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….

Disco IV The Oasis Nightclub

Poetry Lovers, welcome to Disco IV! To put another perspective on the golden age of disco, we have a great piece from the lovely poet Sharron Green. Titled The Oasis Nightclub, this intricately detailed piece sums up memories of our nights out. Thank you for that, Sharron

The Oasis Nightclub

Down the Oasis on a Saturday night,

the kings of the jungle are spoiling for a fight.

The Blues have lost, the ref was a tool,

they’re finding it hard to keep their cool.

Only way to make the anger fade,

is to end the night by getting laid.

All tanked up on vodka Red Bull

who will be the first to pull?

Joe the bouncer hears them first,

built like a hippo: tux ‘bout to burst.

Round the corner, they sound scary

but they won’t get in if they’re too lary.

He and the missus had a blazing row,

so he stomped off, still angry now.

He’s so wound up he’s seeing double,

not in the mood for any trouble.

The ladies teeter in the queue,

it’s bloody cold ‘n they need the loo,

their legs are bare and their figures slight,

they’re dressed for summer – and look a sight.

To get some warmth they light their fags,

and cuddle their ‘designer’ bags.

They all have high hopes for tonight,

at least a snog if not Mr Right.

At last, inside, they made the cut

a feminine wiggle, a macho strut.

The girls disappear to the Ladies Room,

and paint their faces in the gloom.

Aagainst the bar the blokes all throng,

today’s Happy Hour lasts all night long.

They order beers with whiskey to chase,

and scour the room for a pretty face.

On the dance floor the music’s throbbing,

a mass of bleached blonde heads is bobbing.

It’s Eighties Night and they’re in the groove,

so jam packed, they can hardly move.

‘It’s raining men!’, ‘Come on Eileen!’,

anything by Cher or Queen.

They all enjoy the eighties sound,

though few recall the first time round.

At first the ladies dance in twos,

around their bags or high-heeled shoes,

with flirty glances and a ‘come on’ grin,

they select their prey and reel them in.

Soon the boys are on a mission,

for once they show no inhibition,

they are ‘greased lightning’ on the floor,

until they can stand up no more,

then Joe steps in to find their feet,

and lead them out into the street.

For those still standing at the end,

there is a chance to ‘make a friend’,

the lights are dimmed, to change the mood,

they dance together as if glued.

They’re total strangers don’t forget,

although bathed in each other’s sweat.

Small talk and chemistry say whether

the two of them will leave together.

The lights go up, now comes the test,

to look less wasted than the rest.

Joe sends them out while they’re still reeling,

with that drunken, dizzy, headspin feeling.

Along the wall, new lovers huddle,

Joe’s off home for a kiss ‘n cuddle.

The rest of the crowd splits into two

for the burger van or the taxi queue,

they say good-byes – some short, some long

swop their digits – some real, some wrong.

Then there’s a week to prepare for one highlight

– down the Oasis on a Saturday night.

Sharron Green 2019

Thank you so much, Sharron. Wasn’t that just terrific! So many memories of Saturday nights flooded back.

Thank you for tuning in, PL’s. We’ll be back shortly with more poetry antics real soon…….

Memory Corner

Hello Poetry Lovers,

I could not resist a quick memory corner on this dull dull day. Jump in the DeLorean, and we’ll go back to 5th May 2019.

Seat belts on now!

I’ll always treasure the memory of being made feature poet for Poetry Performance at the Adelaide. This is me being interviewed by the amazing Anne Warrington, co-founder of this great institution.

Now, why does it always look like no-one’s present when I’m reading poetry? Every picture looks like I’m the only attendee! I promise you there were other people and poets present!

On that magic evening, I read seven poems, including The Walk Home, Teatime and Joyce. I was drained afterwards. Although it is a lovely experience and one I’d recommend, it is exhausting being featured poet.

Now, don’t ask me what I’m doing in the first picture. I’m obviously expressing something! And the middle image looks like Anne and I are about to sing a duet, like in the Val Doonican show! However, it was a marvellous in-depth interview and a great atmosphere.

What also meant a lot to me was the support of my lovely pals. The first picture is of the two Mary’s, Kathryn, moi, Heidi and the lovely Richard Mabe, who is a powerful poet. Missing you, Richard.

Phew! Enjoyed that quick memory burst! Thank you for indulging me, PL’s.

Now jump back in that DeLorean now, as I need it to drop me off at Tesco!

Stay tuned for more poetry antics.

Disco III

Hello Poetry Lovers,

I’ve jumped right in the deep end and posted a third instalment about the golden age of Disco.

