Skip to main content
A Magazine for Sheffield

Sean Colletti / Philip Walsh / Tom Guest

52 1538059930
Rob Lee

We've got three poems for you this month and a whole range of great free literature events coming up in Sheffield this autumn.

We're particularly looking forward to hosting the Northern Slamhouse event on 19 October. If you've never been to a poetry slam before, it's a great chance to see why a movement started in 1980s America has spread across the globe. Watch out for the tenth birthday of Opus and Now Then on 30 November too. We'll be bringing some poets to the party.

Joe Kriss


Spoken Word Events

Off The Shelf On The Moor

Sat 6 Oct | 11am-3pm | The Moor | Free

Wordlife are helping to launch Off The Shelf Festival of Words with a pop-up tent on The Moor, featuring the best of Sheffield's local literature and music scene, including an open mic hosted by Gorilla.

Hive Verse Matters

Thu 11 Oct | 7:30pm | Theatre Deli | Free

Hive and Verse Matters team up for a special event as part of Off The Shelf, featuring Warda Yassin, Sophie Shepherd and an open mic for young and emerging writers.

Afua Hirsch

Thu 18 Oct | The Diamond | Free

Join Afua Hirsch for a discussion on her Sunday Times bestseller, Brit(ish). Presented by Our Mel, Festival of Debate and The University of Sheffield as part of MelaninFest.

The Northern Slamhouse

Fri 19 Oct | 7:30pm | DINA | Free

The biggest poetry slam in South Yorkshire. Watch poets slug it out to be named The Northern Slamhouse slam champion and win a £50 cash prize. Email to sign up.

Ruskin Museum Makeover

Sat 20 Oct | 2-9pm | Meersbrook Hall | Free

John Ruskin, the Victorian writer, thinker and philanthropist, is being celebrated at an event at Meersbrook Hall. The exhibition is open 2-4pm, then from 7pm poem films commissioned by Wordlife will be projected onto the front of the building.

Dad's Dad

I always revered him as an exotic enigma.

perhaps selling sports cars in Monaco. or

skimming rocks in the Outer Hebrides

on a postcard I longed to receive.

his two-syllable name rarely tapped

mom and dad's teeth. an air of hushes.

palms pressed into drum-skin.

muffled noise. the note had ended.

there were birthday cards. a yearly dabble

of his affection for us. some abstract noun

found by the circling of his pen.

his feelings were concrete.

vacancy glazed dad's eyes.

some forgotten face he used to know

pushed hand through soil.

grabbed the scruff of his neck.

breaks in his smiled-sadness.

an involuntary huff.

the final crack in his veneer

when burying something surfaced.

tossed about his bedside. other cards

stood looking back on him. supine.

caught in a snare of suppressed memories

like some floundering fish.

somewhere between

my first and nineteenth year.

dad's dad resurfaced. came into

our lives. time-traveller.

armed with gin-flavoured-fables.

a collage for the album I'd set aside for him.

or perhaps his question mark shoulders turned face

in a plea for help.

the cancer had hollowed him out. cored

his innards. termites tearing through

a tree trunk. lit his bellyache like a

Christmas tree we couldn't decorate.

seventy-one years of life

pinned to hospice bedding

for the three months

I knew him.

I yearned for incantation.

fire and chanting to fix his rotten belly.

allow the lumbar of his back to peel away

from the pavement like a wet sock.

he was lighting roll-ups. pouring red.

still ill. ink-running through

the Birthday cards. mopped by my hand.

buried into dad's shoulder.

Tom Guest

The Stars Are Still With Us

So I can feel again

the changing texture of light,

how it thickens to hold off hurt,

or rolls

like blown glass


moss on beech-bark,

fungi on woodland floor,

plundered nests

wedged in leaf-fall,

you must

rise from your bed,

unhook your drain and leave behind

the neighbours you never invited,

shut for good the door prised open

like a wound in the night,

leaving you

in no man's land

between a dismal night light

and the near dark,

unable to see

or be seen, unable to distinguish

angels from ghosts.

If something holds you back.

walk to the window of your tall glass tower,

take in the unsurpassable view

of this city; note

after just a moment

at this height how this morning's

pale liquid light spills over lives

still being lived, lives somehow

to be made numinous again.

Note too the stars

are still with us, bleached out

for now behind our local star,

but that at some point we'll be able

to trace the light back to the path

which brought us here:

back to

slow, sad waltzes round the kitchen table

as the nights draw in,

to living faithful

only to the season we wake in,

happy to watch autumn undress

deaf to the threat she'll never return;

trace it back to the lacerating kisses

of hailstones and the beauty

of winter trees;

to Inish Mor

on a day to die for,

freewheeling our bikes into the Atlantic,

only her salt-breezes holding us back.

Trust we'll watch it fall again

on our garden

and know that sacred feeling

sitting first thing with a mug of tea,

the silence in the branches,

the soil warming beneath us,

the earth still buoyant below.

Philip Walsh

Extract from Saeculum

We rehearse our parting

like a stage performance

or farewell tour, where we

play all our greatest hits from

memory. We allow ourselves

one cover song but disagree

on which Radiohead closer,

because you like Amnesiac

more than anyone should.

Have you even listened to

the version of "Videotape"

that's on From the Basement?

When the show is over and

the audience congratulates us,

I play an encore in my head:

you sitting across from me with

a bottle of Mexican beer and

a hand occasionally covering a smile.

We follow each other backstage,

our teeth bouncing off each other.

Sean Colletti

Next article in issue 127

More Wordlife

Jim Ottewill Out of Space

Author Jim Ottewill's new book is a fantastic exploration of clubs, their associated cultures and the sanctuary they still give to generations of the nation's youth in good times and bad.

Helen Mort A Line Above the Sky – Q&A

In advance of her book launch and conversation with rock climber Shauna Coxsey MBE at the Festival of Debate on 23rd April, Helen Mort talks to Rachel Bower about mountains, motherhood and women's bodies.

Own Your Period by Chella Quint

While Chella Quint’s guide to periods for pre-teens may challenge conservative parents, it is vital and inclusive in a revolutionary way.

More Wordlife