Monthly Archives: March 2017

14 Ways to Write an Ekphrastic Poem

You will find this interesting and useful article on the website of the poet Martyn Crucefix.  He gives examples of poems under each of the 14 headings.  I came across the article just the other week, timely as I’m doing a Poetry School course held at the Manchester Art Gallery.

Martyn has divided these 14 ways into five subgroups:- Through Description, Through Ventriloquism, Through Interrogation, Through Giving an Account and, finally, Come At a Tangent.  He suggests people try to write one a day for the next fortnight.

I doubt I’ll manage one a day, but I’ve taken heart from the article: I have lots of abandoned ekphrastic poems, because one tutor was adamant that such poems have no merit if they merely describe!

World Poetry Day

I ran away to sea many years ago.  In 1969 I arrived in London as an economic migrant and went to register with the “Aliens Office”.  P&O Lines Ltd had offered me a job as a WAP (Woman Assistant Purser) and I joined my first ship, the Arcadia.  The small flags on my blue uniform jacket and white dresses showed that I could speak Dutch, French and German to all the European passengers who were going to start a new life in Australia and New Zealand.

The haiku below was first published in the 2004 Members’ Anthology of the British Haiku Society.  The theme that year was “Other”.

down on the quayside

the band playing; their faces

already smaller

Happy World Poetry Day!



To honour International Women’s Day I’m posting this poem about a woman.  It was first published in The Best of Manchester Poets, vol. 2, published by Puppywolf (2011).  I aimed to give the reader enough clues (the Gauloises cigarettes, the stubborn streak) for them to be able to guess the identity of this woman before they read the final lines.

It’s a good prompt: with which historical figure (famous or infamous) could you have gone to school, college, university with?  Did you even sit next to them in the classroom?  What were they like then?


One of the girls I went to college with

was Joan who’d left home early.

She smoked Gauloises, had a stubborn

streak, wanted to study philosophy.

We thought she was depressed; she cut

herself and once put out a cigarette on her arm.

I wish I’d asked her why.  I can see her now

with that hair cropped short, staring straight ahead.

People shouting, the smoke, the crackling fire.

Too hot, I need to step back.





Broken biscuits

I’m chuffed to learn that my prose poem Broken biscuits has made it into an anthology of poems about Yorkshire, published by Valley Press.  The proofs came through the other day.  I am in good company with many well-known poets including the current Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

The launch is in Leeds on Saturday 18 March, a few days after I’m launching Another life in the International Anthony Burgess Foundation here in Manchester.  A good many poems in the book were written there in the Engine Room.

I admire those poets who perform a piece from memory.  I’ve decided to learn Broken biscuits well enough so I can perform it from memory: Is there poetry in broken biscuits?  Discuss.  The short answer is yes, provided it is articulated in the unashamedly Yorkshire, tongue-in-cheek, twinkle-in-the-voice tones of … (insert name of a very well-known poet living in Barnsley)…