Review of ‘Immersed in Blue’ by Margaret Royall

Nigel Kent - Poet and Reviewer

It’s my pleasure to start 2022’s programme by reviewing the newest collection of a poet friend with whom I became acquainted during the early days of Hedgehog Poetry, Margaret Royall. This work is an unusual collection of poetry and prose entitled, Immersed in Blue and it is published by Steve Cawte at Impspired, as part of his new programme of individual collections, following the success of his wonderfully eclectic Impspired Magazine series. Immersed in Blue is a reflection on Royall’s experiences of the Scottish Isle of Iona over a nine year period, starting in 2012.

Anyone who is familiar with Royall’s poetry will know she has the ability to capture natural environments vividly and she deploys this talent to telling effect in this collection. What emerges most strongly is Royall’s sense of awe and wonder at the place that captivates her, having visited it annually for almost a decade.  Her…

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#BigGardenBirdWatch I will feature your published/unpublished poetry/short prose/artworks. Please include a short third person bio.

2018 JRcontest_wren-song-Traditionalcrownights_mist_Hawkhead2dwindling light crow dolmenHeron-Seashores

owl in mist-hawkhead-waleshaikujournaltwilightravens-hawkhead-waleshaikejournal

Long Tailed Titmemory-raven-cho-17.3

“Heron” is a haiga I created using a sketch with a haiku published in Seashores
“Dwindling light” is a haiga I created using an ink drawing with a haiku published in Seashores
“Crownights_mist” is from Daily Haiga
“Long Tailed Tit” is unpublished (apart from ‘twitter’)
“Memory-raven” was in Contemporary Haibun Online (cho)
“Wren-song” was ‘Highly Commended’ in the Jane Reichhold 2018 haiga contest
“Owl in mist” and “twilight ravens” are both in the Wales Haiku Journal haiga gallery.

-John Hawkhead


I hold you up to see the eggs,
five of them, blue as April sky.
You cling on with your toddler legs,
observing them so solemnly.

Five of them, blue as April sky,
each one a fragile, freckled womb;
observing them so solemnly,
we hope that they will make it through –

each one a fragile, freckled womb,
holding an ugly, hairless thing.
we hope that they will make it through,
and in July, we’ll hear them sing.

Holding an ugly, hairless thing,
in need of food, and warmth, and love,
and in July we’ll hear them sing
of earth below, and sky above.

In need of food, and warmth, and love,
I watch you grow and learn new things
of earth below, and sky above,
and start to spread your fledgling wings.

I watch you grow and learn new things;
you cling on with your toddler legs,
and start to spread your fledgling wings:
I hold you up, to see the eggs.

Bios And Links

-John Hawkhead

front cover small shadows by John Hawkhead

is a writer and illustrator whose short-form poetry has been published all over the world and has won many competitions. His book of haiku and senryu ‘Small Shadows’ is available directly from him or Alba Publishing.

Sarah Connor

lives in Devon, writes for fun and sanity, grows apples, keeps going.

A Forest On Many Stems edited by Laynie Browne (Nightboat Books)

Tears in the Fence

This massive book (580 pages) is a collection of ‘essays on the poet’s novel’, which takes a look at contemporaneous and (mostly 20th Century) historical prose works written by poets. Most are written by poets, so we have an anthology of poet’s critical prose about other poets’ fiction.

I can’t pretend I know all of the critics or the authors and texts under discussion; even the many names I do know, I often haven’t read the works being considered. Yet these essays are open, inclusive and discursive enough to not only encourage me to find and read many of these works, but also to offer themselves as both experimental writing and as informed and more generalised contextualisation and discussion.

That is these essays are informed by and embedded within a sense of poetry and its playfulness, liquidity and experiment, with a particular focus on the works poets have chosen to…

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#HolocaustMemorialDay is today. I will feature your published/unpublished poetry/short prose/artworks. Please include a short third person bio.

Photo by Paul Brookes – A Holocaust Candle

Light a Candle Again

Light a candle–
six million, if you can,
resplendent glow,
for those who say they didn’t know,

for those who didn’t, do not see
what once was, what could be,
who overlooked the ash-filled air,
who still ignore the pleading cries
and do not hear the ghostly sighs
that float over the walls of hate,

light a candle
for those who suffered then—
and now

and when
the hate-filled cries ignite the night
don’t pretend you led a fight,

or that you were righteous and true,
or even had a clue

as you embrace soundbite and meme
to boost your fragile self-esteem,

but see? The ghost numbers grow everyday–
and they never go away.

