That’s right, PL’s! You heard correctly! The amazing Simon Maddrell will be appearing in this very studio

(Rapturous applause from the audience. Some fainting)

Now calm down, PL’s, we don’t want to frighten our distinguished guest off because he’s here now. Heeere’s Simon Maddrell.

(Pandemonium- Security overwhelmed). (Our esteemed guest wafts down the lighted stairs)

Simon, a very big welcome to the show…

.(huge cheers)

Thank you, the pleasure’s all mine.

May I say I love your Kaftan and bell bottoms. Psychedelia is really the way to go!

You don’t think it’s a bit much? (Ripples of disagreement ) I’m trying to get in touch with myself…

Oh wow! Well, the karma that’s coming from you… speaking of which…..

(the host sweeps everything off her desk with her arm – audience and guest look nervous)

So, Simon, tell us about yourself and your background

I’m a queer Manx man born in the Isle of Man in 1965. I was brought up in Bolton, near Manchester. After living in Ross-on-Wye for ten years and London for twenty years, I moved to Brighton and Hove in 2020, just before lockdown.

I have a very varied background, having done Peace Studies at Bradford University in the ‘80s but then ending up with fifteen years corporate experience – firstly, making wetsuits, the white overalls from murder scenes and knee supports – I have found two of these very useful since. Second, I then spent ten years with my head in Xerox copiers worldwide from the USA, Mexico, Japan, Hong Kong and The Forest of Dean.

After that I returned to a teenage passion and founded a multi award-winning UK and IOM charity. Excellent Development in 2002. When I left in 2016, we had supported communities, mainly in Africa, to provide one million people with clean water through the building of 1,000 sand dams, which also enabled one million trees to be planted.

Gosh, Simon. What an impressive background! How you’ve travelled, and you had the guts to follow your dream. (An awed gasp from the audience)

How many people do that?! I think when I last saw you in ‘real life’ (Chip’s salon?), you were talking about moving from London.

When did poetry become a part of your life?

Poetry entranced me during O levels at school in 1980. Our textbook was Nine Modern Poets – which of course weren’t very modern in the way I understood it, which made me think that maybe they were the last ones!

We studied Yeats, Eliot, Betjeman, the Thomas’, Larkin and Hughes. The poet who had the biggest impact was Wilfred Owen, in particular Anthem for Doomed Youth, and this prompted me to read more of his work, when I discovered Dulce et decorum est, as well as Sasoon and Brooke. But I had no idea that being a poet was even a likely possibility, we never wrote poetry at school, but I did at home in doom-laden gloom akin the Christina Rossetti.

On top of that, my English teacher told me I was useless and would never pass either of my English O Levels, which of course I did in response to such back-handed encouragement. She had, however, drained me of any thought of being a poet or studying English, however much I loved A Tale of Two Cities and Twelfth Night.

Fast-forward thirty-five years, and the recent death of both parents, which prompted a revisiting of childhood and teenage traumas – and writing was a way of exploring that, along with reading Bob Dylan lyrics. I found it much easier to express such deep emotions in writing than I did by verbalising them, having been well-trained in the silence, secrets and judgement of shame. Poetically, I was reliving my teenage years with poetry of a similar standard, but I started to become more serious about developing my knowledge and experience of the craft, firstly in spoken word and now also the page. 2020 has been a step forward in terms of being published and minor recognition.

Oh Simon, I admire so much of what you have said. Teacher’s really could say devastating things then – but you showed her and the system!

Also, yes, I know what you mean about losing your parents, this is where all my writing came from. It’s a painful trigger that leads to stronger paths. As you have shown.

Who were/are your biggest influences?

The poets who have had the most direct influence on my development as a poet are Anthony Anaxagorou from a mentoring and editing perspective and Wayne Holloway-Smith from a teaching perspective, alongside his What Now? Students at the Poetry School. There are a dozen more influential poet teachers and dozens more poets I have read who inspire me and influence my work – so too many to mention.

Last year you had two successful and prizewinning pamphlets, Throatbone and Queerfella. Tell us how they were conceived, and which poems are the most personal to you.

The second, Queerfella, was conceived at the beginning of my poetic journey as I wanted to explore the shame of growing up gay in the 70s and 80s. The legend, Joelle Taylor, helped me improve many of those early poems you see in Queerfella. I am so grateful to Will Harris for recognising the value of the poems and making it joint winner of The Rialto Open Pamphlet Competition, albeit feeling somewhat odd to be stood alongside Selima Hill.

