GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
Jan Moran Neil has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge.
She was trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and the National Youth Theatre and is a widely published and performed playwright on the London Fringe and Masambe Theatre, Baxter, Cape Town.
Her plays include: Blackberry Promises, Brave Heart & Baggage, The Deadly Factor and A President in Waiting …published by New Theatre Publications www.plays4theatre.com.
The novel Blackberry Promises is available on Amazon. Her poetry has been commended and published in many anthologies in the UK and South Africa: Four Corners (Oxford University), Lunar Poetry, New Contrast SA, Reach Poetry, Rhyme & Reason (Founder Editor), Sarasvati, South, World Wide Writers, Zoomorphic.
Her sonnet Silver Surfing, included in this collection, won Bloomsbury Publishing’s International Sonnet Competition 2016 judged by Ruth Padel and the sonnet will be published in the Royal Society of Literature Review in December 2016.
Jan runs Creative Ink for Writers and Actors, established in 2000 and can be heard reading from her collection on the home page of www.janmoranneil.co.uk
138 x 216mm
£7.99 + P&P UK
PUB: 28th NOVEMBER 2016
Red Lipstick & Revelations was written as part of a Masters’ dissertation in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge and includes international prize winning and commended poetry.
These poems take you on an unexpected and winding journey: from the African night air to Montreal, the road to Strathclyde or the Stranraer ferry. Shipwrecked, silver surfing or dressed to kill, we encounter love, loss, lamentation, laughter … and lipstick.
(On the sonnet ‘Silver Surfing’ which won the Bloomsbury Publishing’s Writers and Artists’ International Sonnet Competition in association with the Royal Society of Literature.)
‘A lovely poem, with a beautifully confident voice, starting in medias res as Shakespeare sometimes does too, and a vivid, beautifully contemporary take on the universal feeling addressed by Shakespeare’s Sonnet 30. Lively, alert, convincing language.’
‘Jan Moran Neil’s poetic narratives are vivid and succinct – small slices of other people's lives, conveyed with wit and sympathy.’
Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing, Aberystwyth University
‘A hugely ambitious collection, encompassing a wide range of themes, narrators and forms. The amount of thought and craft that has gone into this portfolio is admirable.’
Dr Sarah Burton
Course Director of Creative Writing MSt, University of Cambridge
‘These poems , dexterous and with many stanzaic variations, dazzle like sudden sunlight on a windscreen, but this is an unexpected and winding journey – from the African night air to Montreal, the road to Strathclyde or the Stranraer ferry, shipwrecked , silver surfing or dressed to kill, we encounter love, loss, lamentation, laughter – and lipstick.’
'Dear John, Dear Anyone …'
Red Lipstick & Revelations
Jan Moran Neil
One night a bomb might go off
in Cardiff whilst you are in Shropshire
sitting on a sofa
not watching MasterChef
but you catch the shrapnel.
Or maybe there’s a fire on the Jubilee line;
you missed the two twenty nine,
decided not to catch the exhibition
but a stationary cab with ticking meter instead.
Your wallet is in shock at Bond Street.
What if there had been a gas explosion
in Glasgow but you didn’t complain
about your Benchmark Meeting
having been moved to Aberdeen?
Pull up your trench coat collar.
And tiptoe on
Bread Pudding Days
On soggy days
when the rain spits
my mother’s house is filled
with the warmth of cinnamon sticks,
rich dried fruit
and softly sifted sugar.
She folds and wraps our words:
the bargain cost of my orange gloves,
the price we paid for our lost loves,
our woeful tales of wicked hate,
our splendid plans to be great.
All are measured, sieved, considered
for their mixed worth
baked into something sturdy,
crusty, spongy and deeply palatable.
And in that cooking fragrance,
the weight and varied textures
touching half remembered edges,
my mother’s syllables and smiles stretch on:
a balm against the greying bits,
a refuge against the rain which spits.
Hand in Glove
Pulling over on to the hard shoulder,
dipping the rear view mirror,
I catch your hand moulded in leather,
lying on the back seat of my Mazda.
An imprint of your palm and fingers coated
in a patina of winking headlights.
I was on my way, without you, to Strathclyde,
when all along, behind, were inches of your outline.
The cast is giving an unlikely thumbs up.
I recall you had a tentacle grip.
Now loosened and released I am left
not knowing if I am all right or bereft.
You gave me sixpence when I gifted you those gloves.
Soppy superstition: that one might lose a love,
travel in diverse directions, if they weren’t paid for.
That unworn opal cost you far more.
We made a good pair when we met,
but you forced my hand to separate.
It’s fitting that you are now behind;
the road ahead is long but wide.
God and Lipstick
My first day! My first client! Oh, my God.
And her completed form tells me she’s eighty seven.
I’m giving her Bubble Bliss Heaven. Number
sixteen massage on the Client Care List. I say, ‘I hope
you have a lovely stay. Is your lipstick
Max Factor? Or X Factor? Let’s make a start then.’
She lies on the bed, all quiet like, and then
I’m thinking, it’s like stroking a post mortem, dear God.
I say, ‘You’re wearing such a pretty lipstick.
And why not? Just a number, isn’t it, eighty seven?
You’ve done well to get to that age. I hope
I get to that age. Head up a little. Yes, just a number.’
Then she croaks, ‘Shall I tell you a story about a number?’
And I say, ‘Oh, I love a story. Go on then.’
And then she says, ‘It’s a Story of Hope.
It’s a Story of how I wish to meet God.
It’s a Story about not just being eighty seven.
It’s a Story about a Consignment of Lipstick.
‘In the days of release they gifted us lipstick
and to us it meant we weren’t just a number.
My number was A, two, six, one, eight, seven.
I had been a number, you see, up until then.
We were women who had never seen our faces or God
for years. We had forsaken hope.
‘That ruby red stick gave us not food but hope.
We were just hollow women wearing lipstick.
I couldn’t be sure, you see, there was a God
or if there was, was I to Him just a number?
I had been a number, you see, up until then.
I was A, two, six, one, eight, seven.
‘And now I’m eighty seven.
And I’ve learned to make friends with hope.
It gave a female corpse the thought that then
she might meet God with a slash of lipstick
on her sealed mouth. A mouth with a number
and no name. Just Lipstick and God.’
It’s then I notice it. Oh. My. God.
She’s in Room Seven. The VIP Gold Star Suite’s number.
Hope she won’t report me for mentioning her lipstick.
So quite suddenly I Google your name.
And there you are. Whisper of what you were.
Oh, how I want you back again the same.
Not bald and at odds with the camera.
This is not the face that lives in my head.
Or the boy who surfed distant, dazzling seas.
No. This is what I would have had instead:
a faded photocopy creased like me.
Two spools of thought cannot be reconciled:
the past that glides, the one that’s on this screen.
Whichever way both images are lined
with my not knowing the one in between.
Inadequate pixels and lines that flow
show nothing of my ebb. I let it go.