The Intolerant Cow an interview with poet Marianne Burgess

It’s always great news when you hear one of your favourite poets has a new collection out, so when I heard Marianne Burgess was launching her new poetry book, ” The Intolerant Cow,” not only was I very excited but I thought it was the right time to fire her a few questions about her poetry and more. Interesting fact I met Marianne through her husband Scott who I once had the pleasure of working with a few yeas ago, more on him later.

Marianne will launch her book at the Café Grande in Dudley on Wednesday 31st, now on with the chat.

Q. Can you tell readers more about your new book the Intolerant Cow? Where did the title come from and what poems can folk find inside?

The Intolerant Cow’ is a great title don’t you think?! I was having coffee with my friend Jill and she was having a bit of a moan , about how as she is getting older she feels she is becoming more intolerant – she turned to me and said ‘I’m such an intolerant cow!’; voila! The title was born! It is a collection of my funnier poems.

Q.You write a lot of poems about your husband, does he enjoy them and what’s your favourite poem you’ve written about him and why is it your favourite ?

Yes Scott, bless him, takes a lot of flack from me ! I think he secretly likes the attention to be honest – and I always run them past him before I ever share them with an audience.
I think his favourite is ‘Vampire’. This was born from the fact that he favours staying indoors even when it’s a nice day; he has pale skin and I once joked that he must secretly be a vampire! I mean coupled with the fact that he absolutely hates garlic and can smell it from miles away….there may be some truth in the poem after all.

Q. When did your love for writing poetry start, how was your journey from writing to performing to where you are now?

I wrote my first poem when I was about 8. It was a simple ‘Roses are red violets are blue, I love my Mummy and she lives me too!’
Poetry has always been a very important part of my life. I write to highlight important events as well as every day stuff – I even wrote poems a few hours after the birth of my children!

Q. Life can be cruel imagine you are stuck on a desert island and have only one book of poetry with you. What Book would you take and why?

Just one poetry book…that’s hard….I guess it would have to be either John Cooper Clarke’s, ‘Life In An Open Necked Shirt’ or a collection of Pam Ayres work….or ‘The Toll’ by Luke Wright….oh dear thats 3……sorry!
I met Pam Ayres after her show in Scarborough around 6 years ago – she told me to never give up on my dream. She was lovely and very down to earth. She is probably my biggest influence.

The fantastic cover to Marianne’s new book

Q. After the launch of your book what are your future poetry plans?

After ‘The Intolerant Cow’ I would like to concentrate on the performance side as well as writing poetry aimed at Primary School age.
I think the best thing you can teach kids is self esteem. The highlight of mental health problems currently shows that many children unfortunately do not possess this…I think pressure from social media has a lot to do with this. My ultimate aim would now be to take this kind of poetry into schools to support children’s well being.

Q.Where can folk find you online and read more of your work?

I do have a blog – imaginatively called ‘Marianne Burgess Poetry Blog’…although it is not really up to date. These days I put some poems on my Face Book page; ultimately I would like people to read my poems through my books which are available on Amazon, or to come and watch me perform.

You can buy Marianne’s book by clicking here

The Intolerant Cow is published by Burdizzo bards

A big thank you to Marianne for taking the time to answer my questions, if you enjoyed the video it as part of The Black Country Broadsheet project from the talented minds of Poets, Prattlers and Pandemonialists, check out more great videos here.


This interview was carried out by Richard Archer for his blog Poems and More. If you copy and paste this article into another blog site please have the decency to leave this sentence in instead of reposting it as your own work.

Confessions of a Renfield, a chat with author and poet Dan Oram

Dan Oran in full flow

One of the best things about the thriving literary scene in my home town of Walsall is that I’m constantly bumping into exciting performers I’ve never heard before. One of these is the talented Dan Oram an author and poet from Walsall I met sometime ago at an open mic who writes fantastically on a number of subjects and never ceases to entertain audiences when he performs. Over a pint of two the other day he revealed his new novella Confessions of a Renfield will be launched soon and I thought it would be great to get him to answer a few questions about this new book, his influences and love of performing. Please read on and enjoy.

Q. Can you tell readers all about your new book Confessions of a Renfield?

Confessions of a Renfield is about a guy named Jimmy. Now, Jimmy’s life is fairly normal, except for Emily. They share a kind of on-off relationship. Sometimes she’s around, sometimes she’s away, but he loves her in his own way. The problem is, one day, she’s going to kill him. You see, Emily is a Vampire. Jimmy is one of her Renfields. The book covers the worst two weeks of Jimmy’s life as a new & ruthless Vampire hunter comes to town and wrecks his life.

Q. Another string to your literary bow is that you write poetry as well, which came first writing stories or poems and how do you differentiate between writing one or the other when an idea comes into your head?

I have been writing stories as long as I can remember. One of the earliest things I wrote was back in school. We had been given the task of creating a Superhero. I created the character Prambo, a baby with superpowers. The poetry came later. I was going though a bad time in my life and the poetry became an outlet for my feelings and fears.

When it comes to the difference between writing poetry and prose, I think it is the initial inspiration or thought that guides an idea in one direction or another. If I see a conversation or a scene in my head, it invariably ends up as prose. My poetry comes from less-defined thoughts. Many of my poems come from an emotion or a feeling. For example, one of my short stories, ‘Aftermath and After’ came from an image of the characters stood on top of a ruined shopping centre. As I started working through the characters I began to shape a conversation around them. On the other hand, the poem ‘Repeat until Death’ stemmed from my frustration at having to work with what can be described as an ‘invisible’ illness.

Sometimes, I have to run with an idea to see if it fits as prose or a poem and ‘feel out’ what it should be. One good example of this is the song ‘Autumn’ It started life as a short prose piece. Sometime later I adapted it as a poem, but I was never really happy with it in that form. One day I was playing around with my guitar and hit on a chord scheme that seemed to fit the poem and eventually, the poem became a song.

Just to point out, ‘Autumn’ is the only song I have ever written that has been good enough to be performed.

Q. You are quite the performer on the open mic scene and I and I know many others are impressed at your ability to perform rather than read your work. Any tips for poets or writers on how best to get their work over?

Tips on performing poetry and prose, hmm. First things first, if you want to perform your work, don’t read it, perform it. I know that seems obvious, but it is an important distinction. Every poem has its own rhythm and feel. Feel here is the important word. You have to find the emotions in the piece and follow them through, once you understand the emotion, then you can start adding in the performance. The next thing is, possibly, the most boring. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. Practice. You need to be able to let the flow of the poem take you along, and that only comes with saying it over and over and over. Listen to the words you use instead of the ones on the page. I find that many of my poems are very different after reciting them out time after time. The final, and most important point of all. Pick a point to stop making changes. Many of my poems are either Open or Locked. You can go back and back making change after change, learn to pick an end point to editing. Don’t forget, that could be after you have performed it a few times.

