You Shall Be Known, Known, Known By The Company You Keep (Martin Simpson)

And indeed it seems – you shall. Fortunately for me, I’m currently in the company of some prodigiously talented folk whose stardust will, hopefully, rub off on me.

First, Ruth Aylett, whose outstanding pamphlet, Pretty in Pink, is due to be launched on February 1st. I have long admired Ruth’s work and 4Word is delighted to be able to publish her first single-author pamphlet, which can be pre-ordered from our website, or directly from the poet, for £5.99 plus p&p. (See

Aylett is a poet who thinks with the precision of the scientist and writes with the grace of the artist.  This collection, masquerading under an ironic title, explores gender and gendering.  Though not without humour, many of these honest, moving, often provocative poems have a darker edge – touching on the difficulties of motherhood, acceptance, mental health, silencing of women, even rape and domestic murder.  Aylett demonstrates an accomplished use of form, managing to bring a sonnet – about women as sex objects in advertising (Venus) – to a pertinent, perfectly rhymed ending in a four letter word!  

Another strand involves a re-making of myths, re-drawing them for our times.  Her re-working of a Li Po poem is masterly: she sets it at the time of the Iraq War, the young woman missing her squaddie: Li Po’s ‘howling gibbons called out into the heavens’ transform into ‘the estate echoed to stolen cars at night.’

Christine DeLuca

Pretty in Pink is a collection of poems about women and their worlds, their triumphs and frustrations, their struggles and endurance.  The range is wide, incorporating Rosa Luxemburg,  dead bodies in sheds, Wythenshaw bubble-perms, hospitals and anti-Trump demonstrations. These pleasingly political poems are intelligent and alert, formally adroit and lexically inventive. Ruth Aylett sees the world clearly: she has no time for sentimentality or false consolations; her vision is lit by  solidarity and compassion, a wounded optimism, ferocity and pride.

 Steve Ely,  Director, The Ted Hughes Network

Ruth Aylett’s vividly-inhabited poems are full of the female experience, wit, anger – and the stuff of life itself.

Fiona Sampson

My friend and colleague, and co-founder of 4Word, Stella Wulf, also has a pamphlet coming out on February 4th with Fair Acre Press. Entitled A Spell in the Woods, it’s a fusion of Stella’s exquisite pen and ink drawings with her finely observed nature poetry. I had the privilege of seeing this pamphlet during its inception and I find it breath-taking.

In A Spell in the Woods, Stella Wulf shows herself to be a worthy successor to Ted Hughes, Mary Oliver and Andrew Young. As a  pictorial artist we might not be surprised that she has such a clear-eyed focus upon the natural world, but what an ear she has as well! These are poems that need to be read aloud, and repeatedly, to savour their intricate harmonies. Seemingly timeless, they are all too urgently contemporary in a world we are polluting with ‘the silt of entitlement, a flood of insouciance. 

—David Cooke

Stella Wulf’s A Spell in the Woods contains powerful, compelling poems of natural observation: of seeing and listening to the world around us and recreating their second life in language   

—David Morley

More information and details of purchase can be found here:

And finally, my own news is that the wonderful, Yorkshire based Yaffle Poetry Press are publishing my next collection, due out sometime towards the end of this year or very early next. Can’t express how delighted I am by this. Watch this space for more news of this and all those mentioned above, and 4Word’s future projects with new and exciting poets.

Stella and I would like to wish everyone, our family of amazing poets and our readers, to whom we are forever grateful, a Happy, Healthy, Peaceful and Poetic 2021.

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