Temporary suspension of monthly meetings

In the current situation, we will not be able to hold our monthly celebrations of poetry in the Vittle and Swig, but we will be holding them remotely by Zoom, for members only. An email will be sent out to members with the details ahead of each meeting.

Meantime, we are also going ahead with our monthly workshops on the first Tuesday of each month, also by Zoom. Members interested to take part should contact Eileen Morrissey at lobbed@btinternet.com

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Second Chance, by Chris Renshaw

Chris Renshaw is a very active member of the Kent and Sussex Poetry Society’s committee. This poem was selected by our judge Tamar Yoseloff, for inclusion in the Folio #72 in 2018.

Second Chance

Suppose, then, knowing what you know,
you could leap back to the arms
of the first boy who loved you,
the boy with brown eyes, smiling for your photograph
in Wellington boots, camouflage jacket
and a prize carp heavy in his hands -
start again with
the boy your mother wanted you to marry,
who laughed a lot, whose kisses
were never quite exciting enough;

would you settle, now,
for the house by the river,
paddle with your children
in the soft brown shallows?

He might have stood back, then,
the dambreaker, homebuster,
seeing no way in,
turned his attention to wilder chases,
further along the stream.

Or would you again lose hold, let go
of the safe hands, slip downriver,
ride the fast current, end up again
as a homebreaker, hellraiser,
second time round? 

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Morning Swim in the North Sea, by Peppy Scott

This poem was published in Folio#72 in 2018. 
Peppy Scott is a member of the Kent and Sussex 
Poetry Society. Her website is at 
https://harridanswall.wordpress.com/ and on 
Twitter she is @PeppyScott, and describes herself 
as follows. Ex-waitress. Dabbles in poetry, 
humorous verse, illustration, cartoons, 
spoken word. Sometimes sings in public, badly. 
(Sings brilliantly in the car.)

Morning Swim in the North Sea

We picked a path across the pebbles
past the last high water mark
and popped the pods of bladder wrack
beneath our shingle-toughened feet
before, drawn East toward the shore
and morning's ritual immersion,
we bore the breathless shock of waves
that broke to wash our numbing skin,
baptised us with a salted sting,
called us, committed, deeper in.

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Cherry Blossom, by Geraldine Cousins

Geraldine’s poem was selected and published in our Folio #72, in 2018.

Cherry Blossom

On our doormat
my two shoes
made from lasts
and lasting thirty years
lie plastered with clay
one cast on its side
fraying laces loop
through eyelets
Tongues without speech

Through double glazing
and spattered rainbow droplets
I dream I see my father's shoes
neatly placed side by side
as it he wants to remind me
how his slender left hand
was inside one shoe
like a glove
while the right hand
brushed on cherry blossom
polish till they shone

Perhaps his pleasure
came from memories of years
dug into muddy trenches
I grieve to think
I can no longer 
reach him

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Summer of Hope

We are going ahead with our annual Open Air meeting on July 21st 2020 at the Enchanted Place in the Ashdown Forest, weather permitting.

We have been there before and there is space to spread out.

The Theme is Hope. Bring along your portable chair, whatever masks or gloves you think you need and be ready to declaim your chosen poem on this theme. You may of course write one for the occasion yourself.

We’ll meet in the car park at 7.50 pm, ready to walk along for an 8.00 pm start. We won’t retire to the pub this year, so if it rains, it’s all off. Let’s hope for a fine night!

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Tea at Furlongs, By John Arnold

John now lives in Suffolk, but remains an active member of the Society as he has been for many years. This poem was selected for inclusion in Folio #72 in 2018.

Tea at Furlongs
1939. After Eric Ravilious, 1903-1942

Even as I painted, I knew
it was about to end:

the tea things laid for two 
on your garden table;

beyond the old flint wall,
a field of corn ripe for harvest.

The Southdown scarp reared up
into a still blue sky,

but read like a world up-ended,
its contents sliding into hell.

We clung on while we could.
I panicked, cheated Tirzah,

screwed Helen then Di.
But now those days are spent...