-Merril D. Smith

Pest control

pest control
the hiss of gas
in reasonable words

-John Hawkhead (from Bones Journal No18, November 2019)

One Day

I look forward to seeing all my friends
We will play and sing songs
Our words will not need to be measured
Like steps to safety

One day, one day
My family said one day

I yearn to dance with my grandfather
But he’s gone away
I don’t know where to I’m starting
To forget little things

One day, one day
My mama says one day

Hiding in the walls with my aunt
My parents are both gone
A long holiday they said
Fear in their eyes as they spoke

One day, one day
We will come home, one day

Separate from everyone I lived
Like the rat they said I was
Everyone is gone and still
I tell myself the same thing daily

One day, one day
We can go home, one day.

We will burn the yellow stars
Sing songs for the ancestors
Eat and be joyful
Hold one another as I leave earth

One day, one day
When we are home, one day.

-©Ailsa Cawley 2022


It is understood
We are in danger of being burned again
This is harsh, for we were treated cruelly
And no one stood there for us
Though we had given birth to
Their children in our berths
And silence met our deaths
As their sirens screamed overhead
And we felt their thankless scorn
As they absolved themselves from guilt.

-Elizabeth Cusack

Small Boy Walking past Belsen Corpses

(from the war photographs of George Rodger)

They’re stretched on the verges,
ribs like the teeth of combs,
skull plates pushing through
the shrunken layers of skin.

So many. So many.

The boy is thinking of a game of marbles,
his pockets full of them.


Like so many glazed eyes.

-Gill McEvoy (She says: This poem is from my collection “Are You Listening?” (Hedgehog Poetry).)

Another Anne

Kirsten! I’ve caught the chicken,
come kill it. Bring the knife and bucket for the feathers.
She bustles like a duck across the yard,
crosses the very spot. It was so long ago,
such times, in November 1944.
We watched our guest-girl grow
pale inside the tiny room.
At eight, parents taken, her eyes the saddest brown.
If soldiers passed she hid behind the shower,
the one, my cousin said, “you never use”.
He never thought we were the type,
it made me smile. Safer that way.
A moonlight night and footsteps came.
I went to see: Van Kreusen, overfed,
squint-eyed, smiling. Tingles in my fngernails.
I shot him with my rabbit-gun,
to my surprise he bled. I buried him
right there, in the farmyard
the very spot.

-Dave Garbutt (He says: It was published in ’New Worlds’ The 1992 Berkshire Literature Festival Anthology collection.  ISBN 1851631976.

It is based around a true story told to me by a Dutch friend about his Uncle.)

Bios And Links

-Ailsa Cawley

has been writing stories, poems and verses since she was a child.
It’s not always what is considered poetry by some, as she isn’t a lover of sweet, schmaltzy rhymes!
She is currently writing her first novel. A psychological thriller with a paranormal element, and she hopes to bring out a poetry collection one day!
She lives on the Isle of Skye. While some of her poetry is written from personal experience, others are written from her slightly dark and twisted  imagination.

-John Hawkhead

is a writer and illustrator whose short-form poetry has been published all over the world and has won many competitions. His book of haiku and senryu ‘Small Shadows’ is available directly from him or Alba Publishing.

-Dave Garbutt

has been writing poems since he was 17 and has still not learned to give up. His poems have been published in The Brown Envelope Anthology, and magazines (Horizon, Writers & Readers) most recently on XRcreative and forthcoming in the Deronda review. His poem ‘ripped’ was long listed in the Rialto Nature & Place competition 2021. In August 2021 he took part in the Postcard Poetry Festival and the chap book that came from that is available at the postcard festival website.

He was born less than a mile from where Keats lived in N London and sometimes describes himself as ‘a failed biologist, like Keats’, in the 70’s he moved to Reading until till moving to Switzerland (in 1994), where he still lives. He has found the time since the pandemic very productive as many workshops and groups opened up to non-locals as they moved to Zoom.

Dave retired from the science and IT world in 2016 and he is active on Twitter, FaceBook,, Flickr (he had a solo exhibition of his photographs in March 2017). He leads monthly bird walks around the Birs river in NW Switzerland. His tag is @DavGar51.

-Gill McEvoy.

Won the 2015 Michael Marks award for The First Telling (Happenstance Press). Collections from Cinnamon Press. Most recent collection “Are You Listening?”  is from Hedgehog Press. Hedgehog will publish a ‘Selected’ of my work in 2022.

-Elizabeth Cusack

is a performer and published poet.
She may be found tweeting as “Poetry on the Rocks” and reading poems at “Poetry on the Rocks for Lonely Hearts” on You Tube.

