Joan Johnston

December 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

I Borrowed One Day in the Life of a Boy from Tibet

and when the due date came round I took him back and renewed him. I renewed him every Saturday for weeks, carried him home the same short way I’d come – Benton Road, Weldon Crescent, The Spinney – until one Saturday the librarian said he was reserved and I had to return him. Someone else, a child I didn’t know, was waiting to find out all about a boy my age who herded yaks, ate tsampa and lived on the Roof of the World. My nomadic friend in a colourful hat belonged, I learned, to everyone.


Tom Kelly

December 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

What He Knows

He followed someone and by mistake
ended up in the library-
he was shocked.
He had never been in a library before,
the only book at home was a rent book.

He was embarrassed.
Didn’t know what to do,
should he pay?
Does he have to ask to leave?
He’s led out like a bear on a lead,
returned to the street,
to what he knows.

first published in Their Lives, from Tears in the Fence (1995)

Piers Cawley

December 19, 2012 § Leave a comment

A Child of the Library

I’m a Child of the Lib’ry, it made me who I am,
It taught me about freedom and the fellowship of Man
A sea of story waits for you behind the lib’ry door,
Don’t say we can’t afford them any more.

The Lib’ry’s where I made some friends I’ve known my whole life through
The Walkers and the Blacketts and the Pevensies so true.
Simp the canine cannonball, Galadriel the fair.
The daughter of a pirate king and Paddington the Bear

I’ve travelled South with Shackleton and all his gallant crew
And to the African interior that Mary Kingsley knew
I’ve rode the trackless prairie where the bison used to roam
An travelled round the Universe, not half an hour from home.

And as I grew the libr’y fed my curiosity,
All there for the asking. All of it for free.
It’s there I found the stories that I couldn’t find at home.
It’s where I learned I was myself and not my father’s clone.

So make friends with your library, don’t let it fade away.
Teach your kids the lib’ry’s where you go on Saturday.
Don’t let the bastards tell you they will cost to much to save
While they’re shovelling our taxes down the hole the bankers made

So make a stand for the lib’ry. Stand up while you can.
Stand up for your freedom. Stand for your fellow man.
Ignorance is never bliss, don’t close the lib’ry door.
For a lib’ry lost is lost forever more.

Lyrics © 2011 Piers and Gill Cawley
Music © 2011 Piers Cawley

Kate Fox

December 19, 2012 § 3 Comments


Dear Citizens,

We’re being very honest with you here. We can’t afford to feed all the city unicorns anymore. We want to, we do, but central government haven’t given us enough money because the South’s spending it on ponies. I know we’ve all appreciated the joy and wonder unicorns have brought.  The sense of transcendence we all get when we see a flick of a white tail and tilt of an exquisitely turned spiral horn. That day the herd ran amok in Primark and showed us the true meaning of wilderness confronting consumer culture. The way we attract external investment with pictures of our amazing retail and leisure opportunities plus photos of herds of wild unicorn sweeping majestically across the convenient car parks.

We need to make the case in terms even a Tory government gets. Tell us the impact fewer unicorns will make on your wellbeing. What will it do to the eco system if they disappear from your neighbourhood? Might it have particular social and economic consequences if the packs are eradicated from specific areas? We will be maintaining a central unicorn park and are relieved to say 95% of the population will still live within 1.5 miles of a unicorn, but know it won’t be the same.

Anyhoo, look at our occasionally conversational language and chummy webchats. We’re trying. Here’s a reiteration of the most important bit of what we’ve said. It’s dying kids or unicorns- you choose, but it’s not our fault. Plus Eric Pickles wants us to destroy us like he destroys plate pies so we need your input more than ever.

We need you to suggest solutions. Volunteer unicorn feeding schedules? Adopt a unicorn, even sponsor a unicorn? (“Bernard’s Bras Give You the Horn!” etc, real opportunities there). Perhaps put them in allotments. It’s only turnips that make them rampage. None of us want to lose the benefits of our amazing unicorns. Don’t forget to be angry at central government. And honestly- HELP!


