Monthly Archives: January 2018

Achievements. And a lovely rejection.

I’ve been reading Ruth Padel’s Silent Letters of the Alphabet this week. I came across it in the PhD thesis a friend lent me and it sounded like a good read so I ordered a copy from Amazon: £2.60 including postage. It said it was in ‘very good condition’, and it was. What it didn’t say was that it was a signed copy; so that was a surprise, and a real bargain. It contains a series of three lectures Ruth gave at Newcastle University, on what poetry is and how to improve the making of it. I recommend it as highly readable if you like to read or write poetry.

So that’s part of how I started my week this week, reading Ruth Padel. I also spent some time thinking how I was going to record my ‘Mind’ poem, ‘Meg’, for the podcast. I hoped to piggy-back on Hilary’s recording session, but she had completed it before I had chance to ask her! Her son’s a bit of a techie and he helped her. Andy Nicholson, who is making the podcast—do you ‘make’ a podcast?—has stayed in touch and I can record it via Skype or Facetime, so all is not hopeless.

Monday was the first run of the week, and it was raining a bit, but not enough to stop me running outdoors. It was my first 3mins spurts of running and I was dreading it; by the end of the week I was managing 5mins spurts and feeling very positive about personal achievement. I’m proud to say, I am beginning to enjoy it. Who’d have thought? Anyway, when I got home, I spent a couple of hours revisiting some early portfolio poems then got ready for my meeting with Jean Sprackland. We met at No. 70, the MMU site on Oxford Road. We had a lovely discussion about my decision to convert to part-time for my remaining PhD time—a decision I have heard has been ratified. We talked about the change of format of my thesis, and I found that very useful because I’ve done a lot of thinking about it for a couple of weeks. I’m thinking a thematic approach based on the themes of my poems: relationships, roles, mirrors; and what Jean calls ‘thingy’ poems, poems in which I write about my mother through the things she used: a churn, spoons, knives cutting beans, her hands cleaning eggs. I had a much clearer idea of where I want to go after talking with Jean. And the best part of the meeting, she really liked the ‘alternative mother’ poems I sent her. I had numbered them: she felt they would be better with a title to give the reader a context and I agree, especially after the feedback I had about ‘Pope Joan’ from The Group. I fairly skipped along Oxford Road after the meeting. I met up with Hilary in Bundobust, an Indian street food restaurant off Piccadilly Gardens. We had a lovely banquet of vegetarian dishes and were thoroughly ‘bundobusted’ when we left for the short walk to Chapter One and The Group. We think we have found our new home. We were given a ‘fenced off’ part of the café to meet and discuss our writing. Great tea/coffee, monumental cakes and poetry: what’s not to like? I took my Boudicca poem; Rosie Garland took a poem about the venerable Bede; Hilary took a surreal poem she wrote for Hilda Sheehan’s workshop at the carousel in Grange in December; and Melissa took a section of a story about a young woman meeting her old teacher in a pub. There were just the four of us, but oh my! the writing was good. I was so buzzed up with poetry, and the positive meeting with Jean, I couldn’t sleep on Monday night. Poetry does that to you: it’s a drug.

Tuesday was a brilliant day. Back in October, Hilary and I invented CCP days: Cider, Cake and Paperchase. Tuesday was the second in the series. We got into Manchester about 2.30: Bill took me to the tram stop as the day involved cider. We went to the new Gino di Campo bar above Next for coffee. It’s a nice space: we sat in a window seat which deserves a better vista than the National Football Museum, whose glass and steel structure always looks completely out of place in that red-brick area of Manchester. Since Next’s refurbishment last year, there is now a Paperchase section in there: we visited that to whet our appetites before going on to the big store on Market Street after our first cider of the day in the Oyster Bar. We bought some paper in the sale for covers for a pamphlet of our poems we are preparing in time for a reading we have scheduled in York in February. I also bought a new travel pass wallet—a watermelon—and a set of emoji page markers. We went from there to Patisserie Valerie for a ‘groupon’ afternoon tea; but they were out of afternoon teas—how is that possible? We were told we could ‘choose any sandwich and cake from the counter’: not the same thing at all! So we saved our ‘groupon’ for another day and went to Wagamama to eat instead. They didn’t sell cider so we had to improvise with a beer.

Wednesday a treadmill run: the rain was lashing down like knives. It was my day doing the books at Amie’s restaurant. While I was there I had an email from Atrium to say they were taking my poem ‘Mary R’, one of my ‘alternative mother’ poems. It will be on the webzine in May; so that was wonderful news. That’s the third of them that’s been accepted for publication so far.

