Poetry, stories and knitting

When Women Weave Words…


When I meet people I’ve  never met before I like to ask them what they saw as they journeyed to the meeting point. This is what Beth had to say…
My journey here

The soft breeze caressed my cheek as we stepped outside and I looked forward to the walk despite the imminent threat of rain. It had to be preferable to a ride in the musty and confined space of a crowded tram. We set off down the hill, prattling on about nothing in particular, like a gaggle of school girls and as we sauntered, I deliberately sought out the piles of windswept dry brown leaves, enjoying the sound and sensation of the autumn crispness underfoot. Onwards and upwards past the park where the leaves on the trees rustled frantically as if they were competing for attention like women showing off their wares in a bustling marketplace. Lagging behind the others, I was lost in a world of my own. I paused long enough to pick up a brown pebble and slipped it into my pocket, rubbing my fingers over its sharp edges and relishing the roughness. In that moment, the contrast of the stone’s qualities against the smooth, soft contours of my pocket reminded me of life in a strange sort of way. How odd!

The air was damp from the heavy mist as we finally reached the brow of the hill and as we continued, faithfully following the slippery wet tram tracks into Hyson Green, I finally caught sight of the gallery. Minutes later, we crossed the busy main road and ducked inside the welcoming warmth of the building. As I stood in the queue savouring the heady aromas of the rich spices emanating from the kitchen, a cIap of thunder heralded the storm outside and without further warning, the heavily pregnant rain clouds finally burst, giving birth to fat, juicy baby drops. Cradling a cup of fragrant hot lemon tea in both hands, I sat at a table in the window enjoying the spectacle. Pedestrians dashed in and out of the traffic, seeking shelter while passing cars almost ground to a halt as they valiantly fought to drive the deluge. ‘Just in time’ I murmured, sinking back comfortably on the soft cushions of the sofa.


Role of the Assassin 

I am an assassin. Perpetually traversing from the deep past, through the present and far into future, I execute with cold and ruthless efficiency. My role is explicit and the reason is clear. Retribution.

A silent assassin? No, not at all. Quite the opposite. My targets are aware that I’m closing in and they will know of my mission, but that’s all. When? How? It could take minutes, days or even years, however not knowing the exact moment of their reckoning only adds to that cold and eerie feeling of inevitability. When the time comes, they will sense my presence but by then, it’s far too late.

Why would I choose this existence when there are so many other directions I could have taken? My answer is simple. I have no choice. For every one of these vile humans inflicted unimaginable pain and death on an innocent. Each death was a cruel waste of a sweet life. Some died spiritually, some physically or mentally and countless others died in more ways than one. I can’t turn back time or prevent what happens in the future, but I can certainly help rid the world of these despicable beings whose only pleasure is to cause suffering. One by one they must all atone for their actions. Someone has to avenge these cruel and senseless deaths. Someone has to speak for the dead and protect the living.

Who said two wrongs don’t make a right?

About the writer: Beth believes although having dyscalculia and dyspraxia may have held her back and contributed to her lack of confidence, they certainly do not define who she is. Underneath the shy and seemingly impenetrable exterior lies a wicked sense of humour, an enquiring mind and a vivid imagination. She is continually inspired by the creativity of others but perhaps after years self-doubt, she is finally convinced that it’s never too late. So perhaps the time has come to bravely take those first steps to finding her own voice and becoming an inspiration to others.

NB: the final of 3 workshops based around Keith Piper’s solo show will be on Tuesday 23rd May from 10-3pm. Meet in the NAE cafe for this free workshop which includes lunch.


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Women Kicking & Writing…

I’ve been at it again! Writing, writing and erm… more writing… Here’s a poem from one of the participants in response to #UnearthingTheBankersBones by Keith Piper.

Mending Time
The last man will include woman.
Not as rib, nor moral compass – ingested chronicler of gothic horror.
Nor doomsayer of the tragic and inevitable suicide of man
– but as Old Woman.
She is trickster and shape-shifter,
Keeper of the ledger and ground-truther of maps, knitter of sleep,
Scorer of reckonings…
Old woman knows all the stories and the IT-IS-Written destinies.
She walks out on rocks worn to shingle
She feels the North Pole’s magnet flip to South and trades blow East to West. Edge-to-edge, edge to centre like mending sheets
The winds of Time curve and bend as the past touches now and again and then.
She throws down seeds of time, laughing loudly as she strides, lopes and bounds out along the boardwalk.
She sees the beginning in the end and in the end was the word and the word was HOPE.

About the writer: Jill Arnold is an old country woman who no longer cares what that means to others. As a grandma with special powers, she knows it’s wondrous to still be alive and kicking – and writing!

NB: Next Writers workshop – Tuesday 23rd May, 10am -3pm, in the NAE cafe. This workshop is free and includes Lunch.

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It was here but it’s gone elsewhere!