The Council


Dear The Council,

Save Our Unicorns! Or we’ll tell the Guardian that you’re culling them all in a big Boxing Day hunt. Please find attached hundreds of personal testimonies about the importance of unicorns in our lives. You Philistines. We know you never liked them anyway.

The Writers

PS; Some famous authors, singers and Cheryl Cole have also written to the papers about their love of unicorns. You’ll be sorry.

Geraldine Green

December 15, 2012 § Leave a comment

I Was Arrested for My Letters

they tumbled out of my mouth
each mouth a clown
each clown an O
each round pink O rolled down the street
each X turned cartwheels
each V stuck itself up at people it disliked
somersaulted along broadway ended
upside down in a gutter – a kind hand
gave it a quick brush and with an upsa-daisy! there yah go!
added a dash
and A was born.

dogs chased them
children laughed
each child caught a letter
each letter caught a cold
each cold caught the wind
each wind caught a cloud
each cloud formed icicles
each icicle grew snowflakes
each snowflake became a man
each man read out a sentence
from the black and white newspaper
held in their hands
their hands ran with ink the ink closed its fist
made a ball out of paper tossed it in the air
the air blew its nose and the Iliad was born!
right here on this flagstone

the flagstone became

an anchor

the anchor

a tree

the tree

a rope

no, a but!

a lovesong!

a hope that


on the big broad

chest of the general

the teached clapped her hands

the general dropped his hope

hope wrote a message on the sand

H E     P!

said the sand

P  E   H !

said the sea
as it laughed like a cat
scratching its claws
down the trunk of the alphabet tree
where a man hung himself last night
beside his hat and the moon.

Graeme Cooper

December 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Journey’s End?

Why do we,
Need a library,
When to search on line,
Does the job just fine?
Takes us straight to what we want to see?
Because of what we miss along the way.
For what journeys do we go on now,
Without by-passing all unneeded towns?
What unknown places do we pass through,
To notice sights and people new,
That prick our imagination and curiousity?
Where do we stop unintended to explore and try,
To taste the barm cakes, stotties and butteries,
Instead of grabbing a bite at sterile, road side fill-upperies,
At some indifferent point on the westbound M4,
Before plugging back in to the network once more?
‘Discoveries’ come from menus of on-line suggestions,
‘Those who liked Rowling also liked Travelodge Weston,
Super-Mare’ where scripted student guides lead us through,
Phony fasciaed photoshop tableaux,
Soul-lessly facsimilied places to get our attention,
While corporate pick-pockets reduce any destination,
To homogenous brand.
Starbucks in the Forbidden City,
Premier Inn on the avenues of Paris,
McDonald’s beside Babylon’s gardens pretty.
Holiday compounds hermetically divide us,
From exotic cultures and hidden villages,
Preventing the indigenous poor from sharing the profit,
Isolating us and them from literature’s privileges,
Persuading us that the world and curiousity are finite,
But take a walk round the library and don’t ever believe it.
Somewhere between J Alfred Prufrock and Bridge of Sighs,
Lies the last place on earth we can still find surprise.

Marilyn Longstaff

December 12, 2012 § Leave a comment


Fragment found in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, between the pages of Newton’s ‘Principia Mathematica’

My stuffed-shirt arm weighs heavy on this paper.
My desk draws me here, folds me into the pages,
chains me in the vellum shelves.

I hold my pen and I dip it in the ink.
All I write is this, ‘Dearest,
Mrs. Jenkin’s guest-house porridge lies like millstone grit in my stomach’.

I want to write,
‘My love, yellow and green light shards
stab at the gulf between us.

I think of you in that grey blue waste,
the empty space that strings Craster, Bamburgh, Berwick
the thin line we walked between sea and sand….’

24th August 1919

Previously published in Rewriting The Map (Vane Women press 2003) and Raiment (Smokestack Books 2010)