There Was A Word For That: Foyle Young Poets Commended Anthology 2017

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Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year

“I write because it allows me to access a different and crucial part of myself, and is a way of connecting with others.” – Eira Murphy, winner, Foyle Young Poets of the Year

Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year The Poetry Society 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX, UK Cover: James Brown, © The Poetry Society & authors, 2018 The title of this anthology, There was a word for that, is from Aisha Mango Borja’s poem ‘The Lost Indigenous Language of Colombia’, one of the top 15 winning poems.

There was a word for that Poems by the Commended Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2017

Acknowledgements The Poetry Society is deeply grateful for the generous funding and commitment of the Foyle Foundation, and to Arts Council England for its ongoing support. We would also like to thank Bloodaxe, Candlestick Press, Carcanet, Divine Chocolate, The Emma Press, Eyewear, Faber and Faber, Inpress Books, Nine Arches, OutSpoken, Pan Macmillan, Paperblanks, Peepal Tree Press, Penguin Random House, Picador, PN Review, Poems on the Underground, Royal National Institute for the Blind and Vintage for providing winners’ prizes. We send our best wishes and gratitude to the judges, Kayo Chingonyi and Sinéad Morrissey, for their passion and enthusiasm in helping to make this year’s competition such a triumph. We thank Southbank Centre and Arvon for hosting the prize-giving ceremony and the Foyle winners’ residency with warmth and expertise. Thank you to Marcus Stanton Communications for raising awareness of the competition, and all the educators, librarians and poets who help inspire people to take part. Finally, we applaud the enthusiasm and dedication of the young people who make the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award the great success it is today.

Contents Introduction Abigail Green It is now ten past eleven... Aidan Foster Bildungsroman with Distant Nation Ailsa Dixon Cello Child Alannah Young Upon the Return Aliyah Begum some infinities are bigger than others Amelie Maurice Jones make lemonade AmÊlie Nixon April Ananya Prakash Ignition Andrew Pettigrew Heaven in a Poke Angelina Conte A Day By The Sea Anna Beekmayer Cherries Anna Humphreys Ritual Bailey Blackburn Paradise Bianka Barabas Identity Crisis Benjamin de Almeida Newton Baby cucumber Carolyn Stein Sally’s Worst Secret Cosima Deetman I heard a fly buzz Dana Chiueh Tombsweeping Daniel Blokh To My First Language Elif Soyler Lentil Soup Eliza Rai fourteen Elizabeth Cook Ambrosia Apple Elizabeth Sapara Grant The Heart is a Lonely Hunter Ella Roberts honest-tea Eloise Unerman Wake Em Power a fantasy about shinjuku Emily Franklin Twenty-One Drafts Of The Same Love Poem

6 9 10 11 12 15 16 17 18 19 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 39

Emma Hasson Emma Jones Fox White Gaia Harper Hal Henderson Holly Atton Imogen Catsaras India Alldred Isabella Jiang Isla Chaplin Jade Wilkinson James Turner Jamie Smith Jasmine Chapman Jasmine Cui Jenny Burville-Riley Jemima Webster Jocelyn Leuenberger Joyce Zhou Katherine Kim Kia O’Driscoll Kitty Robinson Kyle Spencer Leo Hessian Linnet Drury Madison Matthews Magnus Dixon Maia Siegel Maria Woodford Mary Webster Mathilda Armiger Melissa Stuart Meredith Le MaÎtre

Dead Faeries Brooklyn Heights The Last Tube Northwest Passage Past East Putney Rain. Dawn in Dartmouth Fishy Awake Shorelines Syria Fathers Pripyat The Beach 17/Female/American Night Fishing Making Friends with the Wind Exertion Girlhood Poem as grandmother, 1947 Jagiya The Bumblebee Astral Enlightment Childhood Poem written on beige paper Haiku October, Crovie A Good Circular God observations from a house party Insomniac The Thief Sea Impressionist Painting

44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 60 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78

Michelle Cedano Gas Station Muireann Hayden February 2017 Mukahang Limbu Papa, Natalia Orlovsky still life Naya Jorgensen Carlota de Macedo Soares Niamh Colllins Mrs Smithers Oisín McDonnell-Grundy Bare Feet Poonam Sahoo wonder years. Rachel Tait Phone calls in a desert Rachel Wilkinson Kiwi Fruit: Undiscovered Treasure Richelle Mowatt poem Rosie Plumb Art Museum Rosie Wright The Willow Tree Sarah Juniper Storace Nelson Ode To A Cacao Bean Seemin Zaki Mohammed Baby Shaw Worth Yoyogi Park Shivani Sekar It’s a Conspiracy Sophie Carney Angel of the house Stephanie Themistocles Ghost Ship Tashwa Amer thoughts 44 days after your funeral Udit Mahalingam Grandma’s Piece Vivian Liao nightswimming Yuri Han Body Language

79 80 81 82 83 86

96 97 98 99 100 102 103 104 105

Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2017 Foyle Foundation & The Poetry Society Young writers & The Poetry Society Schools & The Poetry Society Enter the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2018 2018 Entry Form

108 109 110 111 112 113

88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95

Introduction “I was particularly struck by the number of poems that reflected on the complexities of living at this particular moment in time rather than taking their cue from poems and contexts of the past.” – Kayo Chingonyi, Judge 2017 Welcome to the anthology of poems commended in the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2017. Since 1998 the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award has been finding, celebrating and supporting the very best young poets from around the world. Founded by The Poetry Society, the award has been supported by the Foyle Foundation since 2001 and is firmly established as the key competition for young poets aged between 11 and 17 years. This year we received almost 11,000 poems from over 6,000 young poets from across the UK and around the world. Writers from 72 different countries entered the competition, from as far afield as Brazil, Japan, Syria and Zimbabwe. From these poems this year’s judges, Kayo Chingonyi and Sinéad Morrissey, selected 100 winners, made up of 15 top poets and 85 commended poets. The scale and global reach of the competition demonstrates what a huge achievement it is to be selected as one of our winners. This anthology features poems by the 85 commended poets of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2017 and celebrates the names of the top 15 winners (whose work is available in an accompanying online anthology). Judge Sinéad Morrissey says: “The best of the entries were incredibly impressive – so much more sophisticated and nuanced than the writing I did when I was a teenager. There was


great maturity of approach here and confidence of address, particularly in dealing with difficult subjects. The best of these young poets have something to say (always an advantage!) and know exactly how they want to say it. Enviable skills for any writer.” We hope the quality of writing will inspire even more young writers to enter our competition in the future. All 100 winners of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award receive a range of brilliant prizes, including a year’s youth membership of The Poetry Society and an array of books donated by our generous supporters. The Society continues to support winners throughout their careers, providing publication, performance and development opportunities, and access to a paid internship programme. The top 15 poets are also invited to attend a week’s writing course at the Arvon residential centre The Hurst, in Shropshire. There they spend a week with experienced tutors focussing on improving their poetry and establishing a community of writers. The ongoing legacy of the award is demonstrated by the continued achievements in contemporary poetry by Foyle Young Poets. Indeed five-time winner Helen Mort, who recently won Mslexia’s Women’s Poetry Competition 2017 and was one of the judges of the T.S. Eliot Prize, said while discussing her experience of the award on BBC Radio 4, “that’s the best prize you can give a young writer.”. For many young winners it represents the point at which they begin to consider themselves poets. Here are just a few of the successes of former winners in the past year: Jay Bernard won the Ted Hughes Award and Caroline Bird was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. Richard Osmond and Richard O’Brien won Eric Gregory Awards, and Richard Osmond was shortlisted for a 2017 Costa Award. Sarah Fletcher, Lizzi Hawkins and Ian Burnette won the Poetry Business’s New Poets Prize


2016/2017, and Alexander Shaw was highly commended. Phoebe Stuckes and Theophilus Kwek were shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award, which was won by Charlotte Wetton. Alongside the prize, the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award programme includes a range of initiatives to encourage and enable young writers, both in school and independently. We distribute free teaching resources to every secondary school in the UK, share tips from talented teachers and arrange poet-led workshops in areas of low engagement. We also commission Foyle winners to create features and challenges for The Poetry Society’s online platform Young Poets Network. Through this work we continue to support young poets everywhere, so that there is more outstanding poetry to celebrate each year. We would like to congratulate Francesca Pridham of Winstanley College, our Teacher Trailblazer for 2017, whose school writing club produced six commended winners this year. Like many educators Francesca has supported the award since the very beginning; one of her students was even a top 15 winner in 1998, our very first year. Finally, as we celebrate 20 years of Foyle Young Poets in 2018 we offer our thanks for the generous support of everyone who has contributed in some way and we look forward to marking many more such anniversaries with you in future.


