Poetry review – We Have to Leave the Earth by Carolyn Jess-Cooke

We Have to Leave the Earth by Carolyn Jess-Cooke book coverBook Balm recommendation: Read to immerse yourself in wonder.

The contents page of Carolyn Jess-Cooke‘s third collection offers a clear indication of the skill at play here. Poem titles are mini-masterworks, with each offering sense of perilous climatic times we live in couple with an awe for the world we inhabit.

Section 1, Songs for the Arctic, illuminates scenes by scattering words across the whiteness of the page. in We Flicker too briefly, you can roll the flavour of the lines over your tongue: “Bone sky./Ocean’s oil-dark/cloth unsettled” and “green sky-rivers/ arrows of geese/ water scythes of whales.”

Section 2 opens with the title poem, which sets the tone for a sequence about beauty and strength in fragility. In Birdsong for a Breakdown, we’re introduced to the extremity of sensations experienced through the rawness of mental ill-health: “Because sweetness amidst such unnameable dark/ is magnesium, too bright to miss.”

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Writing prompt – instruction

Take Next Left by Judy Darley. Shows a yellow Post-it note pinned to brambles in a rural setting with a path running along one side.A yellow Post-it note pinned to brambles instructs us to take the next left.

How intriguing to come across an instruction like this in an urban woodland! What would you do? Walk on in the direction you’d already chosen, or follow the sign wherever it leads?

I particularly like the ps: If you dare…

What dangers or rewards might lie ahead?

Can you weave these possibilities into a tale of peril and adventure?

If you write or create something prompted by this idea, please send it to me in an email to judydarley (at) iCloud.com for possible publication on SkyLightRain.com.

The Fiction Desk seeks ghost stories

Arnoa Vale Cemetery cr Judy DarleyIn these early days of the year with so many hours to each dark night, The Fiction Desk invites you to seek a home for your spooky scribblings by submitting an entry to their annual call for ghost stories.

They say: “’Ghost story’ can mean a lot of different things, from an encounter with an actual phantom to more unusual paranormal phenomena and unexplained events. All types are welcome, so feel free to experiment: we’re very unlikely to disqualify a story for stretching the definition of a “ghost”. Keep in mind that our general readership (and by extension our judge) may be more likely to respond well to psychological chills and unexplained mysteries than in-your-face gore.”

They pay £25 per thousand words for stories (i.e. £100 for a 4,000 word story, or £150 for a 6,000 word story). Contributors also receive two complimentary paperback copies. The stories we publish are also eligible to enter the Writer’s Award, a cash prize of £100 for the best story in each volume, as judged by the contributors.

Rules of this call for submissions

Entries should be between 1,000 and 10,000 words in length.

The deadline for entries is 31st January 2022. To cover admin costs, submission fees are £4 per story.  Stories should be submitted online.

You might find it helpful to take a look at their previous ghost story anthologies.

Find full details of how to submit your ghost stories here.

Got an event, challenge, competition, new venture or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at judydarley (at) iCloud (dot) com.