On Thursday evening we met up with Hilary and David at Stocco for an Italian meal before going to the Coliseum Theatre in Oldham where we met Hilary’s sister, Cath. We went to see Lemn Sissay reading his one-voice verse drama Something Dark inspired by his early life in foster-care and children’s homes; and his search for his birth family. It was funny and sad; I was appalled to learn his foster father had been a teacher: so little compassion! It was a great night: Lemn is always really entertaining, his ad lib humour is brilliant. By the end though, I wanted to go on stage and give him a hug! The show ended with a Q&A session.

Friday, the last run of the week: it was a beautiful, bright morning. If all winter days were like this one, I could just about bear it; but we seem to live under a permanent pall of cloud on Saddleworth from September to June! Friday was one of those winter days when you feel spring is not far away. I ran the donkey track and had a smug feeling of personal achievement all day. I had a dental appointment at 10.20 to discuss my options re the root canal. The infection is cleared up; so it seemed weird to be discussing the next step when I don’t seem to need a next step. But the dentist said the infection will come back, soon or two years down the line and we need to consider future treatments. He outlined the options, none of which sounded appealing. I told him I would think about it and discuss it again at my routine appointment in May. That’s one to look forward to, then! It was such a lovely day I decided to have my car mini-valeted. I left it with the car wash while we went to Oldham for lunch; it looked lovely when I picked it up two hours later. The sun was shining on its brown paint, really showing up the gorgeous red glittery bits; the inside was spotless; and all for a tenner. In the evening I went out for a meal with Joan. We went to Glamorous, lovely Chinesemeal; and there was a baby at the next table who looked very like Joan’s granddaughter; so she was happy.

Yesterday I began to plan my thesis in detail following the discussions with Jean. I need to bite the bullet and start writing really; but I can’t seem to get going. I literally don’t know where to start. But as Chairman Mao said, ‘a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step’, and sooner or later I’m going to have to take that step. But it feels like one giant step for womankind, so I planned. I think this journey will probably start with some poems: one day soon I’ll take that step and there’ll be no stopping me. I also had a lovely rejection email from the Breakwater Review. Oh, I know a rejection is never lovely really; but they said very positive things about the two poems I sent them, just they’re not right for them. They encouraged me to send the poems to other publications and asked me to send more work to them in future. So that’s a lovely as a rejection slip gets.

Here’s one of the poems I reworked this week. It was inspired by the family ritual of making butter. It was a whole family affair: dad milked the cows, we siblings churned the cream, mum made the butter pats attractive for market.


See the churn, a pot-bellied pig on wood block feet
scrubbed, sterilized, the iron handle fixed to paddles.

It has the sicky smell of breast fed babies. Now,
hear the cream shushing like the tide as the handle

turns the paddles. Enthusiasm becomes effort
in the sweat and ache of cream thickening.

Pass the handle to the next sibling in line, up to Big Sis
the alchemist who churns base cream into gold.

Watch the ceremonial handing over of butter to mother
to knock into shape with wooden pats on a cold board,

see the magic of that emerging image of yellow, rolled, ridged
its wheatsheaf or thistle print, its bold statement of luxury.


Rachel Davies
January 2018

Press release

This is a press release for Please Hear What I’m Not Saying, the anthology of poems/short stories in support of mental health charities. My poem ‘Meg’, along with poems by several friends, is in the anthology which is edited by Isabelle Kenyon. It would be good if you felt you could support the charities, which do sterling work for mental health in this country, either by visiting after the release date (8.02.18) or by clicking the link to  Fly on the Wall publishing at the end of the press release.



Isabelle Kenyon,

For immediate release

Guildford resident set to publish book to raise money for mental health

Local resident, Isabelle Kenyon from Guildford is set to publish poetry book, ‘Please Hear What I’m Not Saying’, in aid of mental health charities.

Isabelle, who is a theatre marketing assistant for G Live, Guildford, hopes that with the support of her colleagues, friends and family, and the 116 poets involved in the anthology, she will raise an incredible amount for UK mental health charities, providing support and advice for anyone experiencing mental health problems.

Isabelle said, “I am thrilled to be editing this anthology to raise money for charity. This is one of the toughest, yet most thrilling project of my life. Knowing the money we raise will be used to improve the lives of people living with mental health problems throughout the UK is amazing. The money raised will fund vital work such as helplines, advice services and the campaigning.

