“Lifting the Sky” … a poem from the latest collection of London’s Myra Schneider

English Poet Myra Schneider at her 80th Birthday celebration and the launch of her 12th collection

“I think that the poet can write forcefully, using a different approach from a journalist, about subjects such as climate change, violence, abuse and mental illness and that this is meaningful to others. I very much believe too that poetry is a way of celebrating life. I think it deserves a central place in our world.” Myra Schneider



Plant yourself in the quiet on a familiar floor
or on an uncut summer lawn

and, thinking of seabirds, stretch out your arms,
let them ascend through the unresisting air.

With palms facing upwards, travel your hands
till your fingertips almost meet,

then release your breath, begin to separate yourself
from the weight of all that lies on you.

Allow your mind to open to this moment and your arms
to rise as they lift the palpable blue

high above the crown of your head.
Your wings will fold away

but raise them slowly to the blue again, maybe
a lightness like liquid amber will flow through you.

excerpt with permission from Lifting the Sky (Ward Wood Publishing, 2018)

© 2018, Myra Schneider

Note: Lifting the Sky is an exercise in the Chinese meditation and breathing practice of Qigong



The poetry collection, Lifting the Sky, may be purchased directly from Myra or from Ward Wood Publishing.  Myra’s Amazon Page U.S. is HERE. Her Amazon Page U.K. is HERE. Some of Myra’s collections are available through Anne Stewart’s pf poetry.



Myra is a poet and writer, a poetry coach, a teacher at the Poetry School (London), and consultant to Second Light Network of Women Poets (SLN). Myra also teaches a remote (distance learning) class through SLN. Details HERE.

Myra’s poetry collection, Lifting The Sky “explores the theme of survival in many contexts: from the perils facing refugees and survivors of war to the detailed and tender mating ritual of endangered seahorses.

Threats to the environment are balanced by the preservation of delicate objects in ancient burial sites such as Sutton Hoo, which is also a meditation about death.

The narrative sequence Edge is a tour de force, presenting a diary of artistic and emotional breakdown due to depression followed by healing and restored creativity.” Ward Wood Publishing

Award Winning British Poet, Myra Schneider (b. 1936), Writer, Writing Coach, Consultant to Second Light Nework of Women Poets

Myra Schneider said in an interview HERE, that “I believe the role of the poet is to reflect on human experience and the world we live in and to articulate it for oneself and others. Many people who suffer a loss or go through a trauma feel a need for poetry to give voice to their grief and to support them through a difficult time. When an atrocity is committed poems are a potent way of expressing shock and anger, also of bearing witness. I think that the poet can write forcefully, using a different approach from a journalist, about subjects such as climate change, violence, abuse and mental illness and that this is meaningful to others. I very much believe too that poetry is a way of celebrating life. I think it deserves a central place in our world.”

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My (Jamie’s) SLN member page is HERE.

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SECOND LIGHT NETWORK OF WOMEN POETS, 2019 EVENTS; 2019 CHRISTOPHER TOWER POETRY COMPETITION

“Poetry puts starch in your backbone so you can stand, so you can compose your life.” Maya Angelou



SECOND LIGHT NETWORK OF WOMEN POETS

It’s been way too long since I’ve reminded everyone of this organization, a fave of mine, and encouraged you to check it out. That’s only because I’ve been so busy and not because of any lack of enthusiasm for the organization or its poet members.

I favor Second Light because of its committment to poetry education and for encouraging, promoting, and publishing poetry by women, especially women who come to poetry late in life.  It’s “never too late” the saying goes and Second Light seems to prove that indeed it is not too late to learn, to create and to appreciate beautiful poetry.

Second Light has the fair-sized, faithful and active participation of women to whom it offers support by way of connection, classes (including remote classes), competitions and publication opportunities, anthologies of women’s poetry and the biannual ARTEMISpoetry magazine. You can order copies of ARTEMISpoetry HERE. The November issue was just published.

Membership information and sign-up for email alerts are HERE.

