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.

Opsimaths, Polymaths and Poets

chap-book

As you already know, I am enamoured of Second Light Network of Women Poets for its committment to poetry education and for encouraging and promoting 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.  The May 2015 issue is out now and you can order it HERE. 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.

These and other women serve as role-models and also are often involved as judges of competitions, as editors of publications and as teachers through Second Light in workshop settings, through remote education or through The Poetry School, “the U.K.’s largest provider of poetry education.”

Polymath ~ a person with a wide range of knowledge or learning.

Each May and November when my copy of ARTEMISpoetry arrives I’m always delighted with the depth of learning that continues and with the wide range of knowledge, interests and observation that informs the poetry. What follows is an overview of the November 2014 issue and three poems from that issue.

* * * * * 

“Nights, I squat in the cornucopia
Of your left ear, out of the wind,

Counting the red stars and those of plum-color.
The sun rises under the pillar of your tongue.
My hours are married to shadow.
No longer do I listen for the scrape of a keel
On the blank stones of the landing.”

“”
from The Colossus”, The Colossus and Other Poems, 1960, Sylvia Plath

The November 2014 issue of ARTEMISpoetry is dedicated to Sylvia Plath (1932-1963), the renown American poet, novelist and short story writer who produced in her foreshortened life a remarkable body of work that influenced her contemporaries and continues to inspire poets to this day.

If you are a fan of Plath, this issue will delight you for the fresh imaginative breath of its insight. If you are new to Plath, this issue will serve as an excellent introduction to her. It includes an imagined interview of Plath by Kay Syrad.  Anne Stevenson briefly tells of her struggle to maintain the appropriate detachment when writing Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath and how depleted she felt when she finished the biography in May 1988.  The narrative is followed by a quite lengthy and somewhat charged poem, A Letter to Sylvia Plath, which is an excerpt from Stevenson’s book, Poems 1955-2005 (Bloodaxe Books).

The last stanza of Anne Stevenson’s poem ~

“We learn to be human when we kneel
To imagination, which is real
Long after reality is dead
And history has put its bones to bed.
Sylvia, you have won at last,
Embodying the living past,
Catching the anguish of your age
In accents of a private rage”

Also included is Three Young Poets on Plath’s Influence that you can read HERE in the April 2015 issue of The BeZine, which was dedicated to poetry. Second Light partnered with us (The Bardo Group) in April for interNational Poetry Month.

I was happy to see Alison Blackenbury‘s piece on Jenny Joseph. Featured poets were R.V. Bailey and Adele Ward, who is also a publisher. 2014 Poetry Competition winners were announced and their poems published. As with every issue, this one was rich with poetry, reviews, and announcements of events, collections published, calls for submissions and other material of interest to members.

The poems that follow were published in the November 2014 issue and are included here with the permission of both publisher and poets. Enjoy …

Three of the poems published in ARTEMISpoetry, Issue 13, November 2014:

Featured Poet, back cover:

Flowers in the cemetery

Ahead of me as always, you were first
To die. But what possessed you, love,
Trusting a feckless gardener like me
To plant the flowers on your grave?

It’s garden-centre-best-suburban,
Sentimental, pink and blue,
Till in the natural course of things
I come to lie down here too.

Forget-me-nots and lavender –
What rustic cliches. Yes, I know:
I also know you will not care,
Since it was I who put them there.

– R V Bailey

Short Poem First Prize Winner
Second Light Open Poetry Competition for Long and Short poems by women, 2014:

By Heart

Once she had to memorize the chemical elements
of soil, learn how to measure the height of trees
using sine and cosine and how to address a letter
to a bishop – information lost now in dusty
box files in a corner of her brain, with lists
of Latin verbs and conjugations, the Attributes
of the Virgin Mary and which feast days a priest
wore rose or purple. But she remembers maples
graded from cinnabar to porphyry stretching
across the Laurentian hills like reels of Sylko
in a haberdasher’s drawer; the rustle of raven wings
through cedars as an Indian canoe skims the surface
of a turquoise lake; castles carved from blocks
of ice, snow on the windshield as she left.

