Monday, January 14, 2019


Today, fellow poetry lovers, we are flying across the Pond to England, to chat with Kim Russell,  who blogs at WRITING IN NORTH NORFOLK, in England. I am so looking forward to this chat! Let's pour ourselves a cup of tea, as it is teatime, and settle in for a lovely visit. 

Sherry: Kim, tell us a bit about life in North Norfolk. Is it a rural or urban existence? What do you love about it? 

Kim: North Norfolk is the top bit of the bulge on the eastern side of England that juts out into the North Sea. It’s not a place you would pass through as there is only one motorway that leads up to it, which then becomes the A11 and ends in Norwich, ‘a fine city’. Norwich was once the second city of England and is very beautiful, with many old buildings, and has been used as the setting for a large number of films.

Windmill on the Norfolk Broads

It is also on the edge of the Norfolk Broads, man-made lakes and rivers that are joined together, where anglers, boat enthusiasts and nature lovers enjoy the scenery, complete with windmills, bridges and quaint villages along the way. We live in one of those quaint villages. We are closer to the coast than to Norwich, a wild coast that is sadly eroding, where we can see colonies of seals and the most amazing skies. These are some of the things I love to write about.

Sherry: What an enchanting place to live! You are surrounded by natural beauty - and history! 

Kim: I moved up here from London twenty six years ago after visiting with my daughter – I couldn’t afford extravagant holidays as a single mum, so we used to rent a caravan up here. I loved it so much that, when I had to move away from London for personal reasons, it seemed the best place to go.

I share my life with my husband and best friend, David, who I went to school with in South London all those years ago. I had already moved to Norfolk when we got together again after almost twenty years, after I wrote to a newspaper ‘looking for an old friend’. We have two cats, Luna and Mojo, as well as a variety of wild animals that inhabit our equally wild garden, such as deer, owls, pheasants, robins, field mice, moles, hedgehogs… I could go on all day about our garden.

Luna and Mojo

Sherry: Oh, I love stories like this! How wonderful to reunite with your old friend. A happy ending / beginning. I love that you live surrounded by nature. And your cats are lovely!

I have learned you were a teacher, who inspired a love of poetry in your students. Now that you are no longer teaching, I understand this has carried over into your life today. Tell us a bit about your life as a volunteer, encouraging a love of literacy in children.

Lonely Cloud

Kim: I would have loved to have gone on teaching English – it was my passion – but health and sanity were more important at the time. I planned to focus on writing in retirement, but after several months I felt that something was missing, so I volunteered at local libraries. 

Having spent so much time with teenagers, I needed to experience the other end of the spectrum and use rhyme and song, so ‘Bounce and Rhyme’ with babies, toddlers and their parents and carers seemed to be the way to go. We sing and perform actions to nursery rhymes and read stories, accompanied by a small collection of puppets, the main one being Otis the orangutan – the children love him! Several months after starting ‘Bounce and Rhyme’ I discovered the Norwich Reading Project and now also listen to children aged five to seven read three days a week.

Big Sky

Sherry: It sounds like such rewarding work, Kim! It’s wonderful you are doing that.

When did your love affair with poetry begin? When did you start writing poems? Was there someone who encouraged you?

Kim: I’ve loved poetry since I was a child, beginning with nursery rhymes, which my grandmother taught me. At junior school we had a wonderful teacher with whom we learned poetry by heart. 

One of my favourite poems was ‘The Lady of Shallot’ by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, of which I can still remember lines. I also learned for a Christmas performance a poem by Thomas Hardy, ‘The Oxen’, which I can recite in full. When I was studying German A-level, before I went to live and study there, I discovered Rainer Maria Rilke. I entered a competition, in which I translated some of his poetry and wrote about his life, and won! His poem ‘The Panther’ will always be one of my favourites. 

I continued to write through teenagehood and into early adulthood but motherhood got in the way for a while, not that I’m complaining – I have a beautiful daughter and a grandson I adore.

Sherry: I am happy that we can be away from poetry for a time, yet it is right there waiting for us when we return. The same thing happened with me. What do you love about poetry?

Kim: I love the way that huge and complex ideas can be distilled into poems, and that poems can equally tell whole stories or describe single moments.


Sherry: So well said. Do you prefer form poetry or free verse, and why?