Abigail Green It is now ten past eleven and we are over London. Ladies and Gentlemen, please make sure your belts are fastened as we will be beginning our descent shortly cities like clusters of stars; tiny galaxies threaded through by luminescent motorway veins. a whole world of sky


Aidan Foster Bildungsroman with Distant Nation In summer, my father spoke German with Ms. Elka. I learned the word for dream, traume, slept clumsy in my white bed before the mirror. & the word for love: Elka’s son with his tongue in my mouth. Perfect blonde boy from the city, skin flashlit with all his summers. When Ms. Elka visited, I poured her water & brought her cookies on a plastic tray. I greeted her in what little I knew, mouth searching for the wounding language. I didn’t know how to say that I took her son into my mouth like a river, or that I held a small lightbox in my chest that flashed when he touched my hairy inner thigh. All I knew was escape: to sleep face-down, dream in a language I could not speak: a land with no homes, no fathers or women: a lush swath of forest, its wrens nesting like wrens.


Ailsa Dixon Cello Child I am a resin child born of bow strokes, nursed on silver string. I gurgle melodies, drinking harmonies – taught by tuning pegs to feel the music drift slowly. Birthed upon silver string, onto crescendos, vibratos, pianos, fortissimos. Born of bow strokes – I am a resin child.


Alannah Young Upon the Return it is late but the house blinks itself awake. the boiler whirs up and, even though they’re not new, the answer machine tells us you have (.) five (.) new messages. message (.) one (.) Tuesday (.) the (.) 24th of (.) April nine (.) forty (.) eight (.) am I am not there to hear what happened at 9:48am. I am stirring the stairs from their slumber, dragging a case and sending spirals of dust motes up into a trance. the answer machine speaks to itself; rattles off whatever other old messages it insists are new to the windows, still tightly lidded by closed blinds. message (.) two and (.) three and the house is almost as awake as the night is not. by the end of message (.) four it feels like we never even left.


the time and date of message (.) five pass as fleetingly as trees in the car ride home. but then “Hello, it’s Terry here.� even the pipes burble to a feeble stop, and all that is there in this whole, still house is you. and even though you are not my granddad were just an acquaintance, just a family friend, I am eight years old again and you are sitting in my kitchen, your glistening eyes lost in lapses of laughter lines, saying do you like games? we have sat through four messages we forgot to delete and yours, immortalised through a mutual avoidance of bringing it up.


except the answer machine, who doesn’t play by unspoken rules, and we are reminded every time the power comes back on of what is only a memory anyway. all we have left of you is a Nepalese tray above the toilet room door, a Star Wars box set, and one (.) new message


Aliyah Begum some infinities are bigger than others My mum says she doesn’t understand Maths but she teaches me how to make her smile through the parabola of her frown, how to decrease the height of her raised eyebrow through the angle of its jilt, and how to give the best hugs through the curve of her arms. When she replies to my ‘I Love You’s with ‘I Love You More’ she teaches me that some infinities are bigger than others, when I ask her ‘What About My Sisters?’ she tells me that infinity divided by three is still infinity, when I open my mouth to ask something else, she tells me that ‘Often The Most Complicated Things In Life Are Simpler Than People Think’, which doesn’t answer my question but I stay silent because I can tell from the semi-circles under her eyes that she is tired.


Amelie Maurice Jones make lemonade 7 8 9 teaspoons of sugar drive red-wasps wolfish starving, tipsy, foolish in heads of moving grass that backhand the bloated hour. like dishcloth i wring lemons, juice; a stinging pulse in open cuts. a handful of dust rustles under magpie’s tether, this sky full of faults; anorak weather. i will bury these pips and grow a tree with me.


Amélie Nixon April /ˈeIpr(I)l/ noun

1. we ate ginger biscuits and cried because our bellies were growing and growing meant letting go. my favourite jumper had become too baggy and my knees too knobbly. it turns out courgettes and green tea aren’t enough to keep a ghost’s heart beating. 2. the morning sky promised daisy chains and easter eggs and self care journals. my hollow eyes glimpsed a yellow tinted future, and my cold hands grew warm in the light of the April sun. 3. maybe growing isn’t such a terrible thing


Ananya Prakash Ignition His crooked smile widens and crinkles appear at the corners of his eyes. My gaze lands on his lips. I can feel the stars falling down on us. My heart is paper, he is the flame, and with trembling hands, I hand him the lighter.


Andrew Pettigrew Heaven in a Poke Awright, I’m no very religious And I can be a wee bit serious, But one thing’s fur sure That fae a bad day there ain’t nae cure Except mabbe Tae hae a chippy Git a bag aw chips, Wi’ a smack aw ma lips! Aw! It’s heaven in a poke! But chips ain’t enough tae live oan There’s somethin’ else that needs tae be dun, Ah think o’ love an’ care, A treat close by, an’ always so rare! An’ then I see it, in the shop windae A breaded haddock, aw cooked an’ lovely! Put the pennies doon oan the till So starvin’ I’m oot tae kill; Aw! It’s heaven in a poke! Noo a got ma supper, just ma fish an’ me, Both oot in the cold, but happy as can be We’ve git each other, we’ll make it through, Oh wee haddock I need tae tell ye I LOVE YOU! Wi’ salt and vinegar, there’s chips too An’ a nice can


O’ Irn Bru; Aw! It’s heaven in a poke! But wait jus’ wan moment, whit’s that above me? A wee birdie flyin’ awa ’n’ free? Oot from a bin, tummy nae yet full; Came chargin’ oot like a wee white bull! With its grey wee mantle, an’ orange webbed feet, It stole me fish supper, an I’m ready tae greet! An’ tae say “cheers mate”, it cacked on ma skull, Away ye go, ye bleidin’ seagull! ’Cause … it isnie heaven in a poke nae mare!

Poke – a small paper bag Windae – window Doon oan the till – down on the cash register Supper – anything you purchase from a chip shop that is accompanied by chips Irn Bru – a traditional Scottish soft beverage A wee birdie flyin awa ’n’ free – a small bird flying away and free I’m ready to greet – I’m about to cry Cacked on ma skull – it dropped some excrement on my head


Angelina Conte A Day By The Sea i find a little beach. littered with sandcastles with sea salt moats, and juice stained towels flat under rosy women. and i buy myself an ice cream, tri-colour sprinkles decorating its stiff peak and i recline far from the water, watching the crowds. until the last family pack up their things, nothing left to see, to do, dropping plastic tennis rackets, and brushing sand from stubborn children. then my eyes glance upward, watching the clouds grab land from the sky, and their flossy white wisps are soon a grimy grey. and i hear only the waves – swimming to the shore, closer and closer, now lapping at my toes, crawling up my legs, my thighs, grasping at my neck – and i forget how to breathe, as i am pulled under.


Anna Beekmayer Cherries The sharp spheres, dangling down Hard sour fruits. I dare you to try one. Each one makes your face wrinkle like a discarded ball of paper. We wear them as red lipstick. My favourite nail is varnish-red. Our giggles are an infectious disease. Our laughter echoes and bounces Off the walls of my head. My hands are covered with blood. I’m a murderer.


