The Writers’ Cafe Magazine – ISSUE 2 “Community Active”


A hip flask is a window to yesterday

by Kate Garrett

We all perform our parts down
to an art on these nights: she
is the witch, he is the rock star,
the brain, the vamp, the librarian;
conversations repeat, predictable loops.

And so it goes, until I catch a glint
of silver returning to a pocket.
And he says ‘are you having another?’
and we talk about love and Britpop
and how things change, and remind

each other we can never blame the young
when we’re the ones who always stay out late.


by Kate Garrett 

The younger ones ask where
the eldest has gone, say it’s been
half an hour since they saw him—
in this moment the pier is ten miles
long instead of just over one.

He’s the boy who refuses a phone,
and in this moment all bad things
are possible; it’s like he wants
to disappear. In this moment you
almost hate the sea you love, because
you know if he jumped in, he’d never
make it. That’s a fine fate you’d keep
for yourself, but not your children.

Everyone separates, leaves you
to the vacuum of your headspace—
you wander through murk of candy-
floss, choking on doo-wop pumped
through loudspeakers, the buzz of 2p
slot machines. The sea is serene
and you think it is waiting, or sated…

then someone’s calling, someone’s
found him, on dry land, solid pavement
beneath his feet. Your son lopes back
down the pier to you, you look up to his
his face, tell him how it scares you when
he goes missing—his eyes clear, curious:
to him you speak a dead tongue—he
insists he knew where he was all along.

Rohingya & other invisible places

by Antony Owen

In Rohingya,
a bright bird was shunned for being beautiful
if you see a torc of vultures another village burnt down
only the river reflects what is happening like stories in another language.
To translate,
a bell is ringing from a dazed Ox circled in fire
it is only an Ox, he serves the mouth and disputed grass
at the very same moment in Srebrenica a covered woman unveils her tears.

In Paradise,
a man with dirty hands cleans a gold Rolls Royce by day.
At night he scrubs himself and the humming of his wife cleanses him.
England, he says, is guilding Yemen, creating refugees like sadistic greek gods.

To translate,
a bell is ringing from a Devon cow, milked for Tesco.
At five am they clean the udders and work them to ulcers
At the very same moment in Rohingya, a landmine clicks, the screen burns out.

To translate,
we are exhausted by death.
Previously published by I am Not a Silent Poet

A Gift Horse Chestnut

by Cathy Bryant

He husked them, baked them and soaked them
in vinegar, before stringing them.
The unassuming lumps, shrunken heads,
looked no match for the glossy chestnuts,
and egos swelled with boasting, of bigger boys,
flashy with pride. But faced with his,
the fine fillies fell at the first fence, broken.

He presented me with all his champions,
his eyes wide with worship and hope,
as I surveyed the indomitable kernels.
We were seven. There was no greater gift.
I smiled and accepted them:
love conkers, all.

B&B By the Sea

by Cathy Bryant

Two blokes at breakfast,
here for the fishing.
I catch snatches of their words:
“camel racing…pounding down…
tons of shale, and the thing is….
vehicle, but after 1950…..”
I hear one thing very clearly:
“The power of the thing. The power
of it.” Then a beat…
of silence. The only one.
Platefuls dispatched, the blokes
go off with all their fishing gear:
long rods, waders up to here,
packed bags of this and that,
all in a marine dark green.
I’m left. Men – what moved you
to silence for that moment? What power
– camels, shale or vehicle?

Evening Song
after Plath

by Cathy Bryant

Love set you going like a fat gold watch
– now you’re overwound and drink too much Scotch.
The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry
Prefigured your shiny pate and rheumy eye.
Your mouth opens clean as a cat’s. The window square
illuminates the glass-set dentures of day-wear.
One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral,
hobbling to fetch dry sheets and our chloral.
Love set you going like a fat gold watch;
Death is calling like a kick in the crotch.

Mountain Flower

by Susan Castillo

We burst into bloom,
young girls in flower
scattering blood-red petals.

We will not hide ourselves
step aside, feel shame,
deny our light.

We walk hand in hand,
glowing with the power
to create and grow.

Previously published by Rosa Matheson’s Friends of Angels Orphanage

The Great Delusion

by Bob Beagrie


Enemies of the People

by Bob Beagrie



by Maggie Mackay 

She’s an ancient alchemist forging metal from ore;
a plume of smoke, fire shooting from her gut.

