Name: Deborah Harvey

Place of Birth: The Salvation Army Hospital for Unmarried* Mothers on Ashley Hill, Bristol. It later became a Witts Wonderloaf factory, for a different sort of bun in the oven.
*My mother will kill me if I don’t add that actually, she was married.
Please describe what you do in “the poetry world.”
I write poems, and sometimes inflict them on listeners and readers. I’ve been fortunate enough to have three collections of poetry – Communion (2011); Map Reading for Beginners (2014) and Breadcrumbs (2016) – published by Indigo Dreams Publishing, and a historical novel, Dart, which appeared under their Tamar Books imprint in 2013.
Where do you live now?
On the northernmost edge of Bristol, where, apart from the 1980s when I made an ultimately doomed attempt to escape, I’ve spent my entire life. Bloody great tap roots, see?
What puts a genuine smile on your face?
Lacing up my walking boots.
What keeps you awake at night?
Terror. I’ve recently learnt to bore myself to sleep, however.
Which living poet do you most admire? 
I think Alice Oswald is extraordinary.
Which dead poet do you most admire?
Any poet who kept writing despite the threat to their life. Pablo NerudaFederico Garcia LorcaAnna Akhmatova, to name a few.
What irritates you most about yourself?
A lack of energy. I’m also pretty avoidant.
What irritates you most about others? 
When people dismiss poetry because they think there’s something about it you need to ‘get’ in order to read it. They don’t realise all you have to do is walk into a poem and make yourself at home.
What has been your finest hour? 
More moments, really – when something I’ve written really connects with someone and they are kind enough to come up to me and tell me.
What’s your favourite album / CD?
At the moment I’m spending a lot of time driving around in a blur of tears listening to Leonard Cohen. (If you see me coming, best jump out of the way.) I also especially love ‘Low’ and ‘Heroes’ by David Bowie. (Frankly, 2016 has been devastating.)
What’s your favourite indulgence? 
Books. And bookcases.
What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
Um …. I think it was a livestream of Hamlet starring Maxine Peake which wasn’t live and wasn’t really a film but I did see it in the cinema.
What is your favourite poem?
Right now, today, it’s ‘Yesterday Lost’ by Ivor Gurney. More generally, ‘Meeting the British’ by Paul Muldoon and ‘Lightenings viii’ by Seamus Heaney. And then there’s ‘Rain-Charm for the Duchy’ by Ted Hughes because that’s my landscape. Oh, and T S Eliot’s ‘Journey of the Magi’. But ask me tomorrow and it might well be ‘The Wild Braid’ by Stanley Kunitz, or U A Fanthorpe’s ‘Earthed’, or ‘Morning Song’ by Sylvia Plath. (In short, this is an impossible question.)
Where would you most like to go on holiday?
Anywhere that’s an island. (It needs to be dog-friendly too.)
If you ran the Arts Council what would you really want to do?
Get up, make myself a cup of tea, read a few pages of poetry and then try to drop off again, thinking soothing thoughts.
Do you like shopping in malls? 
My younger son drags me to Cribbs Causeway once a year to buy his Christmas present. I acquiesce because I love him THAT MUCH.
Least favourite kind of art event to go and see? 
Opera. It actually hurts my ears. I think I must be half-dog with super-sensitive hearing.
How often do you write poetry? 
When I can. When I can’t not. I don’t get to dictate.
How often do you read poetry?
I dip into at least one or two poetry books a day, and generally have a few on the go at any one time. Less often, I’ll read a collection right through, especially ones written around a theme or story.
What single thing would make your creative life easier?
Not needing to do the day job.
Where do you want to be this time next year?
Writing my way into a new collection instead of just pottering around the edges.
Do you believe in life after a bad gig?
Still ’ere, me babber.
Do you believe in life after death?
Lots of lives, lots of deaths.
How would you like to be remembered? 
Not fussed, really. I’d like my kids to remember me relatively fondly, though.
Name: Lloyd Fletcher
Place of Birth: Birmingham, England
Please describe what you do in “the world.”
I teach subjects in organisation and management at the university of Bristol, in the School of Economics, Finance, and Management.
What is your role on the Poetry Can Board?
I chair the board of trustees.
Where do you live now?
What puts a genuine smile on your face?
Someone says they really enjoyed my cooking, or my teaching, or my poetry, or an idea I came up with out of nowhere. Seeing someone else overcome a difficult challenge.
What keeps you awake at night?
Wrestling into submission some problem or doubt.
Which living poet do you most admire? 
Which dead poet do you most admire?
What irritates you most about yourself?
Being irritated by traits or behaviours for no obvious logical reason.
What irritates you most about others? 
See above. Also, self-destructive procrastination; not taking advantage of opportunities. People who talk but don’t listen.
What has been your finest hour to date? 
