GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
OFF THE WALL
Bethany Rivers has had many poems published in the UK and the USA including: Indigo Dreams magazine Sarasvati, Envoi, Blithe Spirit, Bare Fiction, Amgydala, Scintilla (USA), Fair Acre Press, Three drops from a cauldron, I am not a silent poet, The Lampeter Review, Cinnamon Press, Clear Poetry, The Ofi Press and The Fat Damsel.
She has an MA in Creative Writing from Cardiff University and has been teaching creative writing for ten years.
Her biggest passions in life are writing and enabling others to write.
Bethany runs poetry inspiration and poetry healing courses: www.writingyourvoice.org.uk
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Attempted Breast Feeding
(Inspired by ‘Silence Within’ by Daewoong Kim, 2012)
the silence crowds in
around the baby’s scream
till the edges are raw
the neighbours’ arguments
scratch white paint
from the door
weak winter sun
leaks slowly through
net curtains cradled by smoke
her heart wiped blank
she’s an empty well
with one long straw bent
When the robin stopped singing
I perfected Ophelia’s scream
– and framed it.
Eye-white upon cloud-white,
twelve foot by ten, luminous
in the darkest of nights, hanging
on a black-stone gallery wall.
Visitors don’t notice,
as they walk on by,
they think it’s a painting
on the brink –
not seeing the layers and layers
of snow upon ice,
the strata of noise:
the scream haloing
a perfect white sun;
a blinding lake mirror
of golden perceptions
£6.00 + P&P UK
‘Off the wall’ takes you on a journey of silences, the stories within them and what it means to search for and discover your own voice.
The inspiration is derived from classics such as Picasso and Constable to the contemporary art of Georgia O’Keeffe, Catherine Hyde and Shani Rhys-James.
This collection is a celebration of art and how it expresses the inner-landscape, the pain of Ophelia, the empowerment of Persephone, the illumination of Buddha, the textures of love and the ultimate comfort of Home.
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"The extraordinary poems in ‘Off the Wall’ take the reader on many journeys, inner and outer. We see the world refracted and reflected in poems based on paintings that convey the pleasure and mystery of the visual image and the emotional resonances they set up.
A vein of loss runs throughout this collection from the first poem, based on a reproduction of Constable’s The Haywain, hanging in the family home, which also features in the second in which ‘the concept of childhood’ is soon to be killed.
The resonances of this echo through the ekphrastic poems that follow with their rich symbolism. In parallel, a literal journey, to Nepal leads to an epiphany and a new flowering.
Like many artists, Bethany Rivers has long been fascinated by Ophelia and these poems, like Shakespeare’s character, embody beauty and tragedy, madness and goodness and will merit reading and rereading."
"This book strikes the eye, through its involvement with paintings and photographs that drip with colour and feeling. The woman regarding them is involved with others: they too were children, caught up in worlds of adult love and cruelty.
Closely regarding images, Rivers has produced an intensely personal collection that proclaims the vitality of art in women’s lives: a remarkable first collection."
"Here are poems of childhood; the death of a much-loved parent that often threads its way, a ghost-like presence behind the poems; here is what it is to be a woman, an artist; here, poems inspired by paintings with images as vivid and colourful as the canvases themselves. Rivers, like the Philomela of Greek mythology, weaves her sadness and disappointment into a beautiful tapestry."
Deborah Alma - the Emergency Poet
The Buddha’s Eyes
For seven years my life
has been preparing me
for this moment:
in the land watched over
by Sagarmatha, every stupa displays
the Buddha’s penetrating gaze –
I kneel in a Tibetan monastery,
reverence woven into the tapestries
hanging from every wall –
a statue of Buddha, glorious and golden
surrounded by necklaces of marigolds.
I look up into those eyes –
they strip me of my layers:
the conceits, deceit, walls of protectiveness,
masks of control, scars of the past –
through my heart and beyond
to soul breathing navel, to feel
the sunlight and moonlight of myself –
a speleothem of luminescence:
this is the real me, what we’re all
made of, where we come from –
where we return to. My petals
open – a lotus blossom to the sun.
The resounding words spoken –
clear in my head, clear as a singing bowl
and true as the horizon:
Be still, and know that I am God.