I have loved poetry all my life (as I told Exeter’s Bla Bla Show), and have been writing it more or less since I learnt to read. This page gives an overview of some of my publications of or relating to poetry, and re-prints a few of my poems that have appeared in magazines and anthologies.
Possibly a Pomegranate celebrates womankind. From ancient history to the modern day, women stride through its pages. Sometimes they dazzle us with their humour and creativity – too often overlooked by patriarchal contemporaries. At other times, their fate moves us to tears.
How rare it is to read a collection so full of calm wisdom, of a lifetime’s experiences and investigations marshalled with a clear eye for what matters and a well-honed gift for finding the words and forms to share them. This celebration of women ranges from girlhood memories and the tenderness of parenthood to the intimacies and aggravations of later years, from insight into lives in different cultures to a roll call of remarkable women through the ages in which Pope Joan rubs shoulders with Jane Austen. These are satisfying and enriching poems.Alasdair Paterson, Uncut Poets
An assured exploration of womanhood, with poems as abundant as the fruits in the pomegranate, resonant with love, birth, death, achievement, happiness and heartbreak. Small, unnoticed moments are brought into focus and held still enough to touch. Marriage turns her sympathetic and good humoured gaze on Sappho, Cleopatra, Lot's wife, Heloise, Hildegard, Mother Julian, Grace Darling, Rosa Parkes as well as her own life, creating a rich panoply of women. Maggie Butt, poet and novelist
In this poem, Alwyn Marriage suggests that St Clare (1194-1253) may be a rather more interesting figure than history suggests.
Clare Offreduccio (Chiara) was a normal, healthy and enthusiastic teenager until she was swept off her feet by the dashing young Francis, whom she heard preach with passion. Abandoning her previous life to follow him, she devoted herself to a life of chastity and charity. Images of St Clare in art tend to depict her as an icon of humble obedience and purity, but there may well be more to the story than that.
While not wishing to diminish Clare's genuine piety and good works at all, this story suggests that Clare's obvious love of St Francis was more full-blooded and passionate than the official stories have suggested, and that ending up in a convent was not quite what Clare had in mind.
Pandora’s Pandemic is a vivid and personal account of Covid-19 in real time, in poems written actually as it happened. When Covid-19 swept across the world, it took everyone by surprise. Debilitating illness, unprecedented lockdowns and tragic deaths soon followed. And then the questions arose – how long would the devastation last and would anyone survive? Alwyn Marriage contracted Covid-19 early in the pandemic and that is where this moving collection starts.
In these vivid poems, Alwyn tracks the course of her own illness and recovery, the death of her brother and the gradual dawning of new hope. Above all, she asks what we have learnt from this pandemic, and whether the world will ever be the same again. This means that, unusually for a poetry book, because it tells the story of Covid-19, you can read Pandora’s Pandemic like a novel, not knowing what the next twist will be. This is poetry that grips you, may make you cry, but will also warm your heart. One reader wrote: The poems are wonderful. You have captured our universal experience of the pandemic, rather as the young war poets did ... It's a huge achievement.
For more information on Pandora's Pandemic, endorsements and unsolicited responses, click on the image of the book cover.
There is an interview with Greg Freeman about Pandora's Pandemic in Write out Loud, July 2021
Review by Sue Wallace-Shaddad in London Grip, November 2021.
This collection of poems brings to life women who, though they lived centuries ago, shared many of the hopes, thoughts and emotions that we experience today. A variety of formal and free verse styles of poetry is used to celebrate the love, courage and occasional defiance of real women. The book was published on 20 April 2017 by Indigo Dreams and was launched in Bergen in June 2017 at an international conference about the lives and writings of mediaeval women. For more information, click on the image of the book cover.
For a while this anthology was Collins’ best-selling book, and I still get requests for copies. Unfortunately I have none left, and the opportunity for a re-print was lost during the series of publishing takeovers in the 1990s.
Copies are now like gold-dust, so if you have one that you don’t want, please let me know, so that I can pass it on to someone who does.
