Yuletide Poetry Competition 2017 Second Place: Christmas Street by Mark Sheeky


Christmas Street

I close my eyes.


I see cinnamon and mace,

crisp snow, and tinsel garlands hang,

hear children sing the songs we sang

of frosty windows webbed like lace.


Oh to be in Christmas Street,

and taste the cake and turkey there,

to fly in frozen curling air

instead of sleepless summer heat!


Oh to rest in covers white

of icy lakes and pine-tree rain,

instead of waking here again,

in moonless sun and sunless night!


I close my eyes.

Yuletide Poetry Competition Winner 2017: Stringing The Cards by Jill Munro

Stringing the Cards

i.m. Leonard Cohen 1934-2016


I can’t keep track of each fallen robin flapping to the hearth,

each Virgin Mother and child descending to the grate,


the snowmen, coal-eyed and carrot-nosed, scrolling

in the log-burner’s heat, cards curling to reveal the ink blots


of Leonard or Suzanne – the distant, the near-forgotten, almost tethered

by tiny red and green pegs to silver tinsel strung to corners


of a room, fragrant with tea and oranges,

they or you have never seen, and never will.


I don’t even think of you that often.

Books From The Pantry: Dressing Up by Giles. L. Turnbull: Reviewed by Claire Faulkner

On reading the collection Dressing Up by Giles L. Turnbull, published by Cinnamon Press, the first thing you notice is the beautiful use of language. The imagery is beautiful, and colours are used expertly throughout the collection to vividly describe situations and experiences. This kind of skilful writing allows the reader to experience each poem much more intensely, and to enjoy the collection as a whole, to a greater depth.

The poems all appear to be about getting ready, or the perception of getting ready for something. Time also seems to be a running theme throughout, clocks are mentioned repeatedly. The poem ‘Alarm’, which is a stunning start to the collection, contains both themes, and the language around the colour orange captured my imagination immediately.

The bands of wasps / sandwiched recurringly between black / more electric than the shock.

And the last line,

as we set the clocks / to wake us with a morning slap / for juice.

I read ‘Tomorrow’s Dancers’, a poem talking about the future over and over. It starts:

The future / flapping / like a flag in the metaphysical breeze.

This particular poem struck a cord with me, and with each new reading I found and saw something new within it.

The next step / hovering beneath the feet / of tomorrow’s dancers.

So clear and precise, but also inventive and thought provoking. The language is quite stunning.

I love to read powerful lines of poetry. We all know that type of line, the one that stays with you, and if you’re honest, you wish you’d written yourself. Giles spoils us by giving us line after line of wonderful verse.

‘Sharp’, one of my favourites from this collection is a surreal poem with a distinctive rhythm, especially when read aloud.

Underneath the blackness / in every day and every year / leaving me as Pharaoh of a thousand secrets / in the seizure of a collapsing star.

Followed by:

Beyond this blanket shrouded world / smothered sometimes suffocating / leaking light like a dripping tap / through puncture marks that say / this is where it stops.

This is a wonderful collection of verse. It has a strong contemporary style, and the first time I read it, I did find it slightly heavy going, but please stay with it. If you do, I’m sure like I did, you’ll find something amazing that you’ll read over and over again.

Giles’ Twitter


Books From The Pantry: The Night Brother by Rosie Garland: Reviewed by Giles Turnbull

I always find the most enjoyable reviews to write are when I know nothing of the plot, have not read anybody else’s reviews, and I turn the pages and find myself being sucked into the story. That was my experience of Rosie Garland’s novel, The Night Brother, published by The Borough Press.

The Night Brother is alive with a selection of curious characters and the sights and sounds of turn of the 20th century Manchester. Right from the start we meet the two main characters, Edie and Gnome, as they slip out of the bedroom window to head to a late night fireworks display. ‘I sit up and it sets off a yawn so wide it could swallow the mattress. He presses my lips together, shutting me up as tight as the bubbles in a crate of ginger beer.’

The novel is written from the first person perspective, with chapters alternating between Edie and Gnome. As the story progresses, the distinction becomes more and more blurred. This is a story about searching for identity, exploring gender identity, and gender rights battles.