She’s dear green earth, a deep breathing river,
sandstone-red tenement, kind to her mother.

She’s a big busted woman feeding jammy pieces
to bairns at play on hot tarmac streets.

She builds ships, makes art out of sparks,
drawing life histories from folk at her bus stops.

Sometimes she’s a bright clanger of tools,
flexor of brawn, a gobby, dry witted welder,

or pal to a pattern maker, boss of a cheeky fitter
the Red Clyde roars in her blood.

She rolls into the pub at shift’s end,
a belly of laughter, chain smoking blether.

Ashamed of tears, she travels in gangs,
steel and grit from head to every toe,

our Jimmy Reid, a cragged Alex Ferguson,
Mercutio, the Renfrew ferryman after a fare,

each drunk reeling on the subway platform,
a bookworm, an apprentice serving time,

a cormorant sunbathing on the riverbank,
a collie’s squint of intent with sheep to herd.

She’s Mary Barbour’s rent strike. rattle birl,
the ghost of Jamaican booty in the city,

and now, she’s a 21st century cry, gie it laldy
the bawling bairns, the snarl of gable end murals.

Hauld yer wheesht, Clap the Queen of the Fair.
Toast her in Brechin’s Bar. Board the ferry at Water Row.

She’s a raucous evening game of bingo,
the glow of the blue neon of the Luma Tower

Govan’s pulse beats strong. She’ll carry on.

The Aluminum Bowl for a Dog

by Valery Petrovskiy

I know a humblebee to have a nest
in my shed, former it was a hen coop,
yet for a long time no chicken stay there …
the humblebee flies in through a chink
right above a summer washstand,
hindering me frequently.

I know a dog to live in the neighbors’ courtyard
they let me feed him when they are out
Sometimes, after dinner I take leftovers to him.
I prefer to attend the dog towards evening when the sun is setting
and the aluminium bowl I gave him doesn’t glitter.

But last evening, I didn’t find the basin
a neighbor run it over and then heaped it up
on a scrap metal pile.

Fall will soon be here, and then winter comes
snowflakes would fly like aluminium bullets
and scrap metal heap will change into a snowdrift.

Community of Saints

by Cath Campbell

Sunday dawns Eastertide, and all dolled up for church,
our best shop bought dresses worn with anxious care.

Mother combs out hair, checks faces for imagined dirt.
No muddy paths, no climbing on the way. Don’t you dare.

A troop of kids flying down Trewlawney Avenue, a mob
for high mass, the lengthy kind lasting all bright sun morn.

Cool marble floors and hard wood pews, enough to numb
even the plumpest bum after a stretched out boring sermon.

I loathed it, an ardent non believer from the first rebel thought;
If God is love, why, oh why do they hate us so much instead?

Why does Iris Smith sniff disapprovingly when she walks past,
fix Godly eyes upon her rosary sure Christ wouldn’t have bled

for anyone tainted and seeded from a lesser God, like us?
Behind her veil and lustrous pearls there’s judgement day,

and we are somehow lacking, unworthy to kiss His wounds.
Bog Irish and so many, so many, she mutters to Agnes Lane

who stares a hole into our freckled skins all through Eucharist
as if we are devils within their sacred community of saints

contaminating, with our race, their perfect praying place.
We are not wanted by these purveyors of heaven’s taste.

Holy Hosanna, we sing, horns retracted, eyes round as moons,
and under my breath I croon just loud enough for her to hear,

Holy holy hypocrites, holy miserable thin lipped gits.
I’m not worthy, hope you get the shits. Lord hear my prayer.

Outside the Circle 

by Cath Campbell

His face twisted, mouth a fathomless O,
head thrown back,
while all around the trolleyed shoppers
turned away.
I saw a frown, or two , unfolded the bags,
and looked again.
He was almost past, a ricket limp,
an awkward raincoat flapping,
wing-spanned to his knees.
Tan trousers, with a dark growing stain
along the inner seams.

Gone, before I could act or think,
and I walked on
into the clean light of the Asda store
with its full friday night
money’d roar,
saw twitchy noses flared
at the intrusive pong of pee,
the smell of his mishap, maybe more.
Yet as I rolled the trolley
down the aisle, rolled the tears
unexpected down my cheeks.

