Poet’s Corner

Members of Wokingham Library Poetry Group have sent in some more contributions for our library blog, some with a topical twist!

Lockdown 2020 by Alan Brown

 I’ve tried to read an unreadable book

and stared for hours at my video screen

until I could no longer bear to look

at such an unremitting, sterile scene.

But when I sleep I ride on rolling seas.

I view the moonlit ripples on the tide

and feel again the freshly laundered breeze

caress my face and stir the soul inside.

Simplicity, not cherished in the past,

or overlooked, like backdrops of a play,

is seen and truly valued at long last

and stored in mind until a better day.

So when this veil of gloom is lifted clear,

let me recall these things I now hold dear.

 

CORONAPHOBIA By Jean Hill

 We’ve got the virus on the run

Time to open windows wide

Life will once again belong to us

No longer will we hide

 

But what’s this new phenomenon

Coronaphobia is rife

Even though the risk’s diminished

Folk are fearful for their life

 

Come on guys, we must be brave

And when the time is right

Go forth into the sunshine

And enjoy God’s given light

 

If we ran from every daily risk

We’d soon be out of breath

We’ve got the chance to live again

’Though we’ll still mourn every death

 

Don’t be like a caterpillar

When with hope the future’s bright

Emerge from the chrysalis

Like a butterfly – take flight

 

Don’t fall victim to the phobia

Don’t let worries manifest

The greatest fear is fear itself

We’ve survived – we’re truly blessed

 

So when Boris gives the go-ahead

Let’s raise one mighty cheer

And once again we’ll live and love

Without Corona fear

 

PICTURES OF JUSTICE  by Jean Hill

 Now I’m just full of bright ideas

On how to pass the time

I saw this on the internet

So confess it isn’t mine

 

To ring up random numbers

In countries, on the phone

And scare all their old ladies

In lockdown on their own

 

We’ll say that we’re from Microsoft

And their computer’s on the blink

And rob them of their money

Before they’ve time to think

 

A fantasy – I’m dreaming

I wouldn’t stoop to cause distress

To all the world’s old ladies

While we’re together in this mess

 

I’m not really horrid

Nor normally unkind

But what I’d do to scammers

Paints pictures in my mind

 

When with smarmy voices

They set out to target us

I summon up this image

Of them flattened by a bus

 

In centres dotted round the world

With scammers, caring not a jot

I’d line them up against the wall

And each one would be shot

 

I’d have gibbets up the high street

Hang them by their scrawny necks

’Cos they reduce old ladies

To nervous, frightened wrecks

 

They prey upon the elderly

The weak and old and frail

And I’d like to see the lot of them

Rot in the nearest jail

 

So when a scammer rings you up

Just terminate his call

He’s a nasty little weevil

A brick short of a wall

 

Or string along his patter

But don’t believe a word he said

Then tell him that the nurse has come

To put you back to bed

 

Be cautions and be wary

Don’t think they’ve picked on you

We out there are many

And they’re just an evil few

 

Don’t get upset or worried

See the wheels of justice grind

Imagine their comeuppance

Paint the pictures in your mind

 

WAKES WEEK by Jean Hill

 It’s Wakes Week up in Lancashire

In eighteen-ninety-five

The mill wheels have stopped turning

And Blackpool comes alive

 

The looms at last fall silent

As the shuttle ceases flight

And the spindle stops revolving

No more spinning from tonight

 

The cotton fluff will settle

The clamorous din will halt

The oily stench of weaving looms

To a standstill will be brought

 

The lads will court the lasses

Flat caps at jaunty angle

And with wages in their pockets

The pennies jingle-jangle

 

A donkey ride across the sands

And winkles picked with pin

Jellied eels and pie and mash

And coconuts to win

 

With Vaudeville at The Empire

Wonders every night performed

For just a brief time in the year

The toils of life transformed

 

Bread well spread with Shippam’s paste

And many a lass would bake

To have with tea cold from a flask

A lump of lardy cake

 

To ride the tram along the front

And see the lights shine bright

To take the lift in Blackpool Tower

From the top a bonny sight

 

With toes dipped in the Irish Sea

Between The Ribble and The Wyre

See many a romance blossom

In that bright and breezy shire

 

For just a week or maybe two

A respite from daily grind

As the cotton mills fall silent

And all hardship’s left behind

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Poetry for VE Day

As part of our celebrations for VE we are posting some poetry contributed and suggested by members of our  Wokingham Library Poetry Groups.

