Heart Poems for Children’s Heart Week – all week at Rebecca Goss’ blog 12 – 18 May

A wonderful initiative by poet Rebecca Goss in support of Children’s Heart Week. Rebecca has transformed her blog into an imaginative anthology of heart-themed poems. Find out more about the work of the Children’s Heart Federation and show your support by reading and sharing the posts.

Day One: Poems by Jo Bell, Jacob Polley, Mary Robinson, Harry Man and Amy Key. Follow the blog all week for more poems.  I’m proud to be part of this project and Rebecca has included one of my poems on Day Two.

Rebecca Goss


The Children’s Heart Federation is the leading children’s heart charity and direct service provider as well as the umbrella body for voluntary organisations; working to meet the needs of children and young people with congenital and acquired heart conditions and their families.  Their vision is one of ‘a society in which all children with congenital heart disease have both their medical and social needs met so that they can live life to the full.’ You can find out more about them at www.chfed.org.uk  Twitter: @CHFed and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chfed

Strong Heart Songs
By Jo Bell

When their men rode off in warpaint
the women of the prairie tribes
stood tall to sing Strong Heart Songs.
They sang the strength into their men:
You must be saying all the time to yourself:
I must be brave. I must not fear anything.

Even when the fight came to…

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Shad’s Reader Story

I’ve re-blogged this post from The Reader Online (the blog of The Reader Organisation).  It’s an inspiring and uplifting first-person story about how coming to a shared reading group, to read and talk about books,  improved the well-being of a man experiencing mental health problems.   The Reader Organisation is a national charity that sets up shared reading groups in settings such as schools, libraries, care homes, prisons and other places.

The Reader Online

Shad has been coming to Book Break, one of our shared reading groups, for two years. He is Kurdish, originally from the north of Iraq.
This is Shad’s story, in his own words.

I’m very ill, sleeping all day if there is nothing to go to. I get up for the group because it is something to get up for.

My childhood, my problem started when I was four or five years old.  I stayed away from groups. Coming to this country was not easy, it was completely different.  Book Break is the first group I have been to in my whole life!  I was talking to my occupational therapist and he said “We have a Book Break”. I like reading; it is a hobby, I like education and to study.  I enjoyed reading as a kid.  That was my enjoyment as a child.  I wanted to know things.  In my…

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Josephine Corcoran

A poem by me here. Looking at it now, I think it needs some more work – the line breaks aren’t quite right, for one thing. But it’s out there and a nice site of poems to explore, in any case!

The Open Mouse


Under your body, my language of floors
your belly and hips reading small dips
and gradients, your fingertips
writing worlds on my walls

You translated television into me
made my bedrooms cells at Colditz
and convent cells, rooms at the Walton’s
and the von Trapp mansion

gagged with paint, bound with wallpaper paste
subsided, infested
I still taste the insides of your nightdresses

Roads, rivers and years between us
it’s strangers listening, cold in their beds
to voices calling from room to room
keys turning, murmuring
in German, singing

Copyright © Josephine Corcoran 2013

Josephine Corcoran lives in Wiltshire and is a member of BlueGate Poets.  She runs a poetry blog called And Other Poems  http://andotherpoems.wordpress.com/

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A postcard from Bellaghy.

A lovely post from Rebecca Gethin about her 2010 visit to Seamus Heaney’s birthplace – and, as she says, now his burial place. Rebecca also mentions how beautiful this part of Ireland is and urges us to go there.

Rebecca Gethin

In 2010 we set off on a poetic pilgrimage to Bellaghy in Co  Derry, NI, the birthplace and now the burial place of Seamus Heaney, his ‘place of clear water’. To get there from our holiday house on the Antrim coast, we had to pass this avenue of trees.  It felt like passing through a portal.


Bellaghy turned out to be an ordinary looking little place in Co Derry (sorry, Bellaghy but you did then). I couldn’t stop thinking of Heaney’s poems about his family and his childhood there. I was on the look-out for a policeman riding a bicycle, a turf spade, a latched doorway, a well, a pump with a windlass, cobbled yards where work went on, a lane of alders, a water diviner, a slaughter house. I even looked for a sign to a place called ‘Anahorish’.

But what we did find was the beautiful Bellaghy Bawn (an old plantation house) where the Northern…

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Five of the best essays on the late, great Seamus Heaney

Five essays on Seamus Heaney from this excellent blog about Irish writing. With thanks to Shane.

Irish Writing Blog

There has been no shortage of published work on Seamus Heaney over the last few days. Here are some of the best I’ve read – please feel free to let me know of any other must-read reflections on the life, work and legacy of Seamus Heaney in the comments.

Belinda McKeon (The Paris Review)

“He was loved. Beloved. Whether he was met with as a name on a page, or as a voice from a podium, or as a cherished friend or fellow artist, Seamus Heaney moved into the lives of those who encountered him—those countless lives—and he made a difference that will matter forevermore. The difference, for many, was poetry itself. The difference is in those lines, the way they come to mind at moments of worry, or of beauty, or of heartache and of sorrow; today they come to mind like prayers learned in childhood, his lines, so…

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How to Write a Review

Several of us in my writing group have been talking about reviews – there are some excellent tips here. Thanks, Emma Lee.

Emma Lee's Blog

A review should give the reader an idea of whether they’d like to read the book being reviewed. The purpose is to guide readers towards books they want to read but don’t know exist.

Good reviews aren’t necessarily positive. But those reviews that are critical are constructive. Reviewers aren’t always the target audience for the book they’re reviewing and their review should recognise this.

Focus on the book being reviewed. If space permits by all means mention that cover image isn’t suitable or the blurbs on the back cover are excessively hyperbolic, or the typeface was difficult to read but only if space permits.

A review is more than just an opinion. “I like this book,” is not a review. A reviewer needs to tell their readers why they liked the book and back-up opinions with illustrations of how that opinion was reached. “I recommend this book…

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