News and Events

Poetry Competition 2024 NOW OPEN

Spring Festival 2024

Autumn Festival 2023

Poetry Competition 2023 RESULTS

Spring Festival 2023

Holland House Residential 2022

Holland House Residential 2019 feedback!

Poetry Competition 2022 (& earlier) Results

Mary MacRae ‘Access to Poetry’ Memorial Fund


Do you tutor or lead workgroups? We supply REMOTE WORKSHOPS:
Her Wings of Glass series      Fanfare series
and half-day workshops for individuals – Duo on ‘Endings’
by Anne Stewart and Sarah Westcott. More here

Holland House Residential – 2019, see Lynda O’Neill on why she “wouldn’t miss them for anything”

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Second Light Network, News and Events, Competition…

The latest general Newsletter was was sent out on 21st May 24. Please let us know if you are on the mailing list but not receiving. e-mail request. Still not coming through? Try ‘opt-in’ to receiving here.

Note, Members only: To submit News / Events items for e-notices or inclusion in ARTEMISpoetry Noticeboard, see Submit News Item.      Non-Members may submit poetry-related calls and competitions only. See more information here: Non-Members, calls and comps Newsletter deadlines are 15th of February, May, August and November for expected mail-outs around the ends of those months/beginning of next.
ARTEMISpoetry Issue 32, mailout date 13th May 2024. ARTEMISpoetry Issue 31, mailout date: 11th December 2023. If you are a member, subscriber, or contributor, and haven’t received your copy, please do let us know: advise by e-mail. Guidelines for submissions here.

News and Events


Second Light Poetry Competition for Long and Short Poems by Women 2024

Wendy French has agreed to judge the Second Light Poetry Competition 2024. As always, the theme is open, and first prizes are awarded in two categories: Short (50 lines or under) and Long (over 50 lines). 2nd & 3rd prizes may be from either category. Winners and Commended poets will notified by 30th September and the poems published in ARTEMISpoetry Issue 33 (November 2024), either in full or extract. This is one of very few competitions where poems previously published in a magazine only (in print or online) are eligible.
Wendy French has published four poetry books and one joint enterprise with Jane Kirwan: anecdotes, poems and memory, on the NHS. She works in various healthcare settings (one is the Royal Marsden Maggie’s Centre) where, with Audrey Ardern-Jones, they run writing workshops on themes relevant to today's society. She enjoys good prose and reading the work of others.

          £325 First Prize for each of Long (no upper limit) and Short (max 50 lines) poems
          £175 Second Prize (1 poem from either category)
          £100 Third Prize (1 poem from either category)
          Winning & Commended Poems published (in full or extract) in ARTEMISpoetry
          We aim to offer Winners a reading (may be online).
          Deadline Tuesday 6th August

Entry: £8 each per long poem. Short poems: £6 each or £11 for 3, £16 for 8. Enter by post (2 copies) or online.
**Members are entitled to one free entry into the competition.
Rules & Entry        pay at poetry p f online shop
The results will be posted on the website by 30th September.

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WED 15th to FRI 17th May 2024: Spring Festival Telling It Slant

Inventing tall tales, allegories, weird scenarios; recounting dreams we’ve not dreamt and visions we’ve not seen; adopting ‘personas’ and ‘voices’. Poets have been called ‘liars’ when only trying to get closer to elusive ‘truths’. What are the benefits in not ‘telling it straight’? Can imaginative approaches help in overcoming ‘blocks’ when dealing with difficult personal material or social issues? Can devising new angles of approach put fresh life into over-familiar subject-matter, give scope to playfulness and humour? Are there approaches, techniques, clever ways of achieving ‘distance’ (perhaps avoiding over-use of the ‘I’ word) which other poets have used successfully?
The festival is online, with three tutors exploring the theme in a variety of ways – Helen Ivory, Jacqueline Saphra and Sarah Westcott. Thursday afternoon Open Mic* Guest Poets are Helen Ivory and Eleanor Livingstone, and poems will also be read from Myra Scheider’s latest collection. Guest Poets at Friday’s Open Mic are Carole Coates and Susan Jordan
* Open Mic poets: women only, with priority to workshop participants and Members of Second Light. Men are welcome to attend.
See the workshop information, workshop leader profiles, and other details here (pdf file). Workshops are currently full but please let us know if you would like to be in the Reserve list, or if you would like to attend either of the two free readings.

