#NationalMarineWeek 2021 24th July – 8th August. Eleventh Day August 3rd: Mermaids And Sea Monsters, Have you written unpublished/published poetry/artwork about Mermaids And Sea Monsters, or other marine myths and legends? Poetry and Artworks/photo challenge. When a week is sixteen days to account for the tides in Britain. Here are the second eight day themes: Aug 1st: Crabs and other crustacea, Aug 2nd: Rocky Shorelines, Aug 3rd: Mermaids And Sea Monsters, Aug 4th: Sea Shanties, And Other Sea Songs, Aug 5th: Ocean Vegetation Aug 6th: Deep Sea Aug 7th: Shorelines Aug 8th: What Should We Do For Sealife?

Eleventh Day – Mermaids And Sea Monsters

Lyonesse front cover

Lyonesse front cover

The Gownshops by Penelope ShuttleLizzie by Penelope Shuttle

-Penelope Shuttle (from her new Bloodaxe collection “Lyonesse”)

Hypnosis 1 PNGHypnosis 2 PNGHypnosis 3 PNG

-Helen Laycock (as it appeared in Visual Verse)


Wedded to the sea,
I am sheened in salt-glint.
A froth veil trails
from my seaweed crown
as he shows me the shore
then scoops me back down
to the deep
where we sleep
in a blue lilt,
a mosaic of sun
tilting mirrors on our backs.

-Helen Laycock


In that secret place, a sea lantern swings,
splashing shards of jade and teal
into the folded silk of the rock.

The bowed hag’s watery grief
seeps its magic into the splinters
as she waits with clamped wings.

She is frozen into a waterfall of stone,
onyx daggers pinning her into the strata
like a fingerprint.

Hooded and veiled, charmed hands
draped, she sucks the light as she dreams
of conjuring marble into cloud.

-Helen Laycock

For Sale

He saw the advert in the local paper, on the right-hand side right next to the one about the missing cat. Mermaid for Sale. Price on application. He called the number and, later in the day, found himself at a small red-brick house with geraniums in the window.  A woman answered the door, wearing faded jeans and a splattered T-shirt. She led him down the stairs to the basement where the light flickered blue and dim. There were fish in tanks, a small shark; three pink crabs. ‘Here,’ the woman said. ‘She doesn’t say much.’  The mermaid was sat under a disco ball. In the moving light her tail glittered and sparkled, like sun catching the waves. How beautiful she looked, and strange. Those sea green eyes, the hair that reminded him of old ropes, breasts like limpet shells. He’d have to sell his car to afford the price of her but he’d do it, yes he would.


He knew deep down she’d be a fake. Even though he’d had hope. He always had hope. His mother said that was his trouble. Head in the clouds. Feet not even touching the ground.

The mermaid spoke with a funny accent. When he asked where she’d come from she said she’d hitched a lift in a cargo boat. She’d hated wearing the tail. It made her itch all over. He said he loved her anyway. He brought her tea and cake. She said she’d stay. She liked the house. She was from Birmingham, she claimed. No sea there. Just a few reservoirs and some sickly fish.

-Bronwen Griffiths

The Nøkken
(Late night serenade)

He sang in hoof gallop canto
which slowed to canter
as waves rippled lightning
into a dark waiting grave

The heat of his words
were a barometric headache
lyrics that drowned in heads
all closed thump-pulsed eyes

A lusty brook horse
he played through pitch
a, star shaking, violin whinny
steam snorting out his heat

Until shutters swang wide
as prickled arms broke
through flume and flotsam suck
for lapping kisses in black
or to banish him
for being so wet and blue

-Z.D. Dicks (First published in Runcible Spoon)

Salt creatures by Katie Byford

-Katie Byford (This was yesterday’s Weekly poem on Oxford Brookes University Poetry (Weekly Poem for 02 August 2021 – Oxford Brookes University)

Mermaids and Monopods

The Mappa Mundi shows mermaids and monopods;
the former, basking attractively,
the latter, using its huge foot as a sun hat.

The Medieval map of the world
depicts weird creatures from unknown lands –
a Cylops and Cynocephalus,
with a man’s body and a dog’s head;
Blemmye, headless men with eyes in their chest,
an early form of V.A.R.

Of course, we know now,
that mermaids are seals and sea lions,
giving voice to their fishy frustrations,
Or, inebriated, they might be manatees
flatulating among sea grass.

There are no Krakens, but Humboldt squid,
and if you like ecology you can study it in degrees –
Monopods are military amputees
after life-changing injuries with IED’s.

Cyclops are those people who walk around with one eye open,
Politicians not Terra incognita.

You’d have to dive to land on Mars now,
to get far enough to imagine how they saw the world.
From the mystery and romance of ancient ways,
something has been lost in translation.

We need mermaids and monopods
because being unique and different
teaches us a valuable lesson.

We’ve got their modern equivalents in the ocean –
evolutionary marvels like bivalves
who anchor with a single leg
extruded from a razor shell.

Are they able-bodied or adaption-assisted ?
Took the minority status route.

They’ve both been given clearance
to compete at the Paralympics
though nobody can decide in what category.

Blemmye, not from Motorhead –
suggested that we go with our gut.

