Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Bereavement and Care Guides

I haven't been blogging for a while due to caring for a terminally ill family member so today, while a plumber plunges me into the chill of winter and drains my central heating system I shall dip my toe in the world of writing again.

While I was otherwise occupied lots of my poetry has been published, which felt a little at odds with what was going on around me but took away some of the stresses of not being able to write or even continue with my degree course.

I'm very proud of a found poem published at The Curly Mind entitled 'Care Guide' dedicated to all my wonderful male friends.
You can find the poem at:

Monday, 31 October 2016

The Vengeance of Artemisia Gentileschi

     Happy Halloween Folks!

I've been lucky to have had my poem 'The Vengeance of Artemisia Gentileschi' published by Wicked Banshee in the
Defining Magic' issue - and my artwork is featured on the cover!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Unlost, Found Poem for the lost childhood of the Rotherham Girls

Unlost - that great site for found poetry has printed a little found poem of mine. The poem is for all those female voices that aren't heard but most especially this week for the Rotherham girls and their lost childhoods.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Saltaire Haiku

Under the grey sky
pencil-line trees bled ink spots

I walked on rainbows

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Post-Brexit Arts (I was originally going to post a 'hooray' about my published poem but...)

How much do we, in the UK, value the arts? I would say that depends on who you ask and when you ask. At the moment, I feel concerned about the potential for the reestablishing of social divides from pre-sixties England, plunging us into a dark age where the disadvantaged are channeled away from supposedly ‘unproductive’ social pursuits towards academic or tertiary pursuits that will prepare them for the workplace – though what that will look like post-Brexit God only knows!

I was prompted to think about this, in particular, today for a couple of reasons:
Firstly, a friend from a previous course sent me a link to an article discussing how a major examination board was axing their art A’Level syllabus in 2018; and secondly, the publication of a poem I wrote a few months ago. The first seemed to indicate that certain sectors of the education system feel that the arts are of less value for sectors of our society, preferring to focus the young within a lower income social strata towards more productive pursuits while the Oxbridge students still had access to these syllabuses through different exam boards.

Thankfully, despite a non-existent education, I am now fulfilling whatever potential I might initially have had and rather than making me feel that the exam boards have it right, I feel even more strongly that they are wrong. By narrowing the horizons of our young people from their own narrow-minded, or pernicious, lack of appreciation of the far-reaching benefits of the arts to our society they are stifling the potential of the young or the returning learner and to the detriment of the richness of social life for all.  

Thank goodness there are organizations such as the Open University and night schools available to those who want more from life than a simple, Gradgrind version of education.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Appropriating Images Symbiotically

Appropriating Images, But

My interpreter
my thoughts sympathetically
with his blood; we're
melded, leak
in bare                        spaces.

his head, like mine, weighs

heavily. Together we mull…

hovers patiently
or culls extraneous

Time weathered, his imperceptible
curve echoes my hand,
a preference, like a well-worn
heel, develops, unnoticed.

Un-diminished by age, his
grinning teeth
patient prevarications
beneath eyes betraying
love-in-idleness in their

depths.  His question mark out-
line                  contains
interrogations breath-
ing spadille death to
ace of hearts apprehensions
almost con-
nected by diamonds
of ambition.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Should Poetry Deal With Difficult Issues?

While I was studying creative writing last year I came across a phrase that stuck in my mind ‘happiness writes white’ a phrase attributed to Henri de Montherlant. I duly wrote it in my writers' notebook and thinking that I’d write a poem resulting from it at some point. I started several but each time they took on a life of their own and went in new directions – apparently, artists like Harvey Danger and Edward Hirsch had better luck focusing.

My attitude was that happiness doesn’t write white; in fact, my attitude is to find some black paper (metaphorical or otherwise) to pen your white poetry or prose on but… what of the black? What of the dark? I recently went to a ‘comedy night’ poetry reading where Luke Wright, Mike Garry and the fantastic Dr John Cooper-Clarke were many different shades of white through grey to darkest black and poetry, even jokes, definitely felt the right place for that mixture of emotional tones.

So what of myself? Do I write with a breadth of tones or do I slip into the dark and bring it with me to write blackly on my white page? Yes and no. I do feel that poetry is a place to bring my concerns – I can’t imagine myself as a ‘nice’ writer dealing with safe issues alone.

