‘Identity: All of Me’


For the third time Poets’ Corner will be publishing a collection of poetry for change. This month, the theme ‘Identity: All of Me’ will explore how identity is more than just one label, one story, one characteristic. Throughout the month of July 2016, poetic work from poets of all styles, levels, ages and backgrounds will be published.

We live in times where a constant stream of information can ask us to quickly judge information, situations or sometimes people. Does this mean we perceive someone’s identity mainly based on their most visible or apparent characteristics?

We invite readers to consider, question and rethink what identity means through a collection of wonderful and personal poems. On behalf of the Leaveners/Poets’ Corner team, we would like to thank all poets who contributed to this thought-provoking archive with their beautiful poetry.

Kuli Kohli
Guest Poetry Curator

Jorine Beck
Programme Leader

(Photo by Brandon Couch)



My leopard-print pyjama trousers,
embroidered roses on my untied boots;
the mad flung mess of my hair, red ebbed out
and seeped into vein-torn eyeballs.
Tight stitching on the nurse’s shirt,
the meandering coil of wires and tubes
meeting and feeding yellow flesh,
goosebumps as my veins gulp the fluid.
Each black mark on the clock as another minute passes.

Numbers that flash and beep and go in boxes hourly,
numbers that mean I’m getting better or worse,
or staying the same like the square ceiling tiles
counted over and over; white in the day,
burnt orange at night from the foyer where
the lights are still on, like a school residential
where we all need reminding there are
no monsters. None under the beds, just
in our cells, in ourselves.

Tortoiseshell hands when the temperature drops,
my tattoos clinging to bone.
Blue ovals on the privacy curtains that
the old lady opposite says ‘look rude’
before she gets too yellow to stay and is
wheeled along the speckled floor tiles to
another ward. Those white spots
on the grainy ultrasound – those white spots
that make my blood tests spike, make me a statistic.

Cherry Doyle, poet of the month, June 2016.


Image and utterance

Occasionally we ask an experienced poet to share some words of wisdom, advice or inspiration with you. We found poet Bob Ward keen to give us some insight into his use of photography and poetry combined.

Image and utterance – by Bob Ward

‘In both Western and Eastern cultures there is a long tradition of relating text and image on a page. With the advent of digital photography it opened up new ways of exploring the possibilities. For me it allowed for a fusion of two major interests: taking photographs and writing poetry.’

52 Locked door Bob Ward

© Bob Ward

‘A frequent remark is that a picture is worth a thousand words. But life isn’t always that simple. I enjoy the trade-off between the two media. While I was thrilled to confront a sea lion in Vancouver aquarium I was aware that it was in captivity and I needed to record that feeling too.’ (CLICK to see photo and poem )

28 Toothpaste web Bob Ward

© Bob Ward

‘I am often asked “What comes first, the photo or the poem?” In practice it can work either way, one leading to the other. However, just as a text may have gone through many stages of revision, finding the best photo to complement it can become a minor project in itself. For example, choosing the gravestones in ‘A Glance at the Back’ where the poem appears as a quasi-inscription. In that case the text is added as an overlay to the photo, but elsewhere it seemed better to situate it in a box.’

25 A Glance at the back-web Bob Ward

© Bob Ward

There is potential to endless variations but one’s aim should be to produce a coherent design that does not obtrude the meaning of the piece.

Bob Ward

Bob Ward is a poet and photographer, specialised in the two mediums and is currently a member of the Quaker Arts Network. In 2008 Bob was invited to mount an exhibition at the Wells-next-the-Sea Poetry Festival in Norfolk, after which he was awarded an Associate Membership by the Royal Photographic Society in 2009. Bob published ‘Trusting at Last – a Volume of Bob Ward’s poetry’ in 2011 and contributed to Poets’ Corner’s collection on ‘Displacement: Stories of Hope and Humanity’ in 2015. 

Find more of Bob’s work here: http://www.bobward.org.uk/ 

Are there any other poets who work with photography?

On Mrs Ferdinand’s Watch

Mrs Ferdinand makes a bee-line across the playground
and prods the lip of the grass with one sternly-shod foot.
We turn in her wake; wait with bated breath
for her hand to rise and that whistle to taunt the hairs
on our necks.

After months confined to hopscotch, the playground
pressing its pocked and crumbled imprints into our knees,
it is the green light for spring – the season of grass-stains,
of lunchtimes that linger like a note trembling
on a cello’s string.

Mrs Ferdinand prowls the inner reaches of the field
with her army of tabards and pencilled lips,
but those hot weeks are spent at the fences, where
damsons swallow the sun, and goose-grass grows ripe
for each other’s backs.

The insides of our eyelids are flooded with orange petals,
by sun that seems to crawl among the grass, where
beetles shimmer like shards of glass, and our freed legs –
incandescent and lunar – become toasted while
we’re not looking.

Cherry Doyle
Poet of the Month June 2016


Days Like These

On days like these
I watch tiny suns expire
at the end of a match

like the days
we dipped our toes
in golden summer

among the bounty
of daisies and
fresh kisses.

Evenings thickened,
breath became opaque
but now

with your leg
against mine in the
smoke-creased night,

I spread my fingers
against the three studs
of Orion’s belt.

On days like these,
the whole universe fits
between my palms.

Cherry Doyle
Poet of the Month June 2016


Open Call Poetry Submissions: Identity

Identity: All of Me

We welcome poetic submissions for the month of July 2016 on the theme ‘Identity: All of Me’. During the month of July we will be publishing poems that explore how identity is more than just one label, one story, one characteristic.

We live in times where a constant stream of information can ask us to quickly judge information, situations or sometimes people. Does this mean we perceive someone’s identity mainly based on their most visible or apparent characteristics?

We ask all poets and writers to submit poetry that invites readers to consider, question and rethink what identity means. We are looking for poems with a personal touch, exploring different angles, layers and ideas on identity.

You can submit one poem to Guest Poetry Curator Kuli Kohli: kuli.kohli@hotmail.co.uk
Please include your email address and phone number, and a short poetry statement (max. 65 words). The deadline for submissions is the 1st of July 2016.

(Photo by Brandon Couch)

Housman & Me

Splayed like winter twigs –
my mother’s calligraphics
were tacked onto the wall.

I repeated the lines like ghosts
replaying a moment –
chewed on the words.

While the kids at school
had badges, hairbands, pencil cases,
emblazoned with their names.

A slither in a book,
found one lifeless afternoon –
its letters, stars in my eyes.

To think!
That I was the ‘loveliest of trees’,
charming in my Easter bloom.

‘To see the cherry hung with snow’,
reminded me of how I was named –
for all seasons of life.

Blossom in my brain,
my mother sat and scribed the verse
for my bedroom wall.

Housman’s cherry tree,
‘About the woodland’ and on the page,
captivated him and me.

Cherry Doyle
Poet of the Month June 2016

Published in The Poetry of Shropshire, Offa’s Press, 2013

Cherry tree
Extract from Housman’s poem in Cherry’s bedroom as a child.