GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
MY LOVER'S BIRDS
Diana Mitchener (nee Filkin) was born in Wallasey, Cheshire in 1933. Her childhood experiences of
war-time bombing and evacuation to Shropshire (1941-1945) and their long-term effect are explored in her 2011 memoir: Holding the Line (www.corncockle.co.uk).
Writing has been a life-long interest. Upon retirement as a lecturer in Teaching English as Foreign Language at University of Chichester she took an M.A. in Creative Writing (2000), soon becoming an active member of poetry groups in West Sussex, notably Slipstream Poets. Regular poetry workshops and opportunities to perform her poetry ensure that she is still developing as a poet.
In 2009 she published Ten Poems for Performance and a collection of her poetry under the title Corncockle. Many poems in these collections have been placed in national poetry competitions and have been published in poetry journals and anthologies.
Her short stories have been published in the Macmillan Bookshelf series, in anthologies of winning stories and in the French Literary Review. She was the winner of the Muse & Music Monologue competition (Writing and Performance category) in 2000 and 2002 and was the runner-up in 2004.The monologue ‘Tale Ends’ was performed at the Arts Cafe, Covent Garden in 2004.
Now in her early eighties she appreciates close relationships with her friends and her growing family who happily live near her home in Billingshurst, West Sussex.
MY LOVER'S BIRDS
Indigo Dreams Publishing
138 x 216mm
£6.00 + P&P UK
PUB: 13 NOVEMBER 2015
West Cudlow, Clymping
It takes a Spring tide to gather force
to lift us out of our homes
the shingle and crabs on the kitchen floor
sand-pancakes and lobster bones
the swell of the Spring tide winkles us out
through the barnacle-crusted doors
and we swim like Selkies on mountainous waves
that crash on the Clymping shore
we swim with the swell and ride with the tide
and we claw at the pebble-strewn beach
for to stand upright is more than we dare
so we crawl with elbows and feet
till the moonlight shines on the stony flint
of the crumbled nunnery wall
though the altar is gone and gone are the cells
where we prayed on our knees in the storm
But our god of the heavens gave feeble way
to Poseidon the god of the seas
with a wrench and a roar he swept us away
the chapels the nuns and the priests
And it’s only when the Spring tide is high
that the murmur goes round the throng
tonight, tonight when the moon is near
and our will and our hope are strong
we fish-tail out of our sea-cave lairs
and swim through the swell to the shore
up the shingle beach to the ruined homes
where our prayers are heard no more.
Provence in July
Ninety degrees in the shade. The heat
pounds the scorched earth relentlessly.
Aubergines swell to purple, chillies
shriek to scarlet, spiked tongues of the yucca
hang over parched grass.
Under the Emperor Sun, battalions
of sunflowers stand to attention,
uniform faces haloed with orange rays.
Under the harsh trumpets of the red bignonia
the bloodied droplets of ripe mulberries
I long for the cooling days of autumn
in a country of fresh winds and crisp mornings,
green lawns and damp, cobwebbed hedges,
the midday sun grapefruit yellow.
Here, in Provence, only sunflowers
dare lift their faces to the Sun.
My Lover’s Birds
I set them free, his birds.
Pearl-grey cockatiels stiffened their coifs
Japanese quails scuttled for cover
red-eared waxbills fluttered to apple trees
fire-finches darted through red-billed weavers
cut-throat finches and yellow canaries
with twitching beaks and confetti feathers
scattered against the barred sunset.
The aviary twisted its wrought iron frame
agape with emptiness.
So I freed his prized possessions
and left him with nothing but sparrows
to impress his new love.
A brown sweater
scored in a ploughed field
a heavily knitted brow
knit two purl two
knit into the back of the stitch
furrows raised along the arm.
Unravel by the fire
this sleeve of care sewn
with sharp needles
this complex family knitted
pattern with its dropped
stitches its ragged holes
its semblance of holding together.
Outsize eyes looking in,
sighs, stitches, step-sisters
step by step ditches filled
with rank water
salt tears dripping,
drooping, the crest
fallen, the taste of dark
chocolate bitter yet
nurturing yet melting
yet setting yet holding
the field a maize in
water cress sweet
corn. We’re together, hole
darned but holding.
Poems cover a variety of topics reflecting life enriched by real and imagined experiences: journeys, interaction with the natural world, art, people and relationships. The poet utilises a variety of forms and voices.
“The poems in My Lover’s Birds describe life well lived and are proof of the energy that’s summoned by reflecting on the everyday as well as more uncommon experience. Sometimes the poems are elegiac, sometimes wise, celebratory and
“Diana Mitchener’s collection of poetry reflects the maturity of a life lived. Loki, the Viking cat, the Karate Gran who tries to give her grand-daughter advice in ageing, a student caught up in a Tsunami, a spurned woman who frees her lover’s birds: characters made flesh on the page await the fortunate reader.”
“Diana Mitchener leads us through experiences of forceful and fragile aspects of the physical and mystical world as she sees and feels it. Close observation of movement, sound and stillness is expressed in assured honesty. In the final journey of this collection she invites us to enter the Peace Garden: Enter, tread softly, breathe Peace when you leave.”
Not my Cat
Loki is Not My Cat.
Loki climbs the ash tree
in the front garden.
So far He has kept
to the lower branches.
Although He is Not My Cat
I treat Him with respect.
He dines on salmon, tuna,
rabbit and vegetables
from vacuum-sealed packs.
I offer libations
from a boiled kettle
over a dish of pebbles
culled from the shores
of Odin’s Isle.
Loki brings me gifts
of mangled mice
and an occasional
flustered baby bird
or leaping frog.
Loki forgets He is
Not My Cat
and so far seems content
in a domestic setting
though His blue eyes reflect
I tell Him nothing
of His namesake, Loki,
the evil Viking God.