-John Wolf 3rd August 2021

mermaid illustration

-Stevie Mitchell

Siren by Catherine Graham

-Catherine Graham

Loch Ness Monster By Neal Zetter

-Neal Zetter

Something Lurks by Annest Gwilym

Something Lurks by Annest Gwilym

-Annest Gwilym

Mermaid sbm

-Sonja Benskin Mesher

John Hawkshead Mermaid's purse

-John Hawkhead


Below the waters of the German Sea rests
imagination bound with histories.
Massive creatures roamed valleys and forests,
folk hunted them down for wondrous stories.

In firelight told how they killed great toothed beasts
whilst feasting on the monster’s meat and bones,
Then the landslide., waters rose and all ceased.
Their remains tell tales to fish, crabs and stones.

Above they farm the gust that turns the blades.
Ferries wend their way to the other shore.
The sea now beast that harbours other trades.
A sunken land to be discovered once more.

A sea becomes land, as land becomes sea
Geography of our narratives legacy

Bios And Links

-Penelope Shuttle

lives in Cornwall. Her thirteenth collection, Lyonesse, appears from Bloodaxe, June 2021. Covid/Corvid, a pamphlet written in collaboration with Alyson Hallett, appears from Broken Sleep Books, November 2021. Father Lear, a pamphlet, was published by Poetry Salzburg in June 2020. Shuttle is President of the Falmouth Poetry Group, founded in 1972. She is widely published, and her radio poem, Conversations on a Bench, set in Falmouth, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in March 2020. She is currently working on a new collection, History of the Child.

Katie Byford 

is a poet and filmmaker from London. She has a BA in Classics from Durham University, where she received the Maltby Exhibition Prize for her dissertation on Sappho’s work as translated and interpreted by contemporary poets and artists. She regularly delivers guest lectures at Durham on the use of Greek and Roman sources in her poetry. Katie’s poem ‘Appetit, for Persephone’ placed first in the open category of the 2020 Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition; her poem ‘Son, for Thetis’ was also shortlisted. She was part of the Barbican Young Poets from 2011 to 2014, and since then has worked extensively with the Barbican Centre, most recently delivering workshops and performing commissions for 2019 exhibitions AI: More than Human and Lee Krasner: Living Colour. Other commissions and performances include those at Durham Castle, the Wellcome Collection, Spread the Word and the Houses of Parliament. Her work has featured in MagmaPopshotModern Poetry in Translation and anthologies Hallelujah for 50ft Women (Bloodaxe Books) and She is Fierce: brave, bold & beautiful poems by women (Macmillan). Find out more about Katie on her website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

-Stevie Mitchell

is a Derbyshire-based artist and illustrator creating captioned drawings, fragments of stories and uncanny happenings, presented under the collective banner, INKY CONDITIONS. He works with ink and brush and some deliberately lo-grade technology. Amongst a playfulness, themes of personal loss emerge. Part therapy: a loving and cathartic catalogue of everyday life – and death.

Stevie shows and sells INKY CONDITIONS work at arts trails and fairs across Derbyshire and Staffordshire, including the Wirksworth Festival, and is a Staff Illustrator with The Hungry Ghost magazine. Alongside this, he works as an independent commercial illustrator, making useful drawings for beer branding, businesses, and for Barnsley Museums, including visitor guides and poetry anthologies.

Website: www.inkyconditions.co.uk

Instagram & Twitter: @mitchsteve / #inkyconditions

-Catherine Graham’s

sixth poetry collection, The Celery Forest, was named a CBC Best Book of the Year and was a finalist for the Fred Cogswell Award for Excellence in Poetry. She was a finalist for the Montreal International Poetry Prize, featured in Exile Magazine and published in Poetry Daily, Gutter Magazine, The Malahat Review, Southwordand more. A previous winner of the Toronto International Festival of Author’s Poetry NOW, she leads their monthly book club. Æther: An Out-of-Body Lyric, her most recent collection, was nominated for the Toronto Book Awards. Her second novel, The Most Cunning Heart, is forthcoming. http://www.catherinegraham.com @catgrahampoet

-Z. D. Dicks

holds an MA in Creative and Critical Writing from the University of Gloucestershire. 

In 2016 he founded the Gloucestershire Poetry Society and the Gloucester Poetry Festival. His poetry is widely published.

He currently has three collections ‘Malcontent’ and ‘Intimate Nature’ with Black Eyes publishing (2019) and one ‘Vexed’ with Hedgehog Poetry Press (2020). 

Helen Ivory (Ink, Sweat and Tears) described his work as ‘muscular language’ and is himself ‘a gothic Seamus Heaney’ according to Anna Saunders.

-Annest Gwilym

Author of two books of poetry: Surfacing (2018) and What the Owl Taught Me (2020), both published by Lapwing Poetry. Annest has been published widely in literary journals and anthologies, both online and in print, and placed in several writing competitions, winning one. She is a nominee for Best of the Net 2021.

-Bronwen Griffiths

is the author of two novels and two collections of flash fiction. Her flash fiction has been widely published both online and in print anthologies. She is currently working on a novella. There is no mermaid in the novella but it features a distant rocky island, a lighthouse and a strange bird.”

-Helen Laycock’s

writing has been showcased in Visual Verse, The Best of CafeLit, the Cabinet of Heed, Reflex Fiction, the Ekphrastic Review and Lucent Dreaming, whose inaugural flash fiction competition she won. Poetry has been published in Popshot, Poems for Grenfell, Full Moon and Foxglove and The Caterpillar.

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