Vane Women: The Writers
loves words and the intimate relationships they form with one another. Being a typical Piscean, she has a deep interest in the mystical and magical and these often weave spells in her writing. Born in Darlington, Lindsay lives there still. In 2005, she completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Newcastle.
Her work has been published in various anthologies; Northern Grit, Rewriting The Map, Collecting Stones, Love in Vane (Vane Women Press), Newcastle Masters (Newcastle University), A Sudden Clatter of Voices (Ottakars), Hill and Sky (The Lit Room Press), Land of Three Rivers - the poetry of North East England (Bloodaxe Books). Her first collection Stripping the Blackthorn was published by Vane Women Press in October 2008. A concoction of love, torture and reflection.
Stripping the Blackthorn
In October, take your man, making sure he's tall,
and lead him up some winding country path,
which you've sworn by oath never to reveal,
though you will when the need arises.
Here, find the fruit left by previous pickers
high on the blackthorn, just out of reach,
or on the wrong side, away from the track
where others have not dared venture.
With his long arms, have him pull down
branches and hold them while you take the berries,
plump, bitter, with a cloudy bloom, belying
their depth, their sweet purple-blue richness.
Scale a dry-stone wall together,
entangling yourselves in the barbed-wire fence
meant to keep the best inaccessible,
but embrace the danger, relish the risk.
Throw scorn on the thorn, welcome the scratch,
be not deterred by surface snagging,
nor troubled by bruised shins and knees,
your sloe harvest is well worth the wait.
Film Poem: Broken
was a founder member of Vane Women who passed away on September 13, 2019. When ill-health meant that she could no longer take an active role, Joanna was made a lifetime honorary member. This page has a tribute by Annie Wright.
Her first full collection Twenty Four Preludes & Fugues on Dmitri Shostakovich was published by Arc in 2006, and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2007. This followed three pamphlet collections: Running With The Unicorns (The Bay Press 1994), On Sketty Sands (Arrowhead Press 2001) a long sequence of poems, based on her maternal family history (right back to the ancestral Welsh pirate), and The Hallucinogenic Effects of Breathing (Arrowhead Press 2003).
Her second full collection Blue Horse was published by Vane Women Press in 2014.
Joanna’s final book, there was a maze, was published by Epistemea in September 2021. There are more details on the press page.
Joanna grew up in Wiltshire and sampled several countries in the Far East and Middle East before moving to Darlington with her family in 1989. Her work has appeared in many magazines and she's had several competition successes including First Prize in the Poetry London competition. She has a distinction in her MA, The Writing of Poetry (University of Newcastle).
The Nightingale in Love
(Le Rossignol en Amour - after Couperin)
"I'll play this one
for you," you said, out of the blue.
No prelude, then; simply, a private hearing
at a public concert. The sopranino,
smallest of the recorder family,
warmed in your breast-pocket while I sat
anonymous in the hall, schooling my face
to purely musical response.
I watched you lip the pipe
before me, breathe life into it,
tonguing the phrases into flowing shape
as underneath your hands the music grew.
Oh, the roulades, the liquid melismatic
tremblings of sound, the fainting ecstasies,
bravura passions! mellifluous risings and fallings!
The craft of it! Seduced by a vibrant column of air!
And dared I trust
such practised trillings, as bird, composer, player
poured out his heart with that consummate skill?
I thought I heard
the plangent note of genuine artistry;
but only know, every performance since
borrows your breath, your lips, to tell again
those passionate promises.
work is dark, witty and wicked. She is published in a variety of anthologies, in verse and prose. Her first pamphlet collection, Under Surveillance, was published by Vane Women Press in 1999 and she completed her MA in creative writing from Northumbria University in 2002. Her first full collection, Electric Mermaid, was published by Arrowhead Press in 2011 and the title poem was highly commended in the Forward Prize.
Originally from Belfast, she has lived in Durham since 1988, where she writes and teaches. She is currently working on her next poetry collection and first novel.
Electric Mermaid in Bell's Fish and Chip Shop
She's glowing puffed up neon in the batter tank,
frying light bulbs,
fusing fluorescent tubes
and screwing eyes round in sockets,
giving customers electric shocks.
Flicking her tail in and out of batter,
she hot hisses
into the vat of mushy peas,
her hair a scurrying mane
of current blips.
She's flirting with fresh haddock,
experimenting with crispy breadcrumbs.
Regulars settle for chips.
Owner, closing early,
shifts his cod pieces and twitches the rubber apron
to protect his assets.
Down on the docks men snigger,
well shot of her, mending
their scorched nets, nursing
fourth degree burns.
At midnight she breaks free in a shower of sparks.
Electrocutes a Tesco trolley and is away down Silver Street.
No one stops her, as she plugs into the River Wear.
Touch me baby. Touch me baby blue eyes shrivelled burnt eyes if you dare!
Turning water into fire,
she will make contact with submarines,
using radar love and no earth.
Her electric tattoos sparkle messages to divers.
Film Poem: Mamma Angelina
debut pamphlet, Majuba Road, was published by Vane Women Press in 2016. Following an MA in Creative Writing at Teesside University, she has written extensively and has work published in many literary magazines and anthologies, been commissioned by the BBC to write for Teesside for National Poetry Day and is featured in a chapbook, Dark Matter 2, Black Light Engine Room Press. Julie’s poetry often escapes into flights of fancy, however never fails to come back home to her roots, the North East coastline she inhabits and loves.