While membership in Second Light is restricted to women, the poetry shared is for everyone.  This poetry includes works by accomplished – if lesser known poets – and works of well-established poets you may have long admired including R. V. Bailey, Jackie Kay, Mimi Khalvati, Anne StewartMyra Schneider and Dilys Wood, the founder of Second Light.

SECOND LIGHT Dates For Your Diary, 2019:
Fri 24th & Sat 25th May: Spring Festival: Writing Our Selves *
Mon 15th to Fri 19th July: Holland House: Location, location, location… *
[Jul/Aug date t/f] Second Light Poetry Competition for Long & Short Poems by Women *
Fri 22nd & Sat 23rd November Autumn Festival: ‘Poetry Makes Nothing Happen’ **

MORE INFORMATION on events and other activities HERE.


2019 Christopher Tower Poetry Competition

Demographic restrictions: youth aged 16 – 18 and in school in the U.K.

Every year, six young people are awarded a total of £5000 in prize-money for writing a poem. The first prize is £3000, second £1500, and third £500, with three runner-up prizes of £250 each. These awards are for a poem on a set theme, judged each year by a panel of contemporary poets.

The theme for 2019 is ‘Underwater’.

There is no entry fee. The competition is open to people between 16-and-18 years old, who are in full-or-part-time education in the UK. Entries are judged anonymously.

For more information and to enter the competition, go to www.towerpoetry.org.uk/prize.

The closing date for entries is the 1st of March 2019 and winners will be announced on the 29th of March 2019.


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Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. I currently run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers. My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman. My poetry was recently read by Northern California actor Richard Lingua for Poetry Woodshed, Belfast Community Radio. I was featured in a lengthy interview on the Creative Nexus Radio Show where I was dubbed “Poetry Champion.”


The BeZine: Waging the Peace, An Interfaith Exploration featuring Fr. Daniel Sormani, Rev. Benjamin Meyers, and the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi among others

“What if our religion was each other. If our practice was our life. If prayer, our words. What if the temple was the Earth. If forests were our church. If holy water–the rivers, lakes, and ocean. What if meditation was our relationships. If the teacher was life. If wisdom was self-knowledge. If love was the center of our being.” Ganga White, teacher and exponent of Yoga and founder of White Lotus, a Yoga center and retreat house in Santa Barbara, CA

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.” Lucille Clifton

POET, TEACHER, INSPIRATION: Dilys Wood and the Latter-day Saphos

Sappho (/ˈsæfoʊ/; Attic Greek Σαπφώ [sapːʰɔ̌ː], Aeolic Greek Ψάπφω, Psappho [psápːʰɔː]) was a Greek lyric poet, born on the island of Lesbos. The Alexandrians included her in the list of nine lyric poets. She was born sometime between 630 and 612 BCE, and it is said that she died around 570 BCE, but little is known for certain about her life. The bulk of her poetry, which was well-known and greatly admired through much of antiquity, has been lost; however, her immense reputation has endured through surviving fragments.

“Sappho (/ˈsæfoʊ/; Attic Greek Σαπφώ [sapːʰɔ̌ː], Aeolic Greek Ψάπφω, Psappho [psápːʰɔː]) was a Greek lyric poet, born on the island of Lesbos. The Alexandrians included her in the list of nine lyric poets. She was born sometime between 630 and 612 BCE, and it is said that she died around 570 BCE, but little is known for certain about her life. The bulk of her poetry, which was well-known and greatly admired through much of antiquity, has been lost; however, her immense reputation has endured through surviving fragments.” [Wikipedia]


When this post originally went up a few years ago, The Poet by Day didn’t have quite the following that is does now. Hence the repost. Both poet and organization are deserving of wide audience and big applause. / J.D., June 18, 2018.

Sunday: I began my dive into Dilys Wood’s Antarctica* (Greendale Press, 2008), spending my discretionary time engaged by this collection, which includes The South Pole Inn, a novella in verse.

