Congratulations to Frank McMahon who has just had five poems featured in the arts magazine Sarasvati 065, published by Indigo Dreams Press. He is delighted to have so much work in one edition of the prestigious journal. You can read ‘Here is a Photograph’, one of the poems chosen, below.

Here is a photograph

I did not take of you.

Strong pliable fingers, hours of interweaving

pliant strands of wicker

to build this vessel. Try to find

a beginning or an end

in the cross-hatched seams

which swayed once and greened,

filleted the sun

and shrouded warblers’ nests.

Here is a photograph I could not take

 of you

and if I had

impossible to share it now:

a Moses basket

absolute silence

save for the heart beating with grief,

a camera lens a sacrilege.

You’re always here, engraved. 

Wild Honey

Watching bees in her garden led this month’s featured writer, Clare Finnimore, on a research trail that took her all the way to Nepal, and a poem that pays tribute to the courage of the men who risked their lives collecting wild mountain honey.

Clare said: ‘I began by thinking about the power of small things and my research took me to an amazing film about the honey hunters.’

Made by the world’s largest honeybees, the mountain honey’s psychotropic properties have made it a traditional medicine in Kulung culture. These days it also fetches high prices in Kathmandu and so there is financial pressure on the hunters to risk their lives. At the same time, possibly due to climate change, the bees are moving higher into the mountains, making the work even more dangerous.

The film that inspired the poem can be find online by searching ‘The Last Honey Hunter’.

In a past life, before acquiring a guide dog, Clare worked as an occupational therapist both for the NHS and local authorities. She has an MA in creative writing from the University of Gloucestershire, and in scriptwriting at Bath Spa University. You can read her poem ‘Wild Honey’ here.

Poetry for Ukraine

A nation’s heritage, as embodied in historic sites and artefacts, is always at risk in times of war. In her poem ‘Hiding Ukraine’s Heritage’ Iris Anne Lewis explores the response of museum staff to the military conflict in Ukraine. The poem is published on the poetry website Wildfire Words, along with other Ukraine-themed poems. You can read and listen to Iris’s poem here.

Highway of Death

This month’s poem, by Selwyn Morgan, is based on his memories of Al-Jahra in Kuwait in the Seventies. In 1991, during the Kuwait War, Al-Jahra Ridge and Highway 80 became famous for their scenes of destruction. 

Selwyn said, ‘I lived in Kuwait City. At weekends, Friday and Saturdays in the Middle East, I would often visit the desert that surrounds the Arabian Gulf. Al-Jahra, west of the city, was one of my favourite places. It sat on Highway 80, leading to the Iraq border. The flat desert plain met a 20m tall ridge, impressive in the otherwise monotonous landscape.

‘Over the millennia, the edge of the ridge was forged into canyons by flash floods caused by the occasional torrential rain. Twice a year, I stood in those canyons so as to be unseen by Steppe Eagles that migrated, north in spring, and south in autumn. I would observe a continuous stream of birds approach the ridge and use the thermals created from it to soar upwards until almost lost to sight. They had gained height so as to glide effortlessly onwards on their chosen path.’    You can read Selwyn’s poem here.

Frank McMahon’s poem ‘Long road home,’ has been accepted by online literary magazine ‘The Galway Review.’

Frank said: ‘This poem is quite autobiographical, a memory of a visit some years ago to find the farm where my mother was born and raised, in Southern Ireland.

‘I remembered going there when I was twelve or so and it resonated the first time I read Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas. I submitted the poem and the same day it was accepted for publication.’ You can read Frank’s poem here

It was as if

This month’s poem ‘It was as if’ by Frank McMahon was written several months into the first lockdown, during the wonderful Spring weather.

Frank said: ‘Images and memories of hill-forts, (some in the Cotswolds) came to mind and informed the first few stanzas, alongside the growing feeling of uncertainty when encountering people we did not know.

‘The absence of ‘plane and traffic noise took me back to childhood and the sense of an uncluttered natural world, enhanced now by greater knowledge of its complexity and amplified by people discovering it and its benefits for the first time.

‘In a way, the poem was a consoling counterpoint to the fear and hardships being experienced by many at that time.’

The poem features in the anthology, Can you hear the People sing? published by Palewell Press. Palewell is also the publisher behind Frank’s first volume of poems, At the Storm’s Edge. They will be publishing his second volume, A Different Land, in June.

To read ‘It was as if’ click here, or on the Poem of the Month logo on our website.

Iris Anne Lewis has had two poems published in Wildfire Words the ezine of Frosted Fire Press, the publishing partner of Cheltenham Poetry Festival. 

Deer at Hannington Bridge and The Dragon in my Attic, both inspired by true events, are published in the themed January feature ‘Backwards and Forwards’. You can read Iris’s poems here 

Somewhere Else Writers in Dialect Anthology

The first Dialect Anthology, featuring poetry by two Somewhere Else writers, has just been published. Based in Stroud, Dialect is an inclusive literary development platform for rural writers. The anthology showcases the work produced as a result of Dialect’s many activities. Amongst these was a writing workshop based in Stroud’s Museum in the Park, attended by Iris Anne Lewis and Frank McMahon. Using the objects in the museum as inspiration Frank wrote The Christmas Menu, while Iris wrote Piano. Both poems are included in the anthology alongside poetry by renowned writers Fiona Benson and Pascal Petit. A digital copy of the anthology is available for £5 here.