Archive for May, 2011


What is ANNOYING me this week?


What is DELIGHTING me this week?

My Birthday BBQ


Clogs – Stick Music.



As many of you know my email account was abducted by aliens or persons unknown, who appear to be inBarcelona. Now why they picked on me, I really don’t know, it is not as if I am a Manchester United fan.

I am, however a great admirer of the Gaudi and Miro and was thoroughly impressed with the Neu Camp stadium. I love the poem “Song in the Dead Calm” by Carles Riba and often seek out other Catalan poets. So why me, is beyond me. I was however heartened that so many of my friends and family were concerned and contacted me, mostly not fooled by the email sent out requesting funds be transferred.

When the initial concern had blown over, there was a mass of on-line critiquing on Facebook. The bogus email was taken apart to reveal the badly constructed piece of prose that had been sent out by these aliens or unknown persons. Most pointed out the lazy use of language and spelling. Some even went as far as analysing the sentence structure and pointed out that it was most likely written in another language and then translated into English using an on-line translator or a babel fish inserted into the ear of the perpetrator.

I would like to thank everyone who took time and expressed concern about this event and I am now highly amused by all the references to me being lost inSpainin emails, posts and in person, all at my expense, but gladly not to the expense of my friends and family.

Needless the say I have moved email address leaving the ruins of the old address to be found by some Cyber Archaeologist in the far distant future, what a fascinating episode of  Time Team that will make!

Poets Trail update.

This week has seen more work on the designs for the Poets Trail installations and the sourcing of some of the materials on which to present them; with a piece of slate and four pieces of leather now found and donated to be crafted into the final form for the trail.

I will keep you posted as things progress.

The Fantastic Nuneaton Summer Poetry Day on the 2nd July is moving on a pace with Mark Niel (http://www.akickinthearts.co.uk/),the bard of Milton Keynes coming on board to bring his unique brand of poetry to the market place. Mark will be running the first ever outdoor 60 second poetry slam along with other events throughout the day, including being the Minstrel Poet who will make up rhymes to any given word, for a fee of course to go to the Mary Ann Evans Hospice.

Rae Gee is bringing a prose element to the event providing more spoken word opportunities. Rae has thrown open a challenge to me as the Festival poet, she will wear her Victorian Steam Punk outfit if I will wear my famous red jacket – The challenge has been accepted.

Art Alert, (http://www.artalertnuneaton.com/who-we-are.htm),a group of local, talented artists, whose philosophy is not unlike my own, that is, to create artistic and exhibition opportunities for themselves, they will be decorating the benches around the town centre in a poetic theme with lines from famous poems with associations with North Warwickshire. The full poems will be found hanging like fruit from the Poetree.

Waterstones will be selling a range of poetry and hosting some spoken word events. (http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/)

There will be several Poetry Stops around the town where poetic voices will be raised among the shoppers, market traders, booksellers and librarians.

I will be blogging and tweeting as part of my role as Festival Poet, writing poetry from the sense of place, capturing words from the people in the market place, taking lines from tweets, I will be setting up the blog and the twitter accounts over the next week and will start promoting them here.

There will be two bookmakers, that is the book binding kind rather than the gambling sort. Julie De Bastion (http://www.julie.debastion.com/)  and Helen Wilson who will offer people opportunities to explore this craft of making their own books. Julie will also be story telling around myths and legends.

There will be poetry kites for the children to make which will all add to colour and theatre of the day.

Colin King will be Story Telling in the story telling café (http://www.storytimes.co.uk/) and Wow Impro will be performing comedy, improvisation and spoken word out on the street. (http://www.wowimpro.co.uk/)

Several poets have already signed up to read but there is still space for more poets to come and share their work and raise their profile on the Midlands poetry scene.

Please contact me if you want to read or be involved.

Nuneaton Summer Day of Poetry

Date 2nd July –Place Nuneaton Town Centre 11:00am till 3:00pm and the Crown Pub 6:30pm to 8:30pm.

* Festival Poet – Mal Dewhirst * Minstrel Poet – Mark Niel * 

Readings, Slams, Poetry Kites, Story Telling, Bookmaking, Blog and Tweets, Book sales, Open mic.

Raising money for the Mary Ann Evans Hospice.


With the Ledbury Poetry Festival only a month away, with a fantastic programme of events some of which I hope to get too.  


It seems appropriate in the run up to the festival that my lost poet this week should be:

William Langland (ca. 1332 – ca. 1386)

I am grateful to Myfanwy Fox who reminded me of Langland as a lost poet whose associations with the Malvern Hills and Ledbury is very much conjecture based upon the settings of his works as very little is known of his life.