Review by Thelma Laycock in the Leeds-based poetry magazine Aireings, no 22:
Refreshingly this anthology bursts upon the British poetry scene which seems to suffer from a dearth of Christian writing. Alwyn Marriage draws her collection together from two hundred poems chosen from eight and a half thousand received after publicising the anthology to churches and magazines worldwide.
New Christian Poetry is not a denominational ‘churchy’ collection. The editor presents the poetry in its widest sense, dividing it into eleven sections: The Natural World, Place, People, World Issues, Art, The Bible, Times and Festivals, Experience of God, On Being a Christian, Praise and Prayer, Bread and Wine, thus expressing that Christians are not apart from the world but are very much thrown into the turmoil of it.
Memorable among the poems for me is Jean Naylor’s ‘Contemplation’ (Experience of God) with its Hopkinsian imagery:
“I saw Him in the crushed crimson’s dawn appearing …
He comes riding
Stallion-drawn, whirl-wheeled, fleet
Sword-buckling King, re-armed in glory
I fall, love adoring at his feet.”
Presenting a contrast to that is Rosie Watson’s ‘Red Nose Day’ (World Issues) with its comic irony:
“Would God wear a nose for such a cause
Christ the Clown
our fool for God’s sake
the only one
to wear a nose on red nose day Good Friday
for the sake of Ethiopia
Yes, and much more.”
Catherine Fisher closes the section on Art with her universal poem, ‘Judas’, in which the poet sees:
“… a roundel here of Christ in Hell,
embracing a man waist-deep in fiery glass
whose medieval face turns up as if in shock …
Perhaps it is something in the kiss that makes me
wonder, if they meant it to be you.”
The poems in this collection have a very high standard and much could be said about the individual poems. I can only recommend that people buy it and read it. It is a good resource for worship and for teaching as well as for personal reflection. It is excellent and have not come across anything quite like it. I am glad to have this anthology on my bookshelves; it has presence.
There are many publications that are either dedicated to publishing poetry or that include poetry in their pages, and my poetry appears regularly in these. As magazines and journals have a short shelf-life, it is worth reproducing some of the poems in full.
Incendiary was published in Acumen, December 2022
Morning wear in Crannog, Summer 2022
A recording of Revealed at Evening was presented at the Rivers Trust conference, March 2022
Bloodlines, in Artemis, May 2022
Pompidou Banner, published in Artemis, November 2021
Taking the knee was published in The Journal, September 2021
Venus of Willendorf was published in Artemis, summer 2021
Ars Poetica and Pebbles at Hallsands were both published in Acumen, February 2021.
The Scottish poetry journal, Dreich, published three of my poems in Issue #Nine, which came out on National Poetry Day 2020: Passing by, Finger four and Crepuscular.
Accidental and The cold war was not over were both published in The Journal, February 2020 Barbary pirates was published in Acumen, May 2019
Halwell Point was included in Coast to Coast, Aldeburgh, Autumn 2019.
I am not a guy, high flyer and Skimming were all published in Domestic Cherry 6, October 2018.
The environmental paper, Guildford Environmental Forum newsletter used my poem about swifts, Sky high, in their September issue.
Skin was subsequently chosen by the artist, Franki Austin, to be on one of the photographs in an exhibition of her work; so it is this illustrated version that is reproduced here.
Lighterwas in the lovely Irish journal, The SHOp, Summer 2007. This is one of the poems based on energy and the environment that was included in Touching Earth. It was written following one of the lectures on my MSc course, when the lecturer illustrated our lack of respect for the oil that has taken millennia to form, by blowing out the flame on a cigarette lighter.
Menses appeared in Acumen, September 2007. It is one of the poems I have written specifically about the experience of being a woman.
In 1978, my poem Annunciation was translated into Hungarian and published in the national Hungarian newspaper, Nemzetur.
The advantage of anthologies is that they tend to be around for many years, rather than having a short shelf life. My poetry has been included in many anthologies.
