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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Poem of the Quality of Mersey

This film gives a taste of the anthology in which I have the honour of being included at the beginning, though not in the film. Get it to have the full experience following a look at the film which was made during the summer of the COVID.

The Quality of Mersey Film The Quality of Mersey project stems from the creative groups that attended the Everyman Bistro spoken poetry nights during 2018 and 2019. First the anthology of 36 poets and now the short film that was created as lockdown restrictions were easing. The Quality of Mersey, the collection that details the cultural, spiritual and physical journey of the river from mouth to source, was curated from many submissions by Birkenhead poet Barry Woods. Woods says; ‘It was exciting to see the high quality, diversity and range of submissions we received for this book – we were overwhelmed with the response from such a poetic city. John Gorman and myself have been regulars on the local open mic circuit for a long time in Liverpool and he came up with the idea of having poets write about their respective areas and to give us some shared sentiments.’ Film makers Tristan Marshall and Leonie Abisgold-Rayner showed a keen interest on developing the idea and so the project was taken on visually. It has drone footage by Paul Conlin and a musical score by Dora Kmezić. The film has both shades of light and dark, with 8 poems from the anthology that we felt contrasted each other.

Lammas – Celebrating Abundance

A lovely inspiration

Alys West


At this time of year, grain is ripening in the fields, there’s crops of fruits ready and gardens are lush with colour.  This first harvest is celebrated as Lammas (also known as Lughasadh) and takes place on 1st August in the Northern hemisphere this year.  The word ‘Lammas’ comes from ‘loaf mass’ as traditionally bread would be taken to the church to celebrate the grain harvest.

There’s a lot of folklore associated with the Corn God who dies with each harvest to be reborn in future harvests.  In some traditions this is symbolized by Demeter, the Corn Mother, who represents the ripe corn of the harvest and her daughter, Kore/Persephone who represents the grain-seed who lives in the dark through the winter to re-appear in the spring as new growth.  This dual aspect represents both the harvest which will sustain through the winter months and the seed which will grow…

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Thank you to the 105 authors who participated in our WEARING A MASK Series!

Silver Birch Press


Thank you to the 105 contributors from around the world who participated in our WEARING A MASK Series, which ran from May 21-June 24, 2020. Our deepest appreciation for the following authors (and one artist) for contributing their work to the series! Cheers!

Sarah Alfonsi
MP Armstrong
Carol Alena Aronoff
Barbara Bald
Janet Banks
Amy Bassin
Roberta Beary
Shelly Blankman
Mark Blickley
Rose Mary Boehm
Boutheina Boughnin
Gregory Brooks
Kelsey Bryan-Zwick
Ranney Campbell
Patricia Carragon
Nikki Carter
Lael Cassidy
Tricia Marcella Cimera
Patrice Boyer Claeys
Joan Colby
Clive Collins
Joe Cottonwood
Barbara Crary
Subhankar Das
Susan L. DeMiller
Steven Deutsch
Julie A. Dickson
Dakota Donovan
Barbara Eknoian
Joseph A. Farina
Jennifer Finstrom
Beth Fox
Preeth Ganapathy
Edna Garcia
Lourdes A. Gautier
Gail Goepfert
Vince Gotera
Vijaya Gowrisankar
Jae Green
Anita Haas
Zoë Hajec
Oz Hardwick
Ken Hartke
John Haugh
Veronica Hosking
Fiona Johnston
Joseph Johnston
Cecilia Kennedy
Tricia Knoll

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My Lockdown Mask by Carolyn O’Connell (WEARING A MASK Series)


Silver Birch Press

nick-kane-VZ1Gjc5MP-Y-unsplash copyMy Lockdown Mask
by Carolyn O’Connell

I’ve not walked through the woods with you
heard the chime of bluebells, or passed
the garden where the wooden dinosaur rises
over the young trees planted last year.

I’ve not had hugs from you or sat at your table
while you prepared dinner, your girls
winding a path of chatter through the house
as you juggle being teacher, mother, and daughter.

Enclosed like a vestal in some far temple:
a hostage in a blue mask to the Pandemic God;
as the sun wakens earlier each morning
and others congregate below my window
like the blackbirds chattering in the hedge.

My mask sits unworn for everything’s delivered
and I’m seen only on the video of my computer
it’s the window of my Anchorite’s cell
where friends appear seeking my words.

While you in a handmade mask travel to teach
to children who’d rather be…

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