The poems in this anthology were all written by poets commended in the New Voices First Pamphlet Award contest. All of the poets, in the opinion of Lead Judge Marilyn Timms and Triage Judges Imogen Osborne and Natalie Perman, had ample poetic skills to be selected as authors of a poetry collection. The 2022 award winners are the first two poets showing on this page. Each will eventually have a separate page of poetry in this anthology, and will have their first poetry collections published as books by Frosted Fire in the Autumn of this year.
The full list of authors, listed alphabetically by first name, is:
Bethan Manley is 23 and studying a master’s degree in Creative and Critical Writing at the University of Gloucestershire after graduating with a First Class honours degree in English Language and Creative Writing.
She has been published in The Mountains You Cannot See; Postcards from Malthusia; Ink, Sweat & Tears: and Snakeskin’.
Bethan won a 2022 New Voices First Pamphlet award and her book Goodnight Cariad will be published in the Autumn.
Poems from Goodnight, Cariad
stone houses stand
no white picket fences
children play outside
the streetlights a sign
it’s time to go home
where tea will be waiting
for them on the table
father’s fingernails painted
with coal he coughs
wiping black sputum
with his dusty handkerchief
his son copies his heaves
I’m going to be just like you
when the sun sets
behind the jagged mountains
and heaps of slurry
the village sleeps with it
the man with the grey eyes
bloodshot from tears
and grains of slurry
tells rescuers to treat the kids
like planks of wood
the dead ones
do not get attached
miners are warned
there will be bodies
casualties deaths disasters
nobody expects they will be children
talk to them
don’t let the parents know
children like ragdolls sleep
in the arms of their rescuers
remind them of their daughter’s
thankful they are safe at home
they carry children
to the mortuary
past prying eyes of parents
with bated breath
unsure if it’s their turn to mourn
for their child
or their neighbour’s
Katherine Parsons is currently a PhD student at the University of Birmingham, where she specialises in conceptions of memory in contemporary literature. Her poetry is often a sketching out of love and what it means to live.
Katherine won a 2022 New Voices First Pamphlet award and her book Little Intimacy will be published in the Autumn.
Dear Honey Lover
When I call you honey
I don’t mean the taste of it to a tongue
the thick smooth stick of it
nor your glottal softness
and I don’t mean
what people mean
when they say music is honey
full of gold and gentle
and nothing at all like honey, really
I don’t even mean to invoke bees
and their majestic twelfth of a spoonful
but the way you make it run
and spill and pour
over oats I made too sweet already
squeezing the bottle
and letting it breathe
just to see
THIS IS HERE BECAUSE I PUT IT HERE
says handprint in fingerpaint
says flag on moon
says fist in face
says schoolgirl experimenting with autonomy
by placing a pencil on the edge of her pencil case
because she can
and because when she does so it stays
and until she is made to tidy it away
she watches its existence persist against
the boredom of an endless day:
a pencil! resting against her pencil case!
for no reason but to remain
and by remaining say
THIS IS HERE BECAUSE I PUT IT HERE
and so she puts it here
and so says the rapist
and so says Jimmy fucking Neutron
and while we are talking about who put what where and why
this is also what I imagine the postwoman says
on the odd morning with pride
as she lands a ‘whistl’-marked letter on my doorstep
this is both what and why
and when we draw letters in lovehearts in the sand and say
‘this is here because I love you’
it is really here because I put it here because I love you
or else when the tide comes in and I still love you it would not leave
and so I will not say
I am here because I love you
Anna Nightingale is Assistant Editor at Vintage Classics and a graduate of the University of Cambridge. Her work has been published in the Eunoia Review, Aurelia Magazine, Porridge Magazine and elsewhere. She is currently working on her first poetry collection, Search Engine, about the internet, knowledge and love
‘…their [people we don’t know who know us] attention renders us tiny gods. The Era of Mass Fame is upon us.’
