Poem, Poetry

The Colour of Light – Anne Steward

We are delighted to help celebrate the twenty seventh publication from Maytree Press by sharing two poems from Anne Steward’s new collection, The Colour of Light.

Anne, an award winning writer from Huddersfield, has had work featured in numerous publications and her debut collection, Casting for Words, was published by CMP Press as part of an award by The National Association of Writers’ Groups.

In The Colour of Light we find the poet at a time of national lockdown looking back on the places, people and events that had once been her world. A sequence that slowly emerges from a philosophical investigation of the natural world and concludes with the echoes of life seen through the ripples of water.

An extraordinary collection that you will want to read again and again.

‘Anne Steward’s poetry is a miracle of observation. Her photographer’s eye and philosophical mindset gives us writing to feed both the senses and the soul.’ James Nash.

You can join Anne on-line this Friday (2 July) at 7pm for the official launch of The Colour of Light. Joining Anne will be guest readers Tim Taylor, George Simmons and, offering a preview of her forthcoming Maytree collection, Nicola Warwick. Simply email maytreepress@gmail.com with the word LIGHT in the title field for an invite.

The Colour of Light

Colour is left-over light,
where matter takes in
colours rejected,
to be caught by our eye
and artists of all schools
studiously recording
what they believe
they see. 

So …a sunflower eats rays
and throws back yellows
that shout of sunshine.

Dust at sunset
to mist hills to distance
as refracted, reflected light
giddily mixes tones to soft,
as a child, playing with paint,
will mix bright, clear tints,
then is surprised
that the colour is mud.

Light does it better,
but then, it has had time.

Ovid is Bloody Annoyed
(After reading the story of his exile)

What is this land, this foreign soil
that I have been newly exiled upon?
They speak, but, dear gods…
I cannot bring myself to mimic sounds
that grate so on my cultured ear.
My lovely Latin fails to impress
these clumsy-mouthed oafs. 
I must be grateful, so you say 
that I am, at all, allowed to stay.
There are options that could be worse
but if I have to eat more of that dish
so foul, and well, so simply coarse,
I may elect to take myself
and meekly walk out there, alone
where barbarians have their lair
and offer up my infected heart
for them to lance with their deadly darts
and let free the poison of this place
that I can never call my home.

The Colour of Light is now available direct from the author, from all good book shops and on-line direct from the publisher: The Colour of Light by Anne Steward | Maytree Press (bigcartel.com)


Reflections – 2 poems

Today we celebrate the official release of Reflections: A Poet-Theologian in Lockdown Leeds by Hannah Stone.

In Spring 2020, as England entered the first lockdown, Hannah Stone was appointed Poet-Theologian at Leeds Church Institute. Hannah’s brief was to comment on the impact of lockdown on the communities of Leeds, using poetry as a medium for reflection. Reflections: A Poet-Theologian in Lockdown Leeds is a collection of those stories and poems written during the most extraordinary year that we could ever have imagined.

Hannah will be reading from the collection at 1pm on the 5 March as part of the Leeds Literature Festival. The on-line event is free but booking is essential – details here: Reflections: A poet-theologian in Lockdown Leeds with Hannah Stone (leedslitfest.co.uk)

Dwell Time

Time has not stopped.
Sixty minutes still pace each hour;
as many seconds run to catch up.
It is time to dust off the diary,
to let it fall open at the space called ‘today,’
a place between yesterday and tomorrow.
A passage in which to live.

Local lockdown

We build on sand, using the usual slabs of stone 
quarried from mud   prised from moorland

it is hard to have so flimsy a foundation
but this is the new normal

we need hay barns we decide
in the absence of better information

for some days we argue
about which design features to include

some of us give up   go home
unable to compromise   face conflict

others work through the night
bruising fingers stubbed in the deep dark

treasuring the faint light of iPhone torches  
pulling strongly on haptic instinct

in the morning there it is
the perfect repository for summer’s residue

with watershot stones below the slate roof
to deflect the winter’s rain

and trufts, binding together
the inner and outer skins of the walls,

their sharp shelves warm themselves
in surprised sunlight.

