Cheltenham Poetry Festival 2020 Postponed

In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, festival Director Anna Saunders and team have made the heartbreaking decision to postpone the Festival until late September. This also means that Anna’s book launch is also rescheduled.

Feverfew – Indigo Dreams Pubs Ltd – ‘a bold and intense collection where candid, confessional poems meet richly lyrical, mythically inspired verse.’

They’ve taken the decision to put the community’s welfare above their own means of earning a living but of course, many other events and launches have been cancelled everywhere.

No-one makes much profit (if any) from these events. Many use their own funds and who blames anyone who needs to keep going as long as possible or until their Governments restrict movement more stringently? It must be a difficult call.

I  think so much of how hardworking people are in the arts and how much they support and encourage talent, both established and newly-hatched. Indeed I and many I know have benefited hugely from their help.

It’s so upsetting to read of the hardship being encountered by independent organisations and individuals everywhere. They slip between the rules governing statutory sick pay and other funds that might help to keep their organisations and indeed themselves, going. I fear that many may not withstand this latest setback and really hope that they can get some help with the loss of income.

I’m going to ensure that I support the festival this Autumn and hope that many of us will try to support other groups as much as possible.

So here’s wishing ‘Good Luck’ to Anna and her team and to ALL other independents in a similar position and well … stay well everyone!

Anna Saunders – Cheltenham Poetry Festival Director



Cheltenham Poetry Festival – 10th Birthday 16-25 April, 2020


It’s a great festival, packed with talent; exciting, edgy and unmissable.

Check out events and book tickets here

I’ve gone ‘Wild’ and booked early for some events/workshops. More nearer the time.

  • First event is the launch of Festival Director Anna Saunders‘ new collection Feverfew from Indigo Dreams Publishing Ltd

  • Festival Director Anna Saunders and Charlie Baylis

    Anna is also a workshop leader and excellent poet. She champions both established and new poets. I’ve benefited from her workshops and had several poems published as a result. She’s lauded as:

‘a poet of quite remarkable gifts’
Bernard O’Donoghue

Anna’s reading with Charlie Baylis who is a Pushcart Prize and Forward Prize nominee and Poetry Editor of Review 31 and Assistant Editor of Broken Sleep Books.

  • Next event I’ve booked is the ‘Indi-Go Wild Showcase from Indigo Dreams’
    Ronnie Goodyer  &  Dawn Bauling
    Indigo Dreams Publishing Ltd eds. 

‘Indigo Dreams is an award-winning publisher renowned for beautifully produced poetry collections from new and established writers. Join us for one of the legendary (and usually sell-out) Indigo Showcases, featuring four exciting poets’

It will feature: co-director Ronnie Goodyer , co-director Dawn Bauling, Louisa Adjoa Parker and Jenny Mitchell.

I have read many of their poets and enjoy their work and the IDP readings.

  • Angela France and Penelope Shuttle 

    Angela France                                    Penelope Shuttle

Dr. Angela France – is senior lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Gloucestershire and widely-published poet. Her recent collection The Hill  is published by Nine Arches Press. (This is an excellent press). She’s an brilliant tutor and I’ve attended her workshops and will be pleased to rejoin them this year.

Penelope Shuttle – is a multi-award winning poet and novelist – Eric Gregory Award, Greenwood Poetry Prize, Cholmondley Award and Shortlisted for the Forward Poetry Prize and the T. S. Eliot Prize. I am very excited to hear her read!

  • ‘An Evening with Carol Ann Duffy and Friends’ 

    Carol Ann Duffy – U.K. Poet Laureate (2009-2019)Carol Ann was a U.K. Poet Laureate and is Professor and Creative Director of the Manchester Metropolitan University’s Writing School. I enjoy her work and have seen her read before but it’s always excellent.

    She’ll be reading with poets that I haven’t seen before: writer and poet, Keith Hutson, poet, writer and playwright Mark Pajak and award-winning poet Ella Duffy. So I’m excited to hear all three.

