Plate 226 of Birds of America by John James Audubon depicting Hooping Crane (1827 - 1838), [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

Plate 226 of Birds of America by John James Audubon depicting Hooping Crane (1827 – 1838), [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons














Recycled” is one of my favourite poems for the tides it captures of creator-artist dancing with raw materials and the finished work. In this example the artist dances with the (helpful) sticks and the resulting beautiful bird sculptures.

The poem is accompanied by an explanatory essayette about its source and my magpie tendency to collect pictures from magazines and catalogues. Here is a taster extract:

“In the last ten years, as my life has been more transient and nomadic and my views about a life filled with objects have changed, I have become more restrained in such collecting. After my time in the USA, I did gift my sister a stapled book of glossy San Diego estate agent advertisements and Pottery Barn pull-outs in an imaginary décored version of My Californian Life. In my ever-growing collection of notebooks, you will find the occasional image of quiet studies, verdant gardens and cool kitchens drawn from Polish, German, Austrian, English and South African publications. On the most occasional of occasional pages you may come across a hurried line-drawing of a hotel room in Istanbul or a tin of pens against a window-view in Grahamstown.”

Read the full post here.

"". Licensed under Public domain via <a href=“. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.


In the unposted letter
patterned with tiny birds
and rows of tiny fishes,
I refine the matter.

A tight little poem inspired by one of my favourite occupations, letter writing.

There are three other poems on the blog inspired by old-fashioned written correspondence:

Pavement Writer
It should not be polished
Things of the heart, told in quiet

These poems appear in my books In the Ocean: a year of poetry and Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys .

At the end of last year, I wrote these two companion poems inspired by the postman’s deliveries:

Without realising it, the postman leaves a poem
Another drop in this week before Christmas

Find me on Twitter where I tweet about my letter writing, Bachata dancing and practising Taijiquan. I’m @BeadedQuill is also on Facebook.

I also have a third book (which was actually my first title) - Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012. Preview it by clicking here.




Image with thanks to Dark Roasted Blend

Image thanks to the blog Dark Roasted Blend*.

From this time last year, a poem about little creatures getting up to mischief.

* While searching the interweb for images of ant and insect circuses, I came across this diverting article about flea circuses on Dark Roasted Blend. DRB is self-billed as “a highly visual ‘Weird & Wonderful’ online magazine to complement your daily coffee ritual”. It’s worth a peek.” by Adrian PingstoneOwn work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Words cast spells through the magic that is poetry. Here is today’s verse:

Cast them together

A bra, a bit,
cad bitty, a bra,
bo bitty boo:
read the magic
these words spell for you.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

March14 092









A merry poem from the archive about summer’s sunny kisses.

Vintage postcard image courtesy of Postcard Diva.

Sunflower courtesy of the Old Design Shop. Illustration by Kate Greenaway on sheet music from c. 1881.

An old favourite revisited, because artists are allowed to have their obsessions. “Exalted thus, we left” is a reworking of a poem from 2011:

I love the Dorothea Tanning painting that spurred the original “Jacob’s Dream for crinolined girls”. When I’m in Tate Modern, I’ll usually try to pop into the Surrealism gallery to gaze at the image, my crinolined protagonists and the yellow angel wrestled down.

The first version of this verse is one of twenty selected poems in Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012.
My other books include In the Ocean: a year of poetry, which came out in last month, and Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys.

Find me on Twitter as @BeadedQuill and on Facebook.

Can you believe two years have passed since the London Olympics? I was fortunate enough to attend an evening of paralympic events. It feels as though it was only last year that I was sitting in the massive stadium, with an enormous lion emblazoned across my t-shirt and yelling encouragement at the athletes. Clearly, it wasn’t. That moment was in 2012.

This time last year I posted a loose Pindaric ode to a golden mango.

In the spirit of archives – looking at the back catalogue in the present, possibly to inform the future – I encourage you to read this post about progress. Joanna Penn recommends measuring achievement across the span of four years by asking oneself, where was I during the last olympics? Equally, you can plot your goals by projecting, where would I like to be by the next games?

Where will you be in 2016?

In the meantime, I’m still waiting for this summer’s golden mangoes to appear on the local grocers’ tiers.

Find me on Twitter. I’m @BeadedQuill.

This image is derived from a Facebook screenshot. To view the original Pusheen drawn by Claire Belton, visit

This image is derived from a Facebook screenshot. To view the original Pusheen drawn by Claire Belton, visit

As any grey and rotund cat
who must chase emoticons
would do,
Pusheen ate a donut,
exhaled under her blanket,
fell asleep on the keyboard.

Ok, ok, I ‘fess up. One of my guilty pleasures in life (along with wearing clashing prints and glutting on self-help books) is inserting cutesy Pusheens into Facebook chats. This is an expression I reserve solely for my nearest and dearest. My sister has put up with all manner of Pusheens scoffing donuts, eating junk-food, eyeing cake, sitting at a keyboard, writing memoirs, surrounded by sleep suggesting Z-Z-Z-s.

In straighter-laced correspondence I keep to two emoticons: smiley face or winky-smiley face. Sticky-out tongue makes only the rarest of appearances. In ordinary correspondence, I employ a little too much punctuation and the over-eager use of greetings!, warmest regards and best wishes.

I still prefer to omit concluding xs, but they are so commonplace these days as the signifier of correspondence a fine that I often acquiesce.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

“Auspicious Cranes,” a hand scroll on silk attributed to Song emperor Huizong (r. 1101 – 1126). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Regular followers will know that I have a fond relationship with my Dad. Or had, as he passed away in 2009. But every now and then I feel as though he sends greetings. Of course, rationally this is nonsensical, but the part of me that is sympathetic to the metaphysical and symbolic finds these resonances appealing.

Consider the following email correspondence my Mum and I shared the day after my birthday.

My mum wrote, “Was this not your ‘Hobbit coming-of-age’ birthday? Robin [i.e. my Dad] used to speak about his but I was never sure when it was as I had never read the book!”

“That is rather uncanny!” I replied, “It was indeed. I never recall Dad talking about the Hobbit, or this milestone. A number of die-hard Lord of the Rings fans mentioned it to me (I have also not read the book). I shall take that as Dad’s birthday salutation.”

From the archive, a poem about an auspicious and uncanny coincidence that happened on the day after my birthday last year.

Cannolo Siciliano courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Photograph originally posted by Paolo Piscolla on Flickr.

Inside the cannoli
of not doing,
they pipe sugared ricotta.
Rest proves too rich a sweet for me.

After a physically exhausting weekend which included a day’s Taiji training and a three-hour orchestra rehearsal, plus some over-eating in celebration for my birthday, I have felt steamrollered. It’s all been my own doing; there’s no denying this. Of course, I felt compelled to write a poem inspired by what has gripped me most since: seeking recovery.

So for the last two days I have tried to write a poem about rest. (Yes, let’s not point out the obvious contradiction of this effort.) Dolce far niente is the Italian idea of pleasant, carefree downtime (lit. sweet doing nothing). Rest is one of the greatest challenges I wrestle with in life. I resist it, and inevitably end up paying for this stubbornness. Everything kindly brings me to STOP and I’ll end up in bed for two or three days courtesy of a cold, ‘flu or malfunctioning kidneys.

What have I done subsequently? I have attempted some napping, but today I simply downed about five cups of coffee – but no cannoli. Not a very healthy nor very mature substitute for proper rest.

But at least here is a poem!
And perhaps tonight I shall go to bed a little earlier.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012


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