Congratulations to Karen!

Leopard poets win prizes. We offer hearty congratulations to Karen Schofield who won third prize in the NHS category in the prestigious Hippocrates Prize competition for poetry on medical themes.

Here’s Karen’s winning entry:

COMMUNITY MEDICINE 1974

A cage deep into the earth, a truck
to the coal face where he turned off the light;
a trick he’d played before to impress. We were
out of place, strangers sent to forecast his fate.

We watched as he blasted away layers
of carbon locked into scattered seams
that exploded daily into dust; a slow
burning canary full of cold, dark matter.

We learned how coal gets tattooed into scars
in skin, recognised the crackles and wheezes,
the black spit that would never come clean,
the text-book X-ray on the screen.

We saw his lungs displayed like lights
on a butcher’s block. Down a lens, traces
of coal etched round each alveolus;
a fragile shawl of widow’s lace.

He smoked to the end. With all that fuel
sealed in, I wondered if, when he lit up, inhaled,
there’d been a spark and his lungs at last
saw light, flamed bright before the final dark.

Well done, Karen! You can see the full results of the Hippocrates competition here.

Karen read her poem at the Stoke Stanza session with Gill McEvoy. Alongside Gill’s finely crafted poems, a distinctly ‘fishy’ – or fish and chippy – theme emerged.

Here’s Mary Morris:

FISH AND CHIPS

Slippery jumbled flapping on a trawler deck
Netted northerly from a boiling sea
And soil born dusty spuds turned by tractor spikes
Scooped up from boiling oil and cooled
Piles of yellow chips like shoals of gold
On old paper
And salt from an ancient buried Cheshire sea
Sprinkled on the fishes’ wounds.
Not an easy tea.

Geoff Sutton was also in a ‘chippie’ mood, applying his customary haiku style stanzas to a description of his local fish and chip shop.

ANOTHER     DECEMBER  EVENING    IN    ALSAGER

close the chippie door
but that is not so easy
battered  or breaded
 
silly cow thick shakes
twenty varieties   yes
you choose your pois(s)on
 
it’s traditional
you form an orderly queue
counter the banter

dished up by Paul in
his white coat   hygienic hat
skinny he is not

the quality he
has been tasting  I reckon
he remembers you

hello  Santa Claus
what’s in your sack of presents
his mum shakes salt   squirts

vinegar    wrapping
separate  or  together
tartar   or  lemon

not quite six o’clock
the lights still on in Jamie’s
Friday on Crewe Road

a giggle of girls
outside The Mere their scent their
breath hang in the air

eastward  Old Man Mow
rears up   steals light from the stars
and a gibbous moon

Maurice Leyland was sonneteering out in the fresh air:

FRESH AIR FOR BODY AND SOUL

To walk the mountains helps to make me whole,
shakes off the dust of daily work and strain,
invigorates my body and my soul.
My muscles and my sinews learn again
to work, obey demands not made this week
nor many weeks before. My tired eyes
relearn what joys enfold – look and seek
what lies beyond, a new and glittering prize.

Take pride in memories of old, and tell:
the toil to conquer Crinkle Crags and back;
the blinding blizzard on Helvellyn’s hell;
the Snowdon summit reached by grim Pig Track.
Forget what’s past, discover paths anew.
Fulfil the needs of limbs and your heart too.

Appropriately, for a group based in The Potteries, Malcolm McMinn brought us back to the pot-banks.

GLADSTONE POTTERY

At Gladstone Pottery the years roll back.
Just close your eyes and listen to the din
And smell the smoke. What tragic ghosts
Still haunt these blackened walls? Do pretty girls
With blue rimmed gums still paint while thin
Frail boys must toil from dawn ‘til dusk or earn
Their master’s clout? Men face infernal heat
To load and draw the greedy bottles. Old
Men, forty five or less, cough blood, yet struggle on.
Meanwhile, rich ladies sip their tea and eat
Their cake, showing off their fancy ware
With not an inkling of its proper cost.
The workers here knew hardship without measure;
Unknowing, we just see a local treasure.

This poem represents a departure for Malcolm, as he usually writes in rhyme. Here is the original rhyming version for comparison. Perhaps you’d like to comment? Better still, why not come to a Stanza session at The Leopard to listen, read or discus your own or other people’s writing?

Our next session is on Tuesday May 17th at 7.30pm. We meet upstairs at the historic Leopard Hotel, 19 Market Place, Burslem, Stoke on Trent ST7 3DS, just opposite the old town hall. We hope to see you soon, but meanwhile, enjoy Malcolm’s rhyming poem:

THE VICTORIAN POTTER

At Gladstone Pottery the years roll back.
Just close your eyes and listen to the din
And smell the smoke as bone and kaolin
Transform into fine china in hot, black,
Kilns. Pretty girls with blue rimmed gums just sit
And paint as men brave hellish heat to load
Or draw the kiln, while smoke and dust corrode
The lungs of everyone. Some gasp, cough, spit
Blood, yet struggle on. Fine ladies then took
Tea and cake, showing off their costly ware
But its true cost they’d neither know nor care
And give the potters not a second look.
We idly wander round this local treasure
But working here would never be a pleasure.