Limited numbers of the book are available from the Maytree online store here: Reflections: A Poet-Theologian in Lockdown Leeds | Maytree Press (bigcartel.com)

Poem, Poetry

The Weight of Snow – 2 poems

Today we celebrate the release of Pauline Rowe’s second Maytree collection, The Weight of Snow.

Described by the author as a sequence of poems exploring a family story of bereavement and the accidental death of a child, and the reverberations of loss over generations. The Weight of Snow powerfully conveys how grief becomes emotional inheritance and impacts upon formation and love. A stunning collection.

Barnes Road, 1967

Wendy kept PG Tips cards 
and badges from Robinson jam.

Billy The Lodger blocked the hall 
with his deafness and Triumph bike.

Little Jody shot rats with a borrowed gun.
The weary beds upstairs were off the floor on bricks.

Tate & Lyle’s open bag – its sugar-plated spoon,
a chemistry experiment, for the mourning.

Mary Hopkin sang out 
from the red and grey Dansette,
as we tried to bounce without any give – 
we’d sing and dance forever and a day.

Mum didn’t want Joe senior to end there, 
unable to breathe in the chaos of Nanna’s death.

Mum said Nanna Ada’s dying face was blue,
her howling made them all afraid.

At first, she’d given up.
So when the fight came in  
the tumour had the better of her.

Widnes Library

my childish refuge,
its magic revolving door,
like the wardrobe to Narnia.

Saturday afternoons 
away from traffic,
the bone yard’s air,
SRA and Collins’ Maths 

I found freedom
in an apple barrel on a ship, 
the feasts of Tudor kings.
Journeys to The New Forest, 
Wootton Major,
the cold streets of Paris,
civil war Massachusetts,
the workhouse and an empty bowl.

The Weight of Snow (Maytree Press) is available now from the author and on-line from the Maytree shop Home | Maytree Press (bigcartel.com)

Pauline Rowe’s fourth pamphlet The Ghost Hospital, published by Maytree Press, was shortlisted in the 2020 Saboteur Awards. Her full collection Waiting for the Brown Trout God was published by Headland Publications in 2009. Her collaborative exhibition Sleeping in the Middle – with photographer AJ Wilkinson – was shown at Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool in May 2018. The Allotments – a collaborative exhibition with photographic artist Dave Lockwood and artist, the late Arthur Lockwood – was shown as part of the LOOK Biennial at the Victoria Gallery & Museum, Liverpool in 2019. She founded and ran the Liverpool based charity North End Writers (2006 –2020). She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Liverpool and extensive experience of working in health and community settings.

Poem, Poetry

Catching Air – 2 poems

Today, as another added extra, we celebrate the launch of the final publication of 2020 from Maytree Press.

Catching Air by Galway based writer, Vinny Glynn-Steed is a sometimes intimate and often powerful exploration of new fatherhood and the wild southern Irish landscape. A wonderful lyrical debut from this award winning writer.

If you are looking for those last minute stocking fillers then you’ll find a host of stunning books in the Maytree Shop including Catching Air which is released today.

Home | Maytree Press (bigcartel.com)

Catching Air

From an upstairs window I hear the procession
moan of horns, tyres jawing gravel
the sound of car doors like a round of applause 
from the Gods
and then the silence
but for rustle of rose, orchid, hyacinth 
and the people who tend their box of whispers 
the birch trees lurking in corners, four heavenly kings  
who watched us through time, settle with the mandible
of a wild boar, faces turned towards the rising sun
some bare-breasted artefact a guide in bewildering dark
to this point where a slab and stone border defines a memory
sustenance for all our ghosts
like a child catching air with a butterfly net 
or dreams of the astral cartographer
– ordnance survey of stars not yet discovered.

