John Foggin

Always happy to see John promoted

Rebecca Gethin

John Foggin is the latest Featured Writer.  He is a generous and tireless supporter of all poets so this is my endeavour to give some support back.  He’s very well known in the North but much less known here in the South West  so maybe this will help rectify that.

He is one of my favourite poets writing anywhere today as his poems burst from the page with a raw energy that looks effortless and easy and makes you see with new eyes.  Deft, always surprising and full of compassion.  He writes about landscape, birds, people and uses ventriloquy to get deep inside character and situation.

I finally got to meet John last year at South Downs Poetry Festival where his readings and also his workshop were full of verve.  I wrote more in his workshop than in most others anywhere and he stood up all through it and…

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Film poem

I’ve been having a go with different media lately, exploring the potential for combining images and words, audio and visual representations of poems. Here’s my first attempt.


It’s a poem from my Flarestack Poets pamphlet, Lapstrake . I think there’s always places to go with poetry, that we shouldn’t feel too constrained by genre.  It was relatively easy to make, and I’ll definitely be having another go, probably with something slightly lighter. But my mood is quite dark right now with all the stuff going on with the cemetery.

And her Great Gift of Sleep

I did an interview with a community television company yesterday, trying to highlight the need for the bereavement process of grieving parents to be looked at in a slightly different way to other grieving processes. It is different. You do not lose the instinct to parent when your child dies. Somewhere where you can be a parent, look after them, bring gifts, cleave things that comfort them, that is a comfort to you. I feel quite worn out with it all.

My intent was never to attack any body, but to highlight the way that it has been managed, that steps need to be taken to be kinder, to avoid the psychological impact that this sort of thing has on grieving people. It doesn’t have to be black or white, nothing does, there is room here for compassion. We made 1000 signatures. I’m very humbled by the way people are backing this. Thank you x




Poems on the Glorious High Window

high Window is another one to follow, always quality poetry and interesting articles. This one, obviously is brilliant 😉

Throughout 2018 the four quarterly High Window essay slots will be devoted to work which was originally featured in Anthony Costello’s series of Kava Poetry Lectures. Each lecture was written and delivered by an outstanding contemporary poet as part of the Kava Poetry series which Anthony organized in Todmorden, West Yorkshire. The full set of […]

via Wendy Pratt: Communicating with the Dead — The High Window

If you aren’t following Paper Pencil Life, you’re missing out!

I absolutely love the honesty and vulnerability of Summer Pierre’s graphic artist posts. Every time I see one I feel connected to the creative work practice and aware that there are writers and artists all over the world, working in their cocoons and sometimes feeling brilliant and sometimes feeling a bit meh. This is one blog I genuinely look forward to.

via Something — Paper Pencil Life

The Hunger by Rachel Plummer — Proletarian Poetry

Proletarian Poetry is always an interesting blog to follow, they post some smashing poems, like this one by Rachel Plummer.


A family we know have just had their lives changed irrevocably. She worked as a school administrator, had been there for fifteen years. He was a sparky who ran his own small business with his son as an apprentice. Last summer, he had a massive stroke; he is unable to move one side of his […]

via The Hunger by Rachel Plummer — Proletarian Poetry

Grave Goods and the Grieving Process

Something happened this week that took me away from my ‘nowadays’ life and planted me firmly back into grief. I’ve been trying to make these blog posts about writing and uni and the creative process, because that’s really what my life is about. But something happened at the cemetery where my daughter is buried this week, and because that is also what my life is about, and because the experience of the death of my daughter, has shaped my life, my thought processes and my creative process, it’s important to talk about that too. I’ll try and keep it brief.


Every birthday and Christmas since we lost our daughter, my husband and I have agonised over what to take to the grave to remember her. She was a baby, would be a child now and whilst I don’t imagine her playing about the headstones or sitting in a tree, cherub like, as many parents imagine their children, I do imagine her going back into the earth and helping the earth. Therefor I bring things like insect houses, and bird baths and sometimes other things, this year it was a lovely white wreath for Christmas, because it looks pretty with the pink roses and because I want her little grave to be pretty. I get anxious if I don’t visit her grave and tidy it and lay flowers and bring little gifts. I don’t feel anxious once I have done that. It’s about doing the best for her, as her mum, because the sis the only place I can do things for her, practical things, as a mum would.  We have a little fence around her grave, because I can’t bear the thought of people stepping on her, or a lawnmower going over the top of her. This may well seem odd to other people, I can’t tell anymore what is and isn’t odd when one is considering the burial place of a child. In ancient times people put things in the grave with their children, like this incredible twin burial with it’s mammoth shoulder bone: Twin burial which, while I don’t know in any factual or scientific extent,  I am certain will have been put there to protect those two little babies. They may have marked the graves, left flowers and food, offerings too, but we’ll never know. These days we certainly do. Be it flowers, planted shrubs or as in the case of the cemetery where my daughter is buried, and all the cemeteries in the UK, we leave toys, wind chimes, wind mills, decorated stones, things that mean something to us, things that show the world that the baby or the child is not forgotten. The instinct to parent doesn’t end at death. You will know, if you have lost a child, the utter misery that is knowing they are alone in the cemetery, in the cold and the dark without anyone there to offer comfort. That instinct is strong. And it’s why people leave solar powered lights on the graves. After I’d seen the sign, I found this article: Scarborough news in which a councillor describes the cemetery as ‘like a disco there are that many LED lights flashing. It looks like a night rave.’

I can’t decide which hurt more, the prioritising of the appearance of the cemetery over the personal need to grieve, or the article which was insensitive to the point of painful. There doesn’t seem to have been any empathetic approach to this, which really saddens me.  What I do know is that I went home and I cried for three days wondering if someone had been on my daughter’s grave, measuring the distance between headstone and grave edge, touching her things without my permissions, judging us on whether our method of grieving fell within the parameters of their rules or not. It hurt.

I’ve made this petition, it’s to bring to attention that this is not the best way to go about  this, and to make it plain that grieving parents are still parents, that the lack of empathy and understanding over the individual needs of grieving people in general needs to be addressed. Please do sign it and share it if you can.

Petition on Grave Items

Thanks x


All my Mad Mothers: A Review

One of those books that is on my ‘to buy’ list, this review makes me want to buy it even more.

Aoife Lyall

Jacqueline Saphra’s debut collection, All my Mad Mothers, is one of observation and experience, resistance and discovery, inhibition and abandon. The poems within are vivacious explorations of daughterhood, adulthood, and motherhood, a spinning wheel of rebellion, conformity, protest and revelation.

Analogous to reading the old family encyclopaedias, these poems contain the secret thrill of self-discovery, an exhilarating exegesis of the female body as it responds to age and expectation.

The collection begins with ‘In the winter of 1962 my mother’, a poem that navigates the silence and isolation of a woman who fails to subscribe to contemporary social norms:

travelling round and round in shrinking circles
not sure how to execute the move outwards
into another lane never having been
properly taught how to make an exit

Given the deluge of fairy tales ready to instruct generations of young girls on how to acquire a husband (a passive mixture…

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