

knee op, orchid's bloom.                

Talk precise as a bonsai                   

clipped for show.                              

 

You see them at the fringes    

of TV - worried relative             

beside the bed - few lines, 

rarely the protagonist.              

We worship the wrinkle free.                   

 

They can seem less solid        

than the young as if,               

with their faded hair               

- Dove Grey, Slate, Smoke -    

they blend into walls.              

 

How do they see me?            

A man alone who stares        

until seen, jots down notes,  

skin slack, face gone to jowl, 

almost one of us.




Richard Lister draws you into stories of intriguing characters, places and images.   In his recent collection, 'Edge & Cusp', his poems ‘capture life like a vibrant painting’ with ‘fiercely original descriptions’. His work is published in twelve international magazines including Acumen, Orbis and Ekphrastic Review and is carved into the Radius sculpture.   He coaches leaders to bring life-giving transformation in the UK, Asia and Africa.


Sarah J Bryson


High School for Girls

1972

.

Each morning 600 girls gathered in the Oldfield Hall

for a formula of news, reports, results, faint praise,

with lectures on expected behaviour and uniform rules.

Miss Renwick, blue rinsed, and woollen stockinged,

would stand square at the lectern, with her senior crew

of staff on stage, the rest spread like referees

along the hall’s edges, eyes peeled for small time offenders.

The length of a skirt was noticeable, when we knelt to pray.

.

When we knelt to pray it was noticeable that all those girls

around me closed their eyes, attended to the sentiments,

spoke aloud a chorus of amens. Really seemed to mean them.

When we stood to sing the hymns, they all joined in.

I was lost in my new found disbelief.

One, among so many.




Sarah J Bryson is interested in words, words for well being, people and nature and the connections between these elements. She has poems in print journals, anthologies and on line.



Lizzie Ballagher


RUMBL     IFFS!    TAY BAC .    ANGER!

 

You loved to tease:

knew I’d fall for the trick,

the trap, the trail of cookie-crumbs.

 

Your line was always baited,

while I flailed—open-mouthed,

bass hooked on the line,

 

rabbit frozen in headlamps,

deer held hypnotised

in hunters’ flashlights….

 

But one day you went too far.

The fence was down, sign

to warn us upended on the edge

 

with painted letters missing:

  RUMBL     IFFS!   

   TAY BAC .    ANGER!

 

You turned on the knife-edge,

gave a flippant grin, glanced at me,

waved to check I was watching;

 

twisted daggers in my heart

as in blind terror I saw you

freefall off the cliff, still laughing….

 

You sauntered back across cracked ground

to find me shaken, tearful,

fixing my eyes on the one still point:

 

lighthouse by lovers’ leap,

steady and painted white in dead grass.

I wept. Could not look at you.

 

One week later that lighthouse fell

in a landslide—tons of chalk and rock

into the Channel below—cue

 

newspaper photos of riven chalk slabs,

broken warning signs, paths

ending in a breathless void



Tug of Love

 

That egret balancing on stick-legs

has not flown in today;

nor the grey heron on his stilts.

Instead, below the lock where,

most days, the river runs peacefully,

there is the shock

of water’s boil & turmoil loosed

from floodgates—wild, unbridled.

 

I watch its race as the tide draws down,

as the moon heaves through all

that water-weight, that freightedness;

and feel—standing on the riverbank,

that, although bone-dried, I am

hypnotised, tethered, and sinking

under the rush of floodwater…though

it’s only the familiar Medway….

 

Yet life—

its roil, its coil,

its random rage—runs over me

while my lumpen feet are tied

in the lead of the riverbed

as in a trap: caught

in a tangle of boat-rope

by an unyielding anchor.

 

You summon me

in your helplessness.

I drown in the overwhelm,

the inescapable,

the unrelenting

of this lunar-crazed

tide

called love.




