SECOND LIGHT NETWORK OF WOMEN POETS: News and Information

In the Medieval Period, Sappho had a reputation as an educated woman and talented poet. In this woodcut, illustrating an early incunable of Giovanni Boccaccio’s De mulieribus claris (Concerning Famous Women), Sappho is portrayed surrounded by books and musical instruments. Boccaccio (1313-1375) was an Italian writer, poet and Renaissance humanist.
Dilys Wood, SLN founder and poet, editor and publisher

SECOND LIGHT NETWORK OF WOMEN POETS (SLN), founded by poet, editor and publisher, Dilys Wood, was created to encourage and promote women poets – forty-plus.  SLN lives in London but membership is open to women poets over forty-years old living anywhere in the world.


NEWS & INFORMATION

SLN’s ARTEMISpoetry, Issue 18, themed “Risks in Poetry” is just out and can be purchased from Second Light via Anne Stewart’s poetry pf. 

Anne Stewart, poet, poetry tutor, founder of poetry pf and administrator to SLN

Each issue of ARTEMISpoetry is chock full of information, inspiration, poetry and introductions to good poets who might be new to you. There’s always a sprinkling of black-and-white art and often a clever cartoon by Kate Foley. A “note board” provides news and updates on publications by member poets and on events, conferences, classes and poetry readings. These latter are in and around London and so mostly benefit local poets.  

ARTEMISpoetry, Call for Submissions – Opportunity Knocks

Issue 19, November 2017  

Editors for Issue 19 are: General & Artwork – Dilys Wood and Katherine Gallagher; Poetry – Anne Stewart.

New: Readers’ Letters are invited. Comments on the journal’s content or anything you would like to see discussed in relation to women’s writing. (max 100 words).

All submissions: submit paper copy initially to Dilys Wood, 3 Springfield Close, East Preston, West Sussex, BN16 2SZ. Please write “ARTEMISpoetry” on your envelope. (Enquiries only: e-mail Administrator editor@poetrypf.co.ukPoems: Issue 19 deadline – August 31, 2017

Poems by women of any age. Poems should be typed, or if written, then very neatly. Each poem should commence on a new page, headed “Submission for ARTEMISpoetry”. Please SEND TWO COPIES.  Include your name with each poem and include your name and full contact details in your submission. Long poems are considered. Submit up to four poems to a maximum of 200 lines in all.

Artwork: Black and white photographs or line art. Submit up to four pieces to Dilys as above.


EVENTS

Bookings open for AUTUMN FESTIVAL in mid-to-late August. This Festival is scheduled for November 17 & 18 this year.

Bookings open for SPRING FESTIVAL in mid-to-late February 2018. This Festival is scheduled for May. Exact dates to be announced.

Details HERE.


COMPETITION

Poet, poetry tutor and consultant to SNL

Second Light Poetry Competition for Long and Short Poems by Women 2017 – Deadline Tuesday, August 15th

JUDGE MYRA SCHNEIDER will read all entries. Myra Schneider’s latest and recent books are Persephone in Finsbury Park (SLP), The Door to Colour (Enitharmon); What Women Want (SLP); and the writing resource, Writing Your Self (with John Killick). Myra is a Poetry School and Second Light regular tutor. More at Myra Schneider website where you can also order Myra’s books

Awards:

  • £300 First Prize for each of Long (no upper limit) and Short (max 50 lines) poems
  • £150 Second Prize (1 poem from either category)
  • £75 Third Prize (1 poem from either category)

Winning & Commended Poets published (in full or extract) in ARTEMISpoetry. Winners offered a London reading.

Entry fees are:

  • £6 each per long poem.
  • Short poems: £4 each or £9 for 3, £14 for 8. Enter by post (2 copies) or online.

Members are entitled to one free entry into the competition. Join now to be eligible.** (see About Second Light/Joining)

Rules & Entry direct link to payment at poetry p f online shop.

The competition results will be posted on the website by September 30th. Once winning poems (or extracts) are published in ARTEMISpoetry, they will be available to read there.