People asked,
Was I ok?  Did I need help?

I cried for hours, wondering where he’d gone.
I cried because I belonged,
and he did not.
I cried because I’d been slow to act
and then the choice had passed,
and thought, what had we become
who have everything, but heart.


by Cath Campbell

The damage to the bowling green lawn,
the shed’s wooden slats!
A holed den behind the greenhouse.
A pesky, flea-bitten, baby smothering intruder.
If I had a gun I’d shoot her.

At three am I peek through the curtains,
tiptoe my fingers, pull aside the cottony film.
A vixen and four cubs ransack the lawn.

There will be no gun, for frosted tips
dampen to white as they roll,
the moon adding spice,
and the red is the red of the first day of life
when God made colours to shine.

Later, I surmised this was in character.
Quick to fire up, but easily enchanted
by moonlight, and myth.

I’m not hardly a killer, more a curious visitor
offering space to a family of foxes –
when it was theirs all along.


by Vicky Batsioudi

I did the laundry-pants and socks,
some tights and a pair of shorts;
I washed the dishes and cooked a
pasta sauce;
I boiled and froze some beans
I spent more time in the kitchen
using cupboard stuff forgotten for
ages; some were out of date but
didn’t want to throw them away-
I pulled my eyebrows that had
bushed up quite a lot after all this
time of neglect-a couple of them
were white; I looked at one and
couldn’t help thinking of decline-
I tidied up but didn’t go out
I bled for the first time in more
than a year. Constant ruthless
change. Just as I sort of get the
hang of a phase I have to learn a
new one-
I made this list.
For posterity.
For observing the space in my head
For a sense of order
To convince myself I achieved
Of the mundane
And I did.


by Barry Fentiman-Hall

We will live and die
In these places
Nothing changes
Elbow to elbow
Table to table
We make tea and paper
While we talk about
Last weekend and the next
Groundhogging and hugging
Awkwardly, occasionally,
Over cards, cakes, and confetti
Numbered and life shaped
Trod into carpets forever
By restless heeled feet
We are not friends
One day we will leave
Have a small party
Move to another place
Just like this one
Full of new people
And I will never see you again

Identity Theft

by Barry Fentiman-Hall

We queue constantly
At red banded barriers
That rise and fall
Key cards on lanyards
Swinging with the wind
Proving who we are
By our actions,
The trail that we leave
It burns like slicks
On hard black
These breadcrumbs
Will find their way back
To us in time
We pay as we display
Even ghosts are visible
The dead talk, resurrected
Dancing to algorithms
Independent of thought
Heating the machine
It is important to
Know your numbers
Underscored by
Numb fingers
Forget, resent, reset
Who was your childhood hero?
Your first car?
I don’t remember
Maybe I don’t want to
Let the barrier fall
I am not clear
Maybe I should turn off
Then turn on again

This is Business

by Barry Fentiman-Hall

My head walks in snow
Fevered and unsteady
Awaiting an answer
From fearful colleagues
Who understand but
Know with passing days
That there will be blood
In my slow footsteps
Tallying against me
In the book of wrongs
That must be overcome
Again when I get back
“No, no, don’t be sorry”
They say and mean it
For they do not mind
And my apologies
Now, will not matter
When the man decides
Just what I deserve
Cold reading my fate
And he will leave me
Out in the winter
When I trigger, and
If I freeze, I freeze
It ain’t personal
This is business

First Day

by Carolyn Batcheler

Lynnette, just 16, hadn’t slept much and struggled to swallow her breakfast, full of first day nerves. She walked up to the factory on the hill. The interviews had been held at a local hotel so she hadn’t been inside. The security guard said “Welcome to the house of fun”. Lynnette blushed as she said “Thank you” She was issued with her overalls, boots and hairnets and given a security pass. A woman called Jane showed her round. She felt a bit queasy as the smell sank into each pore of her skin. It was a peculiar mix of chemicals and rubber. Her induction took all morning. She got her sandwiches out of her locker and sat down at a table in the corner by herself. She opened up her can of pop and tried to wash away the taste in her mouth but the real problem started when she took a bite of the sandwich her mam had made. The bland cheese had taken on the flavour that was in the air. She pushed it in the bin and treated herself to a packet of crisps from the machine.

