Guest Feature – Gaynor Kane

It’s a delight to welcome back the lovely Gaynor Kane to Patricia’s Pen, and in particular because she has a fabulous new poetry collection to celebrate. Without further ado, it’s over to Gaynor.

The Inspiration Behind Writing ‘Eight Types of Love

Gaynor Kane

I’m very grateful to Patricia for having me back on her blog to chat about my next poetry pamphlet, Eight Types of Love.

It all started in May 2021 when The Hedgehog Poetry Press announced that the monthy challenge for ‘cult’ members (a subscription/membership scheme) was to write a wee pamphlet of poems that look at “Stories of Love”.  I started by researching ‘love’ and quickly discovered that the Ancient Greeks had classified love into eight specific categories Eros (sexual passion); Philia (friendship); Ludus (playful love); Agape (love for everyone); Pragma (longstanding love); Philautia (love of the self); Storge (family love); Mania (obsessive love).

Using these eight categories I began to write poems but if truth be told I didn’t have time to write 16 new poems. So, I looked in my folder and discovered some unpublished work on the theme. For example, I really wanted to include a poem that I wrote in January 2020 about bringing in the new decade with a friend who was still grieving from the untimely loss of her sister. My friends and I had a lovely night with her and her family, but it was tinged with sadness. Her mother had shown us a new bracelet she had which was engraved with her daughter’s fingerprint. That next morning a pigeon crashed into our landing window leaving a dusty imprint like a shadow of itself and it made me think about the marks we leave behind us.

Some of the categories were more difficult to respond to; like the obsessive love category. I’m very fortunate that I’m in a loving relationship so in order to respond to that I had to use my imagination. I have performed one of the poems from this section, entitled Stalker, at Flash Fiction Armagh – here is the video: Click HERE

You can read one of the poems from the Philautia (self love) section, here in the Black Nore Review.  I found this category challenging as well, as a women and a mother I realised that I often prioritise the care of others. Consequently, the categories on family love and selfless love were easier to respond to.

I was delighted when Mark Davidson, at The Hedgehog Poetry Press, announced that myself and Des Childs were joint winners. I was also lucky enough to receive some funding from the Arts Council for Northern Ireland which allowed me to engage in some mentoring services. I choose Dr Mary Montague as I had worked previously with her on my collection Memory Forest.  Mary was an incredibly generous mentor and suggested many edits to make the collection stronger. She also wrote a wonderful endorsement for the back cover (pictured below).

If this blog, or the blurb, has whetted your appetite pre-orders of Eight Types of Love open today and you could be the first to purchase!  Just click HERE.

The official release date is 30th July 2022. Thank you for reading.

About Gaynor Kane

Gaynor Kane (nee Carson) fell into writing accidentally. At forty, instead of buying a mid-life crisis sports car, she started a degree with the Open University. She finished her BA (Hons) in Humanities with Literature in 2016 with a module on creative writing. Since then, she has been widely published in journals and anthologies and listed, placed, and won, several poetry competitions. She is vice-chair of Holywood Writer’s Group and a member of Women Aloud NI. Gaynor also volunteers for EastSide Arts during their summer festival and also during the CS Lewis Festival.

Gaynor’s micro-pamphlet ‘Circling the Sun’, about the early aviatrixes, was published in 2018. Her pamphlet ‘Memory Forest’, about burial rituals and last wishes, was published in 2019. Gaynor’s debut full poetry collection, ‘Venus in pink marble’, is published in 2020. These books are all published by Hedgehog Poetry Press.


Guest Feature – Judith Barrow

It gives me great pleasure today to introduce, Judith Barrow, an author I greatly admire. Judith has come along to Patricia’s Pen to talk about her writing journey. Without further ado, it’s over to Judith.

My Writing Journey

Judith Barrow

Every now and then I read about an author’s journey into publishing, which always leads into thoughts about my own convoluted journey.

Like many writers I’ve dabbled in creative writing since childhood: poems, articles, short stories, competitions, and pieces in newspapers.