Anna Humphreys Ritual A swallow dives the line of my neck, bows to kiss the water and drink the coloured light. This is a strange twilight feeling: the water singing silver from the tap, the sun cupping my head in both hands, come to greet me. It hails from a deep south warmth and flowers in the air. From the bright cold north, it skims over snow, glances the crest of the wave, slides like paint through the streets, like paint might slide if it were light in a dream. It projects a film reel onto my city, softly cast through the stained glass of the bathroom window like a hot whisper, caught on the skin like a sleeve on metal when you walk through a door. A new, whole, humming peace. The light catches your skin like it catches a fish, golden in the waveless waters.


Bailey Blackburn Paradise Into this womb of fire causes fight

all of these

the almighty maker His dark materials create more hell . Paradise


Bianka Barabas Identity Crisis On a farm with a herd of show horses the calico cat lifts her elegant legs, points them sharply forward. The pap pap pap of her soft feet mimics the clap clap clap of hooves. She gallops to her feeding bowl ears up, pointed forward, tail high. Her left paw scrapes the floor; a stallion before a race. ‘Meow,’ slips from her mouth; she looks up with worry. I pretend to hear nothing. Let her believe she’s convinced me.


Benjamin de Almeida Newton Baby cucumber A lone oblong A cucumiform whit In the plotted scheme of the broader gourd universe Not a bean to your name Dwelling in the shadow of the other successful cucumbers Who made it to Tiberius’ table. Who tease and jibe: ‘Treat this scorpion’s bite’ little silvestris Poor baby cucumber Only an infant Who couldn’t make it all ‘Charlemagne’ (They knew it ment-allot to you) All anguine and asinine Intertwound in a creeping Vine Yet so frightfully Insignificant.

And tasty.


Carolyn Stein Sally’s Worst Secret Mother went to get milk and cake The cat went to go play in the woods I went and came back home I hopped high and ran fast back to my box and sat cold in fear The cat played tricks And I saw things Fish that fly White walls in the woods Red kites on hooks Cattails wet in milk I wish thing 1 and thing 2 did not fall with a thump and a bump The cat – he said he was tame Mother came home No milk, lots of cake Had a little bit And felt nothing

Note: All the words in this poem are from Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat.


Cosima Deetman I heard a fly buzz #fly #flying #insect #insecta #diptera #buzz #buzzkill #killbuzz #insecticide #homicide #home #catacomb #cat #comb #combover #Trump #wall #wail #crying #dying #dead


Dana Chiueh Tombsweeping In the cemetery on North Jade Mountain, a little boy is singing. His young mother wonders what happens to the graves of families who can no longer afford to keep the divine from crumbling. Hush, now. The boy is almost out of sight hidden by fog and well-fed greenery. Which year has it not rained, not muddied the path of ancestral shrines? She lights a candle, two candles. Red ones. Lights the incense. The boy says we should share the oranges. She tells him it is not polite to offer bones to the dead. They whisper a prayer to the sound of flowers aching echoed by porcelain brick and drizzle. The boy is not yet old enough to read the inscription or wonder at why there are three names all squished in a row like an afterthought. She burns the paper money in tiny temples and almost burns the only photograph. On accident, not on accident. The last time they came there were three people and only two names. The child sings a prayer, setting all the neighboring temples ablaze.


Daniel Blokh To My First Language Old dog, I don’t have time to take you on walks anymore. I try to throw you bones but you’re a slow thing, heaving to my side when I am lonely, low growl faltering. My new dog comes at a finger’s snap. He’s cuter. He has sharper teeth. He watches you lumber through the yard and waits. I wonder if one day he’ll kill you, drag your body to my room where I will try to mourn it, softly, slide my hands through faded fur. My parents taught me how to love you so I could feed you when they left us. They dreamed about the two of us alone in this big house, this makeshift model of a homeland, yard where they pictured snow, imagined winters coming over us, your body around mine for heat.


Elif Soyler Lentil Soup An exoskeleton of pipes lodged in concrete, Barring every window. Crosshatched metal climbing skyward Shed skin that clings and creeps. And cobalt-blue nets blot out pale light. Inside, the walls are dismally tinted, Temporarily stained a cold blue. Misery seeps into hallways damp, And into the corners of the flickering kitchen Fruit flies buzz over the sink, but she smiles. And in the second-hand pot mercimek soup bubbles, Old tapes play warbled sounds of nostalgia, Songs of innocence and experience (of sorts), Among apple orchards and cow-sheds Of first love and first heartbreak in the village. In our little corner, the electric light beams In divine rays out of a naked bulb. Within the blue-grey building, This Sunday morning seems not so bleak, Because at last the boy has learnt to read.


Eliza Rai fourteen when i was young and my heart knew how to turn away quickly, my teachers would compliment me. their smudged cherry lipstick, petals drifting from every corner of their mouths and i used to glance at their crowns – their distorted dimmed halos flickering. how reckless of me – i thought i would be a seamstress of some sort – weaving symbols and words and equations and landscapes with a simple spin.


Elizabeth Cook Ambrosia Apple Cream flesh, succulent smells. Bite into me; experience Grecian dining. Feasted upon by gods, I am immortality. Harvest me in late season, and I blush red against your lips. This is how you create life out of me.


Elizabeth Sapara Grant The Heart is a Lonely Hunter She wants to feel the melted rubies rushing through her blood. So she can paint her world scarlet. So she can see the garnet glow on her lips and fingertips. So she can live off the pool of jasper in the pit of her stomach. “Butterflies” that’s what they call it – She’s not ready. And that’s OK I tell myself.


Ella Roberts honest-tea tonight i am going to gawk at the pale moon in your cup the clock face without numbers or dials. dredged from the depths of an arctic crevasse the ocean of milk in your tea could frighten moses could flood portsmouth caught in the oil slick of this sacrilegious brew are crumbs of recently dunked biscuit – unlucky survivors. nestled in your hands resting by the wood panelling perched on the rattling floor your tangerine mug holds a slice of profitless ivory tusk – you are a freedom fighter defending this chunk of china and the melted down pearls it contains


Eloise Unerman Wake I’ve never driven over a man before, watched him bounce off the bonnet, or felt the crunch as wheels rode over bones. I don’t know who he was but speeding off, I think, perhaps he had a wife, or a husband. I wonder why it matters, because now everything about him is dead. All I saw were papers escaping from a briefcase. I pictured him a banker heading to his Audi R8. I might be the bad guy, but still, I wanted to pay my respects, tell the casket I’m sorry you got in the way. So I attend the funeral on a punishing August afternoon. At the wake, a little girl wipes snot and tears onto her sleeve and I see his face for the first time, painted in clown’s make up, laughing at the camera. I leave before I’m mistaken for an old friend. In the off-licence, my brain paints clown-white onto the stone-faced cashier.


Em Power a fantasy about shinjuku in recent months i have taken to bathing in neons rather than water watching pink lights dart across your face eager schools of fuchsia fish it’s strange because here our crimson blood is merely salted broth, drained from our veins, slurped up happily by dimpled cheeks, an endless perfect lunch break utopia lies within the maze of skyscrapers that narrow our walks grey cuboids, concrete boredom, only night reveals their fluorescence cold evenings sprawl the city out before us, unreal in its turquoise glow, the clink of a million pinballs, the bleep of arcade machines moving forward towards bright billboards splashed with eclectic, pixelated colour, an imaginary companion breathing down my hollowed spine. it’s hachikō. unlike everything else here, he is dull, not luminous, and you beg me to live in the present, to give up my weightless dreams 37

artificial beams scrub me clean, holographic hello kitty stickers pressed to cheeks my sleep is filled with images of the Tokyo skyline kissing my neck