She was shown what her duties were to be. Seated between two other women she watched as they placed the goods into boxes and sealed them in a smooth motion with packing tape. It was almost like watching a dance. Her first attempt at closing up a package was greeted with an “Ahh, not bad pet” It took her a while to get the sticky tape off her hand and leg. Cynthia helped by showing her slowly but she still struggled to get the flow of the tape. By break time her arms were aching and her hands sticky with sweat and glue. When she went to the toilet her hair was coming out the net, and a spot was forming on the side of her nose. It must be all the chemicals in the air, mixed with the stress. She couldn’t believe how hard it all was. They sent her away from the production line to practice but she could see how effortlessly all the women worked in the room. Lynnette was so relieved when the buzzer went off . The women chatted away as they changed and Cynthia said “See ya, tommorra, pet” and all Lynnette could manage was a weak smile.

The fresh air smelt like nectar as she hurried home. Her mam had cooked her favourite cauliflower cheese and it tasted good. As the food went down, she settled down in front of the telly with a mug of tea and tried to make sense of what happened during the day. So, Lynnette asked “Mam, I’m confused, I watched everything today, and I tried to learn all they told me, but is there really so much sex going on in the world that they need that many condoms?” It was her mam’s turn to blush.

The Last Flower Parade

by Charley Reay

It was town tradition
To weave floats
Out of flower petals

Parade them through
The fields, to the town.

It was town tradition
To drink ourselves
stupid, and shout
“The flower queen’s a slag!”
As the parade passed by.

Autumn Epiphany

by Jan McCarthy

On the way home from my allotment
Proud of the contents of my basket
Parsnips and carrots winking sleepily
Long leeks thrusting roofwards their sleek crowns
My crimson dahlias will be the envy of passers-by
……in mother’s cut glass vase in my front window

Road diversion, burst water main – again!
The water rates we pay, what a disgrace!
But I find a smile, pleased with my day’s work
My silent, sunny day of solitude
Far from the madding crowd, the city strife
No-one to bother me but the odd slug, the errant earwig
……………………………………………..and clumsy clambering bug

Satnav will see me home.
Hopeful I remain as they digress me, and it’s
Council estate ahead oh God those glowering ugly blocks
So-called I think for they block the autumn sun
I lock my doors, wind up tight my tinted windows
Pray for safe passage, tune in to Classic FM

And that’s when it happens, oh God! I cannot breathe
I pull over, gears grinding, to the kerb
pop-eyed my fingers shaking on the wheel
A garden is rising, spills colours to the edge
of merciless concrete, outshining garish shades of
graffitti and blown litter
A neighbour melee, faces and flowers, multicoloured all
They dig and plant and laugh, and there are
children too, kneeling side by side
And suddenly I feel ashamed

…………………………………………………Like a moment has come upon me I can’t ignore
…………………………………………………And home in my memory feels like an empty shell,
…………………………………………………of objects coveted, bought and stored, for nothing
…………………………………………………….and nobody
…………………………………………………………………………………………….and no reason

Meat for Flies

by Sarah Brassington

A bloodslick of civilians,
limbs slewed,
fatally flawed.
Exposing tight Western denim
and shockingly bare flesh.
Once the preserve of husbands,
now made meat for flies.
Holes torn in hearts
and dignities
by peppercorn bullets
In a quiet street.
Opposite a hospital
partially funded by the UN,
whose troops
had been carrying out
a defensive manoeuvre.

She Says

by Gill Lambert

She left in 2006,
but still her accent’s thick.
Ten years haven’t smoothed
her voice, cleaned it
of its Otherness. She shrugs

when I ask her how she is –
stress she says, no job. She says
her children speak too fast,
they have no time to give
her language, help her fit.

She says when she tells them
where she’s from, people turn away.
I ask her, where? She ducks her head,
lowers her eyes, whispers
like a dirty word, Afghanistan.

We talk about our kids and nod
frustration into pact. She says
they will be okay, at least,
they’ll go to university,
be doctors, lawyers, teachers.

As we part our eyes meet,
hers brim with what she hasn’t said.

