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Writings and Witterings


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He Drinks Blood

 You will know him by his powers, 
 his inhuman speed, 
 his sinister silence, 
 the way he can fly at the flick of an eyelid; 
 by his ability to conceal himself in the shadows, 
 his talon-like claws, 
 very sharp; 
 made for tearing flesh. 
  
 Just know that he has to drink blood.
 He has to drink blood, 
 or age fast, falling 
 to dust if no blood is found.
 But then, you will know him by—  
 he cannot tolerate garlic, 
 can't abide sunlight or crosses 
 and to him, water is loathsome, it dilutes his power. 
  
 He drinks blood; 
 coppery-tasting human blood,
 rich, claret human blood, 
 it is mine he seeks now. 
  
 I sense him getting closer, 
 secreted in the darkest shadows, 
 concealed by the cloaks in the closet, 
 hidden beyond the hat stand in the hallway,
 stalking slowly up dust-laden stairs
 —silent—
 he waits for me to fall asleep.  
 I know it,
 yet can stay awake 
 but for a few minutes more.  
 It has been 11 days 
 —264 hours—
  
 I cannot keep my eyes 
 open much longer, 
 even though, 
 I know, 
 the moment they close 
 he will siphon the life out of me.  
 He has tried twice, already, 
 I am so weak.
  
 Cold, cold, icily cold, he draws the blood from my soul.
  
 He drinks blood; 
 coppery-tasting human blood,
 rich, claret human blood, 
 it is mine he drinks now.                         


Polly Stretton © 2020 

This poem is one of 42 poems in the 2020 collection The Alchemy of 42. To see more: https://blackpear.net/polly-stretton/the-alchemy-of-42


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Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe 2020 Competition Results

The results of Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe Competitions 2020.

Worcestershire LitFest & Fringe

Competition results for the Young Writer Competition and Flash Fiction 2020.

Young Writers Winners 2020
Years 4-6


1.    The Pop-up book – Daisy Jenkinson (Kings Hawford)
2.    Opposite Day – Arlo Cocklin (Claines School)  
3.    The Castle of Doom – Sophia Smith (Claines School)  

Years 7-9


1.    Which Choice? – Cerys Wright (Christopher Whitehead School)
2.    Info in Pictures – Ibrahim Yahie (Brentford Post Code)
3.    The Day I was Saved by a Whale Shark – Daniel Thomas (Blessed Edward)


Years 10-12

1.    Waves – Daniel Tipple (Blessed Edward)
2.    The Painted Frames of Silver – Joshua Falcon (Baxter College, Kidderminster)

Flash Fiction Winners 2020


First “Her Final Goodbye” author: Georgie (Georgina) Bull
Second “False impressions” author: Yvonne Clarke
Third “Smoke Without Fire” author; Susan Howe

Congratulations to all the 2020 Winners!

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Update

I’ve had some lovely news…for the first time in ages I entered a poetry competition and, to my surprise and delight, I’ve been told that my poem For Walls is ‘one of [the] top three winning poems’. I can’t tell you how pink I’m tickled!

This made me think about reviewing my past publications and gives me the opportunity to let you know about my forthcoming collections, so here goes.

In 2012 I self-published Girl’s Got Rhythm, in 2014 it was picked up by Black Pear Press and they reprinted it in 2016.

GGR BPP Front Cover - Stretton

2014 found me busy researching Thomas Chatterton the tragic 17-year-old poet, a new-Romantic, who died in a garret.

Chatterton Front Cover–StrettonI called the series of poems, written from the  viewpoints of people who were close to him, Chatterton. Only 50 copies were printed and they soon sold out. It’s still available on Kindle and I was delighted to receive keen interest and feedback from the Thomas Chatterton Society in Bristol. They asked me to go down and give a presentation about the collection to the society.