Throatbone, my debut, was published by UnCollected Press in the US after they loved so many of my poems submitted to its partner journal, The Raw Art Review. I was honoured that they nominated Dinosaur Teeth for the Pushcart Prize. Throatbone was born from me wanting to explore my ancestral home and develop my interest in eco-poetry and skills in poetry without me as the central subject. But of course, as Wayne Holloway-Smith says, “if you lean into a poem enough you will leak out” and the queer leaks out from behind the clouds, and in drizzle and rain. It also rages in the Manx Pride trilogy, a social commentary on the island’s queer history.

Perhaps the most personal poems are those that could have been in either pamphlet, Lamping Wild Rabbits would also have been in Queerfella if competition rules allowed and Queerfella and Half-rotten, half-new are two poems I’m glad I didn’t slide back into Throatbone.

Queerfella as a pamphlet is an assault of the personal but described by Will Harris as poems that “have things to teach me about being human, about how to live with trauma, loss and love”. If I had to choose one though, it would be Three Crows, which explores the ambivalence that exists in our lives and perhaps permeates both pamphlets.

Fascinating, Simon, how your work emerged so beautifully, and the support you had. I love those poets.

You deserve your success. Such lovely personal work.

Now, what is the best poetry gig you have done, and the worst?

My worst I’ve attended was at a self-professed inclusive night whereby the person on the door sneered at me and said to a friend, “Ewwww! He’s not my Dad!”

The best I’ve taken part in was a Mind Over Matter Digital last year when every one of the other performers were amazing and a good half dozen knocked it out of the park. Big up to Paul “Fisky” Fisk for such an important poetry initiative.

Well, I certainly like him already!

And that was an appalling comment in the former gig. Rotten apples and a waste of space.

Now, I know you’re off to somewhere really cool…….

Yeah, the magic bus is outside to take me to Woodstock..

Oh wow! Hendrix, Joplin, John Sebastian swearing like a chimney!

Just a cup of tea there will get you high! No doubt, Abbie Hoffman will hijack someone’s performance…..

Er – No, Woodstock in Oxfordshire. An exclusive literary salon discotheque.

Oh wow! I’ll just put on my crocheted waistcoat….

(Our esteemed guest reddens) Er – it’s invitation only, and you have to have the right dress code….

Curses! Foiled again! I’ll make it there one day, you see if I do…!!

Where’s Dobby going? Don’t say she’s invited?!

(Our esteemed guest and black cat make a run for it up the stairs)

Well, it’s back to watching the telly and a frozen meal from Bejams for me. Now, I know he and Dobby are on the magic bus, but lets have an appreciation for the lovely Simon Maddrell who agreed to be interviewed! A fascinating guest and poet.

(Audience clap loud – standing ovation)

Thank you for watching, PL’s. We’ll be back real soon for some more poetry antics…….

Treat yourself to Simon’s wonderful collections – Throatbone is published by Out-Spoken Press, and Queerfella by Rialto. Get onto these publishers for a copy now!

The Slaggs Cafe’s first review

Hello PL’s

We are most honoured to have our first review of the Slagg’s Cafe. This is thanks to the lovely poet, Sharron Green. Herself a big frequenter of this desirable ‘In’ place.

Not the most favourable of reviews, but you’ll find there is a backlash of The Slagg’s most loyal customers. There is to be a slice of Mrs Slagg’s steak and kidney pie for Sharron

Anyway, read on – it’s terrific.

‘Chez Slagg’s a dive!’ on Trip Advisor

‘Hateful service’ ‘disgusting food’

‘Evil cow’, ‘we despise her’

‘Zero stars – she’s just rude’

Somehow, we poets

Love it madly

And we so



Sharron Green. Rhymes_n_Roses 2021

Weren’t those pieces just great?! This review will really put Slagg’s on the map. I wonder if the critic was the one she barred for being a vegetarian. I mean, the air was blue! Mr Slagg calmed him down a bit with some pie on the house but one felt the damage had been done.

Any reviews you may find, do send in. Meanwhile many thanks to Sharron for those wonderful pieces.

Thanks for tuning in, PL’s

Mrs Slagg’s Poetry Hour

Hello Poetry Lovers

Welcome to the Poetry hour – well, five minutes really. Mrs Slagg is holding auditions for her open mic poetry spots.

