Monthly Meetings Are Now on Zoom

In the current situation, we can’t hold our monthly celebrations of poetry live in the Vittle and Swig, so we are holding them remotely by Zoom. An email is sent out to members with the details ahead of each meeting. The details are also added as a short post to this page of the website, usually a week or two in advance.

If you are a non-member and would like to attend, please pay £3 using the PaypPal button on the right, and email before the event, to give us your name and payment reference number. We will email you the Zoom link. There are usually Open Mic slots available, to read a single short poem (max 40 lines).

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

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Carrie Etter

Another treat is in store for poetry lovers this month with a presentation from Carrie Etter on October 19th.

Originally from Normal, Illinois, Carrie Etter has lived in England since 2001 and is Reader in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. She has published four collections of poetry, most recently The Weather in Normal (UK: Seren; US: Station Hill, 2018), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Individual poems have appeared in The New Republic, The New Statesman, The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem, Poetry Review, The TLS, and many other journals and anthologies. She also writes short fiction, essays, and reviews.

Carrie has also been a judge for our Open Competition.

Join us for Open Mic at 8.00 pm, followed by Carrie’s reading, in what is sure to be a stimulating evening of poetry once again.

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Robert Hamberger

Rpbert Hamberger starts off our new season
We are delighted to welcome Robert Hamberger as our guest poet for September.

Robert Hamberger has been shortlisted and highly commended for Forward prizes, appearing in the Forward Book of Poetry 2020. He has been awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship; his poetry has been featured as the Guardian Poem of the Week and in British, American, Irish and Japanese anthologies. He has published six poetry pamphlets and four full-length collections. Blue Wallpaper (published by Waterloo Press) was shortlisted for the 2020 Polari Prize. His prose memoir with poems A Length of Road: finding myself in the footsteps of John Clare was published by John Murray in June 2021.
The evening will begin at 8.00 pm on September 21st. with an Open Mic, so bring along your latest poem to share with us, and enjoy another feast of poetry.

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Crime, by Steve Walter

This poem by Society member Steve Walter was selected for Folio #74, published in 2020


My Dad was a policeman.
My Dad was a poet.
My Dad was a policeman-poet.

The set homework that night
was to write my first poem that rhymed.
Dad taught me rhythm, taught me rhyme.

He came up with murder:

He banged her head
Against the wall
And then stood back
To watch her fall.

Imagine my relief
when I learnt that poems
don’t have to rhyme at all.

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David Morley

Author Photo of David Morley, credit Claire McNamee
Photo Credit: Claire McNamee

We are delighted to welcome impressive poet David Morley as our guest on Tuesday, June 15th. We are still on Zoom, maybe not for much longer! The meeting begins at 8.00pm and will start with an Open Mic. We hope you will join us in a celebration of David’s poetry and poetry in general.

David Morley is a poet and ecologist. He won the Ted Hughes Award for The Invisible Gift: Selected Poems, the judges commenting, ‘Ted Hughes wrote about the natural magical and mythical world; The Invisible Gift is a natural successor’.

His Carcanet collections include The Magic of What’s There, The Gypsy and the Poet, Enchantment and The Invisible Kings. He co-edited The New Poetry for Bloodaxe Books, edited The Gift: New Writing for the NHS, and Carcanet published his edition of Charles Tomlinson’s Selected Poems.

He is known, too, for his poetry installations within natural landscapes: ‘slow poetry’ sculptures and I-Cast poetry films; and he has served as a judge for several literary prizes such as the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Foyle Young Poets.

David wrote the bestselling The Cambridge Introduction to Creative Writing and co-edited The Cambridge Companion to Creative Writing. His podcasts on creative writing have been some of the most successful in their field. He is now Professor of Creative Writing at Warwick University.

David is a winner of a Cholmondeley Award and a Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature.

Whet your appetite on the internet – there are lots of fascinating reviews, poems and readings to introduce you to David’s poetry if you have not met him before.

See you soon!

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Cityscape, by Steve Walter

This poem by Society member Steve Walter was selected for Folio #74, published in 2020


All summer, falling in love with the city
as if it were dying…

Autumn, and you have slept
through the echo of sirens

half-aware of buildings hundreds of years old,
of vaulted stone, cathedrals breathing,

reflections in shop windows, of him
threading his way through your skin.

Bucks Fizz for breakfast, thick pile carpet
between your toes, before

lunch at The Ivy, passing by empty coffee cups
held out for coins.

Your secrets left in the bedroom,
climbing to the moon,

the muffled rush of traffic, Westminster Abbey,
royalty beneath flagstones,

the shift of populations – their story
plays, until the needle hits the label, and scrapes.