The book will be released on February 8th through Amazon, and will be available to buy both in paperback and Kindle formats, worldwide.

To support Isabelle’s charity book release, please visit to find out more about the project.




Amoxicillin, aliens and an anthology

This week I’ve been in that default ‘I can’t do this’ state of self-doubt. The advised redirection of the thesis by the team at last week’s meeting had me thinking ‘what does this mean for me; how can I approach this?’ And then, the community of poets; where would I be without them? A poet friend sent me a thesis she had been recommended to read. It is exactly what I needed: a reflection on the writer’s own poetry backed by theoretical research. I only meant to skim-read it for a taste of what it offered, but it was so good I couldn’t put it down. The first half of the week was fogged by amoxicillin and paracetemol as my body fought a root canal infection, so it was good to be able to read, tucked up in front of the fire. I’m happy to report the amoxicillin has gone and with it, the toothache; for now at least.

I began pondering how this revised approach to the thesis might work for me. If I can come up with something similar I will be a very satisfied woman. I spent the week thinking and rethinking. I always do a lot of thinking before I commit anything to paper; even my poems are half constructed in my head before I write them down. I developed some ideas based on a thematic approach to the work. By the end of the week I had started to act on those ideas, even though they aren’t fully formed yet. At the beginning of the week I revisited some of the early portfolio poems. I edited, even redrafted, some of them and made some notes in red on the process involved in writing/redrafting them. But as I thought more about the thesis I realised I needed to do more than redraft, I needed to sort them into ‘sorts’ of poems: poems about things as aide memoirs, poems about masks, mirrors, roles and relationships, poems about death. It took me a whole day to do that sorting out, re-filing them on the computer. Of course some poems fit more than one category and it’ll be up to me how I use them when the time comes to start writing. But I’m on my way, I think. I need to revisit the theory now, to see how that will back up what I’m reflecting on.

I also sent some of my poems out to earn their space in the world. I’ve sent individual poems to be considered for publication; and I sent a pamphlet-sized collection to the Iota Shots competition. I always take the view that I’m financing the competitions rather than hoping to win: I’m not someone whose default position is confident of positive outcomes; then if I do win, and I have on a few occasions, it is a surprise and a bonus. So fingers crossed. Of course, I filled in my triple-tracking submissions system. So far, so good.

On Friday I had a lunch-time Poets & Players meeting at the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. It was a lovely, positive meeting because we just heard recently that we have been awarded Arts Council funding for another year. So we met to begin planning in earnest our events for 2018-19. We have some exciting plans in place if all the poets we invite return acceptances. Keep an eye on the P&P website for updates: The next event is on February 17th at the Whitworth, details are on the website, just follow the link. Details of the P&P annual competition are also on the website, so check it out and get your entries in. You have until the end of February to enter. Pascale Petit is our judge this year so it will be good to meet her at the celebration event in May. I’ve enjoyed reading her poetry so much for the PhD, it’ll be good to get my copies of her books signed. My son Michael’s friend has been reading Mama Amazonica as a result of reading my blog, so I’ve promised to get an extra copy signed too. It would be lovely if they could come to Manchester for the event, to meet Pascale in person.

In other poetry news, the anthology Please Hear What I’m Not Saying, supporting the mental health charity ‘Mind’, is due for publication in February: details here:   A poet friend is putting together a podcast and he has asked me to read my anthology poem, ‘Meg’, for the podcast. We’ll be working on that this coming week. And lastly, our next Stanza meeting is on January 30th. We are going back to the Stalybridge Station Buffet Bar for this one. If you fancy it, check out our FaceBook page:

My other resolution, to complete the ‘Couch to 5K’ challenge, has continued. Despite toothache and foul weather, I went to run on Monday. It Was Raining!!! It poured, so I think that was really above and beyond—and showed real commitment. On Wednesday the rain had turned to snow and I reached the limits of my commitment. I turned to the gym and ran on the treadmill for Wednesday’s and Friday’s sortie. But I did it and I’m still on track. I’m hoping the weather might have improved for tomorrow’s run: I much prefer running outdoors. Treadmill running can be quite boring to be honest; and you don’t get a nice little map of your run. Mike rang me last night. I told him about the challenge and that I was running three minute spurts now. He joked they wouldn’t have me in the army on that level of fitness: but I don’t suppose they want a seventy-year old grandmother in the army; and I don’t want to be a soldier anyway, so that’s OK!

