Iron Eclectic Festival – Cullercoats

I’ve just come from reading at the Iron Eclectic Festival in Cullercoats. The sea was always within view from our second floor seafront flat – we could see it from every window, and almost touch it. Watching the tide come in and out was hypnotic and deeply relaxing. On Wednesday a giant Japan Lunar Eclipsered moon rose over the sea as if in celebration.

On Friday evening I read from Millie and Bird  in the RNLI, the sea on three sides. I read The Trouble with Holy Island which seemed appropriate with the North Coast stretching away at my back. It was a wonderful and memorable place to read with a really appreciative audience.

On Saturday singer songwriter Katie Doherty sang 5 songs and poet Colette Bryce did a reading in the same room at the RNLI. I came away from the event inspired, sat in a cafe across the road, my head filled with songs and words and wrote the bones of a poem, which you can read below.

A rare reading by Tony Harrison made Saturday night very special indeed. Then to the Salt House – late night festival hub (perhaps more red wine than I’d planned). Sadly I had to come away today. I do so tired but as always inspired by Iron Press and everything they do…


Songs and Words for the People

(on hearing Kate Doherty and Colette Bryce)


There’s a smell of patchouli in the room

waistcoat, haircut and boots,

poets gather like a kite-string of gulls

chasing the catch,

and at the piano, ‘waiting for something warmer,

songs for people who deserve them,’

a whisper of spells.


Under soft lids and fringe, in quiet tones

you speak a litany of poems.

Hermit crabs and lobsters crawl from your page

make me want to peek inside the laboratory

swim under John’s blue fingers

live by the sea in winter.


Coming out and the steps

slow for breath

crossing the road

to the Beaches and Cream cafe

opposite the sign for the university.

The Dove Marine laboratory fixes me through

the open door


and tethered flags fight the wind

wanting to be a part of it, straining

loose from Culfre-cots, across intertidal

pools and rocks to Whitley Bay

bearing the scent of patchouli and salt

to sea a flock of words and songs.


  1. Brilliant- on a par with Yeats and Heaney at their best . . . how with stunning clarity each idea drifts to shore one after the other.

  2. avril

    June 8, 2015 at 9:13 am

    Thank you Warren – good to hear from you. I do like the way the poem worked for once. Often my struggle with words ends up on the page but this time it seemed less so. I think that was to do with listening to Colette Bryce whose poems, among other things, are elegant and transparent.

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