Edie and Gnome are brother and sister. They live with their Ma and Nana above a pub called The Comet of which their Ma is landlord.

Edie: ‘Stroll through Hulme of an evening and you will be forgiven for imagining it a den of drunkards. Brave the labyrinth of streets, row upon row of brick-built dwellings black as burned toast, and there, upon each and every corner, you will find it: haven for the weary traveller, fountain for the thirsty man … The Comet, Sparkling Ales is etched upon one frosted window, Fine Stouts and Porter upon the other. A board stretches the width of our wall, announcing Empress Mild and Bitter Beer. Above the door and brightest of all, the gilt scroll of my mother’s name: Cecily Margaret Latchford, Licensed to sell Beers and Stouts. Come, it beckons. Enter, and be refreshed.’

Every scene springs to life through the descriptions and mannerisms of the characters. At the market you can almost reach in and help yourself from the jars of wine gums, slab toffee, liquorice, Pontefract cakes and coltsfoot rock on the confectionery stand. The narrative is colourfully described without being overwritten. Dropped into the scene you can experience the ground crunching with sugar and see the girl weighing out the sweets has a starved look: chewed-down nails and hair draggled in sticky ringlets; ‘You buying, or wasting my time?’ the girl trills pertly. ‘No money, no service.’

The Night Brother is a tale of two halves: day and night, men and women, acceptance and rejection, dependence and independence, contrasts and similarities, all underpinned by the tensions of the suffragette movement, and sexual suppression of desires and freedoms. It’s an uneasy atmosphere, Edie, Ma and Nana afraid of whatever gifts they possess, Gnome rash with the spirit of adventure and the urgent desire to prove himself a man.

Gnome: ‘It matters not what I’m racing from or to; all I know is that I am alive. I am a mucker, a chancer, a chavvy, a cove. I grab life by the neck and squeeze every drop into my cup. If it’s good, I’ll take it by the barrel. If it’s bad I’ll do the same. I take it all: the world and his wife, the moon on a stick and the stars to sprinkle like salt on my potatoes.’

The events become darker with violent confrontations between police and the suffragettes. Edie falls in love with a suffragette called Abigail and so does Gnome.

Part 2 brings the rebellion — Gnome increasingly masculine ‘Why shouldn’t I be the prince to scale her castle walls?’ and Edie more strongly feminine. Emboldened Edie heads to a library where she is greeted warmly by the librarian, who hands her a book of Greek and Roman mythology. ‘The library is refuge and escape rolled into one. A generous world that asks nothing of me save attentiveness and rewards me with gifts beyond measure. My self-education is intoxicating and sweet.’

It is only as the story draws to a close that we find out how the difficult decisions resolve. Will Edie and Gnome find a way to co-exist; can Ma and Nana accept themselves and their children? Will Abigail favour Gnome or Edie? How much does a quarter-pound of cough candy cost?

Rosie Garland’s Website

The Night Brother

Books From The Pantry: Dear You by Tessa Broad: Reviewed by Berenice Smith


I was delighted to be asked to review Dear You by Tessa and her publishers Red Door Publishing. I read many books and in my life outside Walk In Our Shoes, work with authors and publishers for many years. My story of trying to be a mum is similar to Tessa’s and I was a little concerned that it would bring back memories I had tried to lay to rest.

So with trepidation I began to read Dear You, curled up on the sofa as the rain fell, quietly conscious that I’d picked it up a few days after the anniversary of a late miscarriage. It’s testimony to Tessa’s compassion and warmth which carries through every page, that I carried on reading. She opens the book with these words:

I’m writing to you simply because I feel that I know you, that I love you; and I’d like you to get to know me. I want this letter to feel like you have spent time with me and me with you.

Dear You is a letter to her unborn children. Her daughter Lily, and her siblings are written so vividly that it’s easy to forget that Tessa didn’t meet them. One cannot help feeling deeply sad when one remembers the context of the book and what a great mum she would have made.