Emily Franklin Twenty-One Drafts Of The Same Love Poem i. I want to plant lipstick kisses on Oscar Wilde’s grave with you, tuck a green carnation behind your hair. I would meet you in the library of Alexandria whilst it was still on fire. On dewy river banks, bathe you in wine and knot you in flowers. And we would sing our prayers that the night would last forever, that we could touch the sky with two hands. ii. Two girls distorted in the artificial light, twisted into things that were not ourselves. Do you remember that night? Dead eyes staring up from old pink magazines. We were living as we dream. The kind of dream where nothing goes right. I have too many hands and the radio is playing too loud for you to hear me say everything I was supposed to say. Your hands in the green light. Your legs swinging under the window ledge, face in black and white, eyes in technicolour. Your hands


on the steering wheel, on the car door, on the warm, white carrier bags. Your hands in my hands. iii. I want to meet you under the sweetest orange tree in Rome. iv. You were sat in my kitchen, licking lemon and sugar off the end of a steak knife. Suppose the universe is constantly fracturing and this is the version where the universe ends. Suppose you never even met God and They were only ever human, trying for a taste of divinity. Maybe we should be doing more than kissing the bitterest apples and sewing sweeter seeds. Maybe, we should be doing more with our lives.


v. I’m sat in a pub drinking pink lemonade straight out of the bottle. I’m thinking of you, leaving constellations of white toothpaste on the bathroom mirror. Or making pink lemonade at the kitchen table. Stick in nails and squeeze out juice. All that brown sugar spilling over onto the table top. There is a boy watching me on the other side of the bar and he is beautiful. I think of you. I think of pink lemonade – lost – unearthly – floating in space. I love to be beautiful but more so, I love to watch you being beautiful. vi. You’re sat on the counter in an orange jumper blacking out all the parts of your horoscope you don’t like. Outside the street is pigeon-grey and we are a square of warmth in a city of lights. I’m playing music to fill in the blank spaces. You’re eating a lemon straight out of the bag. Lemon juice and pulp dripping down your chin. And you say you want to be free. And you say you want to be holy. And I want to tell you: there is no wrong way to be loved.


vii. A heart can collapse under pressure. A foot can’t always hold you up. What I mean is: I will meet you in Paris, or the afterlife, whichever comes first, in the yellow light after the taxi cabs have left us behind. What I mean is: I will love you until I cannot love you anymore. If I could paint, I would paint people. Naked in the shower. Dripping with water and harsh light. Soft skin against that gleaming white and then the haze of droplets and steam. What I mean is: I have always wanted to write you sonnets but here I am. A mess of words on the page. viii. The streets are empty of people as dawn storms the horizon with golden sandals. You smell of pink lemonade and the park is swinging with life, the yellows and the blues of it. Poetry exists in the space between two sides of a blank page, two pieces of silence. We pick our way back through the yogurt pots and songbird corpses.


Our inconsequential lives. Our little dreams of furniture shopping and folding sheets. Those things our grandparents did and those things they never dreamed of doing. I am taking your hand outside the bus station, dissolving in the street. I am planting you orange trees. ix. We are green and yellow kinda girls. And I never want to leave you anywhere I will not be coming back to but we have miles to go and sometimes we must surrender our bodies to sleep. And sometimes the best love poem my hands can hold is silence.


Emma Hasson Dead Faeries Pink, you vivid phlegm, I hear the loam coughed you up. The unhemmed skirts worn and worn again Like brittle nails, a peach diaspora, Pigment of skin and flesh, myopic eyes Trailing in earthen sockets As faeries in elemi. They have frailty legs And flaccid thighs, and tawny hair, Lanugo-thick. Their roots cerise, placenta babes, Pinker than their mother’s womb; And all the while, the sloom of soil Splutters, weakens, spits Its rheum.


Emma Jones Brooklyn Heights The midday sun is arms around me, meandering through the tree-lined streets. A carriage house made of magenta brick, like the kind of house you’d want to be married in. You hear the wind on the pavement, tossing up petals – A dog walks as a king, a bird peers from a branch. Somewhere beneath, a mouse goes about its business. New York Harbor’s sliver sits at the end of Pierrepont Street but close by trees and doll-like houses shroud me. Here is Clinton Street like the River Danube splitting Europe and by a sunbaked sidewalk a car passes a tiny crossing. In windowboxes, a rose, a fern, some sage. I see students of Brooklyn – young, lonely, happy, on the steps of St. Ann’s church smoking. I search for your face, your long legs, the black sweep of your hair, the fractal of you in my mind. I only love those houses because one could be yours.


Fox White The Last Tube In fifty years when I look back on the London I had, I will see myself miles underground just passing midnight The yellow-green of the station light off a curved cliff of white tiles In that blood temperature air that held me suspended Until one came, blurred to a stop and yawned. No one gets out this time of night. I see a cheek pressed pale against the glass, A dark haired head cradled in the crook of an elbow, The train moves off, A held breath let out; it stirs my hair. Then it happens that I am on the train. One of the last seven; we are cowboys riding towards the dawn. The pink haired girl is asleep and I follow the glitter trail Down her cheek to the vulnerable parting of her lips. A jolt lolls five heads, causes the standing man To sway and straighten, me to lift my chin off the metal grill. And we go on. Formed of our new brotherhood, together, We are about to be born. And we can hear in the hot air, through the overture of breath, That stop start heart beat of train and track That will come to mean my London.


Gaia Harper Northwest Passage I said what are you if not 3am at London Euston completely irrevocably in love with train stations I said I love the way you talk about computer viruses as if they were something more than that more than blood loves rotting fruit I said I love the way you talk about red curtains and in that moment between the shelves in the video store I suspect there is little more between us than death your breath is a chewed Xanax mine a soothsayer


Hal Henderson Past East Putney Krudum Krudum Krudum Krudum Yellow light slit-slats slicks through senile quince tree branches our house Uncle’s mixtapes beat the kitchen and ob-da do wa do dancers make flapjacks and cook cod roe Krudum Krudum Krudum Krudum Lawn with our landing strip where our chickens tried to fly our friends our food, goodbye Krudum Krudum Krudum Krudum Yellow light slit-slatting drops dead on my blackout curtains I almost appear through that window into my bed Krudum Krudum Krudum Krudum But my train passes by and Krudum Krudum Krudum Krudum away


Holly Atton Rain. I love the way the puddles form I love to hear a thunderstorm I love the clouds that groan and growl I love the wind that moans and howls. I love how rain turns metal to rust I love how rain clears away the dust I love the earthy smell of rain I hope the rain will come again.


Imogen Catsaras Dawn in Dartmouth The sun’s rim rises, promising forever. The sky – a dreamy, brittle, infinite pink, That floats and dances with the lapping river And races up, spilling like blazing ink Across the still, slumbering, silent homes. I am the only one awake – alive, Watching the clouds race and the rising waves foam. Witnessing nature’s last exultant dance, Before the town stirs, and the world returns To steady circumstance.


India Alldred Fishy Fish discussing post-modernism, bricolage and pastiche. Fish forcibly encouraging fish friends to watch ‘funny’ Facebook videos. Fish turning to another fish and asking ‘How do you drive this thing?’ Fish remembering stuff from years ago. Fish knowing that the stones are stones, but eating them anyway. Fish finding themselves on their crush’s cousin’s sister’s Instagram page... by accident, they swear. Fish whose manager won’t let them transfer, saying, ‘Thanks for adding an hour to my commute, Sharon.’ Fish fighting against Fish Finger Friday. Fish dragging their fishlings to swimming lessons against their will. Fish writing poems about humans doing things.


Isabella Jiang Awake Through the faint grid the snow drifts low and quiet. Minutes ago, a mother had loaded the washing machine. Now in the yard there is the smell of cotton. Snow covers a pile of cut branches. Sundried paint wakes on the deck, unraveling softly in frost. And steam flutters through gaps in the old wood boards.


Isla Chaplin Shorelines Small heavens exist in Vancouver Or Washington Or anywhere the wet grey shore laps the hungry grey ocean And the damp rises up to leaden our hair Anywhere black shoes hiss at black tarmac And the pavements are broken with moss. Grey eyes, raging skies, greying ageing sighs Small heavens exist By dint of sheer unlikeliness And – knowing they won’t be found Rise off the sea to blow us Whispering, gently over ground.


