Poetry Showcase: Linda M. Crate (March 2023)

Fevers of the Mind

photo from pixabay (Pheladii)

someone to hear me

i have been alone in crowded rooms,
faked a smile so well no one knew
the sadness that oozed in my veins;
people say that they'd notice their friends
depression don't understand that depression
isn't always cutting wrists, sobbing, or 
the inability to shower—

sometimes it's burying your feelings down so
as not to be a burden to anyone else,
sometimes it's needing constant reassurance
that you're loved because even if you should know sometimes you just can't; it is being a good swimmer yet still drowning because the emotions are too strong to fight off— with all due respect you don't notice all the little signs, i know because once i thought of how pretty it would be to view the sky from the bottom of a creek after i jumped off a bridge and no one even knew; love your…

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Wombwell Rainbow Book Interviews: Bob Beagrie on his “The Last Almanac”

Bob Beagrie (PhD)

lives in Middlesbrough. He has published numerous collections of poetry and several pamphlets, most recently: When We Wake We Think We’re Whalers from Eden (Stairwell Books 2021) And Then We Saw The Daughter of the Minotaur (The Black Light Engine Press 2020), Civil Insolencies (Smokestack 2019). A new collection ‘The Last Almanac’ is due out in November 2022 from Yaffle Press.

The Interview

1. Aside from its calendar design, how did you decide on the order of the poems in “The Last Almanac”?

As you can imagine it went through a fair few drafts and different arrangements. Originally the title was Everything Under the Sun. However, I have been teaching a few sessions on Ecopoetics as part of an undergraduate module and realised that many of the poems in the collection would fit that definition. Once I saw it in that light the title The Last Almanac came and with it the idea of reordering the collection as a calendar.

Q:1.2. Ecopoetics? How did the references to old celebrations such as “Imbolc” fit the idea of “Ecopoetics”

The references to the ancient festive days such as Imbolc, Beltane, Litha, Lammas, Mabon, Samhain, and Yule, is because they were intrinsically linked to the natural changes within the cycle of the year. The poems pick out and celebrate the often-subtle sensations of these changes. Ecopoetics attempts to challenge the anthropocentric, often urban vision, and foregrounds the natural environment, while acknowledging the historical human impact and its value as defined by capital. At the same time, it resists simply pastoralising the land as an idil. I think that is what’s going on in a lot of the poems, a kind of creative reconnection to particular times and places. Gerald Manley Hopkins’ notion of inscapes was also a key and recurring influence behind the collection.

Q:2. Each quarter of the book has a photo of the moon at a particular stage and a quote from a poet. What was the purpose behind this?

The four sections roughly equate to the seasons and the quotations from the poets introduce each seasonal theme, and foreshadow the emotive responses to the seasonal shifts. The four illustrations of the moon in its different phases simply signal the lunar calendar, which was (and still is in some cultures) the prevailing method of counting the passage of time, of outer and inner tides. I guess it’s another strategy of anchoring the poems into the waxing and waning of forces within the natural world, and paying attention to their psychological effects.

Q:3: How important is poetic form in this book, and in your poetry in general?

The Last Almanac contains some traditional forms, or adaptations of them, sonnets, and villanelle for instance, and a few poems draw upon the Tang Dynasty form of semantic and syntactic parallelism. Most are organic verse forms, inspired by Denise Levertov’s idea that ‘form is a revelation of content’. In some poems like ‘Dog Day‘ this is taken to quite an extreme level of fragmentation and disruption. Clare Hele, a French scholar, noted this approach in some of my earlier books and suggested it was ‘rewinding language’. I have harnessed this idea in quite a few of the poems in this collection.

Q:4: How did Hopkins motion of “inscape” work itself into the poems?

In Denise Levertov’s essay ‘Some Notes on Organic Form’ (1965) she says:

Gerard Manley Hopkins invented the word “inscape” to denote intrin¬sic form, the pattern of essential characteristics both in single objects and (what is more interesting) in objects in a state of relation to each other, and the word “instress” to denote the experiencing of the perception of inscape, the apperception of inscape. In thinking of the process of poetry as I know it, I extend the use of these words, which he seems to have used mainly in reference to sensory phenomena, to include intellec¬tual and emotional experience as well; I would speak of the inscape of an experience (which might be composed of any and all of these elements, including the sensory) or of the inscape of a sequence or constellation of experiences.”