Golden Eye was published in Watch the Birdie, Beautiful Dragons Collaborations, November 2022
Speculate was published in The First Six years by Write out Loud, Woking, in 2022
Fig Tree was highly commended in the Shepton Mallet Poetry Competition 2022 and published in the Shepton Snowdrops Anthology (p27), February 2022
Waiting for Midsummer Morning was published in Lighting Out: poems to answer the dark, edited by Rebecca Bilkau. Beautiful Dragons Collaborations, 2021
The poem Mother Julian and the Astronauts from In the Image was published as Space travel and a hazel nut in Phenomenal Women, Grey Hen Press, November 2021
Two of my poems relating to trees, Field trip and Home from Home were published in COED, a collection of poetry about trees produced in support of the Save Penrhos Nature Reserve in Wales, 2021
Sphagnum was published in the Ginkgo Prize anthology, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Best Poems of Landscape, 2020
Out of the wind & Audible in Caged Blossoms, ed Peter Kennedy. Watermelon Press, 2021. ISBN 9781845419
My poem Woodland Dusk’is published in the Grey Hen anthology about trees, Lovely, Dark and Deep, edited by Joy Howard, 2021
Three of my covid poems, Where is St George when we need him?, Technological limits, and 3 ply, were all publishedin ‘Locked Down, Poetry Space 2021
I wrote so many poems about covid in 2020 and most of them were published immediately, while full anthologies took a little longer to arrive. ‘708’, a poem about my brother’s death from covid, has just been published in ‘Poems for the Year 2020’, published by Shoestring Press, 2021
Some of you will remember the beautiful Irish poetry magazine, THE SHOp, which ceased publication in 2014. An anthology of the best of the poems from that magazine has now been published, ‘THE SHOp: an anthology of poetry’, and I’m pleased that my poem ‘Lighter’, which appeared in the magazine in 2007, has been included. As with its namesake, it’s beautifully produced. 2020.
Wrong place, wrong time was included in the Moor Poets anthology, Isolation Diaries, 2020
Sleeping with C19 and 708 today were both published in ‘Can you hear the people sing: Global responses to the pandemic’, published by Palewell Press in 2020
A couple of my poems have been re-published in a book of reflections for the season of Advent, ‘Front Line Advent’.
Across the Mountain was chosen from among 7.500 poems of place to be published in ‘Places of Poetry: Mapping the Nation in Verse’, published by One World, in October 2020.
Menses, was, appropriately, included in the anthology Bloody Amazing, edited by Rebecca Bilkau and Gill Lambert, October 2020
Wrong Place, Wrong Time, one of my corona-poems, was included in the Moor Poets anthology, Isolation Diaries, in September 2020
Halwell Point Beach, Salcombe was published in ‘Coast to Coast to Coast: Poetry in Aldeburgh’ edited by Maria Isakova Bennett, 2019, launched at Poetry in Aldeburgh in November 2019
Sea Swim was published in the watery anthology, ‘Well dam! Poems for parching times’ edited by Rebecca Bilkau. Beautiful Dragons, 2019
Morning run was published in the Smith Doorstop book, ‘The result is what you see today’, edited by Paul Deaton, Kim Moore and Ben Wilkinson, October 2019
Clapperboards and Nancy’s Star Turn were published in Spring of the Muses: the poetry of music, art and dance, edited by Deborah Gaye, Avalance Books, 2019
Uphill was published in ‘Further than it looks: Poems about mountains’, Grey Hen 2019
Shooting the greys is included in For the Silent, published by Indigo Dreams, 2019
Nancy’s Star Turn and RP RIP were published in Project Boast, the anthology edited by Alyson Hallett and Rachel Bentham, Triarchy Press, 2018
Town birds, Sky high and A reason for faking it were all published in ‘Diversifly’, Poetry and Art on Britain’s Urban Birds, edited by Nadia Kingsley, Fair Acre Press, 2018
Christ in the Wilderness, my poem based on Stanley Spencer’s beautiful series of paintings of that subject, was published in the Stanley Spencer anthology, published by Two Rivers Press, in 2017
RP RIP, my poem celebrating Rosa Parks, was published in Noble Dissent, edited by Rebecca Bilkau (Beautiful Dragons Press), in 2017
Heliotrope was included in The Poeming Pigeon: Poems from the Garden.The Poetry Box, 2017
Across the mountain and The price of nuclear energy appeared in Nuclear Impact: Broken Atoms in our Hands edited by Teresa Mei Chuc. Shabda Press, California. 2017
Six English Poets’ Diaries, Contemporary Literature Press, Romania, 2017
Laboratory mouse was published in the Program anthology, 2017
On landing G3, which was commended in the South Bank Poetry Competition judged by Mimi Khalvati, was included in the anthology of poems about London, ‘South Bank Poetry’.