  • ‘Dear Dylan – A Tribute to Dylan Thomas with Special Guests Hannah Ellis and Roy McFarlane’ 

    I’m really looking forward to this event, especially as the great poet Dylan Thomas’ granddaughter Hannah Ellis will be:

‘offering a very personal insight into the life, soul and creative genius of this much-loved poet’.

Hannah Ellis, granddaughter of Dylan Thomas.

Hannah will be talking about her favourite of her grandfather’s poems, as will the Indigo Dreams Press poet, Roy McFarlane.

Roy McFarlane

I’ve also booked for two exciting poetry workshops –

Graham Burchill and Rosie Jackson Workshop: Beyond the Frame

Rosie Jackson                        Graham Burchill

This will be a workshop based on art so I presume will involve writing ekphrastic poetry. I enjoy using prompts such as this, so it should be really good.

Carrie Etter Workshop – Where Are You From? Selfhood, Place and Prose Poetry.

Carrie Etter

I’ve read Carrie’s collection Imagined Sons and loved it and I saw her read it at an earlier CPF. I’m very interested to work with her and also to learn more about Prose Poetry.

SO! I have a wonderful time coming up this April and I know I’ll be tempted by more events. Will feed back after then.

Happy Writing All

person holding orange pen
Photo by fotografierende on

Favourite New Year Poems

Sparkly Isla says ‘Happy New Year’!



Well Isla and I have been thinking about new year’s poems and we like this   –

December 31st


All my undone actions wander
naked across the calendar,

a band of skinny hunter-gatherers,
blown snow scattered here and there,

stumbling toward a future
folded in the New Year I secure

with a pushpin: January’s picture
a painting from the 17th century,

a still life: Skull and mirror,
spilled coin purse and a flower.

I love this poem. With it’s personification of Hoffman’s future actions as a ‘band of skinny hunter-gatherers/ blown snow scattered here and there’ as they stumble towards whatever the new year holds. Genius.

It might seem a bit morbid to talk of death in a new year’s poem! I think it’s more about beginnings and endings.

A Momento Mori
Still Life with Skull by Phillipe de Campaigne

I also like his reference to the 17th Century art of Vanitas and Momento Mori which are a reminder of our mortality but also here, a reference to the dying year. To me, it’s a reminder that a new year brings an opportunity for change – to review our actions in the knowledge that our time is limited.

He also displays a mirror, a spilled coin purse and a flower. There’ll be other, likely better, interpretations but I imagine the mirror as an invitation to look at ourselves honestly. The flower alongside the skull is literally death and life co-existing as part of the same cycle.  It could also be viewed as new life, or hope of a future and well the spilled money? Not sure but maybe a suggestion that it can’t buy immortality or maybe a suggestion not be wasteful, or to share it perhaps! Maybe you’ll know … or maybe all interpretations are valid.

I’m interested to know of more favourite ‘new year’ poems … 

Happy New Decade one and all!

May it bring greater peace and understanding 💕

Favourite Winter Poems : Trance by Paul Muldoon

Poet Paul Muldoon

Paul Muldoon was born in 1951 in Portadown, County Armagh, and was raised near The Moy, in Northern Ireland. His mother was a schoolteacher and his father a farm laborer and market gardener. He is the author of a number of poetry collections, including New Weather (1973), Why Brownlee Left (1980), Quoof (1983), Meeting the British (1987), New Selected Poems: 1968-1994 (1996), Hay (1998), Moy Sand and Gravel (2002), which won the Pulitzer Prize and the Griffin Poetry Prize, Horse Latitudes (2006), and most recently One Thousand Things Worth Knowing (2015), Selected Poems 1968-2104 (2016), and Frolic and Detour (2019). He has also published collections of criticism, children’s books, opera libretti, song lyrics, and works for radio and television.

See the source image
Amanita Mucaria/Fly Agaric or Fly Amanita

I’m choosing his as my favourite Winter poem, as it offers the excitement of raw, chill from the mythical ‘North’. Fly Agaric mushrooms have an hallucinogenic property. They hold a religious significance for people from Siberia and the Sami peoples of Scandinavia, who imbibe them. It’s said that when the Sami people then urinate in the snow outside their dwellings, the Reindeer come and drink it, in order to benefit from the pyschoactive properties!