– Margaret Beston

Commended
Second Light Open Poetry Competition, for Long and Short poems by women, 2014

Pray

Pray for Aurelia. She has a court case pending
and she misses her children. (Prayer Request, Church of Our Lady)

Pray for her.
For God has made her in his own image.
For this image startles her as she passes a shop window.
For she sees a cardigan (sleeves unravelling),
skirt (waist tied with string). Odd socks.
For the name-tag on her coat says Melanie.
For she knows God will clothe her. She’s a lily of the field.
For she has no thoughts of tomorrow.

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof

She’s fat with drugs. They’ve stuffed and stuffed her.
She has no teeth.
Her children have been taken from her.

Pray for her.
For she has a first class degree but her mind has betrayed her.
For betrayal is the only thing she knows.
For her father lifts his grand-daughter onto the swing in the local park,
touching her ever so, ever so gently.

For her mother didn’t listen.
Nor her brother, her sister, her teacher, her lover.

She’s a loony.
She’s a swing door.
She’s a bin-liner.

Pray for her.
For God has made her in his own image.
For he is with her even through the valley of the shadow of death

Which is her life, you know. Her one and only. Life.


– Vivienne Tregenza

© 2015, magazine overview, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; photo ~ Newstand illustration by J.C. Leyendecker circa 1899; copyrights to all poems are held by their authors and rights are reserved

The Door to Colour…Part 1

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I don’t want to appoint myself to the position of apologist for blogging and social networking. I think there are others who could do that job better than I can, but I do believe these tools have a place and a value.

We all have fabulous people in our lives . . . friends, coworkers, neighbors and cherished family . . . folks who share our values, history and place in the world but not necessarily our zeal for a particular cause or art. One of the intrinsic benefits that comes with the ability to easily connect over distance is that it facilitates meeting and sometimes befriending others who share our passions . . .

And so I come to the way an American poet living in Silicon Valley met an English poet who lives in London.  It was over a red dress.  Myra Schneider had written a poem – part of a collection called Circling the Core – and I loved it. In the poem Myra tells about wanting a red sheath, how it didn’t fit comfortably and how in the end she was glad to shed the dress and retrieve her body despite its “flaws.”  You see, Myra’s a survivor of breast cancer. It so happened that around the same time I discovered the poem, read up on Myra and found some more of her work, I found myself sitting in a doctor’s office with a friend. I was there as her moral support and as a sort medical amanuensis. My friend was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I’ve had a number of friends who have survived breast cancer and a mother who succumbed to it and colon cancer.  I know about the fear, pain and the mutilation.  I had to post the poem for the others and I did so on September 28, 2010, THE RED DRESS by Myra Schneider . . . a poetry reading.

Somehow Myra happened on the post and wrote to thank me.  She sent me some of her books, which I eventually reviewed and she introduced me to Second Light Network of Women Poets, a group I appreciate and enjoy very much.  Thanks to Myra and Second Light, I’ve become acquainted with the work of quite a number of accomplished women poets I might never have encountered.

Myra subscribes to my blog. I read her books and articles. We are Facebook friends. Myra has generously contributed poems and feature articles to The BeZine, which I founded and edit. As you can see, blogging and social networking are not just the domain of philistines. They have their place among the artful … I know I am mostly preaching to the choir here. So many of us are WordPress, Facebook and Twitter friends based on our love of literature, art and music … most profoundly, our love poetry.

Now on to a review of Myra Schneider’s latest poetry collection, The Door to Colour (Enitharmon Press) … Look for it here tomorrow in Part 2 …

“Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting with the gift of speech.”
~Simonides of Ceos (556-468 BCE), Greek lyric poet

© 2015, article, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; 2015, photograph, Myra Schneider, All rights reserved

The BeZine, April, Volume 1, Issue 6, Table of Contents with links, Celebrating interNational Poetry Month

OUR THEME THIS MONTH:
POETRY in honor of
interNATIONAL POETRY MONTH

Mid-wife

A poem is as new as beginnings,
as fresh as the first day at school.

A poem is as bright as our admiration
for courage, our respect for freedom.

A poem is as early as the first leaf,
as white as the most swan-white cloud.

A poem is a drop of rain, a little
convex mirror with the prime of day in it.

A poem is so raw, so young that it has grown
no first, second or third skin.