Rebecca Bilkau produced a beautiful book to present to the mayor of Orta, entitled ‘Originals for Orta’, in which my poem Immersed in poetry appeared.
Childproof was published in The Seven Ages of Woman, The Quince Press, 2016
Nettles was published in the e-book ‘Poetry on Stinging Nettles’, Fair Acres Press, 2016
I wrote a new poem for inclusion in the book of photographs and poems about Surrey, organised by the Surrey Libraries and published by Hurtwood Press. My poem is called To be a pilgrim and is about a walk from Guildford to Canterbury that I undertook many years ago. The book will be displayed in different Surrey libraries over the coming months.
Black face of the deep was published in Not a drop: Just Oceans of Poetry, edited by Rebecca Bilkau. Beautiful Dragons, 2016
Gentle Giants was published in Poems for Jeremy Corbyn, Shoestring Press, 2016
Elemental was published in the Poet’s Quest for God, Eyewear Publishing 2016
Across the mountain and The price of nuclear energy were both published in Nuclear Impact: Broken Atoms in our Hands, 2016
Clapper boards and Christ in the house of his parents were both published in Wordstrokes: the poetry of art, edited by Deborah Gaye, Avalanche Books, 2016
Whale and Moon and next door neighbour’s tree were published in English and Romanian in Six British Poets, Integral Press, Bucharest, 2016
Six impossible things before breakfast was published in the United States in The Alice in Wonderland Anthology, Silver Birch Press, December 2015
Skin, The Vine and Ski scene were translated into Romanian by Ioana Sabau and published in Fereastra, 2015
Moving on was published in Poems for a Liminal Age, (in support of Médecins sans Frontieres), 2015
embedded shapes was published in the Wenlock Festival Anthology, 2012
Tsunami and The Price of Nuclear Energy appeared in ‘Sunrise from Blue Thunder’, Pirene’s Fountain, 2011. In aid of relief work in Japan following the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in 2011
September Butterfly was included in ‘Shropshire Butterflies’: A poetic and artistic guide to the butterflies of Shropshire. Edited by Nadia Kingsley, Fair Acre Press 2011
Walking together was published in Visible Breath, Indigo Dreams 2010
In Casa Tallone was inlcuded in ‘Reflections on Lake Orta’, Wyvern Works 2010
Puffin was published in ‘No Space But Their Own’, Grey Hen Press 2010
tree x was published in Orta Christmas Anthology, 2009
Skin and by heart were included in Cracking On, Grey Hen Press 2009
Ski scene was published in ‘For the kids’. Challenges Anthology. Biscuit Publishing, 2005
Acrostic for Valentine’s Day was published in Requiem for Love. Forward Press, 2005
txtur of luv was included in Text Poems. Forward Press, 2004 or 2005. ISBN 1 84460 8670
March morning mist was included in the National Poetry anthology 2005. United Press
Doxology was published in A Lifetime of Blessing, compiled by Geoffrey Duncan. Canterbury Press, 2004. I wrote this because I love singing Tallis’s Canon, but find the traditional words a little outdated and exclusive. This version, which is also used in the meditational material in the liturgy book for Holy Trinity Church Guildford, was sung at the Festival Service for the Guildford Book Festival in 2006. The tune for which is was written is called ‘Tallis’s Canon’.
Charting the Thames was published in The River Thames in Verse, edited by Val Mason. The River Thames Society, 2004
Puddles was included in Sensational! edited by Roger McGough. Macmillan, 2004
Poems published on-line can be read by people all over the world.
I very much enjoy sharing my poetry with others by performing to live audiences in Britain and around the world.