Langland it is suggested in the book New light on Piers Plowman, By Allan H Bright published by Oxford University Press in 1928, was born in Ledbury, in fact the book goes as far to identify two strips of land on the borders of Ledbury and Colwell parishes know as Longland and that the house that stood here in the 14th Century was the birthplace of William Langland, hence my link to the forthcoming Poetry Festival.

If Bright’s interpretation is correct then the site today is on the A449 into Ledbury and is now two cottages known as Haysebrook Cottages.



It is also nearby Malvern that Langland has associations and it is Malvern that is a special place for me as it was where the whole of my primary school descended on a day in July 1968 for the annual school trip. A trip to walk the full length of the hills, quite a challenge for primary school children but one that we relished and walked taking in each breath at the magnificent views of the Worcestershire countryside out towards Wales to the west and the Warwickshire countryside to the east.

Malvern is also where my elder brother, Eddie, studied at around the same time. It is where he first got involved seriously in theatre, even though his studies where in electrical engineering. I remember his occasional visits home at weekends. Especially the wonder that was fired up in my mind, when on Sunday our dad would drive him out towards Bromsgrove to get the Midland Red Bus (the 144, It still runs from Birmingham to Worcester) as Eddie headed back to this wonderful place. It was even better if Dad took him back all the way and I got to go along for the ride.

So I see Malvern as a poetic place as did Langland. It is his Piers Plowman or William’s Visions of Piers Plowman to give its full title that gives the hints to Langland’s origins with his descriptions of Malvern and the surrounding area.

Piers Plowman tells of the vision of the humble plowman as he falls asleep in the Malvern Hills and sees a tower set upon a hill and in a deep valley a fortress – these represent heaven and hell. The alliterative allegory poem which is in part theological and part social satire is a quest to find the true Christian life in the time of medieval Catholicism and sees the plowman searching out the three characters: Dowel (do well), Dobet (do better) and Dobest (do best).

The poem attacks the corruption of the nobility and the leading members of the church. It is an expression of the opinions of the poor, providing an insight into their daily lives and is therefore a very important manuscript. Many critics see Piers Plowman, along with Chaucer’s Canterbury tales and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight as the three great works of early English literature.

This was the start of the Piers Plowman Tradition, which saw poets such as Spenser, use the character of Piers as a symbol of the relationship between the commoners and the nobility, satirically reflecting economic, political, social and religious grievances of the commoner with the power bases of the church and the crown.

Langland’s first version was published in 1362 and he continued to work on it throughout the rest of his life, creating several versions (possibly 14), providing scholars much to explore in their interpretations and quest to find the real William Langland.

The version I have is a translation of the “B” Text by Terence Tiller which in turn used the translation of W.W. Skeat.

More information on William Langland can be found at:


Myfanwy Fox’s blog Fox Tales can be found at:


Oh yes I nearly forgot, I also had a birthday!


Readings in June and July.

7th June – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s Coventry.

9th June – Memoirs Poetry – Erdington Library Birmingham.

17th June – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.

2nd July – Summer Poetry Day – Nuneaton.

5th July – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s Coventry.

15th July – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.

16th July – Lichfield Festival – Lichfield.

19th July – The Fizz 8 – Polesworth Abbey.

23rd July – Love Parks Festival – Polesworth Abbey Green Park.

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

People who think personal point scoring is the best way forward for everyone.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?



The Wind.


Last week saw the Fizz 7, which was reviewed by Bernadette O’Dwyer on the Behind the Arras website.


The evening really brought to life the poems and the delight of the poets, each delivered with care and thoughtfulness that befits the themes, each giving due reverence to the past, present and future of this remarkable place.

On Wednesday evening I spent some time discussing how these poems would be best displayed to give them a standing in the landscape, without spoiling or become obtrusive and disrupting the natural flow of the park users. The poems have always been to me something that are a delight to discover, magical words that are in private places, where the reader can contemplate the meaning and spend some time reflecting on what it means to them.

As the trail moves from being a town trail to a country trail, it seems most appropriate that the materials become softer in their look and feel, no longer is the rock and marble of the first part of the trail the right material.

With the exception of couple of the poems where the words will be incorporated into existing structures,

Wood and in particular Oak, will form the basis for the structured pedestals that will hold the poems, each identical to provide a form that is identifiable as being part of the trail. This is also different from the first part of the trail, where into the formality of the town, we placed the different shapes and materials, some left as natural forms, enhanced with carvings of fish or leaves, and some sculpted into shapes of bookcases, clouds and a dove’s wing.