That’s not to say that Dear You doesn’t lack grit. The details of the treatment isn’t easy reading if you’ve been through it or if you know someone who has. But the painful memories felt easier because Tessa’s narrative is accessible. At various points I wanted to give her a hug and say ‘yes me too’. Her feelings of bewilderment in a world of complex abbreviations is palpable and real. I too spent meetings scribbling down phrases, worrying about phone calls in open plan offices – all practical problems that are identifiable with any illness but arguably more powerful when ones hopes and dreams for a family depend on it.

Tessa doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the procedures either. Having been there and done most, I don’t know that I’d want to read this before I began IVF but then again, perhaps I should have? With the benefit of Tessa’s observations, I may have known the questions I should have asked and the signs that I should have looked out for. This includes medical staff like Mr Pink, the tardy gynae with a people problem.

I appreciated the time Tessa took to speak about her relationships with honesty, detailing the struggles that treatment has on not just her, both those around her from friends to loved ones. From this comes the story of moving on. Tessa shares her advice which is incredibly sensible, accessible and based on the real world. I’ve read several books on life with involuntary childless that end with the author moving continents or taking dramatic lifestyle changes that can feel beyond the emotional and/or financial reach of many readers. Tessa’s wisdom is truthful and reflect the narrative of her story and her emotive journey.

Who should read Dear You? If you’re a survivor, I think you’ll find the book cathartic and you’ll feel like you’ve made a new friend. If you haven’t had treatment but want some help to move on, then read this book. If you’ve never been through IVF or endured infertility then I absolutely urge you to pick Dear You up and read it today. It’ll tell you so much and dispel so many myths. In short, please read this book.

I hope that it’s been an ultimately cathartic process for Tessa, despite having to dig deep as I’m sure she must have done and I applaud her fortitude. I know that I’ll be going out, buying more copies of Dear You to share with people and encouraging that it sits at the top of every reading list. I hope all book groups do, the world will be a much easier place for me, Tessa and all our communities too.

This review by Berenice Smith was originally published on Walk In Our Shoes  

Inky Interview Special: Performance Poet Jason N Smith

Affinity with words has been part of me since trying to decipher little card cut words given by a teacher; but my journey into poetry began in 2002 when something changed the course of my life as surely as a strong tiller on a lightweight boat, or piece of driftwood caught in a strong current.

Before that I was as a sycamore seed spiralling every which way in winds. What happened caused my ship to sail with purpose and a seed to become grounded and begin a process of growth, along with an overpowering desire to share. I had to write it down, so started my education to learn to imbue words with essence.

At that time a teacher asked me to enter the annual Koestler Awards. I believed I could never win anything; however, months later I received a commendation.

I continued reading and writing veraciously trying to express. I studied the Writers’ Yearbook and began entering competitions. I wrote plays, stories, and, of course, poetry.

Over the years I grew in wielding words and advanced to writing poetry for life occasions such as memorials, love, weddings, birthdays, and therapy for myself and others. Once taken on board words have dramatic outcomes.

Over the years I recited poetry and it sounded OK, but I did not have confidence. To gain confidence I had to step beyond my comfort zone, and it was terrifying at first, being laid bare; however, each moment beyond myself was growth.

Now I perform poetry to share experience, feeling, insight, laughter, confidence, understanding, healing, solace, to highlight and show that despite tendencies to look at differences, underneath we are all much the same.

I compose and perform poetry as it is challenging and enjoyable.

My journey into performance poetry began in 2015 when being birthed out of a womb of darkness with a heart beating didactic rhythms drummed into conundrums under thick skin, while in a glum prison cell, until overcoming and no longer succumbing to perpetuating cycles spiralling paths into futures. From a past that I call a hell.

It began when my voice was set free to soar and tell, my story.

In the beginning I submitted stories, poems, and articles into competitions (the free ones) and achieved a Platinum Award for the poem ‘To Score’ with Koestler Trust. This was read at London’s Royal Festival Hall. I also achieved publication with EnglishPEN with my short story ‘Accept My Freedom’.

