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Look Alive Ladies: Only ten more days to enter your poem in Second Light Network’s poetry competition

Originally posted on The Bardo Group blog.

Second Light Network Founder, Dilys Wood
Second Light Network Founder, Dilys Wood

SECOND LIGHT 20th ANNIVERSARY! The Bardo Group community extends to Second Light Network (women poets forty-years old or better) our best wishes, appreciation, and congratulations for its on-target focus, fine work and unrelenting commitment to poets, poetry, and to giving women in their third act a second chance. Special kudos to poet and founder, Dilys Wood, and all those who provide regular support to us here at The Bardo Group especially poets Myra Schneider who keeps us informed, provides us with wonderful poetry and instructive feature articles and Ann Stewart who so ably assists us with the details of coordination.

Jackie Kay (b. 1961), Scottish poet and novelist is the 2014 Second Light Network Long and Short poetry competion, photo by Slowking4 under CC A - Noncommercial Unported License
Jackie Kay (b. 1961), Scottish poet and novelist is judge for the 2014 Second Light Network Long and Short poetry competition, photo by Slowking4 under CC A – Noncommercial Unported License

SECOND LIGHT POETRY COMPETITION DEADLINE: TUESDAY 17th JUNE. Judge: Multi-award-winning JACKIE KAY. Long and Short Poems by Women. (‘Long’ = 50+ lines). 1st Prize £300 (in each category). More cash & book prizes + publication in ARTEMISpoetry + London reading. Enter by post or online.

Amongst Jackie Kay’s many poetry awards and prizes are the Forward, Saltire, Scottish Arts Council (for The Adoption Papers) and a shortlisting for Costa. She also writes award-winning fiction both for adults and children, and for stage and TV. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University. She was awarded an MBE in 2006, and made a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002.

£300 First Prize for each of Long (no upper limit) and Short (max 50 lines) poems

£100 Second Prize (1 poem from either category)

£50 Third Prize (1 poem from either category)

Commended poets: book prizes

Winning & Commended Poets published (in full or extract) in ARTEMISpoetry

A reading will be organised for winners in London in Autumn 2014.

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

Complete details HERE. PLEASE NOTE THAT ALTHOUGH SECOND LIGHT NETWORK OF WOMEN POETS IS BASED IN ENGLAND, MEMBERSHIP IS OPEN WORLDWIDE AND SUBMISSIONS TO ARTEMISpoetry and to various anthologies and competitions are considered from women anywhere in the world. You do not need to be a member to submit your work to be considered for publication.

Photo credits ~ Dilys Wood © All rights reserved; Jackie Kay © All rights reserved

ARTEMISpoetry, Issue 10 … celebrating women poets …

artemisOne of the things I appreciate about this particular poetry magazine – to me this is no small thing – the print is a reasonable size. I can enjoy it without wearing readers … unlike my also much appreciated Poetry Magazine (Poetry Foundation), which necessitates 3.50 readers. Yikes! Having got that off my chest . . .

Opening the cover of Issue 10 of ARTEMIS poetry (Second Light Network) was like unwrapping caramels: one chewy gem after another from the editorial by Myra Schneider and Dilys Wood to the back cover, which featured three poems by Alison Brackenbury, one of the two featured poets. The magazine is a celebration of poetry and women poets and artists and I found myself being introduced to more than the usual number of new-to-me women poets.

“2012-2013 is proving an annus mirabilis for the publication of poetry by women,” write Myra and Dilys in their editorial, “appropriately since we are on the fiftieth anniversary of Sylvia Plath‘s final burst of writing and her death in January 1962.”

Indeed, far more women poets are being published today than in my own youth (50s and early 60s) and a fair share are “celebrity” poets; not that I think that is necessarily the hallmark of the best, but it would seem to indicate a happy breakdown of barriers.

Of special interest was Adele Ward’s short feature on her experience starting and running a publishing company: Ward Wood Publishing. As a poet, writer and former columnist, I have followed the industry for years and find the developments evolving out of  the recession and new technologies an odd mix of fascinating, promising and distressing. Adele addresses women’s roles in publishing and the desire to keep traditional outlets open:.

“Initially, It surprised me that I was regularly congratulated on being a woman starting a publishing company because I hadn’t realized this was still an issue. I don’t see any obstacles to women starting and running this kind of business, but it’s certainly the hardest work I have ever had to do and I’ve had tough jobs in publishing, journalism, and distribution throughout my career. It can also be physically demanding work, as I’m often expected to move the furniture around at venues for events and to carry  a suitcase fill of books to launches, together with bottles of wine . . .