When performing prose, there are differences. I’m not the type of person who can ‘do all the voices’ and I’m jealous of those that can. This doesn’t mean that you can’t speak with the ‘voice’ of the character. Each character uses different words and sentence structure. If, after reading a section of prose or story out loud, you realise all the characters sound the same, go back and make each voice distinct. This is a good thing for all writers of prose, people don’t usually speak in perfect grammar. Writers are always driven to make sure that everything is spell and grammar checked. When it comes to people talking, the rules go out of the window. If you make your characters speak in a realistic way, then your performances will also be improved. One thing I find does help when performing short pieces of prose is music. I have recited several of my short pieces to music and I have found that it has enhanced the piece greatly. It’s something I haven’t tried with poetry yet. The rules are simple, no lyrics or words are involved as they will clash with the words you want to say and check timings. Is your story long enough? It the piece of music suitable for the story? Again, practice, practice, practice. Also, make sure you have a way of playing the music loud enough to be heard. Some venues will have a set up that supports this but be prepared.

Finally … finally, have fun, enjoy your poems and prose!

The cover to Dan’s new book.

Q. What inspires you? Do you have any favourite authors, poets, musicians that have influenced your work?

Speaking as a creative type, everything inspires me, from rush hour traffic through people’s conversations overheard at a Coffee shop to listening to Radio 4.

Speaking seriously though, my greatest love is reading. I love reading. Not all of it is top notch literature, but books is books neh? I started reading stuff like Tolkien and David Eddings when I was at school, but I think two books changed my view of, well, everything and they were ‘Weaveworld’ by Clive Barker and ‘Neuromancer’ by William Gibson.

I love cyberpunk with its man-machine interfaces and hyper-real description. I don’t like all of Gibson’s work, but Neuromancer (and the other two ‘Count Zero’ and ‘Mona Lisa Overdrive’) has a real emptiness to it. Like a road movie in an urban setting. Despite the pressing mass of humanity surrounding them, each character seemed more alone than anyone. This staccato rhythm of Hyper speed events and the almost obsessional detail of the pauses between them, really gripped me.

Weaveworld is possibly the richest, most beautiful, ugly, sensual, brain-meltingly textured thing I have ever read. the combination of sexual allure and revulsion the book inspires sometimes is breath taking. I still find it a pleasure to read.

On the poetry side, my first exposure to poetry was a little book called ‘You Tell Me.’ It was series of poems by Roger McGough and Michael Rosen. I learned that poems didn’t have to rhyme, didn’t have to go rumpty tumpty tumpty one/ rumpty tumpty tumpty done. Another inspiration, although not always in a positive way, was the school book ‘Dragonsteeth’. It featured poems by Seamus Heaney, Walt Whitman and Ted Hughes. The two that always stood out to me where ‘The Projectionist’s Nightmare’ by Brian Patten and ‘The Computer’s First Christmas Card’ by Edwin Morgan.

I think that, more than anything, the poetry I have encountered since I set off down this particular Rabbit Hole of a calling had inspired me most. I am always surprised and delighted by the poetry I encounter on the local scene

Q. After Confessions has been launched what are your next plans, is there anything else you’re working on or would like to do?

In the near future I am going to keep writing poems as they come to me. Eventually, I’d like to write enough poems to release a small book, but my first love is performing them live.

I am also continuing to work on my full-length novel ‘Welcome Back Victoria.’ This is a novel set in a Dystopian Britain. It’s about mind control, Virtual Reality and a group dedicated to overthrowing the newly crowned Queen Victoria. It’s about overcoming apathy and complacency, standing up and doing what’s right in a world that is conditioned not to think.

Another project I am working on is expanding a long-short story I wrote called Contact Sickness. It’s another sci-fi about contact with an alien race and the effects of dealing with the psychological consequences of that contact. A lot of people know me are aware of the alien race as the ‘Space Badgers’ but I hope to release this as a Novella.

Q. Where can folk find you online if they want to keep up with what you’re doing?

I am still coming to terms with the New Social Media, luddite that I am, but I have a Facebook page at Dan Oram – Author or email me at

I’d like to say a big thank you to Dan for taking the time to answer my questions, Confessions will be launched at Eerie Ink Tattoo Parlour in Walsall on the evening of July 20th.


This interview was carried out by Richard Archer for the blog Poems and More. If you copy and paste this article into another blog site please have the decency to leave this sentence in instead of reposting it as your own work.

If I Were Not Me – A chat with poet and author Dale Parnell

Dale Parnell in action

When I first met local poet Dale Parnell he had yet to step fully into the world of poetry
as he was promoting his excellent book of short stories, “The Green Cathedral.” 
Now, not only is he an author and a poet but he has just published his debut collection of poetry , “If I Were Not Me,” so I thought this would be an ideal time to fire off some questions to Dale via email and find out about his new collection and more.

Q. Can you tell folk about your new poetry collection, “If I Were Not Me?” What inspired the title and what poems can readers enjoy inside and how did you find putting it together and which poem/s are your favourite?

This is my first attempt at putting together a poetry collection. I wanted to record where I’m up to with poetry, it’s been a very recent endeavour for me, only starting in 2017 really after I published my first short story collection. I suppose I wanted something solid that represents what I’ve done so far. I’ve been reading some of these poems out at open mic poetry events and the feedback has been very kind and encouraging. Having a book is also a good way to draw a line under the poems I’ve done so far, I can look at them and say, OK, that’s what I’ve done so far, what can I do next?
With regards to the title, I’d love to be able to say that it holds some deep and personal meaning, but really it came about from trying to design a cover for the book. I played around with the idea of calling the collection “38” in reference to the last poem in the book, being the age that marked a kind of milestone in my life (19 years living in Norfolk, 19 years living in Staffordshire) but I never felt comfortable with it. I started going through some old photographs that I have saved on my laptop and found the image of a tree at sunrise that was taken on a camping trip I took with some friends a number of years ago. A lot of the poems in the collection are about nature, most notably “A Tree”. The poem and the image seemed perfectly suited for each other, and re-reading the poem the line “I think if I were not me” jumped out at me. I could pretend that the whole thing was deliberate and has a second meaning around the themes of mental health that are also in many of the poems, but I don’t think I could keep a straight face!
The poems are a bit of a mixture, there are a few concerning nature, a few about my experiences dealing with mental health issues, and a few about relationships. When I was putting the collection together I found a lot of older “poems” that I had written over the years. Some of them weren’t actually that bad, some needed a fresh edit, and some were just awful! But what I found was some writings from years ago dealing with some of my less than successful relationships. I thought it was interesting to show these in contrast to the newer poems inspired by my wonderful wife, Thelma.
As well as these, there are a few just plain goofy poems, things like “Goblin Soup”, and I couldn’t tell you where they come from.
I suppose I’ve never wanted to limit myself to one type of writing or one style, one genre – and sometimes a collection that is too heavily themed around one idea or one topic can feel a bit dull for me – it works for some people and that’s great, but I do know that a lot of my writing can lean towards melancholy or just outright misery, and I didn’t want to subject anyone to an entire book of that!
So, putting the book together was fairly easy. I re-read all of my finished poems a few times and then started moving them into different folders – ‘good’, ‘bad’ and ‘needs some more work’. When I had a nice selection that I was happy with I did some final edits and put them in alphabetical order. I played with the idea of grouping them into themes, but when I’d created the alphabetical list, I saw that it actually created a nice mixture of short and long, happy and sad poems that will hopefully keep a reader’s attention.
There are a lot of favourite poems in the book, a lot that mean something to me and are about a specific person or memory that are special to me. But I think “What kind of man am I?” just tops the list. This is inspired by a real event and was the first time I really wanted to write something about myself being a flawed person. I’m not proud of how I responded on that day, and this poem is a reminder to myself that I should always think and look past the initial hasty conclusions that we can all sometimes make.