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WED 22nd to FRI 24th November: Autumn Festival 2023 Living on the Edge

The ‘edge’ (literal and figurative) can act as a draw. This interest may attach to concrete landscapes (such as coasts, mountains, the borders between productive land and wilderness, the outskirts of cities) or to changes in nature such as the loss of habitat or species; or may involve exploration of mental ‘edginess’. In emotional terms the ‘edge’ suggests loss, isolation, destitution, marginalisation by others, or perhaps old age, illness, the end of life. It can also mean unusual, eye-opening, ‘spiritual’ experiences. These can be hard to express, inducing some writers to consider ‘edgier’ techniques (a different use of language, or layout on the page), which may or may not succeed.
The festival took place online, with three tuors exploring the theme – Helen Ivory, Jacqueline Saphra and Sarah Westcott. Our Guest Poets at the Open Mic readings included winners in the annual poetry competition: Kathy Miles & Jenny Hamlett, Justina Hart & Pat Marum, and Second Light members with new collections: Patricia Brody, Jenna Plewes, Belinda Singleton and Anne Stewart.

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Second Light Poetry Competition for Long and Short Poems by Women 2023 RESULTS

Our judge Myra Schneider has made her selection and all winners and commended poets have been contacted. ARTEMISpoetry Issue 31 includes the poems.

Myra Schneider has published 17 collections, the latest Siege and Symphony and Believing in the Planet. She has tutored for The Poetry School and Second Light and has published several guides to poetry writing.

Winning poems (or extracts) will soon be available to read here.

As always, the poems were judged anonymously. Adjudicator’s comment: “It was heart-warming to discover the very high standard of the entries and the seriousness of the subjects which women poets are tackling at this difficult time. Of course, this made it very hard to compile a long short list of about a hundred entries, reduce it twice and then pick winners, commended poems and poems for the final shortlist. Congratulations to the winners and everyone who entered the competition. ”

1st Prize, Long Poem Category: The Museum of Past Culture, Kathy Miles
1st Prize, Short Poem Category: When this is Over, Jenny Hamlett
2nd Prize, To the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London, Justina Hart
3rd Prize, My Mother was a Chinese Vase, Pat Marum
An archaeologist from the future excavates the present, Yvonne Baker
Mothering Sunday Lockdown 2020, Denise Bennett
Mr Crowther, Jeanette Burton
Retrospect, Katherine Gallagher
Becoming Limpet, Justina Hart
Afterlife, Ruth Sharman
Noah’s Wife, Anne Symons
The Best Days of Your Life, Cathy Grindrod
Visualisation, Jenny Hamlett
Soap, Justina Hart
Vanishing, Jenny King
In Coventry, 1940-1962, Gill Learner
Shepherd, Kathy Miles
Oniscus asellus, Judith Taylor
The Carers, Isobel Thrilling

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THU 18th to SAT 20th MAY: Spring Festival A Sense of Belonging

A sense of belonging (to places, families, and people who, in one sense or another, ‘speak the same language’) can be weakened or destroyed or restored. Large events (migrations, wars, natural disasters) and private suffering can make us feel ‘we don’t belong’. Whether writing about direct experience or empathising with others, the question of identity crops up – what it constitutes and how much importance we attach to it at, say, different times of our lives.
The festival took place online, with three tuors exploring the theme – Jean Atkin, Hannah Lowe and Jacqueline Saphra. Our Open Mic* events included readings from new collections by Guest Poets, Kate Foley, Caroline Maldonado, Alwyn Marriage and Maggie Sawkins.

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Mon 1st to Fri 5th August, 2022, Holland House Residential, Worcestershire: ‘Communication’

We had to restrict our numbers again this year (hopefully next year will see a return to normality) to circa 15 participants. Our Tutor this year was Mimi Khalvati, who has published nine collections with Carcanet, the latest Afterwardness, a book composed of Petrarchan sonnets, published Autumn, 2019. Her 2007 collection, The Meanest Flower, was shortlisted for the T S Eliot prize. Her many services to poetry include founding The Poetry School, extensive teaching/mentoring and judging many competitions and she has been a friend to Second Light for many years.
Our theme was Communication. A poem is a communication to others or, sometimes, it seems, to ourselves. The means and conventions have changed since the digital revolution. Lock-down has meant that communication (and non-communication) is forefront in our minds. We might now look afresh at how our poems communicate; perhaps can be finessed to communicate better. Who does a poem address? How does the type of addressee affect language and tone? Is this a ‘posh foolscap’ or ‘scrap of paper’ poem? How was it delivered to us? Do some poems seem to address the poet (in heard voices – human, animal, objects)? How do we achieve clarity and successfully signal the fragmentary messages coming to us?
The programme included group sessions for workshopping our own poems, readings from all participants, one-to-one help with PC/technical problems (Anne Stewart) and – always a great success – our traditional Fun Night, where we enjoy the lighter side of being a poet!

