wordy stuff at the organ grinder

Leanne Moden & Sonia Burns: Tuesday 6th August


Leanne Moden is a poet, theatremaker and educator, from Nottingham. She’s been performing poetry for over fourteen years, and she was a semi-finalist at the BBC Edinburgh Fringe Slam in 2018. Her second pamphlet of poetry was published in 2020 and she’s fuelled by Jaffa Cakes, fruit tea, and unrelenting whimsy.

The Vernal Equinox

An unequal virtue –                           

rain to river, tree to trail,                                           

thorn to larval thorax.                        

Lunar helix tranquil,                           

hive a neat hoax.                               

The natural, violent revolt,

a native queen,

neither healer nor heaven.                

Heart heavier than the hot earth –

naïve, alert, eaten alive.

Ear to air – their tune

an inveterate elation.

Harlequin haunt the outline,

alive to a virulent ruin.

Altar, anvil, throne.

Here are my social media handles:


Sonia Burns is a poet, performer, community worker and workshop facilitator currently based in the East Midlands.

Her first poetry chapbook, Umbra:philia, was published in November 2021 by the Derbyshire based Bearded Badger Publishing Company.


Your spaces silently narrow –
slowly clogging arteries, plaque
formed out of photographs,
boxes stacked and shelves
furred up, records, CDs, DVDs.
Kitchen stuffed with cookery
books, spiralisers, coffee machines
and avocado-half-holders;
although you only eat
shop-bought sandwiches.

You just-in-case curator
of paperclip collections, plastic
bags in plastic bags, kooky
cat-themed accessories,
shrewd car boot sale bargains,
teaspoon souvenirs, steaming
pot plant jungles and perfume
bottles just for show;
although nobody visits you now.

Your screams of anguish
smothered, by piles of tea towels,
never used, sheepskin rugs
and blankets, new clothes
with the tags still on, threadbare
vintage jackets, jazzy earrings
sifting dust, designer trainers
for that trendy hip hop look;
although you don’t go out these days.

You stent the walls with vague talk
of sorting out and getting rid
but you are crushed beneath it all,
your breathing becomes agonal.
Only the stuff of life remains,
like fat congealed inside a vein
or papier-mâché around a balloon;
left behind for us to pick through.

Anthony R. Owen, Rich Goodson and Cae Capurro: Tuesday 2nd July Open Book Election Special

Join your host with the most* Neil Fulwood for an evening of poetry, politics, proselytising and probably a few more things starting with P.

*The most what we’re not sure.


Teacher by day, DJ by night and a poet somewhere in between.

Caetano Capurro is a Urugayan poet who uses his experience of growing up around the world to dissect his experience with race, immigration and mental health. Delving in to each topic and exploring how his experience is reflected in that of the people around him, weaving rhymes and wordplay he tells his story through how he sees the world. 


You need to hold on, because the hopes dreams and desires, they have no best before date because our passions never expire no, they evolve. They grow and manifest they stand up to the test of time, they crest the hills of expectation, and I  know it sounds naive because under the watchful eye of our own observation it’s like watching paint dry, it’s like watching grass grow, it’s a process that’s light touch, A process that’s slow, one the longer you stare at the slower it will go, it’s so hard to step back and see the path you carved through stone, it’s so hard to realise how far you’ve come when you’re alone. You are a spark of greatness and together we are a flame of brilliance, and I don’t know how to explain this but we come alight we burn so bright and cast out the darkness that envelopes us because despite our fears doing all they can to contain us all the same, once we see our own shine, they’ll scurry in the the recess of your mind not forgotten but another hurdle we overcame. Another reminder that our pain is not what defines but our ability to grow stronger is what refines us, a moment that reminds us we are so much more than those emotions that try to confine us. So late those passions blossom in to possibility you never possibly expected to be possible. We contain all we need within ourselves to find greatness, all the drive within yourselves to make this, ignore the doubts they all hold in themselves to break this. Rediscover what compels you to uncover beauty, harness is and use it as your finest tool to carve out your hopes dreams and desires, because they have no best before date no, your passions don’t expire.

Best wishes,

Caetano Capurro
Poet | DJ | Playwright | Teacher

• The world is big enough to get lost but not too small to be found •



by 5 o’ clock the scalp unsmoothes becomes

fine-grade sandpaper     one hundred & fifty

thousand follicle-dots all charged & primed

& wired   scouts of live hair are rising   ready

it’s a revolt

the body rises despite ourselves 

as breath breathes on despite ourselves

one day we’ll reproduce into the earth or

into bright bright air

like the circle of snow-white light at the end of an exhaust pipe

into bright bright air 

                                         despite ourselves

And here’s a bio:

Rich Goodson’s ‘Mr Universe’ was chosen by The PBS as one of the best 4 pamphlets of 2017.
Last year he came first in Freedom From Torture’s poetry competition.  

