Poetry and notes

I started writing poetry on a regular basis about ten years ago. I became more prolific after moving to the south coast and studying Creative Writing on a part time course at Sussex University with John McCullough.

I was born with a cleft palate and had problems with speech as a child which affected my relationship with language.  As the daughter of marionette makers and performers I also missed some formal schooling.  I don’t think one can really make up for what most poets take for granted, a grounding in English and grammar. However I did go on to teacher train and gained a degree with the OU. In my 50s while working in Adult Education I studied for an M.Sc at Birkbeck.

I have always enjoyed poetry because both my grandmother and mother loved it.

I can still recite much of  ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘Through the Looking Glass’ in my 70s because my parents were marionette makers and they performed scenes from the books. (Some of their performances have been re-constructed and are on on youtube)

I think my first published poem was about 30 years ago,  a right of passage poem in a magazine called Compact.  Much later I had a tongue in cheek piece about divorce published in The Sunday Times Supplement.  In the last couple of years I have had three poems published in Writing Magazine and local anthologies.

I go in for competitions occasionally but they can be expensive to enter on a regular basis, but I won one judged by New Writing South, was shortlisted in The Bridport Prize in 2014 and long listed for a pamphlet with Cinnamon.

A poem from ‘Don’t Throw Away the Daisies’P1090439

Weaving Spells

He was a magician to us
weaving spells with wood and clay.
Other people’s dads went to work
and reappeared for supper.

Ours spent his days
and most nights
carving marionettes
in his cluttered workshop.

He was always engrossed
kneading clay or carving wood,
the music of Glen Miller blaring
from a battered radio.

We would clink through the chaos
with mother’s homemade cakes,
the smell mingling with the stench of glue
boiling on an ancient cooker.

Our faces shone with shy smiles
as his hand took the teacup.
He had been whisked away to war,
we barely knew him.

We lived at Gran’s
and discovered him one day
in the hallway
with a battered trunk.

A soldier
in a coarse khaki uniform,
a clarinet in a case
and chocolate in his pockets.

The following poems are from ‘The Puppeteer’s Daughter’

In the kitchen

Let’s draw daffodils
and talk about compassion,
capture papery parcels
that hold the tightly packed
buds still green in their pods.

Let our pencils trace
the shapes of ambitious petals
intent on jumping the gun,
reaching out to the world
before their traditional season.

Let’s fill in the details
on their frilly faces
add a few shadows,
for they had no say in the matter
like us simply here in this kitchen
at this particular time.

All Sorts

Everyone helped on Christmas eve, the children in the living room
trusted to make neat crosses on sprouts bottoms,
peel potatoes and prod the hot chestnuts

We’d laugh at my mother’s story of corn beef roast during the war.
Now a few years on it was a roast chicken killed by Grandma
out in the garden and hung in the scullery for two days

Grandpa staggered up the hill from the underground at eight
with apples, pears and nuts from our greengrocers in Goodge Street,
gifts from fellow shop keepers, glace fruits being our absolute favourite

Grandmother insisted all through the war there would be no black market;
her Methodist her beliefs could not sanction anything dishonourable.
“Pity”, said Uncle Jack in later years, “we could have had butter, eggs,
all sorts.”

A Valiant Brood

Prolonged wintry weather savaged the bees
despite honey stocks and bee fondant
wind rain and snow penetrated
their sturdy wooden hive.
Now they lie in tiny icy cocoons
clustered around their queen
a valiant brood
that did all it could
to stay alive.


The old Adana
never stopped clanging
virgin paper fed its jaws.
Nearby large drawers held
sets of single letters in
Garamond or Dorchester
for straight talking
Venetian Gothic, curvy
And romantic
for invitations

Typsetting done
sheets destined to be
hand fed between rubber rollers
emerge in sticky black ink
publicity flyers, leaflets
programmes, plays for
Pelham Puppets
all laid out on every
available space to dry.
We did everything ourselves
to cut costs.

A hundred years ago
TJ Cobden-Sanderson threw
all the type from Dove Press
into the Thames when he fell out
with his partner.

Poetry Residency

I was one of the poets on a two day residency run the The Poetry School as one of the poets for London Open Squares weekend in Postman’s Park in the City of London. 2015 and again in 2016. We wrote poetry and encouraged members of the public to be involved.

There were 16 poets were in different squares many not usually open to the public.

Poems inspired by the park.

The worm

On the path
I just avoid
stepping on a
brown worm.
I place him
on rain-sodden earth.
After all, anyone
can take
the wrong

The formal lawn

Sebastian methodically measuresDSC06653 - Copy
bright orange netting like an artist
marking out his canvas.