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About theleopard66

I am a member of the Stoke Stanza of The Poetry Society and run a bi-monthly Poems & Pints event in Alsager.
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10 Responses to Congratulations to Karen!

  1. soloneili says:

    What a privilege and treat to read Malcom McMinn’s two versions of the Pottery poems. As a consumer of poetry rather than speaking from any lofty heights ( I just wish I could write like Malcom and the rest of you) I am drawn to the Gladstone Pottery version. It is in this version that I love the more subtle use of language and the rhythms are to die for. The creative use of long and short sounds capture me as a reader and lead much like a conductor leads a musician. Even though this poem is referred to as unrhymed the sonics prevail, musical echoes in subtle use rewarding me throughout until that final fabulous couplet brings a closure that both rings in the ear and the mind as a well crafted conceit about the price of pottery. Amazing skills are on display in this poem. This version offers the chance to study how words can skip along like dance steps. Line two is a great example of this in the way it changes from the opening line. Wonderful.

  2. mfuller810 says:

    A Poem By Mike Fuller

    John von Neumann ( 1903 – 1957 )
    Hungarian-American Pure and Applied Mathematician, Physicist, Computer Scientist, Inventor and Polymath.

    Patrick Moore ( 1923 – 2012 )
    English Amateur Astronomer, Writer, Researcher, Radio Commentator and Television Presenter.

    Carl Sagan ( 1934 – 1996 )
    American Astronomer, Cosmologist, Astrophysicist, Astrobiologist, Author, Science Populariser, and Science Communicator in Astronomy and Other Natural Sciences.

  3. mfuller810 says:

    My favourite poet is William McGonagall ( c. March, 1825 – 29 / 9 / 1902 )
    Scottish Prolific Writer of Doggerel Poetry, Actor, Performer, Playwright and Weaver.
    I understand his poetry as I find it difficult to read!

  4. mfuller810 says:

    Two In A Tent

    Her with her starry beauty
    Neath’ the calm blue evening skies;
    And smile of infinite innocence
    And wide moon filled eyes.

    He with his world of comics
    As he daydreams secretly
    Of castles and knights and dragons,
    Before their mum calls them in for tea.

    This is so much to both of them,
    As in their childhood states,
    They finder a sweeter satisfaction,
    Than in the adult world that awaits.

    Mike Fuller ( 2005 )

  5. mfuller810 says:

    Rainbow

    I’ll go
    over the rainbow,
    flying
    without trying,
    strumming
    and humming
    with joy.

    The hoi-polloi
    cats and teddies share there,
    living on steak and milk and honey,
    all in love is fair there,
    no one needs money.

    Stranger be kind to me,
    and I’ll show you the moon in the palm of my hand.

    You visited once in a lullaby,
    why then, oh why can’t I?

    The thing is man,
    I can.

    Brain Davis

    University educated Brian Davis was one of the best journalists in the country and a successful freelance writer. He had a break down and spent years living on the streets in London, before he commited suicide. This poem gives a hint of some of his remarkable gift for words!

    .

  6. mfuller810 says:

    Bonnie Dundee In 1878

    Oh, Bonnie Dundee! I will sing in thy praise
    A few but true simple lays,
    Regarding some of your beauties of the present day –
    And virtually speaking, there’s none can them gainsay;
    There’s no other town I know of with which you can compare
    For spinning mills and lasses fair,
    And for stately buildings there’s none can excel
    The beautiful Albert Institute or the Queen’s Hotel,
    For it’s most handsome to be seen,
    Where accommodation can be had for the Duke, Lord and Queen,
    And four pillars of the front are made of Aberdeen granite, very fine,
    And most beautiful does shine, just like a looking glass,
    And for beauty and grandeur there’s none can them surpass.
    And your fine shops in Reform Street,
    Very few can with them compete
    For superfine goods, there’s none excel,
    From Inverness to Clerkenwell.
    And your Tramways, I must confess,
    That they have proved a complete success,
    Which I am right glad to see …
    And a very great improvement to Bonnie Dundee.
    And there’s a Royal Arch, most handsome to be seen,
    Erected to the memory of our Most Gracious Queen-
    Most magnificent to see,
    And a very great honour to the people of Dundee.
    Then there’s the Baxter Park, most beautiful to see,
    And a great boon it is to the people of Dundee,
    For when they can enjoy themselves when they are free from care,
    By inhaling the perfumed air,
    Emanating from the sweet flowers and green trees and shrubs there.
    Oh, Bonnie Dundee! I must conclude my muse,
    And to write in praise of thee my pen does not refuse,
    Your beauties that I have alluded to are most worthy to see,
    And in conclusion, I will call thee Bonnie Dundee!

    William McGonagall ( c.1825 – 1902 )

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