Luckily there are sites and zines where the editors feel the same. There are the nice, safe, comfortable places where the supposedly white ink can pen supposedly white reams of joy and light yet there are those who are brave enough to welcome a spectrum.

Perhaps this is why 'Thank You For Swallowing' has just published what I imagine might be a difficult subject for some readers – the rape of children by UN soldiers. The poem ‘New Hues of Blue’ may be difficult but surely needs to be exposed by diverse means?

A friend commented that poems of mine published by I Am Not A Silent Poet concerning breast-ironing fall into the same category and perhaps I am a dark writer. Perhaps. However, I don’t feel like one. I feel like a multitude of inks – a rainbow you might say – and in many gradations of colours too. I also think that poetry has always, and will always be a good home for these colours.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Matryoshka Poetry Volume One

Over the past few weeks, I've been finalising the first Matryoshka poetry magazine and now that it is finished and sitting pretty on web page I'm going to add a link here.... just because I'm so proud of all those who contributed.


Your rattle,
   a porcupine prickle
    transformed  to  sound,
     sends the world a warning to be-
      ware. You caress the ground, secretly
           stealing colour and earthy patina to polish 
               your scales. Unsuspecting travellers find spec-
                        tral skin you slough pinned to sharp stuff,
                       like serpent husks or discarded clothing left
                     out, drying. It is a sneaky snake, conceit,
              that makes even reasonable people a n g r y.
         One night, a mustachioed explorer in a natty
        pith helmet approached while you slept,
      bringing a bomb of condensed hatred.
     It exploded, ripping you apart
    to fall like sherbet bits
   that f i z z  e d
  as they
h  i   t
the ground.
Cursed by God and man
  to fashion deserts and shorelines,
    you slither at night, or when receding
       tides give traction, in an endless task that
          lasts even after death - ghost snakes taking
         up the action. The spectral serpents slither on
         beaches, when the muddied boundaries between
         wet and dry form rivulets and r u n n e l s   of
       serpentine creations, and casts.
    Unrecognized by crafts-
 men you rise on the
breeze, glimpsed
briefly l e v -
i t a t i n g
inches above
  your handiwork.
   Hardy beachcombers, who
    deny your snaky interventions,
       daring to say it’s a phenomenon of wave
         action, are coiled about on breezes salted
             with snake tears, their skin chaffed with 
                bitter disdain and calling-cards of sloughed
                   scales and sand particles.    You leave
                      yourself embedded in human skin,
                          a temporary reminder of hom-
                            inid stupidity and your
                                   obvious, sinuous


                                   Karen Barton

first published in Matryoshka Poetry Vol. 1

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Text Poem

Pump up the volume, pump up the volume!

Pump up the jam, surely? 
Or, maybe, with sideways thinking, pump up the ham? 
Perhaps that was the impetus for TESCO to inject its meat with water.

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Kintsugi Poetry

Before I get all excited about a poem that has been published by PoetryWTF - yes, the third one - I want to pose two questions:

  • When can a person who writes poetry call themselves a poet?
  • Why do I continually feel a flash of pride upon publication only to have that replaced by debilitating imposter syndrome?

But before the aforementioned syndrome snaps in I'll scream WOOOOOO-HOOOO! and celebrate the publication of one of my TMA entries that is a kintsugi poem (yes, I did just make that form up) looking at female gender roles and the breaking of historical links, lore, freedoms.... promise it isn't all tub-thumping and groan-making. I hope it is as beautiful as a kintsugi vessel.

Now, back to those two questions...

  • Question one: 

If anyone I know posed the same question to me I would say that if they wrote they were a writer. Why can't I, therefore, be as broadminded towards myself? Why do I need to have acceptance or the next step up from whatever step I think I'm on to even begin to consider myself a writer? Grrrrr!

  • Question two:

I guess this is linked to question one insomuch as I don't accept myself as a writer or doubt my ability to grow as a writer to fully occupy the space of a writer. Sigh!