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Mon 15th to Fri 19th July 2019, Holland House Residential, Worcestershire – and see Lynda O’Neill on reasons to keep coming…

Location! Location! Location!. So the Estate Agents’ mantra goes – and poets make profound explorations of the ‘sense of place’… The course, exploring this theme, commenced with tea on arrival mid-afternoon on Monday and ended with a substantial lunch on Friday. In between, several workshops and presentations (Tutors/Presenters: Alison Brackenbury, Mimi Khalvati, Caroline Price, Myra Schneider, Dilys Wood, plus group workshopping sessions, readings from all participants, the Holland House poetry competition, one-to-one help with PC technical problems (Anne Stewart) and & – neither last nor least – our now traditional Fun Night…
It doesn’t stop there – course participant, Daphne Milne has taken on the editorial role for our annual mini-anthology of work arising from, or read or workshopped during, the week. This will be made available to Second Light Members when published, circa September this year.
In the meantime, Lynda O’Neill has sent a short article, Five Wonderful Days in Worcestershire, on why she returns again and again:
“I’ve been attending Second Light residential workshops for several years. I wouldn’t miss them for anything.
The Holland House staff make us very comfortable and the food is excellent. The house is near Evesham and the gardens are magnificent. They were at their best this year, possibly because we visited two weeks earlier than usual. I heard a lot of contented sighing about the flowers and trees leading down to the River Avon.
This year Mimi Khalvati, Caroline Price and Myra Schneider led workshops on ‘Location, Location, Location’. The sharing of work after exercises produces work of great possibility. Alison Brackenbury, one of the mystery guests, gave us very useful information on poetry magazines and submissions to them. Members contributed their experiences.
I always enjoy the daily five minute readings by poets. We hear work that is moving, funny, challenging, surreal. The evening where we read humorous poems reduces us to hysterical laughter and snortings, with much clutching of stomachs.
Another feature is the competition Dilys runs which she judges late at night. We hear the winners on Friday morning after a group exercise which is collaborative and often a source of great amusement.
An important aspect of the course is the support we get from one another. We have developed real friendships over the years through our conversations and poems. In the first two days I was touched to get four hugs from old friends. Each year we have new poets, and it’s good to see them return, as they often do.
It’s our practice to sit with different people at meals, but there are times when the presence of some of us (no names, no pack drill) results in there being a ‘noisy table’. This year at breakfast Kaye Lee mistook scrambled egg for porridge and returned from the buffet with a topping of several chunks of melon on hers. She soon realized her error and I’m glad to say that when we stopped guffawing, she laughed longest.
And as for the beauty of the hollyhocks, words fail me. For once.”
          … thank you, Lynda! And all at Holland House, for looking after us so well while we work! work! work! And, er, play…

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“As a trumpet-call of celebration, Fanfare is exactly the right title for this anthology. Adventurous … witty and moving, intelligent … these poems … will shock and delight you.”, Dr R V Bailey
The sky is full of cadences writes Sue Rose in her poem in this beautiful anthology, a fitting metaphor for the sheer range of topics and tones in these poems … ”, Hannah Lowe

Published in 2015, in ARTEMISpoetry Issue 20 (May 2018), we made an offer of free copies to book reading groups, in exchange for feedback from their discussions. We are delighted that the Kintyre Writers’ Circle took up our offer and have given us comment on the poems. Their letter (as follows) features in ARTEMISpoetry Issue 23.
     To: Editors, ARTEMISpoetry
     Kintyre Writers’ Circle were pleased to have the opportunity to read the recent publication, Fanfare. As you can imagine, different members of the group enjoyed different poems. We welcomed the diversity of topics and approaches of the writers.
     Some of the subject matter was disturbing in content and the writers dealt with this unflinchingly, while at the same time displaying empathy and some of their own pain. One of our group thought that Blackbird by Pascale Petit and Eli’s Book by Louise Green fitted this category.
     Another of our members particularly enjoyed Meteor by Deryn Rees-Jones particularly the change of pace in the middle of the stanza.
     We all enjoyed the irony of Antarctica to Temazepam by Maggie Sawkins, a particularly apt comment on today’s preoccupation with the need to have a specific amount of sleep at night.
     Many thanks for this chance to read so many good poets.
          Kintyre Writers’ Circle.