This comes from wonderful poet Trisha Broomfield’s perspective, and a sharp and astute one it is too. One is reminded of different aspects of disco and how much violence and rivalry was a common occurrence.

Thank you, Trisha. Sold gold, beautifully described, and features earrings I’ve always wanted to wear …..

Op Art Earrings

Op art earrings

Flushed faces

acne flaring

fists flying

hormones raging

the fearsome fight

of two boys being men.

Voices breaking

sharp toes jabbing shins

and softer places,

shirt tails free

and buttons tearing

the awkward arms and legs

of two boys being men

One girl, white boots

disco dress, black eyes,

fag askew in fudge brown lips

Op art earrings

backcombed beehive standing stiff

ultraviolet light makes

bra straps white.

Amused, bemused,

now chews a pearl pink nail

turns unbothered back

on two boyfriends being men.

Trisha Broomfield

Wasn’t that wonderful? Weren’t we back in that strobed blackness again? Our underwear fluorescent under ultra-violent for all the world to see? Hormones raging, as Trisha puts it so well. Thank you so much for that.

Thanks for tuning, PL’s. I’m going for a Disco IV, but I’ll put a quick memory corner in first. Stay tuned…..

Disco II

Hello PL’s,

I’ve decided to stick to the Disco theme – or rather the misery of Disco. They weren’t great for everybody. Especially when you went with older cousins, who were stuck with you for the week!

Ooh, they were long holidays staying with her. My Cousin made me as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit!

Anyway, I’ve penned this one, have a read…….

The Summer of Hate

My older cousin would throw me

an indifferent glance as we moved

from disco to disco.

I sat and watched her dance with one

youth after another.

I asked people the time simply to pass it.

Girls in their midi’s and hot pants

made me shrink into my dotted halter neck.

I got a sympathy dance from someone’s

boyfriend, and my cousin hooted around

the arcade that I’d never been out with a boy!

My red face matched her fluorescent pink blusher!

I sigh – not everyone can strut around the disco like her.

It was going to be a long week’s holiday.

This truly was a Summer of Hate.

H Moulson 2021

There you are, PL’s, not every summer was idyllic -and don’t get me started on her coming at Christmas!!

And of course, any Disco memories you may have are welcome. Especially terrible ones!

Tune in soon, Poetry Lovers, and thanks for reading…..

Fashion Crisis ‘71

Hello Poetry Lovers, now I’ve been tidying out the Poetry Sideboard to find a theme for today’s post. And I came up with yet another poignant memory from 1971.


As you can see, there is a wealth of material lurking in here, so I’ve penned this one set in ‘71 and the importance of the right clothes for the disco. In fact, I remember it being the end of the world!

Read on

Fashion Crisis’71

My Mum won’t let me wear her wet look boots,

she won’t even knit me a tank top

My brother won’t lend me his Ben Sherman.

I can’t pass off my PE shorts as hot pants.

And maxi dresses are too expensive.

I’ll never get a boyfriend now,

my mates up the disco all have slow dances

with random youths, but even when

my pal lends me her smock top,

I still don’t get asked.

Approaching fourteen, and never been with a boy!

I am entirely on the shelf!

I miserably listen to David Cassidy on

the radiogram.

“Whatever suits you is fashionable”,

he said in Mirabelle magazine.

He’s talking through his arse!

HM 2021

Thanks for reading, PL’s. A lot of us can remember those times. Weren’t maxi dresses beautiful? And so painfully out of reach for a lot of us! Tune in soon for more poetry antics….

The Other Woman

Hello Poetry Lovers

The clever and wonderful poet, Trisha Broomfield has inspired us once again with a marvelous piece The Other Woman, from her collection Husbands for Breakfast.

It is poignant, painful, colourful and very true. A real human situation that if we oursleves have not gone through this, we know someone who has.

Thank you so much for this, Trisha. A very moving piece to start off 2021.

Now read on –

The Other Woman

I saw her once

and she saw me.

You’d told me where she worked

and so, quite by chance,

I found myself

in the shop.

I took in the rosy cheeked apples

smiling peaches

and fake grass cloth

the silver weighing scales, boxed dates

her auburn hair.

She felt my eyes on her

and turned.

There was a whole book

in her look

even though she had never before

seen me.

We stared at each other.

An older wearier me

regarded a younger

fresher her.

We knew

and all the time said nothing

until she turned her back,

the other woman,

resigned to what her husband called

his other life

and to the existence

of a younger self.

Trisha Broomfield 2018

Wasn’t that just superb, not only did the poem describe the emotions but also its setting. Thank you, Trisha.

Tune in soon, PL’s for more poetry activity.

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