The natural environment, which in the main is managed rather than deliberately shaped, the only real shaping is the paths which are designed to protect the natural environment as park users are encouraged to follow them. It is along these paths that the poems will be displayed and the formality of their shape will make them recognisable as being part of the poetry trail but at the same time the Oak will help them blend into their landscapes and sit in their first published form.

It may seem strange to some who embrace new technologies such as e-books, that the first published form of these poems is using mediums that are more solid and heavier than that of real books, a step backward some might say, but this is a collection of poems that is owned by everyone and the turning of a page is literary a journey, as you have to walk to from one poem to the next, you have time to digest its meaning and to capture the thoughts as memories, it over emphasises the physical action of turning a page.

The new poems will be inlaid into the oak pedestals, printed, etched, laser cut into metals, leather, glass, aluminium, slate and ceramics.  Each will be designed and crafted by local artists, designers and processes that are in some case industrial, but then that is appropriate in a post-industrial landscape.

On Friday evening, I attended and read at Gary Carr’s Spoken World’s evening at the Old Cottage Tavern in Burton-upon-Trent, it was great evening with a mix of poetry and theatre from members of both the Runaway Writers and the Lichfield Poets along with others who enjoy the not so much cut and thrust but the caress and flow of contemporary poetry.

I took to opportunity to perform a poem from memory, which I see so many poets do and have always admired as it gives more life to the poem if the listener is not distracted by reams of paper being rustled by the poet whose attention is on the page and not the audience.

I never trust my memory and this has bugged me for years, I have a terrible memory for names and conversations, I file things away then forget I have them, let alone can produce them when asked. So this was a challenge that I took on to deliver one of my latest poems “Pop”, which is delivered in fake American accent.

The poem, which takes its themes from brands and manufactured things to lament that two particular original brands, a popular drink and a 1960’s American pop band, have parented a brash of new, less palatable versions, all manufactured on the cheap and then hyped into disappointment.

These are just my thoughts and some would say they are some what judgemental but then that is what poets do, sometimes they tell it as it is and let the reader be the judge, sometimes they offer an opinion, maybe to engage debate or just to get it off their chests.

Notable pieces came from Terri and Ray Jolland whose sketch where a confusion between Naturists and Naturalists was enacted out to much amusement. Gary Longden’s revisted poem on the plight of a certain banker, Margaret Torr’s piece performed with Dea Costelloe on the Mother Pit, a poem that was written after the completion of the Pooley workshops, it is great to see that the Poets trail project is still inspiring new pieces. Dea also read a couple her own pieces.

Andy Biddulph, dressed in his signature James Bond look, delivered poems on a scientific theme and the use of grammar. Janet Jenkins read some of her pieces from the first Lichfield poets Anthology and continued on the grammatical theme.

It was good to hear David Calcutt reading two poems about rivers and an extract from one of his novels, I bought two of them from him on the evening and am thoroughly enjoying Crowboy, which I started reading yesterday.

Gary Carr did me the honour of reading his poem 50, which he wrote to mark my 50th Birthday, which next weekend was twelve months ago, I hope that I get the chance to return the favour, one day.

Tony Keeton who had travelled from Chesterfield, read some new poems and some from his back catalogue about his school days, especially the terminology that is unexciting, such has “Home Economics”.

Another long distance traveller was Fergus McGonigal, who delivered his confident poems with his normal self assured relaxed style.  Fergus is one of the ten poets who have been short listed for the Bard of Worcestershire, along with Sarah James one of the Poetry trail poets, I wish them both well in their quest to attain this wonderful new post.

The piece I have left to last is Colin Henchley’s short play Sin, with its dark setting in World War Two. Where we find two characters, who are on a train and are about to commit in one of the characters minds an act of sin, but he can see that in the situation that they are all in, that the reasoning of the other character is perhaps the right thing to do. It is a dark conflict, that plays out to reveal the circumstances in which the action takes place, leaving the audience with a feeling of discomfort but at the same time a better understanding of the past events, perhaps having to face this reality for the first time.

Colin’s play has been accepted for the second phase of a competition run by the Nottingham Playhouse and may mean he has to develop it further toward a full performance. With the mass of comedy currently  being written and performed, which whilst it is all credible and worthy; it is good to see serious subjects being tackled in a forthright way, to remind us that sometimes in life you have to think and that we are not here just to be amused.

I have deliberately been vague as to the content of the play as I think this play is one that is best experienced and I do hope it does get to be developed further and performed, I would advise everyone to look out for Sin by Colin Henchley.

It has been a week of HAPPENINGS – which I am honoured to have witnessed.


Readings in June and July.