Kim: I’m not sure I have a preference. There was a time when I wrote mostly sonnets, perhaps because I’m a massive Shakespeare fan. It depends on the topic and the way I’m feeling. I do enjoy warming up with a haiku in the morning – it’s a bit like that first cup of tea, stimulating. I also like the quadrille, the form introduced by the dVerse Poets Pub, for its freedom of form and restriction of number of words. I am quite economical with words, which was once commented on in a letter from Zoe Fairbairns (which I still have somewhere!) when she was editor for Spare Rib magazine.

Sherry: It is a good trait to have in writing! Do you have a favourite poet?

Kim: Too many to mention, although, as I said before, I love Shakespeare. I have always enjoyed anything by Dylan Thomas and Seamus Heaney, and my favourite live poet is Carol Ann Duffy.

Sherry: Do you write prose as well? Stories, fiction, nonfiction? 

Kim: I have had several short stories and some flash fiction published, have completed a novella for children, Joe and Nelly - a World War Two ghost story, which has been entered into several competitions - and have a young adult novel to complete next year, entitled The Haunted Tide, which is set on the North Norfolk coast.

Sherry: I see that you have listed the publications your work is in on your About page. It is impressive.

Are there three poems of yours you would like to share with us? I especially admire "Seizing the day night moon stars cloud" – I would love to include it, and would you explain the line “in daring to live, I’m learning to die”?

Kim: Please feel free to include ‘seizing the day night moon stars cloud’, which arrived almost complete in the early hours as I was waking from a dream, which seems to happen quite regularly. The line “in daring to live, I’m learning to die” came from something I read but I can’t remember what it was or where I read it. It expresses the feeling I get in autumn when I see everything around me dying in a blaze of colour, which reminds me that It will all come back again and not to give up in my autumn years.

Mojo and the Sunflowers

seizing day night moon stars cloud

with the arrival of frosts and rains
a wintry light
smears the sky
I crunch leaves defiantly underfoot
and breathe in sweet decay
in daring to live I’m learning to die
leafless oaks mock me, feigning death,
 and haws
the colour of blood
all the while I tramp through autumn mud
seizing day night moon stars cloud
singing out LOUD
on the journey towards my blazing sunset

Sherry: I love the loud, lusty courage in this poem, and your approach to living fully. Yay!

Not Just a Holiday Romance

Seals, seabirds
and dog walkers,
recognise its profile like a lover’s
outline, blemished and creased.
We respond to its familiar voice,
gush of each breaking
breath, grunt and groan
in its restless sleep,
powerful rolling of its waking
and saltiness of morning kisses.
We long for sharp prick of marram grass
as we swim, fly and stumble past
its wavering, whistling tunes
and contours of shifting dunes.

Late Afternoon on a Norfolk Wherry

His face is traced and creased by Norfolk gales,
His skin tanned Van Dyke brown as wherry sails,
The wherryman sits on the tiller aft,
With steady hand he guides his graceful craft.
A waterfowl with broad vermillion hatch,
The wherry glides through reed and willow thatch,
Its sail cuts dark into the sparkling light
And startles long-necked cormorants into flight;
The wherryman observes the soaring birds
Scatter feathers in the sky like words.
As sundown is announced in gold and red
And other folk prepare themselves for bed,
The wherryman moors close to windswept beach
To watch the sun slip slowly out of reach.

Sherry: Thank you for these, Kim. I especially love the poem about the wherryman! A wonderful sonnet!

What other activities do you enjoy when you aren’t writing?

Kim: Mostly reading, when I have the time, which is usually last thing at night or on a long train journey. I love music and, of course, nature and my cats.
Sherry: Is there anything you’d like to say to Poets United?

Kim: Thank you so much for the opportunity to read and enjoy the poetry and fellowship of poets around the world, and share my own poetry.

Sherry: Thank you, Kim, for this lovely chat. We are happy you made your way to Poets United and look forward to reading your poetry in the months and years to come.

Wasn't this an interesting visit, my friends? Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you! 

Sunday, January 13, 2019


Happy Sunday, fellow poets! I thought today, for a change, we might enjoy this short drive through the Himalayas, so close to the heavens. These mountains take my breath away. Sumana has visited them many times. I am in awe thinking of what it must be like to see them in person, and feel their powerful energy.

We hope you had a wonderful week, in all of the four directions on the globe. Did you catch Rosemary's feature on Friday? It was a guest appearance by Sanaa Rizvi, who shared a favourite poem and her thoughts about it. Do scroll back, if you missed it. It is always lovely to find new ways to feature our wonderful members!

