Sharon Black’s shed



I hand you nails
to secure the roof felt
torn off in a gale. Inch by
inch, you work the spine
like an osteopath.
I stand on tiptoe
watching you unroll
the pitch into place,
my back rod-straight
as you hammer down
each square. And I think
how I’d have left
the shed till spring
when, shoving open
the rickety door, we’d have found
the deckchairs slimy,
the dolphin burst,
towels damp,
the rot set in.

Sharon Black is originally from Glasgow but now lives in the Cévennes mountains of southern France with her husband and their two young children. In her past life she was a journalist and taught English in France and Japan. In her current one she organizes creative writing retreats at her home in France: http://abricreativewriting.com/

She has won The Frogmore Prize 2011, The New Writer competition 2010 for Best Poetry Collection and the Envoi International Poetry Prize 2009. She was runner-up in the Wigtown Book Festival Poetry Competition 2011, and came 2nd in both the Kent and Sussex Open Poetry Competition 2011, judged by Jo Shapcott, and Agenda Poetry Competition 2011.

Her first collection, To Know Bedrock, was published by Pindrop Press.


Mark Fiddes: Featured Poet

I was really pleased to place Mark’s poem about Franco’s tomb, In the Valley of the Fallen, third in this year’s Frogmore Prize. Here are a couple more of his poems, including one about a shed!

Mark Fiddes Photo1 copy
Down among the Shedmen
For the Shedmen of Wandsworth
It’s the month of great hunkering
Winter, grey and skinny, loiters
Like a hoodie round the corner
With his pisshead mate Christmas

The Shedmen fist their mugs of tea
As sweet and brown as the allotment
Where they sit on good spade days
Hunched in busted plastic chairs
Banished from marital patios

The Shedmen mustn’t grumble
Between retreat and armistice
They hint at bold escape plans
In their voluntary Colditz
Watched by poplars still as sentries

The Shedmen poke the idle smoke
From bonfires that can’t be arsed
To rage or dance flamenco
Stoking up dreams that smoulder
In the green damp snapping fire

Yet still they believe – in rhubarb
Swiss chard and monogamy –
Folding each sodden day back
Into itself with loam and hoe
In sombre geometry

(Runner up in this year’s Charles Causley Prize judged by Andrew Motion)

The terrace at the end of the world

I live in a fragile house
Rain blisters the windows
Wind wolfs at the casements
Doors burst into their frames
Electricity surges like a wildcat
Scratching out filaments and fuses
Gas sleeps rough in Victorian corners
The boiler chokes and heaves like a keeled beast
With its burden trodden into the muddy road
Beside which we freeze, refugees from sleep
Awaiting the milkman’s sodding whistle
That at any other dawn would mean
Execution by a drunk firing squad
But today signals the all clear
Even if it’s Lloyd Webber
He twitters, a distant hit
From Cats or Les Mis

Born and raised in Northamptonshire, Mark Fiddes now lives in London after spells in Oxford and Washington, D.C. When not stuck on the Northern Line, he works as a Creative Director and magazine columnist. Over the past year his poetry has won prizes in the Philip Larkin, Charles Causley, Gregory O’Donoghue, John Clare and Frogmore Awards. He has also been published recently in the Southword Journal, anthologies for Templar, Fish and Lightship Publishing as well as the Human Rights collection In Protest and the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual 2013.