Read in front of the fire,/ read out in the shed./ Read in bed.

Southwater Readers Day Rob reading
Robert Harper from Shrewsbury Poetry Stanza

Last Saturday was a wonderful day!  Thank you the great staff at Southwater Library, and also West Midlands Readers’ Network. Southwater Readers’ Day involved sharp-witted teenagers writing a Doctor Who radio play with Birmingham-based writer William Gallagher; Shrewsbury Poetry Stanza came over for the occasion and performed at the foot of Southwater’s escalators, drawing audiences who came racing back for later pop-up poetry readings; Jake Evans the storyteller led a group of skilfully bewitched children and parents on a Story Walk – and William Gallagher rounded off the day with his fabled Get Writing workshop, in which he demonstrates to participants how very distractable they really are.

Southwater Readers Day Giant Poem in prepI sat and typed on my vintage 1932 Good Companions typewriter, which clatters.  I made a start on a Giant Poem for Southwater Library, and encouraged interruptions from library-goers.  Lots of people stopped by and added lines to the poem.  Here it is, after I took it home and re-jigged it just a bit.  A paen to the Book.  Let’s hear it for libraries!

A Giant Southwater Poem

Just a giant’s stride from The Wrekin,
at either end of the escalator –
here’s a book hoard.  Browse.
Stray.  Chase the black
and white across the page.
For each page sighs, where figments
of our words slip through the lines.
Here’s fantasy and fact, romance
and fiction, sit and read,
escape away and out of here
to there.  Books are a window
for those that read.  Be
surrounded by books, and coffee:
Heaven.  Save a minute, here
or there, and fill a cup
with time to open up,
to drink in words, to hold
a world of thoughts from off the page.
You’ve lived through centuries of war,
of loss and love; you’ve been to places
that you’ve never seen:
language is a time machine.
And books is knowledge, think
of all the knowledge
in one single book.
It’s really connecting, all the histories,
all the stories.  You find out
where you come from,
who you are.
Pages back, the giants scrapped
on Ercall and The Wrekin:
but now you bookmark
sofas in the library,
reach for words
that flutter carelessly
across the verse.
Don’t bend the corners –
flex your mind.  Read
cover to cover,
under cover of night,
or under the sun.
Read in front of the fire,
read out in the shed.
Read in bed.

Made with many voices on Southwater Readers’ Day
Saturday 11 April 2015
with Jean Atkin

Come along to Southwater Readers’ Day!

Come to Southwater to join in a FREE day of reading celebration, on Saturday 11th April!


I will be there all day, writing on my vintage typewriter – do come and interrupt me, it’s very hard work.  Everyone is encouraged to join in and help create a Giant Southwater Poem which will be displayed later in the Library.

You’ll also find an utterly extra-terrestrial Write a Doctor Who Radio Play (Right Now) workshop with William Gallagher, who has written a string of successful Doctor Who radio plays.  This workshop is from 11am to 12 noon.

I’m so pleased to welcome The Escalator Poets – aka the excellent Shrewsbury Poetry Stanza, there to provide pop-up poetry to surprise and delight. They’ll be performing for 15 minutes at 12 noon, 1.30pm & 2.30pm.

And at 2pm families can join award-winning storyteller Jake Evans for one of his legendary Story Walks – or  – take your place on the Get Writing workshop with Birmingham-based writer William Gallagher from 2pm to 3pm, to help you tackle writer productivity.

You can turn up to workshops and the Story Walk on the day, or book in advance by ringing Southwater Library on 01952 382915.

More on our Facebook Event Page here.

Lost Keys & Fading Photographs

On Monday 23 March, I’ll be leading a free Creative Writing Workshop from 1pm to 3pm, at Southwater Library.

This will be a workshop packed with quirky ways into writing, making use of old photographs and keys to lost doors.  I’ll help you unlock new stories and half-forgotten associations to create pieces of flash fiction or poems.  Everyone is welcome, no experience necessary.

Please book your place at Southwater Library by calling 01952 382915.

Lost Keys & Fading Photographs




Hello! It’s National Libraries Day on Saturday 7 February

Celebrate your library!  I look forward to meeting you at Southwater on  Saturday 7 February on National Libraries Day.  There’ll be loads going on – and you can find me there being Reader in Residence – come and say hello!

You can

  • make your own Mini Origami BookMini Origami Book
  • make an Inspired Book List to go on our Southwater Reads blog – click here to see
  • have a break and a giggle – listen to a short reading of comic poems old and new
  • or you can just drop in to talk to me whenever you like and contribute a line to a special Southwater Group Poem, which will go on display in the Library afterwards

Mince pies, snowballs, hens on ice #southwaterreads

Me Midwinter readings Southwater by Roz
We shared mince pies too…

A lovely morning at Southwater Library doing ‘Readings for Midwinter’.  We shared extracts from Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales, from ‘Moomintroll Midwinter’, and poems by Robert Frost, John Updike, Amy Gerstler and William Carlos Williams.

‘The sky is low.
The wind is gray.
The radiator
Purrs all day.’

John Updike

I also read some pages from my pamphlet ‘The Henkeeper’s Almanac’, about the hens I used to keep on a smallholding in Scotland.  They were tough hens, and many things      wanted to eat them…

Dec Barnvelder
From ‘The Henkeeper’s Almanac’

December Barnvelder
Long live the frosted
laced Barnvelder,
loiterer in snow
and preener
in low sun.
He looks so sturdy
on the drystone wall,
as if he’d never
heard of foxes.

Reading for a Midwinter Morning this Thursday at Southwater

Do drop by on Thursday 4th December for #southwaterreads event ‘Readings for a Midwinter Morning’.  I’ll be near the entrance to the Library surrounded by sofas, rugs and bunting, so hard to miss.  *10.30am to 1pm*

I’ll be reading tales of snow, and long dark nights… feasts and stars and sledges…

You can make your very own blingy dove, and join me in scoffing a mince pie!

blingy doves crop


We have moving cardboard!

Amy the Librarian at Southwater Library made a video of me skilfully dropping pieces of cardboard last time I was there.  It required quite a few takes, and we bonded in adversity.  Southwater has a media wall on the first floor, and this little video is due to play on it…  Very low tech meets high tech.

Meet The Reader Day at Southwater

Setting up Southwater 7 Nov 001
Setting up

Here we are, all set up and ready in the bright and cosy surrounds of Southwater Library.  Outside, rain fell in, frankly, torrents.

Yet a whole lovely group of people tumbled through the door, dripping but keen, and when we’d fetched extra chairs, they settled down while I read them the bit in Terry Pratchett’s ‘Wee Free Men’ where Tiffany Aching, who doesn’t yet know she’s a witch, gets the first inkling.


Wee Free Men cover Southwater 7 NovThen we read some poems together, and finally they joined in with that wonderful short poem ‘The Duck’ by Ogden Nash.  It goes:

Behold the duck. 

It does not cluck.
A cluck it lacks.
It quacks.  
(we all shouted, loudly)
It is specially fond
Of a puddle or pond.
When it dines or sups,
It bottoms ups.
 (we all bellowed)

So not like the libraries of yore, but lots of fun.

origami books 2 Southwater 7 NovOrigami books next, lots of copied folding, then adults enjoying themselves with alphabet stamps and colour pencils…

Amy used her book to write her Inspired Book List in:Inspired Book List 2 Southwater 7 Nov




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