Q. As well as being a poet I know you write short stories as well. When inspiration strikes how do you decide that an idea is going to become a poem or a story?

I generally know from the very start if something is going to be a short story or a poem. Short stories tend to start in my head as almost complete ideas, or at least a beginning and a middle. A lot of my poems have started as a phrase or line, something that sticks in my head and begins to suggest the next line and so on. I also tend to write poems in response to my own life and how I am feeling at any given moment. There may be a slight hint of myself in some of the stories I write, but on the whole, they are fictional creations.
The only exception so far is a poem called “House Clearances Available”, which will feature in my second collection of short stories. For a long time I was trying to write a short story about a man getting trapped in a haunted second hand / antiques shop, a place where the items are somehow imbued with all the negative emotions that they had absorbed in the houses they had come from. But I was never happy with it, I started it four or five times and could never get the tone right. One morning sitting in bed I decided to try the idea as a poem, I don’t know where the whim came from, but it flew out of me and the poem as it stands is almost identical to that first draft.
Since then I have been mindful of considering whether new ideas would work as stories or poems. Maybe one day I will try re-writing one of my short stories as a poem, it would make an interesting writing exercise.

Q. As if you’re not busy enough I know you run a storytelling open mic in Cannock, can you tell folks a little about the event and what goes on there?

Yes, we have the third ‘Cannock Tales’ event coming up on the 1st April. I love the open mic events that are available locally and I think it’s amazing that there are so many opportunities for people to get out there in front of an audience to read their works. But as a short story author I’ve always found it a bit frustrating that I could never really get into a story given the time limitation. I completely understand that you can only have 5 minutes or so with most events in order for everyone to get a chance to read, but I kept searching for events that would give you longer to read an entire story. When I couldn’t find anything it occurred to me that I could try and run an event myself. I spoke to my local pub, the brilliant Stumble Inn on Walsall Road, Cannock and they agreed to let me use their back room. The idea is to give three authors 30 minutes each so that they can read an entire short story, or a good solid chunk of a novel. We have a break in between so people can refresh their drinks and chat with the authors (and hopefully buy a book or two) before moving on to the next author. So far we have started off well, if a little light on audience numbers, but I’m hoping that will grow as more people learn about the event. If nothing else, so far it has proved a great way for local authors to meet up and have a natter with a pint and it may be that this is the way the event will grow in the future. At the moment we meet up on the first Monday evening of every other month, but if people are interested and want more then I’m very happy to arrange it for every month.

The cover to Dale’s new book

Q. What was your introduction to poetry? Did you first read it at school or elsewhere, can you tell readers what started you down the poetry track?

It’s interesting, I’ve been asked a few times how long I’ve been writing poetry and so on, and I always reply that it’s a very recent development. I did study poetry at school as part of my English GSCE, but when I think about it, I remember winning a poetry prize at middle school and having my poem published in the school newsletter – I think it was about the walk-through shark tank at a local Sealife Centre, where you walk underneath the curved glass ceiling.
But I think the first time I really took notice of poetry was in my early teens watching an episode of The Simpsons. It was one of the Halloween specials where they recreated The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe and was narrated by James Earl Jones. I fell in love with the poem and managed to track down a tiny paperback book that had The Raven and a small number of Poe’s other works. It must have been a special collector’s library edition; the book was about as big as an iPhone and for a while it lived in my coat pocket. This then led me to Poe’s short stories, but apart from re-reading The Raven over and over again, I didn’t really read poetry for a long time.
When I published my collection of short stories, “The Green Cathedral” I was looking for any local bookshops that might be interested in stocking it for me, and I discovered Southcart Books in Walsall (very sadly no longer there!) and I was invited to read at one of their events. And then suddenly there you all were, a community of writers right under my nose, writing fiction and poetry, all of it excellent, and I think it must have stirred up that old poetry monster lying dormant. I started trying to write poems, I looked up old pieces of not quite fiction I had written years ago and gave them a polish only to discover it was poetry all along. I found out about the poetry night at Caffe Del Nino in Cannock, run by the very talented Scarlett Ward, and it was actually here that I popped my poetry reading cherry. And it grew from there. The more local poets I met, the more I loved the community and the art form itself. Now I find that I start to get a bit twitchy if I haven’t written a new poem in a while!

Q. If you could only take one collection of poetry to a desert island, which collection would it be and why?

This is a tricky one. Being a relative new buyer of poetry books I don’t have a huge collection. Most of my collection is books by the local poets that I have met, and I don’t want to play favourites, but I think it would have to be “Bullet Verse” by Matt Humphries. I love this book; Matt’s voice really shines through and I count myself genuinely lucky to be able to call him a friend. The book also contains what may be my favourite poem of all time, “The Word”.
I would also have to sneak in my little collection of Poe – I reckon I could hide it between the pages and it’s so small it hardly counts anyway. Its that or I’d have to quickly copy The Raven onto my arm in permanent marker!

Q. Where can you be found online if readers want to find out what your up to?

I decided early on that I wanted to concentrate mostly on Facebook. Almost everyone you speak to has an opinion on which is the best social media platform to use, and if you did all of them, I honestly don’t know when you’d sleep!
So you can find me on Facebook at, which works as an allusion to the fact that I write short stories, and that I’m only 5’6”!
I try to regularly post any updates about my writing and books and any signings, or events I’m going to. This is also where all the information for the Cannock Tales storytelling events can be found.
My books are also listed on Goodreads if anyone fancies leaving me a review!

I’d like to thank Richard for inviting me to take part in this interview and for his help in putting my first collection of poetry together – your very kind feedback means a lot. I’d also like to thank you and the many other poets I have met in the past almost two years for entertaining, moving and inspiring me to re-discover poetry in all its glory!

Always a pleasure to help Dale, I’ve read both your short story and poetry collection and thoroughly enjoyed both and thanks again for agreeing to take part in my interview.

Click here to buy If I Were Not Me.

Nirvana’s in Bloom, a chat with poet Tina J. Cox.

