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 Mort

Helen Mort: Featured Poet

After Tarkovsky

A karner butterfly,
climbing the stairwell
of late evening,

through the shadows
cast by larches, up
into the last colour

this sun can give; how
it holds the pages
of its black-edged wings,

unreadable. At night,
I take a leather book,
switch off the lamp

and open it. So dark,
I barely even see
the white. It’s then

I settle on the bed.
It’s then I read
just what I like.


Helen Mort was born in Sheffield in 1985 and grew up in nearby Chesterfield. She has published two pamphlets with tall-lighthouse press, ‘the shape of every box’ and ‘a pint for the ghost’ (a PBS Choice). Her first full collection is forthcoming from Chatto & Windus. Helen received an Eric Gregory Award in 2007 and won the Manchester Young Writer prize in 2008. From 2010-2011 she was Poet in Residence at The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere where she published ‘Lie of the Land’, a pamphlet of poems written during her residency. She is currently working towards a PhD at Sheffield University.