INDIGO DREAMS

PUBLISHING LTD

 

BEYOND SATNAV

Jean Stevens is a poet and playwright. Her poems have been published in numerous magazines, newspapers and anthologies. She has won the Yorkshire Post Poetry Prize and Leeds Libraries

Writing Prize. Her previous poetry collection Undressing in Winter was launched at Ilkley Literature Festival.

 

Her plays have been performed at Derby Playhouse, the Edinburgh Festival, Harrogate Theatre, Leeds Grand Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse, etc. Her play Twockers, Knockers and Elsie Smith was a prizewinner at the London Festival and her stand-up comedy script won the Polo Prize at London’s Comedy Store.  

 

She has taught English Literature and Creative Writing in colleges, schools, and top security prisons and at present teaches both Creative Writing and Poetry Appreciation for the U3A.                        

 

She has also worked as a professional actress on stage, radio, film and television with credits for Brazen Hussies, Cold Enough for Snow, Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Heartbeat, Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, Ruffian on the Stair, The Three Sisters, etc.  

She has two grown up children and lives in the Yorkshire Dales.

JEAN STEVENS

 

BEYOND SATNAV

 

ISBN 978-1-909357-98-3

 

Indigo Dreams Publishing

 

Poetry

 

138 x 216mm

 

56 pages

 

£7.99 + P&P UK

 

PUB: 4 JANUARY 2016

 

 

ORDER HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Week We’ve Waited          

 

i.m. G.P.Stevens

 

All week we’ve waited on the edge

of the Moray Firth – seen tides recede

and surge, endured a blowtorch sun,

 

sandpaper winds, and lightning flaring

across black skies – watching,

watching, desperate to see dolphins.

 

Our final day, for five more hours we stand

then, as the tide churns between ebb and flood

and swirls up tiny fish that lure the salmon,

 

children’s voices call – and, look:

tail and dorsal fins dip and rise along

the coast and in their element they come

 

easy riders of the waves, till more than

twenty breach the sea, bottle-nosed streaks

of white, dove grey and wetly shining black

 

who leap, fly, plunge, then soar again,

twisting high above the firth, clear against

the northern sky here on the slope of light.

 

We’re tied to earth, part of a jockeying

crowd ankle deep in waves united in our need

to get nearer to this show of grace.  

 

An hour or more the dolphins stay, then one

by one they lift through waves and air

in a last display of dark then light then dark.

 

 

 

The Birdbox                              

 

I lift out an intricate nest

woven from twigs and grass

 

to find tiny featherless bodies

huddled among the moss

 

scraps of raw flesh

that scarcely cover fragile

bones and purple veins.

 

As I hold the never robins

and plan their burial

 

I remember the two begun                      

children who never quite were

 

and the year a fledgling

fell and I lay on the lawn

close to the shivering creature

 

offering drops of water

on my outstretched finger.

 

 

Woodplumpton Moor

 

Clumps of resilient grass

the chattering wind, the trusted stranger

an underground passage to somewhere else

a place to scatter what’s left.

 

I walk back down the hill

carrying her dust on heather I picked

remember her greaseproof packages

of cheese and oven bottom cake

 

and, as the years collide,

hear him when he sang for her.

 

Midnight in Cheddar Gorge                          

Rumbles disturb us

lightning zigzags.

We unzip flimsy canvas

 

inch outside to mayhem

overhead - a force between us

and the sky -

 

and stand, wordless,

in that narrow valley

where trapped thunder

 

ricochets one side of the gorge

to the other and back

colliding with new stampedes

 

of sound that roar non-stop

off the rock among

jagged flares

 

and rain that flattens

our hair, seeping

through to skin.

 

We gaze upwards

tiny figures exposed

in more than daylight.

 

 

 

Christmas Island and Cambridge      

 

We saw a brilliant light

as if a radiant firebar had been

switched on in our heads. It grew

bright upon bright and in front

of closed eyes we saw the bones

in our hands like pink x-rays.

Our eyes glowed in sunlight

as we lounged by the Cam  

then laughing piled into a punt.

With expert hands my lover steered,

crystal drops fell among willows,

and my fingers idled through water.

 

A mushroom cloud arose,  

glass shattered, palm trees shook,

we were knocked clean off our feet.

 

Salmon, cucumber, strawberries

spilled from the hamper,

our glasses foamed with champagne,

while we lay in the green

orchard of Grantchester

looking up at unclouded blue.

 

And that was the day

when the blinded birds

fell from the sky.

 

 

 

Winter Light

 

A low sun dazzles

through trees stripped

back to tracery

dripping with rain

   

that reflects  

yellow and red against

drystone walls and across

patterned fields.

 

Nothing so cosy as a rainbow

but still a procession of light

where the farmer grinds

his rusty tractor over earth

and landlocked seabirds wait.                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jean Stevens’ poems range from the lyrical to the colloquial, from the moving to the witty and, although her work is rooted in her response to the Yorkshire Dales where she lives, her writing embraces the world from Australia to Zimbabwe. She displays a passion for words from the powerful to the subtle and gives expression to the experiences that mark our lives.    

 

 

 

 

“Jean Stevens focuses deeply on a theme until it resonates with jewel-like clarity. She is an exciting, contemporary voice full of warmth and charm.”

Daljit Nagra  

 

“A sure hand with form, imagery and rhythms.”    

Ian McMillan  

 

“Stuff you can sink your teeth into.”  

Jocelyn A. Beard

09.017

Ripped Canvas

 

Miró ripped canvas

threw bombs of paint, railed

over the death of his friend

by torture and garrotte.

 

He splashed scarlet

created room-sized paintings

crawling with bodies

and scattered entrails

 

a journey to the edge

of madness, kicking

everything on the way,

an attempt to speak.

 

What he painted finally

is a line that judders, curling

again and again where the wrist

made painful turns

 

then stops abruptly:

grief packed

into one thin black line

tight as cutting wire.

 

 

 

Red Light

 

 

I strayed from the known route      

into a dark street,                

a different world of scary

shadows and black corners.

Already off balance, I stumbled

 

into the glaring light thrown

from a thrusting bay window.

There on display a woman

looked out on the city,

her perfect curves visible

 

under whispers of chiffon.

Even in that cruel light

she glowed – unbelievably beautiful.  

Her eyes flashed me a message

and, though foreign to each other,

 

a shared language passed

between us – that knowingness

vis-à-vis men. But her smile

shook me as thread by thread

her gaze unravelled my disguise.  

 

Encased in my tourist clothes

I was the one who seemed naked.

Beyond Satnav web