Years ago when the children joined in various sport activities, and in the spirit of giving something back to those groups, I joined their committees ‒ usually fooled into  the unpopular post of minute secretary. It was after the presentation of one set of minutes that I was bluntly told by another member that I “should go into writing novels” after presenting the minutes of a particularly volatile meeting. Caught up in the moment I’d written how one man “shouted”, “banged on the table”, “insulted *******”, and finally “walked out”. It was a true account, but, looking back, it’s understandable that I was asked to relinquish my post. Recollecting this I’ve often wondered why I hadn’t done similar on other committees; it would have saved me years when I could have been honing my creative writing skills in a more productive way.

Much later, one of our daughters was adamant she was leaving school before A levels. I persuaded her to take an evening class with me (but only in English language – there was no point in asking me to take an A level in Maths, not after barely scraping by with a D at GCE level)

It started well enough ‒ well, for me anyway ‒ she soon found out that going to night school with mum was ‘not cool’. She went back to her own school. I carried on. A year later I was awarded an A – was pronounced “Learner of the Year” in the county and encouraged to apply for a BA Open University course.

Four years later, with one year off to tackle breast cancer, I gained the degree. and had written a book. Which, with trepidation I sent out to agents.

There was no stopping me! I applied to take an MA in Creative Writing.

And a year after that, was “headhunted”, no less, to be tutor of creative writing for the county.

Ever heard of imposter syndrome? That was me for the first year of teaching. One day “someone will find me out ‒ I’m really just a housewife and mother ‒ oh, and working in the civil service,”(my so-called proper job).

Once, I was contacted by an agent, only to be told, the day after, that she thought I was someone else ‒ didn’t want me.

Another agent sent my book to a commercial editor. I had to pay (yes I was that daft). The result ‒ a story I didn’t even recognise as my own. I said goodbye to that agent.

Then I found my publishers, Honno. I’d arrived as an author. At last!

Wales Book of the Year 2021

And I was thrilled to have one of my books, The Memory, shortlisted for the Wales Book of the Year 2021 (The Rhys Davies Trust Fiction Award).

About Judith Barrow

Judith Barrow, originally from Saddleworth, a group of villages on the edge of the Pennines, has lived in Pembrokeshire, Wales, for over forty years.

She has an MA in Creative Writing with the University of Wales Trinity St David’s College, Carmarthen. BA (Hons) in Literature with the Open University, a Diploma in Drama from Swansea University. She is a Creative Writing tutor.

She has had six books published with, the longest-standing independent women’s press in the UK.

Her next book, Sisters, will be published by Honno in March 2023 and she is currently writing her next family saga.





Links to Buy Books

Amazon UK
Amazon Com

The Birth of Symbiosis

Brian McManus was a stranger when he first approached me a year ago to see if I’d like to work with him on an entry for The Hedgehog Poetry Press Conversationally Yours‘ competition. I’d heard his name because we were both published poets with Hedgehog Press beforehand, and our paths had crossed during Open Mics but otherwise we didn’t know anything about each other. He lived in Scotland and I was in South East England. By the time we had finished our collection we had become good friends.

It was a huge compliment to be asked by Brian and because I was up for a challenge, I agreed. We decided between us that Brian would kick us off with the first poem. As a nature poet (also enjoying a bit of myth) I wasn’t sure how I’d follow Brian but I needn’t have worried because it seemed a natural process to springboard from Brian’s The Intellectual Nomad to my poem, King of the Forest.

Backwards and forwards we went, each responding to the other’s poem on our journey, returning home with a theme of hope. We submitted our entry and waited. We were overjoyed when the results were announced to have been selected one of three winners.

We are lucky with The Hedgehog Poetry Press as Mark Davidson allows us input into the cover and Brian and I knew exactly what we wanted. A bee on a purple flower. I set out to my local park one day last summer with the challenge to come home with a decent photograph to use. I’m not the greatest photographer (although I’d like to be) and only had the camera on my old iPhone. However, after spending a couple of hours on a summer’s day, taking shots, I am pleased to say that I had an image ready to be used for our cover.

We sent off the image along with our manuscript and Mark Davidson @ The Hedgehog Poetry Press completed his magic.

A couple of weeks ago the pamphlets arrived in the post.

