Rebecca Gethin #antibullyingweek

Out of politeness

… he said it wasn’t something he’d had
to do before… something bad
in her blood, or the hands she’d
inherited that made the food she cooked

inedible. Nobody wanted to be
friends now that she wore long
sleeves. Not something she could
talk about. She’d cross the road. He followed

behind. She was possessed by someone
other than herself and so must be
disciplined. It was a refrain,
a baby left crying, an uncleaned

lavatory bowl. It was the pattering
of rats’ feet in the roof space,
or was it in the wall, or across
the floor? She shovelled the snow

while he watched telly programmes
for the messages he received. When
someone said it was time for him to move
on she begged him to stay, on

her knees, weeping till her hair was wet.
She was so daft she walked into a
door one night. When the baby
arrived, no one sent a card.

Rebecca Gethin won the Cinnamon Press Novel Writing Award with her first novel, which was published in 2011. Her first poetry collection, River is the Plural of Rain, was published by Oversteps Books in 2009. What the Horses Heard, A Handful of Water and Liar Dice are published by Cinnamon Press. Oracles, a poetry pamphlet to be published by Three Drops from a Cauldron in 2016. She has worked as a creative writing tutor in a prison and currently works as a freelance creative writing tutor and writer. Blog


What Rebecca Gethin is reading

MonizaI heard Moniza Alvi read at Exeter Poetry Festival earlier this month. How have I lived without her poems before now? On that evening, I wasn’t sure if I was mishearing some of the words at the ends of the poems so I bought Split World Poems 1990 – 2005 and was immediately captivated. Such a lovely, unassuming person writing about things that might seem mundane but in her quiet, relaxed voice become utterly extraordinary. No wonder I thought I had misheard!

Here’s the opening of The Laughing Moon from her 1996 collection called A Bowl of Warm Air.
‘I had two pillows and one was England,
Two cheeks and one was England.

Pakistan held me and dropped me in the night.
I slid through
yesterday and tomorrow – …’

Moniza Alvi left Pakistan for England when she was young and this led her to explore her own sense of duality. In later books she writes she ‘became interested in the interplay between inner and outer worlds, imagination and reality, physical and spiritual.’ I’d say she is very courageous and doesn’t shy away from the worst that humans inflict upon one another, getting deep under the skin of experience.

I recommend anything by Moniza Alvi for her fine judgement and precision, for her ease and naturalness. Split World is great as it contains five of her collections. I wish I had also bought Europa.

And….. Here is her website: http://www.moniza.co.uk/


Rebecca Gethin’s shed



In a disused game-keeper’s hut

A stream dashes past in a deep cleft. From inside,
all she hears is waterfall. Dark as the garden
at night, a mesh covers the grimy window.

No-one will guess. She sweeps the dust, runs outside
to gasp. It settles back like things she’s heard said.
She pokes feathers she’s found into cracks between planks.

Outside, a jay cackles. The woods are as green
and gold as pheasants. There’s nowhere else.
For company she borrows a glass bowl, fills it with water,

puts in stones and water weed, scoops up frogspawn
from a pool – the jelly clings to her fingers,
the pulsing specks eye her. Placing this beside

the light she shuts the door behind her, leaving it
exactly as it was. She can’t answer what she can’t hear.
All that summer the dust leaks must.

In winter she shoves the door open to find a bowl
of dried tadpoles – when they slide around
they clink, like small beads.

Rebecca won her first writing competition at the age of ten with an essay on rabbits for the Wharfedale Naturalists’ Society. Early precocity was swamped by children, work, the fever of everyday life and she forgot what she had originally wanted to be: 45 years were to pass before she won the Cinnamon Press Novel Writing Award with her first novel, which was published in 2011. Her first poetry collection, River is the Plural of Rain, was published by Oversteps Books in 2009. Her second, A Handful of Water is published by Cinnamon Press. She has worked as a creative writing tutor in a prison and currently works as a freelance creative writing tutor and writer. Rebecca blogs at http://rebeccagethin.wordpress.com/


December poems part 5: Karen Dennison, Tina Cole, Rebecca Gethin


Artwork: Archie Dunbar McKintosh


Clumps hoodwink the bushes;
a drudgery clings to the tree, muffling
its limbs. She moves unseen.

Her hands and fingerprints crumble
to powdery snow. A windfall fills
her footprints. She uncouples

from all she knows, freezes over.
People look through her –
she’s becoming a ghost. She sleeps

under a crumpled duvet of snow,
clumps shovelled up at the roadside
in the morning. Her voice shatters,

flurries wordlessly through air, separate
and together, like flocks of white birds.
Mute, invisible, she haunts the streets

as if immortal. She remembers the edge
of something, a childhood drawing
that flutters around the blind spot of vision.

She blows her name and the name
of her brother across her palm
into whirlwinds of snow.

She passes the roadside cross
for a fallen mother, the ragged rotten
sodden flowers encrusted in snow.

Tears are glittering snowflakes
that surprise her cheeks. There is stifled music;
a father and daughter whistle an Adagio of snow.

A child’s face glows like a full moon
from a car window, wanting, not wanting, to go. Snow
slips down the pane, slurs the street lamps’ halos.

Karen Dennison

Published in poetrywivenhoe 2011 and Counting Rain.

Karen’s first collection Counting Rain was published by Indigo Dreams in February 2012.  Her poem Wayfaring was recently commended in the Second Light Poetry Competition 2013.


Artwork: Sophie Harding



Late November
…….days beaten from brass,
…….the grass long covered
…….by a litter of birch and beech,
Come with me, step away from the rush
…….into the forest hush where holly spikes
…….defy the winter song, bright berries
…….young as folly.
There is no one to hear as the year
…….fades away, each day drawn out, oh so slow,
……. – a slowing pace.
A metal sky flecked with old rose –
…….let us close the gate on it, the long tongue
…….of the lock shifts its’ weight
…….and licks it final click into place.
Days pass, celebrate, as snow patterns
…….on glass and the clock with its’ ghostly
…….click, click, clicking; snow deepens
…….like a sauce thickening.
Church bells peel the New Year,
…….the edge of hope unwinds in long looping coils,
…….like midges dancing a soporific reel.


Tina Cole’s publications include: Aesthetica Review- Issue 9, Ragged Raven Poetry, Losing the Edge: Blinking Eye – Blood Line. Magazine publications in Mslexia,  Aesthetica, Red Ink, Decanto and David Morley’s Poetry Workshop as published in The Guardian. She belongs to a small group of writers called The Border Poets and is involved in a number of local readings and poetry festivals.


Artwork: NancyvandenBoom

Winter nights

Outside the house with its fire-lit room,
curtains closed, light leaking from slits,
this quadrant of the universe is layered with meanings,

as though The Plough were stored above the little stone barn
and, to take aim with his bow,  Orion with his belt
had to kneel in my vegetable garden. A gibbous moon

frosts the ground,  its gaze searching
through the library of stars – their  narratives
hidden when rain dawns.

Rebecca Gethin

Rebecca Gethin lives on Dartmoor. She is a creative writing tutor, a gardener and runs a market stall. Her poems have been published over the years in a variety of magazines and just recently in anthologies: Exeter Poetry Stanza’s Making History, Moor Poets  vol 3, Lines under Water, The Broadsheet.  Her poetry collections are: River is the Plural of Rain (Oversteps Books, 2009);  A Handful of Water (Cinnamon Press, 2013). Her second novel, What the horses heard, is to be published by Cinnamon in the spring of 2014. Click here for her website.