remember crushes / how they bloat the heart / so puffed-up and blimp-like / but less floating than weighted / less gliding than shuddering / remember when / we used to hail our memories / could close your eyes / watch a moment / like a miracle / remember your first kiss / their sweat smell as they leaned in / head tilted like a puppy / your hands salt / theirs / saltwater / remember rationing your thoughts / when you noticed the jolt / less electric / each time you told yourself the story / before you slept / remember when / names were names / some with faces / others faceless / maybe you’d catch a glimpse of their ex / at a party / or in an old photo album / remember when / it was all future and no past / remember when / everything leaked out newness / adolescence / making beauty out of brinks / remember when / you only dated people / without exes / remember when / time’s hurtle no longer allowed that / remember when / we knew the difference / between kin and gods / the difference being / that one we know / and the other / part-knowable / part-mythic / how about now / when mythology / is less parable than practice / how about now / you ask your boyfriend if he got you / the same earrings he got his ex for christmas / zoom in on her head and feel good / because her earlobes / are meatier than yours / how about now / we don’t trust ourselves to remember / instead / a fingertip eclipse deleted / instead / hundreds of mini films in your pocket / how about now / a glimpse is a stare / a squint a zoom / how about now / you can languish / in their best moments / together / apart / before / after / from your bed / how about now / you create your own mythologies / to worship
After I Die, the Internet Lives On
‘To be dead is to be a prey for the living.’
Love, unblock me.
You’ll want to mourn me with the mob –
the ones who never saw me as a tulip, as brightness on brick,
never pressed my cat’s ear between lips a letter m,
never carried my tube puke in a pizza box
& let the cardboard wither into their palm’s warmth.
The ones who whisper yes when they find the one of them with me,
who post it before my corpse chooses its cot.
Love, not you.
Not you whose camera roll was once the inside of my mouth,
whose framed nude flashes the spiders beneath my bed.
Remember the one you took of me spread-legged in Sicily,
picking my nose,
donning specs and a thong,
sat there so alive,
like a baby’s gums opening to teeth?
In fact, love, don’t grieve me in clamour.
Send me a message
a happy birthday.
Love, forgive me if I leave them unread.
Arnold T. Rice is a social worker and filmmaker currently surviving in Sussex. He has been quietly crafting poems for a few years, afraid that any attempt at publication might scare away what competence has just about accrued. He’ll occasionally bung one on instagram though, and has been a semi-frequent open-micer at Scripstuff Poetry.
It Is What ‘It Is What It Is’ Is (Or Is It?)
If it is what it is,
what is it that is?
Is it this?
Is it that?
Is it thin, firm or fat?
If it isn’t what it’s not,
is it cold or is it hot?
And is it even what it is
or is it hiding just because
it isn’t what it wants
or not what it once was?
Does it have its own will?
Is it what it would be
if it had its own choice?
Is this it? In the asking?
Is the ‘is it’ what it is?
the secret of its business?
Or no, maybe not,
perhaps it just forgot
and in so, simply is,
like that unexamined lot…
It-ing and is-ing,
bubbling and fizzing,
making me think
of all I’ve been missing
(it might just be living!)
But if it is
Let alone ‘why?’
This long-lost plot
then that’s that?
Is this all it is?
Can there be something more?
If I look at it longer
will I ever be sure?
Is is is?
It’s that and that’s it?
Quite the bind.
I can’t and can’t not.
That is: keep pitching
my worried little ‘what?’
So that’s why I jot,
resigned to this tiz –
I won’t ever get it
but it is what it is.
And in the talking came a train, freighted with a house
in which we used to live
The keys long-tossed,
but between our teeth
and this time
an easy cost.
You linger in the door-frames,
I stick to certain sides
of rooms that bloom
with green in tune
to country passing by.
“Look at your hair!”
“Your well-worn jokes!”
Your blinking eyes.
Look at the track,
now doubling back
near rows of record stores.
“Shall we peruse?”
“But we might lose
to these floors.”
So staying on
until our stop,
so watching every wall
for dripping paint
to dry atop
the jots of growing tall.
The platform waits
with wary arms –
we’ll make that old leap last,
the homes we saunter back to
granted peace-talks from our past.
Benjamin Husbands is a poet based in North Yorkshire. He cites his upbringing in the Yorkshire countryside as the main inspiration behind his work. When he is not writing he can be found listening to dreary music or walking his dog while listening to dreary music. Other examples of his work can be found in The York Journal and Horizon Magazine.
Curse the monotony of old roads and how I wished it had snowed
and you’d asked me to stay but it hadn’t, so I put on my layers
by the front door where we’d not quite made eye contact.
Cut to: me burning fossil fuels without you
in the passenger seat filled with empty
sweet wrappers. I backed off
the drive then drove away from the detritus
left in leafy piles of cards I sent
when you were a teen, twenty, till twenty-three
when we renounced nicknames
and kind regards.
it’s cold out here, the heater’s bust, but
there’s comfort in changing gear to the tune
of Elliott Smith.
First to second,
second to third,
third to fourth,
fourth to fifth.
the fall – the meditative shift
of grocery shopping,
of threatening to pull over,
of yelling: “I’m moving back to my mother’s!”
