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Writings and Witterings


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Sunlit Still

In response to the sepia photograph prompt at The Mag which was a new find for me in 2012 – now taking a bit of a break – this ekphrastic poem:

Sunlit Still

Captured for
all time
in the silent
shadows.

A sunlit room,
snapshots
in time
in a snapshot of time.

Unlit candles
cast darkness on sills.
A frozen head
observes
time stands still.

It is 10:30.
It remains 10:30.
It will never be other
than 10:30.

Polly Stretton © 2016


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A Prose Poem: Flower Growing In The Wrong Place

A soothing blue cumulus of cranesbill clusters beneath laurel, the petals grey veined, stretching for the sky under the sagely green canopy. Before such beauty there’s the sweet clingy stuff – the sticky burrs that blight dogs’ coats later in the year – and an empty bed with last year’s faded, crumbling woodchips, the scent lingers still. Look again, the bed is not so empty… a crumpled weed control membrane lurks partly hidden by compost, held down by red brick, butting up to decking. Shining silver, a meshed pit shows off yellow ragwort on which cinnabar moth caterpillars’ chomp.

Polly Stretton © 2014

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars from www.glaucus.org.uk

Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars from http://www.glaucus.org.uk


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Latest Edition—Girl’s Got Rhythm

GGR BPP Front Cover - Stretton

The latest edition of my collection of poems Girl’s Got Rhythm is out. It has a gorgeous new cover, thank you Black Pear Press, and a different layout.

It was delightful to be given the opportunity to update Girl’s Got Rhythm, a collection of my poems first published 2012. Like many poets, as I read and re-read my work I can’t resist tinkering to improve them – it’s not often that I’d be bold enough to call a poem ‘finished’ – though as some will recognise, lots of them are finished as they form on the page.

I hope you enjoy reading my collection – it was wonderful when the first edition was published, and I’ve loved creating this revision.

It’s available here. See links below.

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eBook UK

eBook non-UK

 


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Initial Thoughts On Anne Somerset (1673–1763)

So—I am to write a poem about Anne Somerset and her shoes—likely to be a sort of mule made of embroidered silk. There will be a cubby hole, into which the shoes will fit, in the basement at Croome—and the poem, once written, will be there too. My thoughts at the moment are along the lines of something to show her curiosity, she was a known gossip, so I’m thinking a large keyhole for people to look through—you know the sort of thing—think ‘Keyhole Kate,’ but at the same time, don’t underestimate this woman!

In my mind’s eye, I see the poem written on a piece of canvas or linen or cotton made into a scroll and tied with ribbon (in a colour to be picked up in her shoes, the glorious burgandy shown below is rather stunning, or perhaps the black is more ‘her’) that people can release to read the poem. I’m thinking about how to fix it to the box… as Croome is Grade II listed obviously we can’t use screws or glue, so this could be a challenge… hmmm…any thoughts?

When we look through the keyhole we see a picture of Anne and her friends in the drawing room having a chat (perhaps?)—does anyone know a good illustrator who would be willing to produce this for me gratis? They would, of course, be acknowledged.

18th century mule

18th century mule 2Anne was a complex woman, the mother of two boys, she loved gardening, landscape, poetry, botany, architecture, medicine and later developed her ‘creative and literary interests’*. She is described as a religious writer renowned for her charity and piety who also had an interest in contemporary drama. Her ‘large collection of plays, mostly comedies, includes some racy plays and shows a sophisticated broad-mindedness that reflects her involvement with fashionable life.’**

Anne lived to be nearly 90 years old, left Croome when she became the Countess Dowager on the death of her husband, the 2nd Earl, in 1710, then there was a rift in the intervening years that was healed sometime around the 1750′s at the behest of the 6th Earl, who rather wanted his wife to be invited to Badminton.

Any old how, that’s enough about the Countess for now. Should anyone have information or ideas, that would be helpful, it will need to be documented so that I can reference it, I’d be ever so pleased to hear from you.

My next task is to put this into some sort of plan for those nice creative types at Croome—but this is all I have time for today—back to other things 🙂

*Gordon, Catherine, 2000, The Coventry’s of Croom’, Chichester: Phillimore in Association with The National Trust

**http://www.oxforddnb.com retrieved May 2014

Click here for an interesting article about Anne and here to see a great blog about Croome Court.

