Short Story of the Month | ‘The Pheasant’, Glenda Palmer Vibert

The Pheasant Short Story of the Month

December’s Short Story of the Month, ‘The Pheasant’, is published in memory of the author, Glenda Palmer Vibert, and is based on a true account of one of her grandfather’s experiences as a poacher in Llanelli.

A man faces harsh justice for stealing a bird – but will the law prevail?

 

The Pheasant

This is an extract. Read the full short story for free on our website.

 

Elizabeth Francis made no concessions to the twentieth century. As far as she was concerned, Victoria was still very firmly planted on the throne of England. The calendar may say nineteen twenty, but that was ignored by Elizabeth. She was a tiny woman, small and finely boned, but having a strength that belied her apparent delicacy. Her dark, Indian-straight hair was hardly streaked with white, while her black eyes looked boldly on life.
The burly police constable hesitated, foot on step, nervously fingering his note book and pencil. Elizabeth Francis’ sharp tongue was well known in the small, fiercely Welsh industrial town. Many a would-be complaining customer had been shrivelled by Elizabeth as she stood, hands on hips, barely visible behind the mound of home grown vegetables on the market stall. This was the stance that met Constable Parry’s wilting gaze now.
“Who says that my Richard was poaching?”
“Well, er- that is…”
David Parry grew more nervous.
“Witnesses you must have, not some old gossip.”
‘Wil Toplis saw him, he did, with that old pheasant in his–”
Elizabeth Francis cut him short.
“Wil Toplis?” she spat sneeringly.  “He couldn’t see a cow in a field!”
David Parry backed away.  He had delivered his message, he had done his duty.
Elizabeth Francis went in and slammed the front door shut. She stood for a few seconds in the long dark passage of the house. The grandfather clock with its silly swan face ticked with a comfortable velvet tick. Poaching again, she thought. Why can’t that wife of his control him?
She made her way into the cramped kitchen with its glowering range and its high-backed settle, upon which a small, red-haired child was curled reading a comic.
“Come here child. Take a message to your idle father.”
The child stood before her grandmother. Their eyes met, the same dark, deep eyes, the grandmother’s hard, the child’s wide and questioning.
“Yes Mamgu?”
“Tell your father that I want to see him – and not when he feels like it, but now.”
“But he’ll be in work now.”
“Nonsense!  He’ll be in the West End; your father never wastes good drinking time by working.”
The child slammed the little gate of the house shut and set off down Sandy Road. “Always me,” she grumbled to herself, “always me running messages.” Her small hands were red from helping Mamgu with the washing and her arms ached from working the washing dolly.
A car swooshed past her going all of twenty miles an hour, mud splattering the hem of her too big dress.
The pub was crowded with noise and smoke as the child pushed her way past sweating, furnace-begrimed men, slaking the thirst of red hot ingots with the strong, thick ale brewed locally.
“Have you seen my father?” she asked no one in particular. A furnace blasted face looked down at her above a white sweat-cloth.
“Draw fana,” he said to her in Welsh, “over there bach.”
He pointed to a corner of the bar where a tall, red-haired man was holding court, talking in rapid Welsh to a spell-bound audience of three or four tin-plate workers in their metal-soled clogs. Dick Francis saw his youngest daughter and, mellowed by beer, lifted her in his arms and swung her above his head.
“Fy merch I,” he announced proudly, “my daughter.”
“No need to say that man. With that red hair she couldn’t be anyone else’s child.”
The men laughed and made a fuss of the girl, who was oblivious to their laughter and teasing.
“Mamgu wants you,” said the child breathlessly and a little afraid.
“Tell her I’ll come at stop-tap,” said Dick, placing the child on the bar counter.
“But she said now,” said the child urgently.
Something in her tone convinced him this was not a request from Elizabeth, but a command.
Dick swore softly to himself. What right had his mother to treat him like a child? After all, he was married now with four daughters of his own, and a wife that had much the same spitfire quality as his mother – far too much he sometimes thought.
Nevertheless, he bade farewell to his mates and walked unsteadily towards his maternal home, the child trotting at his side.
Mother and son faced each other in the little parlour.
“Well?” said Elizabeth, questioningly.
“Well what?” answered her son sullenly.
“You know very well what. I’ve just had a visit from David Parry – it’s poaching you’ve been again!”
“Who says I’ve been poaching?”
“Wil Toplis, you fool, he’s been after you for years, swore he’d see you behind bars and this is his chance.”
“Damn Mam, he’s always saying that but he’s not done it yet.”

