GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
Steve has written poetry from an early age, inspired by his late father (Ted), who was once known as The Policeman Poet (featured on TV News-Nationwide).
Steve took his own show to the Edinburgh and Brighton Festival Fringes based on his autobiographical work, Fast Train Approaching…, which is a powerful, yet good humoured account of life during and after breakdown and recovery.
He's intrigued by what makes us human, and the process of creative transformation.
For his day job, he used to be a Principal Environmental Health Officer, and currently works as a Global HSE Manager for a manufacturing company. He’s also an Associate with Business Disability International (bdi).
Steve has a daughter and a son and lives with his second wife Liz, a physiotherapist, in Tunbridge Wells.
Cover illustration by Ellen Montelius
138 x 216mm
£6.00 + P&P UK
PUB: 28th NOVEMBER 2016
This is a collection of 32 sensitive poems covering a wide range of topics from transformation, to death, to lust.
The poems happen to span the years from Steve’s first breakdown, from the road to recovery to the path of resilience.
'These poems are utterly frank; Walter has the knack of combining the beautiful with the bleak.
He shuffles through memories, pulls aside the “sheeted veils of the afternoon” to expose past wounds, shows us how the future can be haunted by the present, and yet somehow allows the autumn sun to flood straight in.'
'When the Change Came is an engaging, varied and most satisfying collection – lyrical, intelligent poems of love and death that are by turns tender, erotic, witty, elegiac and celebratory.'
'These poems are secrets whispered in your ear; you don’t know what you are going to hear until you turn the page – a childhood memory of dissecting a heart or smoking French cigarettes, an erotic fantasy told through a painted lampshade, intimate portraits of parents ageing –always surprising and with an element of risk, ‘holding a beast in the balance.’ Steve has the ability not only to capture an image but to make you want to see it yourself again and again.'
When the Change Came
And the guttering red rock
sliced like decks of cards
slanted into the sea.
And she is there in the mist
in the sea breeze she
is in the gathering dark
she rides the mounting forces
which rise beneath the blackening waves
and she is in the quilted sky
she is there in the billowing
sheeted veils of the afternoon
and in the rakish cry of the gulls
screaming over the graves of shearwater
skeletons, she is at the exits of hollowed burrows
among bits of dead bird, dead rabbit, scattered
beside the remains of Iron Age homesteads
and she is marking the way
in Celtic stone, against the unforgiving grey.
All I need
If I were to be honest all I need is what I am.
So why do I long for her, her taste, her touch
Her sex? Surely knowing that I could…
Ought to now to be enough. But I do not want
Only to remember her warmth, her kiss,
Her skin, her smile, her playful laughter.
What I want is to relive those first few weeks,
Months, hours, days, when there was nothing
In the world that mattered more
Than to be together. When our embrace
Broke the hearts of lovers not yet born
And we took what we each had to give
As if it were a child, to grow with us.
All I need is what I am. I am that child in her.
She is in me. I cannot forget. I even remember
The shapes of the bedclothes each morning
As if our every movement were captured
In their soft folds, mounds and crevices.
And I remember the voice of the singer
Who sang to the bonding of our muscles
And limbs, matching the rhythm, and sang again
The day we parted, releasing each other.
When the change came
He was sleeping.
Time ran over his backbone
hopping, skipping, jumping
on each vertebra to feel, to mould
to breathe new bone, a spine that could carry
great gluts of muscle and fur, the body
rippling with the weight, strength, power –
hands bursting into massive paws, rod-thick claws
treading the earth devoutly, decidedly, with intent
and deep from his belly, a shout, a bellow, a roar
yet rolling playfully, a ton of brazen, brown-furred bounty
until the dewfall and with the cold
on those deep-set eyes, a turning of day into night,
the following dawn a violation of form,
a shrinking into a wiry cluster of bones,
human skeleton plucked from the forest floor
more like a bird than a bear
yet standing, standing upright –
The book. A hardback. Brought home from conference,
the police radio crackling to itself over lunch,
his thick, navy, woollen jacket in the porch. Or was it black?
A mountain lion in silhouette, at sunrise or sunset,
the title seemed to embrace so much more
than simply the web of the interconnected.
This gift to me showed that he cared. He cared too about
Man’s destruction of planet Earth, and the loss
of all we are linked to – of life evolving.
Not the ground divided equally into metre quadrats,
for the counting of biology, botany, caught within the frame
but the real, the unique, the individuals of the species.
His arm around me. Rarely. Those moments
continue to live, as does this book
its pages now, holding a beast in the balance.
Dancing on Jermyn Street
Only a few years after the war, after
the coronation, ghosts lining the streets
waving flags; West End Central.
He was stationed there – you in art school.
On the corner you recognized
each other, merely a pigeon’s brief
flap and glide from where you stood to Eros,
the fountain; your broad Piccadilly smiles.
Him in uniform, a Swanley lad,
it was then that the moment was sealed,
you’d both be caught in monochrome
leaning out of the train window, beaming
on your journey, after the vows,
with our future in your loving.
And he would write you poems
even until death. Remembering
that moment, when he caught your arm
as you strode out, the length of the path
making to leave, and he brought
you back inside, out of the sun.
One evening you kissed us good night
in the emerald, silk dress you’d made for dancing.
Always you would dance with colour
on your palette; pigment quickens through water.