Trance by Paul Muldoon

My mother opens the scullery door
on Christmas Eve, 1954,
to empty the dregs
of the tea-pot on the snowy flags.
A wind out of Siberia
carries such voices as will carry
through to the kitchen—

Someone mutters a flame from lichen
and eats the red-and-white Fly Agaric
while the others hunker in the dark,
taking it in turn
to drink his mind-expanding urine.
One by one their reindeer
nuzzle in.

My mother slams the door
on her star-cluster of dregs
and packs me off to bed.
At 2 a.m. I will clamber downstairs
to glimpse the red-and-white
up the chimney, my new rocking horse
as yet unsteady on its legs.

’12 Days of Christmas’ – Ink Sweat & Tears Webzine

I’m so delighted to have my poem ‘Season’s Greetings from the Heart’ included amongst such wonderful work in Ink Sweat & Tears webzine today for their ’12 Days of Christmas’ theme – with thanks to Helen and Kate. 

It’s here on the ‘Third Day of Christmas’ feature – Christmas Eve spot.  @InkSweatTears

IS&T is amongst my favourite poetry and prose webzines. There was much excellent competition so I’m delighted and very lucky to be included. 

The theme lasts until 2nd January and there will be some incredible poetry to come IS&T’s ‘12 Days of Christmas’  theme.

Merry Christmas and here’s to a happier and more peaceful 2020. xx

Winter, Wintry, Snow, Snow Landscape, Christmas, Nature


Poetry: Review -The Anatomical Venus by Helen Ivory *****

I’m a huge fan of Helen Ivory’s work. Both a visual artist and poet, her language paints luminous word-pictures and IMHO, her latest collection is one of her very best. I urge anyone interested in poetry to read Helen’s work. Her voice is highly original, with striking imagery and language.
I think that she’s one of the U.K. best. (Scroll down for my review)

Image may contain: 1 person
The Anatomical Venus (Bloodaxe, 2019)

Her artwork won an award for best cover.

See Helen’s website here:

Helen also edits the renowned poetry zine ‘Ink Sweat & Tears Poetry and Prose Webzine’ with publisher Kate Birch. You can read and submit here:

See mine and other reviews and purchase Helen’s book here:

Amazon Customer Review by Kathryn Alderman

K. M. Alderman5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful, a ‘must-read’.Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 7 November 2019Format: Paperback

Helen Ivory’s parlour doll on the cover of The Anatomical Venus (Bloodaxe Books, 2019), echoes what’s within. The collaged, angel-winged beauty, be-skirted in a dead wedding bouquet, will be ‘served up’ as morsels of her othering in her many incarnations. She is a wanton sex-siren, witch, feeble-headed ‘slattern’ or unclean invalid – at once, Coventry Patmore’s housebound Angel (1854) and Kramer’s witch (1487) and all states between.

Through referencing numerous written sources and historical events, Ivory offers a pinpoint analysis of the received wisdom about women. For example, she cites nineteenth century asylum records and Freud in ‘Female Casebook 6’ (p.26) and ‘Housewife Psychosis’ (p.18) and references Shakespeare’s Ophelia (p.48) amongst a host of feminine constructs.

Through masterful language and imagery, Ivory conjures a collage of stories and voices, or the voiceless ventriloquized. In ‘Stillborn’ (37)

‘a half-made girl
with a secret interred in her womb’

whose grief at loosing her ‘unborn’ is voiced only through her disturbed behaviours in St. Andrew’s Asylum. Or Venus morphs into a

‘blood and earth caked’

wise woman in ‘Cunning’ (23). She guides women through to birth with ancient wisdom foraged from hedgerow pantries, whilst the physician who ‘invents’ himself in the ‘empirical light of day’ will ‘rip off [your daughter’s] head with forceps’.