Bog Scripture

Not long after the obligatory dip of Sunday 
fingers we search again for meaning 
this time up high where curlew calls 
are unrestrained – we stand; imposters wind-blushed 
under the sanctuary of her hanging sun 
and amongst bog rush we measure the daylight in hands
blisters, sores, count the crusted callouses on a landscape 
horizontal – where the shadow of a sleán tells us nothing 
really changes in a thousand years, how only hands grow 
old, hands that found scripture in the sedges 
hidden in Faddan More, scattered stones and pebbles 
opened to the heat like breathless vowels  
and how on a bed of bladderwort, a history 
of ancient grammar lies sleeping.

Vinny Glynn-Steed from Galway is widely published at home and abroad. His work has appeared in journals and online in Mexico, the United States, Wales and Northern Ireland. He has featured in publications such as Windows 25th edition, Parhelion and Cinnamon Press anthology. Other publications include Galway Review, Headstuff, Skylight 47, Crannog, Into the Void, Bangor Journal, Tales from the Forest magazine, Ogham Stone, Ofi Press magazine, ROPES, All the Sins, Mediterranean Poetry, Flight, Boyne Berries, Dodging the Rain and Poems in Profile.

Vinny was the winner of the 2020 Allingham poetry competition.

Catching Air by Vinny Glynn-Steed | Maytree Press (bigcartel.com)

Poem, Poetry

January – two poems

Today we celebrate the launch of Sarah Barr’s new Maytree publication, January.

Sarah, originally from London, studied English at London University, Social Sciences at Southampton University and now lives in Dorset where she writes poetry and fiction, teaches writing, mentors writers and leads a Stanza group. Her poems have twice won the Dorset Award in the Bridport Prize. She has worked as a counsellor and as an Open University tutor of social sciences and creative writing. Sarah often writes about relationships and has particular interests in psychological, social and environmental issues.

The collection is already receiving favourable reviews and we’re delighted to share these words from award winning poet, John McCullough:

Sarah Barr writes subtle poems that probe the edges of uncertainties, the details of objects and landscapes gradually revealing her speakers’ unease. The disjunctions in the title piece evoke the sudden leaps of a mind actively thinking, the white spaces between stanzas inviting us to imagine what’s going on beneath the clipped surface of the language. Elsewhere, simple phrasing holds carefully nuanced images: the menace of cracking ice, a long-married couple surrounded by ‘masks / and stiff-limbed, velvet-dressed dolls.’ The writing carries on unfolding inside the reader long after their eyes have left the page.

John McCullough

Dartmoor Snow  

We stride out
and listen to the scrunch of boots
in the deep, dry powder.
Down the slippery path where frosted catkins
and hawthorn overhang
to the half-way metal bench
upholstered in white.
We track across the sloping field,
admire our footprints,
greet the only other human out today,
a swaddled woman with terriers
who roll, pat paws, and turn
into snow-dogs. 
We catch snowflakes on our tongues.
Neige, nieve, sneachta, eira, snaw,
a blurring of boundaries.
The sky thickens
and snow keeps falling.
Where are all the children?
Returning home, a fringe of icicles
hangs from the shed roof eaves.
We play music,
slice bread, pour wine. 


As a child, cracking frozen puddles with my heel,
I delighted in their special creak,
their mud imprinted with stars.

We’d snap off icicles
hanging from low eaves like glass stalactites,
and brandish them in chilblained fingers.

I tried reading The Snow Queen –
a sliver of glass turned to ice in someone’s heart,
and I never reached the end of the story.

Walking across the lake at Zell am Zee,
towards the frosted wedding-cake hotel,
the curlers’ shouts chiming through the air,

the soft afternoon snow blurring our footprints,
I wonder, how do they know when the ice
is about to crack?  How will we know?

January is available direct from the Maytree online shop for £7.00.