Oh well, onwards and upwards and.... even being paid as a writer - yes, I have been paid (minor miracle!) - even that hasn't altered my own conceptions. I shall have to instigate a new mantra of trust in myself a little bit more perhaps.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Mandragora's Daughter + the Wicked Witch of the West

My poem Mandragora's Daughter has been published by Three Drops From A Cauldron, in issue two:

Many thanks to Kate for this opportunity!

In a tiny twist of fate, I ended up eating in Bristol at a new restaurant called… The Cauldron! How funny is that? After that, I went to the Massive Attack open air gig to continue celebrating.

It’s a good thing that this ‘witch’ isn’t like the Wicked Witch of the West as it bucketed down and I was literally letting rain water run out of my coat, wringing my dress out and have leg tattoos from the dye that ran out of my boots for 8 hours.  

Friday, 2 September 2016

Poem Published on Poetry WTF!

On a week when I have had more good news than I can cope with I’m delighted to be celebrating with:
a big bag of cobnuts, 
wine for later and 
smiling at my tiny found poem that is currently lifting Fridays at Poetry What the Fuck!

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The Dyslexic Poet

Not a poem or even reference to a poem (well, that’s almost true) but I wanted to drivel-on about something that I find an issue – dyslexia!

When I was first thinking of starting a blog – with trepidation as I prefer not to write off-the-cuff – I had considered calling my page ‘The Dyslexic Poet’. Obviously the reason is that I am dyslexic and I thought it might help others who were trying to summon the courage to write BUT I didn’t have the courage to do it. I felt that my dyslexia would be more important than any poetry I managed to write and anyway, dyslexia was something I’d hidden for so long that it would have taken a massive change of behaviours to just ‘out with it’ in public. So I didn’t!

Recently however I’ve thought this through and wonder if I did the right thing.

For the first time in my life I now admit to being dyslexic – admittedly this is due to being confronted with situations I can’t control: Having to hand in an expenses form with (horror of horrors) calculations on it, taking exams and yes, submitting poetry that a (thankfully) kind person found typos (well, spell-o’s) in. Not good! I wonder if those who read those mistakes – and my maths ability is far worse than my appalling spelling – can guess how admitting to being less than perfect makes me feel.

I think I manage it with a practiced attitude of amusement. Sometimes I’m genuinely amused by my mistakes – you’d be amazed how often words make themselves into quite suggestive alternatives to the actual word wanted for instance.  I’ve also given up explaining that walking into a loo clearly marked with an ‘M’ instead of the prescribed ‘W’ isn’t me getting fresh with bemused gents with their todgers out. However, there are times when I’m nearly reduced to tears at the embarrassment of it all.

Anyway, now I’ve mulled that little bit over I’d best get back to causing confusion and consternation and hoping (originally spelt hopping) there’s a poet out there who really does have the chutzpah to which I aspire. Perhaps he/she can hold up the banner of ‘Yes, You Can’ for the rest of us who have a sneaking feeling that ‘no, we can’t’ is more likely once you strip all the bravado away.

Monday, 29 August 2016

Two Concrete Poems from my Concrete Poetry Diary Published.

At last I can say that two of my 'concrete' poems are published at The Goose -  I wasn't mentioning anything until they were safely published and visible. I'm really delighted as I know concrete and non-conventional poetry can be a little 'out there' but here is a site that has embraced that!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Finding Poetry in the Working-Classes

Finding a Working-Class Found Poem ;-)

Note on Working-Class Solidarity, A

O for Doors to be Open
On a Portrait of a Deaf Man

Part of Plenty
                                Poetry of the Thirties, ed. Robin Skelton, Penguin Books
                                index of titles, p.300

Monday, 15 August 2016

Pleasure in a Box

Do you remember
boring days or journeys
we’d take an object
any object,
place it on a pedestal of grey
cells and tell it
‘You can be anything.’
We’d reveal the world
that awaited it, transformations
it would undergo to reach
its protean potential.

A book would be
a doorstop; bi-plane
chock block; a hat to shelter
under; a make-shift hammer.
The list went on and so did our

But the zenith of all
Our ruminations
was the humble box.
The unrivalled joy
of its reality… the solid-
ifying of thoughts to
tangible pleasures.

A carton water bomb dropped
from the upstairs window
to splatter the path below;
a match pack jewellery box,
or rattle, a bed for a doll;
The wonder of a packing case
that erased your teenage 
cool exterior, enticed
you to crawl inside, uninhibited,
to sit in pride of place
in the heart
of the kitchen floor.

