Tag Archives: poetry

What a festival!

Three workshops, two awards ceremonies, a theatrical evening and a lot of good poetry – it all added up to a major contribution by the parish to the inaugural Farnham Literary Festival (March 5-13).

St Mark’s Church was the only north Farnham venue taking part in the festival and not only did we host events, we ran the Farnham Poetry Competition and filled the church with poets young and old with fresh voices and their own take on Farnham.

During the week there was a workshop to create your own fantasy world; a writing memories workshop (with some rather saucy poetry!) run by Right at Home care agency and the church; a crime writing workshop with Joy Kluver, author of the Detective Bernadette Noel series; a rehearsed reading by the Farnham Theatre Association of A Tale of Two Theatres (the story of the Castle and Redgrave Theatres); the awards ceremony of the Farnham Fiction Award, and the awards ceremony of the Poetry Competition.

The church buzzed all week with people of diverse ages and backgrounds who leapt at the chance to express themselves creatively. There is enormous creativity here in this community and we are hugely grateful to everyone who took part, including the poetry judges, Coral Rumble who judged the under-16s category, and Ellora Sutton who judged the adult one.

We had around 80 entries to the poetry competition and the judges found it hard to choose between them. In the end their choices were:

Under-16:
First place:
Farnham by Katie Parratt.
Runners-up:
Under a Tree by Nigarish Nabeel Nasir.
Farnham  by Louis West.
Shortlisted:
A day at Gostrey Meadow by Minha Nabeel Nasir.
Farnham attraction by Harrison West.
Meadow by Alina Liepsch.
There is a place I know by Maria Benyon.
Welcome to Farnham by Mimi Farrell.
Why Farnham makes me smile by Ellie Darlow.

Adults:
First place:
The First One that’s Second by Elmaz Ekrem.
Runners-up:
Farnham Park 2021 by Rosemary Wisbey.
Local Character by Andy Morse.
Shortlisted:
Farnham Swimming Baths by Elaine Fell.
Farnham Friendship by Chandra McGowan.
Swimming in April’s Cold by Chris Hunter.
embedded in wood and stone by Kate Kennington Steer.

Kate Kennington Steer is a participant in Creative Response, an arts-related organisation run by professional practising artists who share their practice with vulnerable people, and members of Creative Response were also there on the poetry evening, reading from and selling their new book of poems Where Seeds Are Planted Poems Grow.

We are currently collecting in recordings of the winning poems and they will be published here shortly.

Here are a few images from the week:

Winner of the adult poetry award Elmaz Ekrem (left) with judge Ellora Sutton.
Building fantasy worlds in the Build a World Workshop. Yes, even the Mayor was busy doing so!
David Wylde and Chris Reeks in A Tale of Two Theatres.
Coral Rumble, the judge of the under-16s poetry competition reads some of her own poetry.
Neil Macdonald speaks at the writing awards, along with judge Gary Couzens.
Writing crime with Joy Kluver.

The Literary Festival comes to St Mark’s

St Mark’s is one of the venues in the inaugural Farnham Literary Festival which takes place between March 5 and 13, and there is lots to enjoy here.

We kick off on Saturday, March 5, at 3-5pm with a Build a World Workshop, run by fantasy writer Paul Eggleton which offers the chance to create your own fantasy world and populate it with characters in a creative writing workshop focusing on the fantasy genre. This will be available virtually by Zoom link as well. There will be a charge of £5 to include afternoon tea. Please email p.eggleton@nhm.ac.uk for details.

On the morning of Tuesday, March 8, we will be running a Writing Memories workshop in conjunction with Right at Home home care agency. This will be by invitation only but to find out more, email Stella Wiseman.

We have two events at the church on Thursday, March 10. From 2-4pm there will be an Introduction to crime novel writing workshop with crime writer Joy Kluver, author of the Detective Bernadette Noel books, the latest of which Left for Dead has just come out. Joy will teach us how to create the heroes and villains of crime fiction. The cost is just £5 and will include afternoon tea. Please contact Stella Wiseman for further details and to book.

Then at 7.30pm on March 10, Farnham Theatre Association will be at St Mark’s with A Tale of Two Theatres, a rehearsed reading by professional actors Abigail McKern, Chris Reeks, David Wylde and guests based on a book compiled by Anne Cooper of memories  by those who knew Farnham’s Castle and Redgrave Theatres. The cost will be £5 and are available here or on the door. Refreshments will be served.