Jade Wilkinson Syria I come from stone houses, now rubble and dust. Empty streets. From falafel and mansaf. I come from the mosque, one thousand in ruins. Familiar sound of Muwashshah, our sung poetry. Seventeen channels on TV, Spacetoon and mama’s Massaya. I come from Basra Festival, opera, symphony and ballet. Scorching hot days, never any rain. I come to red brick houses, to buzzing streets, with traffic jams. To fish and chips. I come to the church, stood tall on every street. This new music, hip hop and indie rock. Over a hundred TV channels, with Emmerdale on ITV. Bonfire Night, the fifth of November, fireworks screech and crackle. To this cold country, where there’s always rain. 54

James Turner Fathers Spending nights on the streets, peddle bike, ‘what?’ ‘you bad?’ ‘do sommit then.’ Keep the hood up, hide from Babylon, they watch. True say your name is in there. Or hide from a bigger threat, one that is only present to you. It stalks you. Men, with scarred knuckles, calloused hands, who make it their business to raise you. He can make you hurt yourself. Abuse things, mushy things, white things. Adidas and a Polish pistol. It can’t protect you, but you want it to. Hate it and fear it, you can never kill it. He was like you once. 55

Jamie Smith Pripyat The Soviet’s peaceful atom fell out Europe under Uranium-234 lay contaminated in cold war silence bleak as gulag gruel silent screaming Geiger counters mark a Russia stained red Gather children! Spy the swimming pool applaud the Ferris wheel never spun Pripyat Avant-garde nuclear city Hold your breath, your applause as she is buried royally in the world’s only stone sarcophagus breathe now her legacy seeping isotope fumes


Jasmine Chapman The Beach If I drown on the beach, If the sea sweeps me away, At least I’ll have been swept off my feet, For once in my life. I’ve been taught I live in the world, But I feel so isolated, Alone. The water dominates the sand, Attacks it, attacks me. Red, roses. The blood that’s under my skin. The same as you. Yet I’m so different. Strawberry juice, In a lemonade bottle, Bitter, unexpected.


Jasmine Cui 17/Female/American [8] The day my neighbor became American was the day he changed his name from Seong-Jin to “Steven”, tearing down the Korean flag our landlord stapled to his door – as if to denote exoticism. Today, Seong from Busan is just Steve from apartment 26B. Phosphorus tip, match is struck against my nails. The fingers are tinderbox that inspires flame. Acrylic flag becomes effigy. Prophetic, we exorcise the old country. And I learn how to start fires with nothing more than skin. [9] Carburetor is a word I know before I knew the word for the thing between my legs. C**t is a word that gives me vertigo because it is not in the Oxford dictionary. [11] Apartment 25, Sarah. December, she is milk and snow skin teaches me what the dictionary won’t. Obscenities: bitch, genocide, my skin unclothed and luminous.


[13] Apartment 23, Joon. He shoves icebox fingers in my cervix. We are too young to know better. Thermotaxis, we are driven towards radiator spines. Wire hand is light plug pulled from lower torso. Elbow sockets drenched in lighter fluid. Hydrolysis, I lick his thumb to see if the skin will electrolyze. [14] Hair is scattered across blue floor tiles. Vast Atlantic, marrow steeped in chemotherapy: docetaxel and cyclophosphamide. [15] Radiography, Joon is always scanning the chest for turgid flesh. Excision is nothing beautiful: hypertonic tongue, a divination stick. Water drawn from the skin. We are so afraid of dying. Electrician’s tape obscures a mastectomy. [17] The day of metastasis, Joon changes his name to Julien – promising to burn my body: a flag, flame swallowed country. And I learn how to start fires with nothing more than skin. 59

Jenny Burville-Riley Night Fishing Through dark water glows the hoodoo moon a conjuror’s ball. Mudbanks slumber. Dead branches stretch hopeful as a man in quicksand eels of mist kiss skin. Hunched in our hull empty lobster pots grumble for prey, we row past the mill its great beached wheel a planet out of orbit as reggae baselines drift from the quay, silhouetted revellers laugh and sway their truck lit up like a spaceship probing shadows splay long as aliens in worship. Our rhythmic boat dips by unknown past shipyard slips disowned sloops and schooners, bird bone 60

windchimes strung from masts longing for wild breath of whiskey seas. A glittering black bay baits us from the estuary. Bright stars shimmer, whiting shoals in the lattice of the universe. Cleanly we are hauled from our shore selves. Scales shine new with moonlight whispered fables become spells.


Jemima Webster Making Friends with the Wind Don’t tense up against the cold. Don’t even try to imagine that there is no cold, and you’re wearing more than shorts and a T-shirt. Relax and let the wind flow through you like thread unspooling, then run away leaving shadow footprints in your wake.


Jocelyn Leuenberger Exertion If pressure is the force per unit of surface area, and if pressure occurs not only in a mix of gases but also individually in separate gas particles, then it can be inferred, through Dalton’s law, that the total pressure of a gaseous expanse is equivalent to the sum of partial pressures in all constituent gases. We can express this concept through the equation Pt equals P1 plus P2 plus P3, which is to say somehow that in all matters directly personless, an order exists which doctrines how things are and therefore ought to be, and that Man, algid and Lilliputian, somehow wrongs this order in the same manner that Lucifer wronged Heaven. And John Dalton, for which this law was named, who bound tirelessly from a Quaker school and whose discovery of this function spawned only from his attraction to atmospheric pressures, might say that in theory such an arrangement exists, but could never definitively prove it in its entirety. 63

Joyce Zhou Girlhood Mama grew up along the infected shoulder of a town where laundry and children hung out open and greasy. One night, as we prepared the raw pears to steam for the Moon Festival, my mother told me about that crackle of old neighborhood radios and kids who seemed to curl off the streets like smog, heaving a kind of glory like loose change and tasteless bubble gum. Mama still remembers the meatless autumn when she learned what it meant to be doglike in the way only a hemline could be vulgar. For her, this was how girlhood had become forbidden: in the quiet bluntness of a gaze, in a new partition, in the same way we carry on now, a muted harvest, stripping pieces of skin and watching the pears madden to fists in steam as if they were to become something we could hold without surrendering: inglorious bodies of flour and dust.


Katherine Kim Poem as grandmother, 1947 The birthday oranges cleave like lungs. I think of their sweet meat, cup fire in two palms. The streets of Busan are all rust-colored and dirt-borne. I palm the fruits, peel them deftly, man my stand. Small gifts. A blood gem. My sticks of rice cake and battered fish droop into sand. I sell for hours. Drink milky water, dream of a tight green bud. As if my Korea is the deep-sung yellow of a flower, waiting to be a gun.


Kia O’Driscoll Jagiya it feels too sweet to be comfortable, and i know you think i want to feel loved, but love should not seem sickeningly cute to the point it seems fake. don’t call me sweet names or kiss my hair in public or tell me you want me for the rest of your life. i will be sick all over the shoes you just bought and then you won’t want me at all.


Kitty Robinson The Bumblebee A lacy cape with a floral design rests on his shoulders. A velvet waistcoat clings to his core and is tightly belted at his waist. He lugs two messenger bags filled with gold dust along behind him strapped to a pair of black silken stockings splattered with a rich ochre pigment. A low humming song erupts from his hollow insides, as he glides above us in a blur of glowing hues. He lands on a shimmering layer of satin petals to collect his loot and then leaves carrying the souls of millions of flowers.


Kyle Spencer Astral Enlightenment

a lucid dream is not a simple concoction of the mind i was not flying, but falling rapidly into welcoming arms of a cheering audience seeing their individual faces light up as i descended was more than a dream as my voice reverberated more than just in the blurred walls of that vague venue resonating in their hallucinated hearts perhaps I will finish writing my dreamy melody today for them


Leo Hessian Childhood after ‘Childhood’ by Frances Cornford I used to think the world was that little ladybird on the end of my finger: the deep circles of black on red, the ice cream cone head and arrow shaped eyes. I drew my simple observations using my crayons, sketching the striking colours of grass and ocean and sky onto bright, white paper. But the ladybird started to change: its red becoming an eclipse of scarlet tissue, its ice cream cone head splitting into triangular segments of murky white. My eyes told me what the universe was and that used to be all that mattered.