I first met Tina J. Cox at an open mic and workshop, where I enjoyed her powerful poems and performance. When I recently learnt she was publishing a new book of poetry entitled “Nirvana’s in Bloom,” to be released on March 13th, a book I’ve been privileged to see an advanced copy of. I thought it would be great to have a chat via email. Here are the results of that and I hope you enjoy it.

Q1. Please could you tell readers about your new poetry collection “Nivarna’s in Bloom,” where did you take the inspiration for the title from and what poems can they expect to find within its pages?

From the moment we get up till the time we close our eyes on the night, everything is sensory, rather than emotion, I have tried to capture everything felt through the day as that, although there is emotion in there too. Emotion is always important. Surprisingly, the inspiration for the name didn’t come from Nirvana’s brilliant Song called ‘In Bloom’….I actually felt that everyday we work towards our own idea of a Nirvana every day. What your idea of Nirvana is perhaps different to mine & that is completely fine, but I think I have covered pretty much everything in there of morning to evening. Right from rising in the morning, our heaven will be there at the end of the day and it is in bloom.

Q2. Although this may be hard do you have a favourite poem in your new collection and if so what is it and what was the inspiration behind it?

I have to be honest and say, that one is really difficult. However, I can pick one out that is further into the book, which is based on a complete overloaded day, it is called Overload also, in every which way possible, visually and audio. I do try to convey also how it is for someone on the Autistic Spectrum. It’s very difficult to vocalise emotions & feelings about something as we have to take a little longer to internalise and process things. It’s great being in a position, where I can create poetry that keeps everyone informed too, in different experiences or feelings of someone with Asperger’s Syndrome. Albeit, we all handle these experiences differently.

Q.3 You’re a very prolific writer of poetry books what else have you written, and could you pick a favourite from among them that you think sums up your feelings towards poetry?

The very first two books that I produced called ‘Feelings, Stuff & Things’ and also ‘Rhyme & Reason with Autism’, were actually written before I knew I had Asperger’s Syndrome and was on the Autistic Spectrum. So, I would have been in my twenties/thirties. There is a BIG difference in my poetry, I find then, perhaps, compared to now, immature and I can see why younger readers have found them more appealing than adults. It’s also, from a time when a lot was going in my life, my children were young and I was experiencing difficulties in a relationship….so those two books, were, I didn’t realise at the time, therapy. It is quite one thing to be able to look back in life at events, remember them again. But, to know that I captured certain times that mean a lot to me regarding my children growing up and also how it made me feel at the time, is blissful.

‘Kieran & Kristian’, is the one I am referring to. I remember sitting up in bed and writing that, on an evening. While the boys, were in their room watching T.V. When I completed it, I called them in and read it for them. It made my oldest, who was then only about 8 fill up, with tears.

The cover to Tina’s new book

Q4. How did you get into poetry and how long did it take you to start writing then start publishing books?

I have always been creative, in my teens I could do stories much more easily than I can now, but later in adult life, during difficult times I wrote poetry and as previously said the first two books, ‘Feelings, Stuff & Things’ and also ‘Rhyme & Reason with Autism’, I wrote in my twenties and thirties. Although, not formatted in any particular way, they were sitting on my laptop and I decided to take everyone’s advice, who had previously said about publishing and did it in April 2018. Within a matter of weeks, because they were already ‘there’, I had two books made.

Since then, I haven’t stopped.

Q5. A lot of people would like to publish their own poetry collection, do you have any tips for them on what websites to use and how to go about it etc?

Whatever is in your mind, at that time, get it on paper. It doesn’t matter if ‘you’ don’t think at that time it’s good or ground breaking. We can always edit but sometimes when we haven’t jotted something down, it’s forgotten and cannot be retrieved. Also, your own particular style will change over time and to look back where you started to where you are now and in the style you now write is a way to almost gauge your own progress, I have found. It’s also nice to look back on ‘yourself’, in a I find nostalgic way.

Q6. Once the new book is launched what’s next for you?

Ahhh, I definitely want to ‘better’ performing them. I have so much inspiration from friends made since beginning this journey and even if I thought I wasn’t bad before, which I thought, to performing there wouldn’t be much to it. BUT I was SO wrong. From dealing with your own anxiety to intonation and pronunciation. I have such a long way to go, in regards to performing though. Also, definitely more writing. That will never stop.

Q7. If folk want to follow you online and read your poetry where’s the best place to find you?

I have a Facebook Page TinaJCox-Author
I have Twitter @tinajcoxpoetry
I also have instagram Tina_J_Cox

Many thanks for taking the time to interview me.

Thank you Tina for taking the time to answer my questions, if you want to see TIna’s collection of books here is a link to her Amazon page.

The Journey to Happiness a chat with poet Sarah Battison

Sarah Battison

One of the great things about the vibrant poetry scene in my home town of Walsall is that I get to meet and listen to a lot of talented new poets starting their poetry journey. Sarah Battison was one of those poets who I had the privilege of meeting earlier this year, her poetry was raw and powerful and she bought the open mic to its knees with her words. Now she has her first poetry collection – The Journey to Happiness – available I thought it would be great to catch up with her for a chat.

Q. Congratulations on the publication of your debut poetry collection The Journey to Happiness, would you mind letting readers know what inspired the title and what they can expect to find within the book?

A. When I was just 16 I featured in a drug and alcohol special on Midlands today for being a young drinker. After I completed my interview the reporter asked me what my plans were for the future. Even back then I knew I wanted to write The Journey to Happiness and the title just stuck with me ever since. The book is about the battles I have faced in my life, the struggles, the trials and all the times I felt like giving up. For me this was a journey, one that so far seemed never-ending, but I knew it was happiness that I wanted to find. The title of this book is representative of the search I have been completing , the search for acceptance, for truth, for love and most importantly the search for happiness.

Q. I know you only recently started to perform your poetry at events, what made you want to get out there and share your poetry and what tips do you have for poets thinking of taking the same steps?

A. To be honest Richard the reason I first began showing my face on the poetry scene was for my own healing processes. I had just come out of a devastatingly damaging relationship and was trying to overcome many of my emotional issues by sharing them out loud. This process became so helpful for my own mental health that I decided to continue attending events and sharing my poetry. I had always hidden my love for writing, writing in secret and I knew that it was the right time to start letting people see and hear my words. As soon as I began sharing I knew that it was something I was always meant to do, everyone I have met so far has been so friendly and offered nothing but words of encouragement.
What would I say to new poets? I would say, don’t hesitate in going to these sort of events. They are such a friendly bunch of people who share the same love of words, everyone listens, everyone encourages and the feeling you get when people approach you afterwards to tell you how much they liked your piece or how much they relate is magnificent. Honestly, do it yesterday!

Q. Would you mind telling us a little about your favourite poem in the book, what inspired it and why it’s your favourite?

