Tuesday, 15 November 2022

'Voices For The Silent', New Anthology from Indigo Dreams Publishing



What can poetry do?  

There have been many who advocate art for art's sake, or l'art pour l'art, as the slogan was initially rendered in nineteenth century France. 

There have also been many, and indeed there are an ever-increasing number, of artists (in the broadest sense) who see their work as a focus for, or extension of, their activism. 

I feel fortunate to have had poems included in a variety of charity anthologies over the years, raising funds and awareness for Macmillan Cancer Support, Welney WWT and the Born Free Foundation, to name but three. 

I am delighted to add another to the list in the form of Voices for the Silent (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2022), the new companion volume to For the Silent (Indigo Dreams Publishing, 2019), edited by Ronnie Goodyer, Poet-in-Residence at the League Against Cruel Sports. These companion (or stand-alone) volumes have been produced to aid the work of this charity, and not surprisingly some of the selected poems concern animal cruelty. Others focus on habitats and the wonders and complexities of the natural world. 

The new book includes poems by well-known names such as Margaret Atwood, Gillian Clarke, Pablo Neruda, Philip Larkin, John Clare, Mary Oliver, William Cowper, William Blake and Thomas Hardy, alongside a host of contributors who are part of the contemporary poetry scene.

Voices for the Silent costs £15 in Great Britain. Prices for other parts of the world are listed on the Indigo Dreams Publishing website. The book includes six wonderful pages of illustrations by Sam Cannon. The superb cover photographs are by Andy Parkinson.  

Subjects in the anthology range from a stag to a sparrowhawk, from a Chequered Skipper butterfly to an elephant. My poem, 'Basking Shark Blues', was inspired by the brooding Hebridean waters off the coast of Skye where I spent an evening watching one of these gentle giants of the ocean.


Evening, Loch Scavaig, Isle of Skye

Wednesday, 9 November 2022

Fingerstone Poem Quoted in 'The Maker', The Charles Causley Literary Blog


Launceston Castle

Those who know me will be aware of my love affair with Cornwall. It is a county I have visited all my life, initially to spend time with relations who lived at Widemouth Bay on the north coast. I recall many days further south, not far from the Helford River in the 1970s and 80s, enjoying occasional walks along Frenchman's Pill and the tree-lined watercourses that inspired Daphne du Maurier's Frenchman's Creek. I began to discover other writers who made Cornwall come alive on the page: Charles Causley, Thomas Hardy, R.S. Hawker, Anne Ridler, Jack Clemo, W.S. Graham, John Betjeman, Ursula K. Le Guin and Lionel Johnson, to name but a few. 

I forget how I first encountered the poems of Charles Causley, but I was immediately drawn to them. And indeed, I have found some firm favourites among his body of work, favourites such as 'Who?', with its brilliant repetition in line 1 of the first stanza, and 'Morwenstow', in which the speaker interrogates the sea on the subject of its wildness. I have visited Causley's hometown of Launceston a couple of times in recent years and have enjoyed exploring the castle, which dominates the scene. I even tried to do a quick pen-and-ink sketch of it.

I was delighted when Sue Wallace-Shaddad asked me if she could include a few stanzas from 'Penwith Fingerstone', one of my Cornish poems, in her November post for The Maker, which you can find on The Charles Causley Literary Blog. The poem, which features in Driftwood by Starlight (The Seventh Quarry Press, 2021), was awarded Third Prize by Brian Patten in the 2017 Milestones Poetry Competition, administered by Write Out Loud. As it happens, I posted a photo (here) of the fingerpost on Twitter a few days ago for #FingerpostFriday.


Thursday, 3 November 2022




I have subscribed to Reach Poetry magazine for over twenty years. The magazine is edited by Ronnie Goodyer of Indigo Dreams Publishing. From time to time Ronnie has issued a particular challenge. The most recent was for a Terza Rima Sonnet, one of my favourite forms. 

I decided to have a go, and submitted my poem, 'Navigating Knapdale', which was published in the September 2022 issue. The focus of the narrative was a trip to Knapdale Forest in search of beavers. We failed to spot any; it is rare to do so in the daylight, but sometimes the quest is the thing that counts. Or so Cavafy implied in his well-loved poem, 'Ithaka'.


Beaver landscape, Knapdale ... in the rain

  •  My post here, written over 100 issues ago, explains some of the reasons I enjoy this monthly magazine so much.

Tuesday, 25 October 2022



A lamp post at Mallaig, Scotland

LUCI PER LA CITTÀ / LIGHTS FOR THE CITY, hailed as a great Festival of Lights, opens today in Turin, Italy, thanks to the vision of Lidia Chiarelli, poet, creative and Charter Member (with Aeronwy Thomas, Gianpiero Actis, Silvana Gatti, Sandrina Piras) of the international poetic and artistic movement, Immagine e Poesia. The organisers from Immagine e Poesia are joined by Arte Città Amica in this enterprise.

'two projects at the same time': 

-An Art Exhibition at the Villa Amoretti in Turin, 
which opens on 25 October2022.
-An International Website with Poetry, Aphorisms, 
Short Stories, Art, Music and Photography.

These two projects, the Luci per la Città Exhibition and the International Website, have been created as a tribute to Guido Chiarelli (1902-1982), on the 120th anniversary of his birth. Chiarelli is hailed as the man who transformed Torino into a "Ville Lumière" by illuminating the city streets with his futuristic designs in the 1950s and 1960s.  


