wordy stuff at the organ grinder

Submit to the Medusa

SUBMIT TO THE MEDUSA Kathy Kieth, tireless editor of ace American online journal Medusa’s Kitchen, having recently published work by Open Book host Neil Fulwood and regular Open Book attendee Hongwei Bao, has put out a transatlantic appeal for more work from Nottingham poets.

Let’s not disappoint her. Head over to Medusa’s information and submission guidelines page (link below) and send her your best and boldest work.

Becky Cullen and Birgit Friedrich – Tuesday 5th March


I am
@beckycullen on Twitter
@drbeckycullen on Instagram (not on the latter as much)

Becky Cullen is fond of all kinds of potatoes. Her poems dip in and out of the different lifetimes experienced by someone (still) living in their home town. ‘Majid Sits in a Tree and Sings’ was a winner of the Poetry Business pamphlet competition; her debut collection ‘A Reader’s Guide to Time’ won the Live Canon competition. 

Here is the text and a poetry film of my poem ‘How to Hang Washing’  – film by Rebecca Goldsmith 

How to Hang Washing

It must be spring. There should be blackthorn

blossom, a smudge of sun across your cheek.

From your patch of earth, you’ll hear the crest

of chatter from the playground at the school.

These pegs nip snugly, in time with magpie

calls, as your arms lift, stretch, clip, repeat.


Birgit Friedrich, originally from Germany, found her home in Nottingham in her thirties and has never looked back. Nottingham also serves as the setting for her novel, What I Never Knew About Love.
She hopes to finish the final edits of her novel soon so that she can return to writing poetry.

Some of her poems can be found in the anthology Settlement Status and Poetry for All, published by Civic Leicester in 2021.

After completing her MA in Creative Writing at NTU, she co-founded Dandelion’s Poetry, a local poetry group.

When she’s not writing or reading, you can find Birgit at poetry events and pubs, enjoying a glass of wine or two with her incredible friends.

Guy Jones and Shaun Belcher – Tuesday 6th February


Guy is the Writer In Residence for Hothouse Theatre, a community theatre and film project in Nottingham. He has written several fringe-style plays and short films for Hothouse.
He also performs poetry on the Nottingham Poetry scenes. He has self-published a collection of pieces that have been performed called In The Moment 1. In The Moment 2 will be out this year.


Shaun Belcher was born Oxford, England in 1959 and brought up on a down-land farm before moving to a council estate in the small town of Didcot in 1966 just as England won the world cup..

We have not won the world cup again since 1966 and Shaun Belcher is not as famous as Simon Armitage although his songs are better.

Tuesday Shannon & Alan Baker: Open Book 7th November


Alan Baker was born and raised in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and has lived in Nottingham since 1985, where he has been editor of the poetry publisher Leafe Press for the last twenty years, and editor of its associated webzine Litter.

His previous poetry collections include Variations on Painting a Room (Skysill, 2011), Letters from the Underworld (Red Ceilings, 2018) and Riverrun (KFS, 2019).
He has translated the poetry of Yves Bonnefoy and Abdellatif Laâbi.

His latest pamphlet is A Journal of Enlightened Panic (Shoestring Press, 2020).

Today The Snow

Today the snow, and tonight
it lies on my car, and on all
the roads that she must go.
To be in a warm hotel in midwinter,
isn't that enough comfort?
Today the snow, tomorrow
I will save you from the rest of your life,
or is it mine? I would like
to help someone to live after my death -
eyes, liver, kidneys, pancreas
left on the fields of morning
while I'm in a dreamless sleep.
What could be more idyllic
than an exhibitionof the latest luggage?
Are your shoes clean, young man?
One believes so. And who are we?
To argue, that is.
I earn a living, recount
colourful episodes from my past,
swell my feet on crystals of white.
Isn't that enough? But no.
'Our researches must continue'
and there are language courses
yet to be complete. The latest
adult films to be watched.
Slide softly into the bed of white.
Protect the night, snow,
and don't allow yourself to be fooled.

“Today the Snow” originally appeared in the pamphlet February Hotel from Bamboo Books.


Tuesday Shannon

About Tuesday Shannon

Tuesday Shannon has an AHRC-funded PhD from Nottingham Trent University where she now an associate lecturer.
Her work has been featured in Soundswrite Press’s ‘Take Three: Volume One’, Left Lion, P.N. Review and others.


Between a boarded-up chippy
and a boarded-up florist
second- or third-hand fridges
lean to attention.

But there are no passers-by,
no eyes to catch and tempt –
just fallen leaves, empty buses,
artificial light.

In the shelter of a closed shop door
a teenager tugs at his hoodie,
lifts a cigarette with his left hand,
shakes a cannister in his right.

2nd Anniversary of Open Book: Tony Challis and Shaun Belcher – Tuesday 3 October 2023

Come and celebrate the “2nd anniversary of OPEN BOOK readings with Neil Fulwood .


Tony Challis has been writing poetry since the 1980s, as well as short stories and memoir. He has had poems published in magazines local to Nottingham, has had a poem commended in a national poetry competition, and is Chair of Nottingham Poetry Society. Tony is also keen on performing his poetry at spoken word events and at poetry gatherings. He is a member of a number of poetry writing groups within which he hones his skills. He now has a substantial  body of poetry written which he is keen to share with the world.

A Quick Queerbashing

It was only a five minute walk
across the main road to his ex.
Well-coiffed, in leather jacket,
fresh, smart and bouncing.
It was on the way back that it happened.