Many of the poems in the collection begin with observation of a subject, whether that is a location or an animal or an experience, and build up accumulative details of the ‘thing’. Mary Oliver famously said, ‘Attention is the beginning of devotion”. Through the process of focused ‘apperception’ there is a point when the poem moves somewhere unexpected, it stops being about external description and enters the ‘semiotic’, where subject and object blur and unconscious psychically charged images emerge. This is an approach that the Deep Image Poets pioneered in the 1950s and 60s, which was inspired by Lorca’s Cante Jonda or Deep Song. Robert Bly pointed out the importance of what he referred to as “psychic leaps”, which subvert simple rational explanation and are produced by the unconscious imagination. One of the Deep Image poets Jerome Rothenberg claimed that;

The poem is the record of the movement from perception to vision.
Poetic form is the pattern of that movement through space and time .
The deep image is the content of vision emerging in the poem.
The vehicle of movement is freedom.”

I think the ‘freedom’ he is referring to is an ‘openness’ and a suspension of habitual modes of perception and is closely linked to Keats’ concept of ‘negative capability’.

Q:4.1. In what way is it linked to negative capability?

Keats refers to ‘negative capabilities’ as a state of openess and acceptance of uncertainties. It is intuitive approach rather than one based on rational or prescribed outcomes, and I think there is a vulnerability and tenderness that comes with it. The poems in The Last Almanac embody this tentative mode of enquiry and expression.

Q:5. Why are there so many references to the mouth, and the face and the senses associated with it, taste, smell, and so on?

I hadn’t realised that there was so many references to the he face and associated senses. I think it is probably an attempt at anchoring the poems into the physical experience of place and time, which then allows more abstract, emotional or conceptually based images and symbols to emerge.

Q:6. What’s the function of the natural world in “The Last Almanac”?

The natural world is central to The Last Almanac. From poems like ‘Watching Swallows at Ludworth Tower’, ‘Big Sea’, ‘Slendere’ and ‘Headland’ which are homages, even odes, to aspects of nature and its majesty. Others personify natural forces such as ‘Persephone’ and ‘Old Uncle Tay’. In ‘Rewilding’, which is about exploring the green corridors between industrial, retail and residential estates on a bike during lockdown, nature is shown pervading and reclaiming the urban landscape. It points out, like Ozymandius and some of John Clare’s poetry, that our sense of control over it is an anthropological ego-driven illusion.

Q:7: How did you design the poems for performance?

Part of my process in writing a poem is to focus on its oral and aural qualities, this often involves reciting it as I’m working through revisions and fine edits. Some of the poems have been performed to live audiences over the years, and subsequently reworked. Some, like ‘Seeding the Solstice’ ‘Persephone’, ‘Splendere’, ‘Old Uncle Tay’, ‘Everything Under the Sun’, ‘Holding Liquid’, ‘Film Poem’ and ‘Head of the Heathen’ have been recorded and had music and sound effects added as part of Project Lono, a poetry and music collaboration I am involved with. These can be listened to on Soundcloud and Bandcamp.



Q:8. Why is the collection called The Last Almanac?

The arrangement of the poems, even though they cover many years of writing, into a calendar of days representing the passing of one year, seemed a useful and stimulating way of organising them, especially as so many are responding to different phases, seasons or events within the annual cycle. So it is playing off the idea of a farmer’s almanac. The concern for ecology and fears of extreme weather conditions, the undeniability of climate change also threaten the natural cycles and our response to them. I know it sounds somewhat dystopian but The Last Almanac foregrounds the fragility of our current situation. Only this week The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a warning in their Synthesis Report that rising greenhouse gas emissions are pushing the world to the brink of irrevocable damage that only swift and drastic action can avert. This makes the poems in the collection a homage to nature but also an elegy.

Q:9. How important is a sense of place, perhaps a sense of “Northernness” in The Last Almanac?

Place, both in terms of specific location and in the broader sense of Northerness, and historical roots, is one of the key themes of the collection. Many of the poems are place specific, and draw on the principle of the Irish Dindsenchas (Lore of Places), in which the land is explored, and can be imaginatively reclaimed, through shared and intergenerational narratives, myths, legends and folklore. As well as poems about the rural landscapes of Northern England like Hardraw, Head of the Heathen, Kirkcarrion, Sheep Wash etch, and more urban-located poems, there are a fair few about places in Scotland. I have a deep connection to Scotland, my Great Grandfather came to Middlesbrough from Aberdeen to find work in the steel industry. But it’s more than that, I think the Northern English and the Scots have a complex, intermingled and shared history and often have more in common than with people in the South of England. Teesside has been part of Scotland on several occasions throughout history. Personally, I would be happy if the Scottish border was redrawn at the Humber.

