Category Archives: Poetry

Poem: Migratory Roots

By Robin Collins



this great mnemonic,

land of the English, Celt and flint knappers of another age.

The seas wrap around her cliffs,

never letting the kingdom sleep,

haunting her people

with the foam capped thud of waves,

telling us to remember, remember.

The seas carried our distant ancestors,

unrecorded faces and names,

making the way across,

that ancient pollination of migration.


Britain in the becoming,

the great life stream of cultures.

Without the crossing over,

this island would be unnamed;

for all the towns and rivers

we speak were names

on a tongue that came

over the waves.

This is who we have,

swirling in the coda of our blood:


The sea reminds us we all go back

to some long forgotten family in a boat,

making the journey to stay,

to home make.

This island in the midst of moving peoples.

Poetry news from Words and Ears

By Dawn Gorman

How appropriate for a Words & Ears falling on a hot, hot evening that we should find ourselves among Liz Watts’ Beached imaginings, and cooled, in the imagination if not literally, by the water-and-shady-woods imagery from Elephant’s Footprint films. That, though, was just the start of things at the Swan last week. The one-off collaboration between sculptor and film-makers produced something quite ‘other’ for the senses – the gorgeous synergies of those skies, wavelets and woods flitting and flickering over Liz’s work, the plinths and the walls, (clouds beneath sea shells and sea women – a poem in itself) created what felt like a brand new, three-dimensional, multi-layered art form. There was something mesmeric and soothing about the readings, too – Chaucer Cameron’s poems were all the more powerful for their uncomplicated delivery, without preamble. ‘Water seeps into our land’, she said, and so the theme settled with us all – Liz let the whales and blue fin tuna swim free, while in the open mic, Pey was ‘as indivisible as water’, Paul gave us George Mackay Brown’s ‘dreaming plankton’, and with Peter is was possible to ‘catch fish with our eyes’. In the second half, we were treated to a curation of rich and gentle poetry films by Helen Dewbery, showing something of what is possible with this delicious form. Jodie Hollander maintained the mood with a powerful but lilting reading from her new collection My Dark Horses and, among many wonderful poems in the second open mic, we were treated to a reading of Rosie’s poem The Heaven That Runs Through Everything, which recently won the Stanley Spencer Poetry Competition.

Coming up this month there are two Words & Ears events – we are Live! At the Old Road Tavern In Chippenham on Saturday 24th June as part of ChippFest, with open mic plus guest poets Crysse Morrison, Moira Andrew, Ruth Marden, Partrick Osada, Peter Wyton and Maggie Harris (£3 on the door) – please visit for more details of this brilliant arts and music festival.

Then we are back at the Swan on Thursday 29th June for a three-woman poet night with Kate Noakes, Beatrice Garland and Lisa Brockwell, plus, of course, open mic (£4 on the door – with more poets’ expenses to cover, there’s a teeny price increase this time).

You can find more information on Dawn Gorman’s website

Koinos Hermes

A Dance With Hermes is a verse sequence in which award-winning novelist Lindsay Clarke explores the trickster nature of Hermes, the messenger god of imagination. Clarke travels with Hermes into the shifting possibilities of language, dreams, travel, theft, tweets, and trading floors, alchemy and the otherworld.

Here’s a poem from A Dance With Hermes:

Koinos Hermes

The work begins and ends with him: the sly
light-fingered god of crossways, transit,
emails and exchange, the wing-heeled, shifty,
wheeler-dealing go-between, who’ll slip right

through your fingers if you try to pin
him down. For he is labile, street-wise
and trans-everything. He is the one
two-fold hermaphrodite who’ll rise

up sprightly from the earth and turn to air,
and then descend into the underworld
to point his wand at philosophic gold.
You’ll find him anywhere and nowhere,

ever the unexpected messenger, who sends
you glimpses of the wet fire and the lit dark
in the loded stone. With him the magic work,
of which one may not speak, begins and ends.

Buy the book directly from the publisher – (buying directly is of greatest benefit to the author)

Buy the book on Amazon –


Irresistible Resistance

By Robin Collins


Let our resistance

be an irresistible,

bringing together

of the Stars and the Earth in our lives.


Let our resistance

be insistence on beauty and wonder,

let us be beyond

the deadening repetition of machines.