Ballagher's focus is on landscapes, both interior and exterior; also on the beauty (and hostility) of the natural world. She has studied in England, Ireland, and the USA; worked in education and publishing, and is now preparing a second volume of poetry. Her poems have appeared in print and online in all corners of the English-speaking world, most recently in Canada. Find her blog at https://lizzieballagherpoetry.wordpress.com/


 

Kate Young


 

Opposites Attract

 

 

I offer you Hardy and Eliot

their crumbled spines lining the shelf

beneath your Grisham’s and King’s

arranged with alphabetical precision.

 

It has always been this way

from the day we first met,

the poet and the scientist

magnets drawn to the other’s depth.

 

I see stories in shadow-clouds

while you unfold their origin,

cast aside their wispy tails

in meteorological explanation.

 

I drag you through walls in the Tate

excited by works of Monet and Blake

while you favour the coloured lines

of a tube map, the beauty of logic.

 

You patiently explain the workings

of a Boeing 747 as easily as oiling an engine;

I play you songs on an old guitar

frets marked with years of chording.

 

We stare at the landscape before us,

you through the zoom of a mobile screen

my eyes squinting into the sun

both of us drawn to the horizon.



Dad, There’s a Dragon in the Window

 

Young limbs clamber the crest of a chair

ascending Everest, rucksack packed

with torch, teddy and morning snack.

 

Staring out through Corstorphine haar

he scouts the outline of a spine

and longs to climb its heathered scales.

 

It’s not a dragon, his father explains

unfolding a map of the Pentlands,

fingers tracing contours and hills

 

not even a mountain, his tone rising

as he treads a very different terrain

to the boy who shapes the dragon.

 

Rivulets course down salted cheeks,

the slow drip of his imagination

quickly pooling at his feet.

 

 

 


Kate Young lives in Kent with her husband and has been passionate about poetry and literature since childhood.

Her work has appeared in The Ekphrastic Review, Words for the Wild, Poetry on the Lake, Sea Changes, The Poet, The Alchemy Spoon, Dreich, Fly on the Wall Press, Poetry Scotland, City, Town & Village, Boundaries & Borders and New Ways of Looking at Rye Harbour.

She has also been published in the anthologies Places of Poetry and Beyond the Storm. Her pamphlets A Spark in the Darkness and Beyond the School Gate are published with Hedgehog Press.

Find her on Twitter @Kateyoung12poet.





Carmel McKeown


Archetypes


I hate being told I’m an archetype—

nothing in this life defines, that I

should wear my dunce's hat upon my

certain head, or wear my yellow

badge, that tells you, what,

 

I do not know myself.

 

How dare I show my empathy

putting shillings in her cup, she

shouldn’t sit with one leg gone, we

know where she is from:

how far we think that we have come, but

 

we don’t know where to put her.

 

The charity-shop girl’s horror talk, which

struck my ear of late, of

a black girl’s hair, so full of life, would

clean their loos so well, yet

my tongue was struck just as my ear, to

 

my shame I muttered little. Some

 

shop girl’s fear and unknown knowns,

was supposed to tell me why—why?

she’d degrade with words in her own mind and

let them flow right out. And why—

why I muttered little to my shame, I’m

 

just as much to blame.

 

 

Carmel McKeown, a Meath born Irish writer, creates poetry and short stories which reflect her journeys from Meath, through the surrounds of Gormanston Castle, where she walked among yew trees planted by her ancestors. Her travels took her to Dublin, Australia, Limerick, Galway, the US and finally Skerries, where she now lives.

            In 2023, she was awarded a place by The IWC on 'The Northern Souls Roadshow' which she found to be a fantastic learning experience.

            Last year she participated in an online open mic, which was based in London and, recently read at two different online open mics for the Irish Writers Centre, based in Dublin.

            Carmel has also done many short story writing courses with Claire Keegan and, with Claire Keegan’s own tutor, Professor Mary McCay.



Slava Konoval


Look around, stop, and be careful!


