Anthology of the Phoenix Poets
- the poetry section of the long-established London Writer Circle

Cover of Anthology of the Phoenix Poets ISBN 1-873855-10-9

Commemorative edition featuring many prize-winning authors
from an original idea by Arda Lacey

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Front & Back covers: Designed by C. John Holcombe and Michael Garady

Paperback - 160 pages
John Owen Smith; ISBN: 1-873855-10-9; September 1994

Introduction . Contributors . Excerpts . London Writer Circle . About the Publisher . Further information


One Hundred and Twenty Three poems from Sixty Two contributors

That the Phoenix Poets has survived for twenty-two years will come as a pleasure to the many members whose work is collected in this anthology. The venue has changed over the years, and many loved faces have disappeared, but the format is still very much as it was in 1972, when Peggy George and Arda Lacey refounded the group in its present form.

London remains the literary capital of the English-speaking world, and here the Phoenix Poets is not only part of the London Writer Circle, a group member of The Poetry Society and of the Abbey Community Association, but is also able to draw upon the vast underground movement of poets beavering away up and down the country to finance and publish and uphold their craft. Poetry that was once queen of the arts may now be its Cinderella - its followers divided into factions, its productions unwanted by the big publishing houses, disregarded by the public at large - but, as its practitioners know, the true readership was always small and the obligation remains the same - to say what cannot fully and appropriately be said in any other way.

It is in its active membership that the Phoenix Poets has seen the greatest changes. Many members have now retired and moved too far from London to attend the monthly meetings. The venue itself has shifted. The forerunner of the Phoenix Poets, thriving in the strong sense of solidarity that prevailed immediately after the war, rubbed shoulders with air raid wardens, ambulance drivers, etc. in the old Abbey Community Centre in Marsham Street.

Then came a period at Central Hall under the chairmanship of the late Eric Parrott, bon-viveur and humorous satirist. Today, in the chastened realities of post-boom Britain, the Phoenix Poets meets in the new Abbey Community Centre in Great Smith Street, where there is a cheerful restaurant to welcome new members, and a room upstairs in which to read their poems.

Poems are very varied, as this anthology shows. The group is a professional association, without any axe to grind, and when suggestions are made they usually centre on where a piece might be placed for publication - shrewd advice on the whole, as members are well represented in poetry magazines, anthologies and competitions. Beyond its meetings proper the Phoenix Poets acts as an association of friends united in the common pursuit of giving pleasure through writing - this accounting for much of the group's success to date and its hopes of continuing, let us trust, long into the next century.

C. John Holcombe


Daphne Ayles

Born 1932 in SW London and stayed there ever since. Began to write in 1949 and received her first cheque in 1958. Feels she should write a novel but so far hasn't managed it, though first non-fiction "On a Clear Day You Can See God" appeared in 1993. Prefers articles, quizzes and letters. Editor of the Rechabites London Calling for 19 years.

Marjorie Baker

Retired teacher who enjoys painting, pottery, reading and writing poetry. Compiled and helped to illustrate two anthologies for the Poets England series.

Marjorie Blackmore

Born and educated in Scotland. Wrote verse for local paper during war and then for Fleetway House magazines. Published regularly - poems, short stories and feature articles. Attended Teacher Training College and taught creative writing at Stevenage College. Founder member of Stevenage Writers' Group which ran successfully till late eighties.

Margaret Browne

Born Birkenhead. Her poems have appeared in Canadian magazines and in Virago New Poets 1993. Won Radio Medway competition and Clemence Dane / Pat Garrod Cup for plays.

Phil Carradice

Poet, short story writer, historian. Fourteen books published in last ten years, most recent being "The Last Invasion". Poems broadcast on radio/TV and published in many magazines - The New Welsh Review, TES, Westwords, etc. Regularly undertakes residences in schools, colleges and Arts Associations.

Alison Chisholm

Born in Liverpool. Married with two daughters. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, and in five collections. Teaches poetry and creative writing. Has written two books and a correspondence course on the craft of writing poetry.

Suzette Childeroy Compton, DMW

Poems published widely - Debrett's Antiques, Batsford's Christmas cards, LWC's Within the Circle, Henry Ling's Greetings Cards, Kettleshill Press's Windfall, etc. Over seventy poems illustrated with paintings by Michael Garady, with readings at openings of same in Switzerland and Holland. Poems read for various charities. Two poems set to music by Pamela Lady Torpichen.