Linnet Drury Poem written on beige paper Nobody would ever put beige as their favourite colour: the colour of cardboard boxes and the taste of dust as those cardboard boxes are opened in an attic. Moving house and the old peeled plaster reminds me of the subtle texture of beige paper, like the texture of rubbery takeout-chinese in those bendy boxes, each mouthful reminds me that I haven’t, haven’t, haven’t bought a cooker, it ticks in my head, winding me up like a watch, tick, like that clock up there. Look, it’s stained the same old yellowy brown beige as everything in my old gran’s house; but I’ll take it, over the silent emptiness of black.


Madison Matthews Haiku If all fails, Leave your bag there And live.


Magnus Dixon October, Crovie Kelp fringes a fidgeting tideline – fretting at slanting shelves of sandstone straining towards the sun like calcified fungi. A gorse-green boat, fenders strung like fairy lights, snouts into wrack-stippled sea, salt waves gushing through gashes in the pier like gaps between teeth. The juniper phonebox shoulders above buffeting tussocks of jostling dune grass, whispering and rustling like white noise. Behind shutters with salt-gummed woodgrain, sound is crisper, jigsaw pieces tut into place a black dog slowly exhales, staring into space.


Maia Siegel A Good Circular God My heel is cracked into four clover pieces, and split rotting figs have fallen to the earth by now. A legless man sits silently on the Fifth Avenue concrete. My uncle cleans his house for five hours, but by now the dirt has ingrained mandalas into his floorboards. The museum showcases an all-white painting. A good circular God would not let such sorrows as these repeat day after day after day.


Maria Woodford observations from a house party nothing can quench this perpetual thirst, we drank the day’s heat out of saturated skies, and i’ve dived in the depths of his cider soaked dreams in the darkness he stores at the backs of his eyes. the moon is melting over rooftops, i lost myself in drinks in dance in crowds, and he found me, on a bench in the garden, when the gaps between my words had grown too loud. perhaps this is love – to worship simple things how pink tinged skies bruise blue through purple black. to skip breakfast to sleep on the surface of stars, to house him between heartbeats and in the joints where my bones crack. i wonder if he feels the same caged up calamity: i’m rich with words and drowning in my wealth, spend days gathering dust on gallery benches, making an exhibition of myself. and i wonder, when he has a bass-line for a pulse, what it means to crave her curved lines and negative space. if he lost himself – in drinks in dance in crowds – he must know minds are easy to displace. – i didn’t imagine you’d cry on my birthday, but i love you all the same.


Mary Webster Insomniac A day of darkness, The darkness, light. Searing, burning, bright. Fall against a tree, When the tree falls on me. Crashing, the shadow of night. Moon is high, Sun is bright. Stars twinkling, their menacing light. My listening eye, My watchful ear, And a night without sleep, Again.


Mathilda Armiger The Thief he opens up her purse just a crack, lets the coins tightly roll out down her legs in the master bedroom slotting his fingers, grey with years of filth, through her zip. around they scrape smears of grime over her father’s photograph. until a sigh of satisfaction, his hand grips her debit card. she moans as he rips it out from her wallet ragged, fraying at the seams, and he spits. the hot globe lands neatly on her bruises where her dress had been torn from her skin and even after she patches it with scraps and her steady boyfriend’s gentle touch it still shows. a tear. shame on her. 76

Melissa Stuart Sea Liquid steel meets the saffron sky, Rippled by the wind, The gulls fly high, The clouds all but thinned. Tin boats shudder far out there, Bobbing with the buoys, Their little lights glare, Bathtub toys. White foam floats on its surface, Intertwined with ribbons of green, There with little purpose, Like cars in a landscape scene.


Meredith Le MaĂŽtre Impressionist Painting When I wake Each morning, my whole world is as blurred as a Whistler painting. The colours of my very bedspread Are like a nebulous window Soft as the zest filled light Filtering through the buttoned up blinds But when I place my Glasses On my nose The setting is flicked to Crisp and I long for the day that I #woke up like this


Michelle Cedano Gas Station I popped my pink bubblegum against glossy lips and stared at the hands on the clock. A fan whirred in the background and the summer sun beat down on my city. The small bell rang as the door swung open and three small children walked in, their smiles pure, foreheads sticky with sweat. They gave me money in exchange for vanilla ice cream and left as quickly as they came in, taking their essence of youth with them. I popped my bubblegum one last time and spit it out. It had begun to taste melancholy.


Muireann Hayden February 2017 I caught it On the second day The shimmering silver salmon sixteen And was applauded With a fiery hail of expectation The sting of vinegar and cold – damp, dewy, delicate Then like some great falling river – The Storm Swathes of bracken colored paint Salt water slipped in and melted seamlessly against skin. The sun was dipped in and cleaned and shone like seaweed in the ebbing It glittered smoothly beside me And the foam lipped Rain fell Silently.


Mukahang Limbu Papa, There is a picture of you in this poem. It is a photo of your face, ripped from the album. Your face washed, sepia coloured – the colour of a cigar stubbed out on a sunset. And this is the only picture of you, Holding me up... You, Must, Have, Smelt, Like, Me. Like baby milk – Like lips just born. This is the only place you are allowed to be. In this poem. Papa.


Natalia Orlovsky still life the milk-eyed moon followed you home today. the light pressed in on us; your tea got cold. i counted all the things i couldn’t say: how you’ve begun to let your shoulders fold when he’s not there, the sloped line of your mouth, the ghost town of his shoes behind the chair. how, when you watched the blackbirds flying south, you hovered in the sticky morning air. the moon is sad in ways we cannot be – wind in the pines, all sighing silver light – but i’ve been tearing up the lemon trees and you take pills to help you sleep at night. the winter air fills up our lungs and words we never said slip past like southbound birds.


Naya Jorgensen Carlota de Macedo Soares i. Robert Lowell, friend of Elizabeth Bishop On a particular day by a green pool, in her pink clothes, I thought I loved Elizabeth. I knew, though, that in her wayward ways and the ways she wandered, she was all Carlota’s. The last time I saw them together, Lota adjusted her glasses, told us in a low voice thrumming with energy that she was going to build Rio its own Central Park. Elizabeth stared down at her food, reluctant to show her smile. It seems odd now to end a letter without Our love to Lota. My dearest Elizabeth was so upset with Sylvia when she surrendered to an open oven, choked with her head on a metal rack – suicide seemed to her a selfish thing to do. Once I wrote


it’s a great solace to me that you are with Lota, lying, longing for her, and I am sure it is the will of the heavens that all is as it is. Carlota took six days to die. Put herself to sleep on a cold yellow September morning and was gone on a day just like it. Elizabeth didn’t write about it. I’d have nothing to reply. ii. Elizabeth Bishop, Carlota’s lover of 16 years The time last I saw Lota I was drunk like mad. Will I… see you in New York? Too slow. Tongue heavy. Follow me. Darling. Words better on paper. The thing about that you see was that I didn’t know if she knew about the other girl and I certainly didn’t know that when her plane touched down, the tranquilizers would be already in her pocket, begging to be swallowed


going cold down her throat with icy water maybe she drank too much of it and just drowned very slowly I think that must be it. She did things lots of that she could not do. She could not leave this way is what I told her as I sat by her bedside I didn’t leave, not that time. Couldn’t. You know? A week I stared at the harsh curls of her hair, frown angular – hers and mine, wondered if in that head she was still designing gardens. She built me a house that was shaped butterfly-like, overwhelmingly glass we might be still there, might die drinking ourselves to death and I’d still sneak away to another woman’s arms and this, see Lota this is why I thought New York would be good for us and I thought you thought so too


Niamh Collins Mrs Smithers She was elusive. That was what my Mother said to the maid as we stepped through the front door, and I was shaken down and scolded, for not holding the fork quite right and not looking her in the eye. Those eyes, with all the heat of woman burning in them, she could light a man on fire, Mrs Smithers, of Cherry Close, with a mouth of passion and poisonous words which had made my Father weak and whimper like a reckless, irrational, stumbling fool. A common tart my mother said with her hands twisting talons and her pale cheek growing red as she dragged my Father with her tongue back to 86

our less than homely home. My Mother. My obsolete creator, who had served her purpose, and last overdone roast dinner. Mrs Smithers, with sex on the mind and courtesan fantasy, who tapped her finger nail on my nose like the ash of her cigarette. A downright scandal my Mother said, as my Father collected his pieces together and bade me farewell as he fled to embrace a softer, warmer bed. My Father. A downright sod. My Mother, checked with anger and I? Well, I was envy, I suppose.