I’d reached my destination,
so I continued just a little
bit further, while the sea slid
back and forth and a stationary
black bird of paradise watched
me pass along this hairline
fracture between lonely and
alone, as if the mass of a single
woman was never enough in a
utopia lacking muliebrity, I
trespassed, like a truant who
knew that life was long and
studied afternoon bronzed sky,
surreal thick and thin reeds of
steel, incognito ghosts in the
dunes, understated ochre sand
and soot all drenched in solid
golden modesty through an
apocalyptic internal monologue
of lost horizons into another era
and a cadencing feminine ending.
Film Poem: Vettriano Life
seventh collection Composition in White was published by Smokestack Books in 2017. A state-of-nation archive of a lifelong socialist. A secret book of England, cricket and Morris dancing, Brummie aunts and Bohemian artists and the long war shadow. Recent books include The Absolute Bonus of Rain (Flambard Press 2010), The Homage (Iron Press 2006) a cricket saga about former England captain Nasser Hussain and The Work of the Wind (Flambard Press 2006) about her turbulent years with fellow poet Barry MacSweeney. Other poetry collections: The Apple Exchange (Flambard Press 1999), Flowers of Fever (Iron Press 1992) and The Long Interval (Bloodaxe Books 1986).
Born in Warwickshire, she has lived in Durham City since 1965 and has a daughter and a son and four grandsons.
Anthologies include New Women Poets (Bloodaxe) and the Forward Book of Poetry 2001. She has received two Northern Writers' Awards and twice won Commendations in the National Poetry Competition, 2003, 2012.
The Homage was nominated for Cricket Book of the Year 2006. The poem 'Bad Light' from The Homage was selected for Radio 3 Words and Music.
for Derek Walcott and Ian Bell
Sea manes toss in sympathy with his decadence
in old age, but his lack of prudence and his infatuations
comb the beaches for a clean page to write his guilt. The sea
will wash it every day. I applaud his groans and his romantic
fires ever seeking a new muse and half wishing like Yeats
to be redeemed from the last desires. He pursues, or not,
the young and lissom and hides his lust in despair, while I
greet the start of the season and watch young men play
cricket standing like narcissi in the grass/ without regret
I love beauty from a distance, at the boundary edge.
And today my muse marries his bride, his bat put aside
that delivers an electric shock, brilliant and precise,
scorning the need to run, his wrists twist in rhythm
to hold the flourish. The pleasure in his graceful pas
de deux at the crease, for he is wed to cricket and
dances at his own wedding. Today he takes another bride.
My sea is calm and untropical. I salute the great master
whose egrets arrive like fresh hopes, and still arrive,
his heart still an apprentice and innocent. I am wise.
I have written in the sand my signed resignation.
Film Poem: Plain
I have been writing for about twenty years, mostly poetry with occasional forays into short stories and memoir. A tangible result has been my pamphlet No Random Loving published in 2013 by Vane Women Press.
My work is usually reflection on relationships, exercises in memory, and occasional attempts at polemic. Having gained confidence through this first publication, I am now encouraged to develop my writing, particularly in exploring varying styles and form. When less distracted from my work as a local councillor - next year - there will be head space and I hope time, in every sense, as I approach my seventieth birthday, to write poetry I am proud of.
I knew where I’d left it
the cigarette case,
Eau de Nil, acid cool,
Art Deco green.
I knew where I’d left it.
Did I say it was green?
Jealousy green, bitter green
green as my chagrin.
I knew where I’d left it
and there was no request
to send it on,
no words, just an escape
on a summer morning.
When I remember, I think I may find it
Among some bric a brac
At an antique fair or boot sale.
It was my mother’s after all.
Film Poem: Unknown Woman
is an accomplished poet. In 2003 she received a New Writing North Promise Award, and in 2005 completed her MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University. She is published in a range of magazines, in anthologies, and on the Web. Her first pamphlet, Puritan Games, was published by Vane Women Press in 2001. Her full collection, Sitting Among the Hoppers was published by Arrowhead Press in 2004. Marilyn’s second full collection Raiment, poems based on the theme of how we clothe our physical and spiritual selves, was published by Smokestack Books in 2011 and was selected by New Writing North's Read Regional in 2012 as one of the featured books. Her latest full collection, Articles of War, was also published by Smokestack Books, in 2017. Her pamphlet The Museum of Spare Parts was published by mudfog press in June 2018.
After reading Philip Larkin's 'Water'
However angled light may be,
no glass of water would suffice
to capture faith for me;
perhaps for those brought up
in English Anglican ways,
of calm reflection and the nuances
that tolerate so many points of view.
Even the thought of sousing
in a furious devout drench requires
passivity, the notion of a shepherd god,
cleansing his flock with disinfectant
in a springtime rite.
The Yorkshire beck outside my window
captures more, running down steps
of unforgiving limestone bedrock.
On quiet days,
its dissembling trickle whispers past,
suggesting possibilities of safe crossing.
the gale-blown, fell-side rains
blast down this narrow gorge
and the stream rises, gushes,
roars. They knew,
those non-conformist refugees,
who hid out in these upland fells,
that their jealous God
would thunder down the valleys,
everything in his wake.
Film Poem: Marilyn