wordy stuff at the organ grinder

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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

INDEPENDENCE DAY POETRY (No not the film yet again on C4)

Do androids dream of electric poets? Come along to Open Book at The Organ Grinder, Nottingham on Tuesday 4th July at 8pm to find out.

We have an amazing triple bill lined up: Logan Thwaites, Charlie Baylis and Manjit Sahota. You won’t want to miss it.


Logan has been writing fiction since his teens, primarily for himself for fun and he also had his first short story published in a zine in December! Logan is also a poet and has been performing a variety of styles of poems on many subjects around Nottingham, Derby and Leicester for the last year or so. Logan most enjoys writing about themes of sexuality, gender and mental health.


Originally from Nottingham, Manjit S Sahota is the co-founder of Poets Against Racism.

He has performed on stage and hosted Linton Kwesi Johnson and shared poetry and political debate with rapper Lowkey. 

Manjit enjoys the chance to bring his brand of poetry to spark conversation and engage with people from all cultures and backgrounds. 

His mission is clear: Love Poetry. Hate Bigotry.


Charlie Baylis is from Nottingham, England. He is the editor of Anthropocene.

His first collection of poetry a fondness for the colour green is published by Broken Sleep Books.

Baylis has an uncanny ability to shift tone, as if between languages, with absolute fluency: these poems can turn from innocence to cynicism and back again within a single line. A surface reading makes you reach for terms like anarchic or surreal, but that doesn’t do the work justice, neither its soul nor its worldliness nor its unconditional love and petty irritation. The speakers get stuck on the details (fake lashes, limerence, unhealthy parasocial obsession with celebrity or poetry) but they’re always going somewhere and urgently gesturing you to follow. a fondness for the colour green is utterly and unabashedly contemporary, but there’s nothing light or modish, and what stands out are the moments of wounded humour and wonder, plenty of wonder, despite it all, because of it all.”

– Luke Kennard, Notes on the Sonnets

With tourmaline imagery, and reiterative hopes set against reiterative despairs, Baylis dances his way through this compelling and picaresque collection. Arch and playful in their acknowledgement of that gulf between poet and ‘I’, these poems rejoice in showing their conceptual strings, but never dispense with that vital vulnerability. a fondness for the colour green is a self-aware, sad, and beautiful book.”

– Susannah Dickey, Common Decency

6 June 2023 –  Claire Meyrick & Kathy Pimlott


Claire Meyrick (nee Hancock) is originally from East Anglia and now resides in West Bridgford ,Nottingham. She is a writer, spoken-word performer and singer. Claire has performed in a number of events across Nottingham including Crosswords open mic night and The Avenues Sneinton Market with DIY Poets. She can be seen at open mics across Nottingham or singing with West Bridgford Liberty Singers.

Recently, Claire has set up her own YouTube channel: ‘Claire a bells words’ to showcase her poetry.


Kathy was born in Nottingham, in the shadow of Player’s cigarette factory but has spent her adult life in London, the last 40 or so years in Covent Garden, specifically, in Seven Dials. She has had a rag-bag career in social work, community activism, arts television and artist development and now works on community-led public realm projects. She has published two pamphlets with The Emma Press, Elastic Glue​ (2019) and Goose Fair Night (2016). Her work has appeared in Magma, Mslexia, Brittle Star, The North, Poem, ​The Rialto and Under the Radar.

Find out more on Kathy’s website

Martin Stannard and Jo Dixon: 2nd May….

Next reading is 2 May 2023 – Martin Stannard & Jo Dixon 

’27 Poems’ is what it says on the tin: 27 short poems – twelve and a half lines each, to be exact – which does and doesn’t practice what’s suggested in one of the poems:                                  

  . . . . we had roast
  chicken, roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts
  for dinner and it was very delightful. For
  pudding we had banana and custard and really
  I don’t know why more people don’t write
  more poems about these kinds of things.
  If you want more people to read more poems
  you should write more poems about this stuff.
  I would read them.

Published in February 2023 by Red Ceilings in a limited edition of 50 numbered copies.

Red Ceilings is here.

Jo Dixon

Jo Dixon is a poet, critic and academic living in Nottingham. She was born in Stepney and spent her childhood in Colchester. Her poems appear in a range of publications, including New WalkThe Interpreter’s HouseFuries (For Books’ Sake), In Transit (The Emma Press, 2018) and South Bank Poetry. Her debut poetry pamphlet, A Woman in the Queue, was published by Melos Press in 2016. An article on the poetry of Alice Oswald can be found at C21: Journal of 21st Century Writings. Her poem ‘Skegness Wake’ is included in Poems of Place: Mapping the Nation in Verse, edited by Andrew McRae and introduced by Paul Farley (London: Oneworld Publications, forthcoming Autumn 2020).

Jo reads her poetry across the East Midlands and in 2018 she visited Estonia to read at the Crazy Tartu Festival. She has worked on community poetry projects with Bilborough Sixth Form College, Nottingham Contemporary, St. Ann’s Allotments and UNESCO Cities of Literature in Poland, Estonia, Ireland and the UK. Her most recent commission is a poem written for the 50th anniversary of the twinning of Nottingham (UK) and Karlshruhe (Germany). Currently, she works as a part-time lecturer in Creative Writing at De Montfort University, Leicester.

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