And we were good to go. I’m sure you’ll agree that the cover is eye catching. The official release date for Symbiosis is July 29th 2022 but you can order your limited edition copy now for £5.50 plus p&p from my website shop HERE and scroll down.

I would like to add my thanks to Brian McManus who was a pleasure to work with, and to Mark Davidson at The Hedgehog Poetry Press for making the publication of Symbiosis happen. The Hedgehog Poetry Press creates the most awesome books.

Brian and I plan to do a Symbiosis II so watch this space.

I’d definitely endorse a writing collaboration because:

1. It challenges you, taking you out of your comfort zone.
2. It’s a way of making friends.

If you love poetry, I’d highly recommend joining The Hedgehog Poetry Press Poetry Cult. For a bargain price you get a bundle of poetry each quarter and you can enter as many of the competitions going for free. On top of that, Mark Davidson offers a monthly challenge to cult members which offers more chances of publication. Numbers are limited to 100 members so you have to be quick.

Find out more and join The Hedgehog Poetry Press Poetry Cult

Buy your limited edition of Symbiosis

Cover Reveal – We Wear the Crown – Lucy Heuschen

Check out this gorgeous cover for Lucy Heuschen’s upcoming poetry pamphlet with The Hedgehog Poetry Press. Isn’t it absolutely gorgeous?

“What do you do, after seeing firsthand the fragility of life? My answer was and is, to live better – to do better. To acknowledge and speak my truth.”

We Wear The Crown is the debut poetry pamphlet from Lucy Heuschen. We walk with Lucy through the aftermath of breast cancer; along the way we meet family members, doctors, consultants, nurses, talk with Marie Curie and dream of a-ha’s Morten Harket.

We Wear The Crown is a brave, moving journey towards healing and acceptance after a life-changing diagnosis.

Want to know more? Lucy is a guest on Patricia’s Pen 9th August 2022 – and she’ll be chatting about her brand new pamphlet. Don’t miss it!

Launch event at Cheltenham Poetry Festival (Online via Zoom) on 23rd August 2022!

Guest Feature – Kerry Darbishire

Patricia’s Pen is delighted to feature poet, Kerry Darbishire. Kerry has come along to tell readers what inspired her to write newly released poetry collection, Jardinière. Without further ado let’s go over to Kerry.

The Inspiration Behind Writing Jardinière

Kerry Darbishire

Many years ago a friend bought me a jardinière and ever since then it has graced our windowsill, and as each flower I collect from the garden fades, I drop in the spilled dried petals. It’s now brimful with the gatherings of spring, summer, autumn, winter, my children growing up, friends past and present and the landscape I have always lived in and love.

The poems in this collection have been written over many years not with any intent of a collection, until I realised they threaded together in a way that reflected all the memories gathered through the seasons and years and as the jardinière on my windowsill was full, it seemed the right time to put the poems in order. I commissioned my artist husband Stephen, to paint the cover to reflect the poems and the rest followed. When I felt it was ready to send out. I submitted to the Hedgehog Poetry Full Fat competition and was delighted to be a joint winner with Hélène Demetriades in 2021.

Going back to when Covid 19 struck the world, I had two choices, either retreat from poetry, cook and walk more, or throw myself further in to reading, learning and writing. I zoomed into workshops, readings and through these I’ve been inspired and met many wonderful poets from all over the world, and since I’ve been pleased to have poems placed in competitions, publish two pamphlets and see this third collection into the world.

I have many happy memories of growing up in a wooden house by a river in Cumbria, and now I’m very fortunate to still live in a wild place. I have access to the fell above our house and surrounding fields where most of my poetry is rooted.  The seasons are important to me as they dictate the way we live. For instance, having our own water supply from the fell, we have to be careful in the dry summer months. There were times in winter when the pipes would freeze. The arrival and leaving of swallows, hearing the first cuckoo and the lambs coming into the surrounding fields – all these things affect the way we think and live.

I’ve also had the privilege of collaborating with poet Kelly Davis on our pamphlet,  Glory Days, poems about motherhood from various aspects.

I read a lot of poetry, my bookshelves are never big enough. It’s always exciting to find new and older poetry I really like.