Venus is confined under the weight of societal dictates, where even the voice of God pronounces her wanton nature in for example in ‘The Kept House’ (12). However, Ivory’s humour often gilds the burden with satirical observation:

‘When the Lord spoke unto her
He had already taken up residence
inside her house
and had much reduced her larder’ (34).

The Anatomical Venus of the title was an Eighteen Century phenomenon. These were wax forms of reclining female nudes, beauties with real hair and pearls, whose torsos could be removed for the male gaze to examine the internal organs, as though with some museum exhibit. Helen Ivory’s portraits weave an overview of women’s ‘othering’, of the entrenched ways in which the feminine principle has been and is subjugated and abused. It is masterful, a ‘must-read’ for all.

Helen reads from ‘The Anatomical Venus’

Learning how to use WordPress, William Wordsworth and Unrest in the U.K. …


I seem to have used two similar posts for my first entries to WordPress. Apologies. I thought I’d lost the first draft so made a second one, which was slightly shorter than the first, due to running out of patience! Hey ho.

I was going to post a poetry review today but instead, wanted to say this –

Everything Stops for Tea!

There May Be Trouble Ahead …

There’s a Great British Cliche that any difficult issue, be it M&S selling out of your favourite knickers or trying to solve the global Climate Emergency, that can’t be improved with a ‘nice’ cup of tea.

A Nice Cup of Tea

To say that things are ‘very difficult’ here in the U.K. and in England in particular is an example of the fine British art of understatement. Floods, climate emergency, political turmoil, austerity, and unrest on a global scale; we need an awful lot more tea.

We’ve had a very contentious vote on BREXIT (the decision for Britain to leave the European Union) and the whole of the U.K. is still divided along set lines of Remain or Leave.

I keep hearing William Wordsworth’s words …

London, 1802

Milton! thou shouldst be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life’s common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.

From the Poetry Foundation

… okay, a little on the idealistic side maybe, but a call to be better at least.

I’ll be up front and say that I was and am still, a ‘Remainer’. I believe our nations should have the right to choose to either accept the ‘deal’ made by politicians or reject it, as its consequences will echo down the generations. BUT I am not into attacking anyone who wanted to Leave the EU and a lot of people are very concerned at this toxic culture of ‘othering’ people. If we profoundly disagree and can’t resolve issues through debate then I’d argue it’s time to stop to reconsider our course of action.

Things have gone too far when our Press and Politicians, on all sides of the divide, can’t feel safe due to death threats and actual physical assault. I think now of the horrendous and vile murder of Labour Politician, Jo Cox. Someone decided to stab her when she left her constituency office, because they didn’t agree with her Pro-European stance. All her dedication and caring for the people she represented, were completely overlooked through this act of blind fury and left her young children without a mother. What are we thinking?

It’s such a wonderful testament to her memory that Jo’s family have continued her legacy with the Jo Cox Foundation

‘Our vision is for a kinder, more compassionate society where every individual has a sense of belonging and where we recognise that we have more in common than that which divides us.’

Jo Cox Foundation at


Hostility and intolerance has become a part of our every day it seems but I’m pretty sure that whatever dark forces swirl beneath these uncertainties, they can’t win as long as we still have HOPE.

Let’s end on a lighter note! Here’s Professor Elemental with his take on Jack Buchanan 1930’s song ‘Everything Stops for Tea’ best served with a tasty portion of irony – enjoy!

‘Everything Stops for Tea’ version by Professor Elemental, award-winning hip hop artist and poet

Writing and Me

This image from my homepage was taken in the Chained Library at Hereford Cathedral.

I had a magical visit there with Frank, my late Dad and remember the awe that I felt at the huge amount of knowledge surrounding us in this C17 library. I remember Dad joking that he felt like a youngster amidst the aged tomes: he was 93 yrs old!

Hereford Cathedral also houses the Mappa Mundi – and reveals a fascinating insight into C13 scholars’ view of the world.

