Take 15 poets, 2 actors, 1 lutist and shake…


Much like a modern artist’s response to a classical masterpiece, a range of critically-acclaimed contemporary poets have been inspired by some of England’s most beloved wordsmiths, before responding with new and celebrated works of their own. Actors and musicians will bring both the traditional canon and the contemporary replies to life.

Following the success of last year’s Winter’s Tales, in which actors read aloud stirring short stories under the glorious candlelight of the Playhouse, this series brings a melting pot of classic and contemporary poetry to the stage in what is bound to be a memorable and evocative evening.

Saturday 29 August, 8.00pm

John Donne: The Voice and the Echo

Tim Pigott-Smith
Miranda Raison
Richard MacKenzie (lute)

With new poems and existing poems by Simone Belcampo, Will Burns, Nick Drake, Paul Farley, John Greening, Alan Jenkins, Zaffar Kunial, Glyn Maxwell, Anne Michaels, Abegail Morley, Paul Muldoon, Sean O’Brien, Peter Oswald, Craig Raine and Jack Underwood.



December poems part 2: John Arnold, Angela France, Graham Mummery

Spring Weather - March 12th


One by one
the certainties, the hopes
fall away… and I
am adrift in a winter- white land.

Alighting at the station,
I sense a homecoming,
yet know the old folks
have long since passed on.

Smothered in a deep unbroken snow,
the town is not as I remember:
A few lights peep from windows,
festive wreaths are pinned to doors.

Yet – surely – here’s the place:
a house lost in reverie,
a twinkling tree within
and, in the window, a candle bridge.



(after Valerius De Saedeleer, 1928)

I’ve tried so long
to enter this frame,
it’s weight of dark winter cloud,
the tracery of lifeless trees
against embers of sunset,
a smothering of snow.

Maybe there, in that buried cottage,
I’d huddle by the hearth, dreaming
of Christmas or spring —
animals safely in the byre — forgetting
a war-pocked landscape, thoughts
dissolving in that vast night sky.

John Arnold


John Arnold is a retired town planner who lives with his wife in East Sussex. He has two grown up daughters and a granddaughter. His poems have been widely published in literary magazines and anthologies, and have been broadcast on BBC Radio. He is a member of the Kent & Sussex Poetry Society.



Artwork: Sandy Dooley


After deep snow

Five days later a cold gasp of moon
sinks shadows into the crust of snow
where footprints and pawprints
pock the field down to muddied grass.
The ice has gone, its clarity drizzled
away into darkening slush.
Already, I miss the sharpness of icicles,
the soft creak of new snow under footfall,
the raw texture of too cold air.
It is as if life gains definition under snow,
like the way frost defines shape and delicacy,
only to melt and soften into grey slush
in the gutter as days wear on.

Pond Life

New layers of frost on bent grasses
and dead rushes lineate, pick out detail
in cold light. From the pond edge,
long iris leaves dip under the surface,
trapped in ice which clutches at the bank.
The pond creaks in answer to the moonlight
sliding over the surface, seems to grow
bold, glitters. Under the willows,
where filigree shadows blur the edges,
a gritty swoosh snags my attention.
As I turn, pinpoints like stars seem to play
over a full skirt, a fur collar,
an outstretched arm.

Angela France

Angela France has an MA in ‘Creative and Critical Writing’ from the University of Gloucestershire and is studying for a PhD. Her second collection, Occupation, is available from Ragged Raven Press, followed by a pamphlet, ‘Lessons in Mallemaroking’ from Nine Arches Press in July 2011. ‘Hide’ came out from Nine Arches in March 2013.


Artwork: Maggie Painting



Snow is the commonest of nouns in poetry.
At this moment I see each word
scatter outside my house
as if someone had torn up every poem
with the word in its lines.


The garage’s shape blurs.
The garden path has stored daylight
in fluorescent arcs that throw out into dark sky.
A blizzard muffles sounds
from a heavy railway track.


Earlier today, I walked into town.
A snowy field’s silence hung over it.
As I looked above the roofs
a child pulled by a parent laughed,
toboggan blades shredded snow.



Usually, you love it: the new thought;
captaining a spaceship to a distant planet;
the con of an experimental submarine
that discovers new species under the sea.

Today you are scrubbing hard on a step,
sawing at logs whose sap resists the blade,
doing five-finger exercises without
improvising, or playing Mozart –

except after scales and arpeggios,
the fingers suddenly become supple,
your pen flows over the page even if,
later, you throw the poem away.

The January sky outside is dull.
There’s frost on the ground. Later, it may rain.
Yet, somehow, you’ve kept the door open
into another place, where you see light.

Graham Mummery

Graham Mummery lives in Sevenoaks, Kent. For a time he worked in investment banking and is now training to become a psychotherapist. His poems have appeared in various UK magazines including Ambit and Brittle Star. His first full collection is forthcoming from Pindrop. His poems have appeared in Gobby Deegan’s Riposte (Donut Press) as well as on websites such as poetrypf.co.uk. His own pamphlet, The Gods Have Become Diseases appeared in 2006.