Q:10. There is a delight in the long sentence in your poetry. The sentence can form a whole poem or one stanza. What is the attraction of the long sentence for you?

Yes there is, I am attracted to the long sentence as it seems to best illustrate the meandering and divergent way my thoughts emerge, each clause triggering another which might complement or offer a counterpoint or allows for an increase in focus on a particular image.  I remember my Mam once saying to me when I was quite young, “You’d argue with yourself” and I remember being surprised because, of course I would and do, all of the time, and I thought everyone did that as part of their internal monologue. Charles Olsen, in his essay ‘Projective Verse’ made the claim that when composing a poem “One perception must immediately and directly lead to a further perception”, which I see as a process of discovery through the awareness of how the mind moves around any particular subject. I find the long sentence, with its left, right and centre branching clauses, ideal in capturing this cognitive mapping.

Q:11. Having read the book what do you want the reader to leave with?

Tricky question. I’ve had some really lovely responses to it so far with people saying they found it beautiful, inspiring, joyous, uplifting but also quite dark, “like a tray of honey cakes” and Cait O’Neill Macullgh said that it is like “an answer to a question I didn’t realise I’d been carrying”.

Every reader will obviously take something different from it, and the poems will connect with different people in different ways, but I would hope that readers will take away a sense of authenticity and personal truth from the journey.




#TheWombwellRainbow #Poeticformschallenge last week was a #Tautogram. Enjoy examples by Ian Richardson, Tim Fellows and Jane Dougherty and read how they felt when writing one.

Ark Aardvark

Alas, Adam’s atrocities annoyed an
Almighty. Announcing annihilation
an apologetic all-powerful advised
an accomplice, ‘Assemble an ark,
and allow all animals aboard.’

‘All animals? Altogether?’
asked an amazed assistant.
‘All animals and associates!’
announced an anxious Ancient,
adding, ‘Alphabetically arranged.’

Accessing ancient architectural ability
an artisan assembled appropriate
accommodation. An ancient aardvark,
alias Alan, arrived and allowed
all animals aboard… alphabetically.

Animals and Avians arrived.
An ancient Albatross,
an agile antelope, an atheist ape,
androgynous asps, an atypical Axolotl,
and an Anaconda avoiding an apple.

After an age all available animals
are alphabetically arranged.
Avian’s aloft, abovedeck.
Arthropod’s adopt apartments
and Adder’s adapt aquariums.

Altocumulus and altostratus aggregate.
An aquatic avalanche accumulates
above all arable acres and,
amid an archetypical arkstorm
an ark, awash, ascends aloft.

Amassing afterdays afloat asea
all animals are alive and able.
After an age and an agreeable
aquatic abatement an Ark arsenal
arrives atop ascendant Ararat.

After abiding another arduous
Agelong adjournment
avian activity ascertains
agricultural acreage again.
An airglow arch appears above.

How Did It Go?

When I first saw this challenge I thought of using the letter ‘a’.
The letter ‘a’ has five different sounds… apple, snake, father, ball, many, and
I thought that I could create a poem using these short long and broad sounds.
I’d decided it should be a narrative, probably biblical, because of apple, snake, father.
Eventually I settled on the story of the Ark, and the aardvark stumbled into the story.
With this in mind I opened my thesaurus and began writing down words
that had some association with the ark. Animals, accommodation, awash, Ararat, altar etc.
I wrote too much, over a hundred lines that were eventually whittled down to 40 lines,
the number of days and nights it rained. My original idea to have a rhythm of
long and short vowel sounds was too difficult .

Ian Richardson


Sleep settles,
soft sand sifting,
shifting sea-green, sea-blue, sea-purple swell,
Sleep searches
submerged ship-dreams,
sheet-metalled, silver-plated scavenged stars,
sinking slowly seawards.
Somnus sips
subterranean silence.


Sea serpent stirs
subterranean sous-sols,
stony-eyed, sea-wracked,
sifting shipwrecks,
squirming, squid-infested,
scattering silver-glinting,
sequin-stitched, seraph-fish,
singing storm songs.


