Writings and Witterings


Your Morning Challenge: Vote On The Final Lines Of Artistry In The Malverns

I’ve had a couple of offline comments on the rhythm in the final lines of Artistry In The Malverns—some of you like the dissonance in the original final lines and say it makes the poem more interesting, less plodding, as it stops you and makes you think about what’s being said, and some of you don’t see how it fits and would like consistency.  Now, whilst this is largely down to your reading of the poem / your expectations of poetry / your personal preferences, it would be most interesting if you’d vote for the one you like best from the two versions below.

Just reply with A or B and a comment if you wish to make one 🙂

Here is the original of Artistry In The Malverns, let’s call it A:


Scented hot hay
hints of damp decay,
dank smouldering fires
smokey blue Shires.
Dogs’ yaps ricochet
on archaic byways.
Buzzards ride, sway,
swoop on small prey.
Fanthorpe and Auden
write of Malvern
Hills echo poets
with Elgar’s discern-
ing ear.


Scented hot hay
hints of damp decay,
dank smouldering fires
smokey blue Shires.
Dogs’ yaps ricochet
on archaic byways.
Buzzards ride, sway,
swoop on small prey.
Fanthorpe and Auden
write of Malvern Hills
that echo poets with
Elgar’s discerning ear.

Polly Stretton © 2012



The Temporary Book-seller

Mike Alma did a sterling job selling Girl’s Got Rhythm and recorded the experience in a poem 🙂

The Temporary Book-seller

A poem by Mike Alma

“How much, guv’?”

“A fiver to you, bruv’,
And you, sister?”

“Go on, make it four, mister.”

“I can’t do that, chick …
Well, maybe, if you kiss me quick.”

“I won’t do that, you stupid perve –
Don’t know how you’ve got the nerve.”

“Me neither – never mind –
Just a thought, if you’d be so kind.”

“My hubby, ‘ere, is eight foot eight,
So I think you must anticipate
An exit through that closed door, there …”

“Do you think that threat is really fair?”

“Fair or not, that’s what you’ll get,
And I can’t see no safety net!”

“’Ere I go, I’m on my way –
Flying now – no time to pray
For redemption, less it comes real quick,
‘Cause I’m trav’lin’ at a fair old lick.”

Crash, bang, wallop – stars above –
“How ‘bout two pound fifty, luv?”

N.B. Must be read in a North London accent – essential to properly comprehend the nuances present in the spoken word associated with certain areas of Ponders End, Enfield Wash and Brimsdown (Brims-daaahn) – no, not cockney … not even Dick Van (‘ello guv’na’) Dyke.


Launch Day! There It Was…Gone!

It’s launch day! At least, it was when I first put this post up! Now it’s been and gone and we had a great time, there was a cake with the book cover (marvellous) and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.  Many, many thanks to everyone who performed and to all my guests—it really was a special night.

So, for those of you who don’t know what this is all about, Girl’s Got Rhythm, my debut poetry collection, is available on Kindle and from Black Pear Press 🙂

GGR BPP Front Cover - Stretton

The cake!


LitFest Walk—There And Back Again

We had a wonderful day on the hills with our Poets in the Mist and a fab open mic session afterwards at The Malvern Hills Hotel—mega-thanks to all who contributed. There’s a full article beneath the slideshow below—first, here’s a copy of Gary Longden’s poem, which tells you all about our missing Poet Laureat …

‘A Laureate Goes Missing’

by Gary Longden

We’ve lost the Poet Laureate, she should be at the bench,
We’ve lost the Poet Laureate, a comely buxom wench.
She said she would be waiting, with wit and verse and rhyme,
She said she would be waiting, as we began to climb.
Perhaps she’s been absorbed in the mystic swirling mist?
Or perhaps, after a heavy night, she’s still comatose, still pissed?
She didn’t pay the car park charge – she’s pretty wild like that,
And if the parking attendant looms, she can charm him with her chat.
She wouldn’t stand for a parking fine – no official can browbeat her,
Because she uses poetic, not poxy parking metres.

The very first LitFest Walk with poets at strategic points on the Malvern Hills took place Sunday 21st October 2012. The event was immediately dubbed ‘Poets in the Mist’ as we all met at the British Camp car park surrounded by swirling fog. Some twenty-five walkers started the walk and followed the walk-leader, bright in a high-vis jacket. They were accompanied by many dogs and followed by late arrivals, the Austen family— therein lies a tale.