7th June – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s Coventry.

17th June – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.

2nd July – Summer Poetry Day – Nuneaton.

5th July – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s Coventry.

15th July – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent.

16th July – Lichfield Festival – Lichfield.

19th July – The Fizz 8 – Polesworth Abbey.

23rd July – Love Parks Festival – Polesworth Abbey Green Park.


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What is ANNOYING me this week?


What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Anticipation of THE FIZZ


For The Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos – Baikonour


It is the FIZZ this evening and I filled with both delight and trepidation. This will be an historic occasion as the NEW POLESWORTH POETS read for the first time their selected poems for the Poets’ Trail.

All the main tasks are completed, the poets confirmed, the room booked, the press release printed in the paper, the promotion on social networks and in the village. The final tasks are in hand, refreshments, programme production and preparing the video equipment to film this auspicious occasion.

It is not as if I have never run the Fizz before and many of the tasks are purely going through the routine of preparing for such events.

So why the trepidation, why am I so anxious about the evening. It is mainly to do with the other tasks that are not associated with the trail, which I need to do before the event. The meetings and conferences that have appeared in my diary, today and tomorrow is full, when this time last week it was fairly relaxed and I could ease myself into the evening.

Whilst these meetings are all important, they have come at the wrong time for me, but that always seems to be the case, I never have an easy last day before a holiday, a day where I can tie up loose ends and can come back to a clear desk.

I could have booked a day away from work, today, but then I would end up just thinking about the evening’s event and waiting for it to happen and not achieve anything. I like to be getting on with things; the moment I leave the house to travel to the event is the start for me. The journey is as much a part as the event it self.

This journey started many years ago when I first came up with the idea for the trail. Maybe I am just making excuses about work tasks, because I can’t see where the journey goes beyond this phase of the trail. Linking Polesworth Abbey with Pooley Country Park with a trail of poetry was from the outset, all I intended to do and it is perhaps the thought that this journey is completed. This maybe the arrival and heralded as it might be, it is always the anticipation of the arrival that excites me and the love of the journey.

Saturday saw me back up at Pooley, this time filming the route of the trail before we put the poems in place. It was fresh day with sunshine and cloud and a threatening presence of rain, which meant that the park was fairly empty and this gave me a good opportunity to film in peace without disturbing others.

This was not without some amusement, as I was filming on the canal towpath, a boat approaching me giving me some nice shots as it drifted carefully through the water, causing ducks to retreat to the far bank, suddenly as the boat passed, the man at the helm shouted across to me;

“Thank goodness for that, I thought you were a speed camera!”

Later on half way up the mound, I bumped into a work crew from the country park, they we chatting away to each other, having a joke, really happy with their lot. They had been preparing the ground to install a bench half way up the path to the top. It was good to see their obvious enjoyment in their work.

I reached the top of the mound where there are views of the surrounding countryside, the pools at Alvecote, the village and the fields beyond, out to Bramcote. I was joined by a mum and her two children out on an adventure, the children making up the plot as they climbed and ran and achieved the next task in their quest. I bumped into them an hour later heading up the canal, the children quietly tagging along as they headed home.

“I think we are all adventured out today” she said.

I am now a TWEETER, I have signed up to Twitter and am now following people and being followed, which is something I have not so much resisted, but have never had the time to get to grips with how best to use it. However as the Festival Poet for the Nuneaton Summer Poetry Day, I want to use twitter as a means of engaging people with the events of the day, I want to see people sending me Poetry Tweets as well as reading the on-line blog.

You can TWEET me at: @MalDewhirst

My lost poet this week is Tommy Armstrong (1848-1920) – The Pitman Poet.

It seems appropriate that on the day we read the mining poems created from the workshops at the site of Pooley Colliery, that I feature a mining poet.

Tommy Armstrong has been described as a small man with a big heart; he was a coal miner in the North Durham Coalfield and spent most of his life around Tanfield Lea. His poems and songs are full of humour, tales and social history.

He writes in a local Durham dialect, which many would consider to be Geordie, but those in the know, would disagree, as Geordie is distinct to Newcastle. It is often hard to follow to those who are not tuned into the dialect, which may be some of the reasons why he is little known outside of the North East.

Barry Patterson picks up the theme of the miners from the North East in his poem on the trail, including lines, this time in Barry’s Geordie dialect, he being a poet from Newcastle.

Tommy Armstrong wrote about events that impacted on the lives of the miners and their families, some joyous occasions and some tragic, he often produced poems which were printed on 1d sheets sold to raise funds for the families who had lost  fathers, brothers, sons in mining accidents. One of his best known poems was written about The Trimdon Grange Explosion.