I’ve always loved Croome Court, so when I saw a Tweet from them inviting artists to apply to join their ‘Soul to Sole’ project I sent a copy of Girl’s Got Rhythm and Chatterton to them and asked if poetry was planned as part of the project. They immediately asked me to a meeting and the two poems I wrote, one about Anne Somerset, Countess of Coventry, and one about William Dean, the head gardener of that time who worked with Capability Brown, featured in the basement display of the project. I was asked to join the Croome Poets—there were eight or nine of us altogether—we put together poems about Croome Court and the surrounding grounds and delivered them that summer. I listened again to the wonderful Apples and Snakes audio that Heather Wastie put together: go to this link: https://www.mixcloud.com/applesandsnakes and search ‘Poets at Croome’ to listen to some of the poems created for Croome Court and gardens. It was a wonderful experience sharing work with so many talented poets. My poems from 2014-2017 can be found on my Croome Court website.

The next publication was a collation of WWI poems and stories called Remembering the Somme, published in 2016.

Created with GIMPIt’s an anthology, a collection of poems from many different poets, compiled as part of the Big Ideas projects that were going on at the time; many of the Worcester Writers’ Circle sent in submissions. We were asked by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to join the Big Ideas company at the Military cemetery in Maidenhead for Armistice Day that year. By gum…it was cold! But wonderful to see the results of many projects nationwide.

Front Cover A5 Unremembered 2017In 2017 a second Big Ideas project saw me curate another anthology about the First World War—we were, of course, remembering the event as it was 100 years ago—this time the book was to commemorate The Unremembered of WWI and that became its title. It discussed those who are not traditionally remembered from the war, folk like the fishermen, miners, the fruit pickers, milkmen and so on, and within a year there was a request for a second edition so The Unremembered—World War One’s Army of Workers—The British Story was published in 2018.

/Users/pollystretton/Documents/BPP/1.Published/Scribus The Unrem

Also in 2018, Big Ideas gave a different title for us to get our teeth into, Motherhood, Loss and the First World War. This brought in amazing poems and stories from all over the country. There was no charge for the books, though many gave donations to the Royal British Legion and other charities, which is why you’ll find all four of them on Amazon for practically nothing—the nominal payment you’re asked for is simply to allow them to be uploaded to Kindle or any other platform. There was a marvellous commemoration of WWI at The Guildhall in Worcester where people who’d been involved in projects met and displayed the results of their endeavours.

Created with GIMP

2019 saw me corralling another anthology of poetry, this time aided and abetted by the Worcestershire Poet Laureate Charley Barnes. The poem that won Charley her laureateship was about sunflowers and I’d written a poem about sunflowers some years before; I sent it to her and she said, ‘Let’s ask other poets to send in poems about flowers’—we did—and Pressed Flowers was born.

Featured Image -- 14703

All of the above are still available either from Black Pear Press—I’m one of the team alongside Tony Judge and Rod Griffiths—or from Amazon.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing what I’ve been up to over the past few years, so now onto what I’ve been working on more recently. First, there’s a collection of poems written to prompts at 42Worcester, the spoken word event that I’ve been part of since 2012. You can imagine that over nine years there are many many poems. Selecting the ones for the collection was quite a task. Luckily, some of my friends from 42Worcester were happy to help and the collection The Alchemy of 42 will be launched at 7:30pm 11 August on Zoom. The invitation will be published here and on Facebook closer to the time.

Later this year or perhaps early next year, I hope that a second collection, called Growing Places, will be published. It’s currently being held up as I sent it elsewhere and I’m still awaiting their comments. Whatever they decide, I’m lucky that Black Pear Press are eager to publish it, so we’ll have to wait and see…I confess that I’m not very good at waiting and seeing! The poems are in a sequence covering places where I grew…it brings together memories of childhood and other places both real and imaginary where my growth, or growing, continues. I’m immensely grateful to everyone who read, commented and supported me in selecting the poems for Growing Places. Having an idea for a poetry collection and turning it into a book is as hard as it sounds; the experience is both challenging and revealing.

If you’ve got this far, thank you for reading. I believe this is the longest post I’ve ever written so you deserve a gold star if you haven’t given up!

I hope to catch up with you soon.


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Haiku #60

Dusk, and the moon rises,
nicotiana scent wafts
with evening jasmine.

Polly Stretton © 2020

This is the sixtieth Haiku that I’ve posted on a daily basis since napowrimo 2020, and it’s also the last day of June, a good place to pause for the time being as I focus on my new collections of poetry ‘The Alchemy of 42’ and ‘Growing Places’ – look out for them – and thank you for reading and following.