After later winning another Platinum with Koestler for a novel featured in the Arrow in the Blue Exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery and being published in poetry anthologies by Inside time National Prison Newspaper, with forwards by Carol Anne Duffy, Will Self, and Andrew Motion, I gained belief in my ability to write; however, not so much in ability to perform, so I began speaking poetry. At the same time I was aware that there is no substitute for experience.

With the above in mind, I joined a poetry group and began performing in streets, open mics, and events. Every opportunity to perform, I took it.

Launching an event with the concept of home being explored at the National Theatre in London was a great experience and learning curve; however, while at the top of the curve, I saw there was much to learn.

From then I performed as a roaming poet to the public in Stoke-on-Trent as part of festivals, exhibitions, and events highlighting Stoke-on-Trent’s capital of culture bid. Then later produced, performed, and recorded a themed poem titled ‘Fierce’ in association with a radio station and youth movement. Alongside this I performed spoken word in young offender institutions, schools, and colleges on rehabilitation, self-identity, and positive belief.

To keep myself striving to be better, I often take part in poetry slams as the competitive edge is exciting. To date I have been a finalist on several occasions and have won a slam; however, winning another seems like the dream I tried to remember yesterday – it is gone, well, until the next one tomorrow.

Writing the entirety of the Whats and Wheres of performances would take longer than a piece of string, but some of the highlights are the London’s St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace event ‘Beyond Bars’ – an arts festival showcasing experiences and problems of punishment through different forms of expression.

Performing on the main stage at Stoke-on-Trent’s ‘Six Towns One City Carnival’ was awesome and definitely a highlight, along with developing a play titled ‘Reflection’ using spoken word, which was performed in Stoke-on-Trent. The play uses drama and spoken word to highlight internal struggles and what it takes to overcome and achieve freedom.

With a didactic heart still beating and discoursing essence within my poetry, I recently wrote, performed, and created a video with the title ‘I Am Unstoppable’, soon available via Just Kindly.

To date, my journey takes me to creating a piece on the imminent demolition of a shopping centre and bus station in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent and a piece responding to clashes of left wing groups on the streets of England.

The thing I love about poetry is the different forms of expression used to convey what we transpose and define in words from abstract thoughts, feelings, emotion, and experiences. Because poetry has taken me on a journey of wisdom, knowledge, understanding, healing, and growth, I now realise the entire universe and everything in it is poetry, and at times I either love it or hate it. So, I guess me and poetry have a love-hate relationship, although I will always return home after arguments to rest and embrace the Word.

For the very same reason of why I love poetry, much of my work is aimed at healing, teaching, and simply sharing a joy of poetry and life.

I am conscious of a difference between page poetry and performed poetry so I will share a few poems. The first is titled ‘Redeeming Word’, and whilst I have never read it out or published it, it is one on my favourites, because within or beyond words, my journey with words can be slightly grasped.


Redeeming Word

Using word as key to innermost,

unlock doors, bend bars of hearts,

Plumb the depths and delve chasms

and fissures of mental scars.


Open shutters, air out rooms,

And let lights luminescence

Illuminate gloom to blooms.


Waft hands through dust

disrupt cobwebs,

roll rocks away from tombs.


Rise again no longer buried by baggage,

and a prisoner of excess.

Climb cliff face to racing hearts higher heights,

Rising until fingers crest

and caress a blessed lip of plateau,

and certainty of sure foots foundation,

amidst gusty gales furious breath.


Then let constellations of words guide

to where willow groves no longer grieve

over the sacred tranquil pool of your soul

and submerge into essence of eternity

becoming bound by beauty’s blessed halo,


The second poem is titled ‘How Can I Explain’. This spoken word poem is to highlight and express the experience of prison.

How can I explain


How can I explain the pain of a prison gate’s gaping maw opening and closing with a soul shaking finality,

a finality resounding fearful thoughts, to echo screams off walls along dark corridors of my foreseeable future,

where life-giving umbilical cords are cut within cold solitary cells of confinement with a vacuuming emptiness sucking life from my bones.