Look around, stop, and be careful!

Wherever you go 

blat* solves the social torments,

it forgives the criminal a wallet of Mr. Kurchenko,

Rosenblat at large.

 

Oh well? Not on such a scale

I will write you these few lines,

we, Ukrainians, are enemies of each other

from the grandfathers, at all times,

in the name of the ages.

 

We push in friends,

letting get the best men to work,

we drag a familiar mother-in-law.

She is someone's niece from Tsirkuny village.

 

Vertically from top to bottom,

family contracts can be seen,

you can also lose the state.

Well, God will not forgive such a thing.


*As Slava explains in the podcast, 'blat' is the word used in Ukraine to mean all kinds of corruption.




Vyacheslav Konoval is a Ukrainian poet whose work is devoted to the most pressing social problems of our time, such as poverty, ecology, relations between the people and the government, and war.

His poems have appeared in many magazines, including Anarchy Anthology Archive, International Poetry Anthology, Literary Waves Publishing, Sparks of Kaliopa, Reach of the Song 2022, Diogenes for Culture Journal, «Scars of my heart from the war», «Poetry for Ukraine», «Rhyming», «La page Blanche», «Impacted», «Military Review», «The Lit», «Allegro», «Innisfree poetry journal», «Antunes Galaxy Poetry», «Ekscentrika», «Mere Inkling», «EgoPhobia», «Fulcrum», «Omnibus», «Lothlorien Poetry Journal», Revista Literaria «Taller Igitur», «Tarot Poetry Journal», «Tiny Seed Literature Journal», «Best American Poetry Blog», «Quilled Ink Review», «Chronograph Poetry Journal», the Appalachian Journal «Dark Horse», «Agape», «Mascara Literary Review», «Gray Sparrow», «ArLJo», «Ekstasis», «The Bloom Litarery Journal», «Novus Litarery Journal», «Lyrical Somerville», «Charleston Poets», «Briefly Zine», «Varied Spirit», «Taos Poetry Journal», «The Skinny Poetry Journal», «Academy of the Heart and Mind» Journal, «ARIEL CHART» International Literary Journal, «Poesia Ultracontemporanea», «New Ulster 124», «Revista Cronopio», «Gotic Nature», «WordCityLit», «TSaunders Pubs», «London Grip New Poetry», «Mill Valley Literary Review», «Zeitglass»,  «The Coin»,  «Coal Literary Journal», «Orenaug Mountain Poetry Journal», «Diamonds in the Rough magazine», «Spy Community Media»,  «Delmarva Rewiev», «Synchronized Chaos Journal»,  «The Horror Zine Journal»,  «The Bosphorus Review», «Interalia Magazie», «North Meridian», «Bellwether».  «Bylines Cymru». 

Vyacheslav's poems have been translated into Spanish, French, Scottish, Italian, and Polish languages.




Siobhan Ward


At the Hospital

 

I remember never seeing her more alive -

eyes wide open, arms wide in greeting,

as if we’d surprized her with a party,

she who’d never liked surprizes.

 

All the pigeons flying home she said.

Then, when the last of us landed -

enunciating like when she’d taught us

poetry to recite - do you know I’m dying?

 

I knew.        The doctor had told me,

the eldest, she’d last the day at most.

He was wrong.

She held rowdy court for a week.

 

At quieter times we had a look in.

I remember looking in to see my brother

holding her hand in his both, his gaze

concentrated on her while she slept on.

 

When it was my turn, I said to her I’ll miss you.

I nearly missed the end when it came –

a pause – two puffs of baby breath –

like blowing out candles on a cake.

 

I remember the nurse came in and opened the window.

 


 

After the Stroke

 

he goes for short walks,

tells me sometimes he gets lost.

I’m scared I’ll lose him.