A detail from the Mappa Mundi
Mappa Mundi at Hereford Cathedral

A bit about me …

I’m a poet and will add some links to my published work here later on.
This blog was set up some time ago but I’ve been caring for my Dad as he descended into dementia. He would have been delighted to see this and probably be quite stunned at the mention of him! (Below, I post my poem that I read at his funeral)

I’ve recently stepped down from Chairing The Gloucestershire Writers’ Network (GWN) which is a wonderful organisation that promotes writers, poets, groups and events. GWN organises an annual prose and poetry competition where the winners receive very good cash prizes, and they and the runners-up are published and read at the prestigious Times and the Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival.

You can find out more about both organisations here

I’m looking forward to returning to my own creative writing in 2020. Next post will be my review of Helen Ivory’s The Anatomical Venus (Bloodaxe, 2019)

I’ll finish for today with a poem for my Dad and for all lovely Dads out there … it’s on the Good Dadhood website here: – cheerio for now


Just you and me, and the tchck, tchck
of your hobnails, spading
stony grey buttercream
for the patio.

I love your talk of optimal ratios —
sand, water, cement,
but it’s hard to stay rapt
when the world’s a grassy bank
with worms to scream at,
and stepping-stone ants who promise
other means of construction.

If you’d wanted a boy
you never said.
Applauded my preference
for daisy chain decoration,
yum-yummed over mud pie teas.

Later, I learned
how you layered rare elements
to buttress my shaky mettle.

Now I spade up that same blend
of unconditional 
pass it back for you.

Kathryn and Frank at Hereford Cathedral

My First Blog Post

Writing and Me

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

This is the first post on my new blog so please bear with whilst I get the hang of it. It was set up some time ago, at the time of writing it’s November 2019 so I’m a bit late but here we go!

The photo on my home page was taken in the beautiful ‘Chained Library’ at Hereford Cathedral U.K.

I had a magical visit to this C17 library, with my late Dad. It was awesome to be surrounded by literally the weight of knowledge surrounding us. I remember my then 93 yr old Dad joking that he felt like a youngster amidst such aged tomes.

Hereford Cathedral also homes a Mappa Mundi

A detail from the Mappa Mundi

Dating from C13, it’s a fascinating insight into how the scholars viewed our planet.

As for me – I’m a poet and will post up links to some of my work soon. I recently stepped down from a three year period of chairing – The Gloucestershire Writers’ Network (GWN) from 2016-19.

It’s a wonderful network which promotes writers, events and groups. GWN organises an annual poetry and prose competition where the winners receive cash prizes and they and the runners-up are published and read their wining entries at the prestigious Time and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

See here for our prose and poetry winners 2019 and also to find our more about GWN

Poetry winner Sarah Hemings
Sarah Hemings – GWN Poetry Winner 2019

Prose Winner Julie Carthy
Julie Carthy – GWN Prose Winner 2019

It’s been wonderful to see so many writers and poets further their talent and become ‘names’ on the writing circuit.

I’ve taken time out from my writing to care for my Dad as he declined into dementia and this blog is really my way of moving on, as he would have wished. So here’s to him, Dad, Frank – and I share the poem I wrote for him and read at his funeral. It’s on a wonderful website called Good Dadhood in honour of all those great Dads out there

See the source image


Just you and me, and the tchck, tchck
of your hobnails, spading
stony grey buttercream
for the patio.

I love your talk of optimal ratios —
sand, water, cement,
but it’s hard to stay rapt
when the world’s a grassy bank
with worms to scream at,
and stepping-stone ants who promise
other means of construction.

If you’d wanted a boy
you never said.
Applauded my preference
for daisy chain decoration,
yum-yummed over mud pie teas.

Later, I learned
how you layered rare elements
to buttress my shaky mettle.

Now I spade up that same blend
of unconditional 
pass it back for you.

Frank and Kathryn at Hereford Cathedral

I’m looking forward to blogging about writing events, publications and poetry in particular. Coming next, look out for my review of Helen Ivory’s The Anatomical Venus (Bloodaxe, 2019)

It’s great to be writing again and I will be returning to my own creative writing in 2020 – no doubt, detailing the highs and lows of submitting. See you soon 🙂