Friday Feature, Poem, Poetry

Friday Feature – Joe Williams

Today we celebrate the new Maytree Press release from Joe Williams titled, The Taking Part.

The Taking Part is a short collection of poems on the theme of sport and games, encompassing television quiz shows, pub sports, and board games, as well as more traditional sports like football, cricket and athletics.

As Joe says: ‘Sport and poetry might not seem like an obvious combination, but the best sport stories are really stories about people, and I think that’s what these poems are too. Games and competition have been an important part of our culture throughout human history. They can be central to our relationships, our memories, and our ambitions, and I wanted to write about all of those things.’

This wonderful collection is now available both direct from Joe and all good bookshops. More details here: Shop – Joe Williams: Writer, Poet, Performer

You can also join Joe plus guests for a special online launch event of The Taking Part on Saturday 29 May at 2pm – Joe Williams: The Taking Part – Online book launch Registration, Sat 29 May 2021 at 14:00 | Eventbrite

Penalty Shootout in Zero Gravity

It was Barry’s idea, so
he only has himself to blame.
For all the thrill of orbital flight,
of seeing the Earth from space,
those journeys are so damn boring.

I admit to sneaking the ball in,
and that Barry was winding me up.
The running commentary didn’t help,
calling me Gareth Southgate,
him being Andreas Köpke.

No one could have predicted
the ball would hit the airlock button,
just when Barry was leaping up,
trying to stop my rocket blast,
straight to the top left corner.

Perhaps he’ll be a hero yet,
get a glove to an asteroid
hurtling towards the Earth.
The slightest of deflections,
nudging it over the bar.

The Worst Match I Ever Saw

Notts County v Rochdale,
Meadow Lane, ’96.
Fog draped like a theatre curtain
over the halfway line.

Behind our goal with pie and peas
we watch the action fade away,
hoofed into the unknown,
dribbled into the mist.

Friday Feature, Poem, Poetry

Friday Feature – Anne Walsh Donnelly

Today we feature the Fly On The Wall Poetry Press release ‘Odd as F*ck’! by Anne Walsh Donnelly which is available from today.

In this collection, the author loses, finds and redefines herself, in poems that are sometimes visceral and often humorous. She ultimately shows how meaningful life can become after a period of darkness and how transformative those experiences can be.

Anne Walsh Donnelly’s debut chapbook with FOTW Press ‘The Woman With An Owl Tattoo’ came 2nd at the International Poetry Book Awards 2020.

‘These are personal poems, where the reader shares with the poet a space as intimate as the conjugal bed. From the everyday idiom of housewives and farmers to the imagined voices of beasts and inanimate objects, Anne Walsh Donnelly captures the humour and pathos of real life with unique honesty.’ – Audrey Molloy, poet and author of Satyress

Anne Walsh Donnelly lives in the west of Ireland.  She writes poetry, prose and plays. She was shortlisted for the Hennessy/Irish Times New Irish Writing Award for her poetry in 2019 and selected for the Poetry Ireland Introduction Series. In 2020 she was awarded a Words Ireland Mentorship and a bursary from the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival. She is the author of the poetry chapbook, “The Woman With An Owl Tattoo” (Fly On The Wall Poetry Press, 2019.) It was awarded second prize in the International Poetry Book Awards in 2020. 


‘Do you have any idea what a fabulous daughter you have?’
said the mouse, as I waded
through the mound of clothes on the bedroom floor.

‘I don’t know why you’re always giving out to her
for leaving half-full mugs of hot chocolate
on her dressing table. I’m rather partial to a sip
of cold, hot chocolate. And we do have a fine feast
on the scraps of blueberry muffins.

Though we might be getting a bit plump
from all the sugar. I was only saying to the wife
the other day that she might have to go on a diet.

We get great entertainment watching her do her make-up.
Do you realise what a talented artist she is?
All you seem to do is give out about the dirty towels
and make-up pads she leaves in the bathroom.