Dilys Wood, All rights reserved

April 15, 2015

Poetry is that particular way of organizing our thoughts and imagination into music, emotion, image and story. Through poetry we live hugely, with more beauty, and we seek to break the limitations of our minds, to understand the powers that are living us (to borrow from Auden) and connect with the rest of humankind and that ineffable something that is greater than ourselves. It is both art and meditative practice. Ultimately it becomes a collaboration between writer and reader.

Celebrating poetry in April for interNational Poetry Month has been a Bardo Group tradition since 2011. This year, together with our partner, Second Light Network, our core team and our guest poets we bring you – as poets and poetry lovers – a rich collection of poems, resources and inspiration.

We are pleased to partner with Second Light Network of Women Poets and to bring to your attention the work of 100,000 Poets for Change and Stephen F. Austin State University Press, which recently published a new biography of Sylvia Plath by Julia Gordon-Bramer. Ms. Gordon-Bramer explores Plath’s work through her well known interest in Tarot and Qabalah.

It occurred to me as I was putting the final touches on this month’s The BeZine that there is a sub theme:  the way poets reach out not only with words – but with actions – to help make the world a better place.  Second Light Network reaches out to support women poets in their later years. 100,000 Poets for Change is a global effort  to raise awareness of environmental issues, climate change and human rights issues.  Poet Silva Zanoyan Merjanian, a Lebanese-American of Armenian decent, is donating the sales of her second book, Rumor (Cold River Press), to the Syrian Armenian Relief Fund. 

Second Light Network (SLN) of Women Poets

Founded by English poet Dilys Wood, SLN is all about encouraging and promoting the work of women in their third act, especially those who are coming to poetry for the first time late in life. Full membership is open to women over forty years and affiliate membership is open to those under forty. Visit Second Life Live for details. Membership is not limited to residents of the U.K.

SLN sponsors classes (including remote classes), is often able to make special arrangements for disabled, and publishes anthologies of women’s work and ARTEMISpoetry magazine (May and November). While the network is for women only, the poetry is for everyone.

– Jamie Dedes

The HEADER this month is the work of our AmeriQuebeckian poet Annie Wyndham, who publishes Salamander Cove. It has an irregular schedule. There’s a fine archive of poems from some of the world’s finest poets.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

BOOK EXCERPT

Fixed Stars Govern A Life: Decoding Sylvia Plath by Julia Gordon-Bramer.

SECOND LIGHT NETWORK (SLN) OF WOMEN POETS

About SLN
Second Light Welcomes Women Poets
Comments on Second Light: organization, publications and remote workshops
Enthusiastic Supporters of Second Light

Features from ARTEMISpoetry
Three Young Poets on Plath’s Influence by Kim Moore, Lavinia Singer and Sarah Westcott
We As Human Beings Must Not Forget, An Interview with Argentinian Poet Ana Becciú by Maria Jastrzębska
My Life in Poetry by Ann Stevenson
Petronella Checks Submission Guidelines by Kate Foley

100,000 POETS FOR CHANGE

Poets and Artists Raise Awareness, Work to Inspire Positive Change

Poems

Past Master by John Anstie
The Dream of a Poet by John Anstie

Le Fée Verte, Absinthe by Jamie Dedes
Blue Echo by Jamie Dedes
Wabi Sabi by Jamie Dedes

Father Sky by Priscilla Galasso
Morning Dove by Priscilla Galasso

How to Write a Poem by Joseph Hesch

The Saints in My Rain by Silva Zanoyan Merjanian; artwork by Steve McCabe
Converge by Silva Zanoyan Merjanian

race by Lilianna Negoi

The Will of the Quill by Corina Ravenscraft

Survival by Myra Schneider

Reel to Reel by Anne Stewart

Double Dutch by Terri Stewart

Reasons by Blaga Todorova
After Neruda by Blaga Todorova

Our Stories by Annie Wyndham

The BeZine, Issue 5
The BeZine, Issue 4
The BeZine, Issue 3
The BeZine, Issue 2
The BeZine, Issue 1

The Bardo Group/Beguine Again on Facebook

The BeZine is a publication of Bequine Again and The Bardo Group.