Poet of the Month

2021: Poets featured as Poet of the Month 

January: Rebecca Lowe (Wales).
February: Jim Gronvold (USA). 
March: Carolyn Mary Kleefeld (USA).
April: Tozan Alkan (Turkey).
May: Byron Beynon (Wales).
June: Michelle Chung (USA). 
July: Jim Gwyn (USA).
August: Jonathan Taylor (England).
September: Beata Poźniak (USA).
October: Maria Taylor (England).
November: Stanley H. Barkan (USA).
December: John Dotson (USA).

2022: Poets featured as Poet of the Month 

January: Maria Mastrioti (Greece).
February: Gayl Teller (USA).
March: Mike Jenkins (Wales).
April: Cassian Maria Spiridon (Romania).

May 2022: Simon Fletcher, English poet
 

(c) 2022 Simon Fletcher

Simon Fletcher is a widely-published poet and writer who lives in Shropshire. He’s also the manager of Offa’s Press that has received some funding from Arts Council England: www.offaspress.co.uk.

He’s won various prizes and awards and read his poetry on BBC Radio Shropshire and the BBC Asian Network. Simon’s also read his work across Britain and abroad, including in Pakistan, Norway and Germany.

Since 1994 four full collections of poetry have been published. He’s collaborated with Debjani Chatterjee, Basir Sultan Kazmi and Brian D’Arcy, as Mini Mushaira, on two joint anthologies and written a pamphlet, The Cherry Trees of Wyre, about his childhood on a smallholding in Wyre Forest, Worcestershire.

His articles and book reviews have appeared in Acumen, Orbis, and Writing in Education.

He was a literature development officer, from 2000-2013, in Wolverhampton Libraries, and set up Offa’s Press in 2010 to promote/ publish poetry in the West Midlands. He organises live literature events, including ‘Virtual Voices’, and the literature programme for the Ironbridge Festival of the Imagination, and been a ‘poet on loan’ in West Midland libraries.

www.simonfletcherwriter.com

 

Yüan

When books are not read or,
worse, torn up, burnt, art works
destroyed, what can you do?

Faced with barbarians
we made for the green hills,
resilient waterfalls.

They hold us in contempt,
desecrate our angels,
brutalise the people.

As they abhor our words,
images, we’ll head south,
but sing ancestral songs.

~

Our daughters are not happy
they miss the market stalls,
the imperial gossip.

And their suitors are no
longer suitable, it
appears, with weathered skin.

Times will change, we argue,
but our wives are not sure;
they know that power’s a drug

and fierce men let it go
only when they must; shame,
defeat, always follow.

~

My friend, Ni Zan, who lives
these days on a houseboat,
shows misery in his work,

records the fragile pines:
‘Six gentlemen’ he calls
them, draws them over &

over, like an addict
who cannot change the tune
or rhythm of his life,

while I, Zhao Mengfu, show
the beauty of orchids,
wild horses, among rocks.

~

So living with these rustics
we find a different life,
try on their autumn threads,

cultivate new gardens
where honesty can thrive
beneath the paper moon.

We learn new words, language;
see the wisdom in land,
the trees, the songs of birds.

Our papers we stow in
boxes for now but won’t
forget our bamboo arts.

~

We’ve come here to define
a different mode of life,
a knowing acceptance

of how things are and how
they might be yet again;
but do we want all that?

Amazed in cherry woods,
the water, air is clear,
but this thin soil is hard.

Planted in stony ground
the pine trees grow slowly,
narrowly, but they grow.

Note: Yüan is the name given to the Mongol dynasty in China, 1279-1368, when artists like Ni Zan and Zhao Mengfu took to the, relatively safer, southern hills. Zhao did, eventually, accept work from the new élite.

‘Yüan’ won joint first prize in the Readers’ Choice in Orbis, 2018.

(c) 2022 Simon Fletcher

Istanbul

For Basir Sultan Kazmi

Beyond the piety of holy mosques
I wanted nothing more than see the Harem.

Magnolias shed pale light on blood red roses,
marble fountains cool around the Harem.

Across the Bosphorus the boats ply wares
between two continents, ignore the Harem.

At Topkapi drank coffee in the shade,
alas, too frail for the glitz of the Harem.

My boating days are past, I’m sure, enjoy
the chirping sparrows playing by the Harem.

(c) 2022 Simon Fletcher

Published in Poetry Salzburg Review, 2020

The Blossom Forecast

From February, blackthorn will turn the hedgerows
white, across the shires.

Late March, heavy snowfalls of wild cherry flowers
will spread north up the river Severn.

In April expect storms of pink and white apple blow
in the west, especially around Hereford,

a hale of creamy pear blossom in the Teme valley
from Worcester up to Ludlow.

Japanese-delicate plum flowers will sprinkle
the Vale of Evesham.

And, finally, expect squalls of damson petals,
just about anywhere.

(c) 2022 Simon Fletcher

Published in Spring’s Blue Ribbon, Verlag Expeditionen, Germany, 2021 & In the Sticks, Offa’s Press, 2021.


Digital

Outside the new pavement café
the unshaven olive-skinned guy
worries lapis beads on a string.

Two tables along the student type
with raspberry hair is tapping away
on her mobile, uncertainly.

An old guy’s scribbling in his diary;
I hear the sound of someone chopping
fruit or herbs, smell coriander?

Scratching words on my new tablet
I’m tempted to note or share some
post-modern cultural spiel

about how these new delights
reflect some progress in the brain,
or just to say they’re very handy,

but being all fingers and thumbs
I log off, drain the ristretto,
wave down a taxi, take my leave.

(c) 2022 Simon Fletcher

Published in The Seventh Quarry, 2017