He also wrote about strikes, murders, choirs and Durham Jail and a couple to the Kaiser.

He was also a songwriter and many of his songs were sung in pubs, by folksingers and still are today.

Tommy was a real character, hardworking, liked a drink, wrote with a passion and was respected and admired by all who came in contact with him. In an age before the music charts, his songs were no sooner written than they were being sung in the pubs and clubs of the Durham coalfield.

Tommy’s story has been told by his Grandson, Ray Tilly in his book Tommy Armstrong – The Pitman Poet.

More information can be found on Tommy at:


Tommy is one of the poets to be featured in the GRAFT project.


Readings in May.

17th May – The Fizz 7 – Polesworth Abbey

20th May – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent


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What is ANNOYING me this week?


What is DELIGHTING me this week?

Several delighted poets.


II – Espers.


As you saw from my two posts last week, the awaited email finally came and I was able to announce the selected poems for the Poets’ Trail. The news has been greatly received by the poets, who have been blogging, tweeting and facebooking of their success. I have included some of the links to these fantastic blogs, which are full of the delight of the experience.





Sarah James


As of writing 14 of the 16 poets will be appearing at the Fizz when we will have our first reading on the 17th May at Polesworth Abbey – 7:30pm start – Free admission plus open mic.

Today I attended a meeting to discuss the next steps of turning these poems into installations on the trail. There is a real buzz and enthusiasm from the team at Pooley to see the poems turned into finished designs. The designs are in the consultation process at the moment and will have input from Mathew Dalziel and Louise Scullion who have designed the tower of leaves that will also be installed on top of the mound at Pooley in the coming months. Their tower represents both the crushing pressure that turned the Carboniferous forest in to the coal stocks and the landscape we see today with its re-growth of new natural landscape and delivers a unique insight into the millions of years that have passed since the earth evolved.

You can see more of Dalziel and Scullions work at:


The Poets’ Trail designs will be primarily in wood, inlaid with a variety of materials, which will all be considered for their ability to be maintained and survive in the open air, so I can see a fair amount of experimentation happening. Quite often preferred materials create problems over time, Copper especially, as it changes colour and tarnishes and as we have seen in the first phase of the trail, the poems become unreadable. We are now looking as to how we can clean them and then cover them with a protective film to maintain them on an ongoing basis.

I am continuing with my role as editor of the chosen poems, which involves carefully considering each line and what interpretations can be made of it, whether the punctuation is correct and drawing on my grammar knowledge first learnt nearly forty years ago.

I am the first to admit that it is only now do I understand some of the rules of English Grammar, much of my learning as school boy often left me bemused as to the logic of some of the rules, many of which I felt were only the way they were because “It just is”.

I think my teachers suffered with frustration at my ability to find examples of words that broke the rule “I before E, except after C” – THEIR was my favourite.  This rule has now been abandoned as there are a significant number of words that do not conform to the rule, in fact there always were, it just felt that only I was pointing it out.  I therefore feel vindicated for my precocious questioning, but I do feel for my poor teachers, who were forced to teach these rules in the hope that we would not question them.

My diary is filling up with readings and festivals.  July is a very busy month, with the Nuneaton Poetry Day on the 2nd which is developing nicely. Further events include a possible poetry reading in a Zoo and guided tours of the first part of the Poets trail as part of the Love Parks Week.

Love Parks Week Website:


I will start some more filming this week, as I want to capture the route of the Poets’ Trail before the new poems are installed, as a follow up to my film Pollysworda, which documented the first part of the trail.

The new film Pollysworda II (working title) will follow a similar format but will work with the images and themes that are reflected in the latest poems. There will probably less imagery of the installations as we are not likely to have the drama of cranes during this phase. I will also be involving Jimi at Hydranoid Musia earlier in the process. I will be updating this blog as the project develops.

My Lost poet for this week is Alfred Williams (1877-1930) – The Hammerman Poet from Swindon.

I was first introduced to Alfred, through his Great Nephew – Les Thorne who is a friend of mine, when Les learnt of my interest in poetry he told me about Alfred and so began my exploration of  labouring poets, some of whom will be subject of my future lost poets list.

Alfred was born in South Marston, near toSwindon, into an agricultural community, where as young man he earned his living. But the pay was poor in comparison to the GWR Railway Works, where they built the rolling stock, building engines from the raw materials; everything was made on site, in forges, presses, casting and stamping shops to the seating in leather shops.  Alfred was drawn to better himself and followed his brothers into the railway works, spending his evenings on his studies, reading Shakespeare, teaching himself Latin and Greek and writing his first collection Songs of Wiltshire was published in 1909.

