New Anthology “Voices From A Still Word” by the Vale Royal Writers Group

This anthology the latest publication by the group and is a collection of poetry & prose of wonderful short stories & poetry created by the writers on the theme of the effects of the COVID-19 over the last two years. Funny, tragic, insightful and a great read and a beautiful addition to anyone’s bookshelf. I have the pleasure of having one poem “Silent Serpent” included.

Voices From a Still Word

A New Poem Published by Barry Woods Winter online anthology

Christmas Traditions

Christmas was always full of celebrations
lights, parties and total togetherness
traditions carried by all generations.

2020 was not such year
people spent it quietly contemplating
found enjoyment in simple traditions;
the single day of The Christmas Carol.

2021 will be traditionally joyous
true friends, families can meet in Christmas Present
money spent simply like Bob Cratchit
friendships, families repaired by reformed Ebenezer
to be carried to Christmas Yet to Come.

Cherish the lights, the day when it comes
with all its traditions so simply passed down
by Generations. Hold it tight, simple
as the finger of Christmas Yet to Come

for it celebrates a child born in a stable
who would become a refugee, teacher
whose message is Love for each other
and the Lovely Earth we live upon.

Carolyn O’Connell©

Poem Published In Dempsey & Windle Newsletter 115 4/10 2021

Abhanian na Sláne

High in Wicklow’s Lugulla Mountain you were born
slipping to life, they named you after Sláne,
son of the First High King, whose sword
welded Leninster in being. You scroll your way
from your birth rock nestled by fey trees, lush farms:
the towns: Ballincorty, Enniscorthy, Tullow, Ballinglass
— I know them well —
rising stronger, wider till you fall to Wexford, die in the sea.

You are a symbol of life, Slaney as they call you now
in that tongue he never spoke, yet still holds meaning:
you are the river of health and wholeness; something
we seek but never find in these times as the earth cries;
even the trout, the salmon do not rise as one they did.

I played upon your banks, learned the art of tickling trout
and crossed you every time to visit old family places,
my mother’s trip to lay flowers on her parents’ grave.
We’d gather round the fire in my Aunt’s long house,
swam your waters as at Rosslaire where they met the sea .

Now in a foreign place I see you framed on a wall,
the Forth Mountain rising above your wide waters,
and  catch your eye as he did when he swam ashore.
I’m once again in Sláne’s arms immersed in those times:
with those people now gone, healed by your waters —
my being, soul returned to strength, to wellness.

Carolyn O’Connell

A New Poem Published in Reach Poetry 274 August 2021

Thanks to Ronnie Goodyear the Editor I have the following poem Published in this Issue .

Living Gently

Sitting in the shade I dream
of that beach of silver sand,
walking dunes where grass
grasps back the wild waves.
A path winds between
wildflowers blue, gold, reds
patterning a bedspread
of dreams, desires:
freedom from the presence
of fears, surrounding silence
capturing my heart.

I turn toward the cobbled streets:
the red roofed houses, clustered
as they cling a narrow path,
to open to a cobbled square
dressed with trees, geraniums.

Cafés spread welcoming awnings.
I take a seat, order fresh croissants
a coffee, sit, watch the busy crowds
gather on this market day.
A glass of wine, why not?
time has no meaning on this day!
The waiter chats inquiring
“would Madam like another glass, or cholate?”

I can taste, feel
the hand of the chocolatier,
the tongue of the vintner
blending, fashioning this sunlit town.

Carolyn O’ Connell © Published in Reach 274 August 2021

Update by Sue Sims

This is the latest post by Sue on the continuing effect of the loss of her son Dr. Mark Sims and his legacy. He still inspires others after his death and this blog is both his journey and active life after diagnosis. Its a wonderful positive read for anyone who feels overwhelmed by a limited life diagnosis and how to live positively. I never met him but through Sue, who I know well, I feel that I knew him.

Wrestling Melanoma

So much has happened since I last posted so where do I start? Chris and I are settled now in Beaminster Dorset and running Tangerine Cafe and Gallery which we love.

Soon after our move to Dorset we were were invited to the Cancer Research Institute in Cambridge for the unveiling of a new plaque for Mark. I have also spoken at CRUK events and talked to Skin Cancer specialist nurses at one of their conferences. I try as much as possible to continue to raise awareness of cancer generally and skin cancer in particular as Mark is no longer here to do it and it meant such a lot to him.

