A Poetry Showcase from Annest Gwilym

green and brown abstract painting

photo from unsplash by Jene Stephaniuk

On Finding an Edward VII Coronation Medallion on the Beach

When days were like coins
slipping easily through my fingers
I saw it, rinsed and tided,
an edge of gold on the beach.

Smaller than a penny,
rimmed and tanged with tarnish,
at first I thought Celtic hoard –
a hill fort overlooking the shore.

A spill of thoughts of fortune
tumbled; ended when I cleaned it 
and it revealed two vague heads
of a King and Queen.

A coat of arms on the back –
the date 9 August 1902 –
blurred by the weight and grind 
of a hundred years of tides.

Uprooted from the moon’s pull,
dark-sided drag on the beach, 
placed in a glass cabinet,
it will not decay, become ill or old.

The Sea Captain's Daughter

I was the sea captain’s daughter
raised on tales of rounding the Horn,
the interminable blue vastness of oceans,
in a house full of Orientalia –
Chinese vases, carved wooden fishermen,
delicate cork landscapes in lacquered cases.

My soul was a poet’s, a poet my love.
A distant ship on the horizon,
he sailed past me, parting the waters.
The enormity of night
and day’s bright, white dome
brought him no closer.

With pinched lips I taught my class
about him; no other would do
so I filled my house with finery –
velvet drapes the colour of twilight,
beeswaxed parquet flooring,
the best crystal and china.

As winter comes again,
his death early in the year,
I am left with cavernous nights,
white mornings of mist and desolation,
my love a well-thumbed volume
marked ‘Cynan’ on the shelf.

The Desolation of Holiday Homes

St. David's Day

Today, prime-location rooms 
are flooded with lake-light:
jellied, wobbling on walls, unseen.

Dust motes are gilded in this house
that is empty for ten months a year,
furnishings damp, hearth full of ashes.

The horns of some dead animal
adorn the hallway, a creature’s pelt
sprawls on the parquet floor.

Mirror-like windows – blind eyes,
blink as the sun plays Midas
with the sunset’s colours.

A forgotten piece of cheese
in the fridge hardens 
to the consistency of toenail parings.

Weeds choke the flower beds
of pale daffodils in a froth
of algae green, drowned lemon.

A crinkle of dry beech leaves
crusts the driveway,
carries the scent of decay.

Fog-weary faces of daisies
hide in the overgrown grass,
beaded with secret dew.

Worn mountains look on –
holding the aspirations of the ages –
with their many scars, slippage of scree.


Always in Lavender

Great Aunt May lived on the road to the beach
in a small Welsh fishing village.
Buck-toothed as a donkey, whiskery,
her home was a cabinet of wonders
for us children, spending summer holidays
in our grandfather’s house next door.

Said to be unmarried because of 
a desperate love for local poet Cynan,
she was the smartest woman in the village.
Clothes from Bon Marché in Pwllheli –
with matching shoes, hat and gloves –
worn with pride each Sunday to chapel.

In the front parlour, her glass cabinet
held all kinds of marvels –
sugar cubes in a crystal bowl
and silver tongs to handle them.
China lion ornaments guarded
each side of the mantelpiece.

She never looked at the painting of Salem 
in the back parlour, ominous to me –
the Devil’s face hidden in the crook of the arm 
of the well-dressed, Welsh-hatted Siân Owen
in chapel, proud of her elaborate shawl,
oblivious to the sin of vanity.



Bio: Author of two books of poetry: Surfacing (2018) and What the Owl Taught Me (2020), both published by Lapwing Poetry. What the Owl Taught Me was Poetry Kit’s Book of the Month in June 2020 and one of North of Oxford’s summer reading recommendations in 2020. Annest has been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies, both online and in print, and placed in several writing competitions, winning one. She was the editor of the webzine Nine Muses Poetry from 2018-2020. She is a nominee for Best of the Net 2021. Twitter: @AnnestGwilym

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Annest Gwilym

with Annest Gwilym:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Annest: I started writing as a teenager, mainly keeping diaries and writing poetry. My first poem to be published was at age 15, in a local magazine, one of only two chosen from my school. My first influences were Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, R.S. Thomas and the Welsh poets R. Williams Parry and Hedd Wyn. I was also a big fan of the Romantics, especially Keats and Wordsworth.

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Annest: A difficult question, since there are so many! But I would have to include Helen Dunmore, Linda France, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton and Mary Oliver.

Q3: Where did you grow up and how did that influence your writing? Have any travels away from home influence your work/describe?

Annest:

I am originally from the Llŷn peninsula, in NW Wales, in the United Kingdom. However, because of my father’s job, we moved house a lot, mainly across North Wales. We also lived in the Midlands city of Worcester for around five years. I think the experience of always being the ‘new girl’ at school, with a different accent, often bullied because of this, created a sense of alienation in me that I still carry today. I lived in Italy for a year (in Florence) – half of my degree was in Italian. My exposure to Italian – language, literature and culture have also influenced my writing.

Q4: What do you consider the most meaningful work you’ve done creatively so far?