On Saturday, March 12, at 5.30pm we have the awards ceremony for our poetry competition A Poem for Farnham. Poet Ellora Sutton (pictured left), judge of the adult competition, will be there to give a reading and present prizes. If you haven’t sent your poem in yet, it’s not too late to do so as we have just extended the closing date to Monday, February 28. It’s free to enter and you could win £25. For further details click here.

On Sunday, March 13, at 2.30pm, there will be the awards ceremony for the Farnham Fiction Award.

There is lots going on across Farnham in the Literary Festival and to find out more visit the festival website.

Poetry competition – deadline extended

You’ve now got until February 28 to write A Poem for Farnham and enter it into our poetry competition which is forming part of the inaugural Farnham Literary Festival.

Take part in the competition and you could win £25 and be invited to our poetry evening on Saturday, March 12 at St Mark’s Church.

There is a children’s competition, open to under-16s, and an adult one, and all you have to do is write a poem about Farnham – what it means to you, what you like or dislike, what the town feels like to you, its history, its people… anything you want to write which means Farnham to you. The winner in each category will be awarded £25 and two runners-up in each category will be awarded £10 each.

Then send it in to us to reach us by 5pm on Monday, February 28. Send your entries by email to poetry@badshotleaandhale.org or by post to Poetry Competition, St Mark’s Church and Community Centre, Alma Lane, Farnham, GU9 0LT.

There is no word limit, but entries should be typed, double-spaced.

The children’s poetry competition is being judged by poet Coral Rumble and the adult one by poet Ellora Sutton.

Coral Rumble is an award-winning poet specialising in writing and performing for children. She has had four poetry collections published, with Things that Should be in a Poem out soon. Her verse novel Little Light was published last year and she has also written picture books and for children’s TV. You can find her at www.coralrumble.co.uk and she tweets @RumbleCoral.

Ellora Sutton, she/her, is a queer poet, museum professional, and critic. Her work has been published in the Poetry Review, Interpreter’s House, Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, fourteen poems and Poetry News, amongst others. She reviews poetry for Mslexia. She tweets @ellora_sutton, or you can find her at ellorasutton.com.

To find out more about the Farnham Literary Festival at St Mark’s click here, and to find out more about events at other places, click here.

Could you write A Poem for Farnham?

Enter our poetry competition which is being run in conjunction with the inaugural Farnham Literary Festival which is being held across Farnham between March 5th and 13th.

Take part in the competition and you could find yourself reading your poem at a poetry evening on Saturday, March 12th at St Mark’s Church.

There is a children’s competition, open to under-16s, and an adult one, and all you have to do is write a poem about Farnham – what it means to you, what you like or dislike, what the town feels like to you, its history, its people… anything you want to write which means Farnham to you.

Then send it in to us to reach us by 5pm on Monday, February 14th. Send your entries by email to poetry@badshotleaandhale.org or by post to Poetry Competition, St Mark’s Church and Community Centre, Alma Lane, Farnham, GU9 0LT.

There is no word limit, but entries should be typed, double-spaced.

The children’s poetry competition is being judged by poet Coral Rumble and the adult one by poet Ellora Sutton.

Coral Rumble is an award-winning poet specialising in writing and performing for children. She has had four poetry collections published, with Things that Should be in a Poem out soon. Her verse novel Little Light was published last year and she has also written picture books and for children’s TV. You can find her at www.coralrumble.co.uk and she tweets @RumbleCoral.

Coral Rumble

Ellora Sutton, she/her, is a queer poet, museum professional, and critic. Her work has been published in the Poetry Review, Interpreter’s House, Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, fourteen poems and Poetry News, amongst others. She reviews poetry for Mslexia. She tweets @ellora_sutton, or you can find her at ellorasutton.com.

Ellora Sutton

Flowers, Hope and Joy in Verse

Poems from the Farnham Flower Festival

Kaleidoscope

My eyes gaze on such an ornate
Magnificent pattern
Glass gems held in a symmetrical mosaic
Glowing with brilliant light
Shapes and colours like a vivid prism rainbow
In a perfectly aligned stained glass window
Contained within this mini tube.
2019 felt like this…

But then I twisted the kaleidoscope
And everything changed
Fell apart
Jewelled shards became dishevelled, scattered
Collided, separated,
Broken fragments scrunching as a rainstick,
In disarray.
2020 felt like that…

But then a new pattern slowly emerged
Even more beautiful than the last
Everything again in harmony
A new design composed of the same elements
Beautifully, aesthetically glorious
Bright emeralds, rubies, amber and topaz
To savour, to once again bring joy and pleasure.
2021 feels like this…