So first, we have a lovely and vivid nonet from the stunning Trisha Broomfield

Followed by a haiku from the amazing Anne Warrington. Firstly we have Trisha’s piece


Sunshine shines alone and warms my bones

puddles show a scurrying breeze

snow sits hard on moss and lawn

washing on the line sways

thoughts drift aimlessly

a lazy day

on my own



Trisha Broomfield 2021

So lovely, Trisha. You blew the Slagg’s away with that one.

Now, here is Anne’s beautiful haiku piece –

Cycling teenagers

Pedal-pushing in the square

High on cloud nine.

Anne Warrington 2021

Weren’t they both fabulous ?! I’m sure both poets passed that audition with flying colours! Mrs Slagg will get on the phone to them today (from a call box).

Thanks for tuning in, Poetry Lovers, and if you’d like to take the floor for Mrs Slagg, do send your poems in.

That could be you reading in that hallowed cafe, and if you’re not famous there, you’re not famous anywhere!

Dobby does Nonet

Hello Poetry Lovers,

After Dobby’s miserable encounter with Keats, I’ve persuaded her to write a nonet poem for Mrs Slagg. In return for (canned) sardines at the back of her pantry

Anyway, read on – it’s untitled

Give me food, preferably sardines

No, I’m not going to ask nicely!

I want that fish right away!

Or I’ll claw the carpet.

Again. What a bore!

I’m gonna sleep

on your bed

so fish

Now !

Dobby’s original piece Bollocks and F*** Off! was kind of scrapped, even though Mrs Slagg adored it!

But we had to consider the church crowd who frequent the cafe after the Sunday service.

Now, Dobby’s had a go, it’s your turn! Get them rolling in!

Wardrobe III

Well, another of our lovely Poetry Lovers has accepted my Poetry Wardrobe challenge – the wonderful and enigmatic Ray Pool

Or Ray of the Pools as our mutual friend Donall Dempsey would say. You may also recall that I had the pleasure of interviewing Ray on my talk show last year. One I will cherish.

Anyway, it’s a cracking piece – do read on…..

Coat hangers queue like question marks waiting for answers –

asking why they have no shoulders to cry


no clothes to rely on.

Now we are orphaned on a dead rail,

where have those people gone

to leave us lonely so?

Ray Pool 2021

Wasn’t that the most?! Keep ‘em coming, Ray. Thank you so much

Thanks so much for tuning in, PL’s. Would you believe we have a Nonet poem from Dobby coming up!

Be excited, be very excited…

The Slagg’s Cafe

Hello Poetry Lovers.

Welcome to the Slagg’s Cafe – our new regular feature.

As you can see from the picture above, there are already poetry readings featured at this classy establishment.

Plus a bone fide home-cooked menu:

Watery own-brand instant coffee.

Slab of meat pie (meal deal).

Tea with three sugars.

Verbal abuse from Mrs Slagg (waiting list).

Black Forest Gateau.

Rules: No horseplay, smoking compulsory, Vegans tolerated.

I think this is all fair play really.

Now Mrs Slagg don’t really hold with fancy book learning poetry as a rule. However, I managed to talk her round. I got the great lady to see her way around Nonet poetry – a great fun form. 9 syllables, then 8, then 7 etc..

Here’s an example what I have penned:

Mrs Brown doesn’t remember my name

but she remembers Jill’s who draws

any picture like a dream and

will get pinned to the wall

I tear it right down

I get walloped

but I have

the last


H M 2020

Mrs Slagg particularly likes this one because it has violence in – and a whiff of misery.

So come on, you pie lovers. A Nonet poem will get you a slot at Chez Slagg’s – and if you’re not famous there, you’re not famous anywhere!

Thanks for tuning in, PL’s. Remember to get scribbling. Next instalment is the Poetry Wardrobe challenge…….


Welcome to the show, everybody! We’re back at the Talk Show studio!

(rapturous applause. Security on alert)

Now calm down, Poetry Lovers, we don’t want to frighten off our esteemed guest – the amazing Mark Chamberlain …

(pandemonium – the house virtually comes down)

(the host bangs a ruler on the desk – there is silence)

That’s it! Settle down, Poetry Lovers! As we welcome the wonderful fabulous poet himself!

(Our esteemed guest walks elegantly down the lighted stairway)

(Rapturous applause)

Mark, welcome to the show…

Pleasure, Heather, thank you for having me on.

The pleasure is all mine, my sweet. May I say I love that purple velvet hat. You could be Donny Osmond himself sitting there! Goes fantastically with that knitted light blue tank top! Isn’t he the Most, Ladies and gentlemen?!

(Thunderous applause)

Thank you, it is actually Donny’s, a personal gift. And I was up all night knitting this top, I hope the colour isn’t too much!

