Amber Donovan-Stevens Featured Poet


No Place Like ‘Home’

Dorothy clicked her shoes: Once, twice, thrice,
wishing to return home.
A thousand ages descended upon her,
returning her to dusty Kansas.
Where was her sepia dream-land?
She was greeted by an indifferent city.

Foreign faces with copper brown tans
chatter in twisted tongues.
The moon appears, the orchestra begins.
Ten hundred thousand insects,
rub their wings together,
for an endless night of noise.

Dorothy stood lost in the land she knew so well.

How long had she been gone? Oz made Kansas seem lost,
dustbowl desert, yielding loneliness.
The Witch of the North,
sprawled across Hooters billboards.
Where was her lion-hearted friend,
her man in tin armour to save her from this world?

Ruby red slippers now myth,
replaced with thrift-shop jelly shoes.
Somewhere over the rainbow lies lost 1939.
This state had long been left to the story books.

To be born here is to die here,
isolation is the real killer.
Not a friend in all three million,
as stray as cats and dogs that roam the street.

The scarecrow hung in the cornfield
is not your friend.
You can turn to Wendy, Papa John, Ronald McDonald.
They’ll see you don’t lose your way.
Drown your sorrows in Blue Ribbon,
that once held up your hair so beautifully.

Send Munchkins through metal detectors,
and hope they get something out of today,
because today is the same as tomorrow.
This isn’t Kansas Dorothy,
not as you know it.
Now try and look for yesterday in tomorrow.


Amber Donovan-Stevens is Poet Laureate at her school, currently studying English, History and Art at A Level. Her Poem ‘ No Place Like Home’ won Gold at the Canterbury Festival Schools’ Competition and was published with other poems in the online broadsheet “Agenda”. 

10 thoughts on “Amber Donovan-Stevens Featured Poet”

  1. Congratulations Amber on your big win. This is an imaginative, intelligent, ambitious & well-handled “what if” poem about the human condition — filled with great details. Strong title. I like how that single line standing out gives special emphasis. Fav. bits are the noisy night of insects & sending Munchkins through metal detectors! You give us both ironic wit & poignancy, as in that verse with the Witch & the friends. I like what I take to be a Star Trek allusion at the end (“not as we know it”). Great working of the time travel motif. Thanks.

  2. Loved this and its thought provoking message – great imagination telling us how things don’t stay as they are and that time moves more quickly than we think. I love the ruby slippers turning into thrift shop jelly shoes. There is a tangible disillusionment running through – a very real sense of loss. You are a very talented poet – good to see you have the recognition you deserve within your school.

  3. I loved the atmosphere of then and now, captured in ‘dusty Kansas’ and the ‘sepia dream-land’, an evocative, postcard image. I also liked the noise of the insects wings (you can hear them!) and the contemporary take on the red shoes. I found it an intriguing poem and reread it to enjoy the nuances of your theme – thanks for sharing!

    Congratulations on the Gold and publication in Agenda, well deserved 🙂

  4. Congratulations on winning Gold Amber! I love your version of Dorothy’s story – you have a real gift for original images, ‘The moon appears, the orchestra begins’ is striking. I particularly enjoyed your mix of old and new – ‘Hooters billboard’ made me smile! A wonderful combination of disillusion with sneaky pinch. I look forward to reading more of your work.

  5. Good poem and good thoughts too. The desolation and disappointment very well described. Loved reading this – look forward to reading your work for years to come Amber.

  6. Wonderful poem, Amber. It leaves the reader with a real sense of the emptiness of the landscape, both physical and cultural. Going over to the Agenda website to read more!

  7. I thought this an incredible poem, full of both imagery and insight. I do hope that Amber Donovan-Stevens is getting her work out to the small presses, I will certainly be looking out for her.

  8. Love, love, love this poem! A clever undercutting of a modern
    myth that this clearly talented poet has painted in a riot of fantastic images: Dorothy in thrift shop jelly shoes, wow!!! Well done Amber on your deserved win: you are an exciting new voice that clearly has great things to say!

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