Continue reading ‘The Pheasant’ for free here.

 

 

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Friday Poem – ‘Shapes in Ice’, Ruth Bidgood

Friday Poem Ruth Bidgood Shapes in Ice

Our Friday Poem this week is the delightfully wintery ‘Shapes in Ice’ by Ruth Bidgood, from her New & Selected Poems.

New & Selected Ruth Bidgood Friday Poem Bluetit FeedingRuth Bidgood’s New & Selected Poems features work from her five early collections, starting with The Given Time (1972) through Kindred (1986) along with selections from The Fluent Moment (1996) and Singing to Wolves (2000). The final section is devoted to over fifty pages of new poems.
This generous selection of work highlights the steady accumulation of a significant oeuvre. Bidgood’s ostensible subjects are the storied landscape and history of her region of mid-Wales, the hills and valleys of Powys and Breconshire, but her themes frequently have a wider reach, a spiritual depth that is often darkly suggestive and mysterious.

 

 

Ruth Bidgood Shapes In Ice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New & Selected Poems is available from the Seren website: £9.99

Join our free Book Club for 20% off every book you buy from us.

 

 

Friday Poem – ‘On the Alaskan Peak We’ve Never Climbed’, Yvonne Reddick

Yvonne Reddick Friday Poem Alaska

This week our Friday Poem is ‘On the Alaskan Peak We’ve Never Climbed’ by Yvonne Reddick, from her debut pamphlet Translating Mountains.

Yvonne Reddick Translating MountainsChosen recently as one of Leaf Arnuthnot’s favourite twenty poetry pamphlets in The TLS, Translating Mountains is an emotionally rich and memorable selection of poems that recount the disappearance and death of a beloved father, and the grief felt for a close friend, who both died in mountaineering accidents. These poems are also hymns to stunning scenery, with mountains and place names often in a craggy, atmospheric Gaelic. Full of tension, emotion and action, the poems grip our attention. The author searches for ways to grieve and come to terms with the trauma of her father’s death, whilst echoing his love for adventure, and imprinting his memory upon newly discovered or imagined landscapes, as in ‘On the Alaskan Peak We’ve Never Climbed’.

 

 

Yvonne Reddick Alaska

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Translating Mountains is available from the Seren website: £5.00

Join our free Book Club for 20% off every book you buy from us.

 

 

Friday Poem – ‘Followed’, Kim Moore

Friday Poem by Kim Moore - Followed

We are still taking in the news that Kim Moore has won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for The Art of Falling – so we couldn’t help but feature one of Kim’s poems on the blog today. ‘Followed’ is one of the deeply personal central poems which explore an experience of domestic violence.

The Art of Falling Kim MooreKim Moore, in the opening poems of her lively debut poetry collection, sets herself firmly in the North amongst ‘My People’: ‘who swear without knowing they are swearing… scaffolders and plasterers and shoemakers and carers’. The poet’s voice is direct, rhythmic, compelling. The lives of others also feature throughout, and revolve around a quietly devastating central sequence, ‘How I abandoned My Body To His Keeping’: the story of a woman embroiled in a relationship marked by coercion and violence. ‘Followed’ is taken from this darkly personal sequence, and shows a snapshot, a glimpse, of a figure – ‘everything black/ about him’ – who weighs heavy on the speaker, drawing her into shadowy places.
The judges for the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, poets Gillian Clarke and Katharine Towers, and the New Statesman’s Tom Gatti, said that Moore’s poems “accrue force and vigour as they speak to each other across the pages, delivering a thrilling encounter with language at its most irresistible and essential”.

