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Test Post, 1993

…I couldn’t believe that human beings could be so cruel to another human being, you know it makes you quinge to hear as a mother of what they did to my daughter in that sitting room… (they) tape up my daughter.
Public Meeting for Test Post

          13ft of tape,
          adhesive sticky tape,
a body belt, chains, handcuffs and tape.
          Bounded her, taped her, tied her up,
                   taped her head like a mummy for the hereafter
and right here, after she ceased to breathe they made a mix-tape
          longer than any tape measure could measure.
Police, judiciary and hospital taped together
                    a tapestry of events and kept a corpse alive
          until they could taper their stories to a rounded tip.
A mother is bounded by the red tape of officialdom
                    until things taper off
                    but a mother lights a taper in the darkness until

                              my tears will catch them, my tears will catch them.



Peter O’Grady reviews ‘Ten Poems of Kindness’ (Candlestick Press).

Ten Poems of Kindness is another treasure from Candlestick Press. Jackie Kay presents a collection that takes the innocence of kindness and places it into the flawed world of experience, giving us much to reflect on.

Fleur Adcock reminds us of this interplay in her poem ‘For a Five Year Old‘. Here the consciously hypocritical adult teaches kindness to the innocent child.  But in the reality of adult life is it easy to be kind to something that cannot hurt you, less so to people that might? She is teaching something which perhaps can’t be practiced consistently.

And Sylvia Plath seems to find kindness sickly sweet. In her poem ‘Kindness‘ she is suspicious of kindness – is it designed to entrap and control? An irritant that annoys? Here the quality of kindness is limited by her response to it. We see that its value is dependant as much on how it is received as how it is meant.

The first poem, by Jackie Kay, exhorts us to towards kindness by showing what it can look like. Others show the link between kindness and love, whether in the context of friendship, marriage or remembering a mother’s care. This kindness is removed from any sense of being deserved – real kindness seeks no reward. We are left thinking; if it is easier to be kind to the ones we love, then perhaps the more we love the easier it will be to be kind.

Kate Tempest’s poem ‘Thirteen‘, in linking the lack of kindness with shame, perhaps gives us a clue to understanding something more about the events surrounding the untimely death of Felix Alexander. It is Felix’s story of desperate hopelessness and eventual suicide in the face of constant cyber-bullying, that provides the backdrop to this collection.  Kate’s poem by revealing something that overrides kindness, reflects a thought from the booklet’s Afterword, that the resultant tragedy of not being kind resides in everyone involved in one way or another.

This small collection shows us that in a world of brokenness and multi faceted motivations we can break through by teaching ourselves real kindness – accepting the choice of simple unconditional kindness, even where it does not come naturally.

Peter O’Grady

June 2017

Peter O’Grady is a member of Town Hall Poets, the Poetry Society Stanza in Trowbridge. He reads his poetry regularly at open-mic events in and around Wiltshire.


Poetry Society Stanza in Trowbridge

Those of you who pop into this blog regularly will know that Town Hall Poets is the name of the Poetry Society Stanza in Trowbridge. Organised by Josephine Corcoran (that’s me!), since the group started, in September 2016, we’ve been meeting on the second Monday of each month, either at Trowbridge Town Hall or Drawing Projects UK (in Bridge House, by the railway station).  We’ve hosted three open-mic events so far, the most recent one was at Drawing Projects UK in June, when we were lucky enough to be visited by Hilda Sheehan who gave us a terrific reading.

Our group is steadily growing, a mixture of published and unpublished poets of different ages and backgrounds, and we still have room for new members.  Our final meeting, before we take a break for the summer, will be on Monday, 10th July 6pm – 8pm at Trowbridge Town Hall.  Everyone welcome.  You do not need to belong to the Poetry Society or to live in Trowbridge to join our group.  If you can’t make this meeting but would like to keep up to date with poetry news in Trowbridge, you can subscribe to my monthly newsletter and I will let you know about future poetry happenings.



Hilda Sheehan reading at Drawing Projects + Open-Mic, June 14

Poet, editor, and educator Hilda Sheehan will read from a selection of her published and new work at Drawing Projects UK (Bridge House – next to the train station) Trowbridge on Wednesday, 14th June, 7pm – 9pm.  This is a wonderful opportunity to hear an exciting, innovative poet read in a friendly, accessible setting.  Tickets are £5 on the door (price includes a complimentary drink). Please bring some poems or flash fictions to read at the open-mic.

Hilda Sheehan has published two poetry collections, The Night my Sister went to Hollywood (Cultured Llama Press, 2013) and Frances and Martine (dancing girl press, 2015).  A third collection is forthcoming, also from dancing girl press.