A. I think one of my favourite poems in the book is called ‘Escaping my wrong love’. The reason I love this piece so much is because this is actually one of my more recent poems which was written for a poetry slam in Stafford. It was my first attempt at a slam and I actually came second place! The content of this piece was honestly so hard for me to write, but now when I read it back I love it because it tells everyone exactly how I feel. It was based on the theme of ‘escape’ and I think even just reading this poem out loud gave me some inner peace. This is one of the first poems I have done where I have tried to use internal rhyme and I love the way it flows from the tongue. Definitely one of the ones I am proud of !

Sarah Battison performing from her book

Q. When did you start to write poetry, who or what were your influences and who are your favourite poets?

A. I started writing poetry when I was about 6 years old, writing little poems in my bedroom at night! As I got older I took more of an interest in stories so poems kind of took a back seat. When I began my University degree and learnt a little more about poetic devices I was inspired to take up poetry again and have been writing them daily since then.
Having suffered with mental health problems such as anxiety and depression for most of my life this has always been at the forefront of my poetry topics. I tend to find that as soon as my pen touches the paper most of my inner feelings come out and most of my poetry tends to be quite dark.
In terms of inspiration, I have always loved the poem ‘Spellbound’ by Emily Bronte, I believe it is one of the only poems she ever wrote and something just sang to me from that piece, I have loved it ever since. I have always liked Carol Ann Duffy and Wordsworth. Another 2 poets who inspired me to begin my journey into spoken word were Rudy Francisco and Sabrina Benaim, their words evoked deep emotions in me and I found myself binge watching their videos.

Q. Now the book is out what are your future plans poetry wise?

A.I intend to market this book as much as I can because I want these words to be out there. I have been through many experiences that have nearly ended my life but I came out the other side and I want this experience to help others, motivate and inspire others and to say, you can get through this if you fight! I also want to look at creating ‘The Journey to Happiness’ as a novel version in the future. In terms of my poetry, I intend to sharpen my spoken word skills and attend as many events as I can, as well as submitting my pieces to many journals and literary magazines . I am already making notes on a new collection, one that I hope will be published through a publisher rather than self-publishing. Either way, I am going nowhere and intend to stick around on the poetry scene for a long time!!

Q. Where can folk find you and your book online?

A. The book can be found on Amazon here. It is available as a paperback version for £9.99 and also on Kindle for an introductory price of £2.99.

I also regularly update my WordPress blog which can be found at :

My twitter details are @BattisonSarah, my Facebook page is The Journey to Happiness and I can also be contacted on

I just want to say, if anyone reads my book and would like to have a chat, whether this be about the book itself or maybe they have some relatable issues and need some advice, you can contact me on any of the above channels and I will always be willing to listen.
Much love, Sarah xx

Thank you Sarah for taking the time out to answer my questions, I recently finished reading The Journey to Happiness and can certainly recommend it as a powerful debut collection of poetry, why not give it a try.

A chat with poet Scarlett Ward

Scarlett Ward at Caffe del Nino

Prior to her headline appearance at the Southcart Books and Walsall Poetry Society open mic, I took some time to catch up with local poet the multi talented Scarlett Ward and chat with her about how what she’s been up to and more.

Q. Congratulations on getting published by Verve Poetry Press in two recent books (The Leon Priestnall collection and the Beatfreeks anthology) and performing at the book’s launches, how did all that come about?

A. I started going to a lot of Birmingham poetry events because I felt that there was a lot going on in the heart of the city that I really wanted to be part of. I’d seen videos and Facebook events of these spectacularly lively crowds that were joining together in a way that I hadn’t experienced in my own small town. I started getting the train up to brum after work and everyone was so friendly and welcoming. Then I saw a call for submissions from poets that had performed at Beatfreeks poetry night so I submitted and am happy to say I was chosen for the Verve anthology and was invited to perform at Birmingham town hall at the poetry jam. Leon has become a good friend that I look up to and respect very much so please go buy his book ‘Bennetts Hill Blues” and show support because he is a fantastic poet and wonderful human! I also want to shout out to Verve Press because they are doing brilliant things for midlands poetry scene, they really care for their poets and about the diversity and representation of all writers.

Q. I think everyone was very pleased to see your open mic at Caffe del Nino get shortlisted for a Saboteur Award would you mind telling everyone about the event and the award nomination?

A. Thank you so much! I am so proud of everyone that is involved with Ninos for helping get us shortlisted! I had seen online calls to apply for the Saboteur awards, and I thought it was worth a try- what I didn’t expect was for everyone to really pull together to vote for us, the support we received was incredible, and we were in the top 5 poetry nights in the UK up against huge cities such as Liverpool, Manchester and London! I was over the moon to say Cannock was recognized in the poetry sphere by making it to the final round of voting and my heart literally exploded with pride and gratitude.

Q. How long have you been interested in poetry, when did you start writing, what are your influences and who are your favourite poets?

A. I was a bit of a loner emo child in my final years of high school, I was pretty embarrassed by my existence and so used to squirrel away in the library where the other girls wouldn’t find me to tease me. As a result I would devour books and write as much as I could whilst listening to very lyrically rich emo music haha. I got all A’s and A*’s at GCSE’s though so I can thank my bullies really! I’m really into American poets at the moment because I think there is a lot to learn from their blunt way of stating things that really hits the gut. Check out Kaveh Akhbar’s “Calling a wolf a wolf” his book has really changed the way I approach poetry in terms of nailing the bold and raw aspects of life. I’m also reading Melissa Lee-Houghton’s collection “sunshine” at the moment it tackles very hard hitting mental health issues whilst maintaining the personal and unapologetic approach.

Q. Now I know you’re not only a poet but I would class you as an artist as well, what made you start to combine art and poetry?

A. Thank you that’s very kind! I’ve always loved art, my mom and dad were huge influences as they are both artists themselves and always encouraged me to draw and to imagine magical scenarios. I’ve always loved experimenting with the visual aspect of art and poetry and have kept a doodle/scribble journal since 2015. Often, the way a poem is consumed visually can emphasise or augment the meaning of the words. I held a solo-curated art x poetry exhibition last year where I invited artists to create visual poetry or poetic art, whichever they wanted, and held a spoken word open mic alongside the exhibition. It was so much fun I hope to do another one again soon!

Scarlett Ward at Beatfreeks reading at the Anthology launch

Q5. I couldn’t let the question pass without asking what’s on a lot of folk’s lips, do you have a poetry collection due out soon?

A. I have been in talks with a publisher because I definitely know where I want my collection to call home… However I think it’s too early to talk about it yet and I don’t want to get in trouble haha BUT I do have a manuscript and a title and it has always been my dream to bring a book into the world… so I will say more when more is confirmed!

Q.Thanks for answering my questions, if folk want to see what you’re up to where can they find you online?

A. My Instagram is @scarlett.ward
You can buy prints and zines of my poetry at /uk/shop/SWPoetry
I will be running a poetry stall at A5 Live festival the 3,4,5th of August in Chase town so come say hi!