 

 

Kim Moore 'Followed' The Art of Falling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Art of Falling is available from the Seren website: £9.99

Join our free Book Club for 20% off every book you buy from us.

 

 

Enjoy free tea & chocolate with your Seren books this weekend

free tea and chocolate Seren books

‘It is truth universally acknowledged…’ that Black Friday is awful. The crowds, the stress, the queuing – all in all, it’s a wonder we made it through.

Now, after braving that most dreadful of days, we feel you could do with come relaxation – and to help you on your way to post-discount bliss, we’re giving away free Morgan’s Brew tea and free chocolate with every order, as well as scrapping our postage fees for the entire weekend.•

tea GIF

Trust us, there’s no need to go outside at all – simply have a browse on our website, choose some new reading material, and wait for your care package of silky chocolate and soothing tea to arrive through the letterbox.

Civilised Saturday free tea and chocolate

 

Free postage on all orders (excludes the Mystery Bundle: Fiction & Mystery Bundle: Poetry)

 

 

Friday Poem – ‘Afternoon tea at your house is the otherness I’ve been chasing’, Rosie Shepperd

Friday Poem Afternoon tea Rosie Shepperd

Our Friday Poem today is an injection of calm into an otherwise mad Black Friday, from Rosie Shepperd’s captivating collection, The Man at the Corner Table.

the man at the corner table rosie shepperd‘Afternoon tea at your house is the otherness I’ve been chasing’ – a poem that settles you down and sits you in strangely rich and sweet surroundings: we notice the ‘butterscotch floor’ and the ‘careful coal pieces like strong oily truffles’ whilst all around the scent of sugar and brewing tea slowly builds. Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?

The Man at the Corner Table is full of similarly delectable poems, where sensual evocations of food and drink take centre stage.

 

Rosie Shepperd Afternoon Tea Friday Poem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re suddenly feeling in the mood for a nice warm cuppa, we wouldn’t be surprised.
Keep an eye on the Seren website tomorrow, as we will be giving away free Morgan’s Brew tea and free chocolate with every order to help you recover from the Black Friday mayhem. And, as an added treat, enjoy free postage, too! The offer commences at midnight tonight, and runs through ’til Monday.

 

 

The Man at the Corner Table is available on the Seren website: £9.99

Join our free Book Club for 20% off every book you buy from us.

 

 

We’re all about self-gifting this Christmas with Mystery Book Bundles

Mystery book bundles

Unless you’re one of Santa’s particularly jolly elves, we imagine the countdown to Christmas might be a stressful and arduous experience. With that in mind, we’ve prepared some mystery book bundles – the ideal affordable self-gift! (Or, if you’re feeling particularly generous, a gift for someone else.)

Coming in Fiction and Poetry varieties, these lovingly gift-wrapped parcels contain three books from our fantastic Seren list – and are just £9.99.

Mystery Book Bundle Fiction
Mystery Bundle: Fiction
For the Fiction Bundle, we’ve chosen a mix of enthralling literary novels and absorbing short stories.

No matter what you get, you can expect to be glued to your comfiest chair for at least a few days.

 

Mystery Book Bundle poetry
Mystery Bundle: Poetry
For the Poetry Bundle, we’ve selected a blend of exciting debuts and powerful works from established poets.

We can’t tell you what you’re likely to receive as it would ruin the surprise, but we have a wonderful mix of things ready to wrap up.

 

 

Find our Mystery Fiction Bundle and Mystery Poetry Bundle on the Seren website – while stocks last.

 

Merry Christmas GIF

 

 

A glittering new festive pamphlet: Twelve Poems for Christmas

Twelve Poems for Christmas festive pamphlet

‘It’s not Christmas, it’s only November!’ we hear you cry. Well, we can’t help but feel a little festive as the new Twelve Poems for Christmas pamphlet is now available to pre-order.

