Tuesday, 2 July, 2024 in Poetry

Into Poetry Is Born

‘The people need poetry that will be their own secret / To keep them awake forever’. So wrote Osip Mandelstam, the great Russian-language poet who perished under Stalin. It seems almost quaint now to claim that people need poetry, but they do. Why else would this ancient art form have so stubbornly persisted into modern times? And the people need it ‘to be their own secret’ – something sacred, intimate, not to be spoiled through vulgar over-exposure, bringing into consciousness material from the depths, keeping us conscious, awake, forever.

That is one interpretation of Mandelstam’s lines. Poetry, even at its most lucid and straightforward, always inspires different takes.

Into Poetry will offer interpretations of new work by living poets, and also showcase some of that new work. An initiative of Into Creative, it will carry essays and reviews from our team of reviewers and also feature previously unpublished poems by both established and emerging poets, complete with commentaries that offer insights from the editor and the poets themselves. We will have an Into Poetry publishing imprint too, for outstanding collections as and when resources allow.

The review team introduced here is the team in place at the birth of Into Poetry, but it will grow and change over time. Into Creative is a wide-ranging arts review site and publisher with its roots firmly in Scotland, and Into Poetry will also be nourished through those Scottish roots, but with an international reach. Our current reviewers, almost all of them poets, will be writing their pieces for the site in Scotland, Ireland (north and south), England, Canada and Spain.

The team isn’t of one mind on anything, but it has been assembled by an editor who values poetry as involuntary truth-telling within an art form that is (in most cases) long in the learning. It imparts its truths to those willing to receive them. In his recently published book of essays and reviews, Work to Be Done, Into Poetry reviewer Bruce Whiteman writes:

That’s it: the poem invites us to listen. If we refuse or brush it off, the loss is ours. Williams thought it an incalculable loss (‘It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there’), and he was right.


The Into Poetry Review Team

DAVID CAMERON, the editor of Into Poetry, is a Scot living near Belfast. He is a recipient of the Hennessy Literary Award for Poetry and has had three collections published: The Bright Tethers, Korean Letters and Red Dress. Into Books published his reverse-chronological novel, Prendergast’s Fall; his most recent novel is the Amsterdam-based Femke. He has also written the critical study, Samuel Beckett: The Middle and Later Years.


Mrs Kane called the register
And a beautiful blonde said ‘Here’,
And that was it for me: devotion.

Never mind that we were young:
This was love, eternal, pure.
It crushed me when I heard the news

Of a grounded boy who crept
Across a rooftop, down a drainpipe
To sit with her, and smoke.

Clearly, I was too good for her.
I wish I’d been a bit less good
And wished it at the time, seeing

Her kneel so prettily at the altar
As I took the communion wafer,
To quell regret, on my tongue.



MARY FORD NEAL lives in Glasgow, where she teaches and researches healthcare law and ethics. She is the author of two poetry collections, Dawning and Relativism, and is currently finalising a third manuscript. Mary’s poems have been published in a range of print and online journals, including The London Magazine, And Other Poems, Bad Lilies, Berlin Lit, The Interpreter’s House, One Hand Clapping, Long Poem Magazine. Her work has been commissioned by the BBC twice, and has received various Pushcart and Best of the Net nominations.


They stir, begin to gather up their clothes.
Morning leaks in where curtains fail to meet.
He leaves, releasing monsters as he goes.

Funny how, soon as feeble daylight shows,
the bold, metallic night admits defeat.
They stir, begin to gather up their clothes.

Unwelcome sounds and smells of day impose
themselves; flashes of last night can’t compete.
He leaves, releasing monsters as he goes.

Nothing was quite the way she had supposed
it would be. She takes cover in the sheet.
He stirs, begins to gather up his clothes.

A quick kiss, and her recognition grows:
she should regard the matter as complete.
He leaves, releasing monsters as he goes.

As of this moment, the sum of what she knows
is the soft click of the door as he retreats.
She stirs, begins to gather up her clothes.
He leaves, releasing monsters as he goes.



IMANOL GÓMEZ MARTÍN is a Spanish writer and Philosophy teacher. He has published three books of poetry (a fourth will be published in September); a novel, three books on the British poets Robert Nye, Martin Seymour-Smith and Norman Cameron, another on the Ottawa-based poet Marnie Pomeroy, all of them for EL DESVELO; and three books on Philosophy with other authors. As a critic he has written more than a hundred articles in newspapers and magazines, and was, for a year, a critic on a radio show.
Photo credit: Alex Gómez Villa

Stabat mater

Stabat mater dolorosa
                                    juxta crucem lacrimosa,
                                    dum pendebat Filius.
                                    (con música de Pergolesi)

No despiertes ya nunca, mi niño adorado
asesinaron al monstruo
llora el mago.
Es todo pues ceniza
y vidas como vaho
hacia el oeste calcinado de la memoria
donde todo incendiaron
y es tan luminoso este sentir
que tengo miedo de tanto cristal
al pensar que nos pueden, que ya casi nos quitaron
la sombra amada:
que intentan borrar mi eternidad.