I’m including a poem I came across when I reorganised my computer files yesterday. It says a lot about the mother-daughter relationship, I think, that mix of wonder and strangeness. We expect our daughters to be known to us, but they are their own people, and that makes them strangers sometimes. This is an extreme example and not written about any daughter of mine, Amie; but I can relate to it. I wrote it as part of the mother-daughter drama-in-verse I experimented with twelve months ago. It’s good to find a surprise in your writing. As Robert Frost said, ‘No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader’. He meant, I think, that if the writer isn’t surprised by what she writes, the writing won’t surprise the reader either. So, here it is. Prepare to be surprised:



I’m looking at her but I don’t know who she is.

My real daughter was stolen from the maternity ward
I’m telling you. Aliens lifted her from her crib,
left this mysterious doppelganger that I can’t know.

Remember that school photo, the one
where she’s sitting bolt upright, smiling at the camera
but her eyes are staring at the lens like lasers?

I tell people she’s my love child with Ming the Merciless.


Rachel Davies

Running buddies and root canals

My week started with family and ended with toothache.

On Sunday Amie and I travelled to Peterborough through rime-covered scenery to have lunch with Richard—he was down with the flu over Christmas, high temperature, days in bed. Part of the down-side of being a teacher is you always get ill in the holidays; you hang on and hang on in term-time and crash when you break up. That’s what happened to Richard in December, so we all went out for lunch on Sunday. While we were in Peterborough, Amie bought me a pair of blue-tooth headphones in the January sales to take my mind off running; I set them up when I got home and downloaded Stevie Wonder as a run-buddy.

So. Running. I’ve been at it two weeks now, and it’s going well; better with an up-beat running partner in my headphones. When I say ‘well’, I mean I’m completing the challenge and not needing breathers; and ‘run’ is more ‘jog’ really. I should be starting Week 3 tomorrow morning, but I inadvertently repeated one of the days this week, didn’t realise till I got back to my car; so tomorrow I finish week 2 of the plan. I dread going every time, but love it when I’ve done it.

When I got home from my run on Monday I got down to some work. I filled in all the deadlines I know about on my new calendar: there are too many for January 31st, they hardly all fit in the space. I printed off documents I needed for my team meeting on Tuesday. I also printed off a poem, one of my ‘alternative mother’ poems for The Group on Monday evening. We used to meet at Leaf on Portland Street, but Leaf is closing at 6.00 in the evening from now on so we had to find alternative accommodation. We met at Porter & Cole, a bar in the Northern Quarter. It’s a lovely space, a bit of a barn, but they sell artisan items for the home as well as serving drinks. Seven of us met on Monday. I took my ‘Pope Joan’ poem: they thought it really needed her name in the title; either that or some more backstory, which would make it a different poem. I’ve just been giving these ‘alternative mother’ poems a number. Thing is, I think The Group was right, some of them do need a named title really. I have written one about Boudicca too, I think that needs a name. But I don’t want to name the women I’ve known that I’ve written about. Perhaps I should just make up names for them?

On Tuesday I caught Metrolink to Manchester for my meeting with my Director of Studies. It was an interesting meeting, didn’t go at all as I expected. Firstly, we discussed the creative work I’ve been doing, which is unusual as I don’t normally discuss the creative side in any depth with the supervisors of the critical aspect. But Antony had a suggestion to make. He wants to see me take a more integrated approach to the critical side, focussed on a ‘poetics’ approach to my creative work and the theory and analyses I’ve been doing. They were reasonably happy with the critical writing I’ve been doing so far but suggested I see that as ‘building blocks’ to this integrated piece. I won’t be putting aside what I’ve done so far, just using it differently. Angelica thought I didn’t seem to be enjoying the critical writing, it felt like a chore; and she’s not wrong. I’m much happier doing the creative aspect of the work: I’m a poet, not an academic. So she also felt the integrated approach, based in a reflection on my own poetry, might be more enjoyable for me. September loomed up before me like a beast as they were talking and Antony asked how I would feel about doing my remaining time as part-time study; effectively that will stretch the deadline to next April/May with the understanding that I can submit whenever I’m ready in that time. That sounded attractive, pushing the deadline back by a few months so I’ve applied to do that: extended the deadline without asking for extra time. Breathing space. After our meeting, I spent a couple of hours in the library checking out a Pascale Petit article that Rachel Mann recommended I read.

In other PhD related work this week, I heard from Jean Sprackland: we agreed a meeting for January 22nd to discuss the poems I sent her. These were some of my ‘alternative mother’ poems, so it’ll be interesting to get her feedback. I also started to revisit some of my earlier portfolio poems this week to edit or redraft them; and to make some ‘poetics’ notes on the process.