In all ways

we are evolving towards

the spiralling of creation.


Spirals in the resistance

will take us like starlings,

murmuring through

the shattering pieces

of where

we have come to,

arrived for the first time

in the middle of ourselves.


Spinning in the

time we create,

let our resistance,

weave worlds into our words,

adorn our paths,

through day and night,

with friendship,


Let this be our resistance,

sound as a well built house,

we can stand,

and belong in the place we are now,





and frost.


We become,


in our resistance,

to the webbing

of life’s fullness.


Of all we

lock away

now the walls and chains

are blown away.



we have found

child’s play,

is irresistible in our resistance.


Writing on the Wall: How can Poetry Can Save the Planet?

Poets, thinkers, writers and people who care for the natural world will gather in Waterloo on Saturday, June 3, 2017 for a unique interactive day of exploring and learning how poetry can help us protect the environment.

We’re delighted to announce that a number of Awen authors will be participating in this event.

Writing on the Wall is:

  • A day of poetic action and reflection for the planet. The first in a series.
  • A chance for new and established poets, budding writers, fans of poetry and anyone stirred by the environment message and crisis to build a vision of what the world might be, using poetry as a catalyst.
  • A new collaboration between poets and the wider world of faiths, ecologists and governments
  • Supported by The Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), WWF-UK and the Southbank Festival’s Belief and Beyond Belief, of which Writing on the Wall is part.

The conservation movement’s language is so often of fear, anger and despair. But poetry can take us down different paths, and find wonder there. Our invitation to the audience during this interactive day is to help build a vision, through words, of what the world might be. To go beyond the boundaries of despair and think again about the way we live in this world. And to explore a way of being together, being part of the world and not apart from it.

“Poetry, at its best, speaks directly to both heart and mind,” said poet Jay Ramsay who has put the programme together for the Southbank Festival. “It can do what little else can do. It can speak a language that moves beyond the data of climate change, beyond the tragedy of habitat loss and species extinction, into a place of truth, where we can find a vision of a different kind of ending. Effective poetry stirs us, evoking reactions and provoking thought and, hopefully, action and commitment.

Writing on the Wall is an invitation to everyone to step “beyond a world of eco-deliverables and eco-miserables” and to delight in the wonder of the world around us.

The full day programme includes a writing workshop on how to incorporate a true and authentic vision of nature into your writing. Throughout the day there are talks, discussions, meditations and performances featuring poets, musicians, conservationists, writers and representatives from faith, spirituality and publishing groups.

The poets, speakers and musicians include: Jeni Couzyn, Glyn Davies (WWF), Aidan Andrew Dun, Irina Kuzminsky, Paul Matthews, Caroline McCausland, Niall McDevitt, Jehanne Mehta, Gabriel Bradford Millar, Helen Moore, Anthony Nanson, Peter Owen Jones, Jay Ramsay, Nigel Shaw and others.


Next steps

This is just the beginning. There are plans for an event at Dartington College in April 2018 and the project encourages anyone who is interested to take this further, using poetry – their own poems or other people’s – to provoke discussion, encourage debate and give hearts and minds a good shake.



Venue: St John’s Waterloo

Date: Saturday June 3, 2017

Times: 10.00 to 17.30, activities throughout the day. Tickets: £20

Further details and bookings:

Saucy stamp licking for poets

By Dawn Gorman

It was a packed and dynamic evening last Thursday at Words & Ears, when Susan Utting and Rishi Dastidar took up the guest poet challenge, both reading from their brand new collections, Half the Human Race and Ticker-tape. Huge thanks to them, and to guest MC Sam Loveless, who had things masterfully under control in his lovely relaxed and entertaining way. The first half was, everyone was quick to tell me in the interval, ‘absolutely brilliant’ (really sorry I missed that); in the second, I particularly loved hearing an example of one of Rishi’s deconstructed sonnets, and can’t quite forget the poem that likened having sex with him to licking stamps: posting a letter will never feel quite the same again… Susan intrigued us by opening a window in a painting and, while telling us she was ‘Too Old to Die Young’, seduced us all with a deliciously split apricot…

