Poems for World Poetry Day

Presented by Peter Robinson

Curving book shelves full of books in a library

Having spent most of my life studying literature and attempting to write and publish poetry, I feel especially fortunate to find myself the current supervisor of four practice-based doctoral theses and two masters dissertations focused on contemporary poetry here at the University of Reading. As a contribution to World Poetry Day, 21 March 2024, my students have agreed to share a recent poem from their on-going projects.

Liam Anslow-Sucevic is exploring the archival elegy while writing poems that evoke his hometown of Milton Keynes and his family history as part of the Serbian diaspora.

Maisie Crittenden is completing a part-time MA degree and writing poems that address the ethics and constraints of representation regarding the GRT community.

Andrew Jamison, who has already published three collections with Gallery Press, is contributing to and studying the varieties of form and approach employed by contemporary poets from Northern Ireland.

Katherine Meehan, who published her first collection in autumn 2023, is composing a book-length sequence inspired by the Tarot and applying her discoveries to the nature of ekphratic writing and speech act theory.

Vic Pickup, whose latest collection also appeared last autumn, is writing a thesis on apology in the Mills & Boon author correspondence files at Special Collections and a book of poems evoking the life of one such author. She and Katherine Meehan co-host Reading’s Poets’ Café, which takes place at South Street Arts Centre one Friday evening each month. Vic has also edited a new anthology of Reading poets to be published by Two Rivers Press this June.

Finally, Amanda Walsh, a lifelong Reading resident, is completing an MA dissertation applying Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s stages of grieving to help write poems about experiences of living in the town, its history, and changing skyline. I hope you enjoy these examples of their work.


A Dream


Moss-covered rocks, mountainous ranges that seem to stretch on,

I awake in the centre of this basin, by a long dim stream, silent.


From a hillock of stones, a silhouette of my brother emerges,

breathing a grey vapour like a spirit, melding with the cool air.


He approaches, footsteps hurried. His darkness wanes in the pale sun:

full auburn beard, soft eyes, nose like mine, barely any teeth.


He speaks to me, ‘The rain will soon come over. North of that crag.

I need to tell you a few things. Got to be quick. Look in the distance.’


Slate clouds drape the crag, masking its grass-filled fissures.

The rain contacts the ground, turning olive foliage dark.


‘I didn’t know I was going neither. The clot went from my leg to my chest.

And though I’d make those little digs, I was always proud of you. Take care.’


My face strains as the land blackens.


Liam Anslow-Sucevic


ars gratia artis


she is a paint by numbers

join the dots

trace the border

colour within the lines

sort of girl


she is the portrait of a lady

still and unmoving

and undoubtedly


but never all at once


she is the oil

that spills over her own wrists

in reds and blacks

in charcoal

smudged with spilt wine


she is a spire

and one can count

the elements of architecture in her eyes

the marble sculpted

within her hands


she is David and Venus and Pity

hours spent staring at the Mona Lisa

looking for a flaw

looking for anything



she is art

but has yet to declare herself

the artist


Maisie Crittenden


Waiting in the Car for My Mother


I always seemed to be waiting in the car

for her, after school, outside the butcher’s, The Spar,

Mace, McCarthy’s, Colgan’s, Whyte’s of Crossgar.

A minute, just a minute felt like an hour

as the window’s raindrops collected each other.


Where was it that I seemed to wait before

for her, and where will it be, and how long, after?

gone midnight, at this screen, I wonder.


Passenger, as ever, I gather.


Andrew Jamison


The Secret Doctrine 

  1. The Hierophant


Admit it was mainly the fancy dress that drew you

into the sacristy, the smell of benzoin, the smoke spun

outward from the censor and the coloured glass,

the incorporeal blast of a minor chord, high camp

drama of the monstrance, phantasmagoric & gold.

A latent catechism queries still in the blood—

how is your fear of earth? Prayer is illusive as a spell;

what’s God got to do with it? The whole point

of the Sacrament was bliss; someone else has taken

the reins of knowing what’s what. It was like

the Italian restaurant we used to go to just

for the breadsticks—we could be sure about

one thing and it was free. This way to heaven!

No one believes they’re really evil, deep down.


Katherine Meehan  




You gave me a name, one you felt fitted me

so that I might flow, not trip off the tongue.


Your new name for me puts me at the beginning

and end of the alphabet, perfect for picking from shelves.


Baptized anew, I find myself intoxicated;

I think things, go places, do what I’d never admit.


I walk down the street and nobody knows

who I am. I’m in the library and they clamour


for the not-me version of me, the latest

opus, ripe and fresh, to relieve them of their


mundanity, duty, boredom, which I too

return to, after I’ve slipped off my second skin


tucked it neatly away under my skirts

and got to work with the mangle and washboard.


Vic Pickup


The Red Tent


Hands traced across her back

In turns make a figure of eight

A journey we eternally know

But barely touch the ache

Womb tightens with anticipation

Electricity firing from her brain

Open into a universe

Of held space where awaits

Eonian creation turning

Unblinking and unphased.


At the foot of the bed

With a stopwatch ticking

He paces and fidgets

Carries on fretting

Because of the time

This miracle is taking

Not to mention

He’s tired hasn’t eaten

And all I keep thinking

Is we should never have let him in.


Amanda Walsh