Writing Prompt 1: bulb

I thought it would be good to have something interactive going on over at The Poetry Shed. The recent call for poems was on mental health which in a time of isolation and social distancing is an important issue to continue to address and discuss so the selected poems will continue to appear here each week. In between the poems I will put up a picture prompt and hopefully inspire some writing. I think(!) it might be possible for these (or some of these) to be posted in the comments below. Here is today’s image and I have included a poem of mine below to get you started….


Daughter bulb

You grow in me. I call you petal
and your name buds on my tongue at night.
We’re spooned in sleep, skin on skin
and I purr lullabies from sap-filled lips until
your limbs purl like newly-woken shoots:
fresh leaves wait for nursing, suckling.

I name you Lily, and in the bulb of my belly
the veins of your body knit together
and you sleepwalk inside me,
make tiny footprints in blurred dreams,
trail my spine with satin feet as if you
own each and every inch of me. I don’t know
which one of us is the honey, which the bee,
or who has the nectar we drink so deeply.

(From The Unmapped Woman)


Courage at Sea – Susanna Wooderson

Courage at Sea

The sea asked questions,
I waded deeper –

built a boat to chart the fathoms,
vanished on a tide of dread.

….How long have I been lost?

I remember grass,
and sand and people,

but it’s been years since
my body met the earth.

Fears move to the surface
to feed by starlight,

I listen to the ripples.

By daylight my eyes ache
inspecting every knot and crack,

scanning the horizon,
weary of me.

I try to accept the absence
of answers, realise

….I need to reach the shore.

I could jump in,
but what lies in darkness?

Unseen monsters lick my limbs –
threaten to drag me under.

….But these are only threats.

If I do nothing, I will die.

….So I fill my lungs with air
….and use my arms and legs

…………to swim.


Susanna Wooderson is a poet based in Suffolk, UK. She studies online with The Poetry School and is mentored by Rebecca Goss. Susanna has a fledgling blog at susannapoet.com and can be found on twitter and Instagram.


Coastal defence – Ann Atkins

Coastal defence

Some days I’m entertainment
sunshine and slot machines
donkey rides and ice creams
Others days I’m out of season
boarded up shops
sandbags to fight the floods,
though it’s not really seasonal
can’t always predict when the storms will come.

More often it’s dull,
no sunshine, no showers
just clouds and nothing much going on.
The pub’s open, only an old man with a dog
making a pint last, doing a crossword,
telling the barman how he hates it when the tourists come
the barman nods, but knows without them there’s no job.
On those days the time drags, but it’s easier to manage
online, laughs and smiles, postcard pictures and selfies
Occasionally letting a glimpse of the past sneak in.

You are there for all of it,
not just for the good times
not judging when the waves
break over the shore.
Sitting with me until the tide goes out, then clearing up
you don’t allow me to merely exist
like some rundown seaside town
no one wants to visit

You’re days out and proud parades
showing off my glory days
Giving me hope when all I have is doubt.
You seem to think that I’m not some
once-was-great before-the-pier-was-taken-away place
where the good times were long ago, but there’s a future,
not the same as in the days before package holidays
created a paradigm shift, but still worth investing in.


Ann Atkins attended her first open mic night in early 2018 and has since developed an increasing passion for writing and performing. She recently won a poetry slam and has been invited to compete in the Cheltenham Poetry Festival Slam 2020.

Her writing is mostly observational on life’s ups and down’s, often injecting humour into serious subjects.  She has been affected by depression and feels that writing is a great outlet.

Ann lives in North Warwickshire and is a former teacher, who now manages property. When she is not writing and performing, she also enjoys art, tai-chi and walking with her partner Tracy and lurcher Kizzy. Ann is a member of Coventry Stanza.


I imagine the onset as falling snow – Nick Kearney

I imagine the onset as falling snow.
For Derek

I imagine the onset as falling snow.
A dusting of the landscape, whiting out
parts of the garden, and later
the confusion of the blizzard, shadows in the whirling
gloom and layer on layer of cold…

…….muffling thought,
…….defeating sequence,
…….silencing the birds…

Now you lie under six feet of snow in a half-life of winter sun,
your face a smooth drift of calm.

Your love comes daily to build her fire, the careful
murmurs and patient caresses,
and sparks rise in the flickering light:
that summer island, your naked insistence,
the wild-hearted splash, her hair in the breeze.

Your daughter holds your chest, whispers of flames
and fragments, her sister of embers and dance.
The snow melts, gently, patches of green.
Flowers burst into fluttering bloom.

But the snow still falls,
and the horses shift outside, a soft call of bells.
Your sleigh awaits.

The fire will burn, the sparks still rise,
drifting skywards through a pall of flakes,
the dawn is aglow beyond the gates,

Your sleigh awaits.


Nick Kearney was born in Surrey, and lived for 25 years in Valencia, Spain, where he worked in in teacher training and educational management and leadership for over 20 years, with extensive involvement in the development of new learning approaches based on the use of ICT in a wide range of educational and training contexts, including secondary and university education, and vocational and continuous training, publishing a range of academic and journalistic articles in the field. He also published the children’s story collections Batiscafo en el Mar, and Batiscafo en las Nubes.

