Still European

STILL EUROPEAN – Thursday 25 February 2021 at 7.30 on Zoom

However you feel about ‘having got brexit done’ (personally, I am gutted…), I want to celebrate the diverse languages, artforms and culture of Europe with an evening of words, images and more words.

In collaboration with the Mary Evans Picture Library in Blackheath and thanks to its Poetry and Pictures Blog, curated by Gill Stoker, we shall hear Sarah Lawson, Fiona Moore, Gabriel Moreno, John McCullough, Emma Page, Jacqueline Saphra and Richard Westcott read their poems on a European theme and show the pictures that inspired them. They will also read their favourite European poem in translation and, wherever possible, in the original.

Free by invitation. Email irena.mh50(at) to be sent a zoom link the day before the event.

Sarah Lawson is a poet and translator. Her poetry has appeared in numerous magazines and in her collections Below the Surface and All the Tea in China. She has published three poetry pamphlets with Hearing Eye: Down Where the Willow Is Washing Her Hair, Friends in the Country and Twelve Scenes of Malta and a collection of haiku, The Wisteria’s Children. She has translated works from French, Spanish and Dutch, and is probably the only person to have translated both Christine de Pisan (The Treasure of the City of Ladies, Penguin Classics, 1985) and Jacques Prévert (Selected Poems, Hearing Eye, 2002). She has held a C. Day Lewis Fellowship and was a Hawthornden Fellow in 2005.

Fiona Moore‘s first collection The Distal Point (published by Happenstance) was shortlisted for the 2019 T S Eliot prize and the Seamus Heaney first collection prize.  She is a board member for the poetry magazine Magma and was lead editor for Magma’s 2018 Climate Change issue.  Fiona is based in Greenwich and campaigns locally on environmental issues, e.g. against the Silvertown Tunnel.  She moved to the Outer Hebrides in late 2019 to spend a year there, writing and exploring, but has stayed on for longer because of Covid.  She is learning one of the lesser known European languages – Gaelic – and speaks several others, having lived and worked in Austria, Poland and Greece. 

Gabriel Moreno was born in Gibraltar. He has a degree in Philosophy and Hispanic Studies from the University of Hull and a Doctorate in Hispanic Literature from the University of Barcelona. Published works in Spanish include ‘Londres y el susurro de las amapolas’ (Omicrón 2007). Works in English include ‘The Hollow Tortoise’ (2012); ‘Nights in Mesogeois’ (Annexe 2013), ‘The Moon and the Sparrow’ (2015) and ‘The Passer-by’ (2018). Gabriel has also released three albums as a singer-songwriter. His latest album ‘Whiskey with Angels’ was played on BBC6 by Cerys Mathews.

John McCullough lives in Hove. His latest book of poems, Reckless Paper Birds (Penned in the Margins) won the 2020 Hawthornden prize for literature and was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award. In the Times Literary Supplement, head judge for the Hawthornden, Christopher Reid, described it as ‘a rare literary phenomenon … a frank and militant declaration of joy.’ John has won other awards including the Polari First Book Prize and his collections have been named Books of the Year in The Independent, The Guardian and The Observer as well as his work often appearing in magazines such as Poetry London, Poetry Review and The New Statesman. He teaches creative writing at the University of Brighton and New Writing South.

Emma Page was born in Yorkshire and has lived in south-east London for almost twenty years. She studied English at Oxford in the early nineties and English in Education at King’s College London ten years later, writing her MA dissertation on the out-of-school personal and creative writing practices of secondary school students. She is an experienced English teacher who currently works as an education writer, private tutor and writing coach. Her writing is inspired by many things including her experiences as a woman and mother, the arts and the lives of artists, nature and the environment, and her longstanding interest in juvenilia and the creativity of children. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry London (ed. Colette Bryce) and The Best British Poetry 2011 (ed. Roddy Lumsden), and in the online journals Berfrois and iamb. She is currently working on a novel for children, and towards her first poetry pamphlet.