We are touched that so many people still think about Mark and miss him as we do. So many lovely friends, ours and Mark’s have come to seek us out at Tangerine Cafe and many keep in touch…

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Interesting thoughts from one of the VRWG writers

Vale Royal Writers' Group Blog

What happened to Bob on 7th of June?

by Shauna Smith Leishman, June 2021

Last Monday I had every intent to join the monthly zoom meeting of VWRG but all of a sudden about twenty minutes before it was time – which had been moved up half an hour to keep Bob in Cyprus in the loop – I was distracted into something else and didn’t end up checking in. I knew I’d missed some kind of chaos though, when a couple of hours later an email came in from Bob, apologizing for having missed the meeting and he couldn’t fathom how it had happened. I began laughing, bouncing about the sofa and just said “another MR strike!” We all know Bob is a super reliable, conscientious president who has always gone out of his way to accommodate many people in an organized, present style. He of course has good…

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Horwich Memories

This poem is now pinned on The Places in Poetry North-West Section during the Lancashire Lit Fest.
the pin is Bolton. Thanks to Paul Farley & Andrew McRae for accepting it

Horwich Memories

They lay where his roses once grew
beside an old chapel named New,
watching a loved panoramic view
scene from an old wall to the Irish Sea.

Memories sweet I hold of that spot
a cottage where love sprouted twice,
it’s rocking chair and a special cake;
walks up to the moor rising high above.

Tobogganing on tea trays or hessian bags
was a Boxing Day ritual when snow spread
its blanket on fields above River Douglas,
Easter walks on the moors to gather wildflowers
and climbing the Pike was a ritual honoured.

Summer brought trips to sea at Southport
or Morecombe, buckets & spades, swimsuits
fish & chips, rides and ice cream brought delight
we’d return after picnics & a wander of shops.

Now they’re gone but the memories live on
 mother and step-father, days doused in love & fun.l ©

The Cows Walk In — Carolyn O’Connell Published on The BeZine March Issue 2021

The cows graze in the green valley
on grass studded with wildflowers,
drink from a river where trout play
voles dance on through its banks.

They walk to parlour when they want
when their bodies say they need to be milked
hitch themselves to the robotic machine
that cleans udders, sucks the milk away.

There’s little labour for the farmer 
no need to round-up, milk or carry
or spray pesticides as his father did: 
he’s alerted to all twenty-four hours
for the land looks after itself, rain or shine.

He’ a happy man for his milk sells 
for premium prices, he exports it 
for its value for its great goodness,
filled with nature’s gentle bounty
and tuned to the season’s rhythms.

The cows, and the productive land
he’ll pass in perfection to his children.



A snapshot of our last Zoom Meeting with photos of some of the group including me.

Vale Royal Writers' Group Blog

Screenshot from Zoom meeting

What happens when you vaguely ask a Zoom full of writers to submit three lines, or sentences, or thoughts, or whatever?

I can see fellow inmates through the bars of my cell, people sitting in front of curtains and bookcases. I see a live picture of myself as well, my hair is long and I’ve gone slightly mad. (Definition of open-ended sentence: a set of words without a full stop; incarceration with a fluid parole date.)

Oh no, they’re asking about the blog again. I always feel guilty whenever they bring it up. What on earth could I write about?

I click and you all appear on my screen, you’re there: we laugh, exchange news just as we did in The Blue Cap – then down to business with News, David’s new Community Project and that his books are to be relaunched, also Peter’s success – his book Bosnian Dawn is…

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Tagay! on Romalyn Ante’s ‘Antiemetic for Homesickness’

A review of a “must read book”

Martyn Crucefix

Romalyn Ante was born in Lipa Batangas, in the Philippines, in 1989. For much of her childhood her parents were absent as migrant workers and the family moved to the UK in the mid-2000s where her mother was a nurse in the NHS. Ante herself now also works as a registered nurse and psychotherapist. As a result, this debut collection has multiple perspectives running through it: the child grappling with the parents’ absence, the mother’s exile, the daughter’s later emigration and a broader, political sense of the plight of migrant workers. The economic driving force behind such movements of people is recorded in ‘Mateo’, responding to the Gospel of Matthew’s observation about birds neither sowing nor reaping with this downright response: “But birds have no bills”. So, in poem after poem, the need for money, for a roof, livestock, fruit trees, medical treatment, even for grave plots back home is…

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