Clare Pollard: Featured Poet

Clare Pollard


Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe

The Wren is cunning.  Soul of the Oak, the Druid-bird.
He trills: steal my eggs and there’ll be lightning.

The Crow is known as Badb Catha, the Phantom Queen
who tends to warriors, gland and liver.  She is the Terror.

The Swan hisses, hisses.  Even her neck is a twisted S.
She’s resident, common, depressed.  She was once a princess.

The Nightingale has a buff eye-ring, she’s tiny and brown
to hide from Tereus the hawk, who cuts out tongues.

And the white-headed, silver-cloaked Heron by the canal
is a wizard scrying in glass – there’s a fish he cannot catch

but she’s something else. Because of this, he loves her.



Clare Pollard was born in Bolton in 1978 and lives in London.  Her first collection of poetry, The Heavy-Petting Zoo was written whilst she was still at school, and received an Eric Gregory Award. It was followed by Bedtime and Look, Clare! Look!, which was made a set text on the WJEC A-level syllabus.  Her fourth collection Changeling (Bloodaxe, 2011) is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

Clare’s play The Weather (Faber, 2004) premiered at the Royal Court Theatre.  Her radio documentary ‘My Male Muse’(2007) was a Radio 4 Pick of the Year, and she recently co-wrote the radio play Surface to Air with WN Herbert. Clare’s new version of the Heroides by Ovid will be published as Ovid’s Heroines by Bloodaxe in May 2013.


Peter Bennet

Peter Bennet: Featured Poet




The shower door opens in an arc of drip.
When she parts the bedroom curtains there is light
enough to see the cozy traps
and cages where she keeps the singing
that once delighted her. It’s time to write
the last note in her diary of care
for unwise birds. She’ll add a sketch
of one that spoiled it all for her this morning
by speaking. She draws it quick and green and small.

They’ll have to go. So must she. Larks will fall.
Crows on the road will cark a warning
then peck her shadow and drop dead. Last night
she failed to crank up the contraption
that fills her nest with warmth and glare
and helps to soothe the cruel itch
that prompts the birdseed and the scattered scraps
and kindnesses that are beyond description.
She chirrups as she curls her lip.


Peter Bennet was born in Staffordshire in 1942. He went as a scholarship boy to King’s School Macclesfield, and then to Manchester College of Art and Design, where he was influenced by the painter Norman Adams and his wife, the poet Anna Adams. He taught in secondary and further education, including work with redundant steelworkers following the closure of Consett Steel Works, and spent sixteen years as Tutor Organiser for Northumberland with the Workers’ Educational Association. He gave up painting for writing in 1980 and did a part-time MA at Newcastle University, including a study of W.S.Graham.

He has published six books of poetry and received major awards from Arts Council England and New Writing North. He has been a prizewinner in the National and the Arvon International Poetry Competitions, and the Basil Bunting Awards. The Glass Swarm was a Poetry Book Society Choice in 2008, and was short-listed for the T.S.Eliot Prize.

After living for thirty-three years near the Wild Hills o’Wanney in Northumberland, in a remote cottage associated with the ballad writer James Armstrong, author of Wannie Blossoms, he now lives happily in Whitley Bay. His next book, Border, is due from Bloodaxe.

Helen Ivory

Helen Ivory: Featured Poet

Hospital Visit

The waiting room is full
of all sorts, pretending
to be awake.

The bad mother,
deaf ear cocked
to the incubator;

the bogey man,
painted eyeballs on his hands,
wedged upright in the corner.

Even the alchemist
has discovered a way
to shoe horses in his sleep.


Helen Ivory was born in Luton in 1969 and lives in Norwich.  She has worked in shops, behind bars, on building sites and with several thousand free-range hens. She has studied painting and photography and has a Degree from Norwich School of Art.

In 1999 she won a major Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors. Her third Bloodaxe Books collection is The Breakfast Machine. She has taught creative writing for Continuing Education at UEA for ten years and has been Academic Director there for six. She is an Editor for the Poetry Archive, Editor of Ink Sweat and Tears and is currently working towards an exhibition of her visual art.  Find out more here: http://www.helenivory.co.uk/