(Raucous shouts of disagreement. The host silences them with a look)

Now Mark,

(the host places the angle poise lamp menacingly above our esteemed guest and he is ruthlessly exposed by the hard glare)

fill us in on your impressive achievements…

Well, I’m very proud to have had a handful of poems published now, in titles including Finished Creatures, the FT, and the Hudson Review. I’ve got another one coming out in Magma soon too. And it was fantastic to be commended in the 2020 Troubadour International Poetry Prize, judged by Mona Arshi and Mark Doty. The poem – ‘england poz’- is very important to me on a personal level, so it was extra special to have it recognised in that way.

That’s so impressive – and in such classy publications. And the Troubadour – that was an international competition! What was it like reading it out?! You should be proud!

(An awed ripple through the crowd)

When did poetry become a part of your life?

One of my earliest memories is learning John Masefield’s ‘Cargoes’ at school. I would have been about eight years old. I loved it for its evocation of exotic ships – the “Quinquireme of Nineveh from distant Ophir”, the “stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus” – and then the glorious change in the final stanza, which begins:

Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,

Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,

I did a course at the Faber Academy in 2017 and one of our tutors, Maurice Riordan, had us study ‘Cargoes’. It was great to revisit it. I’d forgotten how important that poem is to me.

What beautiful words, I’ve had my breath taken away. I can see why it was such a powerful influence. And the Faber Academy has a wonderful reputation.

Tell us about your greatest influences…

There are so many and I find that influence keeps evolving. TS Eliot is a key poet for me, as is Danez Smith. Lowell has been very important to me too, and I’ve written about his collection The Dolphin for the TLS.

Other poets that come to mind are Rene Char, Terrance Hayes, Bridget Pegeen Kelly, and Naomi Shihab Nye. An important writer for me in my teens was Harold Jaffe. He wrote these short, subversive docufictions which I was obsessed with and which continue to influence me now.

Well, Mark, from that one answer, I’ve I’ve learnt so much. Your education is to be envied.

(Awed ripple of applause)

Are you working on a collection at the moment?

I’m starting on one. It will be a long process. Possibly I’ll get a pamphlet together at some point in the meantime. We’ll see.

Until recently, I’ve really only been thinking about my poems as standalone works. While there are themes and stylistic properties that run across them, I’m only now beginning to think properly about how they might be able to sit side-by-side.

Yes, it’s interesting about collections and stand alone poems. I do think of them like that.

Okay, you know what I’m going to ask next

(gasp from the audience)

What’s the best gig you’ve done so far, then the worst…..?

I think the best and worse gig are one and the same. It was a reading at the Arta la Uzina festival in Suceava, Romania in 2019. It came at the end of a residency where I was one of a group of writers and artists from Germany, Romania, South Korea, the UK and the US.

We all read or exhibited work in this beautiful old water tower that had been converted into a gallery. It was such a privilege to be part of it. One of the poems I read was about a big, ugly hotel in Cluj-Napoca, another city in Romania. The poem imagines the hotel as a kind of supernatural malevolent force that destroys the speaker’s soul.

After the gig, we were taken out to dinner by one of the festival’s founders. I didn’t know anything about him beforehand, but it turned out he was president of the Romanian Architects Association and he told me that he’d designed the hotel in Cluj that I’d just denigrated on stage. So an awkward end to an otherwise wonderful evening.

Priceless, Mark! I can see a sitcom emerging from there! As well as a wealth of wonderful verse.

Well, in all my years in the business, I have never heard of a best and worst gig in one evening. Amazing. In fact, this has all been fascinating. Thank you so much for coming on the show…

.(Thunderous applause – security rush back prematurely from their fag break)

Now, Mark, dressed like that, you must be going off somewhere cool…….

(our esteemed guest looks a little embarrassed…)

Well, er – the Troubadour Discotheque. The Slaggs have got me on the VIP list…..

What?! They told me they were in tonight watching The Good Life! Who else is going????!!!

Well – er – Anne-Marie, Angus, Barney, Fran, Michael, Dobby, Lady Po, Dino, the Lucy’s, a bloke Mrs Slagg met in the street in 1972……

Damn it!

(Shakes her fist at the sky)

I’ll get there one day! I swear I will ! I’m giving Mrs Slagg a piece of my mind!