Though, I could make your hair stand on end
if I told you about the hour-long conversations
she has Facetiming her pals. Ah no,
couldn’t do that to her and you’re better off
not knowing anyway.

But tell me, who’s this Shane lad?
He seems to be popping up on her Snapchat a lot lately.
Sent her ten heart emojis yesterday.
And that wasn’t lipstick that was on her neck
after the disco last Saturday night either.’

‘I’m going to town to get a mouse trap later,’ I said.

‘Ah, you wouldn’t want to do that to the poor buck’s
willie. That’d break her heart altogether.’

How Did You Know?
For Hannah

‘Mam, don’t die on me while I’m gone.’
Your words octopus tentacles
that twist around my neural pathways.
Your father revs his van in the driveway.

I wave goodbye, shut the front door
slump to the hall floor. Octopus
releases its ink-black cloud,
blinds and chokes. Dark waters beckon.

I finger the note in my pocket,
dream of days I could swim with eels,
lounge on a lake’s bed,
and gaze up at earth’s ever-changing sky

no longer susceptible to its moods.
More of your words surface.
‘Mam, my life would be screwed if you died.’
I haul myself to the bathroom

shower my body, cry myself dry,
watch fire flames curl my note.
How did you know
I loved you too much
to screw up your life again?

Friday Feature, Poetry

Friday Feature – Jenny Mitchell

Jenny Mitchell – Map of a Plantation

Publication Friday 16th April

Map of a Plantation is Jenny Mitchell’s follow up to her prize-winning debut collection Her Lost Language.

The collection gives voice to contrasting characters on a Jamaican cane plantation in order to examine the widespread and ongoing impact of enslavement.

These poems are both tender and uncompromising, always seeking to use the past to heal present-day legacies of a contested and emotive history.

This collection contains the winner of the Segora Prize 2020, the Aryamati Prize 2020 and the winner of a Bread and Roses Poetry Award.

Jenny Mitchell is winner of the Folklore Prize 2020, the Segora Prize 2020, the Aryamati Prize 2020, the Fosseway Prize 2020, a Bread and Roses Award and joint winner of the Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize.

She has been nominated for the Forward Prize: Best Single Poem, and her best-selling debut collection, ‘Her Lost Language’, is one of 44 Poetry Books for 2019 (Poetry Wales) and a Jhalak Prize #bookerlove recommendation.

Burden of Ownership

He measures cost in body parts. A head pays
for a month of food; two eyes, a week of drink.
Christmas adds a throat, carved out with care
the neck still holds a yoke if the chin is firm
weight evenly proportioned.

Four breasts pay for this season’s clothes – a mad
extravagance he means to make the norm.
His furniture demands a score of navels.
One manly chest is paid for every horse.
He only wants the ones with heart.

Below the waist is worth the price of land – an acre
for two wombs. Twelve manhoods buy a gushing stream
to serve his house and fields. A sack of feet placed
yearly in a bank account maintains his balance
and the boast – he’s always in the black.

Encountering a Slave Girl Held

In a museum cabinet, glass-topped
abandoned coffin. Lying straight.
Thin-faced, bark-hued.
Plaits against her scalp except a reckless horn.

Eyes blink obsidian.
Quick movement of the mouth.
She’s missing teeth or two in front. A hand cracks glass.
Slowly, she steps down, dress caught in the shards.

I back away as fingers work the jag, head lowered
left cheek bruised down to the chin she lifts with pride
exhibiting a rope burn –
choker set with gleaming coals.

Her voice cracks low – This time, I will not leave my breath
when I decide to run. Feet hardly dared
to touch the ground like waves
pulled out from under me.

This time, the trees will fold
bend bark knees.
No branch to snag my dress or point towards my back
surely as an arrow. I will aim

to reach the wall before it’s dark.
Climb each brick, big as a baby’s coffin.
No dog will bite my heel.
No rope turned to a choker.