First Sights By Alan Brown

 The darkness pierced by blinding phosphorus light

from muddy air raid shelter I recall,

an instant of remembrance in a night

of half-forgotten, war-begotten thrall.

At some point misty fragments start to blend

and memory is born of infant dreams.

Conscious knowledge on which we will depend

is formed from tiny droplets into streams.

But did I really see the Cossacks ride

at full gallop across the Tamworth plain

or, breathless, watch the stricken aircraft glide

before its stuttering engine fired again?

Some memories stay bright, some fade away,

like sparks from bonfires lit on V.E. Day.

 

TUNE ON A TAMBOURINE by Jean Hill

 It’s now a distant memory

But I recall the scene

Of all the little children

Dancing on the village green

Of maypole ribbons twirling

And voices sweet in sound

The gaily painted horses

Of the old merry-go-round

 

The farmers winning rosettes

For their livestock proudly shown

The competition for the best and

Biggest vegetables they’d grown

A time of simple pleasures

A day old folk sit and dream

And the gypsy played a merry tune

On a well-worn tambourine

 

No one saw the sky was darkening

No one heard the fateful drone

As an aircraft called a Messerschmitt

Made its lonely way back home

With machine guns spitting venom

Bombs unleashed from its hold

The killing of the children

The burning horror to unfold

 

In deathly aftermath, the agony

The wailing out of grief

The crater where the maypole stood

Now viewed with disbelief

The time was nineteen-forty-two

And I still hear each scream

And the echo of the gypsy’s tune

On a silent tambourine

 

I’m Gonna get Lit Up when the Lights go Up in London by Hugh Gregg

I’m gonna get lit up when the lights go up in London,
I’m gonna get lit up as I’ve never been before
You will find me on the tiles
You will find me wreathed in smiles
I’m gonna get so lit up I’ll be visible for miles
The city will sit up when the lights go up in London
We’ll all be lit up as the Strand was only more, much more
And before the plot’s played out
They will fetch the fire brigade out
To the lit-est up-est scene you ever saw.

“I’m Going To Get Lit Up (When The Lights Go Up In London)” was written by Hubert Gregg –  the broadcaster, writer, actor, producer and song writer (also “Maybe It’s Because I’m a Londoner”) who only died in 2004 . He wrote the song in 1940 and it was the first song he ever saw published. It was used initially in an army show, in which he performed it himself, but in 1943 it was used by George Black in his revue Strike A New Note in which it was sung by Gregg’s first wife, Zoe Gail. It was broadcast in 1944 to alert the Resistance that the invasion of Europe was imminent.

 

 The Life That I have by Leo Marks

The life that I have

Is all that I have

And the life that I have

Is yours.

 

The love that I have

Of the life that I have

Is yours and yours and yours

 

A sleep I shall have

A rest I shall have

Yet death will be but a pause

 

For the peace of my years

In the long green grass

Will be yours and yours and yours.

ve day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poets Corner

Here is some great poetry for you for lockdown times, with thanks to our local poets Jean Hill , Alan Brown and Robert Parker who are members of Wokingham Library Poetry Group

Muted Celebration  by  Alan Brown

As now for eighty years I’ve trod this earth,

from far away my kin planned to arrive

to celebrate this landmark of my birth,

though somewhat baffled that I’m still alive!

 

But wait! A virus had made other plans,

(not merely aimed at me, I must confess)

so we fall prey to social distance bans,

imposed to halt the spread of grave distress.

 

This inconvenience is little price

against the horror of a deadly foe

and wildly flouting of such sound advice

could likely be the harbinger of woe.

 

But celebration did still mark the day

and though restricted to our own backyards

such kindly neighbours swiftly found a way

to flood my home with birthday greetings cards.

 

There may be cruel horrors yet in store

and tears to shed before the course is run,

but we will stand together, as before,

to banish discord and get the job done.

