Happy National Poetry Day!

Did you know it’s National Poetry Day today? Well, it almost (almost!) passed me by too. With the current lockdown restrictions still disrupting our activities the usual local activities, such as readings in the library, have been unable to take place, so it’s up to us as individuals to celebrate. Perhaps by writing a poem on this year’s theme of ‘Vision’ (it’s not too late!), or seeking out as many poems on the theme as you can. If the theme doesn’t grab you, perhaps revisit some of your old favourite poems and just bring some beautiful poetry into your life today, one way or another.

To start you off, take a look at A Vision by Simon Armitage here

You can visit the National Poetry Day website by clicking here.

National Poetry Day

Don’t forget – its National Poetry Day on October 3rd so look out for events in your area. Locally, Retford Library are holding an event on the day from 2pm which includes a talk on the poetry of Philip Larkin by local enthusiast Rob White, followed by a poetry cafe. Find out more at: https://www.inspireculture.org.uk/whats-on/events/2019/10/national-poetry-day-retford-library-2019/ Come along – you might meet some of our writers there!

Prolific Poets Pete and Pam

Selected Poems by Retford Writers

Pete Brammer


Pamela Mann

Writing Workshop 2014



CLICK by Pamela Mann


When Beeching axed the railways, the country gave a sigh,

Everyone believing that the age of steam would die

But then a few enthusiasts began to question why?

Now people flock to see the re-born steam engines go by.


It isn’t just the little boys who seem to get a high

From all the hoots and whistles they hear the engines cry.

Their Dads and Grandads live again those childhood days that fly,

And out come all the cameras when a steam train passes by.


On every bridge and platform, each vantage point we spy

A hundred different shutters are clicked to testify,

Though diesel trains go faster, electrics seem to fly,

There’s always a photographer when steam trains whistle by.



I know the North is hilly and I know it must be hard

To get up enough steam to pull your engine from the yard;

A driver with experience and heaps of nutty slack,

And water which will make the steam to haul it up the track.


But just now, from my window, I saw a funny sight.

I had to do a double take, it didn’t seem quite right.

No fewer than three engines, with carriages behind,

Like old men in a marathon, all breathless but resigned.


One engine pulled another, and another followed that,

Racing madly North, like a mechanical hellcat.

I pondered on the reason for three engines, with a frown,

Refusing to believe that two of them had broken down.


And then, a minute later, I heard the Scotch express.

It seemed to say “Get off the track, or you’ll be in a mess!”

So then I knew the reason why not one or even two,

But just to keep one step ahead, only three would do.


LOSS OF A FRIEND By Pete Brammer


Phone call

In hall

Conversation short

Sad report

“Sorry mate

Not great

Fred sick

Died quick”

Close friend

Life’s end

Sympathy card

Taken hard

Quickly wrote

Brief note

Funeral came

Such pain

Eulogy read

Poor Fred

Bearers take

Coffin draped

Gentle showers

Caressing flowers

In ground

Safe, sound

For best

At rest

No pain

God’s gain













Barnsley Market c.l964                   Pamela Mann


Like the field tents of an invading army,

stalls go up and sunrise acts as a bugle call,

bringing the day to attention.

At the hint of battle, dusty pigeons plan

guerrilla raids from the town hall roof.


When clerks and shop girls begin work,

big red buses are disgorging battle-hardened

housewives in headscarves,

to launch assaults on the best greengrocery stalls,

seizing the freshest fruits of the day.


Stepping over strutting birds, vying for a pitch

under meat pies, they calculate each move,

before retreating to their soot-blackened barracks

in outlying mining enclaves.


At lunch time, younger feet tap-tap

across the cobbles, on missions of their own.

They hurry by on stilettos, licensed to kill

any pigeon not trained to dodge.

They’ve war paint and other ammunition

to acquire before the evening’s foray.


Later, young green girls pull back to their posts,

clutching cheap perfume and nylons,

Illusions still intact, unlike their booty.

This week’s skirmish is over. They’ll be

better prepared for the next offensive.