198pp, 167 poets, 241 poems… Fanfare is now out. Normal price is £12.95 plus p&p, but our introductory offer is for £10 including UK p&p (£9 to Second Light members; £12 to ROW).
Download the Order Form (pdf, Fanfare & Her Wings of Glass offers)
or buy at the Second Light online shop:    Second Light Members      Non-Members: to UK      to outside UK.
When is a change a revolution? Fanfare, the promised sister anthology to Her Wings of Glass (2014, see below), continues the celebration of one of the most seismic on-going developments ever to affect literature…
Poets in Fanfare: list 1 – those poets who are, or were, also members of Second Light; list 2 – those poets who are not members.
Alison Brackenbury * Alyss Dye * Angela Kirby * Ann Alexander * Ann Phillips * Ann Scorgie * Ann Segrave * Anna Avebury * Anne Boileau * Anne Ryland * Anne Stewart * Belinda Singleton * Bernie Kenny * Carole Coates * Caroline Carver * Caroline Maldonado * Carolyn O’Connell * Clare Crossman * Cynthia Fuller * Daphne Gloag * Daphne Schiller * Diana Moen Pritchard * Dilys Wood * Dorothy Ann Coventon * Dorothy Yamamoto * Eleanor Livingstone * Elisabeth Rowe * Elizabeth Burns * Fiona Owen * Gill Horitz * Gill Learner * Gill McEvoy * Gill Nicholson * Glynda Winterson * Harriet Proudfoot * Helen Hill * Hilary Davies * Hilary Jupp * Hylda Sims * Jane Kirwan * Jane McLaughlin * Jane Routh * Janet Fisher * Janet Lees * Janet Sutherland * Jean Harrison * Jean Watkins * Jemma Borg * Jenna Plewes * Jennifer A McGowan * Jenny Hamlett * Jenny Morris * Jill Eulalie Dawson * Jill Sharp * Jill Townsend * Jo Peters * Joan Michelson * Joan Sheridan Smith * Joy Howard * Judith Cair * Judith Wolton * Julie Sampson * Justina Hart * Kate Foley * Katherine Gallagher * Kathleen M Quinlan * Kathy Miles * Kay Syrad * Kaye Lee * Laurna Robertson * Linda Rose Parkes * Lorna Dexter * Lotte Kramer * Louise Green * Lucy Hamilton * Lynne Hjelmgaard * Lynne Wycherley * M R Peacocke * Maggie Norton * Maggie Sawkins * Margaret Beston * Margaret Eddershaw * Margaret Wilmot * Martha Street * Melinda Lovell * Mimi Khalvati * Moniza Alvi * Moya Pacey * Myra Schneider * Nancy Mattson * Pam Job * Pam Zinnemann‑Hope * Pat Marum * Pat Watson * Patricia Crittenden Bloom * Patricia Helen Wooldridge * Patricia Leighton * Pauline Keith * Penelope Shuttle * R V Bailey * Rebecca Hubbard * Rosie Miles * Rosy Wilson * Sarah Westcott * Shirley Wright * Sue MacIntyre * Sue Rose * Susan Jane Sims * U A Fanthorpe * Val Doyle * Victoria Pugh * Vivienne Tregenza * Wendy French * Wendy Klein * Yvonne Baker
Alison Hill * Angela Leighton * Anna Adams * Anne Caldwell * Anne Cluysenaar * Audrey Ardern‑Jones * Aviva Dautch * Barbara Cumbers * Beverly Hughes * Caroline Natzler * Carolyn Jess‑Cooke * Charlotte Gann * Denise Bennett * Deryn Rees‑Jones * Di Slaney * Fiona Ritchie Walker * Genista Lewes * Gillian Allnutt * Helen Jagger * Helen Moore * Helen Overell * Hilary Menos * Hilda Sheehan * Isabel Bermudez * Jackie Hinden * Jacqueline Gabbitas * Jane Duran * Jean Hall * Jo Roach * Joan Downar * Joanna Boulter * Kerry Darbishire * Kim Moore * Lara Frankena * Mandy Pannett * Marilyn Ricci * Mary MacRae * Michaela Ridgway * Pascale Petit * Rebecca Goss * Rennie Parker * Rose Cook * Rosie Jackson * S J Litherland * Seni Seneviratne * Sharon Morris * Sheila Hillier * Sue Aldred * Susanne Ehrhardt * Tracey Martin * U A Fanthorpe * Victoria Gatehouse * Victoria Kennefick *

