Series Editor - Jim Bennett

Introduction by Jim Bennett

Hello.  Welcome to CITN 38. This  edition features the poetry of The Cherington Poets from Gloucestershire, and is part four in the series featuring poetry produced from on line or live workshops, groups or communities of poets.  If you belong to a workshop or other type of group and would like to put your group forward for our feature please write to info@poetrykit.org we will be pleased to hear from you.

You can join the CITN mailing list at - http://www.poetrykit.org/pkl/index.htm and following the links for Caught in the Net.


Uley, Gloucestershire

FROM MASK by Pamela Cox


On certain days you hide your face

from others. Take on another persona. 

Run around, pretend to be busy.

Play hide and seek, become coy.

Dress up in long dresses,

dream dreams in long grass.

Trail feather boas in teetering heels

and higher hopes.






David Ashbee -  Dispossessed

Emily Wills - Interior

Sheila Simmons - On the Edge

Alicia Stubbersfield - Viper’s Bugloss

Stuart Nunn - Mallarme lights a cigarette

Mary Prowse - Early morning Natter

Tricia Torrington - Enjambment

Leslie Griffiths - Where did he go

Pamela Cox - Mask

Unity Stafford  - The Weaver’s Tale

Michael Henry - Boulevard Theatre

Kate Page - Flame




1 - COMMENTARY:  The Cherington Poets


A close-knit group of poets emerged from Prema Arts Centre, Uley in the late 1980’s as a result of a series of workshops run by guest writers such as Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke, Philip Gross, and U.A. Fanthorpe. They decided to continue to meet for poetry writing workshops and felt they had experienced enough to be able to run them themselves, with everyone taking a turn as leader.


The name derives from a village near Tetbury where they have met monthly in the village hall for a decade and a half . At least 8 of the present group were founder-members.


Some of their best work has been produced in October week-long residencies at rented houses throughout Wales and The West Country – a tradition which has now lasted 17 years.   (David Ashbee)





David Ashbee is a founder-member of the group who arranges the October residencies.

His first collection, Perpetual Waterfalls, came from Enitharmon Press in 1989, and his latest, Loss Adjustor, is currently available from bluechrome. He has won prizes in several national competitions and was the adjudicator in this year’s Sheila Nugent Poetry Awards.




It was accommodation only, never home.


Breeze-block, tarmac, well-earthed wires.

Water always the same shape, from atap.

The gleaming hardness of urinals.


Our voluntary leaving was an insult,

an incivility that convinced them

we could never be saved from ourselves.


But the forest was no longer ours.

If we settled there they uprooted us

like daffodils, threw us aside like weeds.


My father felt trapped by the van

I was born in; he longed for canvas,

its oneness with the wind.


Now I’m walled in by everywhere,

Coleford, Monmouth, Chepstow,

those shit-holes where the traffic never stops


And all horses’ hooves are hunters

come to raise their whips against our backs

and flush us from our earth.


Soon they’ll have their ay

and the only smoke to rise will be from wrecks

set alight by yobs from Lydney.


Our brushwood fires, our caravan pyres

will be no more when our ghosts will pine

in benefit offices, dog-wet steps of towns.


But they’ll never drive our spirit from the forest.

Every acorn, every fern

will flourish where our brown limbs lay.





Emily Wills’ first collection, Diverting the Sea, was published in 2000 and her second is forthcoming, also from Rialto. She lives in Gloucestershire, where she works as a GP.




It’s the way dust chooses what it lights on

so low sun pearls red tiles, dark wood,

hits back from slowly tarnishing brass,

that shows up everyone who’s left.


This rocking chair has only just

run out of swinging; bluegreen,

the seventies wallpaper goes on preening itself,

newly vinyl, peeling to grey edges.


Something about this last attempt at sun

in the dregs of the year, disturbs a sediment

of things just missed: the silence as you reach

for the telephone’s last ring, the letter


curling itself to ash. If this were a painting

it would go on existing, unworried by damp walls

sloughing their flesh, by leaking arteries of pipe

and unearthed wire, the surveyor’s prod and tape.