How can I express the short sharp shock of being birthed to emerge into numbers I can never forget, where every day I regret having to recollect

deceptively disguising weakness,

or fearing a broken rule to become sleeplessly

angry at things spiralling way out of control,

out of control in a place of mental scars, bars, fences, walls,

all whispering wisdoms if only I bow down,

If only I bow down to be bound and become part of a dark heart didactically expressing,

symphonies of constantly rioting bells,

mental tolls and pounding feet and blows,

death throws headlocks, pool balls in socks,

heavy steel doors, deafening locking clicks,

despairing silence as life’s clock ticks,

the silences between angry pent-up breaths,

and the silences after swans songs I sang when bereft.

How can I explain?

How can I express pretending happiness on contactless visits and becoming cold and cautious with heart’s desires crushed underfoot like cigarette butts, more than once.

Or the dying inside as I reside in limbo while silently screaming and reaching for close ones who are finally giving up on the family ghost, until ghosted.

How can I explain the pain of infected gums and emergency bells repeatedly pressed and no one comes,

or the sound of officers heaving hung friends down to be bound in body bags when just the other day they bounced around,

not so happy go lucky.


How can I explain being labelled faceless by leaders quoting, ‘The thought of prisoners voting makes them physically sick’. So that bill of my time for my crimes will continue to chime along society’s perception of my life line, indefinitely,


It’s my life. My love, my one chance to live.

It’s my gift from God!

and what about my family who need me?

How can I explain hopes and dreams being snatched away

in a place you cannot cry or dream or say simple words like,

I love you,

you’re beautiful,

you’re wonderful,

without an implacable darkness descending to smother

where I have to discover holes in which to squeeze

just to breathe or draw imaginary poles to pole-vault over towering walls and leave,

Just to find the sanctuary of a sacred place under shady trees.


How can I explain?


The third poem is entitled ‘Second Wind’. The inspiration came after being a prison poet and writing poems for men going through break-ups and losing relationships. After a number of suicides, I wrote this.

Second Wind

I wrote to you a while ago

You probably sensed the gloom

Of pain and anguish coming from

A solitary room.


I wrote in verse it is my want

To set things down that way

So in times of sadness and of doubt

I will read it back some day.


And read it back I did today

But it never made me smile

I can’t change the way I feel

I miss you all the while.


it’s been a month and still no word

no letter card nor call

if I can’t have you there’s no sense

in living life at all.


So the demons raged and battled on

They spun around my head

I can’t forget our arms entwined

And those loving words you said.


So with nothing left to carry on

No faith, no love, no hope,

I thought of ways it could be done

With sharpened blade or rope.


Instead I knelt beside my single bed

and prayed to God above

then He revealed the meaning

the real meaning of love.


So I took the verse I wrote to you

And held it tightly in my grip

Slowly tearing it down each side

I took pleasure in the rip.


Can anybody comprehend

What it does to your health?

It’s best by far to kill a poem

Than it is to kill oneself.

The fourth poem, ‘Coinage of Time’, was written during a short stay in Strange Ways prison in Manchester. At the time I was twenty-one years of age and found HMP Manchester very daunting.

Coinage of Time

I look out of my window

and dream what I should see

cloudless skies and butterflies

in a place I long to be.

There’s a meadow full of colour

which shady trees surround,

with a river running through it

where ducks and geese abound,

grasshoppers click amongst the reeds,

swallows soar before they dive,

this is where I long to be,

where the whole world is alive!

But all I see is rooftops,

of some distant city street

and I can only glimpse of them

by standing on a toilet seat!

Four small walls enclose me,

payment for my deeds done,

still I will go on dreaming,

for I know my time will come.

The fifth poem is one I wrote sitting beside my brother’s hospital bed in a critical care unit when he was in a coma. I simply call this, ‘Bro’.


In tune with assisted breath

I look beyond tentacles

penetrating arteries,

past monitors measuring

and weighing not just life,

but my love.


In rhythm with shared memories

written on your face

I close my eyes and remember,


and smiling.


Shuffling hush and beeping

makes my heart beat faster

than love seemingly in peace,

though as legs twitch,

I know somewhere,

in there,

within your comatose state,

perhaps you converse along the family line,

talking of bar tabs casting long shadows

from generation to generation,

or relive hardships overcome

and beauty of sons and daughter,

as you walk or run within hot sun.