Linda Daruvala

The Joys of Spring

As the seasons revolve spring gives me much the most joy.
The end of cold winter comes at last into sight
When those perky white snowdrops first cry out ahoy
To remind us dark days will soon bring us more light

Bright yellow daffodils really light up the scene
With crocuses busy and tulips resplendent
Flowers are a joy of spring each year to be seen
Add in the hyacinth with its powerful scent

Another highlight of spring is hearing again
The outburst of birdsong, soon to be in full spate
Take the blackbird with his melodic refrain
Sounds like ‘Can you hear me’ as if calling his mate

Spring finally ends with a crescendo of blossom
Flowering cherries galore, plums apples and pears
Buildings draped with wisteria look truly awesome
Wonderful spring brings a break from life’s daily cares.

John Littlewood

With the dawn of each brand-new day
Dusty cobwebs are swept away
Jewels adorn nature’s attire
Ravishing beauty to admire

Allay your worries, fears and regrets
Refresh, renew, is this a test?
Strength lies deep within
Pick up, dust off and begin

Step into a world of colour
Where rainbows merge into one another
Together we stride into the future
A never-ending united adventure.

Rashida Nasir

A Bright, New Dawn

As I look up toward the sky, clouds are racing.
They twist and turn, as they gather speed.
Their colours are mingled like a giant collage,
looking down upon the earth.
New life is emerging from the depths of winter,
where frost and ice has captured its prey.
Lakes and ponds that once were frozen,
are released from their unchanging prison,
as the waters race towards the sea.
Trees are bearing new life,
with buds forming and releasing their sweet aroma.
Grassy meadows are full of new life,
as insects march towards a new day.
Birds are gathering for their dawn chorus,
“Awake and see the rising sun, bid farewell to troubled times.”

Deborah Nobbs

You are Mighty Rich

Pray close that laptop, no more Twitter or Blog.
Where are your hopes, your dreams and wonder?
You have been blinded by the media my friend
and it’s black cloud you now sit under.

Mate, look at the birds, the trees, the flowers,
Know their song, their strength, their colour.
Breathe in the beauty of these simple things,
Refresh your mind and weary pallor.

Not much in the bank, yet you are mighty rich,
With love, family, hope and laughter.
Grab them! Drink them! Enjoy them again!
For they are yours, forever after.          

Sue Ratcliffe

As time passes,
We forget.
Forget the flower blooming on your window ledge,
Forget the tree growing solemnly behind your garden shed.
Forget the birds that sing every morning in the light of dawn,
Forget the intricate vines that crawl up, outside, on your walls.
Forget what life was like before all this,
Forget how to adapt to the world in light of this pandemic.
But now is not the time to forget.
But for a time for hope to begin blooming in our hearts.
It’s a time for understanding, peace, and joy,
So that we don’t let our loneliness destroy,
The one thing that the world cannot change:
For us to soon be all together again.

Eisha Sohail

Hope is like the birds chirping away
Like the smell of the sea by the bay
Joy is like flowers blooming
Like the glittering fireworks booming
Beauty is like the glimmer of crystals
Who knew life could be so blissful

Kashfa Sohail

Joy and peace
Words of content
Hard to gain but easy to lose
Simple steps to obtain this
Be nice and kind its all worthwhile
If someone’s sad make them smile
Be nice and kind its all worthwhile
Once you are nice and kind
You will feel joy and pride.

Wadood, age 13


Poem of Hope and Joy

Ring out from church and steeple,
Announce to all the people
That ingenious minds work day and night
To put the Covid threat to flight
And find a jab for every variant
Of this disease, ’till from the Orient
To Brazil it will be truly beaten back,
And Life again will come on track.

All countries must come within the fold
Of immunised communities,
And then all families, precious as gold,
Will be bound in Unity.

The Environment we aim to heal
And make our restoration real.
We’ll listen to Greta, and make the world better,
Clean up the seas and ban pollution,
Respect all nations, that’s the solution.
Let’s harness this altruistic trend
And dedicate ourselves to mend 
Our broken and divided world.

As we emerge from our hibernations
And begin to receive Invitations
To the Unmasked Ball,
And are no longer in thrall
To meeting on Zoom –
Come into the room,
Let’s Celebrate – no need to wait –
When those distant greetings are over and done
You can throw your arms around everyone!

Live Music is the hope for all.
Let’s raise the roof in every hall
And sing the Hallelujah Chorus
And other music, just as joyous
To raise our spirits, share the load,
Inspire us on the road ahead.