If this were a painting it could be transformed

to useful things: coasters, magnets, postcards

small enough to say no more than missing you

and wishing you were here.




Sheila Simmons has been writing since she moved to Gloucestershire n 1973, and has been one of the Cherington Poets since the group started. She also runs a U3A poetry workshop and enjoys the stimulus and criticism of both groups. Her first collection, ‘Take the Long View’, won a National Poetry Foundation prize in 1994. Her second book, ‘The Receding Corridor’ came out in 2004; a third is on the way.


On the Edge


It is never out of mind:

each morning we draw back the blind

cautiously – fearful of change

and yet resigned.


Spring tides, the equinoctial gales,

hasten the inundation,

gulp great mouthfuls of the garden;

Summer bakes the cliff-edge pale and dry

as crumbling cake. We hear it rattling down.


Last month, the shed went,

disintegrating in slow motion

into the wild surf below, awash

with seed packets, garden twine, drowned hopes.

What next? The sundial or the garden seat?

A pedal car left out? A child?


Doing the tricky sums of time and loss

we reckon up how long we might be here

and will the end be water, cold or extreme heat?



Alicia Stubbersfield has published three collections of poetry. The most recent is ‘Joking Apart’ (The Collective Press 2006). She tutors for The Arvon Foundation and Ty Newydd in Wales and teaches English at Cleeve School, Cheltenham.



Viper’s Bugloss


And later, the blue of viper’s bugloss:

lilac-pink turning to Greek blue,

blue as the Aegean Sappho leapt into,

after climbing a limestone path

like this one on Crickley Hill.


Spiked lanterns of blue, not the purple

of Lawrence’s gentians lighting his way

into the dark but as good at holding it back.


Imagine their persistence, year after year,

the tenacity required to push through

hard earth, stony soil. The slow opening.


Harvest these small flowers, infuse,

for a decoction to assist mother’s lactation

or leave them where they are:

fragments of sky, splinters of sea, far inland.




Stuart Nunn is a retired college lecturer and an A Level Senior Examiner, living in South Gloucestershire. He is a qualified starter for athletics matches, a keen gardener and traveller,  and has had a scattering of poems published in magazines.


Mallarme lights a cigarette


In the mirror his thread of smoke makes the perfect

art nouveau line. He holds the cigarette

between the knuckles of ring and middle fingers;


lets the smoke rise, wavering only in the breath

of the young whore, whose hair, he will say,

as it falls below the clasp he gave her,


is like the smoke from his cigarette. The mirrors

multiply the trail of smoke, cloud over

as his eyelids droop. With a fingertip


he traces the gleam along the mahogany

of her forearm. The metaphor coagulates.

Time is trapped in the mirrored angle where he sits.


The glowing tip of his cigarette, echoed in the sheen

of sweat on the harlot’s arm, takes him off

to best forgotten, timeless images of flame.


Above the town, the hillside is outlined in fire;

smoke twists, and the mirror turns ochre, orange, dun

as the sun’s filtered to festering eclipse.


Too much knowledge, the mirror says,

blunts language’s edge, as smoulder blurs

horizons and the twisted shapes of trees.


“The Tuileries!” they shout. “The Tuileries on fire!”

His mind drifts through barricaded streets

to where executions crackle behind cemetery walls.


The mirror’s certainty falters in sprays of blood –

corpses at the Opéra, the Luxembourg, at Père Lachaise.                                                            

Ah, Paris! home of suppression, privilege, Art.


Water dribbled into the girl’s absinthe

echoes the images in the poet’s head; a thread of cloud

sinks, bends, spreads, and all’s obscured.


Somewhere here, he thinks, language leaves us

speechless. Learn the lesson, the mirror says.

The ruined child winds a curl around a finger;


ash falls.




Mary Prowse

Half a dozen eggs warranted a thank you and my poem on this occasion led me into the group that has now become the Cherington Poets, and also Holub which includes Music, particularly folk music. My background is Shanghai, Peking, wartime London, a farm in Pembrokeshire, and finally Gloucestershire where my husband, Roger joined his parents in General Practice and our  fourth child  was born. Eleven grandchildren and one great granddaughter all stimulate ideas for poems.


