Yee Hah!

Liz Atkin

I watch them
with their plastic bags
and invisible chums,
they are drawn
to the fountain
in the shopping mall,
hooded and buttoned-up
but lips undone
for a litany
of whispered rant
beneath the applause
of incessant rain falling
on a tide of dry shoppers.

My imaginary friend rode
with me when Shanks's
pony could gallop,
tirelessly thigh slapping
through drought heat,
we fought off Indians
inside our rhododendron den
until my Mother's call
lassoed me in
and I lost her
somewhere in childhood.

How I wish she'd come
riding towards me now
twitching baler twine reins
to steer her prancing palomino.
She'd lean down
and scoop me up behind,
cascading all my shopping,
and with whoops and yells
we'd splash through the fountain
before galloping away
toward the prairie warpath.

Liz Atkin

Liz Atkin, Artist and Writer

1951 - April 2018

Liz Atkin was primarily a visual artist, born in Stamford, Lincolnshire, studying at St Martin's School of Art in London where she developed skills and expertise using pencil, her chosen medium from that time on. Liz was a great observer of people, often those on the edges of society caught in conditions or everyday chance events out of their control. Liz exhibited frequently in the UK and Europe from 1975 to 2016. Moving to the northeast in 1988, she continued to draw at a prolific rate, the drawings often complex, requiring obsessive discipline over hours, days and weeks, to complete powerfully realist studies blended with the surreal.

Liz's work had a narrative, stories within a drawing or series of drawings, but occasionally she turned to writing poetry and prose, the intention to create visual images with words. She began to have work published in poetry magazines such as Smiths Knoll and Other Poetry and in various anthologies including The Blue Room Anthology (1999 ed. L. Matthews et al, Diamond Twig), North by North-East (2006 ed. A. Croft, C.Fuller, IRON Press).

Her first collection Glee with a Blue Background (1998 Diamond Twig) was followed by further collections: The Biscuit Tins of England (2003 Iron Press), Still (2005 Flarestack Publications), and CITYSKIN (2011 supported by New Writing North), also shown as an exhibition at Newcastle Arts Centre.

These periods of writing interspersed her main drive to draw, but as Liz had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1994, this eventually came to affect her ability to produce the large scale and detailed graphite images. Rather than be defined by the disease, Liz adjusted her approach, scaling down her drawings, using collage, and returning to writing as expressions of her challenging and imaginative ideas in observations of people. Always creative, always with a determined work ethic, her latest project was short succinct prose, which she continued to refine until her last weeks of unexpected illness.

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Yee Hah! © 2017 Liz Atkin: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the estate of the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.