Times come when the search for words is dry,
when it is hard to maintain a dribble of chat.
He could not reply, only smile with his eyes.
The frame firmly placed over his face prevented
replies; bolted in place to help his jaw heal.

I had to keep a conversation going, talk
about my doings, mutual friends, shows….
He could write brief notes on paper, just.
If I had had a companion there might’ve been banter,
cross talk, jokes shared to liven his time.

I had read reports, how he had walked
in amongst a group of five, innocent,
blind to their baseball bats, uncomprehending
of their anger, of how they had failed to find
a victim at the hill-top water tower.

He would do; he was clearly queer.
They gifted him a metal plate in his leg,
a problem kneeling to unhelpful gods.
Did their own hearts scare them as they struck?
I recall the gratitude in his warm gaze.

A Year in Normandie 2020-21: David Hockney

Enter, leave the sun to shine on Saltaire.
Stroll around imagined time beside a frieze.
90.75 metres and you have walked a year.
The slower your step the more slowly time passes.
Winter to winter, from bare wind-braving trees
back to snow-protected branches.
Bright blossoms, more here than in Yorkshire
the artist says. He wants that.
He now knows the trees as individuals,
scoffs at, “When you’ve seen one tree
you’ve seen them all.” Every tree is unique.
Eye-spangling ipad art
gives a sugar-rush of colour,
sweetening the retina.
Uplift and joy, even in fallen leaves.
Walk outside, breathing deeply, smiling;
see the sun putting on evening clothes of pastel clouds.
Also mud and black puddles.
The day’s residue dropped into car boots,
the muffled drum of car doors closing.
Nose no friend to fumes.

Nottingham Poetry Society


Shaun Belcher is a multimedia artist and poet, originally from Oxford, now a retired teacher in Nottingham.

He has written poetry since his mid 20’s,  influenced by his rural upbringing as well as wider themes of dislocation and global technologies.

Forthcoming in September – Andrew Button and Jade Moore

Tuesday 5 September 2023

Andrew Button

Originally from Nottingham, Andrew Button currently lives in Leicestershire. He has had many poems placed in magazines and a pamphlet, Dry Days in Wet Towns, was published in 2016. To date, he has had two collections published, The Melted Cheese on the Cosmic Pizza, (erbacce Press, November 2017), and Music for Empty Car Parks (erbacce press, January 2020). His poetic influences include, to name but a few, Ian MacMillan, Simon Armitage, Phillip Larkin, Roger McGough, Ray Bradbury, the lyrics of 10cc, Kate Bush and Mary Chapin Carpenter, music in general, Yorkshire tea and all things Italian. Andrew’s poetry is observational, anecdotal and ironic. He likens himself to a poetic eavesdropper and is a keen observer of eccentric and obsessive behaviour. His sources of inspiration range from quirky news stories like the woman who took her a horse into McDonalds, to popular culture (especially music and films) and his own experiences of life and love (although he claims the latter is unconscious). He also written a poem about woodlice! Fellow Leicestershire poet, Siobhan Logan, says that his poems “swerve from the apocalyptic to the domestic, from cosmic to comic, on the flip of a coin.” In between spending his days as a librarian and a poet, he consumes music voraciously, participates in music quizzes enthusiastically, cycles in dayglow yellow regularly and laughs wholeheartedly. He believes that playing cricket on the beach as a small boy while his brother dug up the pitch, watching warring parents from under his bed and a farcical bicycle accident at seventeen, are just some of the experiences that have helped to make him the poet that he is today.

Jade Moore

The quiet one in the corner. I write poems and perform them in front of people. I also doodle a lot.

August Poets – Fiona Robertson and Andy Sutton

Fiona Robertson began writing poetry in 2013. In 2019 she was a top ten finalist in the Nottingham round of the UNESCO City of Literature Slamovision poetry slam. She has been a featured speaker at Words Out Loud in Chichester and Katie Curtin’s Creativity Caféonline. Her debut poetry collection, Eve Was a Realist: Poems for the Untamed Soul will be published later this year. Fiona is also the author of The Dark Night of the Soul: A Journey from Absence to Presence. In 2021, she graduated from the University of Nottingham with an MA in Philosophy, forty years after graduating from the same university with a BA in History. She is also learning to speak Scottish Gaelic.


All of it happened.

All of it finite.

All of it gone.

Yet here’s me

trying to rearrange 

the chairs

on the long-submerged deck

as if there is still a chance

of rendering the shipwreck 

bearable, somehow.

Many leagues beneath 

this futile activity

abundant life blooms 

in the stillness, 


(Better sailors 

know when to 

jump ship.)

Andy Sutton is a Nottingham based poet who writes poems that rhyme and all that. Designed to be accessible, often witty, and infused with word play, his poems may also have something to say. His poems deal with the familiar absurdities of life, and the injustices suffered by too many people. In there are also observations about fatherhood and his mixed-up dog. Andy enjoys performing, and aims to make you smile and think.

Things to be Made Illegal

Putting paper napkins on the plate under the snack

Cutting short by DJs of a long and classic track

Stickers on book covers that won’t peel so cause a rip

Queue jumping and hailstones, drinks too hot to sip

Yappy dogs, and cities where they charge for public loos

Cutting public services that people need to use

Plastic cups for indoor drinks, fonts too small to see

Adding to a ticket price a further booking fee

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