Poem of the Month

This month’s poem, ‘The Stag’, by Frank McMahon, won second prize in the competition, ‘Voices for the Silent’, run by Indigo Dreams Publishing. It now features in their anthology of the same name.

Frank’s poem also appears in his second volume of poems, ‘A Different Land’, published by Palewell Press. The poem is a protest against the killing of wild animals for sport.

Frank says, ‘Poetry is thriving these days in the UK, partly due to all the local writing groups around the country.

I want to acknowledge all the help and inspiration given by the members of the Somewhere Else Writers Group.’

The group is now welcoming new members to join its weekly meetings on Wednesday afternoons at Somewhere Else Deli in Castle Street, Cirencester.  Whether you already write, or have always wanted to, but would appreciate support and inspiration, contact us via our group website. Alternatively, just leave us a message at Somewhere Else at the top of Castle Street. Members write poetry, plays, fiction, and other forms of writing.  Some are published and performed, but others prefer to explore their personal potential. If you want to get the most out of words, do get in touch.

To read The Stag click here.

The High Window

Church bells have pealed out across towns and villages in Europe since medieval days. Published in the quarterly poetry review magazine The High Window, Iris Anne Lewis’s poem  ‘The Bells of Lübeck’ explores the history of the German city, of Lübeck, through the story of the bells in its large and impressive church, the Marienkirche.

Once the centre of the Hanseatic League (a union of towns and merchants’ guilds that dominated northern European trade in the medieval period) Lübeck and its citizens enjoyed great prosperity. However, as a result of a bombing raid during the second world war, much of the town and the Marienkirche were engulfed by fire. The bells fell nearly 400 feet and crashed to the floor of the church in a molten and broken state.

The church has been magnificently restored, as has the city, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, the bells remain exactly as they fell – a shattered heap, partially melted into the ground beneath the vault and serves as a peace memorial.


You can read Iris’s poem about the bells here 

Consider the Snowdrop

One of the most cheering sights of January and February is the stirring of the soil as the first snowdrops pierce through the earth. Published in the webzine ‘Ink, Sweat andTears,’ the poem Consider the Snowdrop by Iris Anne Lewis presents a measured and delicate ode to the snowdrop, speaking of perseverance and grace. You can read Iris’s poem by clicking here.

Winter’s Orbit

This month’s poem, Winter’s Orbit, imagines how it would feel to undertake a winter migration in a time before way markers, roads, or cities. Poet Tina Baker takes the reader back to prehistoric humankind, struggling across a dark and featureless landscape.

She said: ‘They were the first to make tracks, some possibly still in use today, but how did they decide which way to go when the stars were hidden by cloud, or the river forked, or the land was covered by snow and the view ahead a blizzard? What did they do when the sky fell to earth when the way forward looked the same as the way back?

‘The aim was to create a claustrophobic mood, the feeling caused by short, grey winter days which seem to stretch into infinity, the days you feel like walking until the clouds are left behind until you find the sun again.’

Tina was inspired to write more poetry after joining Cirencester-based poetry group Wordbrew. She said: ‘I find I’ve been challenged and encouraged by the excellent poets in the group.’

To read Winter’s Orbit click here.

Lyrical Writing With Philip Rush

Somewhere Else Writers were delighted to welcome Philip Rush as our workshop tutor for an afternoon devoted to lyrical writing. A local writer and publisher, Philip led an excellent session on the topic, focusing initially on haibun (a Japanese form that combines prose and haiku). We looked at examples of haibun from traditional Japanese poets, such as Basho, and contemporary poets, including Roger Robinson, Barbara Sabol, and Amanda Bell. Moving on to longer prose, it was interesting to discuss the lyrical and well-observed writing of Esther Kinsky, particularly in ‘Grove’, a novel that occupies the ground between fiction and memoir.

As well as reading and discussion, we were also able to do some writing during the session using the Esther Kinsky example for inspiration. We came away from the session enthused, and many of us are already trying our hand at writing more lyrically or composing haibun. Pictures of the event can be viewed in the gallery section of our website.

Wildfire Words on Remembrance

Remembrance was the theme of the latest call for poems by Wildfire Words. Two poems on the theme by Iris Anne Lewis are included in the November issue of the magazine.

’No Signpost to His Grave’ is based on a true story of the First World War, featuring a horse from Iris’s home village. The second poem ‘And I Remember’ draws on Iris’s experience of her long commute to work from North to South London. You can read both poems (and listen to a recording of Iris reading her work) here.

Wildfire Words is a poetry ezine run by Cheltenham publishers Frosted Fire. Its aim is to share new poetry from many parts of the world, whether from fresh poetic voices or established poets. In many cases the poems featured are enriched by audio recordings of the work alongside the written version. Why not visit the site and dip into some of the poetry on offer?

Corinium Women

An afternoon spent at Cirencester’s Corinium Museum was the inspiration behind this month’s poem ‘Women Exhibited’ by Sophie Livingston.

Sophie said: ‘I was asking myself about the lack of stories about women in history. As I looked at the Bronze-Age and Anglo-Saxon graves of women on show in the museum it struck me that it was the women’s bones that were telling their story. The exhibiting of the women, splayed out in the cases seemed a kind of violation – but it also made them visible and present to me in a way women in history are usually denied. I wanted to explore the sense that they were speaking to me through time in the only way available. It was intimate, and their bones were beautiful – and yet it was a kind of degradation too.’

The trip to the museum was organised by Cirencester-based poetry group ‘Wordbrew’. ‘Women Exhibited’ is featured in ‘Off the Wall’ an anthology of poetry and prose by Somewhere Else Writers, available to buy on Amazon.

Full Voice

Many congratulations to Frank McMahon who read his first-prize-winning poem ‘The War Against Speech’ to a full house at The Cheltenham Literature Festival last week. Members of the group went to support Frank at the Gloucestershire Writers’ Network event. To find out more about Gloucestershire Writers’ Network and the competition, click here.