We will not waste the life we have,
But ‘seize the day’, dispense with strife. 
A new age now is slowly dawning,
‘And joy cometh in the morning’.

Frances Whewell

Belief in life below

Faith is the bare branch of a tree,
Chapped, grey, naked, and brittle
Bending, creaking, threatening to snap
In the cruel wind of winter;
Rising sap just a memory,
Unsure it will happen again.

It requires patience, endurance,
Readiness to flex in the storm
Courage to drive down your roots
Further, deeper into cold soil;
Faith is seeing the hard, dark earth
And believing in life below.

Faith is the precursor to hope,
Revealed in the smallest bud,
The slight suppleness of the branch,
The faintest breath of warmer air;
Sunlight growing longer, stronger
And bird call beyond the storms.

Hope is the bud’s stealthy swelling,
Turning its head to seek the sun
Supping sunlight through infant leaves,
Fragile, timid yet resolute,
Thin shoots, crushable, obstinate,
Life struggling from the hard, dark earth.

Hope is the hint we can unfurl,
Leave our tight buds of fear behind,
Unreasonably reasoning
That there will be again a time
Of sudden, brazen bursts of life
Profusely and recklessly here.

Hope is eternally stubborn
As it seeks and seeps through the cracks,
Forces itself into corners,
Slips under firmly bolted doors
And explodes impertinently
In blossoms of sudden laughter.

Hope leads you into the meadows,
Opens your eyes to see colours,
Teaches you to tune your senses,
To the swoop and the music of
Birds, breezes, insects, pollen, seeds
And to feel the sun kiss your face.

Hope is the precursor to joy,
Joy that can be uncovered,
Small, hushed, hidden, nestled
In spaces between roots of trees,
In blossoms, in cocoons and webs,
In the beating heart of the world.

Joy is a dance and a stillness,
An echoing whoop, a silence,
A laugh, a smile, a contentment,
A quiet coming alongside,
A turning of the hard, dark earth
To reveal the life promised within.

Stella Wiseman

The Poems and the results: The Farnham Lockdown Poetry Festival

Thank you to everyone who entered the Farnham Lockdown Poetry Festival. We had 56 entries from adults and children alike, with ages ranging from eight to 80+ and lots of strong feelings about the struggles of lockdown, but also the togetherness and the hope that people have found, despite all the difficulties.

The poems are available to download here:

and a video of some of the poems being read is available below. Also, though it was almost impossible to choose between the poems, a decision was finally made and the Mayor of Farnham announced the winners in the video.

The winning poems are:

Adults

Winner

Two Lockdowns A Lifetime Apart

The Second World War began when I was just four
The Coventry Blitz was like a firestorm from hell
Later that week I burst into tears when I saw
My toy shop Owen Owen was a burnt out shell 

Rationing, conscription and lights blackened at night
This was a long lockdown lasting almost six years 
Countless houses and buildings laid waste was our plight
Near half a million deaths left many in tears

Seventy-five years later in twenty-twenty
Few people can claim they saw what was now coming 
A virus takes hold to disrupt years of plenty
As it spreads round the world the I-phones are humming

This invisible virus now needed a plan
The instinct in shock is to gather together
But to widespread dismay a new lockdown began
Keep two metres apart at all times wherever

With deaths quickly rising and restrictions imposed
Stay at home, avoid friends and even relations 
All but food shops were shuttered and schools were all closed
Wedding parties were banned and all celebrations

I worry my age group holds the country in thrall
We are lucky to have lived so long to this age
It is we who must be careful and should now call
For the economy to be let out of its cage

Being twice locked down it is all but in tatters
The outlook for young people is truly blighted
Surely for their sakes alone all that now matters
Is that their futures be quickly reignited

John Littlewood

Runner up:

Love Your Neighbour As Yourself

Love Your Neighbour as Yourself,
through screen or window, darkly.
Muffled, crackled, frozen. ’Help!’
‘Can you hear me?’ Hardly.

Love Your Neighbour as Yourself,
through greying hair and slowing hours.
Dull repetition, same old heft,
grace of God in breeze or showers.

Love Your Neighbour as Yourself,
but what means as and how fares Self?
We are God’s hands but when My Self,
when love poured out soon threatens Self?

Love Your Neighbour as Yourself,
when sacrifice is hellish hard.
Exhaustion beckons, ‘Pain! Now quell!’
and chaos reigns in your backyard.

Love Your Neighbour as Yourself,
wash the bodies, dig the graves.
Tender care the greatest wealth,
tears of love for all they gave.

