PTSD is not just for soldiers

On UK television tonight is an excellent programme about PTSD and its cost among young soldiers.

A soldier’s friend on the programme said that PTSD is not just a ‘black dog’, it’s more like living with wolves who won’t leave you alone.

Last summer I wrote this, from the depth of a series of PTSD holes.

Wolf memories (‘trauma memory’)

Wolf-memories weave around my legs.
Docile now.
I tiptoe. Whisper.

Wolf-memories startle. Leap up, snap,
shove me over,
rip at my throat.

Wolf-memories lap my blood, slump
against my rib-cage,
snarl in their sleep.

Wolf-memories wake when they like.
when they like. When they have done with me.

Wolf-memories rise, shake free, lick
themselves clean.
Saunter outside. Sated.

Sunlight through curtains. I
for wounds. Test my feet beneath me.

Each bout with the wolves leaves me
she says. More restored.                                           I hate wolves.


‘She’ is my therapist and I’m grateful for her. She helps me to understand that PTSD as a healing process, keeps reassuring me that it is the normal response of a normal person to experiences in my past and that the way to ‘bounce back’ from PTSD, to ‘fight’ it, is to treat the wolves with respect, even welcome them and learn from them.

It’s not just soldiers who have PTSD.

Where can I get hold of Six-Count Jive?

Six-Count Jive is for sale in these marvellous SHOPS. As with any very new book, you might save time if you ask staff for help to find it:

Harbour Books in Harbour Street, Whitstable

Waterstones in Belfast, Canterbury and Deal

The Chaucer Book Shop in Canterbury

The historic Crooked Book Shop in Canterbury (where you can help the charity Catching Lives by buying)

Top Hat and Tales in Faversham

Heffers and Plurabelles in Cambridge

No Alibis in Belfast

You can also find it in these LIBRARIES:

the Linen Hall Library, Belfast (Northern Ireland Publications Resource – NIPR – collection),

the University Library, Cambridge,

the library of Churchill College, Cambridge and

the National Poetry Library on London’s South Bank.

And you can buy it HERE – I’ll be happy to sign copies for you if you like or from Lapwing Publications direct.

Happy reading!


Who’s coming to Words on Waves, Thursday 2 May, 6.45pm?

Words on Waves on Thursday 2 May 2019 promises to be one of our most exciting, international, vibrant events yet. This amazing evening begins with pouring the Prosecco at 6.45pm in Harbour Books, Harbour Street in Whitstable and costs only £3 a ticket!

Publisher and performance company LIVE CANON brings five of their most exciting writers to Whitstable. Gillie Robic is a puppeteer and voice artist whose first collection Swimming Through Marble is a joy. Her second poetry collection is published soon and we hope she’ll give us a preview. Andrew George is a barrister whose 2017 poem Breakfast at Theresa’s won the LB of Greenwich prize that year.

What’s it like being a war reporter? Mark Huband has reported from all over the world, covering genocide in Rwanda and Burundi, conflicts in Angola and Sudan, Abidjan and Nairobi. He oversaw coverage of Al-Quaida following the 11/09/11 terrorist attacks for the Financial Times. Mark will be previewing his forthcoming collection Agony: A Poem of Genocide.

Tessa Foley is a prize-winning poet who works for University of Portsmouth and has volunteered with Portsmouth Abuse & Rape Counselling service for the last 4 years; to raise funds for the organisation she self-printed a book of poetry inspired by and dedicated to the strength of survivors of trauma, rape and child sex abuse complete with illustrations by her sister Anna. She plays the ukulele and might bring it along. 

What’s it like being poet in residence of a railway station? NJ (Nancy) Hynes will be able to help you out with that too!

From Kent we welcome Callum Beesley who won first prize at Faversham Literary Festival’s short story competition this year with Little Toffee Apple and soon starts an MSt in Creative Writing at Cambridge University.

Matt Chamberlain will join us with his recently released CD I remember the green gaze. He’s currently working on a new book with Thanet writer, Melissa Todd.

And we look forward to hearing Danne Jobin, a PhD student and assistant lecturer in American Literature at Kent University (following an MA at Neuchatel in Switzerland) who has read at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival’s Queer Studio.



OPEN MIC at Words on Waves, Thursday 18 April, 6.30pm

Words on Waves, Harbour Books, Whitstable, Kent on Thursday 18 April, 6.30 – 8pm: we’re experimenting at Harbour Books with our very first OPEN MIC evening. We don’t have a microphone of course, don’t need one, but we’ll welcome you and your wonderful words at  an evening where anyone and everyone is invited to step into the limelight. No sign-up required, just come down and give it your all! Regular readers and first-timers all welcome,  up to 20 lines of poetry each and just £3 entry.

Please spread the word.

To inspire your scribbling, here are some of my favourite pens…



#Seasalter in Kent is on Words for the Wild

This marvellous website – Words for the Wild – features a poem I wrote for my friend Sue after I joined her in walking her son’s dogs along Seasalter’s shore and we all came back laughing, sprayed with salty mud. It’s a wonderful feeling to see it published here, surrounded by these zesty, doggy photographs.

Words for the Wild is a beautiful place to roam if you’re in the mood for some poetry or short fiction about the beauties of natural world. Congratulations, Amanda Oosthuizen and Louise Taylor, for conceiving the idea and bringing it to life so elegantly.

2016-05-17 20.32.58

Who’s coming to April’s Words on Waves? #Whitstable

WORDS ON WAVES at HARBOUR BOOKS, WHITSTABLE has been warming our literary hearts this winter and our first spring event is this coming THURSDAY, 4 April 2019 from 6.45pm.

We’re looking forward to a magnificent line-up of local writers: Jessica Taggart, Clair Meyrick, Setareh Ebrahimi, Rosemary McLeish, Angela Dye and Ferretta Wilson, with me as your host. 

Words On Waves is a series of monthly spoken word evenings showcasing a variety of writing talent and has a tendency to sell out fast. Writers of all genres have ten minutes each to amuse and amaze you, with a break at half time to refresh glasses. Tickets at only £3 each include wine. 

Please book your seat by phoning 01227264011 or calling into the shop.