WILD NATURE POETRY AWARD competition now open.

Jenny Mitchell is joint winner of the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize (Indigo Dreams)


Her poems have been broadcast on Radio 4 and BBC2, and published in several magazines, including ‘The Rialto’ and ‘The New European’.


She also has eight poems in parallel translation in the Italian publication ‘Versodove’.


‘Her Lost Language’ is Jenny’s debut collection.




138 x 216mm


56 pages


£8.99 + P&P UK


ISBN 978-1-912876-19-8


PUB: 30/08/2019










Her Lost Language


Jenny Mitchell


Joint winner Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize



Jenny Mitchell’s prize-winning debut collection is an exploration of the impact of British transatlantic enslavement on black lives and family dynamics. It combines grounded realism with imaginative empathy on a journey from the Caribbean to Britain. At the heart of the collection is the belief in the power of stories to ‘liberate’ the voice in order to help heal a collective future.




"Jenny Mitchell’s poems articulate the deep and long lasting impact of the horrific and shameful history of slavery on individual families, communities and relationships, and especially women.

Her poem 'Caribbean Service' is a devastating memorial to a generation of women who came to the UK from the Caribbean to build our NHS offering unfailing compassion and care to patients who often subjected them to racist abuse.  It captures love, compassion, pride, hope and pain in equal measure.

Everyone should read Jenny’s poems."

Helen Hayes MP


“Something very rare, a genuine dramatic consciousness and an instinct for the poetic moment.”

Mario Petrucci




Her Lost Language


English mouths are made of cloth,

stitched, pulled apart with every word.


Her life is mispronounced.

She cooks beef jollof rice for one;


braves the dark communal hall:

a giant’s throat when he is lying down.


He’s swallowed muffled voices,

stale breath of food and cigarettes.


The lift is shaped by urine.

The sky’s a coffin lid.


Back in her village, days from Lagos,

hills took on the shape of God,


scant clouds the colour of her tongue.

Now she must walk past ghosts who leer like men,


to eat fast food from styrofoam,

binging to forget her scars


are less important every day,

when words must match


from one assessment to the next.

Back in her block, the lift vibrates


like an assault or panic rammed

beneath her skin by soldiers taking turns.


She skypes to smile at parents

aging in their Sunday clothes.


They say more teachers have been raped.

A baobab tree is balanced on her father’s head.


When the connection fails,

she flicks to channel Save Yourself.  


A pastor bangs the podium, demands her Hallelujah.

She kneels to pray her papers will be stamped –


passport wrapped in green batik.

Pastor screams Give thanks.




Out to Sea


He left me twice – the dead man known as father;

first: taller than the waves, his hand,

gnarled fish, slipped out of mine.


I watched him walk ahead of words

still cockled to my throat, too small

for anything but bubble-sounds to form.


I must have known a howl would meet the wind;

demands for him to turn

might drown.


He walked towards the shore, then stopped,

as if a body floated just in front;

turned back to wave both hands.


His hurried steps denied the space between us,

body bent to pick me up –

my weight a movement of his breath.


Now, washed up on a bed,

expression lost,

he’s left me for the last time.




Eve’s Lost Daughter


Her madness soaked through clothes, the elders said –

a need to run along the hem,

seams determined to stay single.


Buttons down the back defied her father’s rules,

undid themselves. She wandered in the dark;

thread dangled from a sleeve.


Shoes stamped her need to climb the boundary wall:

heaped bones of women who had run before,

limbs chopped to form the shape of brick.


Her mother stripped her nightly, imprisoning in shame.

But naked she went out till elders

spoke of madness in vivacious hair.


They cut it to the scalp with jagged implements,

placed the bloody mess in flames,

as she went baying at the moon.


It shone with this advice, she heard it clearly:

Steal back your clothes and scale the wall,

or be part of its fabric.

Song for a Former Slave


Her dress is made of music

humming through the hem,

high notes in the seams.


A rousing hymn

adorns the bodice

with sheer lace.


The heart is stitched with loud amens,

the back a curving shape

of hallelujahs.


She’s proud enough to hold

her own applause

tucked in a pleated waist.


The skirt sways freely

when she walks

to show there are no chains.


Her dress is made of music.




Jamaican Freight


Loss was what I thought of first,

when looking at the sea;

thinner waves than yesterday;

tide’s frayed hem pulled so far up,

exposing wrinkled knees.


Immodest surf –

once an astonishment of pearls,

now barely strung

across the slack horizon’s neck,

choking on a hotel dragon’s fumes.


They swell across the beach –

less sand than human debris,

to show what can’t degrade

does so entirely.


Heels alight on jagged claws:

tin gods demanding human blood,

sacrificed to dirt-flecked foam.


Poor water,

shying back – receding hope –

exposing all the dead – marine

and stranger freight:

remains of stolen Africans

thrown overboard in chains –

little more than language down their throats.

The last word might have been revenge.




Black Men Should Wear Colour

for my brother


Black men should wear colour.

I mean an orange coat,

sunlight dripping down the sleeves.


A yellow shirt to clash with bright blue trousers –

taking inspiration from the most translucent sea.


Pink leather shoes. Fuchsias might be best

to contrast with brown skin.


Red socks should add some warmth,

so long as they’re the only flames to ever touch your feet.


A tie could be mistaken for a noose,

unless you choose a rainbow swirling on your chest.


It will help to show the heart

has all the colours in the world.


Walk down any street with head held high.

I will wave my colours back and we’ll both be safe.




A Cello Hummed


When the music started,

I wanted it to go a different way.


The violins should sway

towards a gentle light,


not hurry to attack

my fragile calm,


become a soldier’s march

when I so longed for peace.


Underneath, a cello hummed,

strings suffering.

JM 9781912876198

We're delighted that in addition to winning the

Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize


has had further successes:


It was chosen as one of the


as nominated by poets (Poetry Wales).


The collection also received a Jhalak Prize #bookwelove recommendation.


This year, Jenny has also won several open competitions for new poems:

Aryamati Poetry Prize

Segora Poetry Prize

Bread and Roses Award

Fosseway Poetry Prize


She is also a 2 x Best of the Net Nominee.