OisĂ­n McDonnell-Grundy Bare Feet dedicated to the children of Grenfell Tower You would ask for the moon. To light your path. You would look for a bright way through the streets of London. Where the fish man has fresh fish. And the black ducks take flight from the lily pads on the River Lea. And in this early morning. I would wish all of this for you.


Poonam Sahoo wonder years. the sun’s starting to set, a dusky blue-orange blooming across the sky. you’re out on the front porch with your brother, knees trembling all nervous as he fiddles with the radio. he’s twisting the knob back and forth, tryin’ to get a signal, and all of a sudden it bursts out of the damned thing like dawn in the mornings, too hot and bright for these miserable summer days. and the fear, god, the sheer paralysis of being afraid; it deafens sound and blurs your surroundings. your brother says, quietly, i won’t tell anyone. he means he won’t tell anyone about the way you were kissing your best friend on top of your spider man bedspread, eager and desperate and wanting, but the truth is you want to scream it from the rooftops, how miserably happy he makes you feel, how terrible and wonderful it is to be loved at seventeen, even if it’s the shameful kind of love that nestles in your chest like a secret. the way he makes you feel, breaking through the apathetic numbness of high school that’s like anesthetic during surgery. and aren’t these supposed to be the best years of your life? instead you’re longing for the days where you could hold your best friend’s hand in public without it meaning anything but innocent comfort, instead you’re ashamed and proud, instead you’re hiding, hiding and choking on the summer heat.


Rachel Tait Phone calls in a desert From art school she learned that If you draw yourself with traffic-cones For teeth and your tongue wrapped round your head In a super-highway halo, people will assume You want to talk about it. That towns Where every shop says ‘local’ in bleached-out neon Only stay countryside from May to August; That no one colder than a wedding ring Could ever be her mother. Luck comes from flipping a coin or a pout; She has never done either. Why should she? Some of us, it seems, are born queuing for burdens (Which is not the same as wanting them). Three years of dinners eaten in silence and She speaks like a clock, only when someone wants The time or with her hands up round her face. She goes out in the evenings and kicks the dust up Until it rains road like a snow globe of the suburbs. Her father has her picture on the mantlepiece. She does not have his except for crushed between the Pages of a textbook. People are 70% water, it says. ‘You should have been a scientist’ He told her on the phone last night and she thinks About his voice turned atomic. He has built a swimming pool in his back garden. That night she dreams a drought and imagines The homecoming of thousands of litres of water.


Rachel Wilkinson Kiwi Fruit: Undiscovered Treasure Wriggling worms attacking a coconut; Underneath orangutan stubble lies a silver moon reflecting a light. Scrunched hedgehogs, revealing their nosy faces; A cork forced between their teeth. Under the covers a fossil lies, Patterns, rhythmic, like henna. Hundreds of eyes, buried deep like treasure; Curled up caterpillars, forming lily pads. The heart shines out: Rays of sun guarding a swap of algae. Despite the fact of a lush core, The blankets are pulled as if it’s a long, cold night.


Richelle Mowatt poem The city moves like a well-practised orchestra together in sync all as one when this stops the synchronicity gone we carry on, Disturbance is something we shrug off. To be a part of this river of movement is so easy. How can we ever be different in a blended society like this? Seeing this from afar leaves you in a trance-like state eyes glazed mind numb. How fascinating the rat race of life is watching; a privilege to be watched; paranoia.


Rosie Plumb Art Museum In the joy of watching, of waiting for the moment of movement. Of finding something you want to reach out for. Run fingers over slick colours, set the buzz off. Make the walls flash and heads turn. In the urge of wanting to etch this on every surface. To have the ink spill through your skin, never look away. Scoop out your insides and fill yourself with this feeling. Build a museum where your brain should be. It’s all-encompassing, giving your heart away at the door. There’s part of a soul in every square.


Rosie Wright The Willow Tree The soft breeze rustles my luscious leaves, My tangled roots, surrounded by amber corn, stretch on for miles. The river meanders past me. I stand here in pensive mood. I glance over to the other side of the water, The golden field gazes out towards me like an admiring child. The verdant grass sways in the evening breeze, And a dappled light is cast over my body. The sun’s indigo gaze is set intently on the celestial sky, And all around the earth lies still. The birds have grown silent now, My slender trunk stands firm. I have been here since the beginning of time, And I will be here long after you turn to dust. I wait for morning, Waiting for the cycle to begin again.


Sarah Juniper Storace Nelson Ode To A Cacao Bean The cacao pod breaks Revealing pale, wet flesh Which you brush away In your haste To find your small Chest of gold Lying in its white prison Surrounded by its brothers and sisters Knowing one day it will become a chocolate bar Which people so carelessly toss On the counter Of the candy store Not giving a thought About the maker of this bar The beginning of chocolate The creator of something


Seemin Zaki Mohammed Baby Forget the waiting the standing and fussing impatiently in the waiting room it was this moment when I grasped the cool, solid handle and pulled it downwards and saw my feet run before me, my eyes popping, it was when I held him fragile and curious sweet and precious and stroked him like a puppy. Brother.


Shaw Worth Yoyogi Park Crows walk like ballet dancers; with a self-importance wholly uncommon to birds (although I can’t tell one – crow or bird – from the next, they seem to hang out in ensembles with the occasional solo passage), and when they caw it’s like a hook in the cheek of an unfortunate fish pulling you out of their domain and onto some other park bench. They also shed like cats, leaving their feathers like graffiti inbetween trees and on top of insect nests so that the summer light might always be falling on them or that they can smell through them when ice cream’s around.


Shivani Sekar It’s a Conspiracy Sing for me, canary in a coalmine. I want to hear your throat bleed Release-mi-do oh balm my ears I do enjoy a dying reed. Smile. Now. Show me your teeth Head down. Arms folded. Pray to me – Weep. Show me your teeth Canary in a goldmine – canary divine, all mine, mine. Canary in cream caught in the cat’s jaws Operetta ripped out still pulsing from the castrate, Hung like wet washing on the yarn between its paws Sighs from its grave bones, checkmate, checkmate.


Sophie Carney Angel of the house It’s raining nine stitches, there’s needles whirring at your windowpane and under your mother’s left breast. Hold on my sweet, she’ll be alright if you only stitch your lips to your embroidery hoop. You’re trying to sew a blackberry, but your hands shake and warp its seed-spheres into igneous rock. Lapsed housewife without a stitch to wear, hold a salt lick under your tongue like a dumb country horse. Stop crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about.


Stephanie Themistocles Ghost Ship The place is a wrecked ship. Flotsam tied together by a frail recollection, We, ghosts, dead sailors without rope. A festering corpse – she lies. Reeking, But no one can smell it but me And the wind that gnaws on her insides. So they paint her, Put pictures in each corner; A grotesque assimilation of fantasies set to lure In someone New. Swipe a finger And a trail of fluff falls off her cheek, And his, And hers, Their youth crumbling; Returning to the past. She belongs to that past.


How can you time travel and not yourself change? Grow backwards And shrink your mental age? To when you crouched, Tense On the staircase, Straining to hear Spiteful whispers Lash At your ear – the echoes of which haunt me now. Still. Still is the house. She doesn’t breathe anymore. A pretence of life in her bare surroundings, I pale Fade Hold. Before I end up like her.


