Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto’s poem ‘I Will Let You Know When I Find Something’

This international submission is from Chinua Ezenwa-Ohaeto (@ChinuaEzenwa) who hails from from Owerri-Nkworji in Nkwerre, Imo state, Nigeria and grew up between Germany and Nigeria. This poem seemed to speak to how during lockdown we began to contemplate each other and even scrutinize each other more closely.

Chinua has a Chapbook, The Teenager Who Became My Mother, via Sevhage Publishers. He was runner-up in Etisalat Prize for Literature, Flash fiction, 2014, and won the Castello di Duino Poesia Prize for an unpublished poem, 2018 which took him to Italy. He was the recipient of New Hampshire Institute of Art’s 2018 Writing Award, and New Hampshire Institute of Art’s 2018 scholarship to the MFA Program. In 2019, he was the winner of Sevhage/Angus Poetry Prize and second runner-up in 5th Singapore Poetry Contest. He won the First Prize in the Creators of Justice Literary Award, Poetry category, organized by International Human rights Art Festival, New York, USA, 2020. His works have appeared in Lunaris Review, AFREADA, Poet Lore, Massachusetts Review, Frontier, Palette, Malahat Review, Southword Magazine, Vallum, Mud Season Review, Salamander, Strange Horizons, Anmly, Ake Review Up the Staircase Quarterly , Spectacle Magazine, Ruminate and elsewhere.

Also please see this MS Word accessible version: I Will Let You Know When I Find Something. 

Dermot Bolger’s ‘Poem During a Pandemic for Patricia Lynch’

This is another international submission with a moving story behind it. We are very honored to host Dermot Bolger’s ‘Poem During a Pandemic for Patricia Lynch.’

Dermot Bolger is an Irish poet, novelist and playwright who received the 2021 O’Shaughnessy Poetry Award. His fourteen novels include The Journey Home. His debut play, The Lament for Arthur Cleary, received the Samuel Beckett Prize. Recent plays for Ireland’s National Theatre, the Abbey, include his adaption of Joyce’s Ulysses.

Dermot explains about this poem: ‘The poem is about writing a night during the pandemic and the theme set me thinking about my walks. In Dublin it is impossible to walk anywhere without passing a writer’s house (my back garden quite literally backs on the back garden of one of Joyce’s childhood homes) and one house I pass most nights once belonged to a very famous but now forgotten Irish children’s writer, Patricia Lynch. During the pandemic I wrote a poem about her one night when stopped outside her home.’

Poem During a Pandemic for Patricia Lynch

(Author of “The Turf Cutter’s Donkey”, 1894-1972)

 

It required a pandemic to cause this birdsong

To sound as vibrant here as when greenfinches sang

In the fields that once besieged this secluded road

Where you quietly wrote books for four decades.

 

You are all but forgotten now, but I always pause

To gaze at what was once your book-filled abode.

Your garden a riot of flowers, a weekly shopping list

Of sensible provisions phoned into the local grocer

To arrive in late afternoon, after you finished writing

And patiently answered letters from young readers,

Whose parents were blithely unaware of how you first

Came to Dublin to write reports for Sylvia Pankhurst’s

Staunch communist paper, The Workers’ Dreadnought,

Or how your husband, R. M. Fox, was upstairs typing

Defiant books about Lenin, Mao Zedong and Jim Larkin.

 

During the lockdown birdsong became the only sound

On the streets as children learnt lexicons of dangers;

Infection rates, social distancing, phased lockdowns:

Phrases becoming as woven into their consciousness

As your book titles were for a generation who adored

The Bookshop on the Quay or The Old Black Sea Chest.

 

No plaque exists to you, but you might feel embarrassed

By any fuss in this deluxe enclave where you struggled

In old age; your husband gone, your novels starting

To drift out of print, your garden unmanageable

With your arthritic hands. Cocoa and cherry brandy

Became occasional treats that helped steer you to sleep,

As your house, unchanged since the 1930s, fell apart.

The modernist suntrap rooms where you embarked

On fictional voyages started to ship water and capsize,

Until a puppeteering family rescued you from loneliness,

To bestow a miraculous final chapter to your life.

 

So perhaps it was apt, amid the birdsong of lockdown,

That while no hint of your physical presence pervaded

This street that felt as hushed as in any ghostly tale,

I possessed an eerie sense when passing neatly parked

Audi SUVs, sensible second cars and E-class Mercs.

