INDIGO DREAMS PUBLISHING LTD
GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2021
Audrey Ardern-Jones spent her childhood in Africa where her English father and Polish mother were posted.
She’s enjoyed a wonderful nursing career, specialising in cancer genetics.
Audrey has always loved the Arts and founded The Poetry & Music Ensemble in 1984.
Her poems are widely published and have won prizes or been commended in international competitions.
Currently, she is Artist in Residence at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust and is an active supporter of poetry projects in her community of Epsom & Ewell.
‘Doing the Rounds’ is Audrey's debut collection and profits from this book are being given to the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.
138 x 216mm
£9.99 + P&P UK
Doing the Rounds
This collection touches on the poet’s childhood memories of living in Africa – her feelings of being in awe of so much and yet uncertain about many of the happenings. Most of her travel poems in India relate to incidents that have made her question herself – some of the poems about her Polish mother and her suffering post-WW2 echo throughout the collection.
“Ardern-Jones is a poet with an artist’s painterly sensibility, a musician’s fine ear, a nurse’s affinity for strangers and their plight. Poems for the ear, poems of language – Polish and Bemba, Portuguese and English. An intelligent, finely crafted poetry of curiosity and caring, of listening and loving, of humour and hope.”
“These poems have an openness and generosity of spirit with a precise use of language that brings the reader into the world of what it is to be human. Ardern-Jones’s rich cultural heritage and work experiences are rooted in the living world. The book explores love and friendship across boundaries.”
“These are poems that take us round and through a life, illuminated by sharp-eyed observation, personal insight, and most of all a generous sense of our shared humanity.”
Doing the Rounds
Agnieszka was muttering in Polish
scattering crusts for city sparrows
when kids on bikes lunged at her
went for the unzipped bag
coins, holy cards, medals lay
loose on cracked slabs
beads of a broken wooden rosary
strewn deep in the gutter
as she lay on the pavement
she thought back to her homeland
a child rounded up
trudging with the thousands
on cobbled roads, unmade tracks
holding her father’s hand
bodies in the snow, Russian soldiers
in grey woollen overcoats
burning the ice with guns
all this she told me, on the ward
knowing my mother, like her
escaped Lwów, kept going
A Recent Visit to Lusaka
In the Soweto market on Lumumba road
trippers taste dried Kapenta fish and cured caterpillars.
Locals fry termites in pans and buy mopane worms.
On Saturdays, the football stadium is crowded,
fans rooting for Lusaka Dynamos.
At night, club music echoes full volume
over high-rise flats and lit-up sky-scrapers
under an African moon.
In the suburbs, untamed dogs bark in unnamed streets
where mud roads meet tarmac, where boys with scythes
cut grass near nail-netted boundaries.
Where barefoot men in the Kalingalinga compound
drink kachasu, cut their feet on the broken glass,
smoke roll-ups, swear in Nyanja,
and stumble back to makeshift homes,
mosquitoes sucking liquor from their lips.
I walk this place with Sister Ann,
tread down rubbish on the stone-pebble ground.
We visit a young boy, no tyres on his wheel-chair,
puffed legs, torn patches on his shorts.
He greets us with a grin – pools of darkness
fill his mother’s eyes, a baby
strapped on her back, arms folded,
crumbs on the ground, ants everywhere.
Award Winning Care Home
the night-nurse found him in bed with Elsie
he’d tipped flowers on the floor
drunk water from the vase, thought sheets were sand
the corridor a route to find the beach
they said he had a right
not to shut his door, not to have cot sides
a right to wander if he wanted – but he didn’t know
his name, didn’t know how to speak
at breakfast they found him
spilling cornflakes down his jumper
eating bacon with his fingers, drinking
days after he arrived, the Sister in charge
called his daughter, told her to search
for another home – her tone like a head teacher
expelling a child from school
Night Train through Uttar Pradesh
The carriages are full, families lie curled together
sleeping on bunks, blankets covering their heads.
The man in the bunk below me eats his curry from
a paper box – shares it with his wife and child.
I read with my torch before I sleep. The conductor
wakes us, checking and clipping our tickets. Outside,
we hear calls of the cockerels rousing the villagers,
a wash of peach-gold light spills over the rice fields.
We pass women in coloured saris, pink, gold, green
and sapphire blue – children wave at us, wave again.
I wave back, snap-flashing images with my camera,
a mother turns and glares at me. I delete my photos.
Her look stays inside me. The train trundles on to Delhi
where crowds meet us, push us across the platforms.
Outside the station, I’m swept over by a sea of children,
a sing-song of voices – Take my picture! Take my picture!
She never lost her Englishness living a life
in other lands – insisting on tea in a china cup
and linen napkins for Sunday lunch.
I told her wild tales of strawberries growing
on blossom trees and how English girls
still blushed at the sight of a naked oak.
We’d play Scrabble in the Italian mid-day sun
in made-up Aunt Joyce language – me fumbling
on a slick slack word, she laughing as she
pencilled in her points, never missing a trick.
After she died, I missed her ocean long calls
in the middle of a night, our marmalade talks
of orange peel and cats – a corner of my world,
where we shared our history and our art.
we waited at the bus-stop, girls in boots, miniskirts,
black-bitty curled-up mascara eyelashes, bee-hive
brushed hair, ticked eyes and white-pink lipstick.
Swanky boys wolf-whistled at us, their arms winging
sideways, hanging on to a metal pole on the jump on,
jump off platform of the bus – the conductress clipped
our tickets from a wind-up machine on a leather strap
round her neck, tinging the bell twice at the Odeon stop.
Inside we queued under a chandelier’s broken shades
handing our money to a man smoking alone in a kiosk,
his yellow stained fingers counting up our change.
In the hall, posters of past movies stared down at us.
The Pink Panther, Breakfast at Tiffany’s – we were shown
in to the cinema by an usherette in a frilly hat and apron,
her silver torch poking holes in the dark, quietly and,
with a no ‘hanky-panky’ look in her eye, she pointed
to the back row, our seats with ashtrays on the corners
lit by a shaft of light from a projector beaming down.
We sat in silence admiring the gold velour fringed drapes
on either side of the stage in the red velvet auditorium.
A lion’s head roaring – turning – ready to swallow us up.