it’s upbeat, joyous and just carries you along

And it is for this reason that this euphoric poem of ‘tumbled thoughts’ emerged as the Pick of the Month for September 2023.

Tim’s poetry has appeared in Ink Sweat & Tears, The Spectator, Acumen, Bad Lilies, The Rialto, Stand, The Frogmore PapersandThe Friday Poem. He’s had three novels published – the most recent by Penguin, which has now been translated into 20 languages. He is 2023 poet-in-residence at Leicester Botanic Garden.

He has asked that his £20 ‘prize’ be put back into Ink Sweat & Tears. We are very grateful and it will go towards our internship programme.





on one of those sunny January afternoons before the light goes and warm – a warm breeze, can you believe it – and ploughed fields and sun on soil and you press play, the song you first heard and loved a few days before on a boxset, and sun warm on your face breeze warm on your face – it’s January for fuck’s sake – and usually when you save a song it’s not as good but this is this is and you could stop and sit down and cry because of the song and the sun and the breeze the warm breeze but you keep walking walking and you sing you belt it out – you’re in the middle of nowhere and who cares if anyone hears, they wouldn’t mind and people are on the whole good and you’ll be better too, you will, because why wouldn’t you when life’s like this – and you keep walking smiling singing soil sky sunshine 2.49 a boxset it takes your breath away how it somehow all fits in together – didn’t someone famous say that, a writer? – and you could come back tomorrow and it probably wouldn’t be the same but it might, it might, and even if it’s different it might be different in a this-good kind of way and trees and beyond trees there’ll be clouds and cold surely but sun sun and, look, your arms are in the air and you’re walking…


Other Voters’ comments included:

I really enjoyed this prose poem with the repetition of warm, with such a visual feeling that took me there

I came to vote for someone else, but read through all the poems. The sense of fleeting joy and tumbled thoughts, reflected in the repetition, made me smile.

Beautiful writing that sings

i love how he takes in a whole life and world in a moment, his intimacy with the reader

I like the casual relatability of the speaker

the rhythm, the pacing, & “and people are on the whole good and you’ll be better too, you will, because why wouldn’t you when life’s this”

Tim captures that sensation where every unexpected strand of your experience plaits together perfectly to create a unique euphoria.

Reading this poem is exactly like the endorphin rush you get from walking – it’s upbeat, joyous and just carries you along.

Brave and fun

A warm blast of escapism that whisked me away from my morning commute

I really got lost in the joy of the simple pleasures Tim described.

Intricacies of thought.

Such a good capture of a fresh winters morning walk.

Love Tim’s use of language and structure

it took me to that place

It’s direct and clever, nowt more, no frills. Lovely.

Feel like you are taken on a journey

I love it for the lack of adherence to the rules of punctuation

Different structure that allows the mind to flow as you read

Beautiful sense of light and imagery

Tim Relf ‘s poem lifted me up! It is set in January, my birth month; often a lack lustre, rather dull time. But this is jubilant! It spoke to me of hope and joy in a time when, as a collective, we are feeling the weight of the world’s suffering.


While IS&T editor Helen Ivory wrote: This does for me something of what Gertrude Stein spoke about when she talked of poetry capturing ’the excitingness of pure being.’ We are in the moment of the poem – it’s a prose poem, no stanza breaks, we are right there walking with the narrator and drawn into the possibility that things might be good.  The narrator is not certain, until they are – or perhaps not good, but there is hope. I love how tenuous this all is.  I recognise this feeling – to be lifted by the endorphins that seize the body at an utterly unexpected moment.







if I had to tell you about my friend John
he’s got a daughter, same age as mine

he’s listening to GoGo Penguin
in his favourite chair

nothing else about his day is optimal
but he’s leaning forward, head in prayer

there’s a lot of reasons
he could be drinking on his own

but he’s muttering a prayer of gratitude
for the day and for the life

and for all the goddamned people
even though he couldn’t tell you

—cos he doesn’t know—
what, if anything, he believes


he’s the king of understatement

everything reminds him of his childhood

except it’s not him, or if it is

something has changed


of course it’s raining
he’s already drunk
more than he said he would

do a lot of things
he hasn’t done
broken promises

like he was running
over a frozen lake
in spring


so raise your glass to
John I raise my glass to John
drink to his good health

the mixer’s flat
but we don’t mind


Simon Alderwick‘s poetry has appeared in Magma, Anthropocene, Poetry Salburg, Frogmore Papers and elsewhere. His debut pamphlet, ways to say we’re not alone, is forthcoming with Broken Sleep Books in February 2024.