Alfred was a collector of songs, riding his bicycle along the upper Thames collecting and documenting the folk songs, these were published in the local paper along with notes from Alfred. By 1914, Alfred was forced to leave the Railway works as his health had suffered from the extreme working conditions and manual labour.

His major prose work was his documented description of the railway works – Life in a Railway Factory, which he could not publish whilst he was employed there, in fact when it was published very few people in Swindon bought a copy for fear of being found owning one and facing the sack from the factory. It was a damning account of the management practices and lack of care for the workers, and has since been described “as the most important book written in Swindon, about Swindon”.

The First World War saw Alfred stationed inIndia, where once again he embraced the local culture and languages, returning home to run a failing market garden at his self built home, Raniket in South Marston.

Alfred continued to write and publish both prose and poetry, his astute, vibrant observations drawing their inspiration from his experience, enthused by the language of nature and the rhythm of industry, his poems are as readable today as when they were first written.

Today his life and work are promoted by the Alfred Williams Heritage Society – who last year staged John Cullimore’s Hammerman Musical, which I had the pleasure of attending on the first night, it was a moving show such that when the scenes of Alfred’s death were acted out before me, I shed a tear as I really felt I had lost a friend.

Alfred is one of the three poets whose life and work are being used as inspiration for the creation of new pieces under the project GRAFT, which the Runaway Writers will be developing over the coming year.

For more information on Alfred Williams visit the Heritage Website:



Readings in May.

17th May – The Fizz 7 – Polesworth Abbey

20th May – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent



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I said in my latest blog that I was waiting for an email, it has now arrived and having notified the poets of their success, I can announce that the poems for the next phase of the trail are confirmed and will be installed on to the trail in the next few months.

The poems are a wonderful mix of themes from mining, to nature, to Pooley Hall and brick making and all reflect upon the unique space that is often unnoticed up at Pooley Country Park.

The poets, who all attended the workshops that were the subject of some of my previous blogs, have all embraced the experience of the place and the thoughts and lives of the people who occupied /occupy it. From the ex-miners, to their wives and daughters and the current day park rangers, local historians and naturalists, all to whom we are extremely grateful for their time and expertise.

The selected poems and their poets are:

Brick Making Remembered by Peter Grey.

Peter’s poem remembers the Polesworth Brickworks that was on the site ofEnsor Driveand Kiln Way, Peter is from Burton On Trent.

Pooley Hall by Gary Londgen

Gary’s poem reflects on the history of Pooley Hall and its association with the Cockayne Family with hints at a more recent resident Edwin Starr. Gary is from Sutton Coldfield and is a member of the Lichfield Poets.

Unrippled  by Sarah James.

Sarah’s poem takes the theme of the canal and the swans and builds a link between the Abbey, the original poets and Pooley Pit. Sarah lives in Droitwich, her first collection Into the Yell was published by Circaidy Gregory Press in 2010

Advice to a Geordie Lad at Pooley by Barry Patterson.

Barry’s poem takes the theme of the migration of Miners from the North East of England in the 1950’s and 60’s to the Warwickshire coalfields. Barry originally hails from Newcastle and now lives in Coventry,  His pamphlet of poems Natures Mystic was published by Heaventree Press in 2008

Living Echoes by Gina Coates.

Gina’s poem reflects on the roles of women, some once miners and then later as wives and mothers, describing their hardship and fears. Gina was born in Halifax and now lives in Warton.

Pooley Miner’s Tale by Barry Hunt.

Barry is a songwriter and musician whose father once worked in Pooley pit, his poem takes the form of a folk song incorporating the lives of the miners and their families along with the regeneration of the natural environment. Barry is fromTamworth.

Women’s memories of Mining Menfolk by Dea Costelloe.

Dea spent some time talking to the wives and daughters of the ex-miners for inspiration, from which she created her chatty monologue poem that is rich with memories of ordinary lives. Dea is originally from Essex and now lives in Burton on Trent.

Pooley Pit Ponies by Margaret Torr.

Margaret compares the lives of the Pooley pit ponies with that of the wild ponies of the Carmargue, who are seen as a “Gift of God”. It shows a really different outlook from the ponies’ point of view. Margaret hails from Birkenheadand now lives in Burton on Trent.

In their footsteps by Marjorie Neilson.

Marjorie’s poem explores the generations of miners that followed each other into the pit, also reflecting on the feelings of their mothers. Marjorie is originally from Scotland and now lives inLichfield, she is also a member of the Lichfield Poets.

Jutt by Bernadette O’Dwyer.

