South Downs Poetry Festival: bonus tracks…Sarah Miles and Louisa Campbell


We read a poem:


Swineherd:    (Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin)

When all this is over, said the swineherd,

I mean to retire, where

Nobody will have heard about my special skills

And conversation is mainly about the weather.



I want to lie awake at night

Listening to cream crawling to the top of the jug


I want to see an orchard where the trees grow in straight lines


The extracts give you a flavour of the Swineherd’s dream……..of a life utterly different from the one he has. He doesn’t say what it involves. You understand that from what he dreams of.

Now, Pick a task or occupation. Maybe you’ve done it, dreamed of it, would hate it. Lighthouse keeper, pigs head boner, chiropodist, dentist, mudlark, lady’s maid. What will you dream of doing once it’s all over.


My workshoppers have five minutes to react to this, to write, as far as possible, without conscious thought…at the very least, without an editorial voice in their heads. I promised that if anyone wrote something they thought worth keeping they could send it to me and, all things being equal, I’d put the poem on the cobweb. And I was delighted that two writers did, and even more delighted to like the poems and to keep my promise. Here we go.     First, Sarah Miles.

window 3


When this is all over

(said the window cleaner),

I will go to a place where houses

with thatched roofs beckon the open air;

alive with insects, clicking,

keeping me awake at night.


I will sit on the fat window ledges,

my legs swinging and my thighs

spreading on the cold concrete,

absorbing the dust, the chill

and the crannies of the windowsills.


There will be no storeys,

no need for extensions or ladders.

My feet will be forever grounded,

my world will be smeared

and streaked with weather and bird-shit.


If I see suds, I will pop

each bubble,

one by one,

till there is nothing left to see

but a memory.


and Louisa Campbell

milkman 4


Delivery Song

The milk-white moon
holds a wispy finger
to his gentle mouth, whispers,
as I clink bottles on stone,
soft-step back to my float.

Puttle of tyres on road,
7, 9, 11, but not 13,
fox’s warrior stare,
hedgehog’s tippy-toddle,
all add their pulse to mine
as I long for the world to stay
like this forever: poised, hung-
over, quiet in ink blue,
ready for anything.


Sarah Miles runs Paper Swans Press and is co-founder of The Poetry Shelf along with Abegail Morley and Jill Munro.

Louisa Campbell‘s  poetry has appeared in journals including ProleAcumen, and Three Drops From a Cauldron. Her first pamphlet, The Happy Bus, is forthcoming with Picaroon Poetry.

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