Thank you Scarlett for the fantastic interview, details on the next open mic at Caffe del Nino can be found here.

Cacophony of Stardust a chat with Al Barz

Prior to the release of his debut poetry collection “Cacophony of Stardust” this weekend at Southcart Books in Walsall I took time out to sit down with one of the most well known and respected poets on my local poetry scene and beyond Al Barz, to ask him some questions about the new book and more.

Q.Congratulations on the publication of your new poetry collection Cacophony of Stardust, what was the inspiration behind the title and what can readers expect to find within the book’s pages?

A. I’ll start by saying how I appreciate your generosity with time and attention you give to local poets including myself, with events, Walsall Poetry Society, and these interviews. It means a lot especially from a very popular fellow poet. So thank you for that!

Last year, in late December, I was ‘strong-armed’ (their phrase) by Matty Cash, together with Paul B Morris as his henchman, into putting together a collection. Without their push it wouldn’t have been done. Not yet anyway! I’m thankful for them giving me that push and for their publishing skills.

I tend to hear poetry in my head when I’m reading or writing; the music, intonation and rhythms of lines are an embedded experience. So when I was selecting, from several hundred, these 150 or so, to me it seemed to represent a cacophony; a mixture of sounds creating dissonance as they rub shoulders.

‘Stardust’, well because that’s what a book is, what I am, what we all are, shaped into our human existence imposing our order on the universe’s struggle for entropy….. and also because it’s in one of my poems ‘Moonshine Over Monaco’ which borrows from Joni Mitchell’s song, Woodstock. “We are stardust, we are golden…”

I am truly grateful to Gary Longden, who reviewed this book for me, saying there is something for everyone. My subjects, styles and emotional attachments range pretty widely and I tried in vain to shoehorn them into ‘chapters’ according to subject matter, but these are porous categories.

Being rebellious when confronted with boundaries, I’ll blur the edges, drag in other concepts and kick holes in boxes to let them breathe. My poems have musicality and well defined poetic structure… or not at all, and some reject the concept of ‘genre’.

So you’ll find pieces that are light, dark, horrific, tragic, gleeful, cerebral, some that rant and some that chortle. It’s a bran tub for you to delve a hand into and whatever you pull out will be different each time.

Q. I’ve read and enjoyed the book immensely it’s a great collection of your work, what are your favourite poems within the book and why do they appeal to you?

A. Thanks for that. I’m glad you enjoyed reading it. I am quite pleased with it myself. As for favourites, in Desert Island Discs I always think eight is not enough tracks, but I’ve drawn the line at five here.

Leandra, about a teenage crush, is one of the first poems to get a musical backing. Leandra, the poem, the recording, the CD album (long out of print) occupied a lot of my attention, to the disgruntlement of my wife. I mean, how can you be jealous of a poem?

Patina Paternus, ‘a dish of my father’ is a personal, simplified slice of my lifetime without having a dad around. I knew it would be hard writing about my father but making it about my missed experience, it almost wrote itself. Hardly ever did I juggle with it or strain over lines.

Two Minutes I choose because 11th November could easily be just another annual ceremony with old people and soldiers marching and talk of war, and I wanted to write something more accessible, for a child to grasp.

SJ is about a brilliant young woman, Sammy Joe, about to embark on a Masters Degree who became afflicted with mental illness with brutal episodes of psychosis, and who eventually took her own life. I still mourn her, that wonderful, creative life lost, and am sad for the daughter she left behind. It took ages to be able to set down my feelings of loss of a friend and a friendship, and I am pleased at the beauty that appeared within its form.

Calm Down! gives me a little freedom for fun in performance, to add expression and humour – and I’m pleased with the backing track I created on GarageBand.

Q. As a veteran – I hope you don’t mind me using that word – of the poetry scene in Walsall, the West Midlands and beyond I’m interested to know how and when you started writing poetry and what inspired you to pick up the pen?

A. How did I get to be a veteran?? But it’s true, and it’s a long time since I was ten. My writing was atrocious then, I couldn’t be arsed, and I always got poor marks. Then I came across a piece of advice – ‘find a word you don’t know in the dictionary and use it’. I became obsessive about it. I wove into my next essay four bloody good words for a ten-year-old and it got me top marks and high praise from Miss Love, my English teacher. My opening phrase… “I had become listless with life….” I can’t recall what that was supposed to mean, but hey!

My mum gave me ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’ by R L Stevenson, and others. I read it over and over, and composed poems way back then, but nobody really noticed. When he died, I raided granddad’s bookcase for more material before they dumped his hundreds of books and I ferreted away a couple of dozen classic poets, which I still have.

Teenage motivated me to develop a devastating style of writing letters to girls I’d met. I practically orgasmed from the endorphin rush in my brain with every letter I posted, often including poems I made up. (See? It’s all about getting the girl!)

I had four poems accepted for an anthology by a Welsh publisher when I was twenty-two, the first I ever sent off, and I still have the royalty cheque. (It was never about the money.) it was so easy that I assumed anyone could get published anytime. I didn’t see it as an achievement so I didn’t bother much after that.

Then Life crowded out Poetry but she is a tenacious mistress. She lay in wait around corners, naked, enticing, beckoning for me to spend days in her arms. If I didn’t, the earth would no longer sing, clouds would drape themselves over trees and love would die. So I relented.

You give birth to a piece of art when it comes together, surprising yourself with the power and beauty of your muse. You may say to yourself “Wow! That’s absolute genius, man! Where did that come from?” And it’s not conceit, it’s delight.

How can you not keep returning to a lover that makes you feel like that? But I never forget that every brilliant poem is surrounded by piles of unusable snippets and plenty of mediocrity.

And my handwriting is still atrocious.

Al Barz performing at Southcart Books

Q. As well as being a poet, many of the times I’ve seen you perform I know you’re not afraid to whip out your organ and perform your work to a keyboard accompaniment. When it comes to writing poems how do you determine which ones work better to a tune and what goes into your music writing process?

A. Haha! I joined Poetry Wednesbury in the 90’s which got me back to working on my writing more. I had a Yamaha keyboard sitting idly by and thought one or two of my poems might work with some music, so I sat down and picked out chords, added preset rhythms and so on. It worked quite well and gained added interest from poetry crowds, even at Birmingham Arts Fest, for several seasons.

Whether a poem is suitable usually depends on it having a consistent rhythmic structure throughout, to fit with a regular music rhythms. It is an aesthetic extension of the performance rather than a song. Blurred boundaries. I create the poem, create the track, alter the poem to fit with it, adjust the track to suit, and so on. Pondering and frustration play a part and hours of staring blankly while the brain filters the cacophony. 😜
Nowadays, iPads and GarageBand app have become my go-to for backing tracks. They’re getting more complex, too, and it can take several months to develop. Some tracks break free and refuse to support their poem. I abandon those to the Internet. Some are cantankerous, like If You Were Birmingham which underwent a personality change after I married it to its track (I Would Hug You). They have since divorced.

