Poems from Nina Parmenter

Erosion

I tell you, I am shaped from sand,
two scoops of a curving beach.
I am a rainbow of grains
that feels something like skin
from a distance.

I tell you, I have been coaxed by water
from rock after hopeful rock.
I am the pick of seven shorelines
carried, sleeping, on currents
and placed by waves.

I am a lot of everything:
I am midnight, white and ochre.
When I find my mould, I will be a tall castle
proud against the ocean,
my turrets deep gold.

I tell you, I am one step
from riding off on your battered shoes
and lying on your carpet,
all my rainbows broken,
my shorelines, lost.

Tiny Things

An acorn is a forest inside a forest inside a forest.
An epoch on a rotting floor.
We giggle at its hat. 

A daughter is born with a million promises
heaped in her belly like caviar.
Her toes enchant us.

The night sky will expand and burst
as sure as a greedy lung.
We smile, and sing ‘twinkle twinkle’ 
to the stars.

This is how we walk amongst the trees 
without crying for home.
This is how we spin on through the dark
without fear of falling. 


Box of May

Spare me the bland cremation.
Let me end in a box full of May,
white-flowered and luscious,
lidded by a half-and half sky.
Let my pyre be a verge lit by green
and flaming with cow parsley;
let me go, knowing 
that the hawthorn is eternal,
that there will always be spring rain. 

First published by Green Ink Poetry

Bio: Nina Parmenter’s first collection will be published by Indigo Dreams in 2022. Her poetry has appeared in journals including Honest Ulsterman, Atrium Poetry, Snakeskin, Allegro Poetry, Green Ink, and Ink Sweat and Tears. In 2021, she was winner of the Hedgehog Poetry single poem contest and was nominated for the Forward Prize. She lives in Wiltshire but can be found online at www.ninaparmenter.com or on Twitter @ninaparmenter.

A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Nina Parmenter


A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Nina Parmenter

with Nina Parmenter:

Q1: When did you start writing and first influences?

Nina: I wrote light poetry as a teenager, influenced of course by Roald Dahl and Spike Milligan. But other than that, until my forties I really had little interest in poetry, particularly anything, god forbid, “serious”!

Q2: Who are your biggest influences today?

Nina: At the moment, I’m suckering up poetry like a hungry octopus and being influenced by everything I read. I’m all new and eager. Most influential things I’ve read in the last twelve months are probably “The Air Year” by Caroline Bird and “Crucifox” by Geraldine Clarkson both for their joyful eccentricity; “Paper Aeroplanes” by Simon Armitage because of what that man can do with wordplay and rhyme and half-rhyme, “And After All” by Rhina P Espaillat because of her effortlessness with form, and “Menagerie” by Cheryl Pearson because of her wonderful playful imagery. But there are so many more I’ve enjoyed.

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

Nina: I’ve noticed that when I set poems in a place, that place is almost always in Somerset (in South West England) where I grew up, or Wiltshire where I live now (next to Somerset!) I’m reasonably well travelled, but nowhere except home seems to make it into my poems. I imagine that tells you something about me.

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

Nina: I almost always think that the last good poem I wrote is my best. Also, that it will be my last good poem! In terms of “meaningful”, I will often put my more troubled or challenging thoughts slantways into a surreal poem rather than addressing them directly. From a selfish point of view, I find that better therapy than going into a lot of detail; for the reader, they’re there if you need or want to find them. But I think fun and surprise and intrigue are important too. They are the things that bring us to life.

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

Nina: I don’t remember a specific moment; I always knew I could write, I just didn’t think it was a thing people like me did. I hit my forties and there ere a couple of factors that pushed me towards writing – I wanted to give my inner narrative something to do except worrying, and I wanted to do something that was “me”. I cut my teeth by writing light poetry and posting it on a community site, Poetry Soup. People there were really encouraging which prompted me to explore some different forms, types and styles. Then I realised that to write decent poetry I should also, you know, READ  some poetry and that’s when I started to really diversify. (I do still love light poetry though.)

Q6: Favorite activities to relax?

Nina: I’d love to reel off an intriguing list of pastimes but the fact is, I’m a working mum, and writing is the main thing I squeeze round other stuff for pleasure! Then there’s a teeny bit of space left for reading, singing, walking and friends and family.

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

Nina: I’ve just moved my blog across to ninaparmenter.com and you can WordPress-follow it now or follow it via Facebook at Facebook.com/parmenterpoetry. The blog was previously at itallrhymes.com but this became problematic when I started  writing a lot of poems that didn’t… rhyme! I’ve also got a couple of appearances coming up in anthologies – in Hedgehog Poetry’s “Looking Out, Peering In” and Dreich’s “Summer Anywhere” anthology.

Q8: What is a favorite line/stanza from a poem of yours or others?

Nina: There’s a poem I wrote a few years ago called “Ease in the Ether” where I imagine myself rising above reality. It has this little phrase I love: “Far above the flick-flack of tongues / and the dull tug of duty / I cruise the dewy sky-trails / watching the pedestrians / lessen.”

Q9: Who has helped you most with writing?

Nina: Oh my goodness, lots of people – the majority of them being people I’ve never met in real life! People on Twitter have been amazing – I put out a plea for a couple of people to look at some work a few weeks ago, and so many kind people responded and gave me such useful feedback. Next step is to join a real life workshop where I actually have to look people in the eye – because my poetry only really took off last year, there just hasn’t been the opportunity to do that yet. I need to re-socialise myself first though!

