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.

National Poetry Day

To mark National Poetry Day, Somewhere Else Writers enjoyed a feast of poetry at its meeting on 5th October.  Each member brought along a poem to share with the group. The result was a wide variety of poetry, with poems ranging from long established writers, such as Kipling and U.A Fanthorpe, to contemporary poets Caleb Parkin and Katy Mack. A couple of poems written by our own members was also in the mix.

After a short break for refreshments we concluded the meeting with a poetry writing exercise, using a poem by Tamar Yoseloff for inspiration. Her poem ‘Alchemy’ with its description of the poet’s experience of viewing the paintings in the Guggenheim Museum, Venice, themes of alienation and connection, and moment of revelation provided much food for thought and hopefully will result in members of the group writing their own poems.

If you want to read ‘Alchemy’, you will find it at the link below together with brief explanation of the poem’s genesis by Yoseloff. Click here

Poem of the Month

Vivid memories of a family holiday inspired this month’s poem ‘Boat trip’ by Clare Roberts. Clare said: ‘In 2020, we planned a holiday to honour my Mum’s 80th birthday, which falls just after Christmas. Covid put paid to that, and she was alone on both occasions, in the far north of England.

‘To compensate (in small measure), I wrote a series of poems celebrating our relationship, from holiday memories and shopping trips to the warmth of home and the conversations that enlivened our walks together.

‘Every year when I was a child, we had a family holiday to Mallorca. A favourite treat was a boat trip. We would dive for sea urchin shells before the exhilarating return, flying back across the bay, sitting precariously on the front deck.

‘I printed each poem on a sheet of coloured paper, wrapped them like scrolls and placed them in a decorated box.

‘She loved them. In return, she created a beautiful piece of table art with images and quotes from my poems, in embellished silks quilted and mixed with regular fabrics, with the added texture of ruffled flowers and sparkling Angelina fibres.’

To read Clare’s poem click here


Many congratulations to Frank McMahon whose poem ‘Saving Byzantium’ has just been published in the award-winning literary magazine Acumen.

The poem references The Triumph of Orthodoxy, an icon created in Constantinople around 1370 CE when the Byzantine Empire was under mortal threat from Turkish, Islamic armies.

The Empire stood alone and the icon was created to show the people what the Empire would look like when God protected it.

It is based on a much earlier icon, Hodgeteria, created in 843 on the orders of Empress Theodosia to show that it was permissible to have images that showed the godhead.

There had been major disputes as to whether this was acceptable.

More information can be found in The History of the World in 100 objects and by looking on-line for pictures of both icons.

The poem, published in Acumen 104 can be read below.



Every time he asks

is this allowed?

They do not paint God’s face,

our enemies. They are

ocean, plague, unanswered swords,

surely God must love them more?


They tell him: this is a settled question

and this is your commission,

The Triumph of Orthodoxy.

Only God and Faith can save this city now.

So pray, forgive your enemies,

paint as if God is with you in this room.


The monk takes wood and tempera

creates within the icon

a copy of a second, ancient and revered.



Child and Virgin veiled in damson blue,

the frame red like ripening mulberry,

held by saints against a wall of gold.

Martyrs, Emperor and Patriarch,

Byzantium summoning the past

to stand against the future.

Author Presentation

One of the joys of the writing group is sharing the books and authors we love. This week Frank McMahon spoke about FREE by Lea Ypi, an autobiography about her childhood in Albania between 1988 and 1997.

Frank said: ‘She tries ( and in my view succeeds ) to capture her voice and her inner world in writing about her extended family with its “ biographies”, the neighbourhood, and her school, in the period when Enver Hoxha was the leader of a rigidly socialist state.

‘Her grandmother to whom the book is dedicated is lovingly described and comes over as a significant role model for Lea.

‘And after 1989 when the Berlin Wall falls and when Albania moves towards an uncertain democracy, she discovers the coded language of her parents and other adults to find a way of speaking freely and safely. So this is, in part, a book about the loss of certainties and the questions that adolescents in any society pose about their parents and the world.

‘The book is also a meditation on the nature of freedom in a totalitarian state and in an open society.’

Lea Ypi is a Professor of Political Theory at the LSE and has never returned to Albania.