Some Poetry News

A couple of bits of poetry news today. First, I’m delighted to have four poems in this fine anthology, just published by Poetry-ID, the North Hertfordshire Stanza of the Poetry Society.

I thought I’d share one of the poems here:

These Hills
They are at the root of me
as once I was of them,
when as a child I rushed laughing
through their valleys, like a stream.
Indulgent, they looked on, their solid bulk
the silent backdrop of those half-remembered scenes
that crowd the dusty basement of my mind.
Still, I come back to them
to hear their loving whispers
through the leaves of stunted trees
and feel beneath my feet
the old green blanket they unfold for me,
fragrant with that mossy smell, of home.  

Copies of the anthology are available for £5 plus postage: contact David Smith on More information is available on the Poetry-ID website.

I’m also very pleased to have a couple of poems in the Poetry Kit online anthology, Poetry in the Plague Year. You can read them – and lots of other great poems – here

The anthology is an ongoing project and is still open for submissions – so why not try your hand? See the Poetry Kit site for submission details.

Postcard from the Future

A guest piece today from Sally Brown, published poet and fellow member of Holmfirth Writers’ Group and Holme Valley Poets. How will we look back on this extraordinary time? ….

Postcard from the future

Dear world – in 2020 you took a break,  a dry run for retirement.  You slowed and the earth turned at a different pace.  The air was cleaner, brighter, more crisp on the tongue.  People moved with uncertainty but in the knowledge that, in some ways, things were better.  You stopped pumping toxic gas and chemicals into the air.  Blue skies returned to Delhi.  Mountain ranges in Pakistan were viewed in the distance for the first time in 30 years.  Aeroplanes stopped flying.  It felt like a miracle.  And yet on the other side of the abyss, people were dying, gasping for breath. Not for them the endless horizon but the horror of hospital ventilators.  Not for them the bright song of a wren, the crazy cry of a curlew, the frantic mating dance of spring hares.  Only the tangled wires of intensive care treading a fine, suffocating line between life and death.  This unstoppable virus kept us behind closed doors, prevented loved ones from holding hands.  Stopped the last words of the dying from being heard.  It was as if the world  was carved in two – between the bliss of simply being and the horror of dying alone.   But in the midst of horror there was hope. Voices sang from balconies, dance classes were conducted from rooftops.  We checked in with each other.  Communities rallied and supported.  The kind became even kinder.  And this slowing of the earth, this taking time out, became a way of life.  We learned to live as we should.  We learned the beauty of compassion and caring and we carried on.

About Sally:

I’m a creative writer based in the Pennine market town of Holmfirth in West Yorkshire.  My preference is for writing poetry and my writing is influenced by the stunning landscape of the Peak District which is  right on my doorstep.  I’m also a member of the incredibly supportive Holmfirth Writers Group and Marketing Director for Huddersfield Literature Festival.  To date I have had my poetry and prose published in various anthologies and on the poetry website Snakeskin.

Open for Visitors

Back in March, I encouraged readers to use the enforced restrictions of coronavirus lockdown as an opportunity to write (see Keep Calm and Carry on Writing). I’m thinking it’s about time to see whether that bore fruit by inviting people to share pieces they’ve written on this blog.

I’d welcome poems, stories or extracts of longer pieces, or just your ruminations on the present situation. Maximum 500 words, please – plus a few words about yourself and if you wish, a few about any book or event you would like to mention, and any links you’d like included (up to 150 additional words). It would be good to send a picture to go with the piece as well, if possible. You can e-mail them to me on

I’m happy to host up to two of these a month – first come, first served – and to have a waiting list if necessary.

I look forward to hearing from you!

The Outside people

Thought I’d share this piece I wrote at virtual Holmfirth Writers Group (which now meets via Zoom) on Monday: imagining life in year 5 of lockdown and explaining things to children who have known nothing else.

The Outside People

Where are Outside people, Mummy?

They are in all sorts of places, dear, all over the world. But the ones we know are mostly in this country, in towns and cities very much like ours, living in houses quite similar to this one.

Then why are they so different from us, then?

Different? Why do you think they are different? They talk very much like we do, don’t they? And they talk about the same things we talk about. You talk to Miranda and Chelsea and Zoe almost every day, don’t you. Don’t they like the same sort of things as you?