I’ve decided to open a separate blog dedicated to my micro-residency at Croome, so that I can track the project. You can find it here —look forward to seeing you there.


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Chatterton—A Series Of Poems

Chatterton Front Cover–Stretton ‘Chatterton’ is  a series of poems about young and starving poet in a garret, Thomas Chatterton. He was 17 years old. Did he commit suicide or not?  You decide.

My series of poems, in an elegant pamphlet (thanks to Black Pear Press), is from the viewpoints of those who loved or were somehow influenced by ‘the beautiful boy’. I imagine them gathered around the foot of his deathbed, remembering and commenting on his life. Each individual, from his mother to his doctor to various poets, have their own poem about him.

I’ve loved the Henry Wallis painting – shown on the front cover of the pamphlet – since I studied the pre-Raphaelites many moons ago – it’s the inspiration for the series. And I was asked to do a potted history of Thomas Chatterton – it appears in the final pages.

There’s a limited first edition of 50 copies and I’ve signed each one (phew!).

Now you can get your copy here. Because it’s a limited edition, it’s available only here or direct from my publishers Black Pear Press. Also because it’s a limited edition and not available on Amazon, we’re missing the usual review facility so we’d be very grateful if you’d leave a review in the comment box below. Thank you.

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‘Chatterton’ will be performed by writers at 42 Worcester 30th April 2014, at Coach House Writers 1st May 2014 and by writers from Worcester Writers’ Circle 12th June 2014.

Award winning novelist Carrie Rubin said, ‘I finished Chatterton… really wonderful, and I enjoyed learning about this tragic lad. The poem by “The Mother” about broke my heart… only Polly could get me to read a collection of themed poems. And I’m so glad I did!’

Reviews are welcome in the comments or ‘Leave a Reply’ box below.


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Rotary District 1100 Conference 2014

District Governor Jan Harris held an outstanding conference in Bournemouth last weekend. I co-hosted the ‘Oscars’ evening, an occasion where Jan acknowledged district members who have worked with her throughout the Rotary year.

We had a fabulous evening, and as you can see, I was surrounded by handsome men – Oscar and Oliver 😉

Polly&Olly1


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Lady Of The Landscape: Transient Motions By Catherine Norris

A beautiful poem from a beautiful woman, my dear friend, Catherine – and what a talent! What say you, fellow bloggers?

LADY OF THE LANDSCAPE: TRANSIENT MOTIONS
(All Things Must Pass)

People scratch you. Attempt to break your willow skin.
You will not scar. You’ve come too far.
You wake what is within.
The words amaze at all these days, he pulls
your petticoat. Like a child’s eyes packed
full of lies, your ‘best friend’ come to gloat.

Keep the ascent my mountain mother,
words caught from seabeds in your
dreams.
You house the collective psyche of
all that might and might not be.

You form the ancient avenues of rivers
rolling through. You are the violet voice
of jay today and tomorrow’s pigeon coo.
You run the day that lies ahead with
celestial composure, the nimble nimbus
in parallel working to enclose you.

As if from nowhere, dappled star shine
spreads itself on winter’s woodland floor.
Complexity compels you, transient
patterns you adore.

Catherine Norris © 2013


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No Snow

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

Christmas, and there’s
no snow.
Rain floods runnels,
banshees howl about the house.
Trees lurch, screaming,
torrents teeming,
roads dammed
across the land.

Close to New Year, and there’s
no snow. No icicles.
Nationwide: the floods.
And on we go to
see the wraith of
seasons gone,
the phantom here,
the ghost of those to come.

New Year, and there’s
no snow. No icicles. No frost.
Savage spectre of what is lost.
Seasons change.
Extremes occur:
spring’s like summer
used to be. Summer’s short.
Autumn comes early.

And so it goes from year to year
the seasons change, become austere.
Those who live with constant jeers
say this: until we do something,
until we care,
it’s our world, our earth,
whose fate
we share.

