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


‘Proper’ summer is finally here and, while I’m reluctant to start thinking about autumn, I am inevitably and joyfully beginning to plan the first event of the ‘new term’. The first thing I did was to look back at all the in-words events from the very first one in January 2017, and I realised that over five years I hosted 49 readings, including a number of lectures by Graham Fawcett. 49! What shall I do for the 50th? I’m thinking that, although it would limit the numbers in the audience, I would really love to have an in-person event at the West Greenwich Library, like ‘in the old days’. And you never know, I may even be able to get to grips with ‘hybrid’…. Of course, it will depend of many factors, and as soon as I can, I shall post a date if not a full programme.

I love the new animation at the top of my homepage. Thanks to Paul Kley for creating it. The words on the flying page are not a quotation but a whole poem, a favourite of mine, by the Italian hermetic poet Giuseppe Ungaretti. It is impossible to translate, though countless attempts have been made. I am sure you can guess its meaning and I leave you to create your own ‘translation’ of it. Ungaretti fought in the trenches and those two lines represent a moment one morning – pared down to a sense of the absolute, maybe also of possibilities?

As we emerge from a not-yet-over pandemic and wake up every morning feeling the dread of conflict but also aware of the beauty of spring and the blessing of nature and community, Ungaretti’s words are more than ever appropriate.

I am taking a break from organising things over the summer. Whether I will be as dynamic as the train above, or I’ll take time on a siding, I’m not yet sure.

Either way, I am always happy to hear from you with thoughts and ideas, and wish to thank you for your support so far.

Be well!