Annest: Probably my book What the Owl Taught Me. Loosely based on a bestiary, I used it to validate beasts that are commonly deemed pests, because of our human-centric view of the world, and to show that they also have intricate, valuable lives, and deserve to live. It also includes a few poems that share concerns about loss of species due to negative human interaction, and environmental issues. “What The Owl Taught Me” by Annest Gwilym a poetry book review by Mashaal Sajid

Q5: Any pivotal moment when you knew you wanted to be a poet/writer?

Annest: When I began to enjoy poetry as a teenager, I started dabbling, although these early attempts were mainly about teenage angst!

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Annest: When not writing, I am usually reading, walking, or making jewellery. I have a small jewellery shop on Etsy called NineMusesJewellery

Q7: Any recent or forthcoming projects you’d like to promote?

Annest: Just a link to my collection What the Owl Taught Me. My first book – Surfacing – can also be found there.

https://sites.google.com/a/lapwingpublications.com/lapwing-store/home Lapwing Publications

Q8: What is one of your favourite lines from a poem/writing of yours or others?

Annest:

‘Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.’

Mary Oliver, Wild Geese.

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Annest: Links below

Book Review: “Surfacing” by Annest Gwilym (review by Mashaal Sajid)

2 poems by Annest Gwilym : Seasons in the Sun & Sometimes at Twilight…

Poem by Annest Gwilym “Last Night…”

New Poetry by Annest Gwilym : “Insomniac” & “The Word Collector”

Poetry by Annest Gwilym: Red on Red

https://www.firstwriter.com/competitions/poetry_competition/winners/15thpoetry.shtml

Bio: Author of two books of poetry: Surfacing (2018) and What the Owl Taught Me (2020), both published by Lapwing Poetry. Annest has been published in various literary journals and anthologies, both online and in print. She has been placed in writing competitions, winning one. She lives on the coast of north west Wales with her rescue dog.

Book Review: “Surfacing” by Annest Gwilym (review by Mashaal Sajid)

Poetry Pamphlet Review: Surfacing by Annest Gwilym | Sammi Loves Books
Surfacing by Annest Gwilym

A dauntless and personal debut poetry collection by Annest Gwilym. Surfacing was published in 2018 by Lapwing Publications. Annest is based in North Wales, near Snowdonia National Park. Her writing has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies. She has been placed in competitions, winning one in recent years and she was the editor of the former webzine Nine Muses Poetry.

Surfacing is a collection of poems all unified by themes dealing with mental illness, loneliness and anguish. One distinguishing feature of this collection is the speaker’s tenacity and spirit and how their vulnerability allows us to feel for and have a closer look into the internal world of someone struggling with mental illness. 

The book cover is symbolic of light at the end of the tunnel or in this case a glimmer at the end of a passage under a dark canopied forest. The 19 poems all with unique poignant titles are arranged into three parts, each denoting a shift in the atmosphere which is most evident in ‘Bright little pill’ and ‘Beach pottery mosaic’. The language is at times abrupt,flowing with underwater references and seascapes at other times like “The sea outside your house slyly slides past mine”, “My heart beats sea-surged”, and “even my broken glass can become sea treasure”. 

Evocative imagery paired with visuals of animals and the natural world world like “Before the Storm irises Black Star lilies”, “In a forest full of hemlock and wolfsbane”, “a sweet soil shelter” transports you to a welsh landscape and reminded me of Arthur Rackham’s illustrations. The first part heavy with imagery that invokes loneliness, desolation and being distant from the world, paired with everyday visuals like “percussion of washing machine”, “blinds are drawn day doesn’t break there”, “the cutlery is mismatched”, “slow as a Sunday afternoon” becomes haunting. 

The poems in the second part deal with fear, paranoia, treatment and drowsy liminal hospital rooms. The poem ‘Last night’ echoes Lady Lazarus. This part has a very dream heavy and sleep induced atmosphere, Some imagery that really stood out is “If they shut me in an attic I could fly out on singed wings”, “whaled woman lies beached drowning lungs broadcast”, “people move like smoke”.


In the third part of the collection the language becomes more grounded in reality and the atmosphere becomes warmer, the visuals calm and solitary but familiar as we move towards the end the tone shifts to one of hope. “The house curls in on itself”, “festive glow of pub and bistro”, “the steaming parcel a warm hand in mine”, “the sun’s yolk descends behind the island where I picked wild strawberries” are some examples. 

Life Underwater is my favorite Poem in Surfacing, it has a beautiful form and makes brilliant use of references and imagery. “Like Sisyphus I roll each jellied day one after the other, Without Orpheus to sing me back” this line leaves me astounded every time. 
Surfacing takes you on an intense reflective and emotive journey which ends for the reader in a warm and hopeful way.





Wolfpack Contributor Bio: Mashaal Sajid

Bio: Author of two books of poetry: Surfacing (2018) and What the Owl Taught Me (2020), both published by Lapwing Poetry. Annest has been published in various literary journals and anthologies, both online and in print. She has been placed in writing competitions, winning one. She lives on the coast of north west Wales with her rescue dog.  





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