Wednesday, 28 December 2011

WordAid in the news

Thank you to the BBC for a great article about WordAid on their local news website.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

'Not Only The Dark' launch event

The launch event at the University of Kent last Tuesday was an a amazing success. We had more than 20 readers from as far afield as Edinburgh and Halifax.Ruth Portway also came along to tell us more about the charity, the work they do is really inspiring.

We raised a total of £1632 from sales and the collection on the night, all of which will go to Shelterbox as printing costs were already covered from pre-sales. And so far the total raised for Shelterbox is £1900.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

'Not Only The Dark' now available!

Visit our publications page to buy your copy of our amazing new anthology and help to raise funds for international disaster charity Shelterbox.

As well as introducing some exciting new poets, this anthology includes poems by Patience Agbabi, Kate Clanchy, David Harsent, Michael Laskey, Alice Oswald, Pascale Petit, Mario Petrucci, Penelope Shuttle, John Siddique, Catherine Smith and many more.

Deep by Lynne Rees

Who was I that summer
I met you? Loose with desire
I moved like cream before it’s churned to butter

and men I hardly knew
stopped me in supermarket aisles, B & Q,
to talk about nothing, standing closer than they needed to;

when a day without talking
to you splintered my mind – snapping
at people I loved, hiding upstairs with a phone, crying

at night; that night
you left and I sat in the dark, the polite
bones of your words sharpening with the sneak of light,

afraid of the days
opening like empty rooms, a maze
of your absence: a puzzle the years haven’t erased.

Lynne Rees

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Another poem from 'Not Only The Dark'

The Year of the Tree

I carried a tree

through the Underground.

It was hard. At first,

people scarcely noticed me

and the oak I was lugging

along the platforms –

heavier than a suitcase

and difficult to balance.

We threaded through corridors,

changing lines: up and down stairs,

escalators, and for a moment

I imagined everyone on the planet

taking turns

to carry a tree as daily rite.

A few people asked

Why a tree?

I said it was for my own

edification –

a tree always

has something to teach.


Sharp gusts

whirred through the corridors

rustling the branches

as I hurried on

past the sweepers

picking up rubbish, scraps of paper.

Be sure to take the tree

with you, they said.

Don’t worry, I’m taking it

to my garden,

the start of a forest.

When people stared,

Relax, I said,

it‘s a tree, not a gun.

©Katherine Gallagher(2010)

(From Carnival Edge: New & Selected Poems, Arc Publications, 2010

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The poem that inspired the anthology's title...

Not Only Dark

Some black holes have a ring of x-rays and visible light surrounding them.

Nothing but dark, I said

as I drew our curtains on the darkness

of the birch tree and the robin singing

a snatch of late song,

and yet light all round.

And you understanding. The paradox

of light and dark, a black hole

and a ring of light,

in the space between teacups at ease

on the table and pyracantha

scratching the window beyond

as the wind blew.

Now on a small hill, that place

of wind and silence, the silence

of futures… trees

cut off distances.

Stones, gravestones are master there.

But arriving home I take up that book

of Chinese art, your inscription A trillion

kisses forever.

I turn the pages, find the vase with peaches

showing flowers and fruit together,

as in that paradise where peach blossom

lasted for ever.

Irrelevant paradise? But I read

again your inscription: Perhaps this

is a kind of heaven, the warmth of feeling

and memory,

light circling a possessed absence.

Daphne Gloag

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Another taste of 'Not Only The Dark'


This is his first afternoon with Madame
in her flat above the bookshop, the buses
whining through the drizzle along
Islington High Steet. He likes
her colour scheme - bold purple, gold,
everything flickering in the candle-light,
very different from the magnolia anaglypta
and white skirting boards in Theydon Bois
- and the scarlet drapes and Turkish kilim
where a one-eyed ginger cat
regards Madame’s whip phlegmatically
as she trails it across his thigh. He likes
the joss sticks dropping ash
onto the floor like insouciant students
though he’s less keen on the actual pain
the bite into the flesh; he slips further
from the room, each lash a descent
into darkness, his skin laid open,
vision blurring and that’s when
he realises he’s forgotten the Safe Word.
It’s a place, yes - some northern town
he visited as a child. He remembers
grit-stone houses under a film of rain,
women in beige with bosoms big enough
to offer shelter and the smell of baking,
a wet dog itching its fur against his legs.
He’d said to Marjorie several times
he’d like to retire somewhere like that,
somewhere with hills, real hills, the light
on them blue as the day went. Look,
he whimpers to Madame, do you think
you could stop that now - but no,
she’s in her stride, a real professional,
and he’s so tightly bound, his wrists
chafing on her iron bedstead.
He can feel her breath on his neck, yeasty
and warm as the loaves in the bakery ovens,
swelling and rising to greet the new day.

c. Catherine Smith 2006

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Launch date for 'Not Only The Dark'

The launch of our anthology in aid of Shelterbox will be on:

Tuesday 6 December 6pm

Keynes College

University of Kent


All welcome for a glass of wine and fantastic evening of poetry.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

A sneak peak ... John Siddique

Not Only the Dark will include John Siddique's poem Thirst from his anthology Full Blood. He has kindly allowed us to share this video of him reading it.

Thirst - A Poem For Who We've Become Since 9/11 from John Siddique on Vimeo.


Imagine thirst without knowing water.
And you ask me what freedom means.
Imagine love without love.

Some things are unthinkable,
until one day the unthinkable is here.
Imagine thirst without knowing water.

