#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek 9th-15th May. This year’s theme is “Loneliness”. Day One. Please join Margaret Royall, Louise Longson, Sue Finch, Peter J. Donnelly, Teresa Durran, Anjum Wasim Dar, Gillian Winn and I. I want to feature your published/unpublished poetry/short prose/artworks about loneliness. Please include a short third person bio. Here are seven types of loneliness as defined in an article in Psychology Today. If you have any unplublished/published poetry/short prose and/or artworks that relate to these I would love to feature them. New-situation loneliness. You’ve moved to a new city where you don’t know anyone, or you’ve started a new job, or you’ve started at a school full of unfamiliar faces. You’re lonely. B) I’m-different loneliness. You’re in a place that’s not unfamiliar, but you feel different from other people in an important way that makes you feel isolated. Maybe your faith is really important to you, and the people around you don’t share that — or vice versa. Maybe everyone loves doing outdoor activities, but you don’t — or vice versa. It feels hard to connect with others about the things you find important. Or maybe you’re just hit with the loneliness that hits all of us sometimes — the loneliness that’s part of the human condition. C) No-sweetheart loneliness. Even if you have lots of family and friends, you feel lonely because you don’t have the intimate attachment of a romantic partner. Or maybe you have a partner, but you don’t feel a deep connection to that person. D) No-animal loneliness. Many people have a deep need to connect with animals. If this describes you, you’re sustained by these relationships in a way that human relationships don’t replace. While I love my dog Barnaby, I don’t feel this myself — but many people feel like something important is missing if they don’t have a dog or cat (or less conveniently, a horse) in their lives. E) No-time-for-me loneliness. Sometimes you’re surrounded by people who seem friendly enough, but they don’t want to make the jump from friendly to friends. Maybe they’re too busy with their own lives, or they have lots of friends already, so while you’d like a deeper connection, they don’t seem interested. Or maybe your existing friends have entered a new phase that means they no longer have time for the things you all used to do — everyone has started working very long hours, or has started a family, so that your social scene has changed. F) Untrustworthy-friends loneliness. Sometimes, you get in a situation where you begin to doubt whether your friends are truly well-intentioned, kind, and helpful. You’re “friends” with people but don’t quite trust them. An important element of friendship is the ability to confide and trust, so if that’s missing, you may feel lonely, even if you have fun with your friends. G) Quiet-presence loneliness. Sometimes, you may feel lonely because you miss having someone else’s quiet presence. You may have an active social circle at work, or have plenty of friends and family, but you miss having someone to hang out with at home — whether that would mean living with a roommate, a family member, or a sweetheart. Just someone who’s fixing a cup of coffee in the next room, or reading on the sofa.

mhaw poster 2022


It has become customary for me to spin;
To change my perception of events.
To reframe my worldview, to begin
To build a positive narrative sense.

So, in that vein, let me not dwell
On all that I am not, all that I haven’t got.
Instead, let me enumerate and spell
Out all that I am. Recite the lot.

I am tired. I am burdened and old.
I am low, alone. I am sick of clinging to hope.
I am bowed, cowed, unloved, cold,
Sick of always having to cope

Alone. Enough of being brave. Drained.
Sick of my solitary sentence for a crime
I don’t recall. Hollow. Tear stained.
Broken, adrift in a heartless sea of time

© Teresa Durran 170612

-Sarah Reeson

Ghost in an Empty Chair

Sometimes it is just a flap of wings in a lonely meadow,
or a child’s shoes and socks left by a pond

Sometimes it is the intensity of darkness
or the emptiness in the kitchen at harvest

Maybe the laughter ascending from the street below
or the ‘stepford wives’ promenading past with their pugs;

the elation of cheering crowds at a football match,
the vicar’s wife fraternising with the village elite…

Whatever triggers it, you instantly know,
that lonely ghost in the empty chair is you,

as though you are marked out with a blood-red bindi….
folk turn away, rejecting the discomfort of your grief

The world tumbles to wrong conclusions
and your sealed lips shout ‘I am still here!’

