#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.

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Six-Count Jive launched in Whitstable


Whiskey in the Jar is still putting a sway into my step after Thursday evening’s launch at Harbour Books in Whitstable. It was the first time the shop had hosted musicians – Whitstable’s finest ukulele band, The Useless Pluckers – and it was magnificent. A spontaneous line-up of ‘Pluckettes’ formed as a backing group to Mustang Sally and the whole thing was the warmest, most memorable launch I’ve ever had. 


Heartfelt thanks to lovely Harbour Books for their hospitality and Prosecco, to the excellent Pluckers and to everyone who came and danced, laughed, sang, chatted, met old and new friends, and bought books. I intruded on the music briefly to introduce Six-Count Jive and will never forget the appreciative silence while I read from it.

Lapwing’s little volumes are hand bound and hand printed on high quality paper in Belfast, close to the Cave Hill. That’s Belfast for you, my home town; it can be an ugly place sometimes but there’s always beauty there too. 

At £10 each, they’re the same price as my first Lapwing book in 2010, even though printing costs have doubled since then, so they’re a wee bargain. They’ll be available through the Lapwing website soon – meanwhile I have a few copies to sell direct here, signed if you’d like, for £10 each including p&p. (They will not be available through amazon as its charges and discounts are punitive for small publishers.)  Six-Count Jive is dedicated to anyone with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and everyone who loves them. Female and male. I hope this little book might help somebody realise they are not alone and can reach out for help.

SIX-COUNT JIVE’s book launch this Thursday

On Thursday THIS WEEK we’ll be launching my poetry book SIX-COUNT JIVE (Lapwing Publications) at Harbour Books in Whitstable from 6.30pm. Yesterday a dear friend of mine said, ‘Oh, is that this week?’ Yes, it is Whitstable’s finest ukulele band, The Useless Pluckers, will be helping us celebrate. 

Pluckers logoHarbour Books will be pouring their marvellous Prosecco and if dancing breaks out, we just might jive in the street. You and your friends are all welcome! This is a FREE event.


Six-Count Jive on its way

You can never tell if a book is going to make it to publication until you’re holding a copy in your hand or see it there on the e-reader. That’s why the day the first copies are delivered is so huge. But this is a pretty big day for me too – the one where my poetry publisher, Lapwing in Belfast, said he has an ISBN waiting and that it’s time to work on the final draft of Six-Count Jive together.

I’ve been gathering the poems for nearly ten years now. They’ve been honed, criticised by helpful poet friends (here and in Northern Ireland) and checked time and again for mistakes and howlers. There’s more work ahead but I love having my words curated by someone who is interested in making my book available to strangers. Dennis Greig of Lapwing is one of the finest editors I’ve known.

More info soon. Have a happy weekend!

Oyster Seventeens and the Mary Evans Picture Library

I’m thrilled to see Oyster Seventeens on the Poems and Pictures blog of the Mary Evans Picture Library website today!

The Poems and Pictures blog is an absolute treat if you ever fancy exploring some contemporary poetry with the odd classic thrown in, each poem accompanied by something exquisite from the Picture Library’s collection. It’s one of my favourite sites for times when I have time on my hands and want to be transported somewhere thoughtful and beautiful. Congratulations and appreciation to its curator, Gill Stoker.

Low tide takes its muted leave –

soft pools

marooned while oytstercatchers play.


This fresh day. Let’s shuck it

open, feel

gusto pour between our fingers.


Who’s coming to Words on Waves?

Words On Waves is a series of monthly spoken word evenings at Harbour Books in Whitstable and it’s the highlight of my month, not least because I get to host it. Writers bring magnificent words from all over the south east and beyond, and are encouraged to include work in progress so that sometimes we get exciting previews of projects that have not yet hit bookshop shelves. Writers of all genres are welcome and 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 and you can book your seat by phoning 01227264011 or calling into the shop.