On stage at Follies3, the student satirical review, at Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh, in 1992.
What’s your favourite album / CD?
Entertainment, by Gang of Four
What’s your favourite indulgence? 
A good whiskey or an interesting ale.
What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
What is your favourite poem? 
“One for the Road”, by Neal Bowers
Where would you most like to go on holiday? 
If you ran the Arts Council what would you really want to do?
Negotiate a huge legacy trust so that it can fund itself henceforth and not depend on central government.
Do you like shopping in malls? 
Depends on the mall. But in general, I’d rather shop an interesting high street, market, or cluster of independent shops.
Least favourite kind of art event to go and see? (Please don’t say a poetry reading!)
Large conceptual installations that make me feel like I’m missing something.
Do you write poetry yourself? 
How often do you read poetry?
At least weekly.
What single thing would make your creative life easier?
More quiet time to spend on reading, thinking, and writing. Poetry publishers with a faster turnaround!
Where do you want to be this time next year?
With more writing credits, and someone interested in publishing my first collection.
Do you believe in life after a bad day / gig?
Of course.
Do you believe in life after death?
How would you like to be remembered after you’re gone?
“That bloke was alright.”
Name: Anne Le Maistre
Place of Birth: Adelaide, Australia
Please describe what you do in “the world.”
Currently doing a part-time MA in History at the University of Bristol as a career swerve after a decade in administration for a small charity. Previous careers include telephone engineering, product management, and full-time parenting.
What is your role on the Poetry Can Board?
Treasurer. I was recruited to keep the finances ticking over while others provide the creativity.
Where do you live now?
Bristol city centre
What puts a genuine smile on your face?
A beautiful view after a steep climb. An unexpected hug from a teenager. Superb ice cream with intriguing flavours (try Swoon on College Green).
What keeps you awake at night?
Nothing — but I do grit my teeth and brace myself before listening to the headlines in the morning.
Which living poet do you most admire? 
Roger McGough because he mesmerized my then three year old son at a poetry reading and twinkled at him when my son giggled at the punch line a good 30 seconds after the rest of the audience.
Which dead poet do you most admire?
Aphra Behn, one of the first English women to earn her living from writing.
What irritates you most about yourself?
My impatience, particularly with loved ones. If you’re related to me, you’re supposed to be able to understand exactly what I mean when I say it, right?
What irritates you most about others? 
When someone hijacks a meeting for no better reason than to hear the sound of their own voice.
What has been your finest hour to date? 
The first, and not quite only, time I went sky diving I set the course record for the largest miss of the drop zone — they had to send out cross-country runners to find me!
What’s your favourite album / CD?
Boys Want Sex in the Morning by Uncle Bonsai (obscure American folk). The title song always makes me laugh!
What’s your favourite indulgence? 
Eating out — we’re just spoilt for choice in this city. I’m still exploring Cargo in Wapping Wharf and expect to spend the summer eating my way through Cargo 2.
What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
St Joan (if National Theatre Live counts); Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them otherwise.
What is your favourite poem? 
Jjajja by Vanessa Kisuule. It’s the only poem that has ever moved me to tears.
Where would you most like to go on holiday?
The Arctic Circle to see the Northern Lights.
If you ran the Arts Council what would you really want to do?
Put much more focus on small community focused organizations and on institutions outside London.
Do you like shopping in malls? 
Only if I’ve got a clear list and want to get it done with maximum efficiency.
Least favourite kind of art event to go and see? (Please don’t say a poetry reading!)
The kind of contemporary art installation where you can’t tell if the fire extinguisher in the corner is part of the work.
Do you write poetry yourself? 
How often do you read poetry?
Er, I don’t! But I do go to hear it performed at least six times a year.
What single thing would make your creative life easier?
Being able to resist the lure of the internet and the false belief that one more news story will make me well informed.
Where do you want to be this time next year?
Just about where I am now but with a dissertation well underway.
Do you believe in life after a bad day / gig?
Life never stops, even when we really want it to take a break.
Do you believe in life after death?
No, I think we need to give this life our best shot.
How would you like to be remembered after you’re gone?
I’ll be pleasantly surprised to be remembered at all — or to be able to tell that someone, anyone, has remembered me!

