About our authors
Marion Oxley was born in Manchester and spent her early years in Salford. She’s worked in a variety of paid and voluntary jobs including the NHS, youth services, Manchester City Council’s Equal Opportunities Unit, Women’s Aid, drug and alcohol services, postal services, psychiatric nursing, community occupational therapy and adult services care management. She has a BA(Hons)Fine Art.
She came to poetry by chance whilst learning to play the fiddle. Inspired by the tradition of story telling in folk ballads. This lead to a desire to experience the landscape of contemporary pieces, especially those that explored the inter-weaving of geography, archaeology, myth and folk-lore. She is a regular visitor to the Orkney islands.
Her poems have been published widely in magazines and anthologies. Most recently in The Blue Nib, The Fenland Journal, Artemis, The Alchemy Spoon, The Bangor Literary Journal, Geography is Irrelevant (Stairwell Press), Bloody Amazing (Beautiful Dragons/Yaffle). She’s had poems shortlisted or placed in many competitions, recently being runner up in The Trim Poetry Competition and Second Light Competition.
She currently lives amongst the flood plains of the Calder Valley with her boisterous Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Alice. She has family in the Republic of Ireland and volunteers at the local foodbank.
Graham Mort lives in North Yorkshire and is emeritus professor of Creative Writing at Lancaster University. He has published ten collections of poetry and three collections of short fiction, including collaborations with visual artists on illustrated books – ‘A Halifax Cider Jar’ (Yorkshire Arts Circus, 1987) and ‘Into the Ashes’ (Littlewood Press, 1988). His work has consistently interrogated human presence in the natural world and been praised for its mastery of craft, intellectual rigour and its vivid and sensory evocations. His first book, ‘A Country on Fire’ gained a major Eric Gregory Award and he has won prizes in the Arvon and Cheltenham poetry competitions, as well as a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. His latest book of poetry is ‘Black Shiver Moss’ (Seren, 2017) and his short fiction collection ‘Like Fado and other Stories’ appeared from Salt in 2021.
Claire Jefferson is a retired Interior Designer whose designs have been featured in several magazine publications including 25 Beautiful Homes and 25 Beautiful Kitchens. She has also studied Illustration, and Fashion & Textiles, (winning the Fashion Prize for best student in year). Claire lives in south west France where she paints the landscape with its backdrop of the Pyrenees. Her paintings have sold as far afield as New Zealand and across Europe. She is currently Artist in Residence at The High Window. Claire is also a poet writing under the pseudonym, Stella Wulf. She has two poetry pamphlets, After Eden (4Word Press), A Spell In The Woods, illustrated (Fair Acre Press) and a children’s book, And The Sea Whispered, forthcoming with Runcible Spoon Press, also with her own illustrations. As co-editor of 4Word Press, Claire also designs the covers and cover art.
Neil Elder’s work has appeared in numerous journals and magazines, The Rialto, Prole, The Interpreter’s House and Acumen among them. His first pamphlet, Codes of Conduct, was shortlisted for a Saboteur Award, having won the Cinnamon Press Pamphlet Competition in 2015. He followed this up with a chap book, Being Present (Black Light Engine Room) before winning the Cinnamon Press Debut Collection Prize with The Space Between Us. In 2020 he published And The House Watches On, a collection of poems and illustrations that cover 200 years of the lives real and imagined that have passed through West House in Pinner, Middlesex, where Neil lives.
Hilary Robinson has lived in Saddleworth for over 40 years. Publications include The Interpreter’s House, Obsessed with Pipework, Strix, The Morning Star, Riggwelter, Atrium and Poetry Birmingham along with several anthologies including Please Hear What I’m Not Saying (Fly on the Wall Poetry 2018), A New Manchester Alphabet (Manchester Writing School 2015), Noble Dissent (Beautiful Dragons Press 2017), Bloody Amazing! (Yaffle/Beautiful Dragons Press 2020), Poetry of Place (Oneworld Publications, 2020 and The Cotton Grass Appreciation Society. In 2018 twelve of her poems were published in the first joint DragonSpawn book, Some Mothers Do . . . alongside Dr Rachel Davies and the late Tonia Bevins. Her poem, ‘Second Childhood’ was shortlisted in the 2016 Yorkmix Poetry Competition. Hilary is currently collaborating with composer, Joseph Shaw, on an opera to be performed at the Royal Northern College of Music early in 2022. Hilary has an MA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from Manchester Metropolitan University.
Mike Farren was born in West Yorkshire, where he currently lives. He has worked in a furniture factory, the IT industry and as an academic publishing editor. He has written since his teens, but had to go through years of writing fiction before realising poetry was a better bet.
Since then, his poems have appeared widely in journals and anthologies, such as from Smith¦Doorstop and Valley Press. He has been placed and commended in several competitions, including as ‘canto’ winner for Poem of the North (2018) and winner of both Saltaire Festival and Ilkley Literature Festival poetry competitions (2020). His previous pamphlets are Pierrot and his Mother (Templar) and All of the Moons (Yaffle), the latter of which was set to music by composer Keely Hodgson. He co-hosts Rhubarb open mic and is part of the Yaffle publishing team.
