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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Anna’s Party, By Clive Eastwood

Each year we hold an internal competition for Society members, in which an independent judge selects poems for our annual Folio magazine. This year’s judge was well-known poet Judy Brown, who chose Anna’s Party by our long-time member and ex-Chair, Clive Eastwood as the winning poem. Clive is thus the 2020 recipient of the lovely Keith Francis vase. Folio #74 will be printed in the autumn.


It goes wrong at the front door:
the woman who answers isn’t the one
who invited me. I explain who I am
but she’s still unsure, watches me
over the threshold then disappears.

I admire the brace of pictures
plus the space between them, guess
at the hallway’s considerable height
then put my coat on the naked table
and choose a door. On the other side,

amongst the beautiful people,
a man with wine in both hands
tells me he shoots, adding “films”
with a practised laugh. He owns
“a little place in Umbria” and a few

is that so‘s and really‘s keep him going
through a double refill. Twice
the door-opener walks past
and I make as if the shooter and I
go back a long way – but her nostrils

tremble like a suspicious dog’s.
When il direttore takes a breath
I excuse myself, scribble “To Anna,
it was fun, shame I missed you.”
and leave unseen so the welcomer
can worry all night where I am. 

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Mona Arshi on Zoom

So we can’t meet up at the Vittle & Swig, but some of us can get together with Mona Arshi on Zoom on 19th. May 2020 at 8.00 p.m., with an Open Mic session at the beginning. This meeting will only be open to members, unfortunately, and you will need to register your interest in reading a poem in the Open Mic with our Chairman, who will be running the meeting. He will be in touch soon.

Mona Arshi is a poet and human rights lawyer. She won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection with Small Hands (2015), and her second collection, Dear Big God, was published in 2019.

Mona was born in 1970 to Punjabi Sikh parents in West London and grew up in Hounslow. She worked for a decade as a lawyer for the human rights charity Liberty UK, acting on many high profile cases, including that of the ‘right-to-die’ campaigner, Diane Pretty, asylum destitution cases and death in custody cases.
She began writing poetry in 2008 and then went on study creative writing (Poetry) at the University of East Anglia (MA Creative Writing, 2010). Whilst she was studying for her masters she won first prize in the inaugural Magma poetry competition for her poem ‘Hummingbird’. She then went on to become prize winner in the Troubadour International Competition in 2013 for her poem ‘Bad Day in the Office’. In 2014 she was joint winner in the Manchester creative writing competition with a portfolio of five poems. Her collections “Small Hands” (2015) and “Dear Big God” (2019) are published by Pavilion Poetry, a new poetry press from the Liverpool University Press under the editorship of Deryn Rees Jones.

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Turkeys, by Lydia Hill

Lydia is a member of the Society whose poem Turkeys was selected for the 2018 Folio, Number 72.


A flock of fussing aunts,
heads swivelling, they cross the yard,
suspecting something.

The killing pen is draped with black
in the dark the turkeys are quiet;
one by one he takes them,
in his hands they do not flap. 

Head first plunge into padded cone
peashooter shot, slash, thrashing,
his last service, to hold the upturned feet.

He hangs them on hooks
we pluck quickly, before they cool,
feathers every shade of bronze, gold
the breast beneath sensuous,
quill like wing feathers require pliers
pores ooze juice onto sore fingers
speck-of-pepper mites crawl.

Before we fetch the next batch
he takes down the plucked,
they must not see, he says.

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