september 12 - september 19

Web Collage

Romola Garai     Menna Elfyn    Tamar Yoseloff    David Briggs    Katy Evans-Bush    Shamshad Khan    Tim Gibbard

Simon Armitage   Glenn Carmichael & Claire Williamson    Ellie Evans     Sophie Hall     Damian Furniss     Roddy Lumsden

Douglas Dunn    Anna Freeman    Katharine Towers       Phil Bowen      Nick Moore     Vanessa Kisuule     Lucy English

Ben Mellor    Owen Sheers        Chris Redmond      Sara-Jane Arbury     Sean O'Brien      Jonathan Davidson       

Rebecca Tantony      James Bunting       Ann Grey       Michael Wilson      David Woolley       Rachael Boast




Poetry Can needs your support

As everybody knows, times are hard... Poetry Can is producing remarkable work in increasingly difficult circumstances, like all arts

organisations we have suffered our share of cuts in funding over the last few years, and there are more on the way.


Just to give you an idea of some of our costs:

  • the average cost of an event at Bristol Poetry Festival would be £750;
  • placing a poet in a school for a morning or an afternoon would cost £150;
  • a poet working for a morning, an afternoon or an evening with a community group would also cost £150.


If you are able to make a donation, however small, to Poetry Can's ongoing programme, please do, it will put to very good use.

             Audience   Simon Armitage   Sally Jenkinson   Claire Williamson 


Poetry Can is a registered charity and exists thanks to the involvement, support, enthusiasm and generosity of public bodies such as

the Arts Council, England, Bristol City Council, South Gloucestershire County Council, and charitable trusts and private individuals.

We aim to increase opportunities for everyone to participate in and enjoy poetry and to support the creative and professional development of

poets of all ages and levels of experience particularly in the South West of England.

We present and support a range of high profile events each year, including the Bristol Poetry Festivals.

We provide advice, information and support to individual poets and poetry enthusiasts, groups, agencies and organisations through our website,

monthly e-bulletin, individual poetry surgeries, and by responding to face-to-face, telephone and e-mail enquiries enquiries.


We initiate work in which poetry's role in lifelong learning is explored and extended, Poetry Can has organised poetry projects and activities with

a wide range of community based groups and organisations, here is a small example of the  groups and organisations we have worked with:

schools, colleges, libraries, museums, prisons; projects with children and young people; Bristol Refugee organisations; Young Parents;

Afro-Caribbean communities; people with disabilities; people with dementia; Elders of the Chinese community in Bristol; groups in communities of

particular identified need in Bristol, Bath and South Gloucestershire; People dealing with grief; Carers groups, Young Women who self-harm.


Bristol Skyline at Sunset



If you would like to support us, please consider making a donation towards our ongoing programme.

To make a donation, please follow the links below to fill in a postal donation form or to make an online donation by PayPal.

Our donation form includes a Gift Aid declaration: completing it will allow the Poety Can to reclaim tax on your donation.


If you are considering making a substantial donation and would like more information from us before you do so, or if you would like to make a

payment by BACS please contact Poetry Can Director.

Colin Brown

12 Great George Street



Tel: 0117 933 0900

Your donation will be acknowledged (unless you would prefer it to be anonymous) on the Poetry Can website


To donate to Poetry Can using Gift Aid you can download a form here:

Gift Aid .pdf format    or    Gift Aid .doc format

then fill it in and send it to Poetry Can with your donation cheque.


To keep in touch with The Poetry Can and poetry activities in the South West of England please download a donation form:

In .pdf format    or    In .doc format

and then send it, with your cheque payable to The Poetry Can, to:

The Poetry Can, 12 Great George Street, Bristol, BS1 5RH


Or use this link to simply donate by PayPal (you can donate vis a debit or credit card, you do not need a PayPal account)








Information on this website is made available with permission of parties concerned or is already in the public domain.

All information on this site is accurate to the best of our knowledge at time of publishing.

For listed / live events please check with the venue or organiser to ensure that there have been no last minute changes.

All content of this site is copyright of Poetry Can or the organisation/individual posting the information.

Poetry Can accepts no liability or responsibility for misfortune or misadventure arising from using the information on this website.


This site contains "cookies," a tracking mechanism that allows us to understand how people use the site so that we can most effectively deliver information to our users. Absolutely no personal information is collected or stored through these cookies. The only information stored is a random, unique identifier that tracks the browser during a user's session.