Iron Sky 

by Mark Connors

It’s 33 degrees
The sun cracks flags
A good day for the park
Everyone looks happy
Even the dogs

It’s 43 degrees
The sun sears skin
A good day for pistachio ice cream
They are dropping barrel bombs
while the children sing

It’s 23 degrees
The moon is full round
A good night for garden piss-ups
All those heavy heads tomorrow
All those chuck-a-sickie phone calls

It’s 33 degrees
The moon is cold white
A good night for lassi
All that invisible blood
setting fire to the streets by dawn

It’s 33 degrees
We can’t wash our cars
The old fight to breathe
Dogs fry on backseats
All crying is crying

It’s 43 degrees
The park is empty
The ice cream shop is closed
Dads queue at the bakery
for the ghost of a loaf

It’s 23 degrees
The moon is a closed eye
The news is all money
Summer has a sell-by-date
Nobody is sleeping

It’s 33 degrees
Manmade meteors teem the sky
Parents watch from blown out windows
They say goodbye again and again
while their children dream

All aboard

by Mark Connors

Yes, this is the correct platform.
Yes, it’s going where you think it is.
Yes, it will be overcrowded.
Don’t worry about keeping the aisles free.
Please refrain from smoking.
Please don’t squeeze children through the sliding windows.

Please take all your belongings with you.
Please take all your children with you.
Yes, this is the final stop.
Yes, you are still within our borders.
Yes, I’m afraid we were lying.
No, the soldiers are here for your safety.

No, we are not sorry for lying.
No, you are here so we can process you.
No, this is not the forties all over again.
Yes, we do have food and water.
But please refrain from chanting.
Please refrain from emotional blackmail.

No, we don’t want you to stay.
Yes, you can walk 100 miles along the motorway.
Please keep the hard shoulder clear.
Yes, we have kind people in our country.
Yes, some will give you food and water.
Thank you for passing through. Have a safe onward journey.

Previously published in Nothing in Meant to be Broken’ Stairwell Books, 2017

We are here and this is what we sound like

by Mark Connors

We have come a long way. We rest our weary wings,
recuperate on telephone wires that look a bit like staves.

A composer takes a photo so he can make
a melody of us: one bird, one note, one song.

He won’t know we’re complicit to a tune sourced
from our perching. Stuff like this will get us into trouble.

Some native birds despise us: our journeys, spirit, courage,
how we strive against the elements. They see us more like

scroungers than survivors. They think we’ll have it easy;
they don’t know what we’ve flown from. We come

in numbers, eat their food, convince them of their burden.
When the man performs the very notes of us

he’ll discover something awful. Some of us are
broken. We’ve had it hard. It will show.

We still know hope but hope won’t keep us safe.
Hear our song. We have nowhere else to go.

Prviously published in Nothing in Meant to be Broken Stairwell Books, 2017


by Reuben Woolley



For once

by Amir Darwish

For once, I sniff a war smoke free air

For once, jasmines and olives fall naturally, not from bomb shocks.

Trees and roses grow fearless of bullets

For once, I write to a lover with love words

I say to her:

At the gates of your heart, there is a bench, I am sat waiting for you there

For once, the sun rise and set on me with no war planes to disturb its rays as they warm my palm

I sleep a full night unawaken by shouts of a mother who lost a child, by cries of babies searches in piles for a dead mother breast to suckle

For once, I wake up with no tears to sting my cheeks

Yes, only once, I burry my head in a pillow without mentally programming war images

For once, number of cars overcome the ambulances

I go to school to find it one, and not a camp

For once, I meet friends to talk about last night, not last battle

And happiness sheepishly arise

For once, sadness comes later in my life

And reading poetry comes before the death list

Pigeons in the sky overcome shells

The singing birds beat gunshots to my ears

For once, I light and end a cigarette before another human falls

I walk limbs free street

Tanks free

Guns free

For once, I feel safe

At last I have a life again.

Natural Light

by Anna Kander

The desire to be seen
transforms me.

Slide a mirror to me
under the door,
here in this dark room,
and I will find a way
to flash semaphores.

Previously published with Gnarled Oak

Arriving at a Shelter from Violence 

by Anna Kander

Your wounds are fresh
and still too deep
to paint your surfaces blue.