Friday Feature, Poem

Friday Feature – Against the Grain Press

This week we spotlight two publications from Against the Grain Press.

Against the Grain Poetry Press is an innovative small independent poetry publisher dedicated to publishing challenging, well-crafted poetry. They love writing that is moving and provocative from strong, fresh, diverse voices.

They produce beautiful, starkly-designed, high quality books and pamphlets with high production values and an edgy appeal.

Please see their website for further details – Against the Grain Poetry Press (

In an Ideal World I’d Not be Murdered by Chaucer Cameron

Publication date 28th March 2021

In an Ideal World I’d Not be Murdered is part memoir/part fiction and is Chaucer’s debut pamphlet. The poems explore the impact of prostitution.  

‘A brave, layered piece of work, in turn heartbreaking and hilarious. Chaucer Cameron is lyrically voicing her own experiences and simultaneously documenting the undocumented and doing it with a bold beauty – I’m in awe.’ – Sabrina Mahfouz

“These poems ring out like gunshots in the night; they will wake you from your sleep. Yet despite its distilled directness, this book is lifted by both mystery and surprise. Listen for the songs emerging from the dark centre of this transformative work of experience and survival.’  Jacqueline Saphra.  

Chaucer Cameron is a poet and poetry filmmaker. Her poems have been published in various journals, magazines & online, including Under the Radar, Poetry Salzburg, The North, Blue Nib, The Interpreter’s House, Poetry Shed, Ink Sweat & Tears. Chaucer’s poetry-films have been screen-published in some of the growing number of journals and sites that are now accepting mixed media, such as Atticus Review.  

She has performed at Ledbury Poetry Festival as part of a live performance combining British Sign Language poetry and video poetry (2017), Bath Fringe Festival Still Points Moving World performance writing exhibition (2014), and her poetry and monologues have been performed at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. 

She has co-edited three poetry anthologies: Salt on the Wind – poetry in response to Ruth Stone (Elephant’s Footprint, 2015) The Museum of Light (Yew Tree Press, 2014), Nothing in the Garden, (Elephant’s Footprint, 2014). 

The Green

The bus stopped
at the edge of The Green.

It was a dark winter evening
Ellen still had a twenty-minute walk home.

Bears … wild boars maybe.
That rustling crack closing in
must be animal.

It took three days to discover the body,
reporters said it was hard to identify –

devoured mostly.


It’s funny what you think of when you’ve had a near miss/ I
don’t think my nose is broken/ could’ve been much worse/
no time to check it out/ it doesn’t hurt/ anyway.

It’s funny what you think of/ when you’re gagging/ for your life
when you hear the car doors/ click/
when the music is turned up/ and you put on your disguise.

Tonight/ it was the Flintstones/ I watched them as a kid/ you
can watch it on YouTube/ it’s a sort of animation/
they used to call them cartoons/ but I can’t tell the difference.

The Flintstones were a family/ there was Fred and Barney/
Wilma/ and a Betty/ I had a crush on Betty/
what a beauty/ lovely legs/ she was a real animation.

Fred and Wilma had a kid/ every family had a kid/ named their
daughter Pebbles/ oh/ there was a Bamm-Bamm/ I’m forgetting/
Bamm-Bamm/ they found him on the doorstep/ then took him in.

I loved that show/ I loved the way they loved their kids/
it’s funny what you think of/ when you’ve got a dodgy punter/
bloody Flintstones/ bloody Pebbles/ hell/ a broken nose

Maternal Impression by Cheryl Moskowitz

Publication date 28th March 2021

The term maternal impression refers to the belief that powerful stimuli on the mind of a mother can make a physical or mental mark on the child she is carrying, even before it is born.

