Tuesday, 21 March 2017

A Poem for World Poetry Day 2017

Strange, I thought, and rather unnecessary of the man working in my locallest Oxfam bookshop to pick the very moment I began to browse the one poetry shelf to start lifting books off to make a World Poetry Day 2017 display in an already crowded shop window. The day was half over anyway, and I probably would have bought more than just one slim volume, had most of the books not been whisked away from under my nose. I might have doubled or even tripled their total number of books sold on World Poetry Day 2017.

This was a pleasing find, though. 

Anyway, in a bid to up my poetry quota for the day, I'm going to post one I prepared earlier. It's the title poem of my third collection, Breadcrumbs, and it's about resisting those who would wield complete control over us, whether on a domestic or international scale. It feels particularly apt for these troubling times. 


She’s finished her chores for the week
five spare hours cupped in her hand
takes her hoard to the bedroom

In the kitchen
he’s checking the state of the floor
runs his finger down the counters
slams each gleaming cupboard door
stamps upstairs to glare at her
from the landing

turns as she puts her pen aside
crumples poems into balls
fills her pockets

©Deborah Harvey 2016

'Breadcrumbs' is available from Indigo Dreams Publishing, good bookshops everywhere, and Amazon

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Feminist Poetry Party, 9th April in Bristol

Sunday 9th April 2017, at Roll for the Soul, 2 Quay Street, Bristol 

from 3 - 6pm

Come join us for an afternoon of feminist poetry, discussion and belly-dancing from some of the West Country's finest poets and performers, including Annie Freud and Rachael Boast. Entry is a recommended donation of £5, with all proceeds going to a local women's charity.

The Persisters is a newly established network of feminist poets and artists. We are intersectional and inclusive. We are concerned about the turning tide in the rights of women and all minorities.

We are harnessing our collective skills as poets, artists and wordsmiths to create community and combat the erosion of hard-won freedoms fought for and earned over many decades.

We want to celebrate, enjoy and secure those gains, and to support the struggle to extend those rights to all women. We believe in art as dialogue, celebration and resistance. We also believe in getting together for a party.

Annie Freud

Annie Freud is a poet, teacher and artist. Her first collection The Best Man That Ever Was (Picador 2007) received a Poetry Book Society recommendation and was awarded the Dimplex Prize for New Writing. The Mirabelles (Picador 2010), was a Poetry Book Society Choice and was short-listed for the TS Eliot Prize. Her third collection was The Remains (Picador 2015) and was also awarded a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

Annie Freud has been named by the Poetry Book Society as one of the Next Generation Poets 2014. She is renowned for her live performances.

Rachael Boast

Rachael Boast was born in 1975. Sidereal (Picador 2011) won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry Prize. Pilgrim’s Flower (Picador 2013) was shortlisted for the Griffin Prize. She was co-editor of The Echoing Gallery: Bristol Poets and Art in the City (Redcliffe Press). Void Studies (2016) was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. She lives in Bristol.

The West Country Persisters

Local poets will be performing short sets throughout the event. They are:

Zillah Bowes
Chaucer Cameron
Rachael Clyne
Pey Pey Oh
Jinny Fisher
Dawn Gorman
Deborah Harvey
Morag Kiziewicz
Rowena Knight
Ellie O'Connell
Helen Sheppard
Sue Sims
Shirley Wright

Saturday, 11 March 2017


If anyone had asked me the name of the pub in the Vale of Glamorgan where I'd attended a wedding reception nearly 30 years ago, I wouldn't have remembered, but googling for somewhere slightly further afield to go for Sunday lunch, I recognised it at once: The Captain's Wife, Sully.  

And in that moment I was right back there: six and a half months pregnant with my first child one warm Saturday in September, waiting in the dim, flagstoned lobby to depart while my mother-in-law, who came alive in the company of her children and grandchildren, took her long-drawn-out leave of them. After a while, I began to feel a bit giddy and leant against the wall. 'You'd better get used to this,' said my (now ex-) husband's aunt in my ear, her tone as dry as a bolt being shot home. 'You're a G------- now, my girl.'

Ghosts to lay, then. Though there was no strong sense of returning. It's been taken over by a chain in the meantime, its former quirkiness Farrow and Balled into nondescription. In any event it was warm enough to sit outside: our first outdoors pub lunch of 2017. 

The beach is less than welcoming at first glance. 

This is on account of the proximity of Sully Island and the huge tidal range of the Severn estuary, which means the causeway connecting it to the mainland for three hours either side of low tide is covered by rushing water at a dramatic speed.  

By the time we'd eaten, the tide was already far too high for us to contemplate going out there, though Ted was undeterred. 

As it was, we didn't hang about on it for long. There was three minutes between this photo ... 

... and this one. 

Sully island will have to wait for another day. 

Flat Holm and Steep Holm wrapped in mist and the wrong way round

Back on the opposite side of the Severn, it was time to celebrate my father's birthday. He is 95 today, and this being the opposite side of the Severn, in an excellent mood on account of the rugby.

Not a bad day. 

Friday, 10 March 2017

Satellite of Love

Satellite of Love is a relatively new gig in Bristol for page and performance poets alike, but over the last year it's become very popular, and not just because it takes place upstairs at the Greenbank in Easton, one of the best pubs around. The hosts - Helen, Pauline and Stella - are welcoming, the audience attentive and appreciative, and it just feels good to be there.  

I was so pleased they asked me to be one of the two monthly guest readers (along with Tom Sastry) on International Women's Day.  My Breadcrumbs poems have acquired a new resonance with the election of Trump, and even though we've long known that the personal is political, I feel a lot more like a political poet these days. It turns out the overweening desire for control is pretty much the same whether it's exercised in the home or the White House. Apart from the nuclear bombs.

Also, the event, which is free to attend, has raised over £500 in donations in the last fourteen months or so for various charities supporting refugees. 

It runs every second Wednesday in the month. Get in touch with the organisers via Facebook for an open mic slot.  

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Clearing: A Poem for International Women's Day 2017


'Home is within you, or home is nowhere at all' 
                     Hermann Hesse

Know your empty place, make it home
Scar tissue’s intractable, dead
It’s your wound that will remind you
who you are. Walk its edges,
test its depth, map its contours
your geography of loss

The trees might seem distant
They’re eating sunlight, snagging cloud
When night comes they’ll slip a spoke
in the turning wheel of stars
They won’t mind if you touch them
print their bark on the skin of your face

listen for the fizzing sap
rising in your veins

©Deborah Harvey 2016 

Art by Dru Marland 

Tuesday, 7 March 2017