This year he was longlisted in the National Poetry Competition.  

Zen Buddhist.  
Queer warrior.

Convincing and compulsive, original, adroit and dramatically exciting.”    
(George Szirtes, poet)

Experimental, playful, politically engaged… offers a wealth of creative approaches in poems that are full to the brim: he is following William Blake’s road of excess in search of knowledge.
(Andrew Jackson, PBS Pamphlet Selector)          

“Fast, decisive and funky.”  
(T.R.Langton, poet)

“...judicious to the point of delicacy.  They’re as taut as a dancer’s calf.
​(Gregory Woods,  poet and critic) 



An atomic bomb survivor donates her body for scientific research

I am just the silk of a nervous system

its vast tree fanning in a storm of creation

and all the nests have long gone of song

If you bring me an American cuckoo

then I will throw my doves.

I was just a girl who bled into a woman.

A Japanese shape in a polka dot dress,

the pattern branded onto my skin.

Each circle my ground zero.

Each burn your firestorm,

so here is your body.

If we took a drive over Earth now

I dreamt you and I were driving over Earth’s sky and tuned into the radio of each country hearing ballads fading out to white noise. We noticed moon was a frosted bullet-hole and behind the black glass of space was the explosion of impact where brain matters of Gods making new worlds were actually reflecting the end of ours. We passed the blue desert of ocean to ice and watched it shrink like snowflakes in greenhouses. We turned up the radio over Syria and all of the stars turned to cats-eyes taking us to streets of roadkill in human clothes. As we broke down their sun hurled itself through this street in an act of self-immolation for all the people maddened by war. I dreamt you and I were driving in darkness with earth and moon as our busted headlights, “it’s no wonder we got lost” you said. We turned off the radio and watched sap bleed out from elms as sparrows gave it song. We slept in the beautiful earth.

Adult Autism

Before I was special

I was an angel in formaldehyde.

I was a minotaur with bulging bollocks.

I was Perseus versus Medusa trapping her in my shield.

Now I am special

I am a jar of pickles prickling the palate.

I am a Roman statue the Visigoths defaced,

its penis severed, dusting the pink roses vulva.

Hannah M Teasdale, Adrian Buckner and Rick Hall: Tuesday 4th June Open Book

‘If Anais Nin and Shane Meadows met at a bar to write prose and poems it may well end up like this. An awareness of vulnerability is a strength that Hannah Teasdale expresses  with power and insight whilst creating an urban cinematographic vibe of working-class life without for one moment feeling sorry for itself…’

Antony R. Owen

Poem from ‘Indelicate Sundays’

The Weir

Let’s try our luck at getting lost

and step out into the slant-rain black

storm the path where rivers flood

and chip-wrappers, dog-shit and lichen

become one. Let us locate ourselves, or not,

by the water’s flow, upstream, from the bank

where his bloated body was found. They think

he didn’t mean to drown, local chitter-chatter hinting

he was pushed by a gang of needle-hungry tramps.

It’s a good story. I push down my jeans and squat, piss

behind the emergency life-float ring. Your clothing fades

into the middle of nowhere and my downstream disappears.

Also Published in ‘Interpreter’s House’ Issue 65

Adrian Buckner’s poetry collections are available from Five Leaves and Leafe Press, the latest being SeeSaw from Leafe.

Since retiring from teaching poetry and creative writing at Derby University, he has been grappling with the highly contestable idea of a purely lyrical poem, and attempting to write some.

The Ancient Sunbather

He’s not impressed by warnings

of a hole in the sky:

Six weeks and not a drop of rain;

he is back in a golden age

of summers possessed undimmed

in his ageing heart.

He lies in the parched land

like a die hard colonist

sticking it out in Delhi after ‘47,

making a go of the new Rhodesia –

unmoved by forebodings of a world

falling in, a setting sun.      

Rick Hall is a writer and consultant on the arts, creativity and learning, and the founder of Nottingham education charity, Ignite!. Now retired from Ignite!, Rick is a Visiting Fellow at NTU, and serves on the steering groups of Nottingham Civic Exchange, Creativity Collaboratives and the European Citizen Science Association.  A frequent visitor to Finland, Rick was Writer in Residence in the village of Koli in North Karelia in 2019. His current projects are research into children’s games and the A-Z of Community.  His poetry comprises occasional topical sonnets, and thankfully has never been published.

And a few lines from The Start of the Cricket Season


I’m pleased to inform all chums in the States
That a new cricket season’s upon us;
While Tiger stalks lush greens at Augustus,
The next batsman in, in gloom sits and waits.