Altogether alone, I’m tired of trying
to find the tread marks buried in the snow and ice,
yet I’ve known these roads my whole life. I swear
home is here somewhere.
is not a tourist destination,
or a place for holiday homes,
but a liminal space that concertinas me
between Yorkshire moorland and the North Sea.
It leaves my entire six-foot-two frame
wheezing on the sand, compressed
and jammed, like a swollen puzzle
piece punched into position by an
The absolute weight of gravity’s
five-fingered trick imprints my outline
on a spongy seafoam mattress beside
a crossroads scored with white freckles
of coastal erosion.
Here, I am held to account, my skull hollowed out
with a silver spork and dredged of the mistruths
that cloud the brown eyes which were never mine.
Here, I am made aware that I am more than the sum
of those who have loved me.
And once I accept that, I can push past,
stumble forward, blind,
across the bay, where a boat
waits with scratches, and
etchings, of a name –
Elena Walker’s poetry was commended and received a special mention in the 2014 and 2016 Ted Hughes Young Poets Award, at ages 10 and 12. In 2020, she was published by HEBE: The Poetry Magazine of Youth, and in 2021, was awarded Poet Laureate at her school. Two poems are now forthcoming in HEBE’s 18th Issue.
Those Glowing Years
I think back to the time
of my family reunion
on the Washington coast,
staring across the bluff
to the Canadian shore,
through a veil
of thick fog and smoke.
I think back to Santa Rosa:
and my preschool
in proximity to the park;
an open field,
a row of eucalyptus,
where I played
by my aunt’s house—
in a neighbourhood of ashes.
I think back to Yosemite:
campsite of my childhood,
among the redwoods,
where my cousin hopes to wed—
now blackened by that fire.
Out of these ashes:
monuments of place,
sites of memory;
return to my mind.
Where I’m From
To have lived in America is to know the government has your fingerprints as
To know everything is more expensive there
To have lived in America is to understand that ‘left wing’ is still center
To have lived in California is to have everyone start singing California Girls when they
hear where you’re from
To practice school shooter drills alongside fire and earthquake drills
To have lived in California is to always have everyone ask why you left the sun
To have lived in Santa Rosa is to always describe it as an hour north of San Francisco
To spend summers swimming in your neighbour’s pool
To have lived in Santa Rosa is to remember your childhood too fondly
To live in England as an American is to look out the window and see gray at all times of day.
Your mother tells you once a citizen you can live anywhere in Europe,
only to have the government take four years to leave the EU three years after you’re a citizen;
To live in England as an American is to have your mother tell you the patriarchy is worse here.
To live in Manchester as an American is to dislike the Mancunian accent
but be unable to distinguish it from any of the regional voices.
To take years to discern northerners from southerners, not knowing whether London is up or down.
To live in Manchester as an American is to go to the beach twice in ten years despite living two hours away.
To live in Didsbury as an American is to live in the ‘posh’ area of Manchester,
even when your home is smaller than your friend’s house in Longsight;
you don’t have to worry about going out in the alley at night, except for the recent issues.
To live in Didsbury as an American is to know Manchester is one of the most unsafe cities in England.
To move across the world is to constantly compare your childhood against your upbringing.
To move across the world is to have your accent always be out of place yet unplaceable.
To move across the world is to not fully relate to anyone’s childhood memories but your own.
Jake Smith is a poet and writer originally hailing from Shropshire, and now based in Bristol. He is interested in the tensions between nature and urban and uses poetry to express the cathartic elements he finds in respite from the inner workings of city life. He is also largely inspired by music and believes in the sonic qualities of language as much as the meanings and images it conjures. He has an MA in Creative Writing & Education from Goldsmiths, University of London.
The scalpel of autumn furrows the sycamores golden
reminding me of the sunscald tomatoes in my auntie’s Turkish garden;
the buckled olive tree; the hummed-green flash of a gecko.
I return to the present with small yellow droplets on Ella’s rain mac
and, in a fist, I warm my fingers like an unripe fig in a tourist’s palm.
The cold air has scrubbed this Old Town grey. And I play
the words ‘Auld Reekie’ over in my head until they are spherical
and shiny and the shape of my grandmother’s face is new.
If ye are near Parliament Hoose, imagine Grandad sweerin’ his-sel’ in.
His glasses folded neatly; his words truer than a love-letter.