Worcestershire Poet Laureate, Maggie Doyle, was to have been the first poet ‘strategically placed’ on the first bench as the walk commenced. The walkers reached the bench…no Maggie. Mobile phones were extracted from deep pockets but no joy; no sign of the missing laureate—oh dear. All decided to walk on. Unbeknownst to them, some ten minutes earlier, the Malvern Gazette photographer abducted Maggie! He knew that she was to be situated on the bench, but no, he decided he needed a clearer ‘backdrop’ and took her, bad back and all, further up the hill—to the consternation of a very nice man who came to tell me that they’d gone to the right up the hill as opposed to left down the hill. When the Austen family arrived, they heard the very nice man and went to the right rather than the left and subsequently got their photos in the paper 🙂 Click the blue hyperlink to see the Malvern Gazette photo

In the meantime, I was in the car park pending the arrival of other late-comers. After a few minutes no one else arrived and I got bored. I set off up the hills after the walkers only to be accosted by said press photographer. ‘Oh!’ said he, ‘I’m glad to see you! Maggie’s up there and I’m a bit worried about her getting down again, it’s slippery.’ Following a brief conflab ‘bench, bad back’ etc, I went in search of Maggie. ‘Maggie! Maggie! Where are you!’ No reply. But then! A vision! There she was walking out of the mist towards me—phew!

Our poet at Clutter’s Cave (also known as Giant’s Cave / Waum’s Cave) was the caped Jenny Hope sporting a hare walking stick; her poetry is simply superb and she held us enthralled—other passers-by stopped to listen and a birthday party group also stopped to enjoy Jenny’s reading.

In warm blue tunic and cape—poetical garb for sure—our third poet was Anglo-Saxon specialist and actor, Math Jones. Again, the walkers were held spellbound as he gave them ‘Puck in Love’ on the way up and ‘The Magic Pig’ on the way back.

The poet occupying our furthest reach, ‘Poet’s Point’—actually one of the entrances to the archaic fort at Midsummer Hill—was Liz Hayden-Jones. Liz, an experienced walker, who had dressed for the weather, unmissable in a red and blue coat she was joined by poet Jennifer Boden with more wonderful poetry. Following a photo shoot the group walked back to find Maggie, finally, on the bench. Now it was time for The Malvern Hills Hotel, where the room was readied and waiting.

There were eighteen spectacular five-minute performances at The Malvern Hills Hotel. We had food and drink, a nice warm room downstairs just for us; a grand end to a fab day. Two of the children read their poetry, which was special. And you’ll have seen some of the poems written about Maggie’s escapades. Gary’s is repeated further up this page and here is Myfanwy Fox’s poem to be read out loud:

Lost Laureate

by Myfanwy Fox

We missed
Maggie Doyle, missed
in the mist;
there was no vist-
a. We thought she’d be pissed
off but she’d been kissed
by publiss-
ity; a tryst
ing our exist-
ing list
of poetry set in the midst
of mist
where wist-
ful missuses
might be missed
if you get the gist
I’ll desist.

‘Let’s do it again!’ I foolishly proposed, and they all went ‘Yes!’ So we’re thinking of a Midsummer Eve (21 June 2013) repeat of the walk ending on Midsummer Hill starting at 19:30, £5 each, no charge for children, all proceeds to LitFest, bring your own picnic and a poem to read out loud. Hope to see you there 🙂


Girl’s Got Rhythm—Book Launch

Microsoft Word - Girl's Got Rhythm book launch v2.docx

You are cordially invited to the launch of my first book of poetry Girl’s Got Rhythm which will be published Wednesday 24 October 2012.

Andrew Owens has kindly organised a launch event ‘on the day’ and will host an evening at Drummonds, The Swan with Two Nicks, 28 New Street, Worcester WR1 2DP, 18:30 for a 19:00 start.  There will be performances by: Worcestershire Poet Laureate Maggie Doyle, Suz Winspear, Catherine Crosswell, Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn, Holly Magill, Spoz, Amy Rainbow and Andrew Owens and I’ll be reading from Girl’s Got Rhythm – requests will be welcome.

Do let me know if you can join us for a glass of wine, light refreshments and lots of entertainment – it’s stacking up to be a great night 🙂


GGR BPP Front Cover - Stretton




Flaxy Wings

Sprout wings, flaxy wings,
sparkling sunshine wings,
tensile gossamer
edged in forest green.
Fly from hilltop to
hilltop marking the
wayside stones and bones;
flit through dense trees, a
fresh damply morning
scent assails the nose;
dewdrops glint yet don’t
dampen toes, as we
skim archaic tracks.

Polly Stretton © 2012

Fairy wings

Fairy wings (Photo credit: kendiala)