‘Reading Maternal Impression is to have the feeling of walking on nails with bare feet, with the assurance of trust. I go tenderly where these fine poems take me, knowing they will advance my pleasure, my empowerment.’ Daljit Nagra

“Every time I have heard Cheryl Moskowitz read “The Donner Party”, strange things have happened – a bell has rung with no-one at the door, candles have guttered in a church setting, and shivers always run down my spine. Moskowitz’s poetry summons spirits and spills beyond the words on the page into a mystical space where we are all connected in body and mind. These are poems that once read or heard, leave their mark. Mesmeric, soul-feeding, uneasy, I come back to them again and again for reassurance, admonishment, and recognition of what it is to hang onto the maternal in our collective journey. Maternal Impression is a call to arms – maternal arms – and all that implies in the Anthropocene. It has a beating heart that needs to be heard, felt, and heeded.” – Lisa Kelly

Cheryl Moskowitz was born in Chicago and came to the UK aged 11. Formerly an actor and playwright, she trained in psychodynamic counselling and dramatherapy, and taught on the Creative Writing and Personal Development MA at Sussex University. She was a 2018 Moth Poetry Prize finalist and her poem Hotel Grief was commended in the 2019 National Poetry Competition. She has published two poetry collections and a novel Wyoming Trail (Granta). She is an editor at Magma Poetry.

Daughter in Garden

It’s the last Sunday in August. I can just see her
standing outside with her back against the wall
facing away. She is poised as if waiting for something
but there is nothing, only summer stillness.

It is early. No one else is up. I hadn’t heard her
unlocking the back door, but she must have.
She looks intent, so intent it hurts to think of
what she wants and how much she wants it.

The view from here is beautiful in this light.
I can see the church spire from the window
and the roof of her school. She’s been away from
both for weeks. The bells will ring again soon.

A pigeon rises suddenly from the branches
of the pear tree. There was no blossom, so there
will be no fruit this year. My daughter takes a step
forward, away from the wall. She raises her arms.

It is as if she is preparing to rise and take flight
like the bird. She points one toe out in front of her –
a ballerina – and propels herself forward onto the lawn.
The whole summer has led to this. A perfect cartwheel.

Friday Feature, Poem, Poetry

Shul – F. R. Kesby

We are delighted to share with you two poems from Maytree 25 as part of our featured publication for Friday.

Shul is the debut collection from Leeds based writer and creator F. R. Kesby.

Shul will be released on the 30 April 2021 with a Facbook Live launch event on the 1 May which you can join by following this link –

The word Shul is both a Yiddish word meaning synagogue (derived from the German for ‘school’) and a Buddhist concept of emptiness left behind when something has moved on; hollows left after houses have been removed, footprints on paths, the wearing of rocks by a river. In Buddhism this emptiness is sought out, the relief of the space left when one stops worrying about the emotional marks you have left.

In this collection of poems F R Kesby has sought to explore those marks they have left on their own world and the relationship between their memories of physical and emotional spaces. From comparing the memories of their home town compared to what it looks like now to viewing their relationship through one small bed to exploring places heard about every day in the news, each poem links place and soul in a way that respects the history of the word Shul, both Buddhist and Jewish, while being intensely personal.


In the land of boarded up shops
and barred up houses
I find myself watching a woman
struggle through the word ‘alive’.
I tell her; you are alive,
I am alive, a dog is alive, a flower is alive.
I could list the dead things instead; her family,
her friends, her lovers,
the dream of democracy in her country
and the thousands of husbands and sons
who fought for it.
I could teach her the myths; the gods, 
the baked clay, the long crawl 
from single cells to terrorist cells.
I could teach her the science; the sun
giving energy to plants that give energy to us
that we use to make bombs.
Instead I repeat; you are alive.
She whispers; I am alive.

I could almost believe
I helped her understand.

They’re Resurfacing the Road
We Used to Meet On 

I push my boot into the tar,
press the thin covering
against the heat of a reshaping world.
I’ve got 60 seconds
before my sole melts.
I flatten the bubbles,
stamp out creases,
smooth the edges.
I dance on the spot
where you used to wait for me.
I make the old new.
60 seconds is all it takes
to change a soul.