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Monday, 28 September 2015


A welcome start to a week, in Beaton's Tearooms, Chester, to gather a group of writers together, and share poetry and breakfast for an hour! The event was very well-supported, Beaton's breakfast was excellent - croissants, pains au raisins, toasted tea cakes or simple toast and jam, lots of tea or coffee, and the poems read were very good, our theme was City life and we had poems on the good side of city life and the dark side, poems about London, Prague, Chester and Liverpool, poems about trains, traffic lights, bridges and many more. An hour's worth of delight for all concerned! We also had poems on the city walls, provided by Julia McGuinness who is soon to launch her first collection, about our historic walls, on October 21st, at Alexander's jazzbar.

We'll be running another event on Monday 2nd November, when the theme is "The Zoo". Chester Zoo has just added an elaborate section based on islands of the world and we hope for some poems on this theme, but anything to do with zoos, zoo animals, zoo keepers, visitors, the human zoo etc, will be welcomed.

Julia McGuinness

Thursday, 23 July 2015


Helena Nelson has recently posted an article about Buttons on her blog at Happenstance Press. She kindly included my poem "The Wayward Button" as an example of how buttons can pinpoint a memory.

It seems from the responses that many people love their old button tins, often passed down from Grannies, or mums. I had such a tin once but it annoyed me that  - all those buttons!  - and I could never find a suitable replacement button in it when I needed one, so I gave it to a friend who does craftwork.

However I did keep a bagful of very beautiful glass buttons. Which I'll probably never use....but I might.

Sunday, 19 July 2015


Haven't posted anything lately as I've been sitting with my leg up on a pillow after falling off a wall; it's been too painful to sit and type but things are improving rapidly now and I am hoping to continue my series of reviews of the work of contributors to "Caboodle" (Prole Books), very soon.
I have tweeted occasionally because that's quick!!
Been thinking about the word 'common' as a prefix to so many species - saw a 'Common Footman Moth' , my first, the other day and fell in love with  its elegant beauty - anything but common. And since we are losing so much now, nothing deserves such a prefix.
I have a poem considering this question in a forthcoming Scholastic publication for children - 'The Common Newt' which will appear in Funny Poems for Children, (Animals) in September.

Monday, 18 May 2015


Did my usual "Sunday Posting" of tweets, mostly about country things, flowers, scenes, trees, quirky things noticed. I love wandering round with my camera taking pics of things that delight me, and tweeting is my way of sharing these with the world. Not that the world is very interested but that doesn't matter!

You can find me on Twitter   @mcevoygill

Thursday, 7 May 2015


I have some readings looming, hoorah!:

Bradford Lit Fest, 16th May: reading with fellow poet/ novelist Mandy Sutter at Bradford library, 2pm.  I'll be reading a selection of my poetry.

Barnton Library Cheshire, Monday 18th May, also with Mandy Sutter. As above.

Much Wenlock,   June 11th, 9.00am-10.00am.  Guest reader at Anna Dreda's Poetry Breakfast, Tea on the Square.

Ledbury Poetry Festival.    Sunday July 5th, 2pm, in the panelled room, The Master's House. I'll be reading from "The First Telling",  my recent Happenstance pamphlet.

Sunday, 3 May 2015


It's the turn of Russell Jones' collection "Our Terraced Hum", the shortest collection in 'Caboodle', consisting of 13 sonnets.
In her foreword to "Caboodle"  Angela Readman suggests the poems  have a slightly voyeuristic quality to them, since they are based very much on observations of other people's lives. I think I would say they are minutely observed by a poet with a very sharp eye for the goings-on of urban lives. In the very first poem the poet states 'I sit watching the lives of others, fan/ whirring, reeling in the sweaty cling/ of life.' But includes himself in that 'sweaty cling' by using the first person - it is 'our terraced hum', not theirs.

"The Flat Opposite" depicts a couple who've long lost interest in each other: the woman goes to take a candle-lit bath and when she reappears dressed only 'in the flowers of white smoke' she finds the man busy flicking through TV channels, oblivious to her presence , though the poet is not - he appreciates seeing this 'goddess' through his window. Voyeuristic perhaps, but you get a feeling of lost opportunity, an underlying wistfulness in the face of human indifference one to the other.

