Category Archives: Uncategorized


The Poetry Room book group ran from 2008 to 2013, and was run by Anna Woodford and Linda France. The group no longer meets, but you can read extracts of the poetry collections they discussed on this blog and get some inspiration for your poetry reading.

Our Last Playlist

For the record and those who weren’t able to make it, here are the poems that we shared at our last readaround. We also had a chance to reflect on our time in the Poetry Room and everyone agreed that it has been a great pleasure, a very special space indeed.

Many thanks to you all.

Anna & Linda

Frau Baumann, Frau Schmidt, and Frau Schwarze – Theodore Roethke
Refrigerator, 1957 – Thomas Lux
The Norbert Dentressangle Van – Sophie Hannah
Topography – Sharon Olds
The Tree – William Scammell
Day of the Tiger: Presented to Three Friends – Yi Tongmu
The Subway Piranhas – Edwin Morgan
Apartment Cats – Thom Gunn
My Love is Like a Red, Red Rose – Robert Burns

The Grand Finale

The July session of the Poetry Room will be our usual summer readaround – a chance for you to bring a poem you particularly like to share with the group (about 10/12 copies would be helpful – thanks). These are always popular and enjoyable sessions and this one will be extra special as, sad to say, it will be our last. Because of funding cuts, the Poetry Room will no longer be running after this final session. Yet another reason to come along and say hello and goodbye to us all.

Very much looking forward to seeing as many of you who can make it on Tuesday 2 July 6pm-8pm, upstairs in the City Library, Newcastle.


Burying the Wren

After a wonderful reading on Tuesday night at Culture Lab with Julia Copus*, it will be a delight to revisit Deryn’s work in the Poetry Room. Her 2012 collection Burying the Wren (Seren) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. Her poems are both fierce and delicate, bold and precise, ranging in scale from the smallest things (a wren, a Chinese lacquer egg, a truffle) to the uncontainable wildness of intense grief, sustaining a remarkable sense of measure and power whatever their focus.

John Burnside wrote of the book: ‘A powerful, deeply moving collection whose searching, often elegiac, sometimes joyous poems remind us that grief is not an end, but another beginning, and that loss drives us, inexorably, to a new kind of finding.’

The poems we’ll be looking at will include those she read and a few others:

Burying the Wren (both versions)
A Chinese Lacquer Egg

So, we look forward to seeing you (whether you made it to the reading or not) at the next Poetry Room on Tuesday 4 June, 6pm-8pm, at Newcastle City Library.

* Julia’s book The World’s Two Smallest Humans (Faber 2012) is also a cracking collection, which is very much worth reading – we may well look at that in a future Poetry Room, if folk are interested.


NB: Deryn Rees-Jones reading on 21 May

At the June Poetry Room we’re planning to look at Deryn Rees-Jones’s Burying the Wren (Seren 2012). Deryn will be reading with Julia Copus at Newcastle University’s Culture Lab on Tuesday 21 May at 7.15pm. Both poets were shortlisted for this year’s TS Eliot Prize.
Do go along in advance of our session to hear these powerful poems of love, loss and the changing world. The poems we’ll be concentrating on will be posted before our meeting on Tuesday 4 June.

Destination: Australia

Robert Adamson is an Australian poet, based around the Hawkesbury River in New South Wales. This landscape, its wildlife and human geography, is the source of much of his work. Greatly influenced by North American poets such as Robert Creeley and Louis Zukofsky, Adamson’s work has a refreshing vagrancy and imaginative freedom reflected in his deep love of birds. His latest collection, published in the UK, The Kingfisher’s Soul (Bloodaxe, 2009) is divided into three parts, all of which circle around land and air, birds and the words a poet needs to summon what he sees.
We’ll be looking at:
The Kingfisher’s Soul
Pied Butcher Bird Flute Solo
Summer at Carcoar
A Visitation
Death of a Cat
The Serpent
Eurydice and the Tawny Frogmouth
Thinking of Eurydice at Midnight
The Goldfinches of Baghdad
The Stone Curlew
The Southern Skua
The Cow Bird
The Ruff
Come along to Newcastle City Library on Tuesday 7 May (6pm-8pm) for a taste of the antipodes – a chance to explore poetry with a different pulse, different reference points, populated by very lovely birds!

