It was oh so close with only a few votes between the top group of poems but Elisabeth Sennitt Clough’s ‘Ague’ emerged from the fog to be the IS&T Pick of the Month for November 2019. This intense, ‘evocative and darkly mysterious’ poem brought out all sorts of emotions in our voters, reducing some to tears and others to wonder.
Elisabeth is an alumna of the Arvon/Jerwood Mentorship scheme 2016 and Toast Poets 2017. She was also a Ledbury Emerging Poet 2017. Her debut pamphlet, Glass, was a winner in the Paper Swans inaugural pamphlet competition in 2016. It went on to win Best Pamphlet at the Saboteur Awards 2017. Sightings, was published by Pindrop Press (2016.) and won the Michael Schmidt Prize for Best Portfolio. A poem from that collection was highly commended in the Forward Prize and published in the Forward Book of Poetry 2018. Her second full collection At or Below Sea Level is a PBS Recommendation. Elisabeth is editor of the Fenland Poetry Journal. www.elisabethsennittclough.co.uk
When it comes, it will scratch away the surface
of Fen, release the secrets of our soil.
It will sing its lullaby over a girl’s bones
at the bottom of a village well.
Its tongue will rouse small forms
to hatch in the eyes of a dying mare.
It will dry its claws along her dorsal stripe.
For my father, it will lay bare the hemlock.
Voters’ comments included:
[This gets my vote] because of the way the poet captures the poignancy of the moments and places shared. Because the talk of forgetting happens and there is too much to forget and there is a wonderful reality in all the things that are not forgotten that makes the reader pause and remember their own.
It is thought provoking and evocative. It says a lot in a succinct way.
Wonderful, powerful and subtle all at once.
I think she is a amazing writer with such depth and clarity
Such a talented poet and I enjoy her work immensely.
This poem conveys an intense sensuality and malaise which is embodied in the landscape. A feeling of movement contrasts with its tight form.
This poet is one of my favourites!
I love the darkness of the poem, and the secrets of the Fen
Elisabeth captures the aura of the Fen so vividly