Monthly Archives: October 2020

The Gebelein Man, by Clare Marsh

The Gebelein Man, by Kent and Sussex Poetry Society member Clare Marsh, a writer of children’s fiction, short stories, flash fiction and poetry, was selected in our 2020 Folio competition for publication in Folio #74. Clare graduated with an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Kent in 2018. She can be found on Facebook at claremarshwriter1

The Gebelein Man

In the Early Egypt Gallery,
preserved in sand, a young man
from south of Thebes, lies crouched
face-down in a glass cube. Surrounded
by prying eyes, he covers his face
with clasped hand in a staged burial pit - 
defenceless as any caged animal.
I want to cover his naked body
with a blanket of softest wool

Displayed over a hundred years,
dubbed Ginger for his poignant tufts
of red curls, clustered on his leathered scalp.
His given name belatedly dropped due to 
ethical concerns about the treatment of the dead.

The British Museum invites me instead 
to take part in a touch screen
interactive learning experience
to explore inside Gebelein Man
on a virtual autopsy table. Allows me,
and a crowd of giggling school children,
to slice through CT scan layers - skin, muscle, organs -
to reveal his skeleton and discover the fatal
stab wound in his back.

After the Human Tissue Act 2004, the British Museum 
developed a policy for the respectful handling and 
display of human remains. 

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Voices goes virtual

Despite the difficulties of ‘live’, it’s not only the Kent and Sussex Poetry Society that’s finding new online ways to connect. Another local group – Voices – that puts on great evenings of performance – a kind of Royal Variety Show – is using Faceboook to provide opportunities for performers and audiences alike: Virtual Voices. Their next link up is on Friday 30th October, using their Facebook group.

For those completely new to Voices you’ll find all the background information about who they are and what they on their website. Have a look around and if you like what you see hot-foot it over to Facebook to register your interest for Friday night’s (Oct 30th) Halloween special. You can book a slot there to read or perform live, or send a video / audio recording in advance: it’s all good! Then, by the magic of Facebook messenger, they’ll be going live at around 8:00 to share whatever has been thrown into the pot. Actually, what with it being Halloween and all that should probably say ‘to stir up whatever has been thrown into the cauldron’… We know for a FAKT there will be poetry and at least a couple of songs, but who knows what else will emerge from the fog?

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Brighton Rock, by Mark Harrison

This poem by our member Mark Harrison, was selected for our Folio #74 published this year.

Brighton Rock

Ten of the clock and in they shuffle
Straight for the £1 boxes, they ain't subtle
Bagged their coffees and give them a guzzle
'Do anything on that, mate?'

Foggy drive down, energy sapping
Carful of boxes ripe for unpacking
Stag Weekend drunks outside overacting
'Do anything on that, mate?'

Russian guy here with red flight case
Grizzled old Mod, knife mark on face
Rocker with daughter, you hope that's the case
'Do anything on that, mate?'

Straggly grey hair and bulging guts
Simpering kids and whimpering mutts
Indulgent wives, their Sundays forsook
'Do anything on that, mate?'

Mid-morning peak, they're all up for buying
Rummaging through the vinyl, then sighing
Pleading gaze at me, mortifying
'Do anything on that, mate?'

Pink Floyd collection found in an attic
Malicious ex-wife been sent apoplectic
Bargain price purchase that made me ecstatic
'Do anything on that, mate?'

Late in the day and my profits are down
Fat leather wallets are thin on the ground
Bloke sidles up, he seems pretty sound
'Do anything on the Floyd, mate?'

'A tenner and it's yours. Cheeky sod.'

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The Sacred Tree Says You Are Now A Bird That Doesn’t Hate Blue, by Bob Spencer

This poem, by Bob Spencer, a local poet and farmer, was selected for our Folio #73 in 2019.

The Sacred Tree Says You Are Now A Bird That Doesn't Hate Blue

You never seemed to know
where you were from.
I thought goose green
where the swings were.
the cemetery hill
where we laughed
ten times each week.

Now and then
where you are now
speaks to me.
It says you won't be anywhere
because anywhere
is always blue.
You hated blue.

I walked
into this innocent field
for an opinion.
It also said that
you're not anywhere,
that your kisses have melted away.
Chocolate in the sun.
Aches in the bath.

I wondered
if you were in the sacred tree,
naked now, shorn
of its keys and leaves.
Not amongst my brittle bones
It barked.
She is flown to the sun,
the elephants.
And others.

I looked to the skies,
your path to the sun
and rejoiced that blue
could no longer
be a source
of your displeasure.

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No Guarantee, by Phil Vernon

Phil Vernon is our treasurer, and this poem was published in the Society’s Folio # 72 in 2018. It is included in his recent collection, Poetry After Auschwitz (Sentinel).

No Guarantee

Overnight, the valley's turned.
Its trees and hedges, wearied by

the endless summer days, have spurned
their tender murmuring for dry-

as-paper rustling in reply
to breezes brushed with leaf more rare

than gold, beneath a cloudless sky -
a beauty he can hardly bear.

he sees leaves fade then fall; then bare
limbs silhouetted under rough

storm clouds; then spring - all he can know
is how their scent suffused the air,

the feel and soft sound as he scuffed
through dampened drifts, lifetimes ago.

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Julia Webb

Photo credit: Martin Figura

We are delighted to welcome Julia Webb as our Zoom reader for October’s reading for the Kent and Sussex Poetry Society at 8 o’clock on the 20th.

Julia Webb was born in London and grew up in Thetford – a small town in Norfolk. She left school at sixteen and spent nine years living in a rural commune before settling in Norwich. She has a BA (hons) in Creative Writing form Norwich University of the Arts and she graduated from The University of East Anglia’s Poetry MA in 2010. In 2011 she won the poetry Society’s Stanza competition and in 2014 she was shortlisted for the Poetry School/Pighog pamphlet prize. She teaches creative writing in the community.

Julia’s first collection was “Bird Sisters” (2016) and her latest collection, “Threat”, came out in May last year. Her poetry is powerful and unsettling, with detailed reality and fantasy both features of her work.

There will be an Open Mic before Julia’s reading. Hope to see you there!

N.B. Non-members can pay to join the Zoom meeting by using the pay pal button, and emailing to let us know, so they can be sent the link. 

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Bittersweet, by Geraldine Cousins

This poem by Society member Geraldine Cousins was included in our 2018 selection, Folio #72

Mist and frosts in November
mean it's time to fetch a bottle of Guinness
with its signature of the first Dublin brewer

in red flourishes. The glass so dense it turns
the matt black label brown. Pouring ale
over fruits, peels and spices, smells

of roasted barley, breezy hops, take me back
to endless summers in my aunt's kitchen. Wrapped
in huge coloured towels we all huddled

shivering after the morning swim. Champ
and Lance thwack our wet legs with flanks
and tails. Uncle Wint, who always makes

things happen, makes things possible
insists everyone takes a glass of Guinness 'to
warm your cockles' he says.

Being youngest I'm let off after a couple of gulps.
Before I even wipe away my froth moustache
a glow of heat surges through my innards.

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