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    • Questing
      I am a strong believer in renewable energy, but it’s not a free lunch.  Significant amounts of energy has to be used to change quartz sand to silicon.   Silane gas produced during the manufacturing process is extremely explosive, and explosions occur.  Another risk is that we currently have no safety masks that can prevent […]
    • Blyth Estuary Evening
      There is a wonderful walk along the line of the old narrow gauge railwayline to Southwold, where it runs alongside the Blyth estuary.  I led a walk for a group of poets there this year, and this was one of the poems that I read on the walk.  We had a very enjoyable workshop after […]
    • As The Light Changes
      The East Anglian Daily Times ran an article entitled ’22 beautiful poems about East Anglia’ in their Saturday magazine insert on March 18th this year. I was very pleased to see this poem of mine on the same page as poems by Sir Walter Raleigh and George Szirtes. TO HEAR THIS POEM PLEASE CLICK ON […]
    • The Last Word
      By way of a change, here is a short piece of prose: In a writers’ group this morning we were challenged to write a short story in 150 words.  The story below contains exactly that number.   The light was starting to fade, and breaking soft waves seemed even quieter.  He stopped collecting pebbles and […]
    • Moving Hands
      How many things that  seemed eternal early in life, have completely vanished?                         TO HEAR THIS POEM PLEASE CLICK ON THE ARROW ABOVE   Sometime in the nineteen-fifties it perched on the hundred-foot workshop,  where Waitrose’s  entrance is now. It would pace the working lives of hundreds. […]
    • You know you are worth it
      I wrote this poem in mid November this year, then my e-mail inbox started to fill with ‘Pre-Black Friday’ offers, then ‘Black Friday’ offers, followed later by ‘Post Black Friday’ offers, and now I am seeing ‘Black Friday repeat offers’!  Reality has overtaken imagination.   TO HEAR THIS POEM PLEASE CLICK ON THE ARROW BUTTON ABOVE […]
    • Poems for a portrait
      I agreed to sit as the model again this morning for an art group producing portraits.  We had a cultural exchange as at the end of the two sessions as I recited the Haikus composed in my head during the forty minutes of the sitting.  I then exchanged a book of my poetry for the […]
    • Last Orders
      This poem won a ‘Commended’ award in the recent 2016 George Crabbe Poetry Competition.  The competition judge, Moniza Alvi, wrote of ‘Last Orders’ “Tragic and hard hitting, I found this poignant poem compelling.”  ” This is a poem with a real sense of urgency”. PLEASE CLICK ON THE ARROW BUTTON ABOVE TO HEAR THIS POEM […]
    • Irony
      During a few days in Liverpool we visited Crosby Beach, to see the Antony Gormley sculptures arranged as  ‘Another Place’.  Two friends had been examining the work, and turned to walk off the beach.  I took the photograph below, and the poem was written after I examined the image, using an  element of artistic license. ‘Communing’ […]
    • Illuminating Longing
      Here is a shared experience from the night of the full ‘Strawberry  Moon’ on June 20th.  A warm evening after a wet morning promised the sight of Nightjars hunting, and the moon was a bonus, PLEASE CLICK ON THE ARROW BUTTON ABOVE TO HEAR THIS POEM   The mist quilt  slips across the sodden heath […]


This page will show recent writing arising out of poetry workshop sessions.

Here is an example of an electronic workshop that I was asked to enter into by international poetry magazine Other Poetry.

One of the editors of Other Poetry, Peter Armstong worked with me over several exchanges of e-mail on my poem How to age a rabbit.  The entire correspondence was published in the November 2012 issue of the magazine, and they have approved me reproducing it here.         CLICK HERE to read how the workshop operated.


Image by courtesy of Meemalee



  The next piece that came out a of workshop under the leadership of Judy Gahagan in May 2010.  She asked the group to find a piece of technical writing that interested them, then write a short explanantion of that interest, the final act would then be to produce a relevant poem.  My three writings follow:


The scientific extract.

 ‘For one particular batch of grain there is an inverse linear relationship between temperature and the log of the time of steeping needed to reach any particular moisture content (Briggs , 1967).  So if the grains hydration characteristics are known at one temperature, the water-uptake curve of at any other fixed temperature can be calculated.’ (‘Malts and Malting’, Briggs 1998).



The poet’s interest in the scientific extract.

The embryo is stained red in this enlarged cross-section of a barley corn, the white area is the insoluble starch.

A seed is a simple package of three parts, an outer casing that holds a food source to which is attached an embryo, which under the correct conditions can change into the adult plant.  The embryo cannot start the process until it has the right amount of water, at which point it starts to send enzymes into the food parcel (in the case of barley this is insoluble starch) which cannot be converted into an energy source until the enzymes flow.  Briggs description advises the maltster how to introduce the correct amount of water as quickly as possible, to start the malting process. 


The resultant poem – ‘Judging the water uptake.’

Lined along the wall of the steep
forty of the local Women’s Institute, there
because of the malting’s imminent closure,
and distracted, but bored.
Not interested in a half a lifetime’s empiric skills
but amused by the novelty of a working Victorian factory.

‘How do you know when it’s had enough water?’
hands trailing through the barley swelling in the steep.
He could have told them that
there is an inverse linear relationship between temperature and the log of time for hydration,
but instead he said ‘Bite it’,
and all quickly tried it,
‘if your teeth touch together smoothly
it’s wet enough, but if it’s sticky spit it out.’
At last someone asked ‘Why?’
– ‘Because it will be a rat shit’
and was rewarded with the sight
of forty explosive spitters.

I read the ‘scientific extract’ and this poem at Bury Cafe Poets on September 28th, and Colin Whyles recorded it and has put it on the Poetry Aloud website, click here to acess it.

Leave a comment


  1. I enjoyed this poem all over again, Ivor – this time without nettles poking the back of my ankles! One of the hall marks of a well-wrought poem is the curiosity it arouses in the reader to track down more information on the subject under consideration. Your poem does that – and more!

    Cheers, maltster.


  2. Pat, I don’t have the technology to provide sensory input on this site, so you will just have to imagine the nettles.

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