A poem included in ‘Eighty Four: poems on male suicide’ by Verve Press

14 12 2018

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The chance to write a poem on the barely speakable was powerful; the opportunity to be included Helen Calcutt’s Verve Press anthology is humbling.

Eighty Four is a new anthology of poetry on the subject of male suicide in aid of CALM. Poems have been donated to the collection by Andrew McMillan, Salena Godden, Anthony Anaxogorou, Katrina Naomi, Ian Patterson, Caroline Smith, Carrie Etter, Peter Raynard, Joelle Taylor, while a submissions window yielded many excellent poems on the subject from hitherto unknown poets we are thrilled to have been made aware of.

Curated by poet Helen Calcutt, the anthology features a host of male and female voices sharing their experiences of suicide, mental health, or grief – from those who have been on the brink of suicide, to those who have lost a loved one, or been moved more generally by the campaign. It is both an uncensored exposure of truths, as well as a celebration of the strength and courage of those willing to write and talk about their experiences, using the power of language to openly address and tackle an issue that directly affects a million people every year.

We hope this book will shed light on an issue that is cast in shadow, and which is often shrouded in secrecy and denial. If we don’t talk, we don’t heal and we don’t change. In Eighty Four we are all talking. Are you listening?

Full list of poets included (A-Z):

Full list of poets included (A-Z): Anthony Anaxagorou, Romalyn Ante, Casey Bailey, Abie Budgen, Lewis Buxton, David Calcutt, Helen Calcutt, Louisa Campbell, Diana Cant, Garry Carr, Stewart Carswell, Gram Joel Davies, Michelle Diaz, Glyn Edwards, Carrie Etter, RM Francis, Alan Girling, Salena Godden, Emily Harrison, John Hawkhead, Martin Hayes, Alastair Hesp, Shaun Hill, Paul Howarth, Rosie Jackson, Janet Jenkins, Helen Kay, Asim Khan, Charles Lauder Jr, Hannah Linden, Jane Lovell, Nick Makoha, Liam McCormick, Andrew McMillan, Abegail Morley, Katrina Naomi, Antony Owen, Isabel Palmer, Ian Patterson, Mario Petrucci, Zoe Piponedes, clare e.potter, Peter Raynard, Brenda Read-Brown, Victoria Richards, Belinda Rimmer, Bethany Rivers, Stephen Seabridge, Richard Skinner, Caroline Smith, Janet Smith, Joelle Taylor, MT Taylor, Christina Thatcher.

          Eighty Four: Poems on male suicide,vulnerability, grief and hope

  • Helen Calcutt Ed.
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Audio-recordings of two new poems

9 10 2016

An introduction to two poems and recordings of both.  There is also some context to each poem and their origins.

These poems, together with one other, were published in the Lonely Crowd last week.





Moortown

22 05 2016





JackdawQuarterly writers’ group: Summer meeting

30 04 2016

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Feel welcome to read a poem or an extract of prose, or to simply listen along to others on the theme ‘panic’.

 





Confessions to a Literary Agent

25 10 2015

She sits, silently shrinking into the hard leather seat,
palms joined, knees folded like a scolded child,
her body crossed by conflict.

There is a voice beyond the closed door,
persistent, protracted as candlelight;
then another, interrupting the guttered monologue.
A kindly intonation, leaning in
like someone at a lost car’s window,
a familiar accent pointing the way home.
Then the quiet apologies string together,
clinking like rosary beads, louder, nearer,
until the door opens and a faceless writer
falls out, back as bent as a broken book,
leaving the door ajar.

Though she enters the agent’s office
with a sheaf of papers swinging resolutely,
her tongue quickly kneels her down.
And both then know this pattern by rote
so the murmurs behind the screen
become a predictable Latin
while I note the following confession:

‘Our last meeting was fifty-two weeks ago,
I have despaired of my writing and know
I’ve broken the promise to write every day,
Neglected to read, forgotten to post
Entries to competitions (unless when drunk).
I’ve watched my blog become lazy and ‘like’
Posts without reading them. I’ve stolen
Similes, collected characters, I’ve sunk
To emulating ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’
And write about vampires my daughter’s age,
Now I borrow her books.  I even bought
My husband a kindle for his birthday.
I am sorry for these indiscretions –
The limitless sins of my non-profession.’

The agent swaps the sacrament for sacrifices,
‘Absolution will be your first publishing deal,’
she promises.  The writer can’t look at the words
as they chime, nor can she meet the eyes
of the next confessor outside on the pew.





The shout

20 10 2015

Birthplace (Glyn Maxwell)

She traced her forefinger beneath each line,
as slowly and deliberately as one learning to read,
stroking the skin of the page
so the words stood up like tiny hairs.