Last year’s Christmas Poetry Competition was a huge success. Judge Amy Wack, Seren’s Poetry Editor, states:

The challenge of a successful Christmas poem is the same as a challenge of a ‘regular’ poem: both to embrace tradition and subvert it, to resist cliché.  I was looking for variation of tone, manner and address, for brevity, and for a certain sparkling something, suitable for the season.

The submissions certainly didn’t disappoint. From the entries Amy compiled a shortlist of twelve outstanding festive poems, and we have combined these to create the Twelve Poems for Christmas poetry pamphlet:

Pippa Little
‘St. Leonore and the Robin’
Winner

Helen Overell
‘Camel’

Cathy Bryant
‘Noticing Cards While Eating Stuffing’

Alexandra Davis
‘Offering’

Will Johnson
‘What Wish’

Sarah Rowland Jones
‘Gabriel’s Greeting’

Gina Wilson
‘A Child for Our World’

Nancy Charley
‘On Losing my Voice at Christmas’

Nicola Healey
‘Two Pheasants’

Philip Rush
‘Daylight is in Short Supply’

Sarah Westcott
‘Guardians’

Wendy Klein
‘The Usual Suspects’

 

The Twelve Poems for Christmas pamphlet is publishing on 01 December, but you can pre-order your copy now. Why not post it to someone you love instead of a card? That is, if you can bear to part with it…

Don’t forget: you can claim 20% off when you become a registered user on our website.

 

 

Friday Poem – ‘Lear Father’, Paul Deaton

Our Friday Poem this week is ‘Lear Father’ from Paul Deaton’s recently published debut, A Watchful Astronomy.

Paul Deaton A Watchful AstronomyWelsh-raised and Bristol-based, Paul Deaton has produced a debut collection full of poems that are quietly precise, yet full of powerful emotion.
Deaton’s poems are finely attuned and alert to the tensions in relationships, partly attributable to a difficult father figure, ‘like a wounded bear’, who haunts much of this book – including our featured poem today, ‘Lear Father’. Nature is also a guiding presence in this collection, and is often embodied by a wintery landscape.
A Watchful Astronomy is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation for Winter 2017.

 

Friday Poem Lear Father Paul Deaton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Watchful Astronomy is available from the Seren website: £9.99

Join our free Book Club for 20% off every book you buy from us.

 

 

Free poetry alert – enjoy samples from all our 2017 collections

Free poetry Seren sampler 2017

Who doesn’t love a freebie? We’ve put together something a little special for  all you poetry lovers – the Seren Poetry Sampler 2017. This free PDF is now available to download, and contains a free poem from each of our 2017 collections.

It also contains an exclusive 30% discount code – so when you inevitably fall in love with all ten books, you won’t break the bank.

Free poetry pamphlet

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are a number of poems from striking debut collections: ‘Lake Fever’ from Polly Atkin’s Basic Nest Architecture, ‘The Coffin Hut’ from Paul Deaton’s PBS-Recommended debut A Watchful Astronomy, and ‘The Walking Wed’, Emily Blewitt’s Walking Dead-inspired poem from This Is Not A Rescue.

Experienced poets Siobhán Campbell, Martyn Crucefix, and Graham Mort feature too, with poems from fresh new collections: ‘Why Islanders Don’t Kiss Hello’ (Heat Signature), ‘R-O-M-J-X’ (The Lovely Disciplines), ‘Froglet’ (Black Shiver Moss), alongside ‘Closing Down’ from Robert Walton’s long-awaited second collection, Sax Burglar Blues.

There are also poems from two new pamphlets: ‘The Birds’ from Brood by Wales Book of the Year winner Rhian Edwards, and ‘Howlet’ by promising young poet Yvonne Reddick, from Translating Mountains, winner of the 2016 Mslexia Poetry Prize.

A final treat is ‘Hare’, a poem by Carolyn Jess-Cooke from the Writing Motherhood anthology, which brings together poetry, essays and interviews on the subjects of motherhood and creativity.

 

Download the Seren Poetry Sampler 2017 for free from our website.