 



Siobhan Ward lives and works in London. Her poems have been commended in the Segora International Poetry Competition 2020, Cannon Poets Sonnet or Not Competition 2022 and Ver Open Poetry Competition 2023. Poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals and anthologies including Porridge, BODY, Wildfire Words, The Cannon’s Mouth and Dreich.




Heather Shakespeare


Seeing Through

A window is a generous soul

kinder than a wall or a closed door

clearer than a chimney or a gable end.


It offers a way through, a view out or in,

invites you over from your chair to admire

the confidence of a June rose as she flaunts

cerise petals to the bees, swishing

her dress in the breeze like a restless

debutante looking for love.


Whether bay or sash, bow or leaded light

it may stop your steady tread along

the pavement at dusk, ask you to pause

a moment to observe the seated figures leaning

in to the polished table, heads low,

chewing over the day.


A window is a generous soul which

points a quivering finger at a shape you think

you recognise but haven’t found a name for yet,

shares another angle on the broader scene,

frames a fragment of the image we bear.

I lean across to yours.



Heather Shakespeare lives and writes in the beautiful Surrey Hills, which often provide inspiration for her poetry. After working for many years as an English teacher and teacher trainer in colleges and prisons, she now facilitates writing for wellbeing workshops, which centre on the therapeutic benefits of the writing process. Heather is a co-founder of Writing for Life, and Membership Secretary for her local poetry stanza, Mole Valley Poets. Her poems have been published in Antiphon and The Interpreter’s House.


Trish Broomfield


The Other Woman

 

They share each others sadness

staring face to face

but instead of hate

the widow and his lover

melt eye to eye

feel his presence when they meet.

 

Reflecting the same pain

their isolation

becoming balm to both

soothes hollowness and loss,

a sorrow shared

more comforting than words.

 

Judgement suspended, bar a glance

at coat and bag assessing quality,

their eyes allow a window in

to where once he lived

dissolving spite

and for that moment

bring him softly into light.



Trish Broomfield writes poems and short stories. She has three pamphlets published by Dempsey and Windle and poems published in many anthologies and online poetry magazines, including the Lancaster One Minute Monologues.

She is one third of The Booming Lovelies who have appeared at this year ‘s Cranleigh Literary Festival on April 3rd and the Guildford Institute on May 13th. There will be a souvenir pamphlet for sale Meet the Booming Lovelies.

As a member of Cranleigh Writers’ Group she has contributed to an anthology of their work, From the Crane’s Mouth, out in time for the above Literary Festival and her own book, My Acrostic Mother, illustrated by fellow ‘Lovely’ Heather Moulson, is also due out soon.

Her poem ‘It’s only Maths, was featured on BBC Upload in January.






Heather Moulson


A Bit of the Other

You suggested a bit of the other

And now I’m about to be a mother

With this ring I thee smother

But stretch marks kill passion

Breast feeding all the fashion

A bit of the other on ration

While I wear nipple pad covers

You take on other lovers

a bit of the other from others

Eying up all the yummy mummies

Meanwhile I sterilise dummies

A bit of the other are just memories

I talk to women at the NCT

While you finally hold the baby

A bit of the other ancient history

Now that our child has a brother

And I have turned into my mother

I’m turned down flat for a bit of the other




Heather Moulson has been writing poetry since 2017.  She has performed extensively in London, particularly Celine’s Salon and Soho Poets, and Guildford and Woking.   Her debut pamphlet Bunty, I Miss You was published in 2019. Heather won the Brian Dempsey Memorial Award in 2020.

Heather is part of the Booming Lovelies who performed at the Guildford Fringe last year. 



 

That's all for Episode 24. I hope you enjoyed it and that you have listened to the poets at

The next episode will be an election special based on 'political' -small 'p' , big 'P', it doesn't matter, but poems should be high quality, brave and, if possible, kind. Deadline 22nd June.

Please share this episode and the call for submissions which should be sent to poetryworthhearing@gmail.com. Suggestions and comments, which are always welcome, to the same address.


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