Love Your Neighbour as Yourself,
desist from posting online hate.
Don’t bully, scam or hurt by stealth,
or suicide might be their fate.

Love Your Neighbour as Yourself,
when home-penned folk cry out in pain.
When tempers flare, without behest,
‘When will we see our friends again?’

Love Yourself as Neighbour, Blessed,
when out of work graph rises steep.
Everyone needs better, best,
for damaged mental health wounds, deep.

Love Yourself as Neighbour, Blessed,
vaccines roll out to the people.
Schools return and wedding guests,
bells will ring from tower or steeple.

Love Yourself as Neighbour, Blessed,
pubs reopen, shops restock.
Meet with friends and family,’ Yes!!’,
hugs, kisses, treats, as doors unlock.

Love Yourself as Neighbour, Blessed,
when loved ones’ deaths have maimed you.
Remember humour, chuckling chest,
tearful teas and talk refold you.


Love Yourself as Neighbour, Blessed,
Please keep the distance, wear the mask.
Do take the vaccine, take the test,
washing hands not much to ask.

Love Yourself as Neighbour, Blessed,
make time to think and time to rest.
Properly to think ‘No stress!’
how love of Self confers the best.

Love Yourself as Neighbour, Blessed,
clamouring calls you can resist.
Your self-care struggle now confessed,
put Your needs first in To Do list.

Wendy Edwards

Children:

Winner

A Lockdown Poem

Schools have closed
Working from home
Missing family and friends
Will this ever end?
Doing lots of calls
Kitchens into school
Whether it’s computer or phone
Everything happened at home
Clapping for heroes
Rainbows on the windows
Watching the news
Feeling confused
People staying in
Why is that a thing?
Having lots of bubbles
Missing lots of cuddles
Staying with your household 
If it’s hot or cold
Lots of things have stopped
Many bubbles have popped
But we’re staying safe at home
And are never really alone.

Matilda Bowden (9)

Runner-up

Coronavirus

Coronavirus has wrecked all of our lives
Oh how I wish I could punch it
Rage takes over me and I cannot control it|
On the inside I have pain
Now is the time we fight
Anger is the only feeling I can feel
Vans with deliveries come by, wishing us luck
I had covid and I don’t want it to come back        
Run, for covid is here
Understand me please I can’t take this pain anymore
Stand with me, we will defeat it together

Elsie Howard (8)

Last call for the Farnham Lockdown Poetry Festival

Have you written your poem for the Farnham Lockdown Poetry Festival? Entries should be in by the end of tomorrow.

Send your poems about being in lockdown – whatever you feel, whatever your experience – to Lesley Crawley either by email or to her at The Rectory, 25 Upper Hale Road, Farnham GU9 0NX.

Adults and children alike are welcome to send in their poems on the theme of lockdown. The Mayor has offered a prize for the best adult and best child one but don’t worry if you don’t think you are the world’s greatest poet – just give it a go!

If you want some ideas, listen to this lockdown poem by Harry Baker:

Or this poem by Jim Carruth

the long bench

For the times ahead
when we will be

as if at either end
of the long bench

where distance kept
is love’s measure

and death dances
the space between

when words alone
are not enough

and queued memories
reach out to touch

let longing be a store
of nut and seed

that grows each day
in strange hibernation

readying for its end –
the sharing of the feast.

Picture by Ksenia Makagonov on Unsplash

The Farnham Lockdown Poetry Festival

Lockdown, lockdown. It’s all around us. And how are we feeling? Why not try to express it in poetry?

We are running the Farnham Lockdown Poetry Festival and invite everyone to write a poem about being in lockdown – whatever you feel, whatever your experience – and send it to us and we will put together a compilation video of our favourite poems and put it on our website.

Adults and children alike are welcome to send in their poems on the theme of lockdown. And don’t worry if you don’t think you can write poetry; read some and give it a go!

If you want some ideas, listen to this lockdown poem by Harry Baker:

Or this poem by Jim Carruth

the long bench

For the times ahead
when we will be

as if at either end
of the long bench

where distance kept
is love’s measure

and death dances
the space between

when words alone
are not enough

and queued memories
reach out to touch

let longing be a store
of nut and seed

that grows each day
in strange hibernation

readying for its end –
the sharing of the feast.

Send your poems to Lesley Crawley: revd.lesley@badshotleaandhale.org to arrive by February 26. Or you can send them in the post to Rev’d Lesley Crawley, The Rectory, 25 Upper Hale Road, Farnham GU9 0NX.