Only pinpoints of blood
decorate your skin,
like freckles on little girls
before we train them
to blush, gloss,

The red dots are petechiae,
and I connect them.
Blood spills from your capillaries,
the last destinations of your cardiovasculature,
the furthest reaches of your heart.

Sit with me,
and I will hold your hand
until strangers no longer stare and judge,
until the bruises bloom
and fade,

and you remain.

First appeared in Ariel Chart


by Gareth Writers-Davies

I am glad
that others are making arrangements

and thinking
of next year when bigger and better, the community will

make the playground
and put on a fabulous show, that racks up large amounts

of cash
enough to mend the roof of the charity hall

don’t count me out
you may rely on me, to not stand in the way of

the good deeds of others
and not complain when buckets demand

my small change
I am compliant and happy to shake your hand, upon completion

when the uncurtain of the plaque on the wall
reads as follows

Without your contribution, as a citizen
and no more

for my inaction, and your action
together retain the shape of the walls

in return for your good
I will not be contrary and remain benignly (and sincerely) your concern

Let’s keep that door open

by Helen Bryne

Put the kettle on
Ere’ar I’ll get the biccies hun
Not bad you, for a posh one,
Go ‘ed take a few, I’ll happily have none.

In the heart of Linaker Road
These women have a heavy load
Don’t underestimate their generosity though
The biggest hearts you’d ever know.

2,3,4 this year.
Council cuts looming near
A lifeline lost is what we fear
Help keep these women off their gear.

Why does the voluntary sector have to exist?
An allotment project pitch to reduce a shopping list?
Just look out for these women, that’s the gist
Provide a safe haven from an angry fist.

But most of all, you’ll hear us roar
Laughing until out muscles sore
These women aren’t for wanting more
Just a friendly, feminine, welcoming open door.

From a prompt given at the Claudia Jones Space Station held at The NewBridge Project

Picking holes in the litter pick

By Tom C.

Deep in my self-obsessed,
narrow minded depression pit,
barely able to see past my curtains,
rambling state, using too many commas, en deleti-,
no say that,
this is too much,
not pulling myself out of this today,
think I will cry,
then a message tone.

-Hey, how you doing kid?
……………………….Shit. I feel properly, properly, truly shit.

-You should go on that community litter pick.

Good idea I concede,
let’s get on it.

After all, it’s the little things.

Now I’ve been on this before,
but it was because I wanted to be part of it,
some of my friends
had been there since the start of it.

Now I was being ushered towards
the source of endorphins,
dropped into a community spirit
I didn’t know existed here.

Looking out for the pavement and the alleys,
this is canny but the council’s complacent and no, actually

We’re not on community service,
we shouldn’t have to do this,

but we do anyway because we can.

Yes, every third Sunday will never be enough picks,
to clean Heaton’s streets uniquely free of rubbish.

But perhaps the methodology is more important than the result in this experiment.

Perhaps the harmonies of common effort in chorus can sing louder than the ever absent low bass growl of the street sweeper and its rotating brushes.

Different backgrounds,
different motivations,
different people,
who may have never found their voice within the CHORUS otherwise

but specifically the SHITE that leaks out of dirty nappies.

Chain takeaways.
Clearly too busy with their hard in-dus-tri-al beat of bus-i-ness to sing as part of the chorus.

Or maybe it’s the students,
disrespecting this place.

Someone should give em all a bloody slap
to get them all in their place.

how about looking at the students as symptoms?

Of a general lack of community epidemic in Britain.
Fresher’s week says: study here, live here, and these are the bars where you get cheap beer.

For 3 years.

3 years that could be spent getting to know the neighbours,
checking out the underground of the city and all it’s different flavours.

The amount of students that stay here relative to the amount that actually get to know Newcastle is – low.

I don’t have the statistic because that’s someone else’s job and frankly I don’t think community “spirit” can be measured.

Nor can it be bottled, packaged, marketed, sold, bought, or advertised but by god they’re trying aren’t they:

“Focus groups to be held in a city centre based state of the art conference room with an elected representative of each sector of the community, an agenda, a minute taker, a finite amount of time in which to discuss all the issues, and subsequently come up with solutions, clearly outlining the most efficient and cost effective method of delivering this service to the wider public whilst outwardly appearing to be the most in touch with the people.”
………………………………………………………………..Exert, Anonymous Bureaucratic Waffle Document
So back down to street level, where we are.