‘The task,’ I said, ‘is to make it louder
by hiding some of the poem in the dark.’
But she stared down at the marker pen
as though it was a bullet or a spent shell,
its damage pre-empted, permanent

and, instead, closed her eyes.  In her dark,
she shadowed out the sounds of classroom chairs
being clunk-stacked on the tables, the goodbye bell,
the ‘don’t run down the corridors.’
The poem and the pen and girl were gone
when I returned to the room after bus duty.

‘This poem is about silence, not shouting,’
she tells me the next morning, while the class,
cold and uncaring, slip from their slick coats
into echoing conversations.

Her markings have devoured the poem
so the silhouette that remains is skeletal;
bones she has spat are now shards,
the remaining ribs sharp and dangerous.
All the flat noise has been carved from the paper

and when I rub my finger over the scars made
by her scalpel, to gauge the gulleys there,
the wet marker pricks my fingerprint with ink,
and the sentiment sinks into me anew.





World Poetry Day and The Chester Literature Festival 2015

17 10 2015

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Step 1: Find your favourite poems (the ones that you have gathered and nurtured and given and have given unto you)

Step 2: Photocopy them onto coloured paper, hand out the scissors, put some chopping/thrashing/paring music on

Step 3: Watch the carnage spread from the desks to the floor – imagine the cleaner’s face when she sees the devastation

Step 4: See young pupils handle old words with a freshness and fearlessness

Step 5: Acquiesce, permit them to leave with their poems and that snaking promise they’ll ‘finish them at home’

Step 6: Look at their proud faces, their proud poems, feel a little lighter about life

FullSizeRender (5)  (A ‘found poem’ based on Tony Harrison’s ‘Long Distance’)

FullSizeRender (6) FullSizeRender (7) (A ‘found poem’ using Simon Armitage and Glyn Maxwell poems)

FullSizeRender[1] (A ‘found poem’ using Jonathan Edwards’ ‘Seal’ and ‘Hippo’)

FullSizeRender (4) (A ‘blackout poem’ using Glyn Maxwell’s ‘The Birthplace)

FullSizeRender (3)FullSizeRender (2)

(Blackout Poetry’ using Luke Wright’s ‘Ballad of Fat Josh’)

Step 7: Take the new poems to their original creators, ask for kind words and signatures, return them to their new homes





On the bill for the Chester Literature Festival

13 09 2014

http://www.chesterliteraturefestival.co.uk/blog/portfolio/dylan-thomas-writing-shed/

‘On Friday 10th October, catch local poet Glyn Edwards in the shed: he will be writing bespoke poems on any subject you care to give him.’

There’s something exciting about seeing yourself in third person.  When I lived in Chester, the Town Hall was decked in scaffolding and wrapped up in sheeting to the point it was invisible.  I would sit in front of the Cathedral on lunch breaks, head lowered into the wings of a book; I would ignore the square, the square would ignore me.

the cluttered, messy, wonderful inside of the shed

Friday 10th October 12-4pm

Friday 10th October 12-4pm





A Reading @ The Word Conwy – Sunday August 16th 1.15 Conwy Guild Hall

6 07 2014

A festival of words.

http://thewordconwy.com/wordsmiths/

conwy

http://thewordconwy.com

I will be reading before the national poet of Wales, Gillian Clarke, @ The Word Conwy this summer. The event is on the same weekend as the Feast programme and also features the linguist David Crystal.

“A festival of words. Sounds like heaven on earth to me” David Crystal, the world’s leading expert on the English language.

http://www.conwyfeast.com/feastattheword/





The Fifty Move Rule

19 10 2013

The intended reason for the rule is so that a chess player with no chance to win cannot be obstinate and play on indefinitely or seek a win purely due to an opponent’s fatigue.

She edges closer in dreamy dark,
‘he should sleep through now.’
Check. Scratched from safety,
he blunders an arm between them. She moves
away. An exchange of sighs.

Desperate to resign.

Isolated pieces patrol, paring trenches
paralleling harmlessly. The board is dusty;
his turn. The game is torpid; his turn.
The intercom invites him with songthrush,
stream, sonata and he is teased to tiredness
by a baby’s breaths. A vicarious sleep.

A flare of sound, a firework of panic
and he chooses carelessly. Reading
the black like Braille, stumbling
towards the baby’s wail,
he pauses to take
down dressing gown
and she is there to turn
on lights, offer advice.

He follows her around the board,
swapping territory, holding hopes
giving ground, facing stalemate in silence.
He plays at parenthood.