Old English makar word-hoards
hear blowing branches
a catch in the swan’s neck
a top cloud throwing down wisdom
to weathered men, sharp-eyed
for nature’s needs, political turns

all must know the old
the ships and oars and leaving—
wife on the rock who turns sharp, dry-eyed
pulls carrots and fear from the earth

none can be blind to heroes’ sacrifices
or unborn babies die and die
until they come to term
through a knowing womb

how to give, how to hear, how to see
how to tell the trestles of listening folk
who plow and dig, who turn the earth back
to a new seed


(MAKARSMAKERS OF POETRY, published in Poems2, Phantom Rooster Press, 2009.)

To buy Judy Prince’s Poems2, please email Robin Hamilton, publisher of Phantom Rooster Press.

In photo of Judy Prince, the “Sunset I,” oil painting is by Patti Meyers, at London Square Gallery, Norfolk, VA.


JUDY PRINCE, a retired college teacher and union activist, now lives half the year in Norfolk, Virginia, and the other half in Darlington, UK.  She has published articles in the L.A. Times and the Virginian-Pilot, and was a Chicago Dramatists Short Plays Competition finalist.   She is now at work on a play about Shakespeare the woman, and recently launched Frisky Moll Press with the poetry pamphlets of Robin Hamilton (Anacreon translations) and Patrick McManus (On The Dig).   Her own poetry pamphlets have been published by Phantom Rooster Press (2006 and 2009). Prince's work is included in the first James Kirkup Memorial Poetry Competition Anthology (Red Squirrel Press, UK, 2010). Her Poems2 is reviewed in SPHINX 12, HappenStance Press .

6 responses to “MAKARS—MAKERS OF POETRY”

  1. Uche Ogbuji says:

    I hear the sea, which we all should, we who turn to poetry. Poetry comes as the notes of wind through the rowlocks, to the modulation, the beat of swung oars. Originally, swaying among the rowers, the scald who went to sea and became scop, who then settled at court and became makar. And behind him, closer behind than he thought, the household muse who didn’t just keep the time, but who also kept the times. From Idoto to Thallasa the goddesses of the sea also carry song, and fruits of harvest. And as they call to sailors, they call to poets.

    As long as we go to the edge of the sea to make our answer, we can then go back inland and become a makar, and we’ll always cup the surf in our ears.

    The sea and harvest also come back to me again and again as poetic themes, and I’m always quite moved to read the work of someone else who clearly feels these as keenly as I do.

  2. Judy Prince says:

    Was it Satie who said, whilst walking a lobster on a lead: “….because it talks to me with the voices of the sea.”

    All scalds are scops to me, Uche, and hammers beating on an anvil speak better to scoppy scalds than tarted up oar-beaters.

    I lament the makars who may’ve lumbered up from salty weeds to shake their stress-meter and iambic foots in James IV’s court.

    Which fleemales would’ve been rowers-callers? Anne Bradstreet? Why would a First Lady Guv be dipping her USAmerican ankles into the Atlantic to motivate sculls?

    Uche, we launch with the goddesses who carry song and sailor, harvest and kin, glory and grandeur.

    A poor, humble take-off from Thomas Morley’s: “In my love my life is nestled”—–L.A. nestles my loves: my son, his wife, and the grandbabies.

    All Advance, oh brother poet!

  3. Ducky Wilson says:


    “…pulls carrots and fear from the earth.” Great image.

    • Judy Prince says:

      Ducky, you’re too dear (and I’m glad!). [BTW, what happened to your Gravatar picture?]

      The line you quote came from recalling my son’s having just left for California, law school, and I pretty much hacked down bushes in the back alley until the streetlights came on, trying not to weep and not to go into a lonely house.

      I hope you’re doing as I’d requested after reading your marvelous “My Waitress at Sonic” poem:
      write more more more!!

  4. Meg Worden says:

    “a catch in the swans neck…a top cloud throwing down wisdom…”

    Judy you’re words are tall, striking and sound like they come straight from the gut. I’m humbled.

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