We are pleased to be able to announce that November’s Pick of the Month is groundwater by Marcelle Olivier. Marcelle is a poet and archaeologist. Her translations of contemporary South African poetry appear in the recent edited collection In a burning sea (Protea, 2015), and you can read more of her writing in, amongst others, Oxford Poetry, New Contrast, Carapace, and The Mays. She receives a £10 National Book Tokens giftcard and, as a special holiday extra, a copy of IS&T’s TWELVE: Slanted Poems for Christmas.





i will never be as innocent
as i was then. as ripe
as this root, as sound

as a lock of mistletoe to its tree.
i will never be as thirsty.
i will never again be as near

to gods.

when i walk back into my
phantasies, shoes shed,
my palms sweetly pleased

with the stain of groundwater
shorn away from your body;

when i slip into the fatty
memory of it, the two of me;
when i count the many

days i have lost at your ream,
courting the threads
like a wet, blossoming moth,

my world shrinks. the drought
of an obstructive moon

flourishing in my triad
lights at the dividends of bones
better left behind.

to gods

i offered my youth. those unmarked
moments of lust stargazers refuse
to divulge, and the chance to lie

with my arm across your back,
the two of us shackled together
by the melancholy of hope.



Voters’ comments included:

The mixture of sensuousness, wonder and elliptical phrasing, makers this poem both ‘knowable’ and ‘unknowable’ and therefore one to read again. And again.

Beautiful images. Strikes me in the core of being. Well structured poem!

I lose balance in the phrases, and I like “the dividends of bones”

I can feel her poem in my soul…

Original both in its structure and its imagery.

Every word precisely placed, like a master player of spillikens



Comments on the other shortlisted poets:

Paul Burns bringing it home

[I like it ] because of the rich imagery without any waste of words or floweriness and the contrast – it really does what it says on the tin


JD DEHart Secondhand

I like the way the poet extends the “Secondhand” metaphor from clothes to thoughts and how the person described cannot escape the cycle/ Like a second hand going round in a watch.


Martin Figura School Room, Upper Silesia 1933: Freedom and Bread

This took my breath away, particularly the line – his face betrays that he already knows the use of words. A beautifully controlled an evocative poem.


Clare Marsh, Sibling

Point of view is spot on, references to gooseberries slipped seamlessly into the narrative and at the end we’re left (after we’ve laughed aloud) with a sense of anticipation …….. or trepidation.


Molly Miltenberger Murray Sanctuary: An Elongated Haiku

Sanctuary captures a feeling and illustrates it through nature… love it!