SECOND LIGHT NETWORK … showcasing the ambitious poetry of ambitious women

Roman marble Bust of Artemis after Kephisodotos (Musei Capitolini), Rome.

Roman marble Bust of Artemis after Kephisodotos (Musei Capitolini), Rome.

“Women, of course, write good and bad poetry – ‘ambitious’ implies more enterprising subject-matters and approaches, as well as a unique voice for each poet.” Kate Foley and Dilys Wood, Editorial Page, ARTEMISpoetry, November 2015

Here it is April – Poetry Month! – and the month in which I know that Dilys Wood, Anne Stewart and other poets in London at Second Light Network of Women Poets (SLN) are hard at work putting a wrap on the May 2016 issue of ARTEMISpoetry. This biannual literary magazine specializes in the work of women bent on honest self-expression, subjects of substance, and well-crafted poetry.

The last issue was published in November 2015 and the focus was on ecology with an interesting feature article by Jemma Borg, scientist and poet. I touched on it in a short piece, Poets and Poetry, In the Shadow Land of Technology and Social Networking.

The issue included poems by Anne Stewart, the featured poet and the author of Janus Hour and Only Here till Friday.

Myra Schneider was the judge for the 2015 poetry contest. The winning poems are featured as well as the commended and we get a bit of the behind-the-scenes look at the hard work of judging.

“I went through over a thousand poems looking for poems that traveled, paid attention to form and made words work. Eventually I reduced a long list of 101 poems to 26 … I was very excited because the winning poems were telling me loud and clear which they were!”

No doubt it is an honor to be selected to judge – and clearly there are  rewards – but what a job as well. Certainly a labor of love. The winners for 2015 were: Carolyn King, Margaret Wilmot, Judith Taylor and Kathy Miles.

I was also pleased to read Myra’s feature on one of my own favorites, American poet Louise Glück.

In line with the issue’s theme, politics and eco-politics were explored by Kay Syrad, a regular contributor.  She discussed Priscila Uppal’s Sabotage (explores private and public acts of destruction, disruption, and vandalism in the 21st century) and Helen Moore’s Ecozoa (response to the destruction caused by industrial civilization).

Fiona Owen gifted us a thoughtful piece – both homage and exploration – on Anne Cluysenaar‘s eco-poetry.

“… Anne ponders ‘the tenuous job of the poet’ and sees the arts as having an intrinsic evolutionary role …”

In addition to poetry, ARTEMISpoetry always offers book reviews and announcements of publications, events and classes of interest … and lately continues some discussion and promotions of SLN’s last two anthologies Her Wings of Glass and Fanfare.

🙂 I recommend both. 🙂

Below is a sampling (three poems) from Fanfare with thanks to the poets and their publishers, to SLN and especially to Anne Stewart for doing the work of acquiring the permissions for me to share these poems with you here today.

January

Going into the sun
over mud flats skimmed with water

people are walking on ice or glass
their reflections perfect

and you know it’s a new year

walking into the sun
beach and sky cast in light

sheer

gone when you turn

and wave rippled mud
takes your footsteps, softly.

– Caroline Natzler

Caroline Natzler: January and Life’s Work, from Fold (Hearing Eye, 2014)

Untouchable

She shines like Lakshmi through the fields –
a gentle stride, arms at her sides.
By the houses, stooping her beauty
to the earth, she raises the brimming bucket,
its stench sealing her nostrils. Slurry clings
to hair and skin, but nothing changes
on her face, only a puckering of lips
in silent thanks to Kali
for twenty years of women’s work,
this dawn till dusk that’s nurtured seven sons;
thanks that she’s never known the blessing of –
nor visited this curse upon –
a daughter.

– Jill Sharp

Jill Sharp: Untouchable, from Ye gods (Indigo Dreams, 2015)

A Miracle at Iskitim

In Siberia, a symbol –
this is what the locals believe,
a magical birth of water:

a fresh water spring, a spurt
close to the ground, a low white
eternal flame.
We dip our cups
(plastic, from the hotel) and say,
“It tastes pure. The water is pure.”

Some people here heard the last trucks
grind out of sight, after they shut
the ‘lagpunkt’,
the slow-killing place,
left the scar for people like us
in a half circle, dark barrels

in our padded coats, gloves, hats, scarves …
With our white breaths, we breathe out lives
as we raise up transparent cups,

“The future came too late.”

– Dilys Wood

In her Gulag, A History (Penguin, 2004)Anne Applebawm refers to a new fresh-water spring near a former camp at Iskatim.

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SLN, through community, classes, magazines and books, regularly serves up thought-provoking, often heart stirring and always engaging poetry by women as well as informative explorations and analyses of poems, collections, news and views. Whether you are an experienced professional or an amateur poet, there’s plenty to enjoy here, plenty to learn and think about. I venture to say though that if you are an older woman poet working to find your voice, you’ll discover special inspiration and encouragement through Second Light.

Membership (demographic restrictions), ARTEMISpoetry and the anthologies and other books can be purchased through Second Light Network of Women Poets or p f poetry

©the poets own the copyrights to their poems and they are featured here with permission; the photograph of the Artemis statue is courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen and generously released by her into the Public Domain.

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