About Kerry Darbishire

Kerry Darbishire songwriter, author and poet lives in remote farmhouse in Cumbria where most of her poetry is rooted. Her first collection A Lift of Wings, 2014, her second, Distance Sweet on my Tongue, 2018, both with Indigo Dreams Publishing. Kay’s Ark, the story of her mother, published by Handstand Press in 2016. Her pamphlet A Window of Passing Light published by Dempsey and Windle in 2021, also Glory Days, a collaboration with poet Kelly Davis was published in 2021 by Grey Hen Press.

Her poems appear widely in magazines and anthologies including: Artemis, Mslexia, Birmingham Journal, Finished Creatures, The Alchemy Spoon, Envoi, Atrium. She has won or been shortlisted in several prizes including Bridport 2017.

To order any of Kerry’s books please contact her via Twitter or email using the links below




Guest Feature – Joy M. Lilley

Something a little different today. Author, Joy M. Lilley has recently returned from a cruise and she was inspired by the sights in Italy that she wanted to share on Patricia’s Pen. Hope you enjoy.


Joy M. Lilley

A recent trip away with my other half prompted the writing of this piece. We were on a long-awaited cruise. Cancelled twice because of Covid-19. The trip took us over 786 nautical miles from Southampton docks to Rome and back. We visited seven countries, including; The Vatican City, areas of Spain, France and Italy. It is two sightings in Italy I wish to focus on. The first being The Field of Miracles where we found The Leaning Tower of Pisa and the second, the Vatican City, sitting in the capitol, Rome. These two places made the most impression on me.

Pisa is in the Provence of Tuscany, Northern Italy. We headed to the Field of Miracles where the leaning tower sits, and lean it does. Although crowds visited that day we did not let it deter our fun as the sun shone with clear blue skies and we were glad of the exercise. Held within the same area stand two grand structures made in part of the famous Italian marble. They all exude grandeur. The cathedral in the picture stands to the left of the tower on entering the complex. (You enter from the far end of this scene.)

Leaning Tower of Pisa

Pisa’s main tourist attractions are The Leaning Tower Cathedral, Baptistery and Campo Santo. All are close together and comprise a UNESCO World Heritage site. Pisa Cathedral is a medieval Roman Catholic one. It is the oldest of the three structures in the Plaza. It’s construction began in 1063 and was completed in 1092. The photo gives you an idea of just how much the tower leans, you can also see the Cathedral behind.

The Vatican City

The second stop in Italy was Rome. We took a trip to the Vatican city, the smallest country in the world, and walked from our coach to St. Peter’s Square. The photograph below shows its lovely architecture within the square and looking straight ahead you can see a window (slightly to the right of my head) where the pope stands to give his Sunday message which unfortunately we just missed.

We regret not having enough time to visit the museums or the cathedral due to long queues. Within the square stands a glorious sculpture dedicated to migrants named Angels Unaware. It is a boat cast in bronze by the Canadian artist, Timothy P. Schmalz, depicting 140 migrants ranging from a Jewish man escaping Nazi Germany to a Syrian refugee fleeing the civil war. The boat faces in the direction towards St. Peter’s Basilica. The statue depicts the inclusion of every migrant experience over the centuries. Humanity has always experienced migration it is also Inclusive of all races, cultures and religions. The 20-foot sculpture is the most awe inspiring piece. The artist was influenced by the passage:-

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

I was profoundly affected, not just by the amazingly beautiful Vatican city but this bronze cast statue, reminding me of the migrants fleeing countries and suffering conflict today.


Has Joy’s piece inspired you to write something about these wondrous sights? A poem or story?

Let’s find out a little more about Joy.

About Joy M. Lilley

Joy M. Lilley is the pen-name of Joy Gerken. Joy has been writing seriously since 2013. She has published eight books and is soon to publish two more short stories. A number of short stories and articles have been published in British magazines. Interesting writings can be found in her blog.

Her writing journey began after she retired for a life time career in the world of healthcare where she was a trained nurse for almost fifty years. Joy is married and lives in Kent. She is a mother to four children, grandmother to six, and great grandmother to four.





Buy Books

Guest Feature – Peter A

I’m delighted to welcome a fellow Hedgehog Poetry Press poet to Patricia’s Pen. Peter has come along to chat about his poetry pamphlet. Without further ado, it’s over to Peter.