Bernadette’s poem is also about the pit ponies, one in particular who was down in Pooley pit and would only pull six loaded wagons. Bernadette is originally from Polesworth and now lives in Atherstone, where she is working on her first novel.

A Cry by Janet Smith.

Janet’s poem is a conversation between the poet and a female owl and reflects the majestic freedom of the owl. Janet is from Birmingham.

Them up there don’t know us down here exist by Gary Carr.

Gary’s poem takes the motorway as its theme and reflects that in the rushing lives of the travellers, they do not realise that the country park exits. Gary is from Burton on Trent where he runs the Spoken Worlds poetry event and he is working on his first collection of poems.

Aloft by Janis Kind.

Janis’ poem takes the view point of a buzzard circling Pooley mound and reflects on its view of the motorway. Janis is from Dordon.

Black Swan Possibility.

Jacqui’s sonnet harks back to Drayton’s poem that is on the first part of the trail, and that in Drayton’s day it was thought that Swan’s could only be white and that a black swan was a myth, and begs the question that swans could be a myriad of colours. Jacqui is from Birmingham, where she runs Poetry Bites and has two collections Blue and Appollonaire she is also co-director of Flarestack poetry.

Ladies of the woods by Terri Jolland.

Terri’s poem takes the silver birch trees as its theme and how they have recolonised the Pooley site. The trees take on a mystical presence as they perform this miracle of regeneration, often held in myths as protectors against witchcraft and at the same time used to make witches brooms. Terri hails from Leicester and now lives in Repton.

Dreams of Alvecote by Colin Henchley.

Colin’s poem talks of the delight and legend of Alvecote priory as place where dreams are born and enacted in this tranquil enchanting ruin. Colin is originally from Yorkshire and now lives inDerby.

Kite – a collaborative poem by Malcolm Dewhirst and the year 3 children at Birchwood Primary School 2011.

Malcolm was commisioned to work with the children, exploring what it would be like to be a kite, then helping the children to make their own poetry kites. The children gave Malcolm most the words to use in this poem, which explores the idea of the wise wind being the teacher and the kite being the pupil learning to fly. Malcolm is originally from Birmingham and now lives in Tamworth and is project director of the Polesworth Poets trail.

The Poems will receive their first reading at THE FIZZ 7 on the 17th May 2011 at 7:30pm at Polesworth Abbey. All are welcome to this free event which will see the NEW POLESWORTH POETS read in front of the original fireplace where the originalPolesworth Circle of Poets – Michael Drayton, John Donne and Ben Jonson amongst others wrote and recited their poems.

An HISTORIC event not to be missed!

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What is ANNOYING me this week?

I only have niggles this week, nothing worth mentioning.

What is DELIGHTING me this week?

The Sunshine.


Argus – Wishbone Ash.


This last week has seen a series of bank holidays which have proved to be both full of activity and at the same time relaxing. Activities which included attending a football match, luckily my team survived relegation in the last game of the season, which I did not attend. The last weekend saw a group of us descend on Herefordshire where we took over several barns for a weekend of eating, drinking, a talent show, scrap heap challenge, wine tasting and walking, plus a trip to Hay-on-Wye, more of which I will be discussing later.

I am waiting for a final confirmation email for the selected poems on the Poets Trail and I was hoping to be able to give you more information on the poems and the poets in this blog, but as of the time of writing I have not received the expected email. So I may have to create another post this week when the confirmation is received and I have informed the poets of their success.

Radio Wildfire this week was entertaining – although the break in transmission did have me wondering if it was my computer, and the echo at one point had me looking to see if I had the broadcast open twice.

Dave Reeves introduced some great material from abroad including Norman Cristofoli based inTorontowhose CD Pass the Mustard is a fantastic mix of music and poetry.Normanis now a friend of mine on Facebook, it is really fantastic that you can hear something and to be able  get in touch with the artist and tell them that you like their work.

Jacqui Rowe was a live studio guest and talked about her work at Wightwick Manor as part of the Making Art History Project, which has seen several artists bring their skills to interpreting this Arts and Crafts manor house that was built and furnished by the Mander Family of the paint fame.

Jacqui was the only writer amongst the glass blowers and other visual artists and I very much admire her work on this project as I think it opens up further opportunities for writers. I quite often see commissions for artists advertised only to find that they are for painters or sculptors and that the writing arts are not considered as being part of the brief.

Jacqui has not only written poetry but has created some copper etchings for the project and has shown that writers really do have something of value to bring to these commissions. Jacqui seems to be given space to develop her own themes and to explore them in her own way. The finished exhibition will show how the house has been the collaborative focus as it brings together the different arts.  

