Posts Tagged ‘contemporary poetry’

Second Light – Poem of the Month
Round 9, Month 6: This month’s judge is Ruth O’Callaghan. Her winning poet is Angela Croft with her poem Dancing with Chagall. Her 4 commended poems are by Shirley Bell, Jill Munro, Marg Roberts and Sue Wood.

I was also very pleased to receive five copies of this – my poem The Clones of Tithonus  is included.
And Gemma Baker,  who is a fellow member of Lincoln Creative Writers, and very active in the poetry scene in Lincoln through Mouth Piece Poets, is also one of the finalists and has a poem in the book!

poetry rivals 15

I have had a positive time just lately as my news for the next Second Light newsletter shows! You can also tell there is a very very strict word count allowed! Actually I have not got all of the poems in yet – but there will be a Word doc soon with all my published poetry from 1982 to 2016. I wanted to finish it in time for my operation on Monday as I do not know how I will be afterwards, but I don’t know if I can manage it. (Well I can’t!)

“All of Shirley Bell’s poetry is now in the Special Collection Archive, University of Lincoln. A poem is in Poetry Rivals 2015 The Finalists. She is in the final of the Stamford Poet Laureate competition. Her poem, Igloo, made the shortlist in the Five Words competition and will be published in Five Words Vol IX.  She also reached the shortlist of 2016 Blackwater Poetry Group Competition.”







At last I have a bit of free time so my poor neglected blog is being updated.

The most exciting thing that has happened lately is that my poetry is going in the University of Lincoln Archive.

I recorded some of my work on Thursday 3rd of March after Claire Arrand  took me, the poet Paul Sutherland, and Mark, the engaging sound recordist, on an engrossing tour of the . I even saw some medieval graffiti, and Margaret Thatcher’s Latin/English dictionary. The illuminated manuscripts are incredible. The library is a warren and Claire has got a monumental job!

I am trying to get all my published poetry from 1982 to the present in a Word document so that it will be available on-line as part of the archive but I’ve found that scanning in with an optical reader gets the text but not the formatting – I keep putting it off because it is so time-consuming. It is almost finished but I slink off and do other things instead.. mainly painting.. but I think one or two more sessions will see it done. It is a strange experience to go back in time through my poetry to when I was a young mother with 3 children desperately trying to find the time to write; it is a diary really. Lately the poetry is dealing with illness and dementia instead.

My poem The Scarecrow Christ is being featured this month It’s timely with Easter almost here. Is it a religious poem? I am outside the sweet shop looking in and wondering, but I don’t open the door.

The Scarecrow Christ

The fields are flat and brown, it’s hard to think
they’ll ever stand high with corn, flare with rape
again this summer. For now the scarecrows lurch
at crazy angles. They trail old coats and rags.
Polythene bags flap around the suggestions of
their shoulders. And yet the wind lifts
their shoddy clothes and they are touched with
magic; they always seem about to fly.

It’s Sunday and I’ve taken you to Chapel.
Everything is grey and earnest. There’s no
incense here, though  a sense of well-meaning
sifts gently through the air. I don’t think I belong.
It’s Lent and the sermon is all about temptation.
I feel I would not pass those tests. Now I see
distraction in the corner of my eyes; a painting.
When I can, I take a picture on my phone.

It shows me strips of cloth, snarled around
an empty cross, a tenuous fabric
lifting in air currents, tangled with light.
Something. Nothing. Faith, elusive as a sigh.
A scarecrow pinned to a stick.
Leaning forwards, with the wind stirring its tatters.
And always on the point of alteration,
by some sudden unexpected angle of the sun.


The poem was in behind the glass,  the pamphlet I had to create as part of my MA in Creative Writing at Lincoln 2012/13.  Such a good year!  It motivated me to write again and right now I have so many poems in progress. They are kind of germinating so I am leaving them alone! Finally I’ve been short listed for some competitions and the poems will be in anthologies  so that’s also  good news.

Now I have such good intentions for keeping this up to date…

I went to see The Nine’s performance of Paul Mein’s Voices in a Mystery at St Michael’s Church, Waddington last night.

Voices from the events of the crucifixion, including those of the protagonists and the bystanders, were evoked in this moving, thought-provoking  and effective piece.

paul mein












Not before time I am updating my poor neglected blog!

Reading/Workshop University of Lincoln

I really enjoyed going back to the University of Lincoln on 4th Feb to read some of my poetry and talk about poetry writing to this year’s MA Creative Writing group.

It was good to be back and I felt very welcome! The students were a great bunch.

I was really nostalgic, too. My own MA year was rewarding and inspiring and has got me writing regularly. Result! It was also good to see Michael Blackburn again, my excellent tutor on the course.

Pimento Poets

Yesterday I went to my second session at Pimento Poets, a monthly meet up at the Pimento Tearooms in Lincoln. Apart from nearly dying, rushing up Steep Hill, it was really good. There are some excellent poets reading there.


Writing East Midlands Lincoln Writers’ Meet Up

Tomorrow I am going along to :

Lincoln Writers’ Meet Up (hosted by Writing East Midlands)

Writing East Midlands

Wednesday, 11 February 2015 from 18:00 to 21:00 (GMT)

Lincoln, United Kingdom

“Are you a writer living and working in Lincolnshire? Writing East Midlands would like to get to know you!

We’d love you to join us on Wednesday 11th February for the Lincolnshire round of Poetry By Heart at the Collection (Lincoln), and beforehand at a writers’ meet-up with Writing East Midlands. Join us for tea and coffee from 6pm, meet the Writing East Midlands team, other local writers, and the judges of Poetry by Heart, tell us about your work and the best ways that we can support you going forward. Then, take your seat in the auditorium from 7pm for an exciting evening of poetry delivered by secondary school students from across the county.

Writing East Midlands is the regional writers’ development organisation, delivering a range of professional development services for writers at all stages of their career, including mentoring, advocacy, courses and performance opportunities. Poetry by Heart is a national competition in which secondary school students commit to heart and recite some of the nation’s favourite poetry.”


15th South Holland openarts exhibition

I am very pleased to have heard that two of my pieces have been chosen. I am always trying to combine art with text.

The first is Rapunzel is Sleeping, which is a shadow box with my poem collaged into it

Rapunzel 1


I live in this smooth “o”
which has no entrance
but the window and
the ladder of my yellow hair.
My mouth opens: how I sing!

In  here it’s dark and secret,
red plush, such a warm hollow.
Your face turns towards
my subtle chant; these walls,
and how to scale them?

The sorceress runs upwards,
spider-wise. The thread quivers.
There are doors which you must open.
Your thoughts harden on my
snug interiors, blind caves.

Now you must call and enter:
“Your hair, Rapunzel.”  But
she has my place, tops the shaft.
The bird is flown, and the cat
will have the best of you.

You’ll fumble for my music.
Soon, I will see you blind
and heal you with my tears.

The second is Picasso’s Boy and the Enduring Triumph and Tragedy, a mixed media piece with found poetry and an illustration of Picasso’s awkward clown from an old encyclopaedia



This is a moving new anthology from Ireland’s rebel poetry, edited by Gene Barry. I was pleased and honoured to have one of my poems included.


Check out

Issue 52 is now out and contains one of my poems. It is so good to see one of my orphans in a good home!