2 poems by Nina Parmenter : Down by the River & How to Count Your Fingers

5 Poems from Nina Parmenter ” The Twist”,”Bright Future”, “Strings” “Stargazing in a time of Plague” “Where Tears Are”

https://formalverse.com/2020/11/28/potcake-poets-choice-squelch-by-nina-parmenter/

https://www.greeninkpoetry.co.uk/poetry-submissions-all/nina-parmenter-araucaria-araucana

Bio: Nina Parmenter’s first collection will be published by Indigo Dreams in 2022. Her poetry has appeared in journals including Honest Ulsterman, Atrium Poetry, Snakeskin, Allegro Poetry, Green Ink, and Ink Sweat and Tears. In 2021, she was winner of the Hedgehog Poetry single poem contest and was nominated for the Forward Prize. She lives in Wiltshire but can be found online at www.ninaparmenter.com or on Twitter @ninaparmenter.




2 poems by Nina Parmenter : Down by the River & How to Count Your Fingers

Sunset, Silhouette, Boat, People
Down by the River

Down by the river I linger, held
at bay by the pull of things so small
that cities fold and concertina.

My thoughts are twists and pebbles, my
unease is tugged into an eddy -
a yellow petal surfs the middle.

Fingers scoop at shingle, skin
forgets to fear, a thousand facets
pour through thumbs and knuckles,
wet and sharp and dirty and fickle,
cold and
here.

Down by the river I linger, until
the leaves that skimmed around the sandbar
blend into the distant silver.
How To Count Your Fingers

Did you know
that the blurred balls to your left and right
are your hands,
and that they have endings?

We call them fingers.

Did you know
that if you hold back your thoughts
from churning and ticking,
from building and spilling,
you can see those fingers
and count them?

Just try.

Jump on your mind,
find the brake to stop it turning.
Try thinking of a desert.
Try floating on a salt-drenched sea.

Now, hold your hands quite still.
Do not grasp or scratch or fidget
or tap or swipe or scroll.

Believe me, it’s possible.

And now count the fingers, slowly.
Work methodically from left to right.
Oh, I’m not giving you the answer.
No spoilers.  


A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Nina Parmenter

Bio: Nina Parmenter’s first collection will be published by Indigo Dreams in 2022. Her poetry has appeared in journals including Honest Ulsterman, Atrium Poetry, Snakeskin, Allegro Poetry, Green Ink, and Ink Sweat and Tears. In 2021, she was winner of the Hedgehog Poetry single poem contest and was nominated for the Forward Prize. She lives in Wiltshire but can be found online at www.ninaparmenter.com or on Twitter @ninaparmenter.

5 Poems from Nina Parmenter ” The Twist”,”Bright Future”, “Strings” “Stargazing in a time of Plague” “Where Tears Are”

The Twist

I spin in my bed,
my shoulders pulled high and loaded,
the wings of my hips tucked
as if to fit some aperture.
I work rhythmically
from one side to the other
my arms winding and twining
like a thread around my ribcage,
one calf cramping
as my feet close and flex.
My sheet shapes to my friction.


When it comes, it is inevitable.
My toe points a spasm,
my spine locks,
and down I go, turning through the mattress,
foamy swarf rising.
Through and through I twist,
splintering slats, scorching floorboards,
penetrating foundations.
The soil is a brief lick against my cheekbones
before the clay, the warmth,
the undreaming sleep.

Bright Future
We gathered at the edge of things
like thoughts
poorly remembered.
My face stood firm, but my mind cried –
not for the decisions made,
but for the outcomes.

Together, we walked,
the small, the cowed, and the proud.
For as long as we walked, we could own
something –
if only the path
behind us.

We were the flaws,
the tails of the bell-curves,
as loathed as those
who discarded us.
But we were not the decisions made.
We were the outcomes.

Strings

Yes, there are strings
wrapping our tight chests,
our temples, our pin-striped wrists.
Twisting, one-two, in a bowline hitch.


Yes, there are strings,
Curled in a flexing whip,
our skin waiting, eager and crisp,
for the coils that ping from the shadows.

Yes, there are strings
cracked in a lattice
from lip to purpling lip.
We scream. We are already swallowed.


“Who’s there?” we cry,
and we search for a purposeful hand
well-versed in the weave and the flick,
chasing strings
until they are tails
whilst our ankles
trip
trip
trip.

Stargazing in a time of plague

Usually, I tip my head up to the stars,
flare my nostrils and suck them in,
startling and heady.


Normally, I let their enormity fill me,
tripping on great shocks of distance,
my veins thudding in awe.


Tonight, I cannot so much as look at them,
with their extravagant timespans
and their crass wisdom.

Tonight, they are willfully goading me
because they know how I will break
and when.

First published in Snakeskin Poetry, June 2020 http://www.snakeskinpoetry.co.uk

Where Tears Are

Sometimes, tears bunch in vertebrae,
cling to an unyielding jaw
or hunker in shoulders.


Sometimes, tears hide in the sacrum
only to flood the belly
when our pace falters.

Sometimes, they are in knees that cannot lift
hands that cannot play,
a mouth that cannot smile
but smiles anyway.


And sometimes,
but only sometimes,
they reach
our eyes.


First published in Snakeskin Poetry, October 2020 http://www.snakeskinpoetry.co.uk

Bio: Nina Parmenter’s first collection will be published by Indigo Dreams in 2022. Her poetry has appeared in journals including Honest Ulsterman, Atrium Poetry, Snakeskin, Allegro Poetry, Green Ink, and Ink Sweat and Tears. In 2021, she was winner of the Hedgehog Poetry single poem contest and was nominated for the Forward Prize. She lives in Wiltshire but can be found online at www.ninaparmenter.com or on Twitter @ninaparmenter. A Fevers of the Mind Quick-9 Interview with Nina Parmenter

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