Only the pigeons yet know they’ve won

the battle for bargains today



By Pete Brammer


I must go down to the river again,

Where I played when just a child,

Paddling and netting minnows,

Picking flowers, varied, and wild.


Admiring the fluttering butterflies,

With fragile wings so pretty,

See mallards bobbing up and down,

Remembering the poem, ‘Ducks Ditty’.


Along the banks we’d build our dens,

Where we’d play and share a joke,

And unbeknown to parents,

We’d enjoy a crafty smoke.


I too have brought up children,

Who may have done the same,

But today, I’m fighting cancer,

And must go down to the river again.


It’s a Blessing is Age by Pamela Mann


It’s a blessing is age;

wrinkles deep and hair grey.

You’re a bit of sage.


Can’t turn heads so turn the page

always back to yesterday.

It’s a blessing is age.


No more slaving for a wage;

every day’s a holiday.

You’re a bit of a sage.


Now’s the time to rant and rage;

cause your grandchildren dismay.

It’s a blessing is age.


Time has opened up your cage;

catch a bus and never pay.

You’re a bit of a sage.


Gaining discounts may assuage

mixed emotions you display.

You’re a bit of a sage.

It’s a blessing is age.




By Pete Brammer


Midway upon the journey of our life,

A life so full of bliss,

I remember the very day we met,

Recalling, that very first kiss.


In the back seats of the cinema,

With a nervous, fumble or two,

I even thought you’d dumped me,

When, you set off for the loo.


Now, four kids and three dogs later,

Two rabbits and a cat,

Not to mention many goldfish,

Five white mice, and a rat.


I couldn’t have been more happier,

That you came, into my life,

A wonderful, wonderful mother,

And to me, a perfect wife.


Will our kids be able to say the same?

As they experience life’s toil and strife,

And be happy with their partners,

On their journey, through married life.


Sunset: Isle of Lewis       Pamela Mann


We walked the beach

Until light faded from the hills

And gulls flew home

Towards the dusky pink of evening

Sunset painted the sea rose pink

Reflecting the sky.

Yet darkness never came,

As if the day,

Pleased with its creation,

Could not bear to close its eyes.



By Pete Brammer



The cat and the fiddle,

The cow jumped over the moon

The little dog laughed to see such fun,

And the dish ran away with the spoon.


That’s too far-fetched, now in’it?

And I don’t believe it, for one minute.

I can only assume, they were high on drugs,

And thought they had us down, for mugs.


 The Lake District – a Competition Winner by Pamela Mann

 I strolled along the very street

Where poets sometimes used to meet,

And wandered through their houses grand,

Where poems were discussed and scanned.

I didn’t hear the poets sing

Their verses; make the mountains ring.

Just the patt’ring of the showers

Kissing trees and blessing flowers.


Not one daffodil did I spy

Beside the lake, beneath the sky,

But meadow plants of pink and gold

Gave me much pleasure to behold,

While on the hillsides, Herdwick lambs

Would skip beside their grazing dams,

And higher, even higher still,

A few fell-walkers showed their skill.


I gazed across a field one day

Where shining Esthwaite Water lay.

No skaters’ frozen pond I found;

No Wordsworth wheeling round and round,

Just all its waters sparkling blue

Under a sky of azure hue.

No gleeful cries can now be heard,

Just rustling leaf and whistling bird.


Here, all around, the mountains lie,

Like giants holding up the sky.

Their weathered summits never care

That men should climb because they’re there.

Nor do they care for poets’ rhymes.

Their memories stretch to ice-age times,

But, without them, would this land see

Such homage to its majesty?

National Poetry Day success

The Team 1 with label

Our writer’s group coordinator Kevin Murphy led the morning Poetry Writing Workshop under the title “Substance over Style” using examples from prolific local poets Pamela Mann and Pete Brammer.  Retford was then proud to welcome internationally successful crime writer, Nottingham’s John Harvey to share his latest selection of poetry old and new ‘Out of Silence’.

A selection of Pam and Pete’s poetry is uploaded under the ‘National Poetry Day’ category.