INDIGO DREAMS PUBLISHING LTD
GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2021
Isabelle Kenyon is a northern poet and the author of This is not a Spectacle, Micro chapbook, The Trees Whispered (Origami Poetry Press) and Digging Holes To Another Continent (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, New York) and Potential (Ghost City Press).
She is the editor of 'Fly on the Wall Press', a socially conscious small press for chapbooks and anthologies.
In 2020, she will be published by Wild Pressed Books (Short Story 'The Town Talks').
Cover design by Jane Burn
138 x 216mm
£6.00 + P&P UK
In ‘Growing Pains’ Isabelle Kenyon navigates the grey space between child and adult. From the playground wars with worms, to the value of a woman’s body as she learns to take up her own space, this collection values kindness in what appears to be an increasingly cruel society.
‘Spartan of both language and spirit, Isabelle Kenyon's uncompromising ’Growing Pains’ sifts and measures the weight of the human soul. In this unflinching and incisive commute from schoolyard savagery through toxic masculinity
and calculating a woman's worth, to grief and dislocation, Kenyon divines humanity's salvation
in passing acts of kindness.’
Poet and Writer
(Salmon Poetry, The Times)
Soon I am
the number of boys in bed
labels others have given to me
the lack of ring on my finger
the length of my skirt
the weight of my mother’s shoes
the space between my thighs;
Soon I am
my search history
a tick on an equal opportunities form
a customer type
to the highest bidder.
This is a man’s, man’s, man’s world
A man speaks gold
cannot help it
saliva forming precious eggs on tongue –
same words fall from lipsticked mouth
weighed, measured for worth
from hip to hip to birth a child
from the old Testament
her dress sense
verdict of semi-precious metal.
no painted idols but painted veins,
no painted lips but, often
a painted smile –
shield against pretty pink suggestions,
of how to wear my flesh,
opinions which spread my own so thinly on the page,
i do not recognise the portrait.
Breakfast is an important part of the afternoon
Wilting in the shimmer-sheen of a small Italian town
hot tongues in hot milk we sip
the morning down; the sky toasts.
Almost hidden – half-moon bites
ladder my legs, thirsty creature punctures
rude polka dots
Mark my skin foreign
you lay a soothing hand on the ripening sores.
When the worms came
When the worms came
there were two types of playground children:
ones who ran like jackals,
brandishing twigs like sharpened spears
to tear worms in two,
and ones who prepared for battle,
offering their squatted form
a shield for the wheezing worms, dragging fatigued tummies
over slippery tarmac, where rain had stranded them.
Not all worms made it to the soil,
the land of plenty,
flopping on emergency twig stretchers,
egg and spoon race with jackals hot on their tail.
When the worms came,
the children practiced doctors and nurses,
learnt about anatomy
(how some creatures have no bits)
and enacted Lord of the flies
with the worms as their Piggy.
The leaf of you grew around my waist,
when you turned to dust I fell to the earth;
cold seeped through.
“I want to be buried under a tree,” you said to deaf ears. I
buried the thought until I buried your body.
The silver birch is frail, like you, but when sun peeks,
splatters its leaves,
it is a celebration of colour, the tongues of leaves chattering near my ears.
Quilt work faces collide
we witness, feel
stuffed with selfie sticks –
there a man lies supine painting film
her slow-motion street dance,
flashing backdrop of cathedral.
Brash voices shoot code
new language of Google maps
hands navigate bars to golden doors
flickers on Facebook
as night pales to calls
we wonder where locals hide
from storming feet.