“As one son says, I have a  lot of  interests too; family history and I edit  a 32 page ‘newsletter’ with Prowses in contact from all over the world - they go back to the Vikings with a 12th century Castle east of Dartmoor. I organise an International Prowse Reunion long weekend every 7 years. No room, no room -  as the something said to somebody else. I have a deep curiosity too. Shut that woman up.”


Early morning Natter


I cut the early morning cobwebs

On the chin, these days;

Not that you were ever up before me -

Only finally.


The narrow path by the school

Where I made you go first, by the big oak,

And take them on your chest,

Saving my face.


There are still a few daisies

In the grass - we have never had a lawn.

Too much clover, too  many daisies and dandelions

And I haven't pruned the buddleia yet.


The squirrel seemed to have gone,

But this week there are scoop marks in the grass

And broken nut shells all round the compost site.

Last year he had my dark blue tulip bulbs


The Milkman's Christmas card's arrived.

Another "David", popular name.

The sky's blue and a south easterly.

Wind direction decided. Start of the day.



Tricia Torrington is a writer and artist. She completed her MA in Fine Art in 2006 specialising in printmaking and photography. She is a founder member of the Gloucestershire Printmaking Co-operative. She is married to the poet Michael Henry. They run joint workshops in poetry, prose and associated arts.




Where was it we first saw them dance

and when? Or did we always have this image

of him in his Sunday suit, his left hand

holding her right clasped close to his heart,

their other hands with fingers wound together,

their heads held close as if they whispered.


Wherever and whenever, it’s always to

The Moonlight Serenade, that clarinet

a leitmotif of his survival, what it cost

them; and she is always in her home-made

happy” dress, her auburn hair new permed

in “The Italian Boy”.  It was an evening do,


but we were there dressed alike one size apart.

First your feet then mine balanced on his as

we parodied their waltz as if he was our handsome prince.

As far back as that we recognised the difference.

They’re always waltzing in that happy haze.

And always to The Moonlight Serenade.


(First published in “The Books of Hopes and Dreams”, pub.Bluechrome 2006)









“Dance” - Shadow Photogram by Tricia Torrington

© Copyright protected



Leslie Griffiths has been writing poems ever since he won a prize in his teens at a local literary festival. A founder-member of Cherington Poets, he was primarily responsible for suggesting the group institute annual weeks away for intensive writing. He regularly performs his work at a Glo’shire venue, and often pairs his poems with folk-songs.

He has deliberately not sought publication in magazines but his work would be accepted by many editors.


Where did he go


Where did he go, the angler, the cricketer, the friend?

Where did he go, the man who paid as if money had no end?

Where did he go, that happy man who cracked jokes with his brother?

The man who worked so tirelessly to show his wife he loved her.


Where are the days of  Nice long walks”?

Of holidays spent on trains?

Dissolved away by passing years

and washed away in pain.


And where has that Dad gone now,

who’d stride out, on the cricket pitch

and with practised eye and flashing bat

hit the ball from the ground for six?


And where has that Dad gone now,

who was always pleased to come

and share his knowledge of the Severn

while we fished in the summer sun?


I wish that Father would come back

who’d praise me now and then,

but it seems that Dad has hidden himself;

I’d like him found again…




Pamela Cox studied  Art and Design at St. Martin’s School of Art and  The Royal College of Art. She began writing in the early 1990’s. A prize-winner in various competitions, she has poems published in 2 national and  numerous local anthologies. She enjoys reading her work in arts centres and festivals and has run poetry workshops.




On certain days you hide your face

from others. Take on another persona. 

Run around, pretend to be busy.

Play hide and seek, become coy.

Dress up in long dresses,

dream dreams in long grass.

Trail feather boas in teetering heels

and higher hopes.


The sun’s white winds blow through you,

there’s nothing above you,,

you see the earth now as an oval jewel,

radiant and seablue with love.


Other days you are caught, sectioned,

suffocated until your screams

reach round the world, it seems.