The crowd under blankets peers shivering,
His dog seeks ankles to worry and bite;
(Rage, rage against an appeal for bad light)
Like all hope, his sandwich is withering.

When drizzle to showers brings out the covers,
And dewdrops on cold noses become streams,
The scorer in his box muses and dreams,
‘Not a past-time for wild Latin lovers.’

In April, anticipation’s complete;
The sound of leather on willow is sweet.

Aaron Kent and Stuart McPherson – Empty Vessels Tour : Tuesday 7th May

Released 31st May, 2024 // 120 pages // 978-1-916938-19-9 // RRP £11.99

All Empty Vessels is an urgent, emotional commentary on what it is to exist in our contemporary world. Aaron Kent and Stuart McPherson each taking 6 sections of 6 poems each, explore topics as widespread as the class system, Edgar Allen Poe, and the lyricism of night. Even poetry and poetics itself becomes a subject of scrutiny. In the hands of these two poets, these themes become an eclectic, fluid tapestry of ideas that mold themselves around both the specific and the universal, and that present an unapologetic, honest, and uncompromising account of modern life. All Empty Vessels is a book for those who want poetry to be unafraid, and written with a fire whose embers lay smouldering long after the pages of the book have been closed.

PRAISE for All Empty Vessels:

Aaron Kent and Stuart McPherson’s All Empty Vessels is a multi-person conversation. Two men in conversation with imagination, language, illness, power and limitation. Back and forth, between the poets — whose friendship is evident in the collaboration — the reader is brought into the intimate space of confession, creativity, chaos and collaboration. This joint collection makes few promises, but the one it demonstrates is that even in emptiness, connection is a companion for All Empty Vessels.

— Pádraig Ó Tuama

This diurnal/nocturnal double act spits and wheezes an electro-magnetic sociology of the underdog spirit with venom and flare. Animated by a summonings or invocation of Edgar Allan Poe and a character named ‘Poet’, the reader is razed by a wild-card graffiti of the spirit. This is a Butoh of working class robustness/consciousness: a dance of death performed to the British class system, executed on an altar of flickering screens, night walks, radiophonic dead air and luminous introspection. A haunting is bad enough, but a double haunting, where Kent summons McPherson and McPherson responds to Kent, reads like a vigorous card game: the flickering deck of their contaminant thought laid down swiftly, card by card, and without remorse. And yet, there is bathos, tenderness and liminality. In a dual showmanship of a new warning for both past and future, these are ‘new forgeries. . . for invisible dawns’ housed in a ‘coffin rolled across a minefield’. You stand warned.

— MacGillivray

Two poets writing so brilliantly and wearing a full suit of artistic armoury; what’s not to like? Aaron Kent and Stuart McPherson’s poetics are simultaneously interfused and complimentary of one another, befitting a book of exceptionally nuanced, collaborative poems and texts. Open, ludic, tender, defiant and with multiple helpings of satiric wit, nothing appears off limits in these poems of lyric intimacy, cast across psychological (and socio-political) time and space. Kent and McPherson are a pair of shapeshifters, metamorphic, restless, and so continually uncovering and recovering perceptions within a spindled self. Here, hearts become mirrors in a family tree, the ‘I’ orbits ‘delicately as a torpedo on payday’ and desire is haunted ‘with the eyes of a gundog’. Death is cast too, never far away like an eye at the porthole. This metamorphic effect tilts the poem from sea to sky and back down to earth again, ensuring the writing is located at all times, bound by both poet’s perfect-pitch musicianship. All Empty Vessels listens in to the overboiling temperature of the times. This is a bicameral poetics that comes with stark and subtle warnings. Poets too are implicated, everything is at stake—it’s all or nothing, as Jean Genet said it must be. Time to wake up from ‘tone-deaf banjo’ playing and ‘ceremonial bootlicking’, or else ‘the future watches rabbits thrashing in the snares’. Read this and be fully nourished, yet hungry and, as I did, read it all over again.

— James Byrne

ABOUT Aaron Kent & Stuart McPherson:

Aaron Kent is a working-class writer, stroke survivor, and insomniac from Cornwall. His 2nd collection, The Working Classic, is available from the87press. He has read his poetry for The BBC, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and Stroke Association, had work published in various journals, and is an Arvon tutor. His poetry has been translated into languages including French, Hungarian, German, Cymraeg, and Kernewek, and has been set to music.

Stuart McPherson is a prize-winning poet from the UK. His poems have appeared in Butcher’s Dog Magazine, Bath Magg, Poetry Wales, Anthropocene, Blackbox Manifold, Prelude, and One Hand Clapping. In October 2022, Stuart was the winner of the Ambit Annual Poetry Competition. His second collection, End Ceremonies, was published via Broken Sleep Books on August 31st 2023.

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.
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