Stars stretch,
sea-reflected shimmerings,
such silver-quick scatterings,
Sun setting
sparks solstice-night sentinels,
searchlights separating

How did it go?

I didn’t like this form much, far too exclusive. I think I have quite a rich vocabulary, but this was a struggle. Pick any letter and there will be plenty of nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives that begin with it, but, unless you pick ‘t’, virtually no articles, conjunctions, prepositions or pronouns, and phrases need those too. Still, struggle or not, I’ve set myself the challenge of writing one of these for each letter of the alphabet, except the silly ones.

Jane Dougherty


hard hats, hard hearts;
hurrahing, harumphing,
hurdling high hedges.

Hark! horns,
hot, hungry hounds
hysterically howling.

Hurry! Hurry!
Hunted hobbles
home, her helpless haven,
hackles high, hurt,
hardly hiding.

Hating, haunting,
heraldic houses –
human Heaven
hosting horrific Hell.

A TV Astonomer Visits Hospital After an Accident

Xylophone xenophobe x-rayed

Anthony, an anteater,
ate abundant ants. An aardvark, Alan,
also ate ants – armies and armies –
against aesculapian advice.
Anthony and Alan are
arch-enemies. Anger and angst
always abound as Alan and Anthony
amble around.
Are all animals as abrupt, as adversarial?
After all, aren’t anteaters and aardvarks
alike? Armadillos also.
Ah, alphabetically akin, an anteater,
an aardvark and an armadillo are
And Anthony, Alan and armadillo Andrew
await Armageddon, antagonistic animals
always. Arseholes.

How did it go?

Three tautograms. I thought it would be hard to write a serious tautogram, but I remembered I’d written a poem with 90% the same letter so I removed the non-compliant ones and we have “Hunt”.
I doubt anyone else has chosen X and you have to be British, and quite old, to get it.
The “A” one is light hearted, to an extent…

I like these because they force you to use a real dictionary – an actual paper book – to get some inspiration.

Tim Fellows

Ode of Omission

Owls on one old oak, oddlets
over-fluffed, ogling oblivious
oystercatchers on outhouse.

Oh owlets, order our overt
onslaught of Os, observe
our ongoing offences

objectify our outrageous
‘O’ obsession, oppose or
obliterate other options.

How did it go?

I think I chose one of the hardest letters here – and it was not a very creative experience. I know working in a strict framework is supposed to develop your skills, but I simply found this form a tad annoying and too restrictive. Perhaps that shows I don’t have the basic skills?

Lesley Curwen

Bio and Links

Ian Richardson

has been reading for a long time. Eventually, inevitably he began to write.
His work has appeared in many journals, online and in print.
You can find him on Twitter @IanRich10562022

Estill Pollock: Undertow

The High Window

pollock cropped


Estill Pollock’s latest poetry collections, Entropy, Time Signatures and the forthcoming  Ark, are published in the United States by Broadstone Books, and are available through Amazon and Blackwell’s (Oxford) online catalogue.

You can read further long poems by Estill here: January 23, 2022, July 26, 2022 andOctober 25, 2022   



1. Ronnie

I knew a man with HATE
across his knuckles—prison tat: the others, Mom
and a Marines’ banner, globe and eagle
inked across pumped biceps.

We worked night shift flipping burgers
at a dump on the bypass—he chopping cabbage
for the coleslaw while I took
orders at the counter.

The boss said keep him from the cash—
his first job since he got out, so
no point tempting fate.

He called me ‘hippie kid’ and told me
get a haircut—his usual comment
for everything: ’Oh for Christ sake,’ followed by,

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Poetry Showcase: David Dephy (March 2023)

Fevers of the Mind


Memories flow around our bodies
from the heart of the rain this morning,
we are empty. Sorrow pulses through 
memories, swallows up our noisy minds. 
We are absorbed by water,
and can feel the sounds of ocean, 
as something familiar is dawning 
deep within us every morning, 
then it disappears again. Memories of us 
have the roots right in the air.
We were the wings for each other, 
but stillness breaks before dawn, 
in the name of all that’s hailed, 
and face it all— 
the past remains unclaimed, 
driven forth by faith.

GOODBYE ALL THE LEAVES “Walk on,” I said to myself and turned around, when the wind blows, the shadows change. “Walk on,” I said and continued the path, we know the rules— the light’s gate trough the wall of darkness. So, goodbye all the leaves under the turquoise sky, goodbye all the leaves above the…

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Poetry: “Depression” by Ediney Santana

Fevers of the Mind

photo from pixabay


Depression is having rhinos in your soul,
live chained to the clock of emotional terror.