IMG_2786.JPGThe Place is Here… is no more, it’s moved on to inspire others but we have a legacy of poems written in response to the exhibition. The poem below is not only inspired by the painting Black Assassin Saint but also named after the artist Keith Piper. Paula Sharratt is the architect of this piece… enjoy…

Keith Piper 1960

Inside The Atrocity Exhibition


Like Warholian Turin Shrouds

Screaming like Freud

Out of Print

Out of Print

Out of Print
Piper was here though

on that night

to watch the way the eyes

rolled over

his work
Keith Piper

who’d fought with the idea

the feeling

the constraints

and powerfully placed the work

as if it was already there

as if

It wasn’t absurd

to be documenting

such atrocity

within the sado masochistic complex

of oppression

as if he wasn’t just having a laugh

at his oppression

but it


matters now

When we look at Andy Warhol

Look at him

A dead billionaire

And Keith Piper is still here

Artistic conjurer

occasionally coming up for air.

Please note that I will be leading a series of Creative Writing Workshops at the Women’s Centre in Nottingham beginning the 9th May from 10-3pm. Please contact me for more details. 


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The Place is definitely here!

We were busy beavers writing and editing, rewriting and then scratching our heads hoping to release more inspiration. It worked!  Some fantastic participants were in the Nottingham Contemporary Gallery in March. All up for translating visual art into poetry. It was wonderful leading this and even more superb that I have been able to see the end results.


Below is one of the poems written by Anna Wels in response to Keith Piper’s Black Assassin Saints (1982)

Imagined, Idealistic Future

Muddy paint rags, the mainstay
Of a fine artist, roughly
Joined together, hewn of cloth:
A humble man’s offering, an
Anger Split Open.

Words are fighting to be let out:
An imagined, idealistic future.
Faces are calm, but resolute:
The Disposition Of A Warrior

Four faces the same: unity of
Purpose, universality of intent.
The raw inner throb, biological
Suffering, and impulse to be let out…

Release from pain
Resolution of injustice

Digging up history, mixing with present
To solve in an instant
Dissolve like paint and water.

An imagined, idealistic future
Shaped by a brave and courageous
Acting on anger
Not mere representation.

Bright colours denote positivity,
The darkness and drips: the terrible
Reality, the buried and accepted

Calmly covered up simply because
Too difficult to process
Impossible to change
Things will always remain
The same?

I shall be leading creative writing workshops at the women’s centre in Nottingham beginning the 9th May, 10-3pm. Please contact me for more details.

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Art & Poetry

I had the pleasure of facilitating some creative writing workshops using ‘The Place is Here’ exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary Gallery as the stimulus. Some of the participants of that workshop have shared their work with me and now I’m sharing it with you!

It was fantastic to see such creativity coming out of a 3 hour workshop. Most of all it was great to see everyone jump in, despite their level of writing, and give it a good go. I’m very pleased with their efforts.


Below is a poem by Alexandra Goodwin who said, “The whole afternoon left me feeling very encouraged! What a powerful exhibition.”

One day you will know
the reasons you are here-
you are hearing this between your ribs.

You’ll know,
at last shuttered eye-
when the cosmos sweeps out
your body.

You will know
all pain, all pleasure-
you’ll know the slither between.

You’ll know how
things can dissolve
but remain-
without anchors,
tethered nowhere.

One day you will know
unseen answers,
to unmasked questions.

One day you will be another,
on the other side of the door.

Please note that I will be leading a series of Creative Writing Workshops at the Women’s Centre in Nottingham beginning the 9th May from 10-3pm. Please contact me for more details.

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Words for Walls

Words for Walls is an initiative to display poems by local writers in public spaces and on public transport across the city of Nottingham.

Established in May 2016, Words for Walls is led by two research students at the University of Nottingham. Poems by local writers were displayed across the city of Nottingham from November 2016.

My poem Beside the Pool made the cut and was displayed at Nottingham Contemporary. Did you spot it?

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Poetry Workshop -11 March 2017

If you are interested in putting pen to paper then why not join me for a creative writing session at Nottingham Contemporary on the 11th March. Click on the link for more details. img_7205

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A Taste of a Stone

The stone poems are complete, the residency over. Here is a piece from the sharing session.

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October Dialogue

I was fortunate to be part of an evening of performance, conversation and music that explored the transatlantic slave trade and its legacies. And even more thrilling was being on the same platform as the legendary and renowned Jamaican poet Jean ‘Binta’ Breeze.  She is, if you didn’t know, acclaimed for her inventive use of the dub artform. Breeze’s poetry gives voice to a wide range of disenfranchised people as well as personal, social, political and historical issues.

Along with myself  the evening also featured performances by Michael Brome and Marcus Joseph. The event was co-curated by The Centre for Research in Race and Rights (C3R) and Renaissance One, a leading cultural activist organisation who have consistently pushed for greater diversity in the arts and who have a particular focus on narratives of race and culture.



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Black in the City

The Black Writers & Artists Network was launched in 2015 by Nottingham Black Archive with the aim of raising the profile of Black Writers in Nottingham as well as documenting Black Writers from the past and the present. It is a growing haven for creative writers of African Caribbean descent to write, support, share, discuss, meet, curate events and perform.

The Black Writers & Artists Network are looking for poetry that responds to the theme of being ‘Black In The City of Nottingham.’ The Network seeks work that is connected to Nottingham from writers and artist who are native to the City or who have lived, studied or worked in Nottingham.

Entrants are encouraged to explore in as many ways as possible the various threads (social, economic, political, cultural, personal, etc.) that weave into the theme and be as experimental as possibke when responding to the idea of being ‘Black In The City’ of Nottingham.

Submission Guidance Notes can be found at


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