Q. After the launch of Cacophony of Stardust what’s next for you?

A. You think I’m organised, don’t you? The mess of creative impulse in my head will throw up a strand of something that may lead somewhere. I have thousands of words of a novel written and lying dormant, hundreds more poems that could turn into another book, some music looking for a poem and vice versa, and a continual list of events that I want to attend.

Video is what I’m veering towards. On my website, before I ditched it in preparation for a redesign, I had posted a very raw piece of animation to Leandra. It depends on health and home commitments, but I want to stretch into video more. However, I never want to lose the performance gigs where concrete has set around my spiritual feet.

Q. If folks want to find out more or listen/read some of your work where can they find you online?

A. As a bit of a computer boffin I’ve had an online Internet presence for over twenty-five years and built a dozen websites. It may take a while, but there’s a redesign of my main website started. In WordPress, my poems have now been depleted but I occasionally add more. SoundCloud has recordings of poems and music tracks and there’s some on Reverbnation and a scant selection of YouTube videos.
My website ::
WordPress ::
SoundCloud ::
Reverbnation ::
FaceBook :: AlBarz Twitter :: @AlBarz
LinkedIn :: Al Barz Google+ :: Al Barz

Once upon a time I was the only Al Barz on the Internet, but now loads more Al Barzes have sneaked in… and a Persian mountain… but there’s still only one me.

Thanks Al for that great interview, if you can’t make the launch you can buy a copy of Al’s new book on Amazon here.

Butterfly Wings a chat with Ian Davies


Walsall poet and songsmith Ian Davies releases his poetry collection “Butterfly Wings,” this Saturday with a book launch at Southcart Books in Walsall. I had a quick chat with Ian prior to the launch to get some more information on the book and what went into it.

Q.Congratulations on the publication of Butterfly Wings, I wonder if you would mind sharing a little about the collection, the themes within and why you titled it so?

A.Thanks Richard and thank you for your support in publishing my books. The theme of Butterfly Wings is the psychological and emotional effects of childhood abuse that I experienced; and how, long after the event, the residual effects still influence and destroy self and world perception. Hopefully I have been able to give an insight into my journey through this and my recovery from this.

The title comes from a concept in chaos theory that states if enough butterflies flap their wings in synch then the energy created could cause an earthquake somewhere in the world. This for me describes perfectly the aftershocks that abuse causes long after the events themselves have ended. Even now I find I have to deal with a piece of my past distorting my views.

Q. You’ve chosen to share some very personal poems and ideas, what bought you to this point where you decided it was time to do so?

A.The main weapon an abuser utilises is silence. This book is my way of breaking my silence. This book has been with me for a long time, some of the initial poems date back to my early twenties. It is a book I never wanted to write but knew I needed to. The hurdles in coming to this point were

1. Do I want people to know this about me?
2. How much do I want them to see?

I feel it important that people do become aware of the continuing traumas adults experience from being abused as children; and now I feel strong enough and complete enough to allow others into my world and on my journey

Q. Butterfly Wings is your second book, tell me a little about your first book, Dog.

A.The main theme in Butterfly Wings focuses on the sexual abuse I endured, Dog in a way is a prequel to Butterfly Wings. The main theme in Dog is the effects of psychological abuse on self-identity and relationships. Although the main character, Dog, is a fictional character his journey is also my journey.

On this note I am currently working on an illustrated edition of Dog so watch this space.

Q. As well as being a poet, you’re also a guitarist and songwriter. How do you know when you start on an idea whether it will be a poem or a song and what is the difference between writing both?

A.That is an excellent question that doesn’t have a simple answer. The majority of time it tends to be that I will be toying around with melody lines and chord progressions which eventual form into some kind of structure, which I feel is good enough for recording; this then requires obsessive listening to for about a month. In this time I then usually realise that I have a poem that could fit the melody line and mood of the instrumental piece and usually this makes for a happy marriage between poetry and music.

Other times, whilst listening, a lyric line can pop into my head and then this grows in to a full lyric. When asked about my music I say I don’t write ‘songs’ I just create room for words and music to connect. So I guess, for me, there really is little difference between writing poetry and writing a lyric; rhythm is important in both, in poetry to give the work pace and momentum and in music to fit with the melody of a song, so for me there is no real difference between the two; for me a song is simply poetry put to music

Ian in action on the guitar

QA.. Once Butterfly Wings is launched what next?

You know I hadn’t really thought about that one ha-ha. I guess what comes next is another book; I have been writing since my teens so I have a mass of words gathering dust and pleading to be set free into the world. But first is my book launch at Southcart Books on Saturday 26th May; for which I feel privileged to be invited to do.

Also I have started performing my music live, and recording new material, so that takes up a good portion of my time, and I am revisiting my art but on a digital platform. So I guess what’s next is more of the above.

Q. Where can folks find you online?

A. I don’t have a very prominent virtual presence. My poetry is on my Facebook page, and my music and recorded poetry and experimental sound work can be found on and my books can be found on and

Thank you to Ian for agreeing to the interview and being so upfront, I’ve been privileged to see an advance copy of the book and it’s excellent so if you come along to the launch you can not only pick up a copy but you will get to hear Ian read from it as well.

Awake at 3am a conversation with Leanne Cooper

I recently found time to have a chat with Walsall poet and storyteller Leanne Cooper following the release of her excellent debut collection ” Awake at 3am.” Leanne had lots of interesting things to say so I hope you’ll enjoy this talk with one of the rising stars in my local poetry scene.

Q. Awake at 3AM is a fantastic emotional roller coaster of a collection with some very personal poetry. How do you feel now it’s released and available and everyone can read your work?

A. Well, first of all I want to thank you for asking me to do this interview, and for yet again making me feel like a celebrity! Your support, and kind words mean the world to me, thank you.
If I am completely honest… I am terrified. I have always been scared of what people will say, and think of me as a person, and this worry is there with my writing too. I have had so much support from other people on the poetry scene – yourself included – which has given me the courage to put myself out there. My anxiety is crazy at the moment, and I am dreading my first bad review or criticism; but I have to remind myself that that is eventually going to happen… not everyone will enjoy my work and that’s fine… I can’t let it be a big deal, but instead take it on board, learn from it, and better myself.


Q. If you can pick one, what is your favourite poem from the book and why?

A. Haha.. Well … that would be like asking me which of my children is my favourite. I love them both equally, but for different reasons; the same applies with my poetry. Each piece holds a part of me, and brings with it deep meaning and emotion… I couldn’t name just one, even if I tried. Out of every poem in the book, Wynter, Jade, Belonging, Our Intricate Demise, J, and I Wonder are the ones that were fuelled by the most intense of my emotions, so I guess you could say I have a closer connection with those than some of my others.


