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.

Thursday 25 August 2022

Reviews of 'Driftwood by Starlight' (updated for 2022)


The photo above shows me with my first full poetry collection, Driftwood by Starlight (The Seventh Quarry Press, 2021 - see here). 

Reviews of the book and short features have been appearing at intervals, so it seemed an idea to update this page, with links where appropriate.

I am extremely grateful to those who have taken the trouble to read my poems and to write about them. Susan Richardson, who wrote the back cover blurb, was among the first to do this. 



  1. Juliet Wilson, August 2021, review on The Crafty Green Poet site - here
  2. Tracey Foster, whose review on Everybody's Reviewing was arranged by Dr Jonathan Taylor, Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Leicester - here 
  3. Neil Leadbeater on the Write Out Loud site - here
  4. Neil Leadbeater in Littoral magazine #8 (ed. Mervyn Linford) - here.  
  5. James Knox Whittet in Twelve Rivers (Vol.12, issue 2, Autumn/Winter2021). Twelve Rivers is the magazine of Suffolk Poetry Society. 
  6. D.A. Prince in Orbis #198, Winter 2021 (Review title, 'Stones, Sea and Sky', p.57)
  7. Richenda Milton-Daws in the ArtServe magazine, Winter 2021. 
  8. Jessica Newport in #35 of The Seventh Quarry magazine, 2021.
  9. Dilys Wood in Artemis #28 (Second Light journal).  

Q and A Interviews

  1. Questions from Maria Lloyd (@mariatlloyd) at the University of Reading about the collection. Links to the Q&As can be found here.
  2. Sue Wallace-Shaddad, Secretary of Suffolk Poetry Society, In Conversation, Twelve Rivers (Vol.12, issue 2, Autumn/Winter2021). Twelve Rivers is the magazine of Suffolk Poetry Society. 
  3. Questions from Janet Emson on From First Page to Last.  
  4. Questions from Annmarie Miles on The Writers' Trail, UCB Radio, Ireland, 28 April 2022. I read out 'Et in Terra Pax'.


Online Features

  1. July 2021 - Writers' Online Showcase section, here.  
  2. Creative Writing at Leicester blog, arranged by Dr Jonathan Taylor, Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Leicester - here.  
  3. Poetry Blog Digest on Via Negativa (Dave Bonta) - here. 
  4. 23 November 2021 - Newcastle University News - here. 'Alumna Publishes First Poetry Collection, Driftwood by Starlight.'  
  5. May 2022 - Walthamstow Hall magazine.


Others Mentions and Listings

  1. 31 July 2021 - The Poetry Society, Members' e-bulletin. 
  2. 27 July 2021 - The Poetry School, e-newsletter. 
  3. 12 July 2021 - ACW eNews, bulletin #27
  4. September 2021 - In Touch (Suffolk community magazine). 
  5. Autumn 2021 - Star Tips #143 (with sample poem)  
  6. Autumn 2021 - ARTEMISpoetry #27 
  7. December 2021 - Exeter University: Celebrating our Alumni Authors
  8. May 2022 - GDST magazine


  1. 3 August 2021 - Online launch and reading, with Peter Thabit Jones of The Seventh Quarry Press and guest readers, Susan Richardson, Jean Salkilld and David Gill reading their own work. 
  2. 7 October 2021 - Suffolk Poetry Society National Poetry Day event in Ipswich Library, Suffolk, UK. Three poems from the collection were included in, and read out on my behalf, as part of an event on the theme of 'Choice'.  
  3. 19 February - ACW Online Poetry Day. I read 'Dunwich in Winter'. 

Matthew Stewart's 'Best Poetry Blogs of the Year' 2021 List

  1.  14 December 2021 - I was included in the list on account of my posts about Driftwood by Starlight.