I do hope that other groups commissioning art also take on board the role that writers can play to bring a new dynamic to their projects.

I am certainly someone who sees collaboration among the different art forms as a way of generating something new and exciting instead of us all being precious about our talents and see the  collaborative process as something that produces impurities.

I think Making Art History project has enabled each of the artists to capture the purity of their work, whilst at the same collaborating to achieve the goal of the exhibition.

The Exhibition runs from the 18th to 29th May at Wightwick Manor,Wolverhampton

More details can be found here:


Another, new feature of Radio Wildfires broadcast is Gary Longden’s monthly listing, where Gary gives out all the Poetry and Spoken Word events for the coming month, so there is no excuse for not engaging which poets and writers at the many events across the region – 40 this month.

Gary also gives his view on the three he considers to be the most interesting and this month he kindly selected the Fizz 7 on the 17th February as one not to miss, so I thank Gary for doing that for me.

The Fizz 7 will feature the New Polesworth Poets and see the first reading of the New Poetry Trail poems, all are welcome admission is free and there will also be an open mic.


I saw Tony Owen at the Night Blue Fruit Poetry Night in Coventry last night and managed to get a copy of his latest collection The Dreaded Boy which is published by Pighog Press and is the first of their Passport series. I was honoured to see that Tony had included me in the acknowledgements; it has been a real pleasure for me to see this brave, forthright collection grow out of the last eighteen months.

Tony will be making his regional launch of the Dreaded Boy at the Inspire Bar in Coventryon 15th June, which is a free event and all are welcome.

Tony will also be the guest poet at the Fizz in September.

Copies of the book will on sale at both events, with £1 from each book going to the Karen Woo Foundation, which seeks to run Healthcare and Education projects inAfghanistan. Karen was a British doctor who gave up her job in theUK, choosing to use her talents to bring medical care to the sick an impoverished of war tornAfghanistan. She was killed by a gunman in 2010.

You can find out more about Karen and the Foundations work at:


My lost poet of this week is Rosemary Tonks, she published two collections of poetry in the 1960’s both of which are now out of print and original copies are hard to come by, as Chris and Melanie Prince, who run the Poetry Bookshop in Hay-on-Wye told me when I went in search of a copy over this last weekend. They don’t hold on to copies for very long. Rosemary converted to Catholicism in the early 1970’s and disappeared to become a recluse, refusing permission for a reprint of her poetic works.

The poems were part of another life which she no longer wanted to be part of and she therefore wanted to break all links in her new solitary life. She would I suspect not thank me for reminding people of her works.

I do respect her privacy and her need for solitude but at the same time I think her poetry is too important to go unnoticed. This was her in a different life, a life of hedonistic pleasure spent pursuing relationships and sexual experiences that she became to realise were not what she sought, the ecstatic highs were all to short and there was always a sadness, someone whose despairing lows were all too lasting.

I first became aware of her through Brian Patten’s BBC Radio 4 programme. Rosemary Tonks: The poet who vanished. I was completely taken by the poetry, it immediately charged my senses with hotels and affairs, the sexual tension, coffee, stains and Jazz, Its often shabby imagery where pleasures are enacted, provides the imperfect backdrop, the imperfections of the setting making the act perfect, you cannot take away from the act because the shabby setting enhances it. But at the same time it cheapens it, makes it sordid erotica, brothel fodder.

It is the woman who suffers, the woman who realises that the erotic flush, is not her idealised fantasy, it she who is left with the despairing, lasting lows, she who has been burgled of her time and passion. 

Her first collection NOTES ON CAFES AND BEDROOMS was published in 1963 and the second collection


You can find more information and the poems from her second collection here:


Hay-on-Wye is the home of the original book town, with what must be more miles of bookshelves than anywhere else in theUK. Every poet and writer should visit a least once year if not during the festival at the end of May into June, then at least find some time to make the pilgrimage to the pre-kindle world of real books.

All poets should visit the Poetry Bookshop, where Chris and Melanie Prince have the largest collection and range of poetry and academic studies of poetry in the country. I managed to pick up works by two of my lost poets over the weekend, who will be subject of my lost poet series in the coming weeks.

Chris and Melanie can also source books and take on-line orders, so my many readers from abroad can also make use of their services, but you can’t beat an actual visit.

The Poetry Bookshop website is at: www.poetrybookshop.co.uk


Readings in May.

3rd May – Night Blue Fruit – Taylor John’s Coventry

17th May – The Fizz 7 – Polesworth Abbey

20th May – Spoken Worlds – Burton upon Trent




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