Q. After reading the book I was quite shocked to read of some of the things you’ve been through and I applaud your desire to share these poems. How did you tackle writing when the topic is so emotive and personal to you?

A. I had to. When my emotions are at their extreme and most intense, I have no choice but to write. Not only is it something that I enjoy, and do for fun; it is also my therapy. I write myself out of my own head, and writing has saved me on more than one occasion. I am not ashamed to admit some of the stuff I have had to deal with over the years has been tough – unbelievable even – but I hope that through sharing my experiences, I can help those who are going through similar situations. Something that I am most passionate about, is supporting victims of domestic abuse. I went through over 7 years of hell and came out the other side. During that time I didn’t write, was ridiculed when I tried to, and told that I would never amount to anything. Although Awake at 3am doesn’t really represent that time in my life, and only slightly touches upon it, I feel that it has proved to some extent that I have moved on and demonstrated my ability as a writer.


Q. In your book you also included an excellent short story. How do you decide if an idea will make a poem or story and what is the difference between writing them?

A. I honestly do not know. It may sound crazy, but I don’t decide… the ideas form themselves, and lead me to where they want to go. Even with my poetry I don’t decide which style I am going to write in, if it will be spoken word, what metre etc. I will get an idea pop into my head – yes, that is usually at 3am when I am trying to sleep – and I’ll write it down…. the idea will just flow. The more I write, the more ideas will come. The short story ‘Why Doesn’t it Happen’ which is at the beginning of my book, came from listening to a song by a band called Bitch Alert. The song in my story is a real song, I just wrote about the nostalgia surrounding that song, and added some fictional scenes to it. By the way I highly recommend that people listen to the song (Loveson) to get a better understanding of my protagonist’s emotions.


Q. As someone who is making a name for themselves on the local open mic circuit what advice do you have for anyone thinking of performing their poetry for the first time?

A. Do it. Just go for it. I had panic attacks for days before, and after my first performance, but I am so glad that I forced myself to go for that very first time. Yes, it is scary, but it is so worth it. If you are in the West Midlands area, the Walsall poets are such a supportive group, and along with some of the poets from Cannock, and Stafford; it is like a family of like-minded people, who encourage and believe in each other. It is a very positive and up-lifting vibe… definitely a safe space in which to introduce yourself. Not only have I been given the opportunity to share my work with a wider audience, and further my career; I have also met some extremely talented people (who I am still very much star struck by, even now), and I have made some amazing friends. I definitely feel that my writing and appreciation for poetry has improved too. From seeing other poets perform, and listening to their words, I have learned so much more already, and have been introduced to new ways of writing and performing – spoken word, for example… I didn’t really get that before, but now I am quite into it, and aspire to write some of my own spoken word pieces to perform at open mics in the future.


Q. Now your book is out what next?

A. I am already working on my second and third books! Haha! So yeah, I have 2 more poetry books which I am working on that will delve even deeper than Awake at 3am did. The one will be exclusively about the darker side of love… an alternative romance if you will… the second will be exploring the effects of mental illness – depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia etc. Again, these will be poems which are personal to me and entirely about my experiences with the subjects. Other than that, I have 2 novels that I have been working on for a few years now, so I am hoping to finish them as soon as possible! I am, however, the self-proclaimed queen of procrastination so who knows when I will actually finish them. I also hope to be attending a lot more poetry events and open mics across the Midlands, which I am really looking forward to!


Q. Where can folk find you online?

A. I have numerous social media accounts now, but the main places to find my work are Facebook, and WordPress. From these sites you will also be able to access my Instagram, and Twitter. I am not really into twitter, so I do apologise for not having a big presence on there. Please come and find me on Facebook, I would love to hear from people and get some opinions on my work!

Buy Leanne’s book Awake at 3am via Amazon by clicking here

Are you a local author with a book to promote, please contact me if you’d like to feature on this site.

Hopeful Dreams and Damaged Nightmares – a chat with Paul Morris

The cover to Paul’s new book

Walsall poet and storyteller Paul Morris is set to release his new collection of poetry and stories “Hopeful Dreams and Damaged Nightmares” on Saturday 24th February at Southcart books. The event is part of a triple book launch including my own book and one from Matt Humphries, with that in mind I thought it might be fun to sit down with Paul and get some more details about what we can expect from his new book and more.

Q. Hi Paul, tell me about your new book, how did you come up with the title and concept?

A. Hopeful Dreams and Damaged Nightmares, is my debut book. It’s a collection of the poetry and the very short stories I’ve written between late 2016 and mid 2017. It’s quite emotionally charged, dealing with feelings and mental health issues, but, I hope that’s a good thing.
The title relates to the fact that releasing a book was a ‘hopeful dream’ whilst representing the ‘damaged nightmares’ that I experience. I also felt the title sounded like a name for an album chosen by a rock band. I think it’s cool.

Q. What can readers expect to find inside your collection?

A. Emotive poetry, focussing on the negativity of life and mental health issues, interspersed with words of love and passion. The short stories are in the same vein. I write emotionally, about my feelings and am not afraid to convey them. I hope the emotional imagery transmits through.

Q. If you had to pick a favourite piece from the book, what would you choose and why?

A. The piece, ‘In My Arms’. It’s a poem written about and to my Wife. Contextually, it focusses on the pain I once felt and the love I now cherish.

“I am whole when I am with you,
for your light drowns out the darkness,
forcing my static heart to beat loudly,
I evolve in a love so true.”

Q. Can you give readers a glimpse inside your head of your writing process, how do you put your poems together, what inspires you to write and how long does it take you to put a typical poem together?

A. My mind is quite a complex matrix of emotional wiring, I’m not sure readers would welcome a journey there lol. I write my poetry from the heart. It’s either fuelled by dark emotions, relating to my negative proclivities or, words of love. I’m not afraid to speak out about my mental health, so, will share the landscape of my world in verse. It’s a great form of therapy and the key source of my inspiration. Depending on my mood, I can create a piece within minutes, or, it takes days to complete. Sometimes, my poetry ideas, present themselves as inspiration for stories.

Q. After the launch what are your next creative plans?

A. 2018 is going to be a busy year for me, which I’m delighted about.
Currently, I’m compiling and publishing the charity poetry anthology ‘Within Darkness & Light – Volume 2’. I’m also editing and publishing the book entitled ‘Us Too’, which is a collection of real life / horror stories, dealing with experiences of abuse. This is quite a challenge but, it’s worth it, because it’s to raise awareness of abuse and the impact it has on both women, men and children. Proceeds from the sale of both books will be donated to charity.
I’m also currently writing two dark fiction / horror novellas. I might finish one of them this year, maybe.
Poetry is constant for me and I’m always writing. I’ll never stop.

Q6. Where can folks find you online?
Pretty much everywhere lol. Start at and work onwards from there, if interested.

Thank you

Editors note – the great cover for Paul’s book was done by Andy lee from Darkslide Photography.