Looking down at the board I feel dizzy

Love isdust
e     d

a wave


Sarah-Jane Crowson’s work is inspired by fairytales, nature, psychogeography and surrealism. Her work can be seen in various journals, including The Adroit Journal, Rattle, Petrichor, Sugar House ReviewandIron Horse Literary Journal. You can find her on Twitter @Sarah_jfc.

John Riley has published poetry and fiction in Smokelong Quarterly, Better Than Starbucks, Banyan Review, Connotation Press, Fiction Daily, The Molotov Cocktail, Dead Mule, St. Anne’s Review, and numerous other anthologies and journals both online and in print. He has also written over thirty books of nonfiction for young readers and continues his work in educational publishing.



they define ‘hiraeth’

as a kind of doomed longing –
your childhood bedroom is someone else’s now
and your hometown doesn’t exist –
they see dandelions,
a beloved film,
their grandmother’s hands,
safe old gummy nostalgia
recurrent as a mourning dove –

meanwhile your language gapes like a missing tooth, chewing absence,
shallow-rooted songs isochronous as a ghost –
if a language dies and there’s no one left alive who gives a shit
did it ever make a sound at all?

every time I apologise it still comes out in english.


Brân Denning is a writer, poet and academic from South Wales. He is currently completing his Master’s Degree in Literary Studies and working on a collection of short fiction.



I am Jealous of the Rain
smug rain
has millennia to finish
could take six lifetimes
over the angle
at the brink of a whorl

smug rain
invites us to see
its progress
feels no need
to grant us insight
or god forbid ask
what we’re thinking

smug rain
spits in our faces
and runs off
I’m sorry I didn’t see you there
you were so


Nina Parmenter’s first collection Split, Twist, Apocalypse was published by Indigo Dreams in 2022. Her poetry has appeared in journals including Raceme, Honest Ulsterman, Magma and Atrium Poetry. She lives in Wiltshire with her husband and two boys.



Last Winter on the Farm
(Inspired by David Dodd Lee)

Waxwings, I learned later they were called, the birds
that wintered in the cedars.
All day long they’d dart in and out of the huge tree
that hung like a waterfall
over our verandah in the Ottawa Valley. I trailed
crumbs, on the splintered planks to a box turned on its side
who knows why I thought it would be a warmer home or if that was even my intent
I remember the dark line of sunflower seeds creating a ragged path
in the crinkled snow. I remember the crack
of departing footsteps. Nothing warmed
the square of light in our living room wall revealing
a pale distant sun.
The birds, grey breasted and flying in pairs, would lift
the seeds while others, yellow or rust
darted through the branches
trailing frozen air.
When I looked outside I saw ravens
waiting in the gaunt trees by the field
walking boldly around the tractor parked
for the night and the firewood piles
that fortressed the barn.
At night I closed my eyes
and listened to the wind howl in the maple bush.
The snow, if you let it, could form a drift against
your body, the wind hurling it over your small warm life
burying you under the crest of a white curl
I remember my step-daughters,
their hair drifting in a northern lake, their half-open eyes dazed
by the moon like a fingernail
of light shining
silver on the dock.
Soon spring will force lime-green arrows through
the dead coyote’s ribs,
and the man who used to move above me
will slide away like woodsmoke over snow.


Johanna Antonia Zomers is a playwright with Stone Fence Theatre and writes a weekly column for a  Canadian newspaper. Her first novel When the Light Enters was published with Pastora de la Vega Press.  She is at work on a sequel and a collection of essays. She currently lives on a farm in the Donegal Settlement in Ontario and hopes to return to spending creative winters in Spain and Ireland.