Our next Words on Waves is on THURSDAY 7 FEBRUARY 2019 @ 6.45pm and I’ll be thrilled to welcome Sam Rapp, Clair Meyrick, Callum Beesley, and our first publisher’s showcase, of writers published by Cultured Llama in Rochester:

Maria C. McCarthy, the herdswoman of her Cultured Llamas, has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Kent and won the Society of Authors’ Tom-Gallon Trust Award in 2015. After living for several years in Teynham, where she wrote in a shed looking out on boats on an orchard, she now lives in the Medway Towns, and looks out on boats on the river. Maria will be reading poetry from strange fruits (Cultured Llama, 2011) and There are Boats on the Orchard (Cultured Llama, 2017); and stories from As Long as it Takes (Cultured Llama, 2014)

Anna Maconochie is a London writer whose stories have appeared in the Erotic Review, the Dublin Review and the Bitter Oleander. Anna will be reading from her short story collection, Only the Visible Can Vanish, (Cultured Llama, 2016)

Ben Barton has been nominated for the Canterbury Poet of the Year Award and the erbacce-prize, and will be reading from The Hospital (Cultured Llama, 2018). Also a film artist, Ben’s film Stella Erratica was funded by the late David Bowie, and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. He lives in Folkestone with his husband and son, beside the North Downs.

Mark Holihan is a former Californian, now settled in Kent. He returns to Words on Waves, after a very popular first appearance with The Scatterlings, to read again from his Cultured Llama collection, There Are No Foreign Lands.

img_0102THURSDAY 7 MARCH 2019 @ 6.45pm:

On the eve of International Women’s Day, Words on Waves is proud to bring you The Rockhoppers  (Maggie Harris, Mel Perry & Jackie Biggs) along with songwriter Jacqui Selby, Luigi Marchini, Sally Turner and Roger Tooth. A fascinating mix as ever!

THURSDAY 4 APRIL 2019 @ 6.45pm:

Our magnificent April line-up includes Jessica Taggart, Matt Chamberlain, Neelam Saredia Brayley, Rosemary McLeish, Sarah Jenkin, and Angela Dye.

img_e0074And on THURSDAY 2 MAY 2019 @ 6.45pm, publisher & performance company Live Canon comes down the Thames from Greenwich to Whitstable for our second publisher’s showcase, bringing us journalist & author Mark Huband, Nancy Hynes, Andrew George & Tessa Foley

See you there!

Bright Scarf at the Poetry Cafe

I risked taking my camera out in yesterday’s downpour to take a picture of our Bright Scarf name ‘in lights’ in Covent Garden, in case that was as good as it got. But people crowded into the Poetry Cafe’s event space downstairs in a wonderful mood with more chairs being found and drinks being bought in the refurbished Cafe bar. Poetry evenings are usually fun, especially for a poetry addict like me, but some events have a synergy which makes them more than usually exciting and this was one of them.IMG_E3719

Huge thanks to the fantastic audience who turned out, old friends and new, and to all the other Bright Scarf poets for their great readings: Dominic James, Colin Pink and Quentin Cowdry. Peter Pegnall, the founder and heart of Bright Scarf, is battling a chest infection and had to stay at home but special thanks to Colin for stepping in at the last minute. IMG_3726

Thanks too to Irena Hill for organising the event so seamlessly and to all the Cafe staff in that great venue. With the wind and rain beating down outside, we felt as if we were sheltering on the high seas so here is my encore from last night, something to take us back to warmer days…IMG_2914

OYSTERS on the north Kent coast

by Rosie Johnston

Sapphires in a hurry-flutter:

two dozen starlings

rush to Sheppey.


Seaweed garlands roll on the high

tide, full

moon’s tangle of jet and jade.


The sea cradles me; my

best mother.

I roll and kick like a baby.


Ripples brush your naked shoulder,

a sibilance,

a sparrow’s whisper.


My skin, dulled under hospital lights,


in blustery sunshine.


Twilight wraps blankets of

crimson glory

around this evening’s shoulders.


Sky is honeyed mango slivers,

dark rum-soaked,

with pomegranate seeds.


Laughter waltzes with garlic prawns,

jives with olives,

pirouettes with wine.


Between the bowls and candlelight

stretch moments

of perfect contentment.


Low tide takes its muted leave –

soft pools

marooned while oystercatchers play.


Whitstable, harbour of tangible


peace glides into dock.


Where sea and sky merge in a

thousand pinks

aligns the mind’s horizon.


This fresh day. Let’s shuck it

open, feel

gusto pour between our fingers.


I read this in Harbour Books, Whitstable at our first Words on Waves event last month. It’s had such lovely feedback that it’s here for you to enjoy too.

We’re meeting again tonight at 6.45pm.

Happy writing!