About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I am co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

'Is this a sonic screwdriver I see before me ... '

Yes - the long awaited trip to Stratford-upon-Avon to see Niamh Cusack (again) and Christopher Eccleston in the Scottish play. 

Only a flying visit, on account of the dog, whose care had been contracted to my son during our absence. But long enough for a wander along Shakespeare's Avon before the play started, where we encountered this guard swan. 

It was interesting to see flowers on the grave of a woman, Mary Ann Page, who died in 1879 ... 

... and this female blackbird, just as unafraid as the swan, scrabbling about in the leaf litter at our feet ... 

... and chucking leaves all over the place. 

We popped into the church quickly to pay our respects to Master Shakespeare, but I'm not going to write about that because I've done it before at length. 

Then there was just enough time at the Dirty Duck for a swift pint.

After the horror of the RSC's Antony and Cleopatra last year, which was so awful I didn't even write about it, it was a relief to be watching a production that worked, albeit at a rather too frenetic pace.

We both liked the child witches, who were clearly channelling the Midwich Cuckoos and the twins from The Shining, but felt that Macduff was miscast - the whole pretty chickens scene was toe-curling and not in a good-but-harrowing way - but the two leading actors were as great as you'd expect, and the Northerner was only two seats away from having his hand held by Lady Macbeth, which would have made his day (though he'd have never got the spot out. Or indeed washed his hand ever again.) 

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

A Poem for World Poetry Day 2018

Spring is a time of renewal, so here's a poem on that subject from my collection, Breadcrumbs. It has an epigraph from a letter written by John Keats to his brother and sister-in-law, George and Georgiana Keats, in which he says 'We are like the relict garments of a Saint: the same and not the same: for the careful Monks patch it and patch it: till there's not a thread of the original garment left, and still they show it for St Anthony's shirt'. 


‘We are like the relict garments of a Saint: the same and not the same’
                                                                                              John Keats

Her mouth forgets him first, her tongue
sloughing his aftertaste hours after their parting

Next, her skin divests itself. Within a month
there isn’t an inch that remembers his touch

Her quickening blood scours love’s taint,
the shadows darkening her heart retreat, grow faint

Three years and the hair he preferred cropped
falls past her shoulders in torrents, never the same river twice

and although she still feels him in her bones
it won’t be much longer before he’s gone

and she’ll be herself, the same yet different,
the relict garment of a saint,

a patchwork sail on the leafing mast
of Theseus’s ship

©Deborah Harvey 2016

Breadcrumbs is available to buy from Indigo Dreams Publishing and the usual outlets.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Project Boast, and a poem for International Women's Day 2018

'These poems disturb the peace with a loudness hard won from centuries of humility'

If you're into poetry, you're usually spoilt for choice for readings on International Women's Day. Last night I went to the launch in Bristol of Project Boast, which was dreamed up by Doctors Rachel Bentham and Alyson Hallett, inspired by the Victorian engineer and inventor, Sarah Guppy. 

Amongst other things, Sarah, who lived in Bristol, came up with a samovar that made tea, cooked eggs and kept toast warm; a method for preventing barnacles from clinging to a ship’s hull; and an exercise bed for women to use at home (since exercising in public was deemed inappropriate for them). Her patented design for making safe piling for bridges was used by Thomas Telford (free of charge), and as a friend of the Brunel family, she was involved in the Great Western Railway project. However, there are no statues erected to Sarah Guppy, and her achievements have been all but dismissed. She herself once said 'It is unpleasant to speak of oneself – it may seem boastful particularly in a woman.' 

It was this quote that prompted the good doctors mentioned above to 'seek out contemporary women poets who are speaking out and who are making a fresh mark, registering the straitacket they have had to wear and celebrating the emerging possibility of real change'. And this, in turn, led to the book, the proceeds of which will go to the Malala Fund.

Last night women of all ages travelled from all over the West Country to read at the celebratory launch ...

... with Penelope Shuttle headlining  a packed venue.  

One of my poems included in the anthology was written especially for it. It's a period piece (of sorts), which takes as its starting point assertions by Pliny the Elder in Naturalis Historia on the subject of menstruation: namely, if a menstruating woman walks barefoot through fields at sunrise, with her hair dishevelled and her girdle loose, the crop will wither and dry up. Her glance at this time will dim the brightness of mirrors and dull the edge of steel.


Then let’s blind this tyranny of mirrors
blunt the blades of our bright pink plastic razors

Let’s not be neat, compact, discreet
hide who we are in the palms of our hands or up our sleeves

We’ll smear our foreheads, noses, cheeks
not with the blood of hunted creatures, stain of killing sprees

but with our blood, this ferrous musk
fecund, nurturing, the russet of red fox

vixen-masked, in long soot gloves
we’ll blaze our clamorous ways through scrub

burn ash paths through suburbs, towns
singe the edge of meadows, commons, forests, downs

scratching sparks from burnt-out stars
chasing flames that leap from heart to heart

©Deborah Harvey 2018 

Project Boast is available to buy from the Triarchy website and usual outlets. A Kindle version will be available from April. It is hoped to raise enough money via crowdfunding to equip every school in Bristol - or the West Country - or the entire country - with a copy.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Doggo in Snow

Everyone knows what snow looks like. But we don't get the chance to do this very often

No singing thicket today. I wonder where the starlings and spadgers are lurking.

Not to mention all the other dog walkers.

Oh well, says Ted. Sometimes you gotta roll with it.

Bloody monkeys. Snuggled up on the settee drinking hot milky chocolate when we could be outside again.