Never wake up again, my beloved child
the monster was killed
the magician cries.
Ashes is all
and lives like mist
towards the scorched West of memory
where everything was burned
and so luminous is this feeling
that I am afraid of so much glass
to think that they can,
that they have almost taken
away from us the beloved shadow:
that they try to erase my eternity.



JO HOLMWOOD is a writer based in County Leitrim, Ireland. Originally from a theatre background, she studied Drama & Theatre Studies and Spanish at Trinity College, Dublin, and also has a Master’s in Creative Practice (writing specialism) from the Atlantic Technological University, Sligo. Her work has been published in the Stinging Fly and the Cormorant and the anthologies of the Bridport and Bristol Short Story Prizes. She won the Trisha Ashley Award in 2020 and won Highly Commended in the Bridport Short Story Prize in 2016. In 2022, she received an Arts Council Agility Award and the Platform 31 Award to develop her novel, Era E.

i.m. Dermot Healy

Home is where the heart is
but when the heart breaks
what then?

In Magherow
a clatter of waves
at your door;

a lone goose
flies overhead
bending north.

On Ellen’s bar
an empty glass.

The home is empty.
The heart isn’t in it
any more.



LISA PIKE (1969) was born in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. She holds her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Toronto and studied and worked in both Italy and France. Her fiction, poetry, and collaborative translations have been published in various anthologies and journals including Re: Generations: Canadian Women Poets in Conversation, Columbia Journal, CV2 and VIA: Voices in Italian Americana. Her collaborative translation with Anna Chiafele of Silvana La Spina’s Penelope received the American Literary Translator’s Association 2022 Italian Prose in Translation Award. She is the author of the novel My Grandmother’s Pill and the poetry chapbook Policeman’s Alley. Most recently, her linked collection of short stories Industrial Roots was published with Héloïse Press (UK) and listed on Granta’s best books of 2023.

The devil has horns
he is the Bacchus […] within us
– Mary di Michele

The devil has horns.
Sometimes he plays with his granddaughter
there in the picture, she is five years old.
Kneeling beside her as
she blows out her candles,
his cloven hooves shine
of black patent leather.

His hair is slicked back and
he wears dark-rimmed glasses.
Later when she is older his
ghost will crawl into bed
with her, try to comfort her,
pretend he is someone else.
Sometimes she is fooled.

The devil has horns.
Sometimes he smiles innocently
in a picture, there on someone’s
Baptismal day. See the baby
in the white and pink bonnet?

Sometimes, when the drink
is right he comes home
to beat his wife and
the fingers that tied the bonnet
Sunday turn into clamps
around her neck until she
hits him over the head
with a jar of coldcream.

And when he plays
his fiddle brought over
from Poland and out from
under the bed,
our cloven hooves dance.



MATTHEW RICE was born in Belfast. He holds an MA in Poetry from Queen’s University, Belfast, and is currently undertaking a PhD at The Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s. His debut collection, The Last Weather Observer, published in 2021, was Highly Commended for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and was included on the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s top ten books of the year. His next book of poetry is forthcoming from Fitzcarraldo Editions (UK) and Soft Skull Press (US).

Russian Hill

The hills are alive with the buzzing of cables
and through the fog resounding in the bay
blows the Pacific’s chill and thrill.
The bandy-legged dander
whose steps we retrace from a famous photograph
leads us to Polk St where fidelity to life
is luminous in the Castro. It’s our first time away
and our first on the West Coast
and in this beautiful saloon you briefly marvel

at my cinching the trick of being Irish in America

making it always Happy Hour.
On the street you inhale and from the window
I see you and your made new friends
forget yourselves and when you exhale
you glance at me and smile. I watch the cable cars move
on their own mystery as those onboard hang
|by their fingers and wave like we waved
from the shore mirroring the bridge’s gestures
to the ones bound happily for Alcatraz.



STEPHEN ROGERS is a tutor and critic. He studied with Professor Stan Smith at Nottingham Trent University before becoming a researcher with the Modernist Magazines Project. He contributed to The Oxford Critical and Cultural History of Modernist Magazines with essays on British and American literary magazines. He has edited pamphlets of poetry by Harold Monro, William Collins and Ford Madox Ford for Anthony Astbury’s Greville Press.
Photo credit: Rosalind Spicer

[Stephen has chosen a poem that he admires, commenting: ‘I could have chosen a number of poems by CH Sisson or David Wright, but I will avoid any copyright issues by going back to D.G. Rossetti.’]