On Monday, we will be visiting Kim Russell in our Life of a Poet series.  On Wednesday, Sumana's prompt will be Life : Paradox and / or Balance. That sounds like a prompt with a lot of scope. And then it will be Friday again, and another weekend. They seem to come around so swiftly these days.

Let's dive into the Pantry and see what goodies await us. Link your poem and visit your fellow poets. Thank you for showing up so faithfully every Sunday. We wouldn't be here without you!

Friday, January 11, 2019

I Wish I'd Written This

Happy New Year, dear readers!

As a special treat on this first Friday post of the year, Sanaa Rizvi who blogs at A Dash of Sunny is my guest, with a wonderful poem to share with us and some very thought-provoking remarks about it. Sanaa, of course, is well-known to us as an extraordinary poet herself, a regular participant at Poets United and a Contributor of prompts at 'imaginary garden with real toads'. Here is her gift for us today. Many thanks, Sanaa!     – Rosemary


The Salt Stronger
By Fred Marchant

I have seen the legislators
on their way,
the jacketless men
in mid-winter who will cast
their votes like stones for this war.

Men who have to cross the street
through slush
and over gutter, their cuffs
now vaguely blued with a salt
that dries in dots where it splashes,

and mingles with the finely
woven cloth
of the chalk-stripe suits,
the soi-disant practical men,
you can see them now tiptoeing,

now leaping, balletic, windsor-knotted,
and shaved,
they pass, they pass
the window of the Capitol Deli

wherein I am writing to my friend
in Baghdad,
he a “witness for peace,”
a poet who for years has wondered
what good poetry is or has been or does.

I compose today’s answer from here,
I think of poetry
as a salt dug from a foreign mine
that arrives like a miracle in Boston

as pellets to break underfoot
and melt
the dangerous plated ice
and cling to the acknowledged lawmakers,
to stay with them in their dreams,

to eat at the cloth and reach down
to the skin
and beyond the calf
into the shin. I think the soul
is equivalent to bone, and that conscience

must hide in the marrow,
float in the rich fluids
and wander the honeycomb at the center.
There, and not in the brain,
or even the heart is where

the words attach, where they land
and settle,
take root after the long
passage through the body’s by-ways.
Just think, I write, of how some poetry rolls

off the tongue, then try to see the tongue
in the case
that faces me, a curious,
thick extension of cow-flesh
fresh from a butcher’s block, grainy and flush.

I think that if my tongue alone could talk
it would swear
in any court that poetry
tastes like the iodine in blood,
or the copper in spit, and makes a salt stronger than tears.

From The Looking House (Graywolf Press, 2009)
Available at Amazon along with his other books.

One word. Wow! Words aren’t enough to describe just how powerful, evocative and stunning this poem is in its portrayal of depth, emotion and sincerity towards the power of poetry.

Fred Marchant is an American Poet, and Professor of English and Literature at Suffolk University in Boston.  He is also the Director of Creative Writing Program and The Poetry Center at the University.

When I first read this poem I was completely blown away, and the first words that came to mind were ‘I Wish I’d Written This.’

How many times have we been asked about the significance of Poetry? How many times have we come across those who are skeptical of its power to create a difference. As a Poet I feel that it’s necessary to speak and to voice our opinion upon this matter.

This poem was probably written during difficult and dire times and belongs to a completely different era but when you think about it, it is still as relevant when we examine it and think along the lines of government and politics.

Fred Marchant began writing poems in his second semester at Providence College in 1964. His love for Literature makes me recall my time and my days when I dived into the subject due to love and admiration of an English Professor.  You can learn more about him in the following interview:

We come back to the question addressed in Marchant’s poem, “what good poetry is or has been or does,” which is what grabbed my attention and the exquisite manner in which the Poet answered.

Let us create a hypothetical situation where we are asked the same question. How would we reply? How can one possibly do justice in terms of making the other person feel and realize its worth? How do we maintain hope? How do we yield power?

Exactly how do you instill passion for poetry in someone who is or not a writer or a poet?

I strive to answer this question to this very day and wish I possessed the flair and ability which Fred Marchant has.  You can feel the passion, the hope and intensity in his poem as he speaks of poetry that ‘rolls off the tongue,’ how many of us agree with that statement.

Fred Marchant's poetry collections include Said Not Said (2017), The Looking House (2009), Tipping Point (2003), and Full Moon Boat (2000). He is also the editor of Another World Instead: The Early Poems of William Stafford, 1937-1947 (2008), a selection that focuses on the work done while Stafford (another fine American poet) was a conscientious objector during World War II.

I hope you guys loved his poem as much as I did and look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.