[Myra’s] poetry glows with an unembarrassed love of the quotidian – food, the kitchen, creatures, company, every leaf in the garden – especially the edible ones! – and almost above all, color.” Kate Foley, A Crimson Creed, Appreciating Myra Schneider
It’s equally wonderful after a long day to find this issue in my mailbox … with a bit of a new look, if I’m not mistaken … a little less content and a bit more white space to enhance the readability and quite a bit more artwork, most enjoyable.
Gil Learner co-edited this issue with Dilys Wood. Kate Foley is featured poet and Maggie Hawkins chose the wealth of poetry included. There’s a nice collection of book and pamphlet reviews to excite our appetites for more.
Reminders included: SLN’s poetry competition for long and short poems by women to be judged by Alison Brackenbury. The deadline is 31 August 2016 with winners to be announced on 30 October 2016. Details HERE. …. Opportunity knocks!
Thanks to Dilys and team for the mentions of this site and of The BeZine. Always appreciated … and I am happy and honored to be “the American connection.”
“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 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.
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
gone when you turn
and wave rippled mud
takes your footsteps, softly.
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 –
– 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
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 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.
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.
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.”
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 biannualARTEMISpoetryand includes a publishing arm, Second Light Publishing. I first encountered Dilys thanks toMyra 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)andAntarctica. That was, I think around 2010. Since that time, we are gifted through Dilys and Myra, Anne Stewart (poetry p f) and others on the SLN team with so many fine anthologies and magazines of women’s poetry, that I can hardly keep track.
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)
“Time had not teased me. I thought eternity was mine in which to live and in which to write. Thinking myself amazingly intelligent, I saw no reason to hide my light under a bushel basket. My youthful poetry paraded my stuff. I imitated Horace shamelessly; he still remains one of my favorite poets in the original Latin but I have grown up enough not to imitate him. Who could?
“Perhaps there will only be one Rita Mae. I’m not sure I could stand another one. Anyway, as I learned more and more about language and literature I also learned more and more about my own limitations. I wanted to write a perfect poem. I was soon humbled and wanted to write a great poem. I eventually became realistic: I wanted to write a good poem.”
. . . so says American novelist, screenwriter, POET and activist, Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) in the intro to Poems, poetry from her two published collections combined into one book. Who among us can’t sympathize with that ambition? Or perhaps you want to write the perfect short story, paint the perfect picture, or compose the perfect piece of music. It’s all in the same spirit.
Spare and elegant, Rita Mae Brown’s poems deal with war, human rights and feminist and lesbian themes. She’s always confident and often contemptuous.
A Short Note for Liberals
I’ve seen your kind before
Forty-plus and secure
Settling for a kiss from feeble winds
And calling it a storm
Many of the poems were written when she was eighteen and the introduction is written from the perspective of middle-age. She’s fierce, her imagery apt and sometimes breath-taking.
For Those of Us Working For a New World
The dead are the only people
to have permanent dwellings.
We, nomads of Revolution
Wander over the desolation of many generations
And are reborn on each other’s lips
To ride wild mares over unfathomable canyons
Heralding dawns, dreams and sweet desire.
Thumbs-up on this collection. It’s out of print, but used copies are available through Amazon and other book vendors.
Rita Mae Brown is also a New York Times bestselling author of the Mrs. Murphy mystery series, which is cowritten with her cat, Sneaky Pie. Other novels include In Her Day, The Sand Castle and Six of One. She’s written two memoirs and was nominated for an Emmy for her screenwriting. Writers might enjoy Starting From Scratch: A Different Kind of Writer’s Manual.It’s savvy and full of sass, an enjoyable read.