Full of tools
one wheelbarrow stands
forks, spades, brushes, stakes.

His mate kneels at one corner
carefully sifting soil, troweling edges
his head bent, intent on perfection.IMG_0133

A third man brings in a barrow
rich green turf,  all three
in harmony, finely tuned.

The handkerchief tree


I sit under the loggia
and consider heroism
what it must take
to jump into the depths
of Highgate ponds
to save someone from drowning
to risk being crushed to death
by the weight of a runaway
horse’s hoovesDSC06547
to die on a burning stairway
trying to save your mother
from a house on fire.

Is it all your gentle spirits turning
the leaves on the handkerchief tree
pure white in remembrance.


St Botolph’s Aldersgate

I hope this is the pew where the poet once sat
having enjoyed his breakfast of burnt toast
sitting in his morning chair looking out to the grave yard
where his great grandfather is buried
drafting a letter then leaving his acorn
papered eerie to saunter out of Cloth Fair
in his heavy coat and wide brimmed hat.1-p1030400

I hope this is the pew where once the poet sat
listening to sacred music from the deep throated organ
wafting through ancient pillars up to the ornate ceiling
looking up at the famous alter painting stored in Wales
during the war and now with the day light flickering
on the angel with the chalice in Gethsemane
offering strength and courage to The Son of God.

I hope this is the pew where once the poet sat
next to the Wesley window that was not his favourite
but near the stone memorial for a much loved daughter
and not far from the detailed deliberations
of  Dame Anne Packington, widow, who in her will
in 1595 tried to devise ways to ensure her estate1-dsc06872
would help the poor in perpetuity.

I hope this is the pew where once the poet sat
singing the hymns and half listening to the sermon
as thoughts of the letters he still had to write
and the  women that he loved passed through his mind
having time to later wander to favourite memorial
where it implies that it is not a man’s  ornate plague
but his good name and the deeds he accomplished.

in memory of John Betjeman

DSC06724  DSC06663  DSC06545  DSC06594-001 - Copy  1-P1040313-003

In the summer of 2017 I was one of several poets chosen by The Poetry School for a third time for a short residency as part of London’s Open Square weekend

Earls Court Square

untamed ivy creeps
into ancient urns
at night foxes run over
the roofs of parked cars
slide down the windscreens
drink from the waterfall

sunlight through plane trees
creates shadow puppets
on the grass
a shimmering globe
mirror of distortion
white space crumpled sky

a black cat raises havoc
with noisy parakeets
blackbirds and robins retreat
grand stucco-fronted
terraces red brick
Flemish-style houses

stone dogs
symbols of Egyptian gods
sit in state
guarding the garden
their ears sadly
often broken

Eyre knows every flower
with shears he cuts
a bush into a neat ball
small rhythms
work in harmony
with the soil


Peggy Long’s roses
thrive next to
Jo Warwick’s
lily of the valley
near to George’s bench
not far from Californian lilac
a stone’s throw
from white viburnum
slightly envious
of Japanese anemones
and wary of racy newcomers
like those
Brookland geraniums. 

One of my poems from ‘Grasshopper Cocktails’ 2017  An autumn anthology of poems by students attending John McCullough’s course at New Writing South. The pamphlet included poems by every member of the group and was the brain child of Lucy Cage a fellow poet who produced it!

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From my bedroom window I can see the worn stone
paths I created in the garden. The pathway meandering
through the park leading to the sea where dog walkers
congregate every morning. Tiny paths threading their way
to Telscombe Tye and roads leading in and out of town.

Now blackbirds are back pecking the ground under
the wet brown flower heads, a robin sings on a leafless
Laburnum, a smart pigeon marches under the bird feeder
hoping careless sparrows will flick a few seeds his way
a tabby cat emerges just below the magpie’s nest.

But what I’m seeking is a new direction.

The Puppeteer’s Daughter’  the latest collection. Available in City Books at the Open Art Cafe in Rottingdean. On line with Lulu or on Amazon.

‘Don’t Throw Away the Daisies’ came out six years ago.  Some of the  poems had been published in Writing Magazine and in local anthologies.

Available in City Books 23 WESTERN ROAD, HOVE.  TEL: 01273 725306 and the Open Art Cafe in Nevill Road, Rottingdean.

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.       Also available on line with Lulu. Illustrations
and mono prints in black and white at £6.00

The following site is a bit experimental in that it was a bit now or never when I set it up.

https://annperrinpoetry.wordpress.com/ (spoken word site)

Thank you for your interest.

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