Some things we assume just are as they are,
no action is taken to make or sustain them.
Imagine love without love.

It is fear that eats the heart: fear and
endless talk, and not risking a step.
Imagine thirst without knowing water.

Fold away your beautiful thoughts.
Talk away curiosity, chatter away truth.
Imagine love without love.

Imagine believing in the whispers,
the screams and the gossip. Dancing to a tune
with no song to sing inside you.
Imagine love without love.

© John Siddique 2011
From Full Blood (published by SALT)

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Who's who for Shelterbox

Read a full list of contributors to our fantastic new anthology in aid of Shelterbox

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Last chance...

to submit poems for our Shelterbox anthology, the deadline is Friday!

Monday, 20 June 2011

'strange fruits' now available

strange fruits is a poetry collection by Kent writer, Maria McCarthy in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support. Maria is a poet of remarkable skill, whose work offers surprising glimpses into our 21st-century lives – the ‘strange fruits’ of our civilisation or lack of it.

Shot through with meditations on the past and her heritage as ‘an Irish girl, an English woman’, it includes poems reflecting on her urban life in a Medway town and as a rural resident in Swale.
She writes, and occasionally teaches creative writing, in a shed at the end of her garden. Her website is

Visit our publications page for information on how to order.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Anthology in aid of Shelterbox

After the success of last year's Did I Tell You? in aid of Children in Need, WordAid are producing an anthology in aid of Shelterbox who provide 'emergency shelter and lifesaving supplies for families around the world who are affected by disasters at the time when they need it the most.'

WordAid is calling for poems for the anthology on the theme of 'Survival' - emotional, physical, environmental, or any other kind of survival you can think of.

Click on our submissions page for guidelines.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Another poem from 'slantways'


He rolled the carpet into a giant cigar and started to smoke it. The shag pile burned well enough and gave him a pleasant high. He defrosted the fridge freezer and melted it down on a teaspoon. The kitchen table and chairs broke up into powder that went straight up his nose. He drank the three-piece suite. The house finally empty, he started to pick at the walls brick by brick.

Kate L Fox

A sneak peak at 'slantways'

This Time Tomorrow

Half an hour from this time tomorrow, you will go out onto the spit again. You will take each step as the water peels back.

You’ll wade in, then watch your feet dry as the tide recedes. Move as far as you dare into the low waves rolling up the bank, see the light crystallise the eddies to almost solid, then watch them disappear.

You will find that the way opens out to you. That you will not be cut off and left for dead, your children crying for their mother, your husband scanning the horizon forevermore.

In so many ways, it’s that simple. The more you walk here the more you know the tides, the play of wind and gravity, and land. The less you know you understand.

Patricia Debney

Venue change

The launch event for slantways will now be held at Waterstones in Rose Lane, Canterbury. Same time - 6pm Tuesday 22nd March.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Our latest publication

slantways collects prose poems crafted by MA students of ‘doyenne’ of the genre Patricia Debney, many of whom are published and award-winning writers in their own right. Like the best examples of the form, this work probes beneath the surface, ignoring the obvious to illuminate the unexpected, reflecting and refracting the world as we know it, looking with attention but always slantways. a collection of prose poems edited by WordAid founder members, Patricia Debney and Jen Kahawatte. For a list of contributors visit our contributors page.

All profits from sales go to JDRF (the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation), a charity that works to prevent, treat and cure type 1 diabetes. We are holding a launch event as part of the University of Kent’s Tuesday reading series on 22 March 2011.

Please come along and support us – and if you can’t be there, then go to our publications page to buy a copy!

Friday, 28 January 2011

Read poems from 'The Space Beyond'

Not Young

Today, perhaps you woke to find
that overnight
all this old stuff −
until now just gradually gaining ground −
had put on a spurt,
entirely engulfed your muscles,
lagged your bones.
You nursed a brain
slumped heavy in its skull,
old and tired.
Your crabbed old feet, leather
in leather, set about
their tired old path.
The day waxed
old before its time.
Even the sun looked every one
of its four and a half billion years,
heaving wanly up the sky.
Maybe you reflected
that someone as old as you
should at least be wise,
all-seeing? All you see
is your long long life
tumbled like the chaos
in the wake of a tornado.
And blood welling
from hindsight
as a stiletto.


We don’t leave the light on any more
and we take it slow, tantric.

If you’re measuring pleasure
it’s the fingers these days which give

and take the most as they travel
the rollers and troughs of this

the largest organ.
Sixty-odd years since we two virgins

cast off together, startled and star-struck
by the newness of the other,

its alien complexities, its concaves
where convexities might be, its

unexpected hards and softs.
Now there’s untold solace in tracing

the progress of each sag and crease
when, as if to dope a biplane,

the hand smoothes and varnishes
places where skin fits over bone,

or it animates flesh hanging
folded like the wasted wings of the moa.

No more the fervour of discovery −
it’s the same secret island

only, a simoom is blowing, dry
and dusty, re-forming contours

into a comfortable approximation
of how the land once used to lie.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

The Space Beyond

We are really excited about the next WordAid project, The Space Beyond, a solo collection of poetry by Deal writer, and one of WordAid's founder members, Jo Field on the theme of ageing and memory.

All profits from sales go to Dementia UK, a charity that works to improve the quality of life for all people affected by dementia. The book will be available from 21 January and we are holding a launch event in Deal on 10 February. Please come along and support us – and if you can’t be there, then go to our publications page to buy a copy!

Grand total so far...

is over £3000!!

Many many thanks to all of you who have made that possible.

See the rest of the launch here