Ruth Aylett has taught and researched computing and AI for many years, most recently in Edinburgh, and has been known to appear at poetry readings with a robot. Her poems are widely published, both in magazines such as The North, Butcher’s Dog, Prole and Agenda, and in anthologies, most recently Scotia Extremis (Luath) and Mancunian Ways (Fly on the Wall). She was joint author with Beth McDonough of the 2016 pamphlet Handfast (Mother’s Milk) and this is her first single-author pamphlet. She writes about woman and their lives, science and technology, about what’s wrong with the world and how it could be changed. For more about Ruth visit here:
Rachel Davies’s work has appeared in The North, The Interpreters House, Obsessed With Pipework, Riggwelter, Atrium, Beautiful Dragons anthologies and in Please Hear What I’m Not Saying, published in aid of mental health charities. She was one of three poets chosen by Rebecca Bilkau, editor at Beautiful Dragons Press, to be the first Dragon Spawn. Her shared Dragon Spawn pamphlet, Some Mothers Do… contains 12 of her poems. She has been a prize-winner in several poetry competitions including Wells, Fermoy, Manchester Cathedral and Battered Moons. Most recently she won first prize in the Enfield Competition 2020. She is co-ordinator of the Poetry Society Stanza for East Manchester and Tameside and is on the organising committee of Manchester-based Poets & Players. She has an MA in Creative Writing and a PhD in contemporary poetry, both from Manchester Metropolitan University.
Carol A. Caffrey
Carol A. Caffrey is an Irish writer and actor living in the UK. After graduating from University College Dublin in 1977 she worked as a teacher in Nigeria, France and Ireland. She became a professional actor in the 80s and worked as a freelance with Moving Theatre and TEAM Theatre-in-Education and as one half of the comedy duo The Bawdy Beautifuls (with Annie Kilmartin)
She moved to Shropshire, England, on meeting her husband and was a full-time mother to their two children before returning to teaching and eventually to performing and writing. She tours the one-woman play “Music for Dogs” by Paula Meehan, which received 4-star reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe and was chosen to open the 11th Palliative Care Conference in Glasgow’s SECC in 2016. Her work has been published in a number of journals and anthologies in Ireland, Britain and the USA and she is a member of Room 204, the prestigious writer development programme run by Writing West Midlands. Carol has been short-listed in a number of competitions, and was runner-up in the Fish Flash Fiction Award in 2015, a finalist in the Gettysburg Poets-in-Parks residency in 2018 and winner of the Blake-Jones Review Flash Fiction contest in 2019.
For a number of years she has helped organise and occasionally host the monthly Shrewsbury Poetry events and is a regular reader at events around the region. “The Untethered Space” is her debut chapbook publication.
Andie Lewenstein was born in London and spent nearly three years of her childhood in Germany, near Berlin. She went to ten different schools, including two years at a Rudolf Steiner school in Sussex. After working in a London homeless project and a drugs crisis centre, she studied English Literature at Goldsmiths College. She returned to Sussex with her young family and lived for many years on the edge of the Ashdown Forest. She taught creative writing to adults in a variety of settings for adult education, and at Emerson College in Forest Row and was co-director of the annual Poetry Otherwise conference. She now lives in Hove, near the sea.
Duncan Chambers was born and raised in Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, part of the ancient kingdom of Mercia. He was educated there and at the Universities of York and Sheffield, where he studied Biology and Information Science respectively. He began writing poetry in 1983, suddenly and for no apparent reason. His one previous pamphlet, Questions of identity, was published by Rotherham Arts Council in 1991 and vanished without trace. Winning the Poetry Society Hamish Canham prize in 2018 increased his lifetime earnings from poetry approximately ten-fold. Duncan lives in York and is precariously employed as a Research Fellow in Public Health at the University of Sheffield. Non-work interests include chess and running.
Sue Kindon lives and writes in the French Pyrenees. She was born in Croydon when it was still in Surrey, and studied English and French Literature at the University of Hull in the days when Philip Larkin ruled the Library. She has spent most of her life in bookselling. The poetry happened early and late, with a dormant period betweentimes. It was unexpectedly reawakened in Cumbria by a local writing group, nurtured by Brewery Poets (Kendal), and brought to fruition by 52, the online group set up by Jo Bell.
Her first pamphlet, She who pays the piper, was published by Three Drops Press in 2017.
Beth McDonough trained in Silversmithing and Jewellery at Glasgow School of Art, and taught Art in various sectors for many years.
Approaching her half century, she returned to Dundee University to take an M.Litt in Writing Study and Practice. Her poetry is published in many journals and anthologies, and in 2016, with Ruth Aylett, she wrote a poetry duet pamphlet, Handfast (published by Mother’s Milk Books). Her work has been placed in several competitions, including those held by the John Clare Society, YES Festival, MMB, Compound Competition at Cheltenham Festival. Her work won first prize in the Off the Stanza Competition 2017, and in 2019, her poem ‘Samphire’ won first prize in the Science Poem Competition, held by St Hilda’s College, Oxford.