Doris Joyce Corti

Secretary and latterly poet and freelance writer. Widely published. Feature articles in Writers News, Social Work Today, Writing Magazine, etc. Poems in Acumen, Envoi, Poetry Voice, and other magazines. Well represented in anthologies. Winner of many prizes, including 1994 Julia Cairns, 1980 Brentwood Poetry Group, Stamford Literature Festival. Poetry Adviser to SWWJ.

Beryl (Mary) Cross

Retired journalist. Posts included Editor The Bank Officer, Publications Editor National Association for Mental Health, Editor Rural District Review and District Councils Review. Has written poetry intermittently all her life but published work dates from late eighties. Represented in Acumen, Envoi, Outposts, Poetry Now, Symphony, etc.

Joyce Edge

Poet and writer. Lived and worked in New Eltham, teaching children for many years. Her humorous monologue "Bus Stop" was awarded the 1988 Joyce Grenfell Scholarship for the SWWJ Weekend School. Won the Clemence Dane / Pat Garrod Cup for short story in 1991. Died February 1994.

Mary Ellis

Writer, poet and entertainer. Bringer of laughter and compassion through humorous and perceptive writing and performing - "Mary Ellis Tonight", "Weaving Words" and "Sharing the Journey", etc. Over the years her one-woman shows have raised funds for many charities.

Vivienne Finch

London-based writer currently working on adaptation of classical French drama for BBC. Poetry published in magazines and anthologies in UK, USA, Canada and France. Five collections published, three books of translations and a poetry novel. Plays performed by BBC, CBC and assorted theatre companies. Has worked in field of education, and as book reviewer, agony aunt and freelance journalist.

Margaret (Peggy) George

Founder of Poets Vigilantes. Formerly publisher of the Court Poetry Press and editor of Counterpoint and Weyfarers. Widely represented in small magazines and anthologies. Two collections published. Winner of 1976 Westminster Arts Council Award and Poetry Lecturer at 1980 Swanwick Writers' Summer School. Currently a Licensed Lay Minister C. of E.

Bettina Gibb

Began writing at forty and now has articles, short stories and poems published in Transatlantic Review, Good Housekeeping, She, Ideal Home, The Times, Annabel, Woman's Own, etc. Wrote two talks for the BBC. One of her poems was included in collection chosen by Anthony Thwaite.

Stella (Esther) Gilder

Born Bombay. B.A. Lit., Art. Widely travelled: lived in Lebanon, Yemen, Singapore. Resident of USA for nine years, now a Londoner. Special interests in US Penal System, international and global concerns, and human nature - all of which stimulate poetry writing. Recently published in New Clarion Press and Poetry Now.

Muriel Grainger

Born 1905. Formerly Editor of Fleetway publications. Widely published in small magazines and anthologies, including those of Poetry Society. Poetry collection "Music at Midnight" won the Lady Britain Trophy for best book published by SWWJ member in 1949.

Sylvia Green

Writes mainly for children, and is published in the UK and Singapore. Produces the occasional poem for fun.

Elizabeth Hart

Worked in various capacities on national newspapers and women's magazines, concentrating on children's market since leaving Fleet Street. Enjoys writing poetry. Successes include second prize in Beryl Lewin Memorial Competition.

Rosanna Hibbert

Spent most of her time writing in various ways for various media. Now free to wonder about difference between craft and art, and to wish she didn't need deadlines so badly.

Jennifer Hindell

Grew up in a supportive and book-loving family - father was the writer Edward Boaden Thomas - where much poetry was read, recited and written. Joined Phoenix Poets in 1993 on retiring from twenty years' teaching English in a London comprehensive school and after bringing up two daughters with the help of journalist husband. Has written occasionally and hopes to find more time now.

C. John Holcombe

Worked abroad in mineral exploration till seventies, when he returned to run research for a multinational, and then his own numismatic and D.T.P. businesses. Began writing in the late sixties and is represented in Rondo anthology Poetry in the Seventies. Published in small magazines. Currently Chairman of Phoenix Poets.

Vicki Hollis

Born 1923. Historical novelist, journalist and author of over a hundred poems, three of which are collected in the Hospice book A Choice Platter. Currently Secretary of Castle Trust Poetry Group, a member of the LWC, and Chair of Write On, Thanet.

May Ivimy

Born 1912. Widely published in UK and abroad, in school anthologies and elsewhere. Seven collections of poems. Member and former Hon. Treasurer of the Poetry Society. Member and former Committee Member of SWWJ. Founder of Ver Poets and remains its organiser. Honoured with Howard Sergeant Memorial Award in 1990.