-Merril D. Smith

writes from southern New Jersey. Her poetry has been published recently in Black Bough Poetry, Sledgehammer, Dead Skunk, and Anti-Heroin Chic, among others. She’s working on a collection of poetry.

8 Poems by J.D. Nelson w/ Art by Robert Frede Kenter

IceFloe Press

the galaxy is the key of the brook

underground (where we ate the snake)

I lost a finger in the garden
the parrot on the iceberg is eating charcoal chowder

above the gulf was a cloud
I was coiled for the radio of the sainted knuckle

in the cloned apple room there is a book of these poems
we are in the pages, too

when I am the galactic, I shall remain in the soil to tend the garden

there is a bear here

eating the popcorn of the normal world
we blame the furnace when there is no ice

we are in the streets
we are in the stew

in the luck of the world there is a new elm
(in the forest of the light)

in the stomach there are birds
and in the air we have a rain

the name of the world is the blinking noun

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Sex on Toast by Topher Mills (Parthian Books)

Tears in the Fence

Once again I find myself discovering poetry by a poet I’ve heard about but never got around to reading. Until now that is. This book, – a ‘Collected Poems’ more or less, – is a real treat. Written in chronological order these poems represent a lifetime’s work from the pen of a writer who, unusually, writes about manual labour, as well as swimming, politics, literature, unemployment, class, sexual matters and an array of other subjects. These poems are deceptively sophisticated, often rhythmically intriguing, surprisingly moving and complex in the range of emotion and of thinking they deploy. There are performance pieces and some wonderful pastiches including the following which takes a commonly reworked classic and gives it a somewhat new spin:


dat I scoffed

duh sarnee

yoo id in

duh freezuh Kumpartmunt

an wat

yooz wuz praps


fuh laytuh like

soree yuhno


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Estill Pollock: Landscape with the Shipwreck of Aeneas

The High Window

peter paul rubens aeneasLandscape with the shipwreck of Aeneas (1605) by Peter Paul Rubens


Estill Pollock‘s first pamphlet selection of poems, Metaphysical Graffiti, was published in England. This was followed by a principal collection, Constructing the Human (Poetry Salzburg), which was later developed into the book cycle, Blackwater Quartet. Between 2005-11, in collaboration with Cinnamon Press in Wales, he published a second major book cycle, Relic Environments Trilogy. His latest collection, Entropy is published by Broadstone Books (2021) in the United States. A native of Kentucky, he has lived in England for forty years.

NB: Landscape with the Shipwreck of Aeneas is a narrative poem about the painter Peter Paul Rubens.



Old hand of the addict wards, homeless
The schizophrenic rages
In the street, screaming at no one
I’ll kill you I’ll kill you all again

Then gobs a Covid oyster…

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Wombwell Rainbow A Growing Into Book Reviews: “gathered poems falling slowly” By Amantine Brodeur

Diving into a poetry collection images swim passed, metaphors transmogrify, elemental, ideas become physical things, physical things become ideas. It takes time to take it all in. I grow into my reviews. Once entered collections stay, sink into me, my reviews grow slowly in time. I will add to this review and the others over time.

Falling Slowly Amantine Brodeur

Amantine Brodeur

Amantine Brodeur’s poetry and fiction has appeared in numerous online and print journals,
among these, in paragraphplanet, December 2019, Deep Time, Volume One, 2020, published by Black
Bough Poetry, iamb- quarterly journal and poet library, wave three, summer 2020, Pink Plastic House Journal, July 2020,, August 2020, and in the online and print anthology 100 Words of Solitude, edited by Philippa and Simon Holloway and published by Rare Swan Press 2021. Her piece on Beckettian women, written on the 30th anniversary of Samuel Beckett’s death in 2019, is featured in Thrice Fiction, Volume 2, Issue No 1, December 2020. alongside Ann Bogle, Eckhard Gerdes and Franny Forsman. Her piece Solitude is part of the Alternative Stories and Fake Realities podcast featuring the 100 Words of
Solitude project directed and produced in the UK by Chris Gregory. Her second poetry collection augustea is due for release soon.

twitter: @Amantine.B

Short Interview:

  1. How did you decide on the order of the poetry in your book?

The original collection came about after several years of reclusiveness following the suicide of my closest friend. It was an attempt to work through the loss of her and other very dear friends over the years. I had submitted it for publication and withdrew it. It sat untouched until 2019 when I took a look and decided I was not entirely happy with the original selection and ‘took it apart’ – I was after something a little broader in scope in respect of its themes of love and loss. There was a body of work written around that time which tied in with more recent pieces I’d written and so I started from scratch using Falling Slowly dedicated to my friend who took her life and worked ‘outward’ as it were listening to the works and how they ‘spoke’ to those around them. I gave the initial draft to Marcelle and from there it became a process of editing and selection through discussion and her critical feedback. Some poems were culled and replaced while the ms was also read by a select few whose feedback was also taken into account. Several poems were also heavily edited during this process as is always the case and so really, the final selection has been a deeply collaborative process.