My Writing

Peter A

As I sit down to write a few words for Patricia’s Pen I begin by considering these two ‘books’.

The first, a school science notebook in which I scribed in my neatest handwriting several poems composed between the ages of 14 and 17, my ‘first collection’. Some were lyrical and romantic, influenced by Shakespeare and Keats. Others – political, experimental, existential, idealistic. Frankly, in retrospect very few of my juvenilia had any true quality but some of the themes continue to crop up in my writing several decades later.

The second is my genuine authorial debut, a 22-poem chapbook Art of insomnia published exactly one year ago by The Hedgehog Poetry Press, now available in a revised re-print (five poems having undergone minor but significant surgery). When originally published, lockdown prevented an in-person launch so it is gratifying that I’ll be able to promote the reprint at a number of festivals this year. I also appreciate the wonderful coincidence that this blog appears here on the anniversary of the original publication.


Those who have reviewed my chapbook are more articulate than I in describing its content. I have until now found that sort of objectivity more difficult because it was so unplanned and unwanted. It was after all an automatic response to my wife’s unexpected death, something I simply had to do therapeutically in an attempt to cope with grief and find a way to face a very different future.

Three years on from my darling Helen’s passing, though Art of Insomnia remains for me a personal expression of love, grief and future positivity, I am finally able to view it more objectively as a work of poetry. I am now able to enjoy with appropriate humility the surprising comparisons certain reviewers or commentators have made to works of Emily Dickinson and Shakespeare, as well as the more obviously relevant Douglas Dunn’s Elegies, when describing some of the content and varieties of writing style which appear within my little chapbook.

Having undergone such an elemental outpouring in giving life to my debut work, some of you may wonder whether I have anything left in my poetic locker.

As you would expect I have continued to contribute individual poems to anthologies. Further, during lockdown I wrote new work on an almost daily basis and have continued in a similar fashion in the more recent period of freedom. It is now necessary to impose the discipline of looking at hundreds of drafts, editing, rejecting and selecting fearlessly.

During the next 18 months, I wish to publish a further chapbook and a first full collection. The material is all there; I simply have to get it into shape. Accordingly, you may expect to encounter me at workshops based around good writing practice and habits.

About Peter A

Peter A is a prize-winning Scottish writer, mainly of poetry, whose work has appeared online, in film poems, sound installations, podcasts and paper publications including Laldy, Spindrift, Poems for Grenfell Tower, A Kist of Thistles, Dove Tales Scotland anthologies A Kind of Stupidity and Bridges or Walls, several Dreich (Hybrid Press) publications, and the Civic Leicester anthologies Black Lives Matter – Poems for a New World and Poetry and Settled Status for All. His debut chapbook Art of Insomnia was published in 2021 and was nominated for the Michael Marks Pamphlet Award.

Order your Copy





Scottish Book Trust Live Literature Profile Page

Guest Feature – Karen Mooney

Today I’m delighted to feature poet, Karen Mooney, who is a fellow poet with The Hedgehog Poetry Press. Karen has come along to Patricia’s Pen to talk about her pamphlet, Missing Pieces.

Thank you, Patricia, for the opportunity to provide an insight into Missing Pieces

Missing Pieces

Karen Mooney

I was equally delighted and terrified when Mark Davidson, Editor of The Hedgehog Poetry Press, offered me the opportunity to have a poetry pamphlet. I confess to having dragged my feet through a lack of confidence, and it may never have happened but for the repeated interventions and encouragement of Gaynor Kane, with whom I co-wrote Penned In, which was published in 2020. 

I’m a latecomer to this writing thing without any formal training unless, of course, I go back to English classes at school, but that’s in the dim and distant past. And on leaving school, I entered local government as a clerical officer; took advantage of part-time education in business studies and human resources, only to retire early due to ill health in 2013 after 32 years of memo, policy and report writing. Not an ideal foundation for creative writing triggered by a life-changing event; my father’s death.

In coming to terms with his death, I reflected on the past, realising that growing up in the era of children being seen and not heard, other circumstances of loss hadn’t actually been addressed. Some had never been spoken of, but stiff upper lips can soften in time. In essence, the pamphlet marks some stepping stones of my life, many of which may resonate with others.

