penny reid poet artist

Looking back – Pen

During the month of May 2016 we will be looking back at Poets’ Corner’s first year, together with our Guest Poetry Curators. They will share their own poetry, experiences as curator and favourite poems from the platform with you.

In February 2016 Guest Poetry Curator Tom Crompton introduced Pen Reid as the Poet of the Month. Tom wrote: ‘Pen’s poems give off this big feeling of love, which you only actually get by accident, bumping or slipping over it. In this sense, Pen’s work is prayerful—’ Stay with your father’s degeneration/and know love lives not in the physical’—and for me that’s a great place to be writing poetry from.’

Pen’s work is breathtakingly beautiful, intimate and delicate. She writes: ‘I am primarily a visual artist and have been writing poetry for only two years. It has been a challenge to find a way through the degeneration of my husband from progressive Multiple Sclerosis. Poetry has provided me with a voice to express the unspeakable.’

Throughout February Pen published poetry with themes around Multiple Sclerosis, family life and love. Read all her work here.

After being chosen as ‘Poet of the Month’ at Poets’ Corner Pen shares some thoughts with you:

‘I recommend applying to Poets Corner, you will receive a warm and supportive embrace from Leaveners as well as rich feedback from your mentor. Their website reaches out and ensures that other poets will respond and that feedback is nourishment to keep going! I feel that this sort of unconditional support is rare and would encourage others to share their work. Doors open for you too and Jorine the Programme Leader takes her support well past your allotted month. A wonderful experience, leap in!’


Fridge Light

My daughter stands in her pyjamas
singing to the cat.
Her pale ankles calling to me
winking and bobbing under frayed hems.
She stands in the light of the fridge
breathing the glow to feed her hungry bones

Last night I burned her sleeping skin with whispers
to disarm the velocity of her growth
that pushes her too fast upwards.
“still” “slow” I whispered into her pale hair.
Like a seedling without light
your stature pulls you way from us.

Lengthening your marrow will not journey you from pain.
Stay with your father’s degeneration
and know love lives not in the physical.

Pen Reid, Poet of the Month February 2016

We saw bunnies playing below the ramparts

for my daughters living with multiple sclerosis

Despite an intuition
that below this lies
the loss of their Dad,
they play on.

These rabbits are a mirror
to my daughters’ courage:
despite the steep precipice,
they play on.

The hopping and skipping
on a grassy cliff edge
that holds up their castle
they play on.


Pen Reid, Poet of the Month February 2016

Feeding you by hand

I am trusting there is a trace
in the world
of where and how we have moved
through the years together.

It would begin with the confidence of your step,
my tentative shuffle admiring the way
your hips tucked in neatly:
all the power carried out front.

I cannot see our silken trail
or tarmacked road.
The vestige of our shared steps
I carry in my body so
when I lift the spoon to your mouth
it powers my arm upward and
I do not see your frailty.


Pen Reid, Poet of the Month February 2016

Dropping you off at the Swimming Pool

There were no disclosures
whispered by the future
to prepare for the shocking view
of your upper body
in the rear view mirror.

The everydayness of it now
gently needling my belief
that we must accept without surprise
the peculiarities of what is delivered to us.

I can now admit it is the norm,
there are no fissures in my acceptance
that what I see framed there is with gratitude
you are there.
Your lower body folded in your wheelchair
as I drive away I see the whole of you
still whole to me.

Pen Reid, Poet of the Month February 2016

Fall in the Garden

By my own volition I run to you
when you cry out,
not cultivated shouting for attention,
but shamed to be interrupting.

A sufficient distance to having me
imagine life without you.
The plant aggrieved and appearing
to have received your head,
a degrading fall into a ceramic pot:
the blinkers that this disease
puts on your feet,

but my heart buoyant
that you are bleeding
and alive.


Pen Reid, Poet of the Month February 2016


Stale suction
propels your wheelchair
through an obsolete rail tunnel.
The dogs call you to follow
into the darkly scented chamber,
that provides a diameter of privacy
a length away from others’ pity.

Mud chaulks your spinning wheels
to stall and suspend you in flickering orange light.
The brick above rupture tears
that splash and tremor on your skin.
A century of gases asphyxiate your movement.
You cannot hear the dogs or see
those cycles of bright exit.

Pen Reid, Poet of the Month February 2016