Well, I’ll be off now. I don’t want to miss a dance with Mrs Slagg – there’s usually a queue.,

(our esteemed guest legs it up the stairs two at a time, Dobby follows suit)

Wasn’t he the most, Poetry Lovers?! Fascinating, intelligent, talented and just wonderful. We’ll keep a watch out for Mark…

Thanks for tuning in, PL’s, we’ll be back with more shenanigans real soon, meanwhile I’m going to get knitting that tank top!

Heart and Wardrobe

Hello PL’s,

Now, I’ve had two challenges for my heart and wardrobe themes, and they’re both such good poems…….

The first is the Heart affair, Sharron Green has offered up a super piece of her having the heart of a butterfly. It’s so beautiful – do read on…

My Heart would be a Butterfly

My heart would be a butterfly

and I would flutter softly by

socialising with each flower

relishing my happy hour

rhymes_n_roses 2021

Wasn’t that so lovely and tender? Thank you, Sharron. I had great fun illustrating this vivid poem, having never drawn flowers and butterflies before. So an extra thank you for opening up that world to me.

I’ve had super fun illustrating the next challenge too – the Wardrobe poem from the wonderful Trisha Broomfield

A poignant and moving piece, do read on

Wardrobe Blues

They’re all in there, partying without me

the cream Lauren Bacall trousers

swishing away to the blues,

the equally swishy Margo Leadbetter jumpsuit

the red dress with a waist,

bought when I thought I had one,

all unworn because the occasion for occasion wear

never came.

Knee deep below

the handbags bought to match

who knows what,

the heels essential to keep the swishy trousers

from tripping me up.

There’s the hat, a one off Philip Treacy

so special it’s still in its silver box

the occasions now limited to pulling the wheelie bin

to the end of the drive

and meeting the fish delivery masked man.

In my dreams I am Lauren Bacall

and Margo Leadbetter

while my wardrobe rocks with the sound of the blues and laughter.

Trisha Broomfield 02.02.2021

Wasn’t that just beautiful? And its very wistfulness will resonate with a lot of us. So come on, you poets, get those wardrobes open…. Thank you so much for that, Trisha. Lovely piece

Thank you both, in fact, to the lovely poets Sharron Green and Trisha Broomfield.

Tune in real soon, PL’s, there’s gonna be an interview……….

Heart II

Hello Poetry Lovers,

Welcome to part II of what our hearts could become. Not only is Trisha Broomfield talented and prolific, she is also a genius! Because Trisha has come up trumps with her version of what her heart could become. Chocolate is involved, which is almost as hazardous as being a fish really – both of us with a strong chance of being eaten. So we are sisters living in fear for our lives!

It’s a great piece, read on

Chocolate Lips.

My heart turned into

a white chocolate slab

heavy like they used to be

in the days of the Milky Bar Kid.

My boobs are squares of milky white

my dress, no trousers now,

a fetching red with cream

an alluring look,

but walking is tricky

double hopping sack race style

is now the norm.

But I will never crave again

Just like my chocolate lips!

Trisha Broomfield 2021

Well done, Trisha. A truly spontaneous and alluring piece. However, I will think twice about eating white chocolate now. I’m sure you’ll be likewise with fish….

Thanks for tuning in, Poetry Lovers, we’ll be back for more poetry shenanigans real soon…..

My Heart…..

Hello Poetry Lovers,

I’ve abandoned preparing the poem I was going to show you originally. Shame, because I’d illustrated it too! As we all know, sometimes these things just don’t work.

So, as a substitute, I’ve put a set exercise on here. I didn’t expect to get into it as much as I did. I simply regarded it as smelly homework. I’ve been enjoying an online course from Morley College in Beginner’s Poetry, because in one way, I’m not a beginner but in another way I am. So I’ve been having a marvie time with this so far. Though I dozed a bit through John Donne and Keats….

Anyway, we were prompted with ‘My heart turned into a ..’. So I chose a fish, natch. Love fish so much. Well, here it is….

Fish Heart

My heart turned into a fish, which was strange

because I couldn’t actually swim.

I nearly drowned as a child, my brother pulled

me out the water by my ponytail.

I’ve never forgotten that helplessness.

That loss of control. It visited me at night.

Yet, my scales were so sensuous,

my gills moved in a rhythm I have never known.

I no longer had a word for air and daylight.

I only saw a submerged green, and

algae was my only friend.

Because now, I had so many enemies.

I would live in fear, always on my guard.

It wasn’t too late, I could still return to land.

yet I still swum away.

Spooky eh, poetry lovers? What would your heart be ? Let me know …….

Thanks for tuning in, we’ll be back real soon….

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