Unit 8 / Series 53 has died (and, oh, the difference to me) by Paul McGrane

Monday poem

Unit 8 / Series 53 has died (and, oh, the difference to me)

He talked too much, or so they claimed,
the reason why they let him go.
I don’t think so.
We’d chat each day, it’s true.
The usual subjects. Weather, sport,
the pros and cons of civil rights for robots.
But only for a while.
In a meeting, however, they agreed
I’d be more productive if he left.
I was let off with a verbal warning.
His replacement has been put on Quiet Mode,
forbidden to speak
when side-by-side with humans.
I miss the original. His smile.
The soft radio-interference in his voice
as he said his last goodbyes.
He told me he looked forward
to this unexpected break,
a chance to get some fat on his bones.
I read in the old days we’d be given
time for something called a Funeral.
I tell my new co-worker but she’s programmed not to listen.  
Tomorrow, they’ll be testing me for Feelings.
If they find some I’ll be in for further trouble. 



As a result of winning the Geoff Stevens Memorial Award, McGrane’s first collection Elastic Man was published with Indigo Dreams Publishing in 2018. A second collection British People in Hot Weather is due with Indigo in 2021. He is the co-founder of the Forest Poets poetry collective in Walthamstow and formerly The Poetry Society Membership Manager 2006 to 2020. 


A boy lay waiting by Zannah Kearns

Monday poem


A boy lay waiting

His parents count minutes
for six endless days. Cups of tea
cooling in every room, skin discs
sealing over like ice.

They hold hands on the sofa
as someone says: found
and body
and water.

A part of him still waits
under the lake.




Zannah Kearns’ has poems in The Dark Horse, Poetry Birmingham, Ink, Sweat & Tears, Atrium, South and Under the Radar. She was a recent winner of a Poetry Society’s Members’ competition; is part of her local Stanza group, and helps to run an open mic evening in Reading, The Poets’ Café.


Ruth Padel and open mic at The Cheltenham Poetry Festival – Friday 10th September 2021 7:00pm – online



Ruth Padel, Professor of Poetry, King’s College London is reading at this event which will also include a Q and A session.  It looks as if the open mic slots might be sold out – but take a look HERE for those tickets and ones to the event. 

Padel is reading from her new book Beethoven Variations – a personal voyage through the life and legend of one of our greatest composers and a celebration of the creative spirit and its endurance even at times of suffering. The book speaks strongly to all artists at a time of trauma. Padel’s literary quest for Beethoven takes her to the heart of Europe and back to her own musical childhood. Her great-grandfather studied in Leipzig with Moscheles, a pupil of Beethoven, became a concert pianist, and migrated to Britain. Her parents met making music and Ruth grew up playing viola, Beethoven’s instrument as a child. This book grew from her collaboration with the Endellion String Quartet: an intimate response to Beethoven’s music, a lyrical exploration of the power of music in all our lives.
The collection explores how we can forge creativity out of pain, and is a testimony to the hope that rises when making art out of – and overcoming – suffering/disability.

Praise for Beethoven Variation
Bold, breathtaking, spectacular.’ Times Literary Supplement

Recharges the reader’s perception of the unfolding drama of the composer’s life.’  Los Angeles Review of Books

‘Beethoven Variations is absolutely wonderful! Steeped in the music, and in aspects of his life we maybe never think about – a fascinating summation of Beethoven!’
– Sean Rafferty, In Tune, Radio 3




Saveas Writers’ International Writing Competition 2021 closes 31st August 2021

Saveas Writers’ International Writing Competition 2021

Best Writing Contests of 2021, recommended by Reedsy


2021 marks the centenary of T S Eliot’s visit to Margate, where he wrote part of The Waste Land while looking out on the sea from the Nayland Rock shelter.

To celebrate Eliot, his work and the views from our coastline, SaveAs Writers launch their annual international creative writing competition, this year asking for poems and short stories on the theme of Horizons. The theme can be literal, figurative, a celebration of views, a reflection on Eliot and his work (The Waste Land itself opened new horizons in poetry) or a broader take on the theme.



Winner: The Canterbury Christ Church University Poetry Prize of £200

Second place: £100

Third place: £50

Judged by Eleanor Perry

Max word count: 60 lines max.


Winner: The University of Kent Fiction Prize of £200

Second place: £100

Third place: £50

Judged by Amy Sackville

Max word count: 3500 words max.



Hands Held: An Agenda Poetry Showcase- Thursday 26th August 7:30pm (online)

An evening of readings from four exceptional poets, curated by Patricia McCarthy, editor of one of the longest-running and most respected literary magazines in the world.


Jane Lovell: is an award-winning British poet whose work focuses on our relationship with the planet and its wildlife. She has been widely published in journals and anthologies in the UK and US and has won the Flambard Prize (2015), the Wigtown Prize (2018) the Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize (2020) and the Ginkgo Prize (2021). Her latest book, The God of Lost Ways, was published in 2020 by Indigo Dreams Press. Jane lives in Devon where she is working on an illustrated collection of eco-poems, ‘The Gallery of the Sea’. Her work has been described as poetry that ‘fizzes with acute visual detail, offering a dizzying sense of perspective’ (Helen Mort).