REMOTE (DISTANCE LEARNING) WORKSHOPS

REMOTE WORKSHOPS, a service you can access from anywhere in the world, are offered. There are two courses from which to choose with eight sections each. The workbooks are two of the many poetry anthologies published by SLN, Her Wings of Glass and Fanfare, both can be purchased from poetry pfWorkshop details HERE

PERCEPTIONS OF TIME, a full-day remote/distance workshop (5 hours plus) designed by Myra Sneider. Price: £8.

“Time plays a central role in every aspect of our lives. The workshop explores ways in which we perceive time and how we represent these perceptions in writing.

“Past experience crucially influences how we view the present and future. Earth’s distant past, cosmological time are difficult to imagine … Clock time is fixed but our impressions of time are subjective – an hour’s enjoyable exercise session will seem to be over quickly, but the minutes drag during a boring lecture…”

Further details on Myra Schneider (workshop designer and tutor) are HERE.

To order, contact Administrator, Anne Stewart, +44 (0)1689 811394 / +44 (0)7850 537489 or e-mail

Poems written in these workshops are invited for consideration for ARTEMISpoetry.


REMEMBERING MARY MacRAE

Poet Mary MacRae

THE MARY MacRAE ACCESS TO POETRY MEMORIAL FUND: “many will remember the outstanding poet and Second Light member, Mary MacRae (her books As Birds Do and Inside the Brightness of Red are available from Second Light).

“The Fund has been created in her memory, begun with a substantial donation from Mary’s family, with the intention of providing modest grants to enable local members on low income, along with a travel companion if they are unable to travel alone, to come to Second Light events.

“If anyone would like to make a contribution to the fund in Mary’s memory, all donations, however small, will be most welcome. Donate to the Fund

Making an Application

“Members on low income, who may not otherwise be able to attend Second Light events, may apply for assistance with local travel, for themselves only or for themselves and a travelling companion, if they are unable to travel alone. Recipients will be asked to make receipts for expenditure available whenever possible. Applicants should be aware that Donors of substantial amounts to the Fund may be given access to Fund records on a confidential basis.”

Download Application Form


CONNECT

Photo credits: header is courtesy of cladcat under CC-BY 2.0 license; © photo portraits of poets Dilys, Myra and Anne belong to them and Mary’s to her estate; Sappho Eresia (below) is in the public domain


Hermaic pillar with a female portrait, so-called “Sappho”; inscription “Sappho Eresia” ie. Sappho from Eresos. Roman copy of a Greek Classical original.

RELATED:

My SLN member page is HERE.


Jamie’s THE WORDPLAY SHOP: books, tools and supplies for poets, writers and readers

Inside the Brightness of Red

Mary MacRae (1942 - 2009), English poet
Mary MacRae (1942 – 2009), English poet and educator

NOTE: Originally published here about two years ago, this post is worthy of a wider audience and more than one read; and so, with some additions, I post it again for the benefit new readers and old. Among other things, the evolution of Mary’s poetic grace in her maturity is certain inspiration for those who come to their art late in life as she did. Enjoy …

Mary MacRae “wrote and published poetry for only the last ten years of her life, after ill-health forced her to take early retirement from teaching. She taught for 15 years at the James Allen Girls School (JAGS), Dulwich, London. Her commitment to writing led to her deep involvement with the first years of the Poetry School under Mimi Khalvati, studying with Mimi and Myra Schneider, whose advanced poetry workshop she attended for 8 years. In these groups her exceptional talent was quickly recognised, leading to publication in many magazines and anthologies.” MORE (Second Light Live)

Elder

A breathing space:
the house expands around me,
·
shopbrightnessunfolds elastic lungs
drowsing me back
·
to other times and rooms
where I’ve sat alone
writing, as I do now,
when syncope –
·
one two three one two –
breaks in;
·
birdcall’s stained
the half-glazed door with colour,
·
enamelled the elder tree
whose ebony drops
·
hang in rich clusters
on shining scarlet stalks
·
while with one swift stab
the fresh-as-paint
·
starlings get to the heart
of the matter
of matter
·
in a gulp of flesh
and clotted juice that leaves me
·
gasping for words transparent
as glass, as air.

