Polly

Writings and Witterings


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Pale Horse

Dead Man's Penny–with thanks to Jean Lee

With thanks to Jean Lee

The Next of Kin Memorial Plaque is a bronze plaque known as the dead man’s penny. They were issued to the next of kin of those who died serving in WWI, nearly a million individuals. 600 plaques were issued to women who died. You will probably recognise the allusion to the Pale Horse and his rider.

Pale Horse

Heels down. Head up. Look
where you’re going.
Go to a place
where you can hear your heart;
listen to the beat,
forget the drub of a thousand pale hooves
and the horsemen of the apocalypse.
We rise and fall together.

Grandma had a penny to remember you,
a bronze memory she Brassoed weekly,
cast in physical prowess, spiritual power,
in devotion to the triumph of good,
Britannia faces left, holds a laurel wreath,
there’s a box beneath, holding your name in raised relief,
and you, a man of miracles.
We rise and fall together.

A circular coin made whole, inscribed:
‘He died for freedom and honour’.
You are a man who has gone,
yet nonetheless lives.
Your Penelope still waits.
Put the littered marshy slew behind you,
put it behind you.
We will start again.

Go to a place
where you can hear your heart;
listen to the beat.
No pale horse snickers,
no harbinger rides quicker,
no more horseshoes, trench fever, heat.
We sleep.
We rise and fall together.

Polly Stretton © 2018

Written for and first published in the Worcestershire Poet Laureate Nina Lewis’s project: A Tale Of Two Cities, Contour eZine issue 3. With thanks to my collaborator, Beth Sweeney, who responded with a poem of her own, which you can see in the publication.

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Betti Moretti–Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2018

Betti Moretti–WPL 2018

Betti accepts her WPL trophy—Photo courtesy of Catherine Crosswell

Our new Worcestershire Poet Laureate (WPL) Betti Moretti. Congratulations to Betti and commiserations to the runners up Sarah Leavesley and Peter Sutton—a whisker between the three of them—we had a marvellous afternoon when Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe launched the 8th Worcestershire Literary Festival.

Nina and Betti have fun with WPL trophy

Betti ‘struggles’ to get her trophy from outgoing WPL Nina Lewis—what fun!—Photo courtesy of Catherine Crosswell

8th Wonder of the World… Worcestershire LitFest 2018

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A fab and informative write up about the LitFest Poet Laureate competition. Nina is quite right in saying that all the finalists were amazing – congratulations to Betti Moretti, the new Worcestershire Poet Laureate, and commiserations to Sarah Leavesley and Peter Sutton, both of whom missed it by a whisker.

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Yesterday was the Launch of the 8th WLF Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe and it all starts with celebrating competition winners for Flash Fiction & Young Writers before the Worcestershire Poet Laureate Finalists take to the stage.

Leading up to the final I felt nervous and nauseous in equal measure, knowing I was on the judging panel was almost as difficult as entering the competition, and like many Laureates before me – I didn’t really want to give it up.

Still, it is someone else’s time now and at least I have had the pleasure of looking back on a year of superb work, I have thoroughly enjoyed the role as an ambassador for poetry.

The Launch was a fantastic event and I needn’t have worried at all – although the judging bit was difficult, there was a whole team deliberating (judges for the competition this year were Polly Stretton, Stephen…

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A poetry performing platform – by Daniel Burton

I enjoyed reading this post–puts things into context 🙂

Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe

Poetry has the potential to move audiences to tears, make people laugh, and tackle some of the most difficult topics in our world. Every poet, whether they’ve been honoured as a Poet Laureate or whether they simply enjoy it as a hobby, has a voice. And that voice should be heard.

At Litfest, we love hearing passionate poets delivering their work and wowing expectant audiences. Poetry is what gets us going, and it’s always a great feeling helping aspiring poets along their journey.

 It’s always been our mission to make poetry and prose accessible for everyone. We’ve seen poets perform sets about everything from mental health through to environmental awareness and everything in between.

“How do you give these poets a platform?” we hear you ask. Through our festival and fringe events!

Each year, our festival committee bring together a week-long extravaganza of open-mic nights and slams which are…

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Living Library 2018

What a privilege to be asked by Linda Bromyard, the Librarian at Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College, to be part of the Living Library again this year. Pupils spend ten minutes with authors to find out more about writing and the writing process. They always have interesting questions. After their ten minutes they move on to the next author. For me, it is a chance to talk with the youngsters not only about my own writing, but also about what they like to read, their favourite authors / genres etc. Discussions about Tolkien and Shire Ditch, what sort of fantasy creatures / beings they like best, all answered with such enthusiasm. One of the lads, who claimed not to read, was wonderfully caught out when we got onto David Williams! There were lots of questions about what inspires / how much time is spent writing / when one started writing / what time of day one prefers to write, and so on.  It transpires that there are many young writers of poetry as well as short stories. I feel this bodes well for the future.

Linda herself is an inspiration, the organisation that goes on behind the scenes, the thoughfulness to not only the pupils but also to the authors, such things never go unnoticed. Thank you, Linda.

Here is a photo of me enjoying a giggle with the pupils at the Living Library. We cannot share photos of the youngsters, but I want to thank them for their interest and also for the delightful thank you notes that Linda forwarded to me on their behalf.

PS Living Library 2018.jpg

 


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Letter Writing In The Moonlight

Beneath the apple tree
all is still.
Night, as dark as her lover,
veils the lush grass;
bramble and thistle
scratch, inscribe the ground.

A mist hovers,
loathe to leave the river,
low down in the depths of the garden
where mud oozes
and the odour of damp
settles.

The bench is warm,
as graffitied as her heart.
Love holds her
like the mist—all pervasive—
toads and crickets mock,
‘Write’.

A moonbeam strikes
through cloud.
Clouds steal onwards
and soon the lawn
is shown in a puddle of silver light.
She puts pen to paper.

Polly Stretton © 2018

Written for and first published in the Worcestershire Poet Laureate Nina Lewis’s project: A Tale Of Two Cities, Contour eZine issue 3   With thanks to my collaborator, Beth Sweeney, who responded with a poem of her own, which you can see in the publication.


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A Tale of Two Cities Special Edition Contour WPL Magazine Issue 3

Worcestershire Poet Laureate Nina Lewis’s third issue of Contour is her biggest project during her laureate year. A collaboration of poets in Worcester USA and Worcester UK in the form of call and response. A wonderful result and I am proud to be one of the poets. 🙂

The following link will take you to the publication: https://issuu.com/ninalewis3/docs/special_edition_contour_atotc_issue

Poet Laureate

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Proudly presenting the

Special Edition

Transatlantic Poetry Project

‘ATOTC’ – A Tale of Two Cities

Contour WPL Magazine Issue 3. 

Click full screen or read on issuu if easier. 

The magazine can be read online, you cannot download, but you can share across social media using the share buttons. 

It is more than double the length of a standard issue, so I do not suggest you attempt it in one sitting. I know often people dip in, read their own pages. I encourage you to spend a week or so reading the entire project because the poetry and responses are amazing. 

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The Tale of A Tale of Two Cities

June

I had the idea before I was appointed Worcestershire Poet Laureate to try an International Project, at the interview they asked unexpected questions and one was about Legacy, so after promising something International, it was…

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