Since returning to the UK in 2014 he lives in Somerset and is currently a consultant for the European Commission and several HE institutions, and research director of the Teen Yoga Foundation. He has been writing poetry since childhood, but is largely unpublished, bar a short poem in OM Yoga Magazine.



UNSAID – Thomas McColl


As a child,
I was always having imaginary conversations –
the kind I’d really want to have –
with my mum, my dad,
my so-called friends,
my teachers, complete strangers.

By telling them what I really thought –
albeit inside my head –
it somehow helped to release the tension.

One time, the school bully, Darren,
saw me whispering to myself.
‘That’s the first sign of madness,’ he said, laughing.

‘What is, saying what I actually think of people like you?’
I replied, with a sneer –
except I didn’t, of course: I just thought it.

Even when Darren then punched me in the ribs,
I didn’t say what I thought –
of him, or what he’d just done to me.

But then, to be fair, Darren, with the punch,
wasn’t saying what he thought of me either –
and, let’s face it, didn’t need to.

And nor did Dad.
Always locked away in his own world,
he kept himself – and me – at a distance.

‘Dad, I’m being bullied at school,’ I said,
as I got a consoling arm around my shoulder –
except I didn’t, of course: I just thought it.


Thomas McColl has had poems published recently in magazines such as Atrium, The Journal, The Poetry Village, Riggwelter and Runcible Spoon. His first collection, Being With Me Will Help You Learn, was published by Listen Softly London Press in 2016, and his second collection, Grenade Genie, is due to be published in April 2020 by Fly on the Wall Press.


The Enfield Poets’ Poetry Competition closes 7th March 2020

The Enfield Poets are celebrating their Twentieth Anniversary in April 2020. The winners will be announced at the end of March , and the prize giving will be on Saturday April 25th, 2020, as part of the Enfield Poets’ 20th Anniversary Literary Festival.


  • The Competition is open to poems on any theme and in any form and must be the original work of the author.
  • Poets entering the Competition must be 16 years or older.
  • Poems should be no more than 50 lines in length, excluding title.
  • Poems should not have been previously published.
  • The decision of the judges is final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  • Submissions may be made online or by post. Please refer to How to Enter for more details.


Competitors may submit any number of poems for a fee of £4 per poem, or £10 for three poems.

Judge: Ruth Padel

Ruth PadelRuth Padel’s most recent collections are Beethoven Variations – Poems on a Life, a journey through Beethoven’s life and her own childhood, growing up playing the viola, and Emerald, a lyrical exploration of the mourning process and a celebration of her feisty mother. She was Chair of Judges for the 2016 T S Eliot Prize and Judge for the 2016 International Man Booker Prize. She is Professor of Poetry at King’s College London and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. www.ruthpadel.com


Golden Gallopers – William Bedford


On a fairground forty years ago
I sold you a ticket for the golden gallopers,
and your grey hair and your grey skin
galloped over technicolour horizons,
rehearsing a journey you would not even begin.
You were only twelve years old,
and I was thirteen, my first job on a fairground,
barking the tickets and taking control.
Your coughing ended the ride,
hot cheeks and white skin tendering my mind
where you grow pale, and spectre-thin, and die.
Now, you are just a girl in sepia,
wearing your new dress and new shoes,
your hair done in a new style,
all of them grey for the summer holiday.
I cannot find you on the fairground.
The golden gallopers have gone.
The music has had its day.
You cried and rode away, and I never knew your name.


William Bedford’s new collection The Dancers of Colbek has just been published. From the medieval dancers of Robert Mannyng’s Handlyng Synne to Wesley, Tennyson, Lawrence and Clare, William Bedford’s The Dancers of Colbek explores his early years among the market towns and seacoasts of Lincolnshire.

‘The key to Bedford’s poetry is the unflinching openness in his dealings with readers … a very emotional and enticing read’ —AGENDA

William Bedford speaks directly in verse that is uncluttered and musical. Always authentic, always poignant’ —THE LONDON MAGAZINE

‘Haunting and haunted … to be savoured on so many levels’ —THE HIGH WINDOW




Wild Poem Competition: Cheltenham Poetry Festival – deadline 29th February

Wild Poem competition

In keeping with the Wild! theme of the 2020 festival, they are holding a contest for a poem inspired by that theme. Your poem(s) can be as unruly and untamed as you like.

The winning poet will receive £200, the second £75 and the third £25.

Prizes will be awarded at a special Competition event on April 18 at the 10th Cheltenham Poetry Festival (or posted to any winner who can’t attend.) Shortlisted poets will be given a complimentary ticket to the event, and invited to read their successful poem. The winners will then be announced.

Judges: Poet Ben Ray and Festival Founder and CEO Anna Saunders, who will read all entries anonymously.


Ben is the 2019 New Poets Prize winner with The Poetry Business and was long-listed for the 2019 National Poetry Prize. An accomplished young poet, he comes from the Welsh borders with ‘a fresh and original poetic voice – full of wit, twists, surprises, echoes and challenges’ (Alan Rusbridger, former editor of The Guardian). His second collection ‘What I heard on the Last Cassette Player in the World‘ is released with Indigo Dreams Publishing, and he has work published with Seren Books. His third collection ‘The Kindness of the eel’ will be published with The Poetry Business in 2020.