 

ELECTRONIC FRIENDS by Jean Hillelectronic friends

 I’ve introduced Alexa

To my friend SatNav Sue

Between them I’ll go round the bend

As they tell me what to do

 

Now we can’t have human contact

These electronic mates

Are the pivot of the axis

On which my world rotates

 

But SatNav Sue is sulking

As there’s nowhere we can drive

And Alexa sit there smugly

Gives advice how to survive

 

I’ve had enough and three’s a crowd

So I’ll leave them to their fight

With Susie doing ‘U’ turns

And Alexa – Say ‘Good-Night’

 

DARLING DUSTMAN by Jean Hilldustmen

 Today my ‘Darling Dustman’

Gave me a cheery wave

To brighten isolation

And my sanity to save

 

We don’t think about the rubbish

As it’s collected every week

By hunky ‘Darling Dustmen’

With sturdy dustmen’s feet

 

With their truck piled high with rubbish

They count amongst the brave

So thank you ‘Darling Dustman’

For giving me a cheery wave

The Mist by Robert Parker

 

Out of the rice fields rose a dark mist;

 

It enveloped the world in a trice.

 

It threatens the very existence of life.

 

Where sickness occurs, hope will not suffice.

 

Count your fingers one by one;

 

CleanIng them from nail to thumb.

 

Stand six feet apart awhile;

 

Two metres if you are a Europhile.

 

That is the mantra of the day

 

For all to follow, the safest way

 

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Poets Corner with Wokingham Libraries

Local railway worker Tony Knight can now be seen  on on You Tube reading poetry by winnie the poohA.A. Milne to entertain us during lock down. Tony became well known locally when he started reading Winnie-the Pooh poetry and other poems by A.A. Milne at Wokingham station to cheer commuters up as they started their daily journeys.

Videos of Tony reading poetry are uploaded every day and they can be viewed here at  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyXmNtBRr0pGo68-e3SfmOQ/

Pam Pierce from our Poetry Reading Group has draw our attention to the The Ancient Mariner Big Read, lauched on Saturday April 18th which she has enjoyed and  which can be accessed via https://bit.ly/2KlS61s

Alan Brown and Jean Hill from the Wokingham Library Poetry Group have contributed some more of their own poetry for you to enjoy:

A Sonnet to the Isle of Arran by Alan Brown

On sunny days, oh yes, there are a few,

the island hides behind the veil of haze

that cloaks her lovely face from mortal view

and stores her snow-capped peaks for colder gaze.

For when sharp-focused Winter has its sway,

her mountains flaunt their sparkling garlands white

to stand reflected in the sea by day

and softly snare the moon’s pale smile by night.

The weary Clyde there mingles with the sea

and timeless laps the shingled island shore.

On that far strand I ever long to be

to glimpse the heights of Arran just once more.

I hope the passing years have been benign,

reflecting still these memories of mine.

 

Secret Love Sonnet by Alan Brown

I met my first love on the Brighton train.

She sat by me and I gave her a sweet.

The weather was fine after early rain

and we’d bunked off school in order to meet.

We spent the whole day by the Sussex shore.

There’s no place on earth I’d rather have been,

laughing and playing and oh, so much more

and holding hands when we couldn’t be seen.

As evening fell, we strolled on the pier,

one sweet, final hour before our train home.

We had fish and chips. She bought me a beer

before she tidied my hair with her comb.

But she spoilt my day when I heard her state,

I’ll still give you lines if your homework’s late.

 

WE’LL MEET AGAIN by Jean Hill

 When Vera sang that famous song

Back in those war-time years

Not knowing we’d be singing it

To help us through Corona fears

 

‘We’ll Meet Again’ she sang

‘Don’t know where, don’t know when’

And now with families split apart

Just as we were back then

 

So as the country stands together

And again we fight a foe

No bombs to drop upon our heads

But courage we must show

 

And although the news is dismal

‘We’ll keep on smiling through’

Uniting our great nation

‘Just as we always do’

 

As each day we fight the virus

Through uncertainty and pain

We’ll lift our hearts together

‘One sunny day we’ll meet again’

 

I’LL NOT RUN by Jean Hill

 I remember well my Grandad

In the last years of the war

Upright, proud, and stubborn

And British to the core

 