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“I’m completely wowed … the most important anthology for decades”, John Killick
“tremendously inspiring”, Moniza Alvi        “an amazing anthology”, Pauline Stainer
“It’s a magnificent anthology (and I’m not just saying this because my mother’s face
peers at me from the cover!)”, Adam Horovitz
“I’m impressed”, Anne Stevenson

211pp, 134 poets, 237 poems… Her Wings of Glass (title from Sylvia Plath’s poem Stings) is now out. Normal price is £12.95 plus p&p, but we are continuing to offer it for £10 including UK p&p (£9 to Second Light members, £12 to non-members ROW).
Download the order form (pdf, Her Wings of Glass and Fanfare offers)
or buy at the online shop:    Second Light Members      Non-Members: to UK      to outside UK.
This anthology complements, but is not a repeat of, our previous anthology (with Arrowhead Books), Images of Women.
The focus is on women’s writing which deals with ‘big issues’, for example the future of the planet, good and evil aspects of our relationship with the natural world and with each other, different aspects of our imaginative understanding of ‘who we are’.
This is the first of two anthologies. Poems submitted were considered both for Her Wings of Glass and for Fanfare (out November 2015, see above).
A majority of poems chosen for Her Wings of Glass are by Second Light members past and present (see list 1) and an additional wide range of poets are included (list 2). Some factors outside the editors’ control – such as exceptionally high permission fees demanded for the use of published poems by some publishers and some women poets not wanting to be published in an all-woman anthology – prevented the anthology being fully representative of the talent of UK women poets. However, we were delighted by the numbers of superb poems submitted. The co-operation of Second Light’s membership has helped us greatly to offer a wide cross-section of exciting work which we think is a true reflection of ambition and achievement.
A C Clarke * Adele Ward * Alice Kavounas * Alison Brackenbury * Alyson Hallett * Angela Kirby * Angela Stoner * Ann Alexander * Anna Crowe * Anna Kisby * Anne Cluysenaar * Anne Ryland * Anne Stewart * Carol Beadle * Caroline Carver * Cheryl Moskowitz * Danielle Hope * Daphne Gloag * Denise Bennett * Denise McSheehy * Dilys Wood * Elizabeth Burns * Elizabeth Rapp * Gill Learner * Gill McEvoy * Helen Ivory * Hilary Davies * Hylda Sims * Isobel Thrilling * Jacqueline Gabbitas * Jane Mclaughlin * Jean Atkin * Jean Earle * Joan Poulson * Judith Cair * Judith Kazantzis * Judy Gahagan * June English * June Hall * Justina Hart * Kate Foley * Katherine Gallagher * Kay Cotton * Kay Syrad * Kim Moore * Lesley Quayle * Lotte Kramer * Lucy Hamilton * Lyn Moir * Lynne Wycherley * M R Peacocke * Maggie Butt * Maggie Sawkins * Maria Jastrzębska * Marion Tracy * Mary MacRae * Merryn Williams * Mimi Khalvati * Moniza Alvi * Myra Schneider * Nadine Brummer * Nancy Mattson * Penelope Shuttle * Pippa Little * R V Bailey * Rebecca Gethin * Rose Flint * Ruth Smith * S J Litherland * Sarah Westcott * Seni Seneviratne * Sharon Morris * Susanne Ehrhardt * Thelma Laycock * U A Fanthorpe * V Gatehouse * Victoria Pugh * Wendy French * Zeeba Ansari
Angela Leighton * Anna Adams * Anna Robinson * Anne Stevenson * Aviva Dautch * Caitriona O’Reilly * Carole Satyamurti * Caroline Price * Carrie Etter * Catherine Smith * Christine Evans * Clare Pollard * Deryn Rees‑Jones * Dinah Livingstone * Dorothy Nimmo * Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin * Elaine Feinstein * Esther Morgan * Fiona Sampson * Fleur