“I dreamt I gave you the white continent
I wrapped it in white wedding wrap, embossed
with silver penguins and skiis …”
from Her Birthday Present in the section Love in a Freezing Climate: Four Poems

*****

“Wherever I look, the bacillus of melt
weakens the floes.”
from Future

DILYS WOOD is a poet, an editor and the founder (“convenor” as she might say) of the London-based Second Light Network of Women Poets (SLN), which produces the biannual ARTEMISpoetry and includes a publishing arm, Second Light Publishing.  I first encountered Dilys thanks to Myra Schneider. That award-winning poet with eleven published collections is a consultant to SLN.

While Internet and email have a way of helping to cross borders and make affinity-based connections, closing the gaps in culture and miles – in this case some 5,500 miles as the crow flies – the tools are imperfect. It’s not the same as meeting, talking and observing in person. However, when you read what people write, when they risk themselves by putting their very souls on paper, you do get to know something about their values and passions. My strongest sense of Dilys was as the quiet persistent energy behind a women’s poetry collective and an apparently indefatigable advocate for women’s right – including women over 40 – to poetic voice. 

At the point in which I first encountered Myra, Dilys and SLN, Dilys had collaborated on (mainly with Myra) four anthologies of women’s poetry. She had two collections of her own poetry published, Women Come to a Death (Databases, 1999) and Antarctica. That was, I think around 2010. Since that time, we are gifted through Dilys and Myra, Anne Stewart (poetry p fand others on the SLN team with so many fine anthologies and magazines of women’s poetry, that I can hardly keep track. 

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Dilys is modest in presenting herself. Her Poet’s Page on SLN’s website says simply –

Dilys started writing poetry again after retiring from the Civil Service, where her jobs included being secretary of the Women’s National Commission. She shortly after founded Second Light, focussed on the needs of women reconnecting with writing after forty. Second Light Network developed into a support group and, on a small scale (though reviews suggest significant), publisher of women’s poetry. Together with her own writing (Antarctica, 2008; Women Come to a Death, Katabasis, 1997), Dilys has been the joint editor (mainly with Myra Schneider) of 4 womens poetry anthologies.

If The Poet by Day was a poem, its title would have to have the tagline after Dilys Wood. This site is not the product of collaboration and membership. Nonetheless, its commitment to sharing information on poets and poetry, including gifted if lesser-known poets, and promoting and encouraging poets who are marginalized by their gender, ethnicity, disability or age – is very definitely inspired by Dilys’ work and commitment to mature women and the work and commitment of Myra Schneider and the other SLN women as well as by my own love of poets and poetry and the whole of poesy history and culture.

This is Dilys in her own words as she “spoke” in a guest blog post here several years ago:

NEW SAPPHOS, CHALLENGES FOR WOMEN POETS

I run a network for women poets and naturally I want our members to be treated equitably, with recognition of any woman’s potential to be in the top flight of creative artists.

Some poets feel that ‘male and female he made them’ should not be an issue. I disagree because I want to celebrate and gain personal inspiration from the last fifty years. There has been a vastly increased involvement of women as students of poetry, published poets, book purchasers and consumers of ‘products’ such as poetry festivals. I also want it debated why this has not meant equality of treatment by journals.

Why do some leading journals publish fewer poems by women and use fewer women reviewers? What part is played by prejudice and what by our diffidence? Do we submit enough work and persist when submissions are rejected? Are there subtle shades of prejudice? Are we taken seriously on ‘women’s topics’ but not when writing about spiritual experience or politics?

A first step is to convince ourselves that there is no ceiling. Emily Dickinson surely lives up to the epithet ‘unique genius’? Her work is incredibly economical, dense, universal and deeply moving. She is totally original in style and thought. Her work alone ought to kill the slur that biology-based inferiority explains historical under-achievement.