Susan James

Born 1913. Widowed in 1968 and began writing thereafter. Published in small magazines and own poem read on Radio Two. Two booklets published - Recalling Many Springs and None the Less - and three of humorous verse. Formerly Secretary of Surrey Poetry Centre and co-Editor of Weyfarers.

Hilda Jones

Born in Essex. Educated in Australia. Worked as secretary in Melbourne, London and New York. Now living in the Welsh borders. A non-stipendiary minister in the Church of England. Early member of the London Writer Circle Poetry Group.

Anne Kind OBE

Born Berlin but lived in UK since 1934. Trained as nurse and administrator and worked for many years for Family Planning Association. Widowed 1987. OBE 1990 for work in community and fund-raising for new hospice. Published in Stand, Other Poetry, Weyfarers, Iota Staple, New Hope International.

Arda Lacey

Freelance journalist. Born and largely brought up in China. Articles and poems have appeared in many leading newspapers, journals, anthologies and small magazines. SWWJ Member. Co-founder of Phoenix Poets in 1972 and still its organiser. Edited three anthologies of Phoenix Poets. 1981 winner of Julia Cairns award.

Beryl Lewin

Born 1925. Wrote freelance, and also for BBC, local theatre and newspapers. Poems published in many journals and magazines, with lyrics accepted by Joyce Grenfell. Member of SWWJ, LWC and Thanet Poets Group. Died 1992.

Elisabeth Locke Ellis

Writer. Articles published in The Lady, Here's Health, Ideal Home, etc. "My Body" won third place in an American international poetry competition.

Barbara Mann

Born in South Africa and raised among Kalahari Bushmen. War years spent in South African Army. Much travelled. Preparing book on Bushman folk tales. Founder member of Phoenix poets and former treasurer.

Fay Marshall

Writer and poet. Published in UK, Eire, USA and Russia. Poems published in many magazines - Outposts, Envoi, The Rialto, Tok, South, Acumen, etc. Anthologies include Arvon Foundation National Poetry Competition Anthology. Winner of several national poetry competitions. Currently translating Austrian poet Peter Paul Wiplinger.

Rosemary Maxwell-Knight

Born Dundee and lives in Hertfordshire. Many poems published in literary and small press magazines in seventies and eighties.

Colleen McMath

Lives in Essex. Interested in poetry for children: book in preparation. Wrote pantomime for 5-14 year olds performed in schools. Currently Secretary of Phoenix Poets.

Diana Mills

Novelist, poet and illustrator. Third prize winner of 1973 Argentina Young Artists Competition. Novel "Reapers of the Wing" published by Hodder and Stoughton in 1991. Former Editor of London Writers Circle Review. Currently Chairperson of Latin American Cultural Network.

Sidney Morleigh

Scientist and writer. Held many senior posts in large organisations. Published in philosophical, scientific and technical fields. Wrote poetry from childhood but started publishing only recently. Now represented in The Independent, many small magazines and national anthologies. First collection published 1993, second appearing 1994.

Margaret Padwick

Freelance writer who turned to poetry after career in education. Prefers to write satirical verse for performance and finds an endless source of wry humour in the male-female relationship.

Margaret Pain

Poetry published widely in magazines and anthologies. Four collections. Several times prize-winner of poetry competitions. Also reviews, adjudicates, gives readings and talks. Currently Administrative Editor of Weyfarers and was Chairman of Surrey Poetry Centre and Wey Poets 1987-1994.

Phyllis Parker

Went from village school to Cambridge with the aid of various scholarships. Took Arts degree but found it was no gold-mine, so worked as a secretary with writing as a sideline. Efforts to turn the latter into her main line continue.

Wyn H. Parkinson

Worked as a librarian until retirement. Member of London Writers' Circle since the seventies with many poems, articles and a local history book to her credit. Joined Phoenix Poets in its old Abbey Centre incarnation. Recent poems in Poetry Now, Anchor Books Anthology and Shortlands Poetry Anthology.

Eric O. Parrott

Wartime radar research boffin, then Admiralty cartographer. Married with one son. Lived and cruised on inland waterways in narrowboat. Two plays broadcast on BBC radio. Compiled eight books of humorous verse and prose, including Penguin Book of Limericks and How to Become Ridiculously Well-Read in One Evening. Died 1990.