Jacqueline Saphra’s The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions (flipped eye 2011)was shortlisted for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. If I Lay on my Back I Saw Nothing but Naked Women (The Emma Press 2014) won the Saboteur Award for Best Collaborative Work. All My Mad Mothers (Nine Arches Press 2017)was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot prize. Two of her sonnet sequences A Bargain with the Light: Poems after Lee Miller (2017) and Veritas: Poems After Artemisia (2020) are published by Hercules Editions. Her third collection, Dad, Remember You Are Dead was published by Nine Arches Press in 2019 and her latest book, One Hundred Lockdown Sonnets has just been published by Nine Arches Press. She is a founder member of Poets for the Planet, lives in London, teaches at The Poetry School and is Still European.

Richard Westcott, now retired from a happy and fulfilled lifetime of NHS doctoring, no longer has any excuse for not writing poetry. His poems have appeared in all sorts of places like buses, shop windows and on walls, along with more conventional anthologies and magazines – even winning an occasional prize here and there – and his well-received pamphlet entitled There They Live Much Longer is published by Indigo Dreams.

He blogs at


Thursday 23 September at 7.30 on Zoom

Launch of Afterlives by John Barnie, in collaboration with Cinnamon Press

Afterlives sees John Barnie engaging with images once again, as he did in his book A Year of Flowers. Here, Barnie deploys his skills of perception to respond to a group of paintings in Peter Lord’s art collection. These are images that have been familiar to Barnie for years, yet he approaches them with characteristic freshness and humanity. There are no mere descriptions here. Rather, Barnie inhabits the images, speaking from within or engaging with their subjects as a persona just outside the frame. And as he does so, we are taken on a narrative journey, gaining insight into not only how poetry and art interrogate one another, but how each image, peered at ‘through thick cracking varnish’, reveals layers of history and the mores that accrete into hierarchies, prejudices, injustices and the inability to read one another across cultural gaps. The poems in Afterlives reverberate with the ghosts from the pictures, whose roles are still being played out in the divisive echo-chambers of today’s insiders and outsiders. Rich with social commentary, delivered with wit, and sometimes a hint of mischief, there is a serious intent at work here: the voice of those who know ‘whose tragedy they are in’ — ‘their own’. And who know also that they: ‘will defy anything / that gets in their way’.

John will read from Afterlives (accompanied by illustrations) and A Report from Alpha Centauri.

Author biography

John Barnie is a poet and essayist from Abergavenny, Gwent. John lived in Denmark from 1969-1982 and was the editor of Planet, The Welsh Internationalist from 1990-2006. He has published several collections of poems, mixed poems and fiction, and two collections of essays, one of which, The King of Ashes, won a Welsh Arts Council Prize for Literature in 1990. His collection Trouble in Heaven (Gomer, 2007) was on the Wales Book of the Year 2008 Long List. Cinnamon Press has published several previous collections: The Forest Under the Sea, The Roaring Boys, Wind Playing with a Man’s Hat, Departure Lounge, and Sunglasses as well as his latest collections, the richly illustrated Afterlives and A Report to Alpha Centauri. Cinnamon also published the memoir, Footfalls in the Silence and an anthology of poetry and prose in honour of John Barnie, Wired to the Dynamo, edited by Matt Jarvis.

John plays guitar in the blues and poetry group Hollow Log.

Monday 8 November at 7.30pm on Zoom

Memorial Event: ‘A Celebration of the Life and Work of Richard Stoker (1938-2021), British composer’

Many of you will have attended past in-words events held in cooperation with Gill Stoker. I am deeply touched that she has asked me to host a memorial event to remember and celebrate her husband Richard on what would have been his next birthday.

This event is by invitation only.
If you knew Richard, or know his music, and would like to attend, please email for further details.

Thursday 25 November at 7.30 on Zoom

An evening with Isabel Bermudez, Maggie Butt, David Cooke and Dino Mahoney. More details nearer the time, but I already know it’s going to be unmissable!