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I wish to thank Lidia very much for inviting me to supply a written contribution for the international Luci per la Città website. You can read my poem,  'Stars in Suburbia', here

I was born in London and spent the first couple of years of my life in the capital, before moving out with my family to Kent's 'commuter-land'. Our road began at the foot of a slope near the railway station. The public library was situated near the top, where our road joined the High Street at right angles. We lived at the halfway point, neither up nor down. 

My bedroom window looked out onto the road where a lamp post (like the one in my picture here) sent its beams into the night sky. Looking back, it seems hard to believe that we still had a gas lamp, requiring the occasional services of a lamplighter; but I have looked into this, and am assured by those who know these things that my memory is indeed correct. 

Unlike Leerie in the Robert Louis Stevenson poem, which I came to love, our lamplighter would not have had to make daily visits as the lamps had become partially mechanised by my the time of my 1960s childhood. But they would have required winding at regular intervals. The image of the lamp post also reminds me of the one in The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis where Lucy Pevensie first caught sight of Mr Tumnus the faun

I have not had the opportunity of visiting Torino, but David and I lived in Rome from 1985 to 1986. How well I remember the beautiful lights around Spagna and Piazza Navona in the run-up to Christmas. I can still smell the scent of hot chestnuts and pizza rustica. I even remember the sparkle of snow! 

P.S. I couldn't resist including images of two of my favourite UK lamp posts, the top one in Mallaig on the Scottish mainland, where one can catch a ferry to Skye, and the one below from Lyme Regis, designed in the shape of an ammonite


Ammonite-style lamp post, Lyme Regis, UK


Monday, 17 October 2022

Parts One to Five of my Mini Poetry Interview conducted by Thomas Whyte


On the Homeric trail at Nestor's Palace, 'sandy Pylos' (2010)

My complete Poetry Q&A, conducted by Thomas Whyte in five sections, has now been posted on his Poetry Mini Interviews blog. 

You can find the five sections (in reverse order) here.

Alternatively the individual sections can be accessed via the following links:

  • Part One - bio and how I first engaged with poetry
  • Part Two - poets who influenced the way in which I thought about writing
  • Part Three - poetry books I have been reading recently
  • Part Four - current writing
  • Part Five - particular poems, books or poets that I read again when I need a lift  

Do take a look at the other interviews which can be found by clicking here and looking at the livelink list of names on the lefthand side.  

Thank you so much, Thomas, for inviting me to take part.



Thursday, 6 October 2022

National Poetry Day 2022 on Aldeburgh Beach


David and I have just returned from a wonderfully sunny day on the beach at Aldeburgh, where we joined other members of Suffolk Poetry Society (SPS) for the traditional National Poetry Day reading at the South Lookout, thanks to our Patron and host, Caroline Wiseman, and to members of the SPS committee who had organised the event.


We took the #NationalPoetryDay theme of the environment, which gave rise to a variety of largely serious poems on subjects as diverse as the ocean (and the devastation caused by plastic, oil slicks and pollution), a field where there had once been hedges with birds, and a beach with fossils. While acknowledging the gravitas of the Climate Crisis, we appreciated the occasional moments of wry humour which added to the sense of light and shade.

I read 'Puffin's Assembly'* from my poetry collection, Driftwood by Starlight, published last year by The Seventh Quarry Press (and available here for £6.99/$10).


The chip shop was still open at the end of the readings, and proved more than some of us could resist! 



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*'Puffin's Assembly' was first published in Orbis. It was inspired by Robert Macfarlane's nature-word campaign, which resulted in The Lost Words.



Friday, 26 August 2022

'Where the Seals Sing' by Susan Richardson


This is an astonishing and beautiful book. It exudes Susan Richardson’s passion for our fellow creatures, and particularly for the pinnipeds who frequent the waters around the UK. The seal narrative is intertwined with, and enhanced by, the parallel story of Susan’s family, a story that deals openly with the challenges faced by the author as she strives to balance her seal research alongside her father’s health-related needs. This seamless interweaving of the parallel narratives is perhaps one of the many features that makes this book unusual, authentic and compelling.

The seal revelations and theories shared by Susan must surely be of huge practical and educational value in the complex but vital sea of conservation. These discoveries, gleaned from the author’s travels around the shores of Wales, England, Scotland and the Isle of Man, are presented in a way that enables the reader not only to appreciate the magnificence of the seals themselves, but also to encounter afresh the many human-induced dangers faced by these threatened mammals. The author’s quest to find out more about the mysterious seal, not least its extraordinary ‘singing’, is inextricably linked to her animal-activist mission to bring about positive change. 

As someone who has been entranced not only by the otherworldly song of the seals, but also by the author’s skilful dexterity as a poet, Where the Seals Sing fascinated me from the outset. I delighted in the Pembrokeshire seal-watching cameos and the small but memorable details of the natural world, such as the fragrance of the Elderflowers encountered along the coast. The sections on music and mythology were intriguing. Sadly, but not surprisingly, the reports of cruelty, pollution and plastic were often devastating. I was totally captivated by Susan’s engaging affection for, and whole-hearted dedication to, her Grey Seal subjects. I would love to think that some of her zeal and practical actions might inspire us all to play our part in these uncertain ecological times.

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Where the Seals Sing: Exploring the Hidden Lives of Britain's Grey Seals

Author: Susan Richardson

Publisher: HarperCollins (imprint: William Collins, 7 July 2022)

ISBN: 9780008404543
ISBN 10: 0008404542

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You can find my previous post here.