Jones has a good grasp of country life despite these sonnets having urban settings. In "The Back Room" an old mirror recalls for the inhabitant a country childhood rich with the smells of strawberries, memories of ploughed fields, summer bathing with friends. It is relegated to the back room, while its owner 'treads the torn beige carpet... a clock/ marking his exit through vast streams of corn,/ larks screeching'. Likewise in "Garden State" we meet someone who surrounds himself with wild flowers who 'swims/ in the rainbow of life that surrounds him'. Both poems remarkable for their countryside knowledge.

In three of the poems there is a strong hint at desire for escape from the urban scene of 'hot rod bawling down the road ....gaggles of drunks...brotherhood hymns from the football grounds'. Pigeons become angels, the reek and fume of the street become a dragon on whose back you could clamber and  name your destination "Above the 100% Human Hair Extension Salon". "Reflections on the Dog House" has a similar yearning where the dogs are tired of the 'bright and brash' streets, wanting to escape into 'a cradle of stars'. In "Loft Conversion, The Smoking Gallery" an ageing man pours a drink and remembers a stag he shot in '37 with the'old ghost of his gun'. His loft dwelling is a 'haven of eyes in the desert/ of a blind city.' as if he were still out hunting as before. What he has lost 'remains in the art of preservation', a hoof, antlers, a tail.

Russell Jones' language is terse and to the point,with a harsh urban overtone that sometimes peels away to reveal the nostalgic beauty of a far-off remembered world. A short collection but a very fine one.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015


Caboodle, published by Prole Books,  is an interesting and successful collection of the work of 6 featured writers.I am delighted to be one of them. I feel the only way to comment on the collection is to take each poet's work one by one so I'll begin with the first:

 Karina Vidler.

Her included pamphlet of work is titled "Facing", well-named as the poems face up very bravely to many truths about ageing, middle-life angst, the need for love, children grown and leaving home and  elderly parents dying - the classic middle-age sandwich.
In some of the poems there is a strong smack of the ageing cougar,  a woman who knows herself to have 'sags and bags and lines', rejecting men with 'sprawling gut, balding head' in contemplated favour of encouraging a young man to light  'his fuse to an experienced slow burn' Very French, very Collette!  (from "May I have an Arctic Monkey please?", Page 16.)

Vidler is not exactly kind to herself: in "Here we go again" she recalls past misdemeanours at school, and now, menopausal,  rushing to a poetry class she writes 'I am bad./ I have arrived late./ I must wait/ until the good students have read their poems.' A savage honesty is frequently found in these poems, they are like lemon juice without enough honey - shocking but sharply wonderful! And clever as they embrace humanely many experiences common to anyone getting older.

The child leaving home for example: in "Second" she and her daughter are waiting at Euston for the L'pool train, the mother worrying that nothing is packed in plastic bags and if the zip on the case snaps, there will be 'a fountain of lacy knickers' everywhere. The daughter tells how her boyfriend's mother wept in the car when he left, and they console themselves with the joke that the second child's departure is not so harrowing since the 'furrow' has already been 'ploughed' by the first.It ends with the mother saying to herself 'I can't tell you how this pain is not one bit easier/ not one bit less.' Deeply touching.

The need for love at any age is beautifully written about: in "Impossibility" she describes ' getting by on random scraps of love', the brush of an arm or a leg in a train, until a gay man at work shows her kindness, giving her cash for a BLT when she's left her purse at home, offers her 'virtual hugs' on a bad day etc. And the poem ends truthfully and wistfully "I must understand./Your partner is a very lucky man.'

"My Love Affair with Frasier" carries the same theme; in this witty poem loyalty to a TV series offers a kind of simulated love like the 'virtual hugs' of the former poem. 'I didn't mind when you started to repeat yourself;/ it was comforting knowing what you were going to say next.' And concluding 'as this nest finally empties/ I'm going to need you more than ever.'

The poems also display great tenderness: "Psyche Ranimee par le Baiser del'Amour" deals again with the 'hormone-fuelled cougar' but ends poignantly with reference to Canova's staue of Eros bending to awaken Psyche 'she's all yearning and straining' but the god 'holds her gently/ and there's no humiliation, only love.'

A strong, refreshingly honest collection of poems about what it means to be human. I really enjoyed these.