It deals with loss; a baby sister, a school chum, my mother, marriage, miscarriage, father, love, but it has a happy ending. It’s also a recognition that there is a beginning with every end.

I’m delighted to have had some compliments on the book cover as I designed it myself. It’s based on a photograph I took of the sun setting over Strangford Lough. I manipulated the image to represent kintsugi’s gold lustre, which happens to be the final poem.

All proceeds from signed copies will be donated to Marie Curie, the UK’s leading end of life charity. Why? Because endings matter.

Fancy a signed copy and helping Marie Curie – a little taster of what you can expect from Missing Pieces. This is one of the most poignant poetry pamphlets I have read. Have your tissues ready.

Still not convinced? Read Damien B Donnelly’s review on Eat the Storms – if I didn’t already have a copy I’d be racing to get one. A great gift – a great keepsake – and not only that you will be helping Karen’s most deserving charity – Marie Curie.

Order your signed copy from Karen NOW – via Twitter or Facebooksee details below

Order your signed copy from Karen via Twitter or Facebook and help raise money for Marie Curie



Guest Feature – Angela Johnson

It is a delight to introduce author, Angela Johnson, a fellow Swanwick writer, to Patricia’s Pen for the first time. Angela has come along to chat about her novel, Arianwen. Without further ado, it’s over to Angela.


Angela Johnson

I believe that when we write we search conscious and unconscious memory as well as freeing the imagination to wander the byways of human existence, I was encouraged to write from a very early age, compelled by a belief in the huge power of language. I come from a community with a strong tradition of story-telling, and poetry was everyday as breathing, and ordinary working men were experts at the traditional form of cynghanedd: a strict verse form.

Arianwen published by Black Bee Books is the story of a woman who deems herself very ordinary, yet through the turbulent course of her life we see that she is a remarkable woman ,a woman whose life ends prematurely in the most violent and cruel fashion,. Brought up in relative comfort in the secret valley of dark trees and the beautiful old mill, she spends her formative years lodging in two very different households, then trains to be a teacher and goes to work in a North Pembrokeshire village. Her first marriage ends in tragedy and, ultimately, through the power of music, community and friendship she learns to live again.

We see how others depend on her quiet strength and pragmatism, her kindness and her empathy, and her gradual questioning of women’s place in society. The novel is also a portrayal of a changing society where the age-old certainties are threatened by new ideas, and communities are evolving in unexpected ways, and the Welsh language is under siege.

The novel is a tribute to those whose lives were enslaved by the demands of the agricultural life, the resilience of the human spirit, and the way in which human contact and friendship sustains us.

Not all my writing is set in Wales. I live close to the North Kent marshes, bleak and beautiful, where Dickens set Great Expectations. The marshes are inspirational with always changing colours and diffused light, the water reflecting the moods of the seasons. I am inspired by Nature and love to watch birds, mystified by their strange freedom. I like wild flowers and looking for rare orchids on the Kent Downs in Spring and Summer. All these are nourishment for the writer’s imagination, as are faces and actions and conversation, and the infinite complexity of human nature.

About Angela Johnson

Angela Johnson was born in West Wales, and grew up in Newcastle Emlyn, a small market town on the banks of the River Teifi. Welsh was her first language, and the language of her family, and in her writing about Wales there is a  conscious  echo of the rhythms of her language even though she writes in English. The landscape of her childhood is portrayed in  ‘Arianwen’.as  are the memories of the stories she heard in an enclosed commnuity.

She attended the local grammar school, and was encouraged to write by an inspirational English teacher, and in turn became an English teacher herself after studying in Swansea, and later in London. Her experiences as a teacher play an important role in a recently completed novel.

After teaching in colleges and schools in North Kent she chose to study Creative Writing at the University of Kent and was awarded a Distinction.

Her novel ‘Harriet and her Women’ was shortlisted for the Impress Prize for Fiction and she was also shortlisted for the H.E. Bates Memorial Short Story Prize for her story ’George and the Dragon’  She has also won poetry competitions.

Links to buy book


Links to social media