GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
Jennie Farley began her career as a young journalist working on a film about a nine-man expedition to the Jordanian desert and, as a result, was voted one of the 100 Women of the Year.
This led to more adventures, and more journalism in London including work on celebrity pop and television magzines in the 1970s.
She left London and settled in Cheltenham, teaching journalism and creative writing in adult education and at undergraduate level, and is now very active in the local poetry scene.
Jennie has performed her work at events including the Cheltenham Literature Festival, Swindon Poetry Festival and Cheltenham Poetry Festival, and has had poems placed or commended in national competitions. She organises arts events and workshops, and is leader of an all-women poetry troupe, Picaresque, founded in 2014.
Jennie's poetry has been published in Slow Dancer, Under the Radar, The Interpreter's House, New Welsh Review, Oxford Poetry, Lunar Poetry, Prole and various anthologies.
Her earlier collection Masks & Feathers was launched at the Cheltenham Poetry Festival in 2012 and her pamphlet Jocasta's Song, (Griffin Press), a contemporary feminist take on twelve Greek goddesses, was published in 2015.
Jennie was commissioned with 8 poets to write a poem for a project Still Born initiated by acclaimed artist Adinda van 't Klooster to raise awareness of stillbirth through art and poetry.
138 x 216mm
£7.99 + P&P UK
PUB: 25th NOVEMBER 2016
Jennie Farley's new collection of poetry is inspired by the extraordinary in the everyday. She introduces us to a fabulous cast of characters, from a king who believes he is made of glass to a girl who was raised by wolves, all of whom have their own unique take on the world. Drawing on magic, myth, and fairytale, Farley holds up a mirror to our contemporary reality.
"Jennie Farley’s poems hijack history, myth, legend and fairytale to produce sly and subversive explorations of female subjectivity. Full of luscious language and surreal imagination, these poems are like Angela Carter rewritten by Selima Hill. Like the grandmother in the title poem, Farley never loses her balance. This is an intriguing and graceful collection."
"Jennie Farley’s collection rings with echoes of myths and fairy stories, transformations and tragedies. It is inhabited by wolves, horses, doves, lions, angels, all sensuously underpinned with passion and hints at sin, rebellion and loss.
A collection rich with imagery and colour."
"The poems of My Grandmother Skating carry the reader, on their exuberant flow, into intriguing adult dramas and child-like wonder. Jennie Farley’s engaging work captures both the settled warmth of daily life and the untamed wildness of imagination."
"In this engaging collection, Jennie Farley negotiates the slippery territory between myth, memory and imagination with assurance, sometimes leaving the reader on
a slippery/web of pavements where only the senses speak (Streets) Her language is fresh and controlled and she has a deft touch with image and metaphor. A pleasure to read."
"Jennie Farley is a master story-teller. She has delivered some fantastical narrative poems in My Grandmother Skating. These are not always easy tales and monologues, but they have been told with skill and a sensitive, but brave mind. Get ready to gasp, be shocked, be excited! 'It's what we carry with us …"
My Grandmother Skating
She’s gone to get her nails done:
it always cheers her up.
A burlesque of gloss and glitter:
Alchemy, Rouge Noir, Rebel.
She spreads her hands
as if in supplication.
Soft fingers smooth
her scrubbed-raw thumbs.
A neat silver file
pares away domestic dross:
soapsuds, beer stains, nappies.
She drifts on lotus-scented clouds
amid the chirruping
of tiny Oriental birds.
Now, buffed and bright,
her fingertips take charge,
touching her life to light.
along the willow walk
proud in fine silks,
her gold-thread sleeves,
rasps her blood-red nails
along the birdcage bars,
hears her pet lark sing.
My Grandmother Skating
i.m. Mary Elizabeth, my maternal grandmother.
That woman skating
against a winter sky,
her blades making
sure arcs on
the ice, alone
and concentrating only
on the moment
as she skates perfect circles,
is my grandmother.
Maybe it is
her sewing she thinks of,
on her way to Boston
to buy pearl buttons
and ribbon, or the fruit pie
she will bake
for Alfred’s tea, the man
who years ahead
will be my grandfather.
As the huge sun fires
the horizon’s dip and
her breath smokes white
banners on the frosted
air, she lifts wide
her skater’s arms,
her gaze containing
fen, dyke, spire, then rising
to seek distances beyond the flatlands,
and gallantly strikes out, steel
following steel, in ever
Elvis Presley’s Other Daughter
You’ve no idea how long it took
for me to learn to stand this way,
the hip jutting, my hand thrusting
the pocket of my satin jumpsuit.
I’ve perfected the sneer. Everyone says
I am quite as pretty as you, my eyes
the same Hawaiian blue. Your Memphis
tomb soars in a sea of leaves. My mother
watched your funeral on TV. She wears
a slick of your hair close to her heart
and, lonesome, waits forever for your roses.
This is my story now. I dream
in marble light, shrugging my hip
as I stride soundless in my blue suede shoes
through empty halls. A single grace note
from a beat-up guitar sends echoes
rocking and rolling over the fallen leaves.
That Time of Evening
In the slant Sunday evening dusk
church bells peal, a scraping spade recalls
the glossy purple-black of plumes and horses,
iron wheels on cobbles.
Here comes the Preacher,
black book tucked beneath his arm.
His sermons are enough to unsettle the sun.
Tweed-capped lads bowl hoops, small girls
with hands in muffs trail boughs of holly.
Christmas card effects, but the Soul knows darker.
The Irishman with the lame white dog
loiters at the gate. Soon Old Leary
will come and touch the street to light.
The past is now. It might be
the ghastly clanging of tin cans
or a sweet bird singing.