No words leave my mouth,

but my thoughts carry the weight

of so much feeling,

they descend and rest upon your face

penetrating conversations with family,

or walks with you under the sun

through hardship overcome

and into your becoming.


Do you chase voices in corridors

lining visages of the past.

Do you dream of whispering to people,

and they,

hearing loudly.

Do you see beyond to the broken

spoken words to famliy trees,

deeply rooted intertwining DNA.

Do you feel each glistening tear

travelling down landscapes

to be beside you,



I hum a song,

hoping to drown familiar sounds

into your dreams,

hoping you hear this song of peace

with your soul.


Galaxies beyond these beeping sounds

and shuffling hushed tones

of nurses

and doctors,


Can you hear me, bro.



Recurring themes cropping up in my poems are the human condition, spirituality, learning, mental illness, self-belief, inspiration, and edification, because without the above my poetry would be lip service and a clanging cymbal in a vast wilderness.

If I could change one thing in the world it would be Donald Trump, but I am only one voice – unless you would like to join me in campaigning?

I am inspired by people expressing altruism. For years I explored the concept of altruism, and many said there is no such thing, but genuine kindness and free expression inspires hairs on my bald head to curl like phantom limbs.

I have had some ups and many downs, but the best times were when my daughter was born and I became Superman running home without my feet touching the ground, and when watching the sunrise, mist on the ground and cows mooing in the countryside, I find peace.

At the moment I am reading a book by Joelle Taylor entitled Songs My Enemy Taught Me. Joelle Taylor is an inspiring poet with whom I identify immensely because Joelle Taylor speaks poetry from her heart and puts herself entirely into her performances.

What plans do I have? To simply be who I am, deliver workshops, coach, collaborate with projects, write, perform, and eventually write a few books.

Jason’s Website



Books From The Pantry: The Green Sky series by Kate Coe: Reviewed by Isha Crowe

At the writing of this review, the Green Sky series consists of five novellas, of which I have read the first four.

The novellas are set in a fantasy world, which, like most great fantasy worlds, contains magic. Unlike most great fantasy worlds, this magic is regarded as just another skill, and it’s even a tad mundane compared to the exciting new technologies of ‘spark’- the Green-Sky world’s version of electricity, which is harvested when lightning strikes the purpose-built copper-clad towers of the city of Meton – and of ‘fliyers’, airplanes engineered to be flown by air mages.

On her blog, Kate Coe, the author, quite accurately describes this series as Sparkpunk – a play on the popular genre of Steampunk.

Each novella tells a story, which is part of the greater storyline of the series. The same characters feature in every book, but the focus is another person every time, and new characters are introduced in every story. The result of this structure is that as the reader, you get to experience different aspects of this fantasy world seen from a variety of perspectives, and you fairly quickly feel quite at home under those green skies.

A downside is that the first novella Green Sky and Sparks is a bit hard to get into – since it is setup for a long story, set in a large and complicated world, there is simply too much information. Although Green Sky and Sparks can be read as a stand-alone, it is best viewed and appreciated as the start of a much greater tale.

The story and world were interesting enough to hold my attention, but I found the ending not quite satisfying. I also felt that the characters could’ve used more fleshing out. I shouldn’t have worried: the next volumes address all this.

In spite of, or perhaps because of this dissatisfaction, I purchased the next novella, read it, was hooked and went on to rapidly buy and read the third and fourth books.

Books number two Grey Stone and Steel and three High Flight and Flames tell about the war that commences when ships from Ziricon attack the coastal town of Aleric in a bid to reach Meton.

These two novellas offer an exciting read, convincingly portraying the merged technological and magical background that makes this series so exceptional. The emphasis is on action, and yet it is also in this two-volume war story that the characters really become well-rounded, relatable individuals.

Especially fascinating was the depiction of the soul-bond between Toru Idalin and S’ian. This soul- bond made its debut in the first novel, but is further developed in these subsequent volumes. As a consequence of their soul-bond, Toru and S’ian have a telepathic and empathic connection, and the author uses this to construct a highly unusual and yet perfectly smoothly worked out double point of view.

