Featured Poet: Ayelet McKenzie (Cumbria, UK)

Ayelet McKenzie, who lives in Barrow, Cumbria, has published five collections of poetry, the fourth of which - Small Bear - was published by Caterpillar Poetry in April 2017  https://www.waterstones.com/book/small-bear/mckenzie/9780957504042

With cover art work by Nic Sky, Small Bear is a lyrical, deceptively subtle suit of poems which weave observations of everyday life, bus journeys, psychiatric hospitals and the predatory prowess of the moon.

In the words of poet Neil Curry, Ayelet writes With a brevity and impact which remind me of Emily Dickinson, and her poems in Small Bear manage to startle us not only with the freshness of their imagery, but with the astuteness of their perception.


The wolf moon
leers down on pavements
dredged with hoar,
on a night lemon fresh
sharp as a cut,
when plaintive snowdrops
shine brighter than stars,
licks his lips at lone women
who shun suitors and cars.

It is a great privilege to have published Small Bear, and impossible to summarize its multi-faceted themes, sensitively touching as it does on some many emotional territories, from the poet's uniquely slanted, at times melancholy, take nature, to the influence of Sylvia Plath and a tendency towards the mysterious:

Elsewhere, Ayelet's poems tell very human stories, sometimes sad, often hopeful, always shot through with poignancy, compassion and humanity.

Sheila is in charge
of the bins,
refuse and recycling.
She knows the days when
they have to come out,
and the times they have
to be dragged back in.
She will supervise the bins
of laggard neighbours,
who have relapsed
through error or sin.

Once she shrieked
in the sea’s waves
with girlfriends in December,
asked the barman
at the local dive
to turn the music up,
where she danced, wrecked her hair
until the early hours of morning.


On close examination it was noticed
she was turning into one of those women
who carry bags of boiled sweets in their
handbags, proffering them to strangers
whom she got talking to.

Next thing she’d be patting
every dog she saw,
talking to every cat,
feeding bread to the burgeoning pigeon
population that gathered in the street,
although it wasn’t allowed.

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