Tashawa Amer thoughts 44 days after your funeral one of the last things my father ever said to me were the words “come home, babu” and that sounds a little more dramatic than it would with context or maybe, a little less. anyhow, this is significant because he said it at a time when i was terrified, quaking, phone shivering in my hand, that he would say the opposite and he didn’t and god i was so wrong about you in so many different ways. “come home, babu.” im trying, papa, i swear im trying.


Udit Mahalingam Grandma’s Piece Oh, those days I spent Sprawled on the settee By that fireside... Ockeghem in Grandpa’s office, Polyphonic prisms... Dvořák in B Minor Willowed in the drawing room. They syncopated. They merged Into something. Someone beautiful. I could make them out from The corner of my eye... I knew it was her! I could tell from her smile When she sat at the Steinway. Baby Grand. My baby-hands Plonking away. Sharp. Flat. I remember she played something. So, fair – So, beautiful. I still don’t know the name... Only that, I’ll never hear it again...


Vivian Liao nightswimming i. under a heavy sky the words clung to his throat – dripping like silver wax along his Adam’s apple rising up and sinking beneath the water’s surface ii. under a hazy sky the pallid moon illuminates our freckled fingers as her swimsuit slips in mercury – tonight she runs on coffee and pure spite


Yuri Han Body Language Father says I keep blood a secret. Like the paper snowflake’s face before the brave act of unfolding. When I was four and alone, I hid in a triangular prism made with a living room corner and the back of his black armchair. Everything with roots in me was growing. Hair. Pose. The nail on my big toe outgrown. Mother was a golden light of murmur in the kitchen, with guests sipping milk and


coffee from slender cups – ones with blue eyes and lipstick stains on the cusp. I brought my foot to my face and started cutting the nail with my scissors the same way I had cut a snowflake. My fingers collected the air, my grip slipped; the blade ran across the fleshy tip and I had a little spring of red ribbon rippling iron and mineral down my sole. I bent further towards my toe, returning to a fetal position – the prism my mother’s womb, only dimmer, the air thinner – and the blood spilling from the wound was


crimson and cold. I found the cap of my toe still wedged between the scissors’ blades and tried to reattach the dead and unwanted skin. Father says that he found me holding a bloody toe, my head raised, eyes wide, my mouth the smallest thing. At the same time his blood was singing, packing lipids and my snowflakes.


Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2017 Congratulations to the winning poets Margot Ambruster, Suzanne Antelme, Aisha Mango Borja, Lyra Davies, Max Dixon, Ruby Evans, Irina Petra Husti-Radulet, Enshia Li, Cia Mangat, Marina McCready, Eira Murphy, Natalie Perman, Neave Scott, Ella Standage and Lucy Thynne.

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2017 winners’ anthology The winners’ anthology is available from The Poetry Society website


Foyle Foundation The Foyle Foundation is an independent grant making trust supporting UK charities which, since its formation in 2001, has become a major funder of the arts and learning. The Foyle Foundation has invested in the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award since 2001, one of its longest partnerships. During this time it has increased its support and enabled the competition to develop and grow to become one of the premier literary awards in the country.

The Poetry Society The Poetry Society is the leading poetry organisation in the UK. For over 100 years we’ve been a lively and passionate source of energy and ideas, opening up and promoting poetry to an ever-growing community. We run acclaimed international poetry competitions for adults and young people, and publish The Poetry Review, one of the most influential poetry magazines in the English-speaking world. With innovative education and commissioning programmes, and a packed calendar of performances and readings, The Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages.

Help young writers thrive The Poetry Society’s work with young people and schools across the UK has changed the lives of many emerging readers, writers and performers of poetry, developing confidence and literacy skills, encouraging self-expression and opening up new life opportunities. Support us by donating at


Young writers and The Poetry Society As well as the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, The Poetry Society offers lots of other opportunities for young poets interested in writing for the page or exploring spoken word: Young Poets Network is The Poetry Society’s online platform for young poets up to the age of 25. It’s for everyone interested in poets and poetry – whether you’ve just started out, or you’re a seasoned poetry reader and writer. You’ll find features, challenges and competitions to inspire your own writing, as well as new writing from young poets, and advice and guidance from the rising and established stars of the poetry scene. We partner with amazing organisations, from National Maritime Museum and the V&A, to Oxfam and People Need Nature, sparking ideas that travel far beyond the page. For updates, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @youngpoetsnet. Poetry Society Youth Membership is for aspiring writers and poetry enthusiasts aged 11-18. Members receive poetry goodies, opportunities for feedback, The Poetry Society’s newspaper Poetry News, and other benefits.


Schools and The Poetry Society Foyle teaching resources, including lesson plans and online versions of both the winning and commended Foyle Young Poets anthologies, are available on our website. Poetryclass lesson plans and activities, covering all Key Stages and exploring many themes and forms of poetry, are easy to search and free to download. Each resource has been created by our team of poet-educators and teachers, with hands-on experience of developing an enthusiasm for poetry in the classroom. Find Poetryclass on our dedicated site: Page Fright is an online resource, bringing historical poetry to life with contemporary spoken word performances. Page Fright poets such as Benjamin Zephaniah perform their own work, and explore historical poems afresh. Resources and writing prompts help you create your own poetry. Poets in Schools help develop an understanding of and enthusiasm for poetry across all Key Stages. Whether you want a one-off workshop or a long-term residency, an INSET session for staff or a poet-led assembly, The Poetry Society can find the right poet for you. School Membership connects your school with all that poetry has to offer. School members receive books, resources, posters, Poetry News and The Poetry Review (secondary only), as well as free access to our Poets in Schools service. Follow us on Twitter @PoetryEducation or sign up to our schools e-bulletin by emailing


Enter the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2018 Judges: Caroline Bird and Daljit Nagra Enter your poems – change your life! The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2018 is open to any writer aged 11 to 17 (inclusive) until the closing date of 31 July 2018. The competition is completely free to enter and poems can be on any theme or subject. Individuals can enter more than one poem, but please concentrate on drafting and redrafting your poems – quality is more important than quantity! Entries cannot be returned under any circumstances so please keep copies. Prizes include mentoring, places on a week-long residential writing course at an Arvon Centre, publication in a prestigious anthology, and much more. Winners also benefit from ongoing support and encouragement from The Poetry Society via publication, performance and internship opportunities. How to enter: please read the updated competition rules, published in full at If you are 13-17 you can enter online or by post using the entry form opposite. If you are 11-12 you will need permission from a parent or guardian. If you are entering by post you will need to print a permission form from our website. School entries: you can enter a set of poems by post or online using our simple submission form. Every school that enters 25 students or more will receive a £50 discount on our Poets in Schools service! Want a FREE set of anthologies, resources and posters for your class? Email your name, address and request to For full rules and instructions on how to enter visit our website: 112

Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2018 Entry Form Individuals aged 13-17: complete and post this form or enter online at Schools: to submit multiple entries, use our online form for teachers or download a class entry form from Closing date: 31 July 2018 Name ____________________________________________________________ Address _________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________ Postcode ____________________ Country ____________________________ Your school ______________________________________________________ Your tel MOBILE PREFERRED ____________________________________________ Your email


Date of birth __________________ No. of poems submitted ______________ Gender


Ethnic group



________________________________ PLEASE SPECIFY


This information helps us to monitor and carry out our activities as required by our funders and in accord with the charitable aims of The Poetry Society. All personal information is treated confidentially.

I confirm that I am 13-17 years old and that I have read and agree to the competition rules (online at: To enter by post, write the entrant’s name and postcode on the reverse of each poem submitted and include a completed entry form. Send to: FYP 2018, The Poetry Society, 22 Betterton St, London WC2H 9BX, or enter online at The Poetry Society has created a FREE online community, Young Poets Network, to keep you updated with opportunities for young writers aged 13-25. To join the mailing list, tick here

“These poems illustrate that the future of poetry is in very safe hands.” – Kayo Chingonyi, Judge

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