October 2023: Society of Authors’ lunch, Guildford: Women in poetry
October 2023: reading at Palewell mini-festival, Richmond
September 2023: reading at South Hams Literary Festival: ‘By indirection find direction out’
September 2023: reading at Richmond Live Arts, Marble Hill
May 2023: Guest poet at Second Light Festival
March 2023: reading at concert at URC, Guildford
Also in October 2021, I was invited to be guest poet at Write Out Loud. Greg Freeman, the mastermind behind Write Out Loud, and its wonderful presenter, had published an interview with me earlier in the year, so it was good to be able to appear on his show.
After being confined to Zoom readings for 18 months, it was a delight to give a real ‘live reading’ at the Guildford Book Festival in October 2021. I read a selection of poems from Pandora’s Pandemic and enjoyed the interaction with the enthusiastic audience. I also appreciated the fact that so many books were sold after the reading.
It was great to be able to return to Ways with Words at Dartington, to organise another Oversteps Day in July 2021. As well as hosting some excellent new Oversteps poets, I was pleased to launch my latest collection, Pandora’s Pandemic, which is a chronicle of my year with covid.
I was one of the readers at the Society of Authors ‘Feel Good Friday’ party in November, 2020
I was guest poet at Poetry in the PInk at Pembroke College Oxford in November 2019
I was pleased to be included in readings at Poetry in the Lake in Italy in October and Poetry in Aldeburgh in November 2019
‘In the image: portraits of mediaeval women’ at Society of Authors lunch, june 2019
I had a wonderful evening at Fox’s Barn, Binscombe last week. I was invited to read my poems about mediaeval women, and was given an hour and a half to read the poetry and talk about the women. The audience was so warm, appreciative and generous.
It was a privilege to read at ‘Rhythms of Peace’, a celebration of the Corrymeela Community, the peace and reconciliation organisation in Northern Ireland. The event was in Exeter, and the other readers were Richard Skinner, Laurence Sail, Padraig O Tuama and Dana Littlepage Smith.
I read with the Company of Poets at the Exeter Poetry Festival in October 2018. Here’s a photo of me (with my sweatshirt) reading the Sestina, ‘I am not a guy’
I read with lots of lovely Oversteps poets on the Oversteps Day at Ways with Words in July
I read at the launch of Moor Poets Anthology IV in Ashburton in July
I enjoyed reading with Martyn Crucefix and Will Stone at The Crypt, Islington, on 19th May 2018
Lancaster Litfest, March 2018
Bristol, at launch of Project Boast, March 2018
On Braemar at sea, February 2018
Uncut, Exeter, December 2017
Indigo Dreams tribute reading, December 2017
Staverton, Devon, November 2017
Torbay Poetry Festival, November 2017
Talk about ‘In the image’ for Modern History Group, Guildford, November 2017
Poetry on the Lake, Orta, Italy, October 2017
Launch of Broadsheet, Exeter Poetry Festival, October 2017
Poem-a-thon in aid of refugees, Enfield, October 2017
Guest at Libertas Book Group, Rapeseed, October 2017
Reading and talk about my novel ‘Rapeseed’ at Society of Authors lunch, March 2017
I gave a reading of poems about women as part of the International Women’s Festival in York, in March 2017
Launch of ‘In the image: portraits of mediaeval women’ at international conference of Women’s Literary Culture and the Medieval Canon, in Bergen, July 2017
Presentation on ‘Rapeseed’ at Ways with Words, Dartington, July 2017
Ways with Words, Dartington, July 2017
My novel, Rapeseed, was launched in York in March, as part of the International Women’s Festival.
