INDIGO DREAMS PUBLISHING LTD
GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2021
138 x 216mm
£6.00+ P&P UK
To Start The Year From Its Quiet Centre
These poems are an intimate meditation on love and loss, told by a daughter as she cares for her mother through terminal mesothelioma. The poet invites the reader to be witness to the private moments of dying, from the physical reality of caregiving through to the alchemy of death, telling the story of a relationship between women that is transformed through grief.
Honest, unsentimental, and quietly uplifting.
“Exquisite poems, tough and tender in turns.
These are moving meditations on loss and loving-kindness by a daughter to her mother: a gift to anyone who is alongside a loved one in their dying time.”
Editor of ‘Wild Woman Swimming’
“Bennett’s poetry is controlled, spare and with the particular magic of inviting the reader in right-up-close. An agonisingly beautiful, closely observed and compassionate love letter and leave-taking for a much loved mother.”
Poet, Editor and Founder of The Poetry Pharmacy
“This collection is a journey into loss: not the big crashing ideas of death, but the gentle; quiet hours of waiting and the delicate structuring and un-structuring of routine around the inevitable. Skilful, moving and careful with no head first fall into sentimentality, these are poems that translate the language of humanity into art and in doing so benefit all.”
To Start The Year From Its Quiet Centre
It is enough
the pebble roll
in my hand,
to curl, cat-like,
warm in the sun,
into an hour
of not doing,
to stand, long enough
to hear the curlew call;
to remember our lives
opening to it all.
Through my mother’s window, days slip by,
moments so small we almost miss them
in our busy lives of dying:
the way the stocks begin to bend,
the first ash to fall, the lowering light.
Soon, the year will turn.
In the darkest days, she cries out
What time is it?
as if knowing can stop the clock.
She sleeps, wakes confused,
not sure if it has been minutes
or days that she’s been gone.
In the morning, we greet the sun
with morphine and birdsong.
It’s another beautiful dawn, I say
but they get harder.
Another one, she says,
eyes turning away.
The last one
and it is just me.
The rain begins.
After The War, The Battle Comes
Those who walk away
travel as time-travellers do,
slightly out of synch, somewhere
between the living and the dead.
Wounds heal but the shadows
are stitched in. It takes time
to learn to move in this strange skin.
The Suede Shoes
after Thich Nhat Hanh
No good news from now
the doctor told us.
The nurse cried.
You did not.
I spend my days on the telephone,
searching for certainties:
names, dates, results,
chasing facts like dandelion wisps,
running out of time.
Sometimes, we talk about death.
Mostly, we talk about hospitals.
Bit by bit, their language claims us.
Meanwhile, the hen scratches
around the tree and the bees
collect nectar from a creeping vine.
The sun finally shines.
This is our in-between
Why bother planting that seed?
Why turn the beds
for a summer that will never come?
Why bother buying the pretty suede shoes?
We choose the shoes because
we can still find joy in a step.
We plant the seed because
we still love the way
it insists itself into life.
We turn the beds because
there will always be a summer,
even after you are gone.
Soon, we shall have only echoes
but for now, we drink tea
and watch the clouds move,
watch the light pass
between the storm
and there is still good news.
Tell Me Lies
Please, do not tell me of your perfect deaths.
Do not speak of surrounding light,
slipping serenely out of sight.
Please, do not tell me of your perfect goodbyes.
Tell me nothing or tell me lies.
In turn, I will tell you mine:
that the drugs do work,
that the pain is short,
that once the oxygen stops,
the heart will start to give.
Victoria Bennett was born in 1971. She is the founder of the grassroots arts collective, Wild Women Press and has spent the last twenty years curating platforms for women to share ideas, stories, inspirations, and actions for positive change.
She holds an MA in Creative Writing and has three decades experience working as a freelance writer and artist. Her writing has won the Andrew Waterhouse Poetry Award, the Mother's Milk Writing Prize, and a Northern Debut Award. Her poetry has appeared in several anthologies and she has published four other poetry pamphlets. Her work-in-progress memoir, 'All My Wild Mothers', was long-listed for the Nan Shepherd Nature Writing Prize 2019 and the Penguin #WriteNow2020 programme.
Victoria is currently undertaking her MRes in Creative Practice at the University of Highlands and Islands (Shetland), exploring narratives of absence within landscapes of personal and ecological loss. She is a director of The Wizard and The Wyld Ltd, creating immersive playable poetry within video-game platforms. A frequent digital collaborator, she interested in how poetry and new technologies can be used to create meaningful and authentic narratives.
Victoria lives and works in rural Cumbria with her husband and son. Diagnosed with a collision of rare genetic diseases, she juggles a rebellious body with writing and full-time care. When not juggling, she can be found where the wild things are.