New Year, new venue

CB1 welcomes Cambridge Stanza

The Blue Moon, Norfolk Street, CB1 2LF

24 January 2019, 8pm

CB1 kicks off 2019 with a reading by seven poets from Cambridge Stanza, a local workshop for Poetry Society members who meet once a month to share and critique their own poems. This 20-strong Stanza includes a number of published and prize-winning poets. The workshop has run for many years, and has been involved in readings with other Stanzas from different parts of the country at the Poetry Café in Covent Garden. Any member of The Poetry Society is welcome to attend a Stanza group.

Readers: Ilse Pedler - Steve Xerri - Sarah Littlefeather Demick - Robert Smith - Anne Berkeley - Jerry Carr-Brion - Alice Willitts

Many congratulations to Alice Willitts for her success in the Magma pamphlet competition (see below).

More about the other poets:

Ilse Pedler has had poems in many magazines including Poetry News, The Compass, Artemis and Stand. She was shortlisted in The Rialto Nature Poetry competition in 2014 and 2015 and in the Bridport prize 2016 and commended in the Hippocrates 2017. She is the winner of the 2015 Mslexia Pamphlet Competition. Her pamphlet, The Dogs That Chase Bicycle Wheels was published by Seren in March 2016. She was long listed in the National Poetry Competition in 2018 and is the poet in residence at Sidmouth Folk Festival. She lives and works as a Veterinary Surgeon in Saffron Walden and is currently working towards a first collection.

Suturing Secrets 

We are divided into compartments,
separated by taut membranes,

glistening planes of connective tissue,
resilient boundaries.

Today this is damaged,
anaesthetized, surgically explored

your diaphragm is a torn curtain hanging
and like a peep show I’m drawn to look behind.

In the absence of pressure lungs hesitate
to inflate, do their best to conceal

the frantic convulsions at your core,
the struggle for rebirth every second.

I look for perhaps longer than I should
at the shuddering flesh, the labouring

beauty, then I pull the curtain back over
and suture the secret inside.

*   *   *

Steve Xerri is a former teacher, musician & designer now engaged in poetry & pottery. Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2017, he had two pieces in that year's Festival Anthology and helped to judge this year’s competition. He has been published during 2017/18 in Acumen, Amaryllis, Brittle Star, Cinnamon anthology From Hallows to Harvest, Clear Poetry, Envoi, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Interpreter's House, The Poetry Shed, Poetry Society Newsletter (Members’ Poems), Proletarian Poetry and Stride Magazine. Poems are slated for publication in January / February 2019 by Words For The Wild and Atrium.


Suddenly there, as though
materialised from nothing,
s/he settles on the damp shirt
I'm pegging to the line,
zips off to the landing-pad
of a frond of goldenrod
and then, the touch of zig-
zag wire legs barely felt
by my human skin, alights
to turn a moment or two
on my outstretched
          Benign banded
mock-wasp, air-dancer,
brief passer-through,
provoker of a little pulse
of fondness, I greet you,
feeling myself rooted
and measured by your
observing presence.

*   *   *

Sarah Littlefeather Demick is an Ojibwa Indian, born in Toronto, Canada and raised by adopted parents in London England. She attended Goldsmiths College in the late 80's and works as a carer; mainly for people who have dementia. Her first collection Another Creature was self-published in 2016 and one of her poems appears in This Place I Know a new anthology of Cumbrian poetry published by Handstand Press in October this year.


when it first appeared
my smile was boundless and full
it was fascinated by sunsets
and the sound of arpeggios from my father’s guitar
then the years multiplied like molehills
and the only music left to me
was hanging in cobwebs
I put my smile away in a box
and bought a cheap replica from the rag and bone man
(who’d found a job lot
outside the pub on the corner of our street)
and now I wear that one
most of the time
my birth smile stays in its box
and keeps itself busy
playing old records of Julian Bream and Segovia

*   *   *

Robert Smith After some early publications, Robert took a 35-year break from poetry, but has more recently been published several times in Agenda.  Imagery takes centre place in his work which is strongly influenced by music both in terms of subject matter and its chromaticism.


His voice a lantern
lighting each blanketed milestone,
frost dislodged from a gatepost,
the lowliness of thorns,
and always the same outcome,
no matter its epic recital,
tramping through snows the piano
has already darkened.

*   *   *

Anne Berkeley has performed widely with the poetry ensemble The Joy of Six. She edited Rebecca Elson’s acclaimed posthumous collection A Responsibility to Awe (now a Carcanet Classic). She has won the Times Literary Supplement prize and the Kent & Sussex prize, and places in other competitions including the Arvon, Magma, and Tabla, and has been a Hawthornden Fellow. Her first collection The Men from Praga (Salt) was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Centre prize.

My first trip abroad

I stood with one foot in England
and one in Wales, while my father
took the photograph. Smile!
I knew I should be thrilled, that one leg
should feel different from the other:
the smooth tarmac of England,
the loose chippings of Wales.

I stretched out my arms either side
of the road sign in two languages.
The photograph is the proof. I smiled.
I remember, and don’t remember
being there and what it felt like,
how I felt nothing, and feeling nothing
felt as if the smile was a lie and I had failed.

First published in The New European

*   *   *

Jerry Carr-Brion was born in Widnes on the river Mersey, but moved down south before he could acquire the accent. He has lived in the Cambridge area for many years, working as an industrial chemist and writing a variety of comical and serious verse in his spare time. He previously served on the CB1 committee and is grateful that they're having him back to read his poetry.'

Keeping Them Out

It was far from his Adriatic home,
by a cold seashore.
But he put tough officers on the coast,
Solent to North Sea,
who made sure all boats were quick to respond.

One day they captured an entire shipload,
forty four in all.
They had matted blonde hair, and stank like goats.
He spoke slow Latin,
then Greek, but it was completely hopeless.

He knew that they worshipped a one-eyed god,
got blotto with beer.
What could you do with the dregs of Europe?
Down to the slave sale;
doubtless they would fetch bargain bin prices.

Two more years and he could retire for good,
safely back down south.
It was never the most glamorous post;
but a job’s a job,
and someone’s got to keep the English out.

Newsflash! 19 December 2018

Many congratulations to Alice Willitts, who has just won the Magma pamphlet competition.

Alice will be reading for us in the Cambridge Stanza event (see below) on 24 January. She is an author and garden designer. She recently graduated from the Creative Writing MA at UEA with distinction. She collaborates under the name Cathenka-Willitts in experimental poetics and is writing for the Speculative Natures Collective writing the speculative nature poetry of 2081. Her writing is often allegorical and conceptual, experimenting with form to write the Anthropocene from within. She combines personal and ecological losses in her poems with sharp pathos.

Strategy vii: Take a walk with Laura Mvula

by Alice Willitts

when my noon shadow……… ……… longer than the tree……. ……..that scaffolds the

frost blades……………….. yes ……………………but hold me first….. …..gilded
squint of a woman…………. …..and………..leg blind

how glorious, this light in us, we are a wonder

December composts days

…… let us fall
…… be litter
in the briefest armful……….. and shelters us…….. …………..sharpest in the light

First published in The Writers’ Café Magazine 


...and, we're back! In a new venue:


The Blue Moon, Norfolk Street, CB1 2LF

24 JANUARY 2019, 8PM

doors open 7.30