Elizabeth Barton’s work has been published in magazines including  Agenda, Acumen, Orbis, The Frogmore Papers, South and The High Window.  She had a poem shortlisted for the 2020 Enfield Poets’ Poetry Competition and has had poems commended in The Poetry Society’s Stanza Poetry Competition 2020 and in the Elmbridge Literary Competition 2021.  She lives in Surrey where she enjoys taking part in activities with Mole Valley Poets, for whom she is Stanza Rep.  She has an MA in English from Cambridge University and has worked as both a teacher and a volunteer for overseas aid and environmental charities.

Patricia McCarthy: won the National Poetry Competition 2013. She is half Irish and half English. Her formative years were spent in County Dublin and County Wicklow. After graduating from Trinity College, Dublin, she lived in Washington D.C., Paris, Kathmandu, Dhaka and Mexico. She was Head of English for several years at Mayfield School, and has lived for many years now in the countryside in East Sussex. Her poems have been/are being widely published in newspapers, journals and anthologies both in the UK and Ireland. She has had several poetry collections published, the most recent being ‘Whose hand would you like to hold’ written during the pandemic. The title poem was The Guardian’s poem of the week. Two more collections are forthcoming soon.

David Pollard has been furniture salesman, accountant, TEFL teacher and university lecturer. He got his three degrees from the University of Sussex and has since taught at the universities of Sussex, Essex and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem where he was a Lady Davis Scholar. His doctoral thesis was published as: The Poetry of Keats: Language and Experience (Harvester and Barnes & Noble). He has also published A KWIC Concordance to the Harvard Edition of Keats’ Letters, a novel, Nietzsche’s Footfalls and seven volumes of poetry, patricidesRisk of Skin, Self-Portraits and Broken Voices (Waterloo Press), bedbound (Perdika Press), Finis-terre (Agenda) and Three Artists (Lapwing). He has also been published in other volumes and in learned journals and many reputable poetry magazines. Highly recommended for the Forward Prize in 2020. He divides his time between Brighton on the South coast of England and a village on the Rias of Galicia.



Remember the Earth Whose Skin You’re in – Tunbridge Wells Poetry festival August 24th 2021


You’re invited to join us at the King Charles the Martyr church in Tunbridge Wells as part of the Tunbridge Wells Poetry Festival for a powerful evening of poetry and performance…on Tuesday 24th August at 8pm (£10 tickets from the Festival website)

 Remember the earth whose skin you are which features Roger West, performing a sequence of poems with impressive soundscapes ‘Consider the song of the cicadas’ and Steve Walter performing his long poem Gaia2020, both elegy and tribute to his late parents and Mother Earth.


Sounding notes of warning and love, Gaia 2020 is a moving addition to the rich and expanding literature of ecological concern.’

Carol Rumens, Professor of English Literature, Bangor University.

‘An incredibly thought-provoking poem. As a mental health charity, we are aware of the significance that nature plays in helping people feel better and re-take control of their lives after a mental health crisis. We are as much a part of nature, as nature is a part of us.’

Tunbridge Well’s Mayor’s Charity, Mental Health Resource.

For anyone and everyone concerned for the future of the planet

For more info visit Tunbridge Wells Poetry Festival

and www.makingconnectionsmatter.org


The Bay by Rennie Halstead

The Bay

after a painting by Sheena Clover

Mud coloured our lives.
We ate mud, drank mud,
waded through mud to school,
carried sticky clods into the kitchen,
and always the fear of being caught,
held fast at flow tide,
hearing the swash of rising seas
gently splashing, filling
the creeks softly,
remembering Mary
the cockler who wouldn’t listen,
didn’t care, caught
in her desperation
as the tide rose, calm at first,
seeking this death until the cold
bit her back to life,
screaming then for help
and her father watching from his window
waking to the danger,
the white horse shuffled into the shafts,
the cart drawn down the staithe
and he fearful as the waters rose,
knowing how grasping clay
swallowed wheels, and the horse
anchored by the cart’s dead weight,
the quickening of the tide surge, the water
stretching to the cliff
and she only a head above the water,
the horse panicking in the shafts,
cut loose, the cart lost
while he watched the waters rise,
called and called until no answer came,
the screaming cut off and the horse bolting,
him clinging to the neck,
thrown heavily on the cliff path
as the tide smoothed over the bay
and next day, low tide
the ribs of a cart
half drowned in mud.


Rennie writes poetry, flash fiction and reviews poetry for London Grip. He lives in Kent.


Drawn to the Light Press – call for submissions

cropped-aurora-4Drawn to the Light Press is a magazine of contemporary poetry edited by Orla Fay and is published thrice yearly in October, February and June. Orla has a Master’s Degree in Digital Arts and Humanities and formerly worked as the editor of Boyne Berries Magazine. Her poetry has been widely published and placed in many competitions. In October 2020 she published her chapbook Drawn to the Light. Her debut collection is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry.

The submission period for issue 4 just opened and closes on Tuesday, 31st August at midnight. Please send up to 3 poems of 40 lines or less using Times New Roman 12 font. Poems should be single spaced.


Drawn to the Light Press is not a paying journal and is run purely on love and dedication to poetry.



Tunbridge Wells Poetry Festival – August 15th-27th

TWThe Tunbridge Wells Poetry Festival was originally conceived and ministered by Sarah Miles of Paperswans Press and the baton was then passed to the current committee in 2020, only for their plans to be scuppered by Covid-19 and the lockdown restrictions arising from it.

Now in August 2021 it is up and running again and the full listing is below.

Covid Safety: The Festival offers a mixture of online and face-to-face events. We will work with our venues to ensure that all government guidelines are followed.