“There weren’t even a lot of women poets on our school curriculum in the 1970s. Times have changed and there are not only more women poets around, there are also more women wanting to face the challenge of keeping publishing outlets open. If we support each other by sharing our experiences and advice on how we have tackled the most difficult problems, poetry publishing will continue to thrive as we move out of recession?”

stainerThe second featured poet in this issue is Pauline Stainer, whose work has been likened to that of Ted Hughes, Frederico García Lorca, and Kathleen Raine. I particularly enjoyed the six poems and this little excerpt from one will give you an inkling why …

“They wear silk
shear as woven wind,
while the bells sewn
into their hems
sound like colours
in rippled water . . . “

The winners of the 2012 Poetry Competition were announced along with a sampling of poems and there was an interview of Mimi Khalvati by Ruth O’Callaghan. This is an organization that goes a long way toward encouraging narrative and long poems in both the content of the publication and in their poetry competitions. I found Myra Schneider’s piece, The Possibilities and Pitfalls of Narrative, worthwhile and I asked for permission to publish the entire piece HERE and extend my thanks once again to Myra for that gift.

With the generous permission of ARTEMISpoetry and poet Wendy Klein, I am able to share her poem with you this evening:

anything in turquiose ffront 2Bird 

….Installation by Anselm Kiefer

Even if you hate installations
there’s an element of purity
about this mammoth recycling of books
…………………………….as bird
………..its wings tatty notebooks
the pages torn or falling out
their whiff of damp or char
…………like scorched feathers

…………reminding me of the fire sales
she took me to as a child sewing grandma the one
who made things

………..There were shelves and tables
covered with tall bolts of cloth their edges
hideously singed her hands reverent
as she unrolled each unpromising bundle
planning curtains    planning
voluminous skirts
………..chintz-covered cushions
………………….rose covered coats
….their blossoms
bursting to escape
…………and in her eyes
the pride of the scavenger

……..Think road-kill red-tailed kites
their wing-span a fraction
the size of this ragged specimen
but functional earning their right
to the sky the planet

– Wendy Klein

In close, here is a bit more of Myra and Dily’s editorial. They address the concerns that all of us have who love, read and write poetry, regardless of our gender:

“The problem remains of how widely our excitement about women’s poetry – and all poetry – can be spread. The cultural revolution that is contemporary poetry – rich in voices that express all human concerns – has already happened. It needs to be recognised. So much poetry is vivid, accessible, meaningful. But the outreach is too small. We feel it is a great loss that such poetry is not reaching the many devourers of novels and biographies, far less winning its way to the attention of a broad base of young and old readers …

“It seems therefore extremely important that poetry and what it has to offer is promoted by the pressure of smaller initiatives. It can be done by modest acts of courage – who dares to suggest a poetry book to their Book Club? And generosity – when did you last buy a poetry book, two poetry books? And initiative – do you aim to put your poems on internet sites, write and submit a review of a book you admire? …

On that note: I am proud of all our poet-bloggers and their efforts to educate, support one another, and promote poetry. Thank you! and Bravo!

…. and thus we begin another week …

The work quoted from ARTEMIS poetry is under copyright by the magazine or the author/s and used here with permission.


Dilys Wood

Dilys Wood is poet, editor and convenor of Second Light Network of Women Poets. She has edited four anthologies of women’s poetry, mainly with Myra Schneider and has published two collections of poetry, Women Come to a Death and Antarctica. 

Women Come to a Death
Poetry. 1997. 57 pages. ISBN 0 904872 28 9. £6.95.

Death is both personal and political in this remarkable collection, which begins with the magnificent long poem, ‘The Death of a Safety Officer’, a dialogue between the dying man and a chorus of women, which relates the closure of the South Yorkshire pits and death of a way of life to the old age and death of an individual miner. The book closes with a sequence of poems where the author nurses her mother through death from cancer. They describe the painful detail of the illness and the strange suspension of normal life as mother and daughter spend these last revealing months together. Courtesy of Katabasis Books: English and Latin American Poetry and Prose

♦ ♦ ♦

Now that you know a bit about our guest blogger today, I hope you will take the time to enjoy this post. It’s the first of two. The next  I will publish tomorrow. J.D.



Dilys Wood 

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.

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.

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