Mary MacRae

Elder is from Mary MacRae’s postumously published collection, “Inside the Color of Red,” published here with the permission of the publisher and Ms. MacRae’s family. © poem, portrait, and book cover art (above and below), estate of Mary MacRae, All rights reserved

Δ

shopasbirdsdoMy profound gratitude to poet Myra Schneider for the introduction to a new-to-me poet, Mary MacRae, and to poet Dilys Wood of The Second Light Network (England) for granting this interview. Jamie Dedes

JAMIE: Clearly, and as has been stated by others, Mary was profoundly inspired by art, nature (particularly flowers and gardens), and love. What can you tell us about her life and interests that would account for that?

DILYS: Mary writes tender and accurate poems about wild nature, creatures and landscape, drawing on her stays in a cottage on an untamed part of the coast in Kent, England and visits to her daughter living in remote West Wales. In her London home, it’s easy to guess from her poems about garden birds and flowers how much time she spent at the window. She almost always sees nature in flux, changing moment by moment, unpredictable, mysterious, a spiritual inspiration. One of her great strengths as a poet is catching movement.

Many of Mary’s poems focus on love between close family members. This may relate to a difficult relationship with her own father, which she sought to understand, and the relationships which compensated (with mother, sister, husband Lachlan, daughter and grandchild). A back problem prevented her from holding her baby daughter and she often refers in her poems to young children. She clearly has a yearning towards them.

JAMIE: She wrote poetry apparently only at the end of her life and for ten years. What were her creative outlets before that? How did she come to poetry?

DILYS: Mary was a dedicated teacher of English Literature and language in a leading girls’ secondary school. She was also deeply interested in music and painting (these are strongly reflected in her poetry). Though she had written as a young woman she followed the pattern of many women creative artists in becoming absorbed into her home life and her paid work, only turning to writing when her illness released her from the daily grind of intensive teaching. The remarkable, rapid development of her poetry shows how strong her latent powers really were.

JAMIE: Was writing poetry a part of her healing process when she was diagnosed with cancer? If so, how did it help her?

DILYS: I’m confident that Mary’s diagnosis with cancer enabled her to change her life-style and from then on concentrate on her poetry, urged by the sense that she might be short of time. There is no evidence that Mary wrote therapeutically to come to terms with her cancer. In fact she only ever addressed her illness in relation to the possible unkindness of fate in cutting her off from beloved people and life itself. The poems written in the last 2-3 years of her life give the impression that her dedication to writing, with the spiritual experiences which accompanied it, enabled her to bear terrible distress. She records this distress, using imaginative and metaphorical approaches to focus it, and these poems make heart-wrenching reading.

JAMIE: Can you tell us about her process? When did she write? Where? For how long?

211309305DILYS: I have the impression that Mary’s life revolved around three things, people she loved, gathering experiences that would feed her poetry (travel, listening to music, visiting galleries) and very hard work in direct furtherance of her writing (extensive reading, attending workshops with other inspirational poets, writing, revising and submitting her poems to criticism from critics she respected). She used notebooks to make a full, accurate record of those experiences – landscapes, human encounters, thoughts – that would feed her work. There is an extract from one such entry in the section about keeping a journal in the resource book Writing Your Self, Transforming Personal Material by Myra Schneider and John Killick. This book also includes a contribution in the chapter on spirituality which reveals much about Mary’s attitudes to life, nature and also her writing process.

JAMIE: Do you have any advice from her for other poets and aspiring poets?

DILYS: Mary was a dedicated writer, entirely sincere in her commitment to poetry as opposed to ‘career’ as a poet. She was always ready to enjoy and praise the widest range of subject-matter, approaches and styles from other poets, providing she thought they were ‘busting a gut’ to get their poems right, and not indulging in the trendy or superficial, which she despised (whether from well-knowns or unknowns). She put much emphasis on wide-reading of both past and contemporary poets and she herself had absorbed a huge amount of other poets’ work, always quoting fully and accurately. She liked using another’s work as a starting pont for her own (the Glose) and particularly admired the work in strict form (including SonnetVillanelle and Ghazal), which began to be more acceptable from the mid-1990s (eg from such poets as Marilyn Hacker and Mimi Khalvati).

JAMIE: Are any other collections of her poetry planned? If so, when might we look forward to them?