Peggy Poole

Prize-winning poet. Sixth collection Trusting the Rainbow published by Brentham Press in 1994. For many years produced and presented her own poetry programme on BBC Radio Merseyside and is currently Poetry Consultant to BBC Northwests's Write Now.

Celia Purcell

Trained first as a dancer, performing and teaching in UK and abroad. Lived in Calgary, Alberta, where artists were outnumbered by cowboys, though the Stampede was always memorable. More recently in public relations and has choreographed a one woman show of Mata Hari, the Dutch spy. Poems published in small magazines.

Danielle Reilly

Born Constantine, Algeria, where she taught French and English. Now lives in London with her children. Worked for Mind in Camden, for the Citizens Advice Bureau, and as telephone counsellor for Victims Helpline. Writes poetry in French and English. Latest work published in Poetry Now.

Barbara Rennie

First publication was The Sky Wandered By in 1983. As If contains many award winning and commended poems. "Infant with no Name" won the 1985 competition of the British Federation of University Women. "Perfect Little Girl" was a prize-winner in the 1986 City of London Festival and was read on LBC. Subsequent poems won the Julia Cairns Award in 1987, 1988 and 1990. "At Stoke Fleming" won the Stanley Pelter Trophy at the 1990 Southampton Writers' Conference.

Kathleen Rust

Came late to poetry. As a guide in St. Paul's Cathedral wrote a fantasy It Happened One Night and an Alphabet, both appearing in the cathedral's magazine which enjoys world-wide distribution. Poem The Palace of Dreams is to be hung in the entrance hall of the foyer. Much still unpublished.

David Schaal

Born Germany 1919, emigrated to Palestine 1938 and taught English at a kibbutz for 30 years till 1990. Poems published in Israel, UK, USA, New Zealand and Switzerland. Two collections: Two Israeli Voices, and Through a Crack in the Door. Poetry Editor of Shdemot, a kibbutz movement publication, from 1985 to 1988.

Daphne Schiller

Poet, short story writer and journalist. MA in Creative Writing at University of East Anglia. Poems published in small press magazines and anthologies, and also read on radio and TV. Teaches creative writing for WEA.

Stanley Sharpless

Born 1910. Worked his way up from office boy to advertising manager. First appeared in print in 1932. Winner of New Statesman and other literary competitions for half century or so. Verse broadcast by BBC and represented in many anthologies. Busier than ever in retirement, having found real metier as stand-up comic in Dorset village entertainments.

Anne Smith

Born and educated in Ireland. Poetry an early love and began writing in 1950. Founder Member in 1975 of Dorking Poetry Group. Member of the Surrey Poetry Centre.

Jo Smith

Worked in computing but now full-time writer and publisher. Poems published in The Countryman, Poetry Digest, Poetry Now. Has published two local histories, and written many successful pantomimes and plays for stage and radio. One short story short-listed in Writers News and others read on local radio. Currently runs a writers circle in Bordon, Hampshire.

John Smith

Poet, feature and short-story writer. Joined the predecessor of Phoenix Poets in mid seventies, after retirement from the GLC. Has undertaken voluntary work for the Red Cross, and now runs an over-60's club at the Abbey Community Centre.

Melissa Polly Smith

Born St. Albans, England in 1971. B.A. Hons English University of Washington, Seattle. B.S. Psychology 1994. Poems published in USA and England. Among Poetry Digest Top Apricot Gold Winners for 1994.

Elizabeth Sproule

Born Braintree. Wrote poetry from childhood but was not published till seventies when she attended the London Writer Circle Poets. Poems have appeared in This England, Orbis, Success, Weyfarers, Incept, London Calling, Cork Weekly, Chopin Society, BBC Manchester, Kensington & Chelsea Arts Council, Christians in the Arts Festival

Gwen Stanley

Been writing poetry for last six years and has had work published in magazines, read on the local radio and a collection ("Stabling the Thoroughbred") published by Envoi. Hopes the muse will continue to visit.

Helen Stanley

Worked abroad in a variety of countries, mainly the USA. Her MA (London) examined the role of visions in selected Canadian novels. Now retired and living in Wimbledon. Interests include reading, bridge, music and table tennis.

Jean Marian Stevens

Born 1928 and has lived in Boxmoor, Herts since 1931. Member of SWWJ since 1950 and has acted at various times as Chairman, Acting Secretary, Poetry Adviser. Currently Vice-President. Poems widely published in magazines and anthologies. Own collection Led by Kingfishers published 1980. Winner of Julia Cairns Salver in 1974 and 1991. Listed in International Who's Who in Poetry 1993/4.