Spires sit like jaunty hats atop the city. A backdrop of crude air cleans
out my words, releasing a new whistle as tooth meets lip. Scotch thistle
takes the chill from inside me and the bog myrtle fizzles across the higher
ridges. I trace the horizon with my thumb, feel every mound and dip until
Ella reminds me, with a tug on my arm, the wide mouth of Scottish blue
is behind us; its lips shaped with grass-knit wool. Through my camera lens,
I follow a ripple as it slugs out to sea. An icy crossing. Ella likes to think
there is another couple, puffing Nordic air, white milk, into clasped fists; thumbs
tracing silver cliffs, reminding them of fresh bream on Spanish shores. But I like
to think that it is only us, our breath cribbed by Calton Hill, our warm hands cold.
The gravel drew out our long shadows by the canal.
The cobweb transparency of our bike spokes
in movement slowly turning opaque –
reminding us of our urgency;
the feather arrow of day – we must arrive before dark.
As if this arrow was forged with sharp bone,
smoothed off with round pebble.
When – a heron reminded us again; ‘Pedal faster!’
it cawed, in a lulled wave of flight, and fastened its claws
to a branch; admiring its myopic view of human half-night.
The ground spat in disgust,
clinking my bicycle frame; its storybook blue paintwork.
And the far meadows, puffed out like bearded cheeks,
waned as we steered towards the outlying streetlamps
and the bedrock of crisp packet life.
And as the night mushroomed onto the canal path,
we turned on our lights, up the tempo of our legs.
We established our route forward; the mendacious glow
of my front light caused shapes of heads and twisting limbs
to melt into foliage in the wind.
It was as though we would never, the human in us
could not; the soles of our feet too soft. Here,
where parallel worlds grazed tips; the sparrow’s ear
bereft of the plane and its candy-floss thunder;
the raspberry-blue tongue of a child.
But – at last! Reflected in the very slither of the moon
was a guesthouse with three beds and a telly.
And we enjoyed the sound of Attenborough’s song
while the heron rustled to sleep by the canal,
shading its eyes with feathers or fingers.
Perla Kantarjian is a Lebanese-Armenian writer and journalist, with work appearing in over 35 publications. Pushcart Prize nominee and winner in Illuminarium Chronicles’ Continental Voices Competition, Kantarjian’s work is part of the Lunar Codex. She is currently pursuing her MA in Poetry at UEA as the 2021 Sonny Mehta Scholar.
Sandcastles that stay
it took a long time for me to understand
how i once dreamt you were orbiting me
in a strange, strange dream
& could not stop dreaming
you were orbiting me, invading
my fostered space, after—
& now you are here,
here, before me, i am
near you, you are nere.
we are together.
we are together,
we are together,
bodying this shore, together—
& how, i am no longer befuddled;
simple: when i dream, i turn into moon;
turn body into water, water into body,
high tide, low tide,
& you, merely a wave i’ve decided to
clench in my fist, stop from moving
In My Bed, Out to Seas
listen, it has become as
such: i cannot sleep and
there is no other thought
being soaked into my
veins and towards my
bloodstream but that
of you and how
your eyes seem to retain
the molecular element
of the dawn; how you
place them abreast mine
and my skin turns into
rose water; blackbirds spread
song into the droplets of morning dew
i watch cascade upon the Yellow Stars of
Bethlehem you told me to grow by my bedside
window for they are your favorite. we were sitting
by the Mediterranean sea when you told me that —
a green apple was nested in my palms, winds
of September waltzing through my hair, the
world feeling like somewhere soft again.
you held my hand and told me i remind you
of a white feather; the words
breezed into my neck
warmer than a wreath of light.
we have all day, you said, but we can’t
slow down, my love, there are stars
to be weaved into the sky. we must
promise the night with a dance
to the rhythm of the pulsating
waves. i smiled a yes into the crevice
of your right eye. there was an eyelash
there, the only thing that was out of place.
Sofía Masondo was born in Argentina and grew up in London, New York and Seoul. Her writing
explores connections and disconnections between people, cultures and identities. She has
previously been published in South Bank Poetry magazine and will begin her undergraduate at UCL in September.
The rumbling creates a cocoon
around this tunnel within a tunnel.
We will share this near-empty carriage
for no longer than twenty minutes.
I’ll think that I’d like my hair
to fall like yours;
you’ll catch me staring blankly
at the air around your face.
I avert my eyes to the advert displaying
the name of a ski instructor.
We are reminded to wear a mask.
a nothing wrapped in nothing, a non-place
full of only electrified rails
and perpetually circling journeys.
He is not very talkative.
He loves dogs and working with his hands. He is a legend
on the parrilla.