Your parents were your windows,

your shutters, your walls.

You build yourself to their plan

on their foundation.


It passes. The everyday catches you

firm and secure. Reassuring and ordinary

as a brick villa.

You sleep in a high bed pillowed on hills.

Clouds slide in, sidle over the blue blanket.

The ice-cream man cometh.




Unity Stafford came to work in Gloucestershire in the late 60s, and has been writing with the Cherington group since the 80s. She enjoys country detail, (keeps writing about trees and birds) and has an idea that the experience we work from is influenced by our type of eyesight.


The Weaver’s Tale


What happened at the first rehearsal?

Does he know? His son-in-law,

the seasoned journeyman, is master now.

His grandson stacked for him

beside the hearth a store of apple wood.

His daughter has conjured the dawn fire

from last night’s covered ashes, fed

and guarded it, but now the curfew bell

tells them to let the fire lie down low.


What happened? Does he know?

Sitting by the embers, dark outside,

he’s become the ancient artisan;

fingers too stiff to thread the fine worsted

warp-threads through the reed,

set up a monk’s-belt pattern, hopsack, tabby, twill,

or spot where the shuttle snarled a selvedge;

though his heart-beats still

echo the clacking rhythm of the loom.


He’s almost lost in the fire’s glow,

recalling there was something bright,

forgetting how the lady greeted him

or that his mate the carpenter shouted, fled the scene.

There’s a warm glimmer, something sweet,

nothing to put his finger on, but even so,

as the charred apple-wood utters a last flame,

coins of light scatter invisible leaves,

fall on his idle hands, confusing him.


Bottom, time-served Athenian weaver, is no hero;

strayed in that enchanted hinterland, transformed,

and now he’s ousted. Stumbles through green bracken,

his shaggy head still ringing, nectar in his beard,

gilded with tinsel from a shooting star

(spring’s hoar-frost melted), stretching to catch

the fringes of a phantasy. Stammers now,

finds his feet again on the hard ground.

A play-ground mockery: the cast has disappeared.


Each charm has boundaries as well as bonds.

‘Out of this wood do not desire to go.’

We live within it weightless for a spell.





Michael Henry is married to the poet and artist Tricia Torrington. Michael lived in Canada for 13 years, returning to the UK in 1980. He taught languages. His fifth collection, After The Dancing Dogs, is due out in 2008 from Enitharmon Press. This poem gives Michael’s new collection its title.


Boulevard Theatre


After the dancing dogs

après les chiens qui dansent

and the topiary of poodles


After the feral tiger feats

and the lion sans unicorn

playing the harp’ with his paws


After the Kama Sutra of highwires

Heath Robinsons with a rainbow

and the stale of Spanish Horses


After the night sweats of ammonia

the ripples of pectorals

and eyes glazed and glurrid


After the sawdust rubbed in the nostrils

after the perspiration of canvas

and usherettes with trays of confetti…


Boulevards are leafless and bare

last year’s leaf worn to a hairnet

and nobody’s shadow comes bold.


(this poem was first published in The Observer)




Kate Page is an escaped Londoner who has been living and working in Gloucestershire since the mid-80s.




Our house in Winter

Smelled of paraffin:

You’d keep the blue flames

Firing, trudge home laden,

Sighing, sighing – even then.


Now I light the lavender oil-diffuser

So that you may sleep,

Or if you wake, have

The little flame to see you

Through the night, casting

Shadows across the book shelves

Housing the fictional stuff

Of childhood: the Piper

At the Gates of Dawn,

And the dog who was a Lion,

In the book I smuggled

Into evening prep and hid

Behind a text on trawler fishing,

Which happened far away

On Humberside.



4 - Afterword

Email Poetry Kit - info@poetrykit.org   - if you would like to tell us what you think.
  We are looking for other workshops and communities of poets to feature in this series, please let us know if you feel this might be something for your workshop to be involved in.

Thank you for taking the time to read Caught in the Net.  Our other magazine s are Transparent Words ands Poetry Kit Magazine, which are webzines which appear on the Poetry Kit site and this can be found at - http://www.poetrykit.org/