In the ‘life’ section of the blog, this week I’ve had a sore tooth. It started off bearable but became more insistent as the week went on. It’s a tooth I had crowned about twenty years ago and it was particularly painful when I bite on it. I thought I’d probably cracked the tooth under the crown or something. Anyway, I rang my dentist for an emergency appointment on Friday and he fitted me in mid-morning. An x-ray of the tooth revealed an infection in the root canal, so he prescribed antibiotics; but he said the antibiotics only have a restricted chance of working. I have to go back to see him in a fortnight to discuss further treatment options, the best of which is work on the root canal in his surgery, the worst of which will involve surgery at the dental hospital. I look forward to meeting him again in a fortnight then, as you can imagine. Bloody teeth. As my Aunt Mary used to say, they’re a trouble coming, a trouble while you’ve got ‘em and a trouble going. I hate teeth. When I was a junior nurse on a women’s geriatric ward, one of the patients thought she would help the staff by collecting up all the sets of dentures and putting them in the sink to clean them. Guess who had to reunite them all with their owners! So I’ve had a cringe-worthy relationship with teeth most of my life. But it would be good if the antibiotics would at least give some temporary relief to the toothache: it’s not happening for me yet.

So there you have it; another week in the pursuit of a PhD: Antony has given me something to get my teeth into; trouble is, it hurts to bite!

This poem is one of the ones I revisited this week. Years ago, when my sister found her first boyfriend, our mum said to her ‘boys only want you for one thing’, and she said ‘well tell me what it is and I’ll give it to them’. That’s how naïve we were. So this poem remembers that conversation. The story of the poem never happened, it’s just that wonderfully dismissive, old-school first line I love. Lessons we learn from our mothers, eh?


So What Is It?

Boys only want you for one thing, you said,
but you never told me what that is

so now I’m climbing the steps to the bumpy slide
at Wicksteed Park, the ladder confusing
my sense of being right side up in the world
and he’s behind me so there’s no going back

and when I get to the top, I’ll have to sit
in that little house, with my feet overhanging
the chute and a hundred miles of metal
humping between us and solid ground.

Now he’s pushing me
and I’m learning about exhilaration.


Rachel Davies




Triple Tracking and Surrealism

The Millennium reached the age of maturity on Monday. It seems like only last week that I saw in the year 2000 in Germany, where my youngest son, Michael, was stationed with the army. I have a lovely photo of me, taken at midnight on 31.12.1999, holding my grandson, Richey, who was 20 months old at the time. He is 20 years old in April. On Monday the millennium had its 18th birthday celebrations.

The first week of 2018 done, and my New Year resolutions are still on track. They have been the focus of the week; they’ve contributed to the creative aspect of the PhD as well, which is a bonus.

2018 New Year Resolutions:

  • to complete the PhD
  • to do the ‘Couch to 5k’ challenge
  • to be more organised in sending my poetry out for recognition

The first one goes without saying. Never a day goes by when I don’t contribute to that one. With only nine months left to get it done, it is on every breath I take at the moment. Which brings me to the third resolution. This week I have been working toward a system for keeping track of submissions. I’ve not been very organised in that task in the past. The joy of poetry to me is in the writing of it. Of course I love to see my work in print: it means someone valued it. But I haven’t been systematic in sending stuff ‘out there’. I’ve entered the occasional competition, submitted to some anthologies. I even kept a spreadsheet at one stage, but couldn’t really see how it was helping me. So this week I did some research. I wanted to know how other poets keep track of their own work. Good old Google. I found various spreadsheets very similar to the one I had devised myself, which hadn’t been a help to me. Then I found this: It is not only a spreadsheet for submissions, it doesn’t just allow you to keep track of acceptances; it allows you to track how many times a single poem has been rejected and resubmitted. And it includes tables (I made mine in Word) for individual poems and individual publishers/competition, so you can see at a glance where your work has been and you can avoid resubmitting a poem to a publisher who has sent it back in the past. You have to open up all three trackers and make entries every time you submit to make sure the system it doesn’t have holes in it. It all seemed like a good idea, so I spent a day setting it up. I think I’ll like it as a system; but it’s still too early to tell. However, I’ve tracked my recent submissions on this system and I’ll learn in time if it works. I’ll return to this. It’s helping the creative aspect of the PhD as well; because one of my targets this year is to submit to ‘quality’ publications. I’ve been doing this. I have sent out some of my PhD portfolio poems this week. It was very satisfying to enter them into the triple tracking system. I hope it works as well as it promises.