Clearing Cookies

Should you decide you want to clear the cookies in your web browser, then the following instructions should help you:

Google Chrome

  1. Click the "wrench" icon in the top right-hand corner and select "Options." 
  2. In the "Under the Hood" tab, click the "Clear browsing data..." button (make sure that "Delete cookies and other site data" is selected). 
  3. Click on "Clear browsing data." 
  4. Exit and relaunch the browser.

Internet Explorer

  1. On the Internet Explorer Tools menu, click "Internet Options." 
  2. The Internet Options box should open to the General tab. 
  3. On the General tab, in the Browsing History section, click the "Delete…" button. 
  4. In the "Delete Browsing History" window that comes up, make sure that "Cookies" are selected. 
  5. Click the "Delete" button and restart the browser.

Mozilla Firefox

  1. Click "Tools" and select "Clear Recent History." 
  2. Make sure that "Cookies" are selected. 
  3. Click on "Clear Now." 
  4. Exit and relaunch browser.


We welcome your questions and comments about online privacy. Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.


Our Patrons: Penelope Shuttle, Lucy English 


Penelope Shuttle

Penelope Shuttle

"I’ve had the pleasure of reading at Bristol Poetry Festival, and to have attended readings by other

poets there. In addition, my daughter lives in Bristol, so I am well acquainted with the city, and am

aware how much Poetry Can adds to the vitality and range of cultural life in the city.

I am now a Patron of Poetry Can, and am honoured by this. I’m very happy to add my voice to those

many voices supporting and praising the organisation. Poetry Can is a long-established poetry

organisation which is highly-regarded through the UK. My experience as a reader for the festival is

that their administration is of the highest quality, and a reader is made most welcome.

I shall be reading from my New And Selected Poems at the Spring Festival next year, and am

eagerly anticipating my visit."

  Penelope Shuttle was born in Staines in 1947 and has lived in Falmouth, Cornwall since 1970. She was married to the poet Peter

Redgrove who died in 2003, after several years of ill-health. Since Penelope's first collection of poems, The Orchard Upstairs, appeared

from Oxford University Press in 1981, she has published a further seven collections plus a Selected Poems. Her eighth collection,

Redgrove’s Wife (Bloodaxe Books), 2006, was short-listed for The Forward Prize and for The T S Eliot Award. Her ninth collection,

Sandgrain and Hourglasswas published in October 2010, (Bloodaxe Books). She has received a Radio Times Drama Bursary Prize,

the Greenwood Poetry Prize, an Eric Gregory Award, three Arts Council Awards, an Authors’ Foundation Grant.

In 2007 she received a Cholmondeley Award from The Society of Authors. She is a tutor for The Poetry School, The Arvon Foundation,

Second Light Network and Ty Newydd.

Penelope's new book, Unsent: New & Selected Poems 1980-83 will be published by Bloodaxe Books in  October 2012.



Penelope Shuttle - To a Singing Master

Oxfam, Marlybone St, 2009


Penelope Shuttle at the Tai Chi Village Hall

May 2008

Click covers below to purchase books

Unsent - New and Seleceted Works   Sandgrain and Hourglass   Redgrove's Wife

Unsent - New and Selected Works

  Sandgrain and Hourglass   Redgrove's Wife



Lucy English

Lucy English

"I am delighted to be a patron of Poetry Can. Poetry Can is central to promoting and developing poetry

and spoken word throughout the South West. As a lecturer in creative writing I am keen to foster creative

talent and for my students to realise that poetry is not something written by dead people and found only

in books.

As a practicising poet I appreciate the events and festival that Poetry Can features in this area. Poetry is

a live force and it is unstoppable! Just a quick flick through the 'events' section of the Poetry Can website

reveals the range of talent featured in this area and the level of support it offers to the poetic community."

 Lucy English was born in Sri Lanka and grew up in England. She studied English and American Literature at the University of East Anglia,

and later obtained an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University.

She has published three novels: Selfish People (1998), set in contemporary Bristol; Children of Light (1999); and Our Dancing Days

(2000), set in a Suffolk commune in the 1970s. She became a performance poet after first winning the Bristol Poetry Slam in 1996, and

has since gone on to tour worldwide, performing her poetry at several international festivals including the Austin International Poetry

Festival, and Wordfest, at Calgary in Canada. Her poetry has also been published in a variety of anthologies.

In 2003 she co-ordinated the International Conference in the writing and practice of performance poetry at Bath Spa University. In 2005

she was one of the poets on the Temptation Tour and in 2006 was artistic director of Apples and Snakes Poetry Tour, Exposed. In 2007,

she was a finalist in the first BBC Radio 4 Poetry Slam.