The Woodspurge
Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The wind flapp’d loose, the wind was still,
Shaken out dead from tree and hill:
I had walk’d on at the wind’s will, –
I sat now, for the wind was still.

Between my knees my forehead was, –
My lips, drawn in, said not Alas!
My hair was over in the grass,
My naked ears heard the day pass.

My eyes, wide open, had the run
Of some ten weeds to fix upon;
Among those few, out of the sun,
The woodspurge flower’d, three cups in one.

From perfect grief there need not be
Wisdom or even memory:
One thing then learnt remains to me, –
The woodspurge has a cup of three.



ANGELA TOPPING is the author of nine solo poetry collections and four pamphlets. Her collection Earwig Country was published this year. She was educated at Liverpool University, where she took her first two degrees and later gained an M.Ed from Chester University. She has written three literary companions for Greenwich Exchange and is working on a fourth. A former Writer in Residence at Gladstone’s Library, she is very widely published in a range of journals including The Poetry Review, The Dark Horse, The North, and Magma. Her poems have won prizes and she has given readings and led workshops all over the UK.

Wish You Were Here
i.m. Jason Morris 1969-2009

They called you Quickfinger, those friends
with hollowed faces, who chose CDs of your music,
fellow members of Caustic Yoda.

You probably thought it up: the band name matches
your caustic wit, snarky bon mots. You’d play,
head back, dark curls frothing down, sleeveless vest,

speaking in tongues through steel strings, hammer-ons
and pull-offs, notes bending, the guitar a shield  
as your invisible fingers flickered up and down the frets.

There at the funeral, your guitar was silent, erect
on its stand, a guard of honour. Pink Floyd’s
‘Wish You Were Here’ will always speak of you now

who believed in neither heaven nor hell. Your afterlife
is in every note you played to amaze us, the photos
of your blue eyes opened wide or closed in concentration

as you read the tab behind your lids. You never wanted
to have children, didn’t want to pass on your genes,
hated your short stature. Mother dead of cancer

when you were just a boy, your father no comfort.
You fell in love with a flame-haired girl, who still
cries for you most days, though she has another lover now.

And what remains? Only the tortoiseshell plectrum
you carried everywhere with you, just in case.



BRUCE WHITEMAN is a poet, reviewer, and essayist. His career was spent as a rare book specialist at three university libraries, including McGill and UCLA. His long poem, The Invisible World Is in Decline, is in nine books, with the ninth book appearing in 2022. His essay collection, Work To Be Done: Selected Essays and Reviews, came out last March.

Ode to Winter
… you are the music
While the music lasts.
– T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding

Black walnuts, prominent in the big backyard
in summer, in winter are mere upright sticks,
thrusting towards unseen heaven and falling
short. Snow drifts down and crisp blue
untranslucent ice sifts slowly along their bark,
making everything unseemly, grim, and dark.

There’s not a sound outdoors that penetrates
the house. The quiet snow lifts up and
down and finally whispers something to the
ground and settles mutely. Not a squirrel or
mouse disturbs it, nor ever likely will.
It builds by infinitesimal bits and seems aloof.

Even what’s green seems dead, unuprooted
Christmas trees forgone of grace and scent in
unrelenting solitude. Here-and-there trees,
mere whisps of what once was, before the
grey encroachment of humanity. Their roots
reproach our plans for growing food,

twist tomatoes to a test, a failed quest
to get at necessary soil and water.
But now it’s cold and nothing grows.
The nests are vacant: the birds gone south,
the wasps asleep, the squirrels off
mendicating somewhere out of sight.

The light is poor; the fading sounds of
day are almost null. The solstice, dull and
grey, marks the tarnished end of no high
time, no glimmer of bright days to come.
Above the greying trees, the clouds
bar heaven from the perspicacious eye.



ROSS WILSON’s first full collection Line Drawing was shortlisted for the 2019 Saltire Poetry Book of the Year. A pamphlet, Letters to Rosie followed in 2020. The first edition of his latest collection, Vital Signs, sold out two weeks after publication. He has also published short stories and essays, some of which can be read online in The Dark Horse, Poetry Birmingham and The Honest Ulsterman. He was credited as a writer and actor in The Happy Lands, a feature film about the effects of the 1926 General Strike on a mining community in Fife. He works full-time as a Healthcare Support Worker in Glasgow.

To Rosie

You’d drop a stick from a bridge
into the Luggie and run eagerly
to see it emerge on the other side
like a boat on a voyage.

Or a wee girl about to set sail
from shallow primary water
that will flow into the deep end.

Wherever you go, my girl,
remember how the Luggie coils
like a rope, linking you
to the harbour of your first home.




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