We discuss our different thoughts on what causes the issues,
as we trudge our way through condoms and tissues.

3 inch rubber grabbers
grasping at a mountain sized problem.
Questioning whether
and how much our efforts actually solve them.

But that is wasted breath that could be used for the chorus
and it rather defeats the object.

Cynicism and pessimism cannot touch me here,
and there’s a fine line between optimism and opportunity.

From a prompt given at the Claudia Jones Space Station held at The NewBridge Project


Reuben Woolley
 has been published in Tears in the Fence, The Lighthouse Literary Journal, The Interpreter’s House, Domestic Cherry, Ink Sweat and Tears, The Stare’s NestAnd Other PoemsThe Poetry ShedThe BeZine and Goose among others. He has a collection, the king is dead, 2014, Oneiros Books; a chapbook, dying notes, 2015, Erbacce Press; a short collection on the refugee crisis, skins, 2016, Hesterglock Press and a new collection, broken stories, just published by 20/20 Vision Media, 2017. Runner-up: Overton Poetry Pamphlet competition and the Erbacce Prize, both in 2015. He edits the online poetry magazines, I am not a silent poet and The Curly Mind.

Mark Connors is an award-winning writer from Leeds, UK. His poetry has appeared in many anthologies, alongside acclaimed poets such as Simon Armitage, Andrew Motion, Antony Dunn and Kate Fox. He’s also had over 100 poems published in a variety of magazines and literary journals both in the UK and overseas, including Envoi, Prole, The Interpreter’s House, Dream Catcher and a number of Indigo Dreams imprints.

Gill Lambert is a poet and teacher from Yorkshire. She won the 2016 Ilkley Literature Festival Open mic competition and runs Shaken in Sheeptown in Skipton. Her debut pamphlet, Uninvited Guests was published by Indigo Dreams in September 2017.

Barry Fentiman-Hall  is a writer of place. He has been published in anthologies Stories from Songs, City without a head, An Assemblance of Judicious Heretics, and Icon Theatre’s 23 Submarines, and magazines including: Anti-Heroin Chic, PoetryPulse, The Blue Nib and Picaroon. His pamphlet The Unbearable Sheerness of Being is available from Wordsmithery.

Cathy Bryant’s books are: Contains Strong Language and Scenes of a
Sexual Nature, Look at All the Women, and How to Win Writing
Competitions. She has won 27 writing competitions and literary awards.
Cathy also runs the Comps and Calls site, listing free opportunities for impoverished

Charley Reay is a Newcastle based writer from the Lincolnshire Fens.  Their poems are published by Obsessed With Pipework, Ink, Sweat & Tears, and Three Drops press among others.  Charley also performs on the North East spoken word scene. You can find her on Twitter @charleyreay

Carolyn Batcheler is a Manchester-based writer but has spent the majority of her life in the North East.  Has been published with Writers Against Prejudice, Eleven Magazine and Durham Magazine.  She wishes she could develop wings to fly between the two. She has been writing for 4 years. “It’s what makes me happy…. with a little bit of spoken word thrown in!”

Maggie Mackay, a Scot and recent Manchester Metropolitan University MA Poetry graduate, has work in a range of print and online publicationsThe editor of Amaryllisnominated her poem ‘How to Distil a Guid Scotch Malt’for The Forward Prize, Best Single Poem, 2017.

Kate Garrett is managing editor of Three Drops from a Cauldron, Picaroon Poetry, and Lonesome October Lit. Her writing appears here and there, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and long-listed for a Saboteur Award. Her latest pamphlet, You’ve never seen a doomsday like it, was published by Indigo Dreams in June 2017. She grew up in rural southern Ohio, but moved to the UK in 1999 – where she still lives happily in Sheffield with her husband, 4.5 children and a sleepy cat.

Antony Owen was raised in the industrial heartland of Coventry which is a notable inspiration of his work. Owen is also a prolific writer on war poems and his fifth collection of poetry by V.Press will focus largely on the atomic devastation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This work was inspired by testimonies of atomic bomb survivors and years of research on the detritus of modern warfare on those caught up in it.