He lived downstairs, the flat below

And each morning I would creep

Across the lino covered floor

Eyes misted still with sleep

 

Up I’d climb upon his lap

And in his old and worn-out chair

He’d read from his newspaper

The tales of Rupert Bear

 

But Grandad had an inner strength

Too old, not called to fight

In typical ‘Dad’s Army’ style

He’d fire-watch through the night

 

And “I’ll not run from Hitler”

Was a phrase he’d often use

As bombs rained down on London

And dismal was the news

 

“No, I’ll not dance to Hitler’s tune”

As he quoted Churchill’s speech

He’d fight on each street corner

And on every English beach

 

So let’s replicate his spirit

We’re British through and through

And we’ll shown this rotten virus

Just what we Brits can do

 

And our valiant island nation

Corona thought it could invade

Will once again take up the fight

And show we’re unafraid

 

With patriotic fervour

The Bulldog Breed is still alive

We Brits, we won’t surrender

From the virus we’ll survive

 

So in my Grandad’s image

And all brave souls before

We won’t run from this virus

That’s dared to breach our shore

 

You are an unseen enemy

And many a life you’ll take

But history has taught us

The British spirit you won’t break

 

We’ll fight it out together

’Though isolated we may be

But each of us will do our bit

Until once more we’re free

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Poets Corner

Alan Brown and Jean Hill from the Wokingham Library Poetry Group have written some poetry to give  to amuse us and give us food for thought.i love poetry

 

Therefore, let us be joyful! by Alan Brown

While speeches drone, we captive schoolboys

are seated cross-legged on the floor

and dreaming of our act-the-fool joys

when soon we funnel through the door.

The Lord’s dismissed us with His blessing;

we are the champion house, once more.

That pointless contest leaves me guessing

what on earth I am cheering for.

 

The day Thou gavest, Lord, is ended

although not yet our suffering.

Why is assembly so extended?

Can there be yet more hymns to sing?

Then, finally, the Head has finished –

the poor old sod’s run out of steam.

And so, defiance undiminished,

we rush to live our Summer dream.

 

No more, those nouns of fifth declension.

No more dative and ablative.

Six weeks without a Latin mention,

no uniforms – our time to live!

Six weeks of joy in Summer weather,

even though it may rain for four.

Six weeks of freedom from Latin’s tether.

Gaudeamus igitur!

 

On visiting the Doctor, 1948 by Alan Brown

 

A wooden shed at the end of our street

served to requite all our physical ills.

The halt and sick of the village would meet

to sit and await their ointments and pills.

I opened the door and found a free space

and gazed at the dozen already there,

hoping to find a familiar face,

but had to endure the waiting room’s stare.

At last came my turn in the doctor’s room.

The boil on my neck was gone in a flash.

Despite the sharp pain, the lance eased my gloom,

all without paying a penny in cash!

A successful outcome, I must confess.

A wonderful thing, this new NHS!

 

Obsession Observed by Alan Brown

My mother, as she spun and wove, told me to never give in,

that life’s rewards will go to those who finish what they begin.

 

So I toiled hard to build my life, often fatigued and in pain,

only to see my first day’s work washed away by spiteful rain.

 

I tried a second day and third, better each time than before,

only to see that all I built ended as dust on the floor.

 

But Mother’s words rang in my ears and would not allow defeat.

Ambition became obsession. My life’s work must be complete.

 

Seven days I struggled and fought, but failed to achieve my goal.

Yet on the eighth, wonder was wrought, a result to lift my soul.

 

At last, my structure was revealed, perfect and ready for use,

until I saw it swept aside, by Robert the bloody Bruce.

 

It would seem he had been watching me until my work was done.

My dedication gave him heart and his battle soon was won.

 

Needless to say, I was irate, but my rage to pride would turn,

since my eight legged mates now call me, “The hero of Bannockburn”.

 

But Mother must take some credit for the success of her lad.

I remember her with fondness, even though she ate my Dad!