Polly Stretton © 2012

I am posting this for Claudia’s Change & Turns at dVerse Poets


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…Never Was

Each year, since 23 May 1973,
she remembers the child who never was.
The child who is and never was.
She hears the nurse say, ‘don’t look.’
How could anyone not look?
As if by not looking, he could be forgotten.
Forty years on
the shroud of grief cobwebs yet;
tightens her chest, tautens her neck.
Babe dead, mother dying inside.
She still sees his fingernails, perfect hands and feet.
Legs curled, foetal,
just as he lay inside her.
Still wanted, still loved, still missed.
Each year she thinks of the child
who never was.

Polly Stretton © 2012


9 Comments

Girl’s Got Rhythm

Girl’s Got Rhythm—a lovely gift 🙂

Find your favourite poems in this, my first poetry collection. Six-foot-four Sunflower, Mother of Pearl, He Drinks Blood—something for everyone.

Available on Kindle—and on the Black Pear Press website.

GGR BPP Front Cover - Stretton


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Daughter Of The Sewer Rat

Brighton Sewer Tour

This poem is in response to K. McGee‘s blog about Ae Freslighe, a highly structured Irish poem format. It remains a challenge and I’ll continue to mull it over… fascinating form…

Daughter Of The Sewer Rat

Daughter urchin snivelling
in alleys dark and smelly
whining voice a’grizzling
with no food in her belly

Beneath the road, thundering
slow sewers, deep, dank, darkly
reach the child a’blundering
she stares at bleak walls starkly

Nightmare journey, quivering
trembling in waste water
cold with fright a’shivering
sewer rat’s own daughter

Polly Stretton © 2012


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Spilt Milk

Alleyway Refuge

He scrabbles in muck,
down on his luck,
a sorrowful sight,
with eyes swollen, tight
from crying
over milk
that was spilt
long ago.

He scrabbles in bins
for his things,
searches for food
in places you’d
rather avoid;
get’s annoyed
when offered help
he doesn’t want.

He scrabbles in brick dust,
crushed, flushed, stuffed
between lath
and plaster,
amongst jaws of
wood that splinters
against a darkening sky,
searching, always searching.

He scrabbles through days,
endless days,
tasteless days,
empty days,
and lays
his head down
at night
in a box,

with eyes swollen, tight
from crying
over milk
spilt.

Polly Stretton © 2012

Scrabble

He scrabbles through wood…by Polly Stretton


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The Faerie Blood-Tithe

Faerytaleish Pin Contest

This story was inspired by an image on Anna Meade‘s Faerytaleish Pinterest Board and written as part of the #Faerypin writing contest (300 words, fairy tale based on one of Anna’s pins).

The blood–tithe is soon due. The faeries set out to steal a mortal baby and issue a changeling in its place. The faerie court want a blue-eyed, blonde-haired boy child to pet and cosset and keep for the blood-tithe.

They leave the magical hedgerow and go through the hedge, the barrier, the divide between the faerie world and the world of mortals.  With their green-stained teeth, sharp, pinlike, pointy; their bright spikily waxed blond hair; disproportionately large knuckled hands, thin fingers and tapered nails; spiteful little faces, and blackly glinting eyes, they merge into the undergrowth and move swiftly, silently in shoes of moleskin.  They carry a poor sickly little mite, blue-eyed and blonde haired, a faerie baby, the one they call ‘the good for nothing’, the changeling.

Into the farmworker’s cottage.  A wife and mother is pegging out washing, their target mother, none too bright.  They snatch her child from the cradle and leave the faerie changeling behind.
The mother looks in puzzlement at the baby, it looks a bit different, but how?  No, a trick of the light, surely?  She tucks the blankets around the tiny child, only a trick of the light, she shakes her head.  The deed is done.  The child grizzles in its sleep.

The faerie court coo over the tiny mortal, they pinch it to make it cry then pick it up and fuss over it, loving the novelty.  They chuck it beneath its chin to see it smile gummily up at them and feed it on nectar giggling when it becomes drunk.  The fun lasts until the babe is so hungry it won’t stop crying and doesn’t smile any more.  Now the sacrifice is made, the blood-tithe gathered.

Another half-dozen and they will be safe until the winter solstice.

Polly Stretton © 2012