GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
Jill Sharp grew up in the New Forest in Hampshire and studied at Keele University when it offered groundbreaking four year multi-disciplinary degrees, and at Queen Mary, University of London.
She taught in a range of different settings from a NACRO project for young offenders to a large London comprehensive and a pupil referral unit, before joining the OU. She has also worked as an assistant editor on a children’s magazine and produced and edited education publications.
Jill was an associate lecturer with the Open University for nearly twenty years and she currently leads creative writing workshops at the Richard Jefferies Museum, Coate.
She is a founder member of Swindon’s BlueGate Poets, now Poetry Swindon, and her work has appeared regularly in magazines and anthologies since 2005, most recently The Interpreter’s House, the Morning Star, the LA Times, Mslexia, The Book of Love and Loss and online at Ink, Sweat & Tears and And Other Poems.
Indigo Dreams Publishing
138 x 216mm
£6.00 + P&P UK
PUB: April 2015
Rhapsody in Beige
For the colourful lady
whose greatest fear is ‘beige’
The makers of Monroe’s underwear
called its subtle melody champagne
and they knew a thing or two
about the murmuring notes of flesh
on flesh, naughtier than scarlet
or than black, like the package arriving
under plain wrapper.
Cosmic latte - colour
of the universe,
of desert sand, of cream,
of unbleached silks and linens,
of the oyster,
of that moment before dawn -
the world’s slow turning -
how it offers itself and waits
as you make your mind up;
the one who, with nothing at all to say,
Lift the soldier’s arm
from round her shoulders,
ease that delicate form.
When she tilts her head
it’s not in sorrow
but towards the place
those silken skirts will fall
in the long grass.
No trade with Eros, either;
simply a scarlet flower -
one of millions shimmering
a few days in the sun
as all flowers do,
as do we all.
As the black cars glide down the hill
why are you at my shoulder, laughing?
And I can’t help smiling to be here
in this flash limousine, a pale bride
in her solemn, slow parade, as you mock
these faces ‘playing at funerals.’
Back home, all the glum faces gone, the kids,
expressionless, watch TV. In our room,
dumbfounded, I stroke your plastic lighter
into life, over and over, outstaring
each frail flame. A faceless ghost, the pillow
still holds your head’s form; now I rest my own
in that selfsame space, trying to make sense
of a different pronoun and a different tense.
Standing Stones, Calanais
Isle of Lewis
The age-old clan is gathered, raised
from cold earth
to witness our solemnities –
Reeds set to flute the Atlantic winds,
give blood and bone
ceremony of ocean
breathed through stone.
Small dial and compass to the vast
circles of time,
sealed portal touched awake by light
as suns align.
Still centrifuge that, once all flesh
melts from the spars,
lets fly each human spirit
to the stars.
Seasons of the heart
No flower more chivalrous
than aconite, the golden-headed
green-ruffed glory of it, spread
at my feet. Bright clouds
breeze in, wave after wave
to tease our contemplation,
a subtle aeromancy full
From the tall grass something
shook itself free, rushed
upwards, trilling, up
and up, dissolving
into light; a piper calling
way above our heads somewhere
setting the hot fields
in the hedgerows, yields
to a touch. Take, eat.
Cables slacken under the weight
of swallows; a cloud of gulls
harries the tractor.
Walk the furrows. Stubble’s sharp
Into the sky trees fling
their hoarded gold –
a year’s ransom –
blazing into fireworks
as it falls.
But earth lies frozen.
Honesty opens its silken purse
So it begins. Days rise
with stars still in the branches.
From warm doorways
where our shadows are cast out
we search skies
that are empty, flightless,
homing early to gather up
gifts the trees have let fall.
Evenings on the sofa,
archaic king and queen,
we gaze into the same corner
as each breath, cooling,
drifts through the room
to silent resolution on the panes.
They stand together by the sink, tall necks
and sloping shoulders like two young giraffes
poised at a watering hole, watching for motion
in the grass, listening to a ripple under water,
before lowering their heads to drink.
Nothing to mark them out as he or she -
throats bright-ringed with yellow, green -
they’re equally unfaded and unworn,
wearing such tender buttons at their hearts
a soft touch sets heads spinning.
Charged up, ready for the day, they’re balanced,
separate - a far cry from the bristly bunch
lolling in the family tumbler.
At night they rest unblemished in a puddle,
reflecting on that perfect pearl of moon.
Twin acolytes, initiates
at the lustral pool, clad in pristine white
and blue, their shadows rise and circle
with the dawn. Solemnly they await
the laying on of hands, the shock immersion,
slender, tapered forms - like the remains
of some great temple to Poseidon -
silent upon a cliff, seeing far off
the masts and pennants of an unknown ship
racing towards them across the Aegean.
Ye gods expresses both the shock and the awe of everyday life in poems that encounter moments of dismay as well as wonder. Combining dark humour with a gentle lyricism, this pamphlet explores a range of human experience with wit and compassion.
“Ye gods brings linguistic precision to closely observed moments, evoking everyday life with a sharpened focus. This world belongs to the gods as well as humanity, winged messengers and Janus as much a part of our consciousness as toothbrushes, jam doughnuts, and family photographs. Such is the fullness of Sharp’s vision in this promising debut.” Carrie Etter
“Jill Sharp is an eloquent poet, observing with confidence and inventiveness the mixed feelings that underpin our lives. Her poems are not afraid to confront conflicting emotions and are willing to recognise even the unlikely touches of humour that can co-exist with loss and bereavement.
She writes about the human condition with grace and tenderness.”