Robert Peake named Sheehan as  one of the ‘Five Poets to Watch’ in 2016, saying of her work:

Hilda Sheehan is deft and quirky in equal measure. She runs the Swindon Festival of Poetry, inhabits a range of alter egos, and generally makes poetry fun. That she has fun in her work is also evident, and infectious, tilting the spirit level on readers at every possible turn. The mundane is never ordinary beneath her pen.

Reviewing The Night my Sister went to Hollywood at Ink, Sweat & Tears, David Cooke writes that Sheehan’s writing is:

Bristling with the stuff of everyday life, her poems are shot through with dark humour and surreal insights

Poet Cristina Navazo-Eguía Newton is also a fan of Hilda Sheehan’s work:

 I ate your book from cover to cover and didn’t need cooking or even a sprinkle of salt. It was like three square meals by Heston Blumenthal -sublime wing-smoked bacon ice-cream in twelve textures, deep-blood forest-gateaux, larks-tongue parfait – and he did all the dishes afterwards.

Give your poetry ears a treat at Drawing Projects UK on June 14th and don’t forget to bring your own poems (or flash fictions) to read.  See you there!

Hilda Sheehan



Trowbridge Poetry News

Hello everyone.  A quick update to say that Josephine has blogged about the Town Hall Poets reading at Bath Festival on Saturday.  Thank you to everyone who dodged the rain to read and listen to the poems.

There is going to be a Stanza meeting at Trowbridge Town Hall on the second Monday of the month (as usual)  on Monday, 12 June, 6pm – 8pm – details here.

Poet Hilda Sheehan

There is also going to be a Poetry Night at Drawing Projects UK (Bridge House) Trowbridge on Wednesday, 14th June 7pm – 9pm.  Guest Poet is Hilda Sheehan and there will be plenty of opportunities to read at the open-mic, so please bring some poems or flash fictions to share with a friendly audience (or come along to listen).  Tickets are £5 on the door and the price includes a drink in The Studio Café.

There is a  monthly newsletter about poetry events in and around Trowbridge. If you’d like to be added to the email list, please email or



Town Hall Poets at Bath Festival May 20

Town Hall Poets will be reading on the outdoor stages at Bath Festival on Saturday, May 20th 2017 as part of the festival’s free events programme.

We’ll be on Southgate Stage (outside the Apple store) at 11am, then in Kingsmead Square from 12.30 – 1.15pm, in Alfred Street from 2pm – 3pm and back to Kingsmead Square from 3.45pm to 4.30pm.

Come and say hello if you’re in Bath!


Our next meet-up is Monday 8th May

A friendly reminder that Town Hall Poets, the Poetry Society Stanza group based in Trowbridge, will meet again on Monday, 8th May, 6pm – 8pm at Trowbridge Town Hall.

You are very welcome to attend this meeting, whether you’re a regular member or someone new.  You do not need to be a member of the Poetry Society (although several of us are) and you don’t need to live in Trowbridge to join this group.  Members travel from Bath, Frome, Bradford on Avon and other surrounding towns and villages.  All that’s required is an interest in reading, writing, talking about and performing poetry.

If you’d like the group to read and give informal feedback on your work, please bring ten copies of a one-page poem.  Also, please bring paper and pen to this meeting because there will be the opportunity to join in a free-writing session in the second half of the evening.

Looking forward to seeing you there.  Please get in touch by leaving a message on this blog if you  have any questions.

– Josephine



Some thoughts about ‘Ten Poems about Home’ (Candlestick Press) by John Powell


Sara Cheesman writes about ‘Ten Poems about Home’ (Candlestick Press)

A review of the Candlestick Press publication Ten Poems about Home.

I cannot think of a more poignant poem to start this pamphlet than the one selected by its editor Manendra Solanki- The Lake Isle of Innisfree. WB Yeats writes so perfectly of his longing to be back in that place. His observation of it is acute and immensely moving. He is homesick for the peace and tranquility of the lake isle and imagines what he will do with his days when he is away from the drab and noisy city.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

His dream of home is so clear and so heart-felt.

Crossings by Linda Hogan stirs empathy for the primeval longing for home at the heart of creation and the ability to see life in changing and changed forms and the ways live things are sometimes lost and need to return home to that place of crossings, back to water.

How delicately put is

where one ocean dissolves inside the other in a black and holy love;

We see clearly the

….foetal whale
on a block of shining ice.
and the
…spilled cup of a child…
…He’d barely lost
the trace of gill slits..
…already he was a member of the clan of crossings.

The poems in this little book are immensely varied, looking at the idea of ‘Home’ from many different perspectives- joyous,sardonic, dream-like, visionary, filled with beauty, factual,and simply sad. I have enjoyed it, and will again.

Sara Cheesman, April 2017.