Thanks as always to those who came to read and to listen, who included Pey Oh Colborne (with a poem from her excellent series about her family – loved the rats that ‘shiver through the bandaged shadows’), Sue Boyle (with a gorgeous extract from her novel-in-progress), Stephen Payne, Josephine Corcoran, Linda Saunders, Lesley Saunders, Frances-Anne King (with an intriguing poem from her sequence about the head, performed in two voices with Lesley), Rachael Clyne, Jinny Fisher, Liz Watts, Dru Marland, Ruth Sharman, John Ellison Kitching, Paul Brokensha, Luke Palmer, Hattie Parker, Francis Deas, Rosie Jackson, Brian Reid, Tom and many others…

So, we’re going to follow that, on Thursday May 25th, with an exciting one-night-only film-poem-and-sculpture collaboration between Elephant’s Footprint (aka Chaucer Cameron and Helen Dewbery) and award-winning sculptor Liz Watts. This will feature a unique screening of UK and international poetry films within a mini installation of Liz’s work. Chaucer will read work from Elephant’s Footprint film collections on the theme of waterscapes and landscapes, to echo Liz’s current artwork from her installation Beached, Liz herself will read some of her work, and, as I’ve been collaborating with her on the Beached project for the past 18 months, I will read a few of my poetry responses from that, too. Open mic contributions, particularly on those waterscape and landscape themes, are hugely welcome.

As if all that wasn’t enough, there’ll also be the chance to catch a reading by US poet Jodie Hollander, who is in on tour on the UK and has fitted us into her busy schedule. Her full collection, My Dark Horses, is published by Liverpool University Press.

Incidentally, Liz’s time on the beach at Greenhill Cottage Gallery in Southwick, near Trowbridge, BA14 9PR, has been extended by popular demand, so you can catch the Beached installation on May 12, 1-8pm, May 13, 11-7, and May 14 & 15, 11-6. Complimentary evening drinks on the Friday and Saturday, and tea on Sunday afternoon!

I’m really looking forward to all this – hope to see you there (buckets and spades optional, but do bring your poems!).

Indigenous by Jay Ramsay

This is a poem continuing the theme of working through my illness, which has produced Surgery (Yew Tree Press, 2015), Left Field, and Al-Chemo (the last two unpublished/work in progress). This kind of writing has not only helped me explore a very deep and challenging process, it has also been very much about sharing it with others, not least because much of it is uncharted territory. All of this deepens the emphasis in Places of Truth (my main individual Awen collection so far) into a ‘poetry of the body’, which is also (it seems to me) largely unwritten, or written certainly more by women than men, closer to biological reality, less attached to logos-as-transcendence. The body means eros, and that is why it is so rich and healing a subject for me right now; and of course its domain is deep ecology—it has to be ! The body is perhaps our ultimate place of truth, even though we go ‘through’ it and beyond…



Left side, left field, after all that hard driving

it rises, a silent mound as if with a mouth

an O on the left of the throat, neck

swollen glands, lymph. How

does the body speak ? How else—


the truth is always beneath.

To read it you have to bend or kneel

as if to a tiny wild flower…

you have to have a conversation.


The doctor does drama

erring on the side of caution.

You do instinct—you do indigenous,

swelling means ? Immunity compromised

infection associated. Swelling feels?

It’s true, I’m a little tired

in the truth beneath.


And it’s trying to drain

the poison that remains

the paradoxical two-sided snake.


You go non-linear: you swell with listening

you receive, and the swell is abating

taking its time


you don’t hurry this Indian.

He walks as you could be walking

fasts as you are fasting

to the point of stillness

where your spirit begins to grow strong.




Long ago, in a café of my childhood

where we had fish & chips with tomato sauce

(cod always, and mushy peas) the proprietor there

sported a goitre on his neck.


We were fascinated, repelled, in awe.

What did it mean? How had it come to be?

Had he lost control?


Poor man, he looked like Frankenstein

bolted through his neck—

but commanding respect.


We were drilled to be polite,

and of course never mention it.


And we dreaded his fate.





The body’s fate is to speak, always

healthy or sick, striding or limping

in the truth beneath.


Ours is to learn the language

always before it’s too late

and there are no more Indians.


They are everywhere here, invisible

where we become invisible

immersed in listening.


And then we rise, and Mother of God

we will grow strong.