Category Archives: Uncategorized

Martin Hayes in February 2020

Martin Hayes was born in London in 1966 and has lived in the Edgware Road area all of his life. He played schoolboy football for Arsenal and Orient, and cricket for Middlesex Colts. Asked to leave school when he was 15, he has worked as a leaflet distributor, accounts clerk, courier, telephonist, recruitment manager and a control room supervisor. His other books are Letting Loose the Hounds (2001), When We Were Almost Like Men (2015) and The Things Our Hands Once Stood For (2018).

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Winter Gardens, by Phil Vernon

This poem by our Treasurer Phil Vernon  was placed in fourth place in our 2018 members’ competition, and published in Folio #72.   

Winter gardens

You see your gardens in the space between
the plants, raze every weed without a trace
lest it disturb the balance of your scheme,

deadhead each stem before its flower fades,
lift every labelled bulb to plant again,
and prune your trees and shrubs as each dictates.

I grow my plants so close they all complain
they’ve insufficient room to breathe, or sun
to drench their leaves, or share of summer rain,

let young weeds grow to be what they become,
and poppy stems and seed heads twist and dry –
then rot, when frost and winter rainfall come.

I watched you tend your silence constantly,
then found a careless way to nurture mine:
we’ve made our different landscapes home, and still

we touch each other’s quiet awkwardly.
But looking now, when winter’s worked its spell
of levelling, our gardens seem as one.

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Last Rite, By Mary Gurr

This poem, by Society member, local artist and writer Mary Gurr, was selected for the Society’s Folio #73 in 2019.

Last Rite

She was lying on her side today
when I arrived. She moved a little

when I held some lilac blossom,
dewy from the garden to her cheek,

again when I described the others
I had brought, beech, hawthorn, camellia,

picked that day and scented to engulf
the rising scent of dying –

I put them in a vase beside her bed
and sat a while, eighty-six years

and now she’s nearly there,
a silent remnant of herself

waiting. I was thinking of the time
when I was small she showed me

how to take a photograph. We
went into the garden, glorious

rhododendrons billowing
and she was beaming, eyes, smile

her perfect toothpaste teeth,
waiting for the click – Yes,

she shouted, as I brought the shutter
firmly down, Yes!

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Blades, by Chris Renshaw

Chris Renshaw, a retired teacher, is a member of the Kent & Sussex Poetry Society who organises our Open Poetry Competition. This poem won second prize in the 2018 Folio Competition, judged by Tamar Yoseloff.


Pinking shears
crunched her new white socks
made irregular lace
clipped the cat’s whiskers on one side only

sheared blonde waves into sweepings
struggled through the cast on a broken leg
drew a line of crimson beading

A scalpel
sliced through muscle and fat
to malignant organ

but the hole her lover carved inside her
grew bigger and bigger –
                he kept on, kept on cutting

and the breadknife she plunged
beneath his ribs
well, he had that coming.


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January 2020

We begin the decade on Tuesday January 21st. with readings by 3 of our own members, and this year we have 3 very different voices in Mark Chambers, Eileen Morrissey and Mims Sully. It is always delightful to discover what talent there is among our members, and this is always a popular and successful evening.

As usual, we will be holding our meeting in the Vittle and Swig on Camden Road, Tunbridge Wells, starting at 8 o’clock. Come along and join us, to start the year with a strong turnout.

Remember to get your entries in for the Open Competition, as the closing date is coming up very soon – January 31st. Our judge this year is Carrie Etter.

See you soon!


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Heating Oil, by Bob Spencer

This poem, by long-standing Kent & Sussex Poetry Society member Bob Spencer, was selected for publication in our 2019 Folio #73, having won joint third place in our annual members’ competition. Bob rears sheep at his farm in East Sussex – following one of the traditions our founder Vita Sackville West celebrated in her poetry.

Heating Oil

There are words
that say something
if you listen carefully
and inhale beneath
the surface

There are other words
that make no sense
however long you pretend
to listen

We’re nearly out

There are other words
and many of them
that say too much
even when
you’re not listening

All other words
are poems
or deserve to be

So I’ve just ordered some

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Inheritance, by Clive Eastwood

Clive Eastwood was for many years chairman of the Kent & Sussex Poetry Society, and remains a member despite having moved to Suffolk. His poems have been published in numerous poetry magazines, and a full collection Fly in Red Wine was published by the National Poetry Foundation in 2000.  This poem was selected and published in the Society’s Folio #73, in 2019.


On the opened envelope are written
“share of prize” and a date in ’68,
inside are three half-crowns. The envelope
has not been hidden, it’s under your nose
when you open the pantry door.

To win a prize and not spend it
seems oddly profligate; not to pass on
someone else’s share wrong; that no-one
remembers after all this time the coins
being here is understandable; to stash them
away whilst the rest use theirs
is another parable of the talents; to put
three half-crowns on a shelf for a rainy day
takes no account of the dailyness
of rain nor of dilution by inflation;
to not invest in next week’s draw confuses
the shrewdness of nothing to spare
with the caution of something now to lose; two
are George the sixth, the other Elizabeth.

Seven and six in ’68 would have bought
a game at Ewood Park including bus fare.
Today it tots up to a sense of lowness.

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