Ivy Titchen

Novelist, short-story writer, journalist and poet. Novel "Stolen Years" published this year by Piatkus/Hodder & Stoughton (under pen name Elizabeth Lord). Twenty short stories in magazines. Appears in Poetry Now anthology. Currently teaching creative writing and running a writers circle.

Dorothy Unwin

Has contributed to and helped to illustrate two of the County series: Poet's England. Amongst many other activities are painting, calligraphy, and of course the reading and writing of poetry.

Yogi Nandan Vaish

Poet, dramatist, short-story writer, translator and critic. His poems have appeared in South America, New Zealand, Korea, Ireland, USA and Italy, winning prizes in the last three countries. Also winner of Michael Madhusudan Award. Lives in Aligarth, U.P., and is a life-member of the LWC.

Ursula Mary Wadey

Artist, poet, writer, playwright and pilot. Founder member of Phoenix Poets. Born 1914. Twice married. Paintings exhibited in many locations. Always writing, graduating in Creative English from York University at age of 68. Won the Ottawa Little Theatre Competition in 1958. Poems published in newspapers, periodicals and anthologies. Died 1985.

Jeffery Wheatley

Writer and business economist. Born Surrey 1933 and still lives in the county, where another interest, watching and writing about birds, takes up much of his time. Publications include two booklets - As the Hard Red Sand (1979) and Prince Arthur (1981). Currently an editor of Weyfarers and writes reviews for Orbis.

Brenda Whincup

Poems published in the UK and USA, in magazines and anthologies. Won many awards, including the gold cup at the 1985 Cambridge Festival and the Theodore Roscoe Cup in 1990. Has read her work on radio and was resident poet with the old Master Craftsman journal.


Communication - Arda Lacey

They came together,
he deaf, she blind.

He read her
poems of love
in a voice
he had not heard
but she understood.

Then she answered him
in kind
with poetry of the hands
like butterflies in flight
before night sets in,

and he understood.

Ride a Cock-horse - Eric O. Parrott

After T. S. Eliot

A slow coming we had of it,
Just at the worst time of the year:
In spring is the wintriest weather.
With the cock-horses fretful and wanting their sugar,
There were times when we began to wonder
If there was such a place as Banbury.
We would have abandoned the search
But for the promise of the Cross; so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon,
Finding the lady;
It was (you may say) satisfactory.
Certainly there were bells on her feet, and such bells
Tinkling and partly tinkling,
And her fingers were heavy with many rings.
Had we been drawn here by memory before birth, or curiosity?
In our ignorance is our understanding.

From 'Imitations of Immortality'

The Tooth Fairy - Jo Smith

Today has been special, I just had to shout,
I was eating an apple, my first tooth came out!
It's under my pillow as safe as can be
And the Tooth Fairy's coming to leave me 10p.

Shall I spend it on choc'late or sweets or a lolly?
Or save it for later to pay for a dolly?

But what if my sister is telling me right?
She says all the fairies are on strike tonight!
And she thinks that I'm silly and making a fuss,
And she says that I'm doing it so that I just
get attention from Mummy - but I think she's jealous,
And she's got more money than me now, as well as
the pound that she got for her birthday last week,
And there's Auntie's book token, 'cause I had a peek
in the box in her bedroom. But really I think
that she's fibbing, 'cause Mummy just gave me a wink
and she says that she's sure that the fairy will come
if I clean my teeth nicely and don't suck my thumb.

So I'm going to bed now, and straight off to sleep.
I think my Mum's nice, but my sister's a creep!

London Writer Circle

'The Phoenix Poets' is part of the London Writer Circle, the longest running such circle in the country. Past and present members, including many established names, are included in this book. Where possible, the poems have been selected by the authors as being those which they themselves most enjoy. As a result, here we have work of a talent and variety rarely to be found together in one publication.

About the Publisher

John Owen Smith was born in 1942 and trained as a Chemical Engineer at London University, but spent most of his working life designing commercial Information Systems for the paper-making industry. Following redundancy, he 'fell' into researching and recording the local history of east Hampshire, where he now lives. His own output of historical community plays, lectures, articles and books includes:-

Please feel free to contact me if you would like to share information on the contents of this book or the London Writer Circle. See address details on Home Page