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The Waiting Room, by Phil Vernon

This poem by Society member Phil Vernon was published in Folio #74 in 2020

The waiting room

Inside the room, I find two men:
one writes all he observes in words
that writhe and worm in argument;
the second feels and forms a world
with simple strokes of brush or pen.

I wish to know the first man’s thoughts,
but all I find is darkness – so
I look towards the other sort:
all turns to white like quiet snow,
and that is why this poem’s short.

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Charabanc to Marrakesh, by Bob Spencer

This poem, by Society member Bob Spencer, was selected for Folio #74, published in 2020.

Charabanc to Marrakesh

I could have gone by ’plane.
A few days would have seen me
in the mud brick house
of the camel rustler
and his hidden woman,
her eyes black lanterns
among the bright cloth.

Instead, I dug a charabanc
out of the mud at Seasalter beach
near Whitstable, where oysters muster
to be frisked for illegal pearls.

Restoration took time.
Five years and forty two days
for rust to gleam, bent to straighten,
flat to inflate and the dead to spark to life.

Then Dover and on to Orleans, Limoges
Toulouse, Zaragoza, Madrid, Cordoba,
the rainbow tanneries of Fez,
Casablanca and finally… Marrakesh.

The city did not disappoint.
The charabanc drew crowds,
the suq emptied,
gold, crimson and emerald cloths,
pungent spices, hand crafted silverware,
all abandoned, left unattended,
just for a view of the shining resurrection
from the Kentish mud.

I found the camel rustler
and lodged in his mud brick house,
a short throw from the walls
of the el-Badi palace.
During the day I polished the charabanc.
In the evenings we ate on the flat roof
under stars spilled over the sky like sherbet
and listened to the palms
dusting their leaves in the faintest of breezes.
At night I thought about his woman
and her eyes that said nothing

and everything.

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Di Slaney and the Folio Winners!

Our May meeting is one we are looking forward to , when Di Slaney will announce the poems chosen for the Folio this year, the prizewinners will be celebrated and she will give us a reading from her own poetry.

The evening will start at 8.00pm with the Folio announcements and comments on the submissions by our multi-talented judge, Di Slaney. If the poets are at the Zoom meeting, we will hear their poems read out by the writers. The second half of the evening will focus on Di Slaney’s poetry reading. Definitely an evening to enjoy.

Di Slaney is a prize-winning poet and runs Candlestick Press. She also runs The Manor Farm Charitable Trust, with rare breed and rescued farm animals. Her poems have been published in Poetry Wales, Popshot, Magma, The Rialto, The Interpreter’s House and Brittle Star. She has been twice shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and Plough Prize, and highly commended in the Forward Prizes.  Di’s pamphlet Dad’s Slideshow was published by Stonewood Press in 2015 and her first and second collections Reward for Winter and Herd Queen by Valley Press in 2016 and 2020.  She has been poet in residence at Nottinghamshire Local History Association.

Mara Bergman is the organiser of our Folio competition. The poems will be published in hard copy in our Annual Folio number 75!

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2020 Folio Flip Book: Members’ Poems

Each year we publish a professionally printed annual Folio. This normally includes a selection of poems entered in our externally judged Members’ competition, as well as the prize winners from our Open Poetry Competition. We also post these poems on this website progressively, during the year.

In a new feature for visitors to the website, Kent & Sussex Poetry Society member David Smith has compiled members’ poems from last year’s Folio into an easy to read ‘flip-book’ format.

We hope you enjoy reading these poems, which were selected by external judge Judy Brown. They highlight the high quality of poetry produced by K&S members, of which this is but a small sample.

Most of the poems have already been posted on this website – and the remaining few will be posted in the next few weeks. To read the poems in the flip book format, simply click on the image below (photo by John Arnold).

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Storms in Teacups, by David Smith

This poem by our member David Smith, was selected for and published in Folio #74, in 2020.

Storms in Teacups

(V’s Kitchen)

Tea brewed black in a red enamel pot,
companion piece to the whistle-topped kettle
that fills the kitchen from breakfast to bedtime
with steam.
Laughter. Always laughter.
Happy laughter, and the bitter-sweet blend
that’s brewed in tears
from fond recollections of safe-haven islands
in terrible stormy seas.

I didn’t know then how these days would stay with me:
they were just days, like all the others.
I didn’t know the loss of them then,
my world too small, my horizons too close
to see that far into the future.

Here was the place I learned about death,
learned that a train could steal someone away forever,
that fear of life could be greater than the other.
That lesson, and the smell of gas before the jet takes the match,
accompanied me through the years between
and all the worlds within them, and,
I can find myself again in a dream of the time
when there was just one world,
filled with laughter and black-brewed loose-leaf tea
in a red enamel pot.

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