So many more women have found now their voice. Let’s celebrate poets who excite us, from Emily Bronte (say) to Jorie Graham (say). We can also start thinking seriously about differences and about inflated reputations. Let’s be wary about ‘celebrity status’. This tends to narrows true appreciation. Read voraciously. Include lesser known poets and dead poets. You will be impressed by how much exciting writing is on offer.

– Dilys Wood

* “Antarctica,” Greendale Press, 2008 (all proceeds to Second Light Network funds). �5.95 through poetry p f (scroll down on the page to which this is linked)

© The New Sapphos, Dilys portrait, book cover art, Dilys Wood; © introduction, Jamie Dedes; Sapho embrassant sa lyre Jules Elie Delaunay (1828-1891), public domain

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ABOUT

Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication, currently run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers. My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman. My poetry was recently read by Northern California actor Richard Lingua for Poetry Woodshed, Belfast Community Radio. I was featured in a lengthy interview on the Creative Nexus Radio Show where I was dubbed “Poetry Champion.”

* The BeZine: Waging the Peace, An Interfaith Exploration featuring Fr. Daniel Sormani, Rev. Benjamin Meyers, and the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi among others

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.” Lucille Clifton

ARTEMISpoetry, issue 19 has landed in the U.S.


ARTEMISpoetry’s (U.K.) nineteenth issue landed in my mailbox this evening. Yes! It’s always a good day when a fave poetry magazine arrives, especially good on a day like today that was grueling. Once I finish reading this issue, I’ll write the editors and get permissions to bring you some samplings. Meanwhile, I encourage you to explore Second Light Network (SLN) of Women Poets. As I say, probably ad nauseum, the poetry is by women but it is for everyone.

I’m pleased to see this issue is focused on accessibility, an important concern for poets and poetry lovers.  The editors are Katherine Gallagher (Katherine Gallager’s Website), Dilys Wood (Dilys page on SLN), and Anne Stewart (poetry p f).

Myra Schneider (Myra Schneider’s Poetry Website) gifts us with a fine interview of Deborah Alma the “Emergency Poet,” who was also interviewed by Mendes Biondo (Ramingo’s Blog), one of the founding editors of Ramingo’s Porch, in The BeZine – The Healing Adventures of Poemedic, Deborah Alma. We love Deborah’s idea/ideal of bringing poetry to people in need. Talk about accessibility.

In the opening editorial, Katherine and Dilys write:

“Selling poetry as the provision of life-belts for deep distress is a good play but can’t be the whole story. Poets are ‘servants of the Muse.’ ‘Inspiration’ can mean having no choice in what we write when impelled towards a certain form or subject matter.  Though some poets place serious reliance on ‘first readers’ (often fellow-poets), poetry is by no means necessarily driven by out-reach. A poet may be concerned with the ‘great issues of the day’ or not. This reflects the person – active citizen or primarily concerned with inner life?  Poets must also grapple with their demanding medium.”

You can purchase ARTEMISpoetry through Anne Stewart’s poetry p f and sign-up for membership in SLN as well, if so inclined. There are demographic restrictions on membership (age, gender) and its most productive for those living in the London area, but membership is open to women poets anywhere in the world.

Second Light offers workshops including remote (distance) learning, poetry reading events, competitions and publication of anthologies as well as the magazine. Info on Calls for Submissions for Issue 20 is HERE

If you live in the UK, you’ll want to reserve these dates (details on the site) in 2018:

  • Friday 25th & Saturday 26th May, Spring Festival
  • Monday 30th July to Friday 3rd August, Holland House Residential
  •  Friday 16th & Saturday 17th November, Autumn Festival

This year has been a physically challenging year but I hope in February 2018 to start catch-up on reviews for you of collections from SLN members Myra Schneider, Anne Stewart and few others and to restart the Celebrating American She-Poets series, something I look forward to and hope you do as well.

Meanwhile, my friends, poem on … and come out to play for Wednesday Writing Prompt tomorrow, a poem on Thursday, and an introduction to the Israeli Diaphanous Press written by Krysia Jopek, poet, artist and publisher on Friday.


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