Depression is spiritual blight, komodo dragons lying in our bed.
Depression is a slow, sadistic death, depression feeds on our time.
Depression is giving up on loving even before we have someone to love.

I'm cheerful, but I'm not happy.
It is possible to be depressed and smile.
The serrisos hide what kills us inside.
Don't tell the depressed person: be strong, be brave, it all depends on you.

If you think that to overcome depression
 it's all about willpower, 
you don't know what it's like to live with that monster in your soul.
They're all happy, not me, I just want to
wake up and live one day at a time, in peace next to love.

Bio: Ediney Santana was born in Brazil, is a poet, novelist and composer. Write…

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The High Window Reviews

The High Window



Philip Gross: TheThirteenth AngelThomas Kinsella: Last PoemsClive Donovan: Wound Up with Love Nicholas Murray: Elsewhere: Collected Poems of Nicholas Murray Harold Massingham: Selected Poems


The Thirteenth Angel by Philip Gross, 2022. £12. Bloodaxe Books. ISBN 978-1-78037-635-6 Reviewed by Jill Sharp

gross angel

Philip Gross has form when it comes to angels. His 2009 T S Eliot Prize-winning collection The Water Table begins with a poem describing water surging through the gates of a lock: how it curves and feathers like an angel’s wings. Throughout that superb collection his interest in the qualities of water, transparency and indeed angels, becomes vividly apparent.

The Thirteenth Angel, his 27th book of poetry, is another refreshingly outward-looking collection, comprising a series of long, descriptive/contemplative pieces interleaved with shorter poems. Reading the whole book is a deeply absorbing, enlightening and thought-provoking experience…

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Poetry Showcase: Fiona Perry

Fevers of the Mind

Stepmothers in Fairy Tales

They are dangerously sexy
and always married to a king,
generic wealthy man or stonecutter,
living out their tumultuous lives
in the first wife's home, altered first
of course; scarlet-draped boudoirs, gothic
windows opening on to moors
where deformed trees loom.
They harm stepchildren in
enchanted forests by incising 
their subcutaneous fat with blue light
turning them into swans, proffering 
poisonous fruit or exposing them
to the vagaries of witches. They have a thing
for mirrors, lakes and strange headgear.
Age toughens them; keratin scales within 
their nails and hair. When they die, it is 
by bitter herbs, their spirit thrashing 
like a hammerhead shark, never 
in history going down without a fight.

*originally published in Fiona's first collection of poetry, Alchemy (Turas Press, Dublin, 2020)Altered State Oh Father, this forest is a labyrinth I have caught sight of the flying saints you sent to…

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Poetry Showcase: Jeremy Limn (March 2023)

Fevers of the Mind

Poem 1

We wonder in shadows
of previous lovers.

and the sun drenches our
shadow with memories of
Bruce Springsteen.

And you won't forget me.
And I won't forget the way
you loved me nor will I
forget the way I loved myself.

Poem 2

Subterranean sheets of melody 
hang around your neck 
I can only see it 
nobody else can
and there is a moonbeam
in between us
in between lost memories  
from Nagasaki 
I hold its goodness in mg
green tweed jacket's pocket 
with a lapel shaped like
your lips 
I feel it alive 
do you?

Poem 3 A deluge of Bob Dylan as The next Pope of mankind And it's a cold Febuary day and lyrics come when I need them the most a maxim tied to my fat thighs and God needs me, I don't need you, and stitched to my neck is you a straitjacket…

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Special Launch Feature – Rik Lonsdale

Patricia M Osborne

I’m delighted to feature Swanwick writer, Rik Lonsdale on the launch of his debut novel Water and Blood. Rik has blogged about his inspiration.

Why I Wrote Water and Blood

Rik Lonsdale

To complete the marathon of writing a novel I knew it would need to have meaning for me on a personal level as well as being a good story. I believe climate change is very real, and we cannot know how it will impact on our societies, but it was something I wanted to write about. I didn’t want to write a far-future story set beyond a time that is recognisable but wanted to write about what might happen immediately after a disaster caused by climate change.


I’d read extensively about the glacier shrinkage. If all the ice in Greenland fell into the sea it would increase sea levels by six metres. But that could only…

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