 

HIGH HOPES by Jean Hill

I’m grateful to the government

For giving back to me

The right to keep on working

At the age of eighty-three

So I dug out the sequinned leotard

And before the mirror gave a twirl

Although the costume sagged a bit

Thought “You’ve still got it, girl”

They want a new pole dancer

In the night-club up the road

And now they’ve banned ageism

I can prove I’m not too old

So I went for my audition

And to the strains of King Creole

With a puff of my inhaler

I shimmied up the pole

I gyrated to the very top

But with a neat back-flip

I hurtled down the bloody pole

With a dislocated hip

 

Now I just have my pension

And the government’s to blame

The only pole I dance round is

My trusty zimmer-frame

 

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Poetry Pieces with Wokingham Libraries

Our brilliant local poet, Jean Hill has contributed another couple of poems for us to enjoy. Plus a lovely poem by an American poet, Kitty O’Meara who saw the current epdemic coming and wrote this originally to share with friends- and then it went viral!

NEED OR WANT  by Jean Hill

 Let’s tighten belts together

And rid this world of greed

Forget about the things we want

And focus on the things we need

We don’t need to get a take-away

Or flighty high-heeled shoes

Or buy music on the internet

To chase away our blues

We don’t need crisps in packets

Ready meals or chocolate bars

We don’t need all those fizzy drinks

Or great big fancy cars

We don’t need jewels and handbags

Or gimmick gadgets round the home

We’ve a pleasant land to wander

And woodland paths to roam

Forget foie gras and caviar

Pick blackberries for free

And pour a nice strong cuppa

With beans on toast for tea

We don’t need steak or salmon

Or oven chips when spuds will do

Just a loaf of bread – a pint of milk

And perhaps an egg or two

We don’t need stylish hair-cuts

Or nails all painted pink

Be grateful we’ve got water

To run down our kitchen sink

In our society that’s pampered

We waste more than we can eat

Think of those who have to struggle

Making do and both ends meet

Let’s generate simplicity

Turn the heating down a notch

Don’t heap up the shopping trolley

And on expenditure keep watch

A deck-chair in the garden

No need to go abroad

Just close your eyes and dream awhile

When it’s a trip you can’t afford

So while Planet Earth lies bleeding

Let’s sow a frugal seed

And remember all the millions

That our poor world has yet to feed

And before you spend your money

Ask a question of yourself

Do I need it or just want it

And leave it on the shelf

Need or want

DROWNING by Jean Hill

 

You can feel the frozen edges

Of the life raft that I gripped

And although I hung on tightly

In the end my fingers slipped

In the iceberg’s ghostly shadow

Turbulent inky waters swirled

And enticed me, oh so gently

Into the silent twilight world

Did no-one hear the calling

As she signalled her distress

That freezing night in April

The Titanic’s final S.O.S

In the iridescent starlight

Bereft of prayers to say

I slowly sink beneath the waves

And the life raft drifts away

Drowning

Unnamed poem by Kitty O’Meara

And people stayed at home 

And read books 

And listened 

And they rested 

And did exercises 

And made art and played 

And learned new ways of being 

And stopped and listened 

More deeply 

Someone meditated, someone prayed 

Someone met their shadow 

And people began to think differently 

And people healed. 

And in the absence of people who 

Lived in ignorant ways 

Dangerous, meaningless and heartless, 

The earth also began to heal 

And when the danger ended and 

People found themselves 

They grieved for the dead 

And made new choices 

And dreamed of new visions 

And created new ways of living 

And completely healed the earth 

Just as they were healed. 

 

Poets Corner-with local poets Jean Hill and Robert Parker

Jean Hill and Robert Parker from  Wokingham Library Poetry Group have sent in poetry to bring us some cheer.

Cherry blossomCHERRY TREE

Jean Hill

Sometimes in the morning

When the world is hard to face

In lonely isolation

No contact with the human race

It feels life’s not worth living

With no-one there to share

And every day’s a burden

Without a loved-one close to care

To wither behind sadness

The cold and bleak despair

When you cry out in the darkness

No-one answers – no-one’s there

But today the sun is shining

Its rays light the cherry tree

The pink and radiant blossom

Reaches out to comfort me

And the daffodils are nodding

The primrose pale and bright

And tulips sway in unison

To grace the morning light

The world is full of beauty

And friends are on the ’phone

Although in isolation

We’re not really on our own

So let’s focus on the future

When of the virus we’ll be free

Keep looking at the blossom

On the sun-lit cherry tree

My MG by Robert Parker

My mother bought me an MG when I was twenty one

The canvas top was somewhat worn standing silent in the sun

It had an elegance and grace

Whilst twisting through country lanes showing off its pace

But being small and sporty was short of room and space

Two large headlamps stood in front

And two spare wheels behind

Both of which my mother seemed to think divine

Driving in my uniform I made the girls go Wow

I think I’ll jump into my Ford and try it once more now

MG

Poetry to cheer you up by Jean Hill

Our own local poet, Jean Hill, a member of the Wokingham Library Poetry Group has penned some poetry to keep you smiling.

