Category : Words

Dear Life by Ray Stearn

In October 2021 we shared our last workshop with Anthony Costello. After writing this poem we talked about how important a title can be. In this poem, without the title it is simply a travelog. Add the title “Dear Life” and a completely different piece emerges.


Dear Life


Driving North it is well hidden,

Until that final bend in the road

Where it dominates the view.

The Angel of the North.

Ugly slab of rusting metal

Or iconic, beautiful sculpture.

After all these years I still can’t decide which


That simple act of driving past

Takes us North,

Northumberland, Beadnell,


The Holy Island of Lindisfarne.

Here our dreams are met

In serenity, beauty, solitude.

For Northumbria is yet to be discovered,

Even through the pandemic,

By the Ibiza crowd.

Seals sing at Seahouses.

Buntings bathe at Bamborough,

Home of the famous Bamborough Banger,

Smoked, like the Craster kippers

And the Swallow Fish prawns.

The Angel, going North

A beacon for happiness,

Relaxation, rest, peace.


A week later

We travel South.

Southward, The Angel is visible

From a distance.

Growing reminder of the return

To daily tasks.

Living, breathing,

Paying bills mending ills.

Does The Angel frown as we pass,

That smooth, expressionless face

Above the monoplane wings

The car climbs the hill

The Angel disappears

Until the next time


Driving North

The Angel smiles again.


©Ray Stearn 7th October 2021


Dear Life by Val J Chapman


Dear Life


I awoke slowly today, carefully.

Yesterday still owned me.


I have sailed through my life

And all its choppy waters, rough.

Sinking sometimes, gasping breathlessly at others.


Love was always around, in all its many guises.

Sometimes it danced; sometimes it kicked,

And sometimes it left.


Left me, still loving, yet empty.

And the clock ticked, its fingers circling rapidly.


Until death touched me, sharply.


And the years ticked again, loudly.

Speaking to me then as friends.


Dear Life, you taught me severely.


Yet now I feel the peace, coming almost full circle, with love.


Complete, satiated.


And I heard what you taught me, with thanks.




© October 2021                                                                                                 Val J Chapman

Val J. Chapman, It Flickered and Shone


James Nash was with us for our August Workshop, the writers were asked to write a piece then go back to it in the workshop and edit it. I have included both drafts from our talented secretary, Val so you may see how work can develop.

Ray Stearn, Chair, TCWG


‘It Flickered and Shone’


(First Draft)

It lit up my life, as I read by its light

Under the covers, in the darkness I lay

Until the noise was gone

Only then did I switch it on.


It lit up the pages, the print of the ages

The torch in my young hand

My guilty pleasure.


And then I heard a footstep land

And my Mum say “Val, are you asleep?”

“Yes, Mum”, I said, and shook my head.


(Second Draft)

I lay there in the darkness until the noise was gone.

Only then did I switch it on.

It lit up my life, as I read by its light.

It flickered and shone, and then it was gone.


It lit up the pages, the print of the ages.

The torch in my hand, until I heard a footstep land.

It flickered and shone, and then it was gone.


Under the covers, in darkness I lay

Until I heard my Mum say

“Val, are you asleep?”

“Yes, Mum”, I said, and shook my head.

It flickered and shone, and then it was gone.


© August 2021                                                                                                  Val J Chapman

Response to Painting by Kathleen Proctor


 Response to Painting

Interior in Standgarde : Sunlght on the Floor by Vilhelm Hammershoi

 I sit at my desk, about to begin writing the letter that I know will affect my life.            The sun streams in through the window but its warmth cannot touch me.                        My heart is cold and I know that what I am about to do is unforgivable. Yet it has to be, it is inevitable now, I cannot turn back, cannot do the right thing.                                 So, I close my mind to the consequences of my actions, to all the hurt I am about to unleash on someone who deserves better, better than me, someone who can feel sympathy, not this empty vessel that I have become.                                                            Guilt is my permanent companion but this is my choice, my decision, my doing.                                         I pick up the pen and begin to write.

 Response to  Painting “Six Tailors” by  Lubaina Hamid

It was booked as a Creative Craft session, the first in the Rehabilitation Programme devised by the powers that be to make sure that all the government boxes were ticked and signed off.It was only open to those with a record of good behaviour or in reality those who were astute enough to give the illusion of being amenable, and ready to embrace change, of which I was one I was adept at subterfuge, knew the right noises  to make, said all the right things, toed their line.                                                       Actually it was popular only because it afforded us an hour out of our cell, we had nothing to lose. We were resentful when we saw the task, we were completely unused to this activity This was  not Man’s work!                                                                                  We expected to saw or hammer or use our strength, not this mindless waste of our strength or abilities. We were clumsy, useless, unable to follow simple instructions, could not cut out a simple shape or thread a needle, we were not made for delicate tasks.

We were hard, powerful men, now reduced to sheer incompetence, being unable even to thread a simple needle.                                                                                                             I fail every time. I do not like it. My fingers itch.                                                                 The scissors tempt me; they are sharp, lethal and well within my reach.

 Response to Painting “The Jungle” by  Wilfredo Lam.

The Faces stare at me. I try to look away but I am mesmerised, forced to watch.

They are mocking me, laughing, I cannot bear the raucous sound they are making, taunting and deriding me.                                                                                                            I close my eyes but the imprint is etched on my brain, menacing, grimacing, contorted.

They move closer in unison, threatening, hostile, weapons clenched, waiting to be unleased on to my defenceless feeble body.

The outlines merge, become fused, a congealed mass of vicious intent.

I can no longer function, I am annihilated. Obliterated, reduced to nothing.

I close my mind and await the end.

©Kathleen Proctor 13th August 2021