Two readings at St Ives Festival, one on ‘Rapeseed’ and one poetry reading, June 2017
Launch of ‘Rapeseed’ at Millbrook, South Pool, May 2017
Teignmouth reading, April 2017
Launch of ‘Rapeseed’ at Appleseed Bookshop, University of Surrey, April 2017
‘Rapeseed’ presentation at Society of Authors, April 2017
Launch of ‘Rapeseed’ and poetry reading at York Festival, International Women’s Day, March 2017
I was delighted to read at Torriano in London in February, along with two of the poets with whom I worked in Romania last year, as part of the delegation of Six British Poets
South Bank Poetry reading, December 2016, City Lit Theatre, Covent Garden
There were two launches for the ‘Poems for Jeremy Corbyn’ anthology during the autumn of 2016, one in London and one in Oxford. I was pleased to read at both of them
It was lovely to give readings at the Poetry on the Lake festival again this year, 2016
Broadsheet reading at Exeter Poetry Festival, October 2016
I was guest poet at Open Word at the Grosvenor Hotel in Stockbridge in August, 2016
Launch of ‘The Poet’s Quest for God’, London, July 2016
As well as taking part in the Oversteps Day at Ways with Words in July, I was also pleased to give a performance of my long poem, Chiara, accompanied by Simon Williams
Guest poet at Fire River Poets, June 2016
I read at the 2016 St Clémentin Festival in France in June
Reading at prize-giving of the Jack Clemo international poetry competition, May 2016
Reading at New Writers’ Festival, GLive, Guildford, May 2016
as part of the delegation of British Poets to Romania, reading at the British Council, Bucharest, April 2016
Bodmin Moor Poetry Festival, May 2016
Reading at Teignmouth Festival, March 2016
as a guest of the Fellowship of Australian Writers and Western Australian Poetry In, a reading at the Writers’ Centre, Joseph Furphy House, February 2016
Reading at the Live Poets Literary and Poetry Society, Taupo, New Zealand, January 2016
Reading at Oversteps in Oxford at Albion Beatnik in Oxford, December 2015
Nuffield Theatre, Southampton, November 2015
Café Culture at Thrive Café, Totnes, with singer-songwriter Zoë Marriage, November 2015
Poetry on the Lake, Orta, Italy, October 2015
Featured poet on Romanian radio September 2015
Launch of Poems for a Liminal Age, Waterloo, August 2015
Stanza reading at St John’s, Just Festival, Edinburgh, August 2015
Broadsheet reading, Exeter, August 2015
Unveiling of memorial stone to Anne Born, July 2015
At the end of 2015, Diane Watt, Professor of Medieval English Literature at the University of Surrey, asked if she could publish my long poem, Chiara, on the blog of the inter-university, international project supported by Leverhulme, Women’s Literary Culture and the Mediaeval Canon, to join the project as an Associate Member, and to contribute further poems about mediaeval women every few months.
So far the following poems have appeared on their blog:
These and other poems were published in April 2017 in In the image.
Prizes and awards
I have been extremely fortunate in winning a number of poetry competitions and have been placed in many others. Here is one that provided me with a cash prize and a lovely trophy to enjoy for a couple of years.
A group of my poems were longlisted in the Butcher’s Dog competition in spring 2023
Fig Tree was highly commended in the Shepton Mallet Poetry Competition 2022
A poem of mine has been shortlisted in the AONB Landscape section of the 2021 Ginkgo Prize. It will be included in this year’s forthcoming anthology.
‘Late home’ was commended in the Poetry Kit International Poetry Competition, 2020, which was on the theme of Home.
‘Ars poetica’ was shortlisted in the Second Light poetry competition, 2020
‘Artist mid-morning’ was commended in the Poetry Kit Ekphrastic poetry competition, 2020
On landing G3’, which was commended in the South Bank Poetry Competition judged by Mimi Khalvati, was included in the anthology of poems about London, ‘South Bank Poetry’, 2017
I was shortlisted for the Paragram Poetry Prize, 2016
I was pleased to be shortlisted in the Poetry on the Lake poetry competition, 2016
A poem by me was one of five commended in the South Bank poetry competition, 2016
Nancy’s star turn was shortlisted in the Poetry on the Lake competition, 2016
Barnett Open Poetry Competition (three years running)
Jack Clemo Poetry Competition (run by the Arts Centre Group)
Guildford Cathedral Poetry Competition
Computer poetry and jazz
The group, Sunflowers, was active in the late 1970s creating computer-generated poetry using Bard 0 and Bard 1D computer programs. The poetry was performed to jazz accompaniment, also composed by the group. The jazz quartet gave performances at a number of venues, including the Edinburgh Festival, and was featured on BBC radio.