Dear Peggy, when you write
please lie, convince me

that the corn is still ungathered
and the table's set for tea. 

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Turkish Delight, by Mary Gurr

This poem, by Society member, local artist and writer Mary Gurr, came third in the Folio competition and was published in the Society’s Folio #72 in 2018.

Turkish Delight 

Weaving in and out between
the multifarious eating palaces
on Lark Lane, I settle on Majool - 

dome-shaped copper candle holders
standing proud on turquoise lace
encrusted with pearls

and everything embellished,
drums, balalaikas, my belly propelled
into surreptitious rolls and flicks.
I order hummus and fat black
olives, seduce my senses back
to their old voluptuousness

and finish with Baklava, its sweet
lush sticky on my lips.

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Clevedon Cliff, by Val Reason

Val Reason is a member of the Kent & Sussex Poetry Society who lives in Skewen, in South Wales. This poem was selected for publication in our Folio # 73 in 2019.

Clevedon Cliff

We walk to a tree
poised like a salt-grained statue,
limbs thrust inward
windward trunk to sea.
Its splay-toed roots hold firm
cancelling strain.

The wind-worn stance defies its age
showing tireless grit.
Around it, sea-thrift
like chorus in an ancient play,
bows approval
with pink-clustered heads.

Wind-swept we leave,
seeking shelter in the car.
And watching now I hope
the need to hold
will show itself in me
faced with storms to come. 

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Katrina Naomi

On 16th. June starting at 8.00pm you can join us on Zoom for a virtual visit by Katrina Naomi.

Katrina Naomi was born and raised in Margate, Kent and lives in Cornwall.

Her third full collection, Wild Persistence, is just out, published by Seren on 1 June.

Katrina’s poetry has been published in The TLS, on Poems on the Underground and broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row. She was the first writer-in-residence at the Bronte Parsonage Museum.

She tutors for Arvon, the Poetry School and Ty Newydd, and runs Poetry Surgeries for the Poetry Society.

She holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Goldsmiths (her research is on violence in contemporary poetry).

Her poetry has been highly commended in the Forward Prizes and she has received commissions from the BBC, Imperial College and the Turner Contemporary. 

Katrina recently received an an Authors’ Foundation award from the Society of Authors for her work on Wild Persistence.

We look forward to hearing Katrina read and there will be an Open Mic at the beginning of the meeting.

Hope you will be there!

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A Day Begins, by Jill Ruddock

This poem by our member Jill Ruddock was selected and published in Folio #73, in 2019.


The fog lies drowsily over the town,
smudging the sharp shapes
of the steeples and spires.

Dampness glues the fallen leaves
to the gum-mottled pavement,
their autumnal gold soon to fade.

Nothing breaks the silence
as the town nestles, embraced
by the opaque dawn.

A wordless group huddles, waiting
for their transport to warmth and rest,
their night's work complete.

Then an unseen switch is tripped,
lights come on one by one.
Cars and buses appear,
people walk the streets. 
The day begins. 

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Hastings Sojourn, by Charlie Bell

Charlie Bell is a writer, poet and creative writing tutor. He has written several local history books, a distance learning course on Creative Writing for the Regent Academy, and authored or edited 25 books for Hodder & Stoughton in their Beginner’s Guide to Literature series. His poems have been widely published. He is also Chair of the Tunbridge Wells Poetry Festival (sadly now cancelled for this year due to COVID-19). Hastings Sojourn appeared in our Poetry Folio #73 in 2019.

Hastings Sojourn

I went to be alone, but you were everywhere.
In the very pebbles where we often walk,
in the fishing boats, and net shacks,
in Love Café and the Kino,
in the crying gulls and the whispering wash.
You were in the multi-coloured underground car park
and the smugglers' caves and castle.
I found you at the Jerwood and in George Street
and at the crazy golf.
The kids and grandkids were there too,
their memories threaded with ours.
Wherever I went you were imprinted there,
countless years of pleasure and escape
wrapped in chip paper, marked by endless cups of coffee.
I walked and walked, and the more solitary I became,
the more you kept me company and eased my pain.

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