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Irene James

... was born and raised in Newcastle upon Tyne, and taught there for ten years before moving to Bishop’s Stortford where she currently lives.

She was a lecturer with the Open University for sixteen years, leaving in 2009 to devote more time to writing. One of her poems was a runner up in the 2009 Mere Literary Festival. In that same year she studied on the first Faber Academy course ‘Becoming a Poet’ with work published in an anthology at the end of the course.

Her poems are inspired by current events, works of art and foreign travel.



Short Story


The pier steps out in an elegant line

delicate as lace.

Along its length, the slender rails

set out to trace

a record of a love; a life; a loss,

small histories,

bound and kept, the memory saved.

Each miniature plaque,

worked in brass, with name and date,

describes the briefest narrative – 

retold and set to music

by both wind and wave.  




He’d thought carefully about the music. Something soothing and harmonic, without sudden surprises; a piece by Bach perhaps. She was nearby, busy with her breakfast. He began playing. She stopped; then moved towards the sound, cautious because of her blindness. Near the piano she stood still, listening intently. He continued, un-intimidated by her massive bulk and close proximity. But the irony wasn’t lost on him as his fingers gently stroked the surface of the ivory keys.  




December Day  


By the sides of the lane leaves lie

abandoned, autumn glamour gone                                                                                

in the chill of a winter’s day.                                                                                         

The tractor tracks are stiff with frost                                                                             

and there’s ice in the furrows;                                                                           

they give way under our feet                                                                                         

with a satisfying crunch.                                                                                    


In the distance the frozen trees                                                                                     

stand vague and forgetful, stranded                                                                               

by time, mist trapped in their branches.                                                                         

High above crows circle in a

slow dance, wings like rags, black flags

to mark the passing of the

waning year; but not much moves.                                                                                            


Then by the path, I’m distracted – 

a fox – at the top of the rise,

hard-edged as a Bewick woodcut

and black against the opal sky,

head close to the ground, sniffing

out his quarry. Untroubled,

he turns, taking in my gaze


and, tail to the wind,

he breaks free of the frame,

flying through open space. ©



Amble Beach

Chain-links and a brick wall ring-fence the caravans

where they once roamed free across the  headland.

You could race through the grass

to the top of  the cliff and the Sea View caff,

rubbed from the landscape now – like the pit shaft.


The wind runs the sea grass ragged,

stripping sand from the dunes

paring away time –

the beach a shadow,

ribs bare in the fading light.


But sea coal still strings the shoreline,

black-jet nudged smooth by the waves

and rocks stretch out their bones

leaving space for barnacles to gather

between the slither of emerald weed.


In the pools where anemones cling

blood-red as vital organs, shadow fish dart.

Here, then gone. Like a memory –

three sisters

trailing ribbons of seaweed

squinting into the sun. ©






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