An evening of poetry

Despite the rain, I had a great evening yesterday at Read. Holmfirth bookshop. I read some poems from Sea Without a Shore and enjoyed listening to Sheffield-based poet Rob Hindle reciting from his book, the Grail Road – a poetic weaving together of the Arthurian Grail story and the carnage of the western front in World War one.

Here’s one of the poems I read:


You question me with patient tenderness.
 “I’m fine”, I lie: my leaden undertones
reveal what language struggles to express.    
This sullen murk that seeps into my bones:
I have no name for it, nor has it shape
or substance.  Stagnant, undefined, it sits
in hidden pools from which there’s no escape.
It is my prisoner, as I am its.  
But do not cease to ask: for you, each day
I try once more to picture it in words.
If I could make it concrete, find some way
to form it in the semblance of a bird
and, through the gift of wings, to set it free
then it would lift its cold embrace from me.

Welcome, Hannah!

Today I am delighted to host a visit (and a poem) from fellow Maytree poet Hannah Stone. Welcome Hannah! Tell us about your poetry, and in particular your most recent collection, Swn y Morloi.

Hi Tim. I like to write about the usual love/death/politics stuff and also a lot about the natural world and how humans are part of the wider eco-system. This impetus is behind my Maytree pamphlet, which takes the title of each poem from a bay on the Coastal Path of Pembrokeshire (OS map OL35 refers!) 

Here’s a short poem from that collection, which muses on the ancient cultures marked by the prehistoric remains that proliferate throughout this farming and fishing community and its stunning landscape.

Careg Sampson

Surely something is trapped here,
where tractors hem the selvage
of grass round the burial chamber.

Slabbed roof and uprights are freighted with purpose, 
the whole site jealous of the liberties taken 
by breezes blowing inshore between the stones.

It seems impertinent
to look through the gap
for a sea view to wrap this sight in,

as if admiring the sun's dalliance
with clouds might cause amnesia
about the lives buried here,

beneath rock, beneath sod, earthed
in rites old and lost as their bones,
hidden in antique fonts on the map.

Thank you for sharing that lovely poem with us, Hannah!

Any readers who happen to be in Wales next month might like to know that Hannah will be reading from her collection on Wednesday 7 August at 7.30pm in Newport Community Library, Canolfan Croeso, 1-2 Bank Cottages, Long Street, Newport SA42 OTN.

Hannah Stone was born in London but has made Leeds her home for the last 30 years. After the usual teenage angst-therapy-writing malarkey she started writing a lot more poetry while studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Leeds Trinity University, where she worked with York based poets Oz Hardwick and Amina Alyal. Publications followed swiftly, with Lodestone in 2016, Missing Miles in 2017 and the inaugural Maytree Press pamphlet Swn y Morloi in 2019. She comperes the Wordspace spoken word event in Horsforth on the first Wednesday of every month, and co-convenes the poets/composers forum for the annual Leeds Lieder festival. Hannah is especially interested in collaborating with other poets and creative artists such as composers, and is widely published in journals and anthologies. She set up the Wordspace Imprint for the Leeds Trinity University writing community; its inaugural publication was a collaboration called An After DInner’s Sleep, involving Hannah, Maria Preston and Gill Lambert (established poets and creative writing teachers in Yorkshire), and they thoroughly enjoyed presenting this at the Ilkley LIterature Festival. Her latest collaboration is another Wordspace volume, Holding up Half the Sky, written with historian Rosemary Mitchell  to give voice to real and imagined women throughout history, using ‘found’ elements such as tombstones, embroidery, political speeches and highly redacted accounts by male historians. She is embarking on her ninth collaboration with a Leeds based composer, Matt Ogsleby. In other lives she is a teacher for the Open University, scholar of the Early Eastern Christian church,forager, allotmenteer, singer, cat owner and hill-walker  – so the launch of the Maytree Press anthology The Cotton Grass Appreciation Society at the Marsden Writers and walkers festival on 21 September is an especial delight. Increasingly she is turning to prose poetry as an outlet and was thrilled to contribute to the symposium which launched the Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry in July.  

Find Hannah on Facebook.

Cotton Grass Poetry

I’m thrilled to announce that my poem The Trees are Dancing is now available in the Maytree Press anthology The Cotton Grass Appreciation Society, a celebration of the landscape and people of the South Pennines.

I’m in great company, alongside poets such as Gaia Holmes, Roy Marshall, Jo Haslam, Alison Lock, fellow Holme Valley Poets Sally Brown and Anne Steward … and a certain Simon Armitage!

The Anthology is officially released on 1 August, but is already available to order from the Maytree Shop. The launch event for the anthology will be on 21 September, at 6pm in Marsden Library, as part of the Marsden Walking Festival.

But in the meantime, I’ll be reading The Trees are Dancing (and lots of other poems) at the next outing for my own collection, Sea Without a Shore, at Read. Holmfirth, 41 Huddersfield Road, Holmfirth, at 8pm on Tuesday 30 July – a double bill with Sheffield-based poet Rob Hindle. Hope to see you there!