She reviews for DURA, and was poetry editor there for five years. She produces the small magazine Firth, and Between 2014 and 2016, she was inaugural Writer in Residence at Dundee Contemporary Arts. Currently a Trustee of Ochil Tower School, she is a huge supporter of the Camphill Movement.
Her ever-tolerant husband Derek, and son Keir put up with her ways at home.
Sarwa Azeez completed an MA in English Literature at Leicester University in 2012. Growing up in wartime Iraq, the flickering light of kerosene lantern did not reduce her passion for reading. She lives in Soran, a city located in Iraqi Kurdistan. She taught creative writing and translation at Soran University. Her main interests are reading and writing, especially poetry writing. Sarwa has worked with an activist community doing humanitarian work with women. Her writing looks for the beauty in a war torn world. It also seeks to define identity and confront issues of equal gender representation and violence in male dominant communities.
To follow her interests, she is now working on two projects; both of them are aimed at finding women voices through their narratives and works of literature. She is also a Fulbrighter, doing her second masters in Creative Writing at Nebraska-Lincoln University in the US. She dreams that one day women can speak for themselves and pass that understanding across nations.
Sheila Hamilton was born in Leicester and spent her childhood and teenage years in Cheshire, Devon and Hertfordshire before going in 1985 to the University of East Anglia where she read French and German. She spent two years teaching EFL in Hungary, first in a secondary school and then in a language school where she worked with adults. She lived in Edinburgh for several years, working as a nanny, doing some translating, the odd bit of tutoring and, above all, writing. She is widely published in magazines and has won some prizes. For twenty years, she has lived on the Wirral in the NW of England with her family. In addition to two chapbooks, The Monster in the Rose Garden, from Flarestack in 2001 and One Match from Original Plus in 2010, she has had two full collections published: Corridors of Babel from Poetry Salzburg in 2007 and The Spirit Vaults in 2017 from Green Bottle Press.
Mary Gilonne was born in Kent, a Londoner until the age of 13 when she moved to Budleigh Salterton, Devon. Holidays were spent waitressing, serving clotted cream, as a post girl, a variety of jobs which led to incessant scribbling in note books, a habit she still has. It was here that she started writing thanks to an inspiring English Lit teacher at Exmouth Grammar, who was an all-important life marker. The glorious coastal scenery influenced her teenage years so much that her poetry is often threaded with sea and sky.
Mary moved to France to be with her french husband, a teacher of Spanish, and settled in Aix- en-Provence in the late sixties. She wrote articles for Bath newspaper as Bath was twinned with Aix, but setting up as a translator was of course the obvious thing to do, and this multiplied her love for words. Two sons, and many years later they upped to a little wine growing village at the foot of Saint Victoire mountain, and an essential landscape yet again.
Mary was a student on Helen Ivory’s U.E.A Poetry course in the ‘90’s which forged a strong writing base. She was above all a member of Jo Bell’s iconic 52 Group, an experience which was a life-changer in her poetry world and has led to many treasured off and online friendships.
Mary has won the Wenlock Prize, been shortlisted several times for the Bridport Prize and commended in the Buzzwords, Prole, Bedford, Caterpillar, Elbow Room, Stroud and Teignmouth Prizes. Her work has appeared widely in many online and printed magazines: Prole, Antiphon, Smeuse, Snakeskin, The Pickled Body, Grievous Angel, Obsessed With Pipe-Work among others, and too in anthologies The Very Best Of 52, Mildly Erotic Verse, The Road to Cleveland Pier.
Rachael Clyne grew up in Southport, at the perfect time and place to be a sixties teenager, when all the famous bands played the local dance hall. She was also lucky to join the National Youth Theatre, touring abroad and in London, in her teens. She then trained and worked as a professional stage and tv actor. Appearances included: Coronation Street, the wild Sadista Sisters, rock cabaret, and the original production of Victoria Wood’s play, Talent.
Her love of poetry and reciting it, began in elocution classes. She loves reading at poetry events and festivals, but left the precarious showbiz life, to become a psychotherapist. She still has a small private practice, but now has time to devote to poetry. Poetic themes draw on nature, social and eco issues, family background, the human journey and humour.
Rachael lives in Glastonbury, with spectacular views from her wee house. She has long been a member of Wells Fountain Poets and Frome Stanza Group. She also attends Carrie Etter’s seminars for Poetry Swindon. She was a member of Jo Bell’s 52 online group. Rachael enjoys being part of the poetry community and has forged many dear friendships. Her work appears in journals: The Interpreter’s House, Rialto, Tears in the Fence, Shearsman, Lighthouse, Prole. Anthologies include: The Book of Love and Loss, The Very Best of 52 & #MeToo. Her prizewinning collection, Singing at the Bone Tree, is published by Indigo Dreams.
Photograph by Sally Morningstar
Born in Ayrshire, Kevin Reid lives in Athens, Greece. His poetry and art have been published widely both online and in print. His mini pamphlet Burdlife (Tapsalteerie) was published in 2017. Suitcase is his second pamphlet from 4Word Press, his first, Androgyny, was published in May 2018.