I knew that my sensation of being watched was illusory

But I felt reluctant to look back, lest I discovered

A turf cutter’s donkey patiently standing on the corner,

Its reins held by a spirited young girl and her brother,

While an old lady in a headscarf beckoned them forth

From this street on which they were first conjured

By a writer robbed of all sense of home in childhood,

Who rediscovered it here with the man who loved her.

 

Dermot Bolger

Christiana Olomolaiye’s poem ‘Covid Love’

Here’s a Covid love poem in this international submission from Christiana Olomolaiye, a UK poet who performs nationally and at zoom open mics in America and Ireland. She is part of the Barn Poets, Somerset and Corsham Poetry Group in Wiltshire. Her monologue “Another Talking Head” was featured in BBC Radio Bristol. She is working on her first collection.

Also please see this MS Word accessible version: Covid Love. 

Alwyn Marriage’s poem ‘Theft and restitution’

Here’s an international submission from a poet based in the UK. Alwyn Marriage‘s twelve books include poetry, non-fiction and fiction. Formerly a philosophy lecturer and CEO of two international NGOs, she’s Managing Editor of Oversteps Books and research fellow at Surrey University. Having suffered covid, longcovid and covid bereavement, her latest poetry collection, Pandora’s Pandemic, chronicles those long hard months and her joyful return to health.

Also see this accessible word document version: Theft and restitution

Travis McClerking’s poem ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin Fever’

The pandemic period has been a time when our communities have been demanding justice, including campaigns like #BlackLivesMatter. This next poems is a clever play on the 1852 anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe, posing difficult questions about racist violence that still remains in America post-slavery.

Travis McClerking is a Sophomore at OSU majoring in English, who was  introduced to poetry through competitive slams. He continues to develop his craft in the famous open mics held at Kafe Kerouac. He pays tribute to his high school teacher Dr. Sidney Jones and the Columbus native, Hanif Abdurraquib, as his biggest influences.

Also see this accessible version in MS Word: McClerking Uncle Tom’s Cabin Fever

Angela Acosta’s poem ‘One Year In’

Many poets in Ohio are writing about the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic, and Angela Acosta is no different in this poem ‘One Year In.’ Angela Acosta is a PhD student in Iberian Studies at The Ohio State University. She returned to writing poetry in English and Spanish during the pandemic to document her experiences and write alongside the Spanish women writers whose creative lives she uncovers in her research.

You can also read the poem in this accessible word document: Submission Dwelling During Pandemic[69]

Rita Bourland’s Illustrated Poem ‘Gather in the Wonder’

Here is a beautiful, uplifting poem by Ohio writer Rita Bourland, illustrated by a gorgeous photograph by Lisa Berg. Here is what Rita had to say about their collaboration:

“Most of my work combines poetry with artwork or photography. My friend, Lisa Berg, took an incredible photo of the moon on August 4, 2020 and shared it with me for my birthday. She and I have collaborated before, so I asked if I could write a poem to go with the photo.
“I found, during the pandemic, that my writing tended to focus on global connectedness. In this case, it happened to be the moon linking us all together. My own worries and egocentric thoughts dissolved into the wonder of our universe and the fact that every human was going through this difficult time together – all under the same moon.”
You can also read this poem in this accessible PDF:  Gather in the Wonder.

corbin t. lanker’s Poetry Film ‘A New Year’

Here’s another Ohio submission, this time a poetry film by corbin t lanker. corbin is a nonbinary person, currently a student of earth sciences at the Ohio State University. They like to write poetry and paint in order to process feelings. This poetry film is a meditation based on thoughts on New Year’s Eve 2020 – the movement from one COVID year to another. corbin says:”I hope you enjoy my work, a whole bunch of my poetry is at http://corbincoolguy.simplesite.com/“.

Kathie Houchens’ Poem ‘Breath’

An Ohio resident since 1976, Kathie Houchens is a poet, artist, and an explorer of nature. She writes as a  way to stay grounded, to distill experience, and to see with new eyes. Kathie co-authored Around the Table: Poems by Four Women with Anna Soter.

In her poem, ‘Breath,’ Kathie processes the emotional stress that we all faced during the pandemic, and she finds solace in nature – in the trees!

You can also find the poem in this MS Word accessible document: Breath.