Amir Darwish is a British Syrian poet & writer of Kurdish origin who lives in London. Born in Aleppo, he came to Britain as an asylum seeker in 2003. Amir has an MA in International Relations of the Middle East from Durham University, UK and a BA in history from Teesside University, UK. He published his work in the UK, USA, Pakistan, India, Finland, Turkey, Canada, Singapore & Mexico. Currently, he is doing an MA in creative and life writing at Goldsmiths University, London.

Vicky Batsioudi is an amateur at almost everything, is afraid to leave her comfort zone. Could do with more laughing and certainly more dancing.

Gareth Writer-Davies;Shortlisted for the Bridport Prize (2014 and 2017) and the Erbacce Prize (2014)Commended in the Prole Laureate Competition (2015) and Prole Laureate for 2017.Commended in the Welsh Poetry Competition (2015) and Highly Commended in 2017 His pamphlet “Bodies”, was published in 2015  by Indigo Dreams and his next pamphlet “Cry Baby” will come out in November, 2017.

Valery Petrovskiy is a Chuvash University, Cheboksary graduate in English. A Pushcart Prize nominee, Finalist to Open Russia Literature Contest 2012 he is the author of e-book Into the Blue on New Year’s Eve (Hammer and Anvil Books) and hardback Tomcat Tale (Editura StudIS). Valery lives in Russia in a remote village by the Volga river.

Jan McCarthy is a former English teacher, born in the Black Country. She was a finalist for the Asham Literary Award 2011 and has gone on to write a number of novels, two poetry collections and a book of short stories. She lives in Birmingham with her husband Terry.

Susan Castillo is an international woman of mystery. She has published three collections of poems, The Candlewoman’s Trade (2003), Abiding Chemistry,  (2015), and Constellations (2016), as well as in several leading journals and anthologies. She is owned by two cats, Dan and Eric.

Anna Kander is a writer in the Midwest. Her debut poetry collection, Slide a Mirror to Me, is forthcoming from Transcendent Zero Press. Her work has appeared in Ellipsis, Social Justice, Train, and other magazines. Find her at

Sarah Brassington likes life in particular chocolate, the sea, (particularly the Adriatic) travelling, conversations around my kitchen table with my children and their friends. Champagne. Dislikes sitting in a draught and blue cheese “Most of my stuff is semi -autobiographical, based on people I have met, conversations I have had or overheard, and my own experiences.  Poetry is my way of vocalising my internal processing a bit like therapy only cheaper”!

Cath Campbell is a self-taught poet from Northumberland. She began making poetry quite unexpectedly two years ago after the accidental joining of an on-line poetry group. Her work has been published in Erbacce, Obsessed With Pipework, and I Am Not a Silent Poet. She says that she enjoys the practice of poetry, and when the fun stops so will she. So far it has been a blast.’

Bob Beagrie (b. 1967) is a UK poet, playwright, and senior lecturer in creative writing at Teesside University. He has published eight poetry collections and five chapbooks and contributed to various anthologies and journals. His poetry has been translated into Urdu, Dutch, Estonian, Finnish, Russian, Danish, Spanish, and Swedish. He is co–director of Ek Zuban Press and co-runs the literature event The Electric Kool-Aid Cabaret of the Spoken Word. He is also a founding member of an experimental poetry and sound-scape scheme called Project Lono.

Helen Byrne is a Scouse Law Student. Partial to the odd G&T. Recently discovered the Newcastle spoken word community…And loving it!

Tom C. is a performance poet from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. His pieces consist of accounts of self-discovery, frank and honest perspectives from a mental health sufferer and sometimes just a good old rant at the world. Multi-syllabic, sometimes overly dramatic, always frantically fanatic about poetry.


Thanks to Reuben Woolley and to my dad David Brooks for their help with this issue. Also, thank you to the artist Soya Dyer for asking The Writers’ Cafe to be part of the Claudia Jones Space Station and to the BALTIC and The NewBridge Project for being co-collaborators on this project. Lastly, thank you to all the contributors.

“The Lady with the Lamp, the Statue of Liberty, stands in New York Harbour. Her back is squarely turned on the USA. It’s no wonder, considering what she would have to look upon. She would weep, if she had to face this way”. Claudia Jones













One thought on “The Writers’ Cafe Magazine – ISSUE 2 “Community Active”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s