GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
JONGLEUR IN THE COURTYARD
Mandy Pannett lives in West Sussex with her family. A teacher for many years she has worked with all ages and abilities and now works freelance as a creative writing tutor. She has led residential and day workshops across the country and at festivals as well as working with many local groups and helping to run an Arts Cafe.
She has been an associate editor of the ezines ‘Muscle and Blood’ and ‘The Right Eyed Deer’ and a selecting editor on three occasions for ‘South’ Magazine. Currently she is poetry editor for ‘Sentinel Literary Quarterly’ and editor of the forthcoming anthology ‘Poems for a Liminal Age’ (SPM Publications).
Mandy has won prizes and been placed in several national competitions including 1st prize in the Barnet Poetry Competition 2014. She was a runner up in the recent Cardiff International Poetry Competition.
She has acted a s a competition judge for Sentinel Poetry Movement, the Slipstream Poets, Excel for Charity and Earlyworks Press.
Her writing has been widely published in magazines, journals and anthologies. Several poems have also been translated into German and Romanian as part of the poetry tREnd translation project.
She is the author of a novella The Onion Stone and of four poetry collections: Bee Purple and Frost Hollow (Oversteps Books), Allotments in the Orbital (Searle Publishing) and All the Invisibles (SPM Publications).
Jongleur in the Courtyard
Indigo Dreams Publishing
138 x 216mm
£7.99 + P&P UK
PUB: April 2015
Tonight, in this countryside
the sky is a bright citadel
shining on dark water.
Ptolemy might still recognise
the ‘serried multitude of stars’
whose fiery circling caused his heart
to leap and soar with joy.
How easy it is to imagine the creamy
Milky Way, heavy and thick
with luminous souls, the iridescent
dead of the day, who pause for an aeon
of feasting, before swimming on to a moon.
And easy to imagine that sad tale
of Adam and Eve whose first skin
shone like a halo in gold leaf
before their flesh
dried up with loss and dulled
to a mortal grey.
A departure of shine
for them and for us as we
stagger and doze, are wounded
in sleep, unaware
that as dreamers
we are becoming extinct.
Tonight there are many stars
in this firmament.
A salmon, essence of silver
glitters in its own dark sea.
How luminescent it is
A nestling will open its tiny beak
for any shape of silhouette that flickers
above its eye
No need for finer detail here
nor when a cobweb in a stubble field
disperses in unbright air
Once there was a St Martin’s summer
November days of dark-green rain
an after-the-harvest ceasing of war
the soothing of body’s ache
Now this is a season for children to die
though a drone overhead has a detail of bird
and it’s time for the faceless men to scurry
along a nowhere road
It’s a season of loss a father says
as he carries home a scrap of torso
could be anybody’s torso
and buries it as his son
IF TOUCHED BY FINGERNAILS
a troll in folklore turns to rock.
Whether the process is haemorrhage swift
or slower in pain as small bones set
who knows –
Certainly not that victim
of heaven’s barbaric revenge:
Lot’s wife, carcass in salt
mashed by a liquid blitz of light
to a whitened root.
Of course she looked behind her
half-turning to check they were safe –
she'd have raced back to those melting cities
and dragged her daughters out
of that brimstone’s heart.
In the hullabaloo of his return
the backpack of the prodigal son
was shoved in a cupboard beneath the stairs
dark on the straps with sweat of the road
tied up at the neck like the Thanksgiving turkey
they’d fattened and eaten for days.
Five months later he drags the bag
out into the light, unzips a pocket, discovers
one half of a one-way ticket, the tattered
remains of the Dear John letter
that last girl sent, two empty cartons
of blueberry juice and a twist
of white tissue with seeds
from a pumpkin, bits of old flesh
Yes, he remembers
that pumpkin: a harvest sale
of autumn fruits, discarded gourds
too pitted to sell, a girl
who had gone to the sun of a pumpkin
and carved them a lantern for night.
Well now he’s returned
to the wedge of demands; goodbye
long-travellin’ road ...
He’ll settle for life
with a needy old man and maybe
forget that very last girl
who gave him a pumpkin
with light in its eyes and left him
the seeds in a bag.
YOU SAY YOU DON’T DO SMILES
don’t like drawing them,
never learnt the technique.
If it was that simple you would paint
only angels, colourless as moons and dripping
like couriers for flowers online.
If it was that simple
you’d give me a low-lipped, dour expression
and let me turn around.
Instead you paint
my back, always my back
so that the moody outline of me
mingles with the umbrage of an artificial beach
or an apartment block where even verandas
are in profile, but I am not.
Will you buy me a drink tonight
share some supper for once?
I’ll get us the table nearest the door
you know I will.
Better still, paint me a towel.
Lay it down on that balcony, third from the left.
I’ll strip my clothes off, find a bikini, be a small
red dot to focus the eye, a reference point for scale
Not your style?
You say you like your canvases
minimalist and bleak –
in a bloody, anguished world.
So if love in the sand dunes isn’t for us
then I may as well be faceless
sparse as spinifex grass
and since there’s nothing
to be happy about
I’m glad you never do smiles.
MY ENGLISH BLOSSOM TREE
is April in snow, now heavy
soft white feather-flakes touch
a mandarin duck
on its green river
under the cover of tall
thin reeds as even
more drops tumble down
on sparrows, camellias
bamboo on a hill ...
a moment of pause
for snow that is longed for
in seasons of drought
In her fifth poetry collection Mandy Pannett explores themes of change and metamorphosis, leading her reader through time and space, both geographical and metaphysical. The poems tell of visions and violence, joy and grief, and a vestige of hope. Yet hers is primarily a sensual apprehension and her poems are joyously alive with the leaping, clustering words and imagery she employs to probe and question the human and natural world.
“At the heart of the collection lies Mandy Pannett's skill with sound - these, after all, are songs of the Jongleurs! The chimings of internal rhyme, and assonantal and alliterative sound patternings help to underpin the exquisite, sensitive and varied rhythmic pulse of the collection. Either heard or read aloud, these poems spring off the page. This is an enviable achievement. Read, think and enjoy!”
“Mandy Pannett's excursions into history are soul journeys that take place in a timeless present. Rich with insight, and a remarkable empathy, her astute eye alights effortlessly on the luminous details surrounding an object, event or story, transforming them into memorable poetry where feeling (rather than mere linguistic cleverness) is always central.”
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