You cannot fight the inevitability of it;
you ask yourself why grief is such taboo….

Sometimes all it takes is the wind kissing your hair,
the cyclist turning to smile as he pedals past,

moonlight catching the svelte stem of your wine glass,
or an unexpected call from a complete stranger…..

Just small things, singular, unremarkable, yet they have
the power to transform your world…and you are grateful

First published in The Blue Nib journal

-Margaret Royall


#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek Loneliness Sonnet: 1. Holgate

New uniformed, trousers, shirt, tie, bag, shoes.
mam’s warning nailed in my head: Woe betide!
He said Your new. What’s your name? Mine’s Brookes too.
No one’ll hurt thee. He’s tall, broad, on my side.

Never see him again, the stranger who helps.
I learned in another school last year.
Now I see a boy forced down cellar steps.
A crowd look down on him, hawk spit and jeer.

Spice, laikin, all words I don’t understand.
Shy. Afraid to say a wrong word I’m called posh
from Ha-RR-ogate. School’s a cruel land.
My accent ridiculed, so quiet, at a loss.

Mam says I’m mumbling or shout when I speak.
I need to stay silent. Any words break.

-Paul Brookes

Bios And Links

-Teresa Durran

was born in London and lives in Hampshire but has rarely felt less English; the blood of Celtic ancestors flows through her veins. Being the daughter of immigrants has entirely informed her world view and she has always instinctively empathised with the outsider and the ‘other’.

She writes delicate poems for fragile times because she has to. She wanders and wonders and dreams, and she is always lost in music.

 –Margaret  Royall

has six books of poetry published. She has appeared widely in print, in webzines and  poetry anthologies. She has won or been short-listed in several competitions and her collection ‘Where Flora Sings’, published by Hedgehog Press, was nominated for the Laurel Prize in 2021. Her latest collection, ‘Immersed in Blue’ was published in January 2022 by Impspired Press. She leads a women’s poetry group in Nottinghamshire and takes part in open mic sessions online and in person. She is currently working on a third poetry collection.

Website: https://margaretroyall.com/ Twitter:@RoyallMargaret

S Reeson [she/they] is 55, bisexual and married with two children: they have suffered anxiety for all of their life, and started telling stories as a ten-year-old in order to help them cope. Now, they write and record poetry, short stories and episodic fiction, whilst dissecting their unique creative process using both video and audio as the means to continue coping.

A considerable lived experience of mental health issues, a passion for niche arts and media and an undimmed enthusiasm for environmentalism combine, to allow creativity to emerge, and new stories and projects to be created. They love to experiment and push creative boundaries, and gain a huge amount of motivation and inspiration from talking about both the journey and continued evolution as a creative.

After winning a Poetry Society members’ contest (and reading that piece at the Poetry Café in Covent Garden) they attended the inaugural Mslexicon in 2019 and took part in their first ever Open Mic event. In that same year they wrote 24 poems about their home town for the Places of Poetry online initiative, one of which is included in the official anthology published for National Poetry Day in October 2020 by Bloomsbury and subsequently reproduced by the Sunday Telegraph.

Their work has been published by Flights / Quarterly ejournalGreen Ink PoetryFevers of the MindAcropolis JournalSelcouth StationBlack Bough Poetry, Flapjack Press and Dreich, plus there have been performances at Gloucester Poetry Festival, Flight of the Dragonflies and the monthly event at Wordsworth Grasmere. They have read alongside countless poets, including Caroline Bird, Steve Camden, Deanna Roger, Jeremy Dixon, Julia Webb and Wendy Pratt, and in 2021 they read at the Essex Book Festival. They’ve also learnt and grown creatively via poetry courses run by Apples and SnakesKevin HigginsWendy Pratt and Jonathan Davidson. A self-produced poetry chapbook was produced in November 2020 (available to buy here).

In October 2021 they were nominated for the Best of the Net Award.

They enjoy living online, but also find great joy from lifting heavy weights, running and cycling in the meat-space. When not doing these, they are pursuing an ASD diagnosis on the NHS.

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