Jean Hill 1

CORONAVIRUS

 2020

 I’ve listened to the Minister

The one who guards our health

He talked of how a virus

Is creeping up with stealth

He warned of flu-like symptoms

In our head and on our chest

So I’ll get a pack of tissues

And I’ll wear my woolly vest

He said that we might cough a bit

With runny nose and fever high

But please will you enlighten me

Will someone tell me why

Folk are buying toilet-rolls

Are they daft or unaware

It’s their noses that need wiping

And not their derrière

FRIENDSHIP

 

Now I’m in isolation

Alexa’s my best friend

She tells me all the latest news

And how the world might end.

She says Coronavirus

Is a menace we must fight

She plays music in the day-time

And wishes me ‘Good Night’

She’s kinder than my SatNav

(A close companion too)

But as I’m going nowhere

That relationship is through

We’re lucky with the internet

But must remember people who

Can’t master the technology

And would love a word from you

Raise your voice between divisions

Shout across the garden wall

And if your neighbour’s in the garden

Give her a cheery call

Be safe and keep the distance

And with families forced apart

When there are no hugs and kisses

Let love shine in your heart

 

LET ME DIE DANCING

 Dear Lord, let me die dancing

Let my feet not touch the floor

Let me go while I’m still living

And not waiting at death’s door

 

Let me roam through light and stardust

Let me find life’s pot of gold

As I fly beyond the rainbow

All the wonders to behold

 

Let me drift in dappled sunlight

Embrace Autumn’s crowning glory

Let me fly blue skies with songbirds

And tell life’s wondrous story

Let me ride winds of the jet stream

Hold a moonbeam in my hand

Gaze upon this world of beauty

That Mother Nature planned

Please grant me peace and freedom

And while life is still entrancing

I’ll swim the seas and scale the peaks

Dear Lord, let me die dancing

Jean Hill 2

Poetry and Pudding at the Berkshire Care Home

Poetry and pudding were the order of the day at The Berkshire Care Home as residents celebrated Burns night by exploring the life and works of the famous Scottish poet Robert Burns.

Our very own Heather Dyson and volunteer Barbara Turner from Wokingham Library joined in the fun to give a fascinating insight into his life!

They also recited some of his most famous poems including ‘Tam o Shanter’, ‘A Red, Red Rose’, and of course ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

Click below to find out more

https://cutt.ly/wrTDrrz

 

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Forward Prizes for Poetry 2019

The 28th annual Forward Prizes will be awarded on 20th October 2019 at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre. The Forward Prizes for Poetry are among the UK’s most coveted literary awards; They have been awarded since 1992 to more than 70 poets, honouring brilliant newcomers – Liz Berry, Danez Smith – alongside established writers at the peak of their careers: Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, and Claudia Rankine.

Discover these shortlisted poets at Wokingham libraries, reserve a copy via the website at http://www.wokingham.gov.uk/libraries/library-services/search-renew-and-reserve-items/

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The Forward Prize for Best Collection (£10,000)

City of Departures by Helen Tookey (Carcanet)

Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky (Faber & Faber)

The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here by Vidyan Ravinthiran (Bloodaxe Books)

Noctuary by Niall Campbell (Bloodaxe Books)

Vertigo & Ghost by Fiona Benson (Cape)

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The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection (£5,000)

If All the World and Love Were Young by Stephen Sexton (Penguin Books)

The Perseverance by Raymond Antrobus (Penned in the Margins)

Significant Other by Isabel Galleymore (Carcanet)

Surge by Jay Bernard (Chatto & Windus)

Truth Street by David Cain (Smokestack Books)