Stag Night at the Poetry Room


This month at the Poetry Room, we will be looking at the American poet Sharon Olds‘s TS Eliot prize-winning book Stag’s Leap.   The collection, which takes its title from the writer’s favourite wine, tells of the break-up of a long marriage and the fall-out and healing process that ensue.  Olds’s distinctive voice, startling imagery and choice of controversial subject-matter have helped to make her that rarest of creatures:  a popular poet, who also attracts critical acclaim.  Come and find out why.

The poems we will be looking at in particular are:

While He Told Me

Material Ode

Last Look

Stag’s Leap

Poem for the Breasts

The Healers

The Easel

Tiny Siren

Attempted Banquet

Bruise Ghazal

Running into You

Years Later

We will be meeting on Tuesday 9 April from 6pm-8pm in our usual spot:  level three of City Library, Newcastle – turn right out of the lift and keep walking until you see us in circle of chairs by the back wall.   It would be great to see you there.


A book of two halves at the Poetry Room

This March at the Poetry Room, we are looking at Jane Duran’s sublime poetry collection Coastal (Enitharmon. 2005).  The book comprises of two beautifully balanced sequences: the first tells of a daughter’s struggle to come to terms with her mother’s dementia and death; the second describes the same daughter’s experience of becoming a mother, specifically through adoption.   The poems, which are full of images of water, tell of lives and identities in flux.  Subtly executed, Duran’s writing is deeply moving in its evocation of love and loss.

We will be looking at the following poems:



Blueberry Picking

Rug From The Atlas Mountains

The Mat

Petit Pan


What Is Written





Come and join us on Tuesday 5 March at 6pm-8pm in Newcastle’s City Library, third floor.  Turn right out of the lifts and keep walking until you find us in a semi-circle of chairs.  Everyone is extremely welcome – regulars and first timers alike!  Looking forward to seeing you then. ( A quick note on next month:  just to say we will be meeting on the second Tuesday in April (9th), as the first Tuesday follows the Easter bank holiday.)


Late lunch at the Poetry Room

This month at the Poetry Room we are entering sixties Manhattan through the playful, provocative poetry of Frank O’ Hara.  His book Lunch Poems (City Lights,1964) is infamously titled after the poet’s ability to write poems in his lunch hour and shaped a generation of poetry writers and readers.  Portable enough to slide into a pocket, Lunch Poems has been called a map of New York.  Its tone, like its title, is deliberately and delightfully anti-poetic.

We will be looking at the following poems in particular:

The Day Lady Died

Personal Poem

How To Get There


Ave Maria

St. Paul and All That

Poem (Lana Turner has collapsed!)

On Rachmaninoff’s Birthday (Quick! a last poem before I go)


A Step Away from Them

Mary Desti’s Ass


Come and enjoy a little retro New York in Newcastle.  As ever, we’ll be meeting on the first Tuesday of the month (5 February) from 6pm-8pm at City Library, Newcastle.   Find us on the third floor – turn right out of the lifts and keep walking.  If you’ve never been before, make this the month!


Happy New Year!

It seems fitting to start a New Year in the Poetry Room reading the wonderful Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie’s inspiring collection The Overhaul (Picador, 2012). These are poems of reflection and review, repair and reorientation. Jamie’s voice comes to us as if carried by the wind – finding a place for itself, the human, among the elements, land and seascape, the vast reaches of time and space and the quotidian concerns of the domestic. She catches what she sees in few words and unerring rhythms, resisting anything that doesn’t accord with the truth of what lasts and what is lost. The poems we’ll be focussing on include:

The Beach
Hawk and Shadow
The Stags
The Gather
The Overhaul
An Avowal
The Galilean Moons

Make it your New Year resolution to come along and read Kathleen Jamie’s poems with fellow poetry lovers in the City Library on Tuesday 8 January 2013 (third floor, at the back). This session is a week later than usual because of the immoveable feast of New Year but we’ll be back to the first Tuesday of the month for subsequent sessions: put those dates in your diary.

Warm wishes to you all – looking forward to another vibrant and exciting year of poetry

Anna & Linda