Well, Zoe has a mouse that she likes, that I don’t like at all. But I suppose we all like drawing, and dressing up, and playing games and things.

There you go, then. And it’s the same with me and Daddy. The Outside people we like to talk to have similar interests to us, so we’ve always got something to talk about. That’s why they’re our friends. Aren’t Miranda and Chelsea and Zoe your friends too.

Oh yes, they’re my friends, but they are still different.

How are they different? Aren’t they just the same as us?

Well, you’re always telling me that I can never go Outside because it’s not safe. But my friends are Outside – that’s why I can’t be where they are. So they must be different if they can be Outside but we can’t.

No, dear, that’s not right. They are not really Outside – they are inside, in houses, just like ours, like I said. It’s just that those houses are in different places to ours, and between their houses and ours there is real Outside, where we can’t go. And our friends can’t go there either. So for them, we are Outside people too.  So do you understand now why they are not really different from us.

So … they are really Inside, but a different Inside, with Outside between their Inside and ours?

Yes, well done, you’ve got it!

But they are still different, though.

Why? In what way are they different?

Well, Inside people, here in this house, they have a smell. And they feel like something.  Look, when I touch your cheek it feels soft. But when I touch the faces of my Outside friends, they just feel hard, like plastic. And they have no smell.  And your face is round and … knobbly, but their faces are just flat. So you see, Mummy, Outside people really are different. Why is that?

[ pic (c) Dennis Hamilton 2007. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license ]

Molly in the Trolley

OK, after all the grim news we’ve been getting, I think it’s time to offer readers a little bit of fun. Hope you enjoy this light hearted verse.

Molly in the Trolley
I like to go with Daddy
when he’s walking round the shops,
and I like to talk to people
whenever Daddy stops.
I saw a pretty lady,
she was very, very fat.
I said ‘what have you been doing
to get a tum like that?’
Then Daddy got all cross with me.
His face was very red.
I couldn’t think of any bad
in anything I’d said.
So I said to the lady
‘you really mustn’t mind.
My Daddy’s got a headache
from drinking too much wine.’
Then Daddy pushed the trolley,
it was whizzing really fast.
I couldn’t say a single thing
to people zooming past.
He had to get some medicine.
I spoke to Jason’s mum.
‘My Daddy’s getting special cream,
he’s got an itchy bum.’
We took it to the checkout girl
I talked to her, of course.
‘He doesn’t have much money
cause he lost it on a horse.’
My Daddy told me off outside.
‘This chatting has to stop!
And when we’re back, don’t tell your Mum:
what happened in the shop.’
When we got home, my Mummy said
‘What have you done today?’
‘We saw a pretty lady
but Dad told me not to say.’
Then Daddy went all red again,
he didn’t say what for.
I wish I knew why he won’t
take me shopping any more. 

When the F-word is not a swear word

Thought I’d share this blog post from Martin Shaw of the Huddersfield Examiner, on lockdown and being furloughed.

Never Were Such Times

I call it the F-word. Until Coronavirus no one had ever heard of furloughing.

It’s where employees are temporarily laid off while the Government pays 80% of their wages. Yesterday it happened to me.

I got the call mid-morning and by the end of the day I was done. It could be a minimum of three weeks but it could be three months.

In my job I’d been used to working up to 12 hours a day. From full-on to zero literally overnight. What will I do with myself?

This is Day 15 of U.K. Lockdown, of course. No one to see and nowhere to go.

In fact going out is banned other than nipping out for food or one short daily exercise. There never were such times. No, really. There never were such times.

I’ve been paid to write for over three decades now. God, that makes me sound…

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Insights: Fears and the Count of Life — Exclusivito

I thought I’d share this defiant post about lockdown from The Lyrictrotter. I certainly endorse the sentiment at the end.

March 27, 2020 A pandemic lockdown can be scary, especially when you have grown watching World War Z or World War for that matter. There is an eerie silence all around- where an occasional human voice makes you jump and hopelessly curious. You want to ascertain if your guess was correct, but simultaneously afraid to […]

Insights: Fears and the Count of Life — Exclusivito