DILYS: When putting together ‘Inside the Brightness of Red’, Myra Schneider and I went through the whole of Mary’s unpublished work and selected all those poems we felt were both complete and would have satisfied her high standards. What remains unpublished would be mainly fragments and early versions of poems she did more work on. There will not, as far as we know, be a further book, but Mary did achieve her aim of being a significant lyric poet, whose work is very attractive, polished and, above all (as she would have wished) deeply moving and consolatory.

* The Second Light Network aims to promote women’s poetry and to help women poets, especially but not only older women poets develop their work. It runs weekends of workshops and readings in London usually twice a year, a residential extended workshop with readings and discussions at least once every 18 months and occasional other events. It is nationwide and includes and some members who live outside Britain altogether. Importantly Dilys is the main editor of ARTEMIS poetry a major poetry magazine for women produced by Second Light twice a year for all women poets. It includes a lot of reviews and some articles as well as poetry. Second L. members receive it free as part of their subscription. An e-newsletter is sent out every few weeks. A few anthologies of poetry have been published by the network but now this magazine has been developed books are only produced in special circumstances – such as Mary’s collections.

Thanks to Second Light Web Administrator, poet Ann Stewart, for the following: The books (Inside the Brightness of Red and As Birds Do) can be bought: via order form and cheque in post: http://www.secondlightlive.co.uk/books.shtml or here online: http://www.poetrypf.co.uk/shop.php (typing  ‘ Mary MacRae collection ’ in the filter box will reduce the list to just those 2 books).

SEPTEMBER 26, 2012: Announcing New Website for Poet Mary MacRae

 

The deeper I go into Mary MacRae’s poems the more spacious my own world becomes. Anne Cluysenaar

The English poet Mary MacRae died of cancer in 2009. Were it not for the love and commitment of her poet-friends at Second Light Network, we might not have the gift of her poetry to savor in our quiet moments. Poet, teacher and consultant to Second Light Network, Myra Schneider  wrote and asked me to let you know that they have established a website for Mary.

The wide range of poems in Inside the Brightness of Red includes poignant work written when she was terminally ill but also beautiful lyric poems about childhood, youth, relations with parents, marriage, friendship and her responses to art and nature. Dilys Wood

Mary’s love of life … of nature, birds, flowers, gardens, art and family and friends are evident in precise multicolored layers of her work. She was published in several prestigious literary magazines.

Her enormous warmth and zest for life were balanced with a sensitivity and deep compassion that invited many to confide in her, came into play in her perceptive and incisive criticism and pervaded her poems. Lucy Hamilton

Mary won two poetry prizes: Scintilla magazine’s Long Poem Competition and a joint first prize in the Second Light Poetry Competition. Her work is included in the second Poetry School Anthology, Entering the Tapestry (Enitharmon Press 2003) and in Four Caves of the Heart (Second Light Publications, 2004). Second Light published two collections of Mary’s poems: Inside the Color of Red and As Birds Do. 

To read a small selection of Mary MacRae’s poems – of special note is Jury – link HERE.  You can buy Mary’s two poetry collections through the website.

With permission I published the following poem before on this blog and I post it again as an example of Mary’s work. Please enjoy, but remember that it is copyrighted with all rights reserved. It belongs to Mary’s estate. This poem is from Inside the Color of Red. 

Note: I have also put a link to Mary’s site, Myra’s site, and to Second Light Network in my blogroll under Poets and Friends, which a new and developing section of my blogroll.

ELDER

by Mary MacCrae

·

A breathing space:

the house expands around me,

·

unfolds elastic lungs

drowsing me back

·

to other times and rooms

where I’ve sat alone

writing, as I do now,

when syncope –

·

one two three one two –

breaks in;

·

birdcall’s stained

the half-glazed door with colour,

·

enamelled the elder tree

whose ebony drops

·

hang in rich clusters

on shining scarlet stalks

·

while with one swift stab

the fresh-as-paint

·

starlings get to the heart

of the matter

of matter

·

in a gulp of flesh

and clotted juice that leaves me

·

gasping for words transparent

as glass, as air.

© poem and photograph, Estate of Mary MacRae, all rights reserved