I also heard from a poet friend that she uses a calendar to track deadlines, so she’ll never inadvertently miss a publishing opportunity. I tend to keep those ‘opportunities’ as open tabs on my computer, and then the deadline passes and I haven’t submitted, because I didn’t check the tab again—I told you I wasn’t systematic. Keeping a calendar seems such a simple idea, I can’t think why I didn’t think of it myself. So this week I bought a desk-pad calendar to do that very thing: to write in all the deadlines I find out about, so they are a constant visual reminder to me while I’m working. This is the calendar I bought on Friday, waiting for me to fill in the deadlines I know about for the next couple of months:



So there has been progress in that particular resolution. Which leaves the second resolution: how have I done in the ‘Couch to 5k’ challenge? Well, I’ve done the first week. I downloaded an app to my iPhone and Apple watch and on New Year’s Day I drove myself to a local footpath, the track of a disused railway line known locally as the Delph Donkey, which has the advantage, in the foothills of the Pennines, of being a flat path. I followed the instructions on the app. Unfortunately on Day 1, I started at the very beginning of the track, which was well and truly waterlogged. I tried to skirt round the huge puddles but the ground around was sodden too, so I faced the challenge with thoroughly soaking feet. I wondered if I’d end up with trench foot in my bid to be fit—I’m nothing if not a drama queen. Anyway, I did it: 6 x 1.5 minute walks plus 6 x 1 minute runs with a five minute warm up and cool down. The voice on the app is of an American woman—‘yer doin’ grreat’, she says. ‘Eff off’, I respond, ‘I’m dying here’. Yup, it was hard for someone who has let her levels of fitness drop below critical. Day two I did on Thursday as I had an appointment with my rheumatologist on Wednesday. Two extra running sessions in Day 2; I actually ‘brisk walked’ the last 1 minute run, completely empty of fuel. Day 3, a repeat of Day 2, and I managed it all; so already I’m improving. It’s still torture; but I will do it because that’s who I am. I don’t give up easily. Even if it kills me.

Other aspect of my week revolved around personal stuff. On Wednesday, the rheumatologist was pleased with the progress of the ugly sisters, Polymyalgia Rheumatica and Giant Cell Arteritis. These are twin auto-immune diseases I was diagnosed with in 2014 and 2016 respectively. Coritco-steroid treatment brings its own issues, but I’m gradually coming off the drugs. I’m hoping to be Prednisolone-free by the summer. Bring it on.

Yesterday I met up with some of the staff of the primary school where I was headteacher for eleven years. I’ve been FaceBook friends with them for some time, so it was good to meet and have a good old chinwag and a laugh about those lovely days at work. It was a good school, a pleasant learning environment for the children. I believed in children and not curricula as the driving force behind school and we provided learning experiences, not targets. I’m so glad I don’t have to run a school in today’s target-driven climate. I think I would antagonise ‘the powers that be’ even more than I did in those days when the achievement of unrealistic targets was becoming what schools were supposed to be about. I’m a believer in the pendulum swing, and I look forward to the day when the child regains his/her position ‘at the centre of the education system’, as Baroness Plowden advocated in the late sixties. Unfortunately, we have a generation of children oppressed by the recognition of ‘fronted adverbials’. Whatever they are.

So, this week’s poem. I went to Kim Moore’s Poetry Carousel in December. This poem is a product of Hilda Sheehan’s workshop about surrealism. We had to jot down some dream memories. Then we found random sentences, phrases, words that attracted us, from a selection of books Hilda had brought along. At the end of the workshop we put together a poem built from these various jottings. This is my poem. I recognise the dream memories; I recognise the bits I took from books. They hang together in a ‘surreal’ poem that has no meaning whatsoever, but I like it. It has a sort of mystery, as if something is happening at the edge of the Unconscious; which of course is what dreams are; and what our random jottings from  books are. Take it for what it is.


Being dead and not having done it

and let her write her essays on Defoe,
how he was whisked into hospital,
for showing his other hand trapped
in the Grand Guinol.

Hyacinth: a body carnal. Shoes with golden heels.
The girl plays with you, runs away
to Goose Green to evade a drugs charge, pulls
chewing gum like magic porridge from her mouth.

I know what it feels like to drown. Death
is a long, lit ginnel where rutting stags cluster
around the ends of ancient languages.

As you are my judge, Pauline,
in the year of my conception my parents
were model citizens.


Rachel Davies
December 2017