GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
John Foggin lives in Ossett, West Yorkshire. His work has appeared in The North, The New Writer, Prole, and The interpreters House, among others, and in anthologies including The Forward Book of Poetry [2015, 2018].
He publishes a poetry blog: the great fogginzo’s cobweb.
His poems have won first prizes in The Plough Poetry [2013,2014], the Camden/Lumen , and McClellan  Competitions respectively. In 2016 he was a winner of the Poetry Business International Pamphlet Competition judged by Billy Collins.
He has authored four pamphlets / chapbooks: Running out of Space and Backtracks , Larach (WardWood Publications)  and Outlaws and fallen angels (Calder Valley Poetry) , and two collections, Much Possessed (smith|doorstop) , and Gap Year..co-authored with Andy Blackford (SPM Publications) 
Advice to a Traveller was a winner of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2017
Cover image by Joan Foye:
“Things we are made of”.
138 x 216mm
£6.00 + P&P UK
PUB: 04 JUNE 2018
Drawing on personal histories, fairy tales and bible stories, John Foggin explores and illuminates
both the tragical and magical in lives affected by shifts in political and social circumstance.
Advice to a Traveller is rooted in the belief that while we cannot live without stories, even the most trusted tales are partial truths at best, and the most reliable witnesses have been silenced; speaking for them is what poetry is for.
“Nothing will be wasted. Nothing will be too small”
“Master of the sense of place in a poem, John Foggin makes a fine travelling companion.” Carole Bromley
"An assured, compassionate voice; John Foggin’s love affair with language continues unabated.” Roy Marshall
“Modern parables from the north written in a voice as memorable as it is musical.” Ian Parks
Advice to a Traveller
Winner: Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2017
St Lucie’s Day
Wrung like a cheese,
a day for the choice of the tallest,
the wisest, the one most foolish,
the one with a limp, the one who casts
runes, the one with the no-coloured eye.
One of them.
Him we will beat, with hammer and anvil,
into the likeness of kings.
We shall crown him with green holly
till blood runs in his beard,
and him we shall dress in the plumes
of the crow, of the tern, of the wren;
we shall stitch him with quills. He will fly into flames.
O this dark St Lucie’s day. You’d wish
you were the Fool of the World. You’d wish
for his flying ship, you’d wish you could fly
to the cities, to the edges of things, to the sea.
You’d wish for a flicker of flame in the spruce.
You’d wish for a crossroads, for three wishes
to foil the old witch and her hen’s-leg house.
Old witch of layers, old doll of a year
and December her small heart.
Maskell’s: not much of a farm.
That German Shepherd.
You stick to the edges
on the way to the door.
The chain stops him short.
Maskell’s wife will sell you eggs.
That barn by the house; at night
he’ll put his six cows in there.
He doesn’t know how old it is.
God knows. Alpha and omega,
He knows it’s older than Shakespeare,
old as the Crusades. A chapel
or chantry of the Knights of St John.
He knows that after I’ve grown up
and gone, and Maskell’s dead, no longer
dropping ash from Woodbines
in his churns, He knows the land is bought,
the small herd sold, the dog put down
the house demolished, out-buildings
burned, six small semis built.
He knows the tale from thread to needle.
There’s days I wonder if
it’s only me and Him who know
about the men in surcoats, men with swords,
men who pegged morticed hammer beams
with elm, lived by holy calendars,
lit candles, told out silver coins for Masses
in Maskell’s old cow barn
at the top of our street.
Advice to a Traveller
It is pointless to pack;
if you must, take a loaf.
You will find what you need as you go.
Disregard nothing –
a needle, a handkerchief,
a comb, a pinch of salt, a flask of oil.
You are the youngest of three.
Wait until the older two have left.
They will be well-provisioned
and well-shod. Then you can go.
Listen to all you meet.
They will give you wishes.
Go with a clear heart.
Do not be surprised when:
your bread stays the hunger of wolves,
the comb cast down becomes a thicket of thorn,
the handkerchief a lake,
when the oil unseals the iron gates,
the salt seasons the banquet of a king.
All will be well.
If you are in the right story.
There are villages and towns under the sea.
Churches, manors, farms, hovels. There are bells
tolling dumb in the pull of the tide.
There are gods in the sea. There are selkies
and herring and the bones of the drowned.
And there are the browsers, also:
things in shells, things that graze
their cold salt pastures with patience
and waste nothing.
There’s a god called indifference
who smiles at every accident,
at everything that falls from ships,
who sees how the waters shall cover
the earth, how the silent belfries
of the drowned cities of the plains
shall ring the passing bells for the dead,
of Salamis, of Brunnaburh, of Roncevalles,
of Agincourt, and Mons and Passchendale;
for the unrecorded millions dead
in nameless battles, undeclared wars: dead
of drought, of fire, of falling, of being born.
Nothing will be wasted.
Nothing will be too small.