Her latest publication "Why I'm Here" is a collaboration with the photographer Sally Mundy. Lucy English is a lecturer in Creative Writing

at Bath Spa University College, and was Royal Literature Fellow at the University of Cardiff Institute during 2007-08.



Lucy English at Apples and Snakes



Lucy English at Calgary and Banff Lit

Fest 2006


Lucy English Cheltenham Literature

Festival 2008


 Poetry Can's first patron was Dennis O'Driscoll

Dennis O'Driscoll (1954 -2012)

Poetry Can was very sad to learn of the death of Dennis O'Driscoll on Christmas Eve, 2012.

Dennis, of course, made a remarkable and very beautiful contribution to poetry, he was a poet, editor, critic, reader and ambassador. 

He was also a patron of Poetry Can.

Dennis was born in Thurles, County Tipperary in 1954. He published nine extradordinary books of poetry including: Weather Permitting,

Exemplary Damages, and Reality Check. Troubled Thoughts, Majestic Dreams the first collection  of his poetry essays and reviews showed

just what a talented, insightful, engaging and inspiring critic he was.

The Bloodaxe Book of Poetry Quotations is an eminently entertaining (and useful) collection of quotes on the love, the art and craft,

the business and many other aspects of poetry and could be the inspiration for a thousand or more poetry workshops. Stepping Stones:

Interviews with Seamus Heaney by Dennis O' Driscoll is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful, enjoyable and absorbing books

about a poet, and about poetry, ever written. Stepping Stones '  was a project that could probably only have been completed by

Dennis O'Driscoll, he clearly and certainly inspired Seamus Heaney and this book has become an important part of Heaney's oeuvre.

Dennis's latest collection Dear Life showed him on top form and offering fresh and highly original takes on working and ageing, loving

and dying, God and Mammon all in the everyday, touchable world. 

 Dennis was also a wonderfully entertaining reader of his poetry as anyone lucky enough to have been at one of his readings will confirm.

 I will remember him for all these poetry things but also, and especially, for his kindness, his generosity, his modesty and his wisdom. 

I will keep warmly the memories of the unfortunately few times I spent with him.

If grief is inevitably always a very private and individual experience, it's also something we all have to go through at sometime or other

and there's solidarity in that, our thoughts go out to Dennis O'Driscoll's loved ones, particularly his wife, the poet Julie O'Callaghan. 


Colin Brown

Director, Poetry Can

Dennis O'Driscoll  (1954 - 2012)

"Bristol, like Blackpool, has its illuminations. Those in Blackpool emanate, of course, from the resort’s famous ‘festival of light’, whereas

in Bristol it is the city’s festival of poetry, and the extraordinary year-round work performed by Poetry Can, that generate the energy,

excitement and – yes – illumination that have made Poetry Can known and admired, well beyond the South West, as a beacon of

inspiration, a  shining example of limited resources used to maximum artistic and public benefit. In these times of relentless cutbacks

and budget slashes, Poetry Can deserves every possible support from donors. Although I live in Ireland, the light from Poetry Can has

reached my shores; and I have long been struck by the unwavering commitment to poetry and the unflagging zest of the Poetry Can

team. In becoming a patron, I hope to spread the light further by lending my voice to appeals for support for Poetry Can. To allow its

vision to dim, even a little, would be a great loss not just to the South West but to an essential art at which Britain has always excelled."

Dennis O’Driscoll poet, essayist, critic, and editor, was born in Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland in 1954.

He has written three chapbooks, nine books of poetry, including New and Selected Poems(2004) (a Poetry Book Society Special

Commendation), and Reality Check(2007), and a collection of essays and reviews:Troubled Thoughts, Majestic Dreams, (2001).

He has also edited and compiled contemporary quotations about poets and poetry: The Bloodaxe Book of Poetry Quotations (2006),

and has published a book of his dialogues with Seamus Heaney: Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney (2008).

Among his awards are a Lannan Literary Award in 1999, the 2005 E.M. Forster Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters 

and the 2006 O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry. A new poetry collection, Dear Life, is scheduled to appear in May 2012. His second

collection of essays and reviews will also appear this year.

Click on covers below to purchase books 

Reality Check   New and Selected Works   Bloodaxe Book of Poetry Quotations   Stepping Stones - conversations with Seamus Heaney
Reality Check   New and Selected Poems  

The Bloodaxe Book of Poetry Quotations

  Stepping Stones: interviews with Seamus Heaney