The fourth instalment Salt Winds and Wanderings is utterly different from its predecessors and so far, this is my favourite. I could barely put it down.

Featuring a new character, Obak, this novella is a poetic depiction of personal development and quiet contemplation where the sea and the wind almost become characters themselves. It is a great contrast with the previous action-focused books, and an enchanting read. Of course, it is also set in the Green Sky world, and as such, is part of the greater storyline. Familiar characters from the earlier books also return in Salt Winds and Wanderings.

I have purchased book five Empty Skies and Sunlight. I’ve had no time to read it yet, but I’m very much looking forward to once again wander under the green skies of this sparkling (pardon the pun) world.

I warmly recommend this series to everyone, but in particular, to lovers of fantasy who are ready for something refreshing and new.

Poetry Drawer: The Raven Prince by Janine Crawford

High in the mountains,

The jet black raven

Sits in the

Stunning white snow.


The Raven Prince.

They call him,

The one who

Sits and watches,

The one who stands out,

From the pristine, crystallized snow.


Hearing his cries,

For he is lonely,

The Raven Price,

Calling out for a loved one.


The Raven Prince.

They call him,

The one who

Sits and watches,

The one who stands out,

From the pristine, crystallized snow.


The Raven Prince,

Is the only raven,

With Majestic,

Black feathers.

The Raven Prince.

They call him,

The one who

Sits and watches,

The one who stands out,

From the pristine, crystallized snow.


Hearing his cries,

The Villagers

Turn and look

Up in the mountains.


The Raven Prince.

They call him,

The one who

Sits and watches,

The one who stands out,

From the pristine, crystallized snow.


The Raven Prince’s,

Black feathers,

Glisten with the,

Light reflected off the snow.


The Raven Prince.

They call him,

The one who

Sits and watches,

The one who stands out,

From the pristine, crystallized snow.

The Raven Prince,


The Raven Prince…

Books From The Pantry: Northern Lights by Philip Pullman: Reviewed by Natalie Denny

His Dark Materials is my favourite story. I was twelve when I was first invited into Philip Pullman’s magical and macabre world with the first book in the trilogy, Northern Lights. I remember hiding from my friends so they would not make me do something as arbitrary as talk to them or run around the playground. I was hooked from the first page, having discovered the book in my school library.

Lyra is a young, wild little girl living in her beloved Jordan college, raised by scholars and belonging to the streets she runs free in. Oxford is her world, one different from our own; most noticeably is that each person here comes in a pair. A daemon, Pantalaimon, is Lyra’s lifelong companion that shifts in animal shapes depending on their mood.

Lyra’s only familial contact is her mysterious and stern uncle whom she is in equal parts terrified and enthralled by. When children start disappearing from her neighbourhood, Lyra gleefully embraces the story of the GOBBLERS, a group that capture children for a purpose that surpasses her worst nightmare. When her best friend Roger is taken, it ceases to become a game.

Lyra meets the beautiful sophisticated Mrs Coulter, a friend of the college, and one of the only glamorous women Lyra has ever seen. Lyra knows something isn’t quite right when she starts living with Miss Coulter as her assistant, and decides to run away. Armed with a truth telling device known as an alethiometer, Lyra is inducted into multiple worlds of armoured bears, witches, aeronauts and relentless adventure in pursuit of her dear friend, Roger, and her uncle, who she believes is key to everything

The writing in this book paints pictures. Every sentence is carefully crafted to convey the wonder of the worlds they inhabit. The book deals with issues of religion, friendship, love and destiny. We follow Lyra as she takes on enemies that should crush her. She is, after all, just a child. There is something very special about Lyra, and the friends she makes along the way will stop at nothing to protect her.

This is a young adult book but the themes are very mature and transcend the age spectrum. The Book of Dust was released this week and there is a reason I have cleared my diary to read it. Philip Pullman is a master of his genre and Northern Lights, the first book of the fantastic trilogy, is certainly one I recommend.