He is a kind and gentle presence and drinks mate three times every day.
This is really all I can say about my grandfather.
To be more like him, I picked up the gourd, and looked up
“mate como hacer montañita”
(my newly discovered word for an old trick):
tip it upside down into a taut paper towel and shake,
so that the dust and leaf particles come to the top.
(And don’t move the bombilla, or it will fill with powder. You must do it slowly.
This drink is delicate, although people here think it tastes like a slap in the face.
Nobody understands the importance of patience anymore,
is something I imagine he might say.
These are things I’ve learned, or invented.)
I had watched him do it many times, as he helped to prepare la merienda
– that snack sandwiched between lunch at 2.30 and dinner at 10 –
but alone, I skipped that crucial step, and the first sip was pure gravel.
It was awful.
I spat the green phlegm into the sink.
In that moment, I was reminded of the way he sat for hours at that round kitchen table,
over a mandarin, meticulously picking at the pith
until only bare flesh remained, silent
Toby Cotton hails from a farm in Herefordshire. His poetry, like himself, sits snugly in a pastoral landscape. Romantic yet relevant, it speaks of mindfulness and meaning as well as seasons and spirits. A zoology graduate and naturalist, Toby’s close relationships with flora and fauna are portrayed in his poems.
A Minute’s Silence
a minute’s silence
for the key workers who have
given us their lives
I listen to my slowed breaths
I remember those who can’t
the clock needs a new battery
I squeeze out the tea bag
when will the shops open?
feel deeply feel deeply
the voice on the radio
tells me that life carries on
a song plays after the news
“Lean on me” by Bill Withers
we are all leaning upon
those who stand up for others
a minute’s silence for them
a whole life’s music for us
a minute’s silence for them
our struggle against silence
The Broken Gosling
Spring was its first love
Summer has come and gone
into an ivory sky
That teenage gosling
with the dark crumpled wing
is still following
the luminous swans
around the lake
a shadow of its true being,
forever fixed to a surface
far below the home of its heart,
its sisters and brothers
have touched the clouds
sometimes they come visit
with a dramatic flapping and
splashing into the dazzling water
flashing their satiny freedom
news of autumn
blurting from their beaks
“The trees’ feathers are falling out!
They’re turning yellow and floating out
and the whole world is feeling them…”
The broken gosling is quiet.
It hardly ever honks anymore.
What do those black eyes say?
What do you feel inside?
Can you truly endure alone
the sudden draw of the wind
or the gravity of distant stars?
With silent grace
it is gone
disappeared into the lake
disrupting the clouds
jostling the bronzed trees
living in reflections
raindrops and ripples
do they know of each other
by sight or by touch
and in that crystalline moment
before the mirror breaks,
do you see yourself?
your velvet cap, your mercury beak
your opal eyes, your snow-blushed cheeks?
do you dive into yourself
knowing the difference
between fetters that rust
and a necklace that shimmers?
the slender goose surfaces
shaking off diamonds
Valery Quinn a graduate of the University of Manchester in Anthropology, who has been writing poetry since encountering Blake in school at the age of 14. Val’s main interests then were sex, death, religion and social justice, pretty much in that order. “They haven’t changed much since then,” writes Val, “but hopefully the poetry has improved somewhat.”
point of return
i remember we watched the high-rise burn, buckets
dangling one in each hand.
i remember we watched the high-rise burn, buckets
sideways on the grass.
i saw the clap the clap the clap of hands, none of whom
would extend beneath the waves.
i saw the clap the clap the clap of hands, and heard a
march of boots like laughter.
i felt a crowd of fury clog my throat, as the
weather man wished us all good morning,
after a truckload of men seeking el dorado, found
only vacuity in britain.
i shrugged my shoulders of some weight
insured to grip me harder,
as i came home from work at dawn and
put my eyes down by the telly.
i woke mid-afternoon all startled to the
sound of infant cries,
wondering if it were one such occasion when
a real neighbour was needed.
thankfully, the noise died down, but there was nothing
within me to replace it.
i guess if a poet is a person who picks the right words,
then that baby was bawling the best poem i’ve heard.
moving your stuff into my flat during covid
Is this love, or just possession of
a secret window: steamed-up glass
against whose frame alone I glimpse
you leaning, phone-screen glow on grey
frown, scrolling, nodding, dozing,
so at home you’ve switched your instincts off,
as if the world of men were
but a nightmare blinked away:
how then you slump into the sallow
dinge of sofa’s dell at sundown,
till quiet coats you – like a halo –
as the warming raindrops pass?