I remember
and when I see
patisserie housed
in boxes, surrounded
by waves of love,
I think of you, so far away
and hope you’ve flown
your box-rocket to the moon
and reached your Zenith.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

(found poem) Poem, Poem, Poema!

(Found poem)

Poem, Poem, Poema!
Poetry of the Thirties,
ed. Robin Skelton, Penguin.

Monday, 1 August 2016

The Man Who Planted Plastic Flowers

I'm just back from a looooooong weekend at WOMAD - sun, world music, wonderful food, and company; the compensation for coming back to reality is seeing my poem 'The Man Who Planted Plastic Flowers' published in issue 4 of Alyss Literary Magazines poetry section.

What a lovely treat!

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Un.... Unreal or Unreality?

 The strange malady has struck…

summed up by comparisons
of day and night.

In dreams
we are anything
                       strange creatures wandering
                                      where the mind wishes
                                                   achieving diverse ambitions;
By day something -
ourselves perhaps -
stymies, confines, quashes.

I do not call it reality.

It is the un-reality,
a learned ‘other’ existence
fallibility bent
to extraneous
overriding determinations to put

Is it conformity, a need
to be
 ‘good’, a frailty
of mind
that seeks negation
in an effort to be a false ideal,

Perhaps it's merely a dilatory nature…….

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Heart Boxes


If hearts
were empty boxes
would you fit them
into a drawer
and close it?

If they were
scattered on tables
would you mistake them
for detritus, tut, shake your head,
throw them in the bin instead?

Would you wonder
if they might come in useful,
stack them on a shelf to gather dust
like everything else there?

Would you see them as
receptacles for precious things
you’ll never part with,
remember them when sea glass
or pebbles need a home

and fill them with your love?

Monday, 4 July 2016

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Tulips Were Not From Amsterdam. ;-)

A big ‘thank You’ to Reuben at I Am Not A Silent Poet for publishing my poem ‘Broken Tulips’ about the massacre at Ataturk Airport.

I didn’t know that people were unaware that tulips are the national flower of Turkey – most think they come from Holland. They were in fact highly prized firstly as a symbol of luxury and then developed other connotations, including religious ones. I dedicate the poem to the people of Turkey and especially the Shefik family.

Thursday, 30 June 2016

Found Poetry

Found Poetry….

                 falls at my feet, or
         on railings on street corners
where someone lost
it. There are c o d i  f i  e d 
within words, within
books not
      meant to con-
                             tain them,
or spines of volumes
            arrayed on shelves
seem-      ingly    in-     ad-     vertently.

Found poetry, is a lost
child, a muse, a metamorphosis
within a chrysalis mind

or a cap that fits.

Found poetry are signs
new meaning and points
pointing in new directions,
                         all directions,

                         or none 
at all.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The Radium Dial Girls

During my writing course, (a215, Open University) I came across an area of London with a very particular link to historical worker contamination. The workforce was predominately female but the steps they took to address their situation had reaching implications for the trades union movement and male workers. I’m still keen to write my original piece but whilst researching this I came across another, related story. The poem I wrote in response has been published by ‘I Am Not A Silent Poet’, with my rather lurid but pertinent, artwork accompanying it.

My thanks to I Am Not A Silent Poet for publishing my work and continued support for writers protesting – no matter how historical the subject matter, we can see similar wrongs in developing countries even now.

p.s. I think the shop owner of the establishment where I took this photo must have thought I was bonkers but hey-ho... what's got to be done in the name of poetry just has to be done!

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Poems of Protest

So much time has been taken up with other projects that is almost a week since I last posted.

Things that have taken me away from writing / posting here include the launch and background work for Matryoshka Poetry, a new web space that actively seeks to promote new and emerging poets and compiling some poetry that I would like to submit to webzines whose ethos I admire.

I’m so pleased to see my protest poem about breast ironing in Cameroon published by I Am Not A Silent Poet. I know it is a subject that is troubling but I feel strongly that these issues should be part of the discussion regarding FGM and am pleased that there are projects like IANASP that offer a platform for discussion and as a force for change.