2. What are you poetic influences?

It’s funny because during much of this time – a decade or more from which this collection is gathered I wrote way more than I read- I’ve just been going through an old file that runs to a staggering 3740 pages of Gogyohka (1) written between 2009 and 2012 – that aside from numerous unfinished collections up to 2017 – so if anything my influences likely came from much earlier. I’ve been told more than once my work reads like this or that poet, and in every instance it was the first I’d heard of them- something which I took as a compliment somehow and which reinforced in me that my work is headed in the right direction. Many of the poems written in this collection, when read at the time of writing, by strangers, took me to be a man – so there’s that ambiguity at play too, which I find interesting. As far as writers who remain with me – it is broad and eclectic; from Apollinaire, Bréton, to Steinbeck, Auden, Yeats, Joyce, Nin, Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell, Octavio Paz, Lorca, Garcia Llosa, Rilke, Herman Hesse, Milan Kundera, Adrienne Rich, Woolf, to Nathalie Handal, to Brecht, Tom Waits, Simic, Ali Liebegott, Angifi Dladla and list of stunning African poets – I could go on and on – and then there’s Sonia Sanchez, Ferdinand Pessoa and Philip F Clark whose ‘Carnival of Affection’ just stops me dead in my tracks. Not sure how any this helps you..

(1) From Wkipedia:

Gogyohka(五行歌) is a five-line, untitled, Japanese poetic form. Unlike tanka (57577 syllables), Gogyohka has no restrictions on length.

Poets such as Kenji MiyazawaJun IshiwaraYūgure MaedaHakushu Kitahara, Toson Yashiro and Shinobu Orikuchi have written five-line poetry as free-style tankas since the Taishō period around the 1910s. However, they did not name the form.

In 1983, Enta Kusakabe named it Gogyohka (五行歌) and for the first time laid out the five rules of five-line poetry. He trademarked Gogyohka in Japan. The form of English Gogyohka is the same as that of free English tanka because both are untitled and are written in five free lines. As of 2018 at least five Gogyohka magazines existed: Gogyohka, Hamakaze, Minami no kaze, Sai  and Kojimachi club.

Five rules of Gogyohka by Enta Kusakabe (1983).

  • Gogyohka is a new form of short poem that is based on the ancient Japanese Tanka and Kodai kayo.
  • Gogyohka has five lines, but exceptionally may have four or six.
  • Each line of Gogyohka consists of one phrase with a line-break after each phrase or breath.
  • Gogyohka has no restraint on numbers of words or syllables.
  • The theme of Gogyohka is unrestricted.

The Review:

“This collection is where I began to reflecting on what it means to be woman and how it feels to experience love, life, loss and betrayal through a feminine gaze.”

from “A note from the author

It is the fluidity of Amantine’s poetry that strikes me first. “Falling Slowly”. Inner and outer indistinguishable. Fluid movement between both. Blocks of text. Imagery evolves out of imagery. It is a brilliant, amazing read from page to page. Inspirational. A book to dip into when your creative process is not operating correctly. Her book acts as oil to get the gears working again.

In Paris and Beyond

Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

In Paris, we walked–through Montmartre, perhaps–
where people carried baguettes under their arms,
like my mother’s purse. Look, my parents said,
there, the Seine, the Mona Lisa, the Eiffel Tower—

and they glanced through guidebooks and at maps
for lost love, and Paris’s hidden charms
rekindled their passion for only a moment instead.
As the bells tolled the new year, the passing hours

my older sister read, and fed us scraps–
the story of the Danish prince; no harm
in telling this story of ghosts, the dead
return, my mom still sits amongst the flowers.

For dVerse, an attempt at Rimas Dissolutas.

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Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings


Odilon Redon, The Muse on Pegasus

On a long wander, cold-breathed,
I think every spring’s a poet born
as from rain a rose—
yet, if we recall the red petals’ fall

in sun turns and moon cycles,
and after dusk’s berry-glow and bird-light flickers,
the deep song of ancient souls
carried on wind-fiddles–

now wait for light whispers
and the caramel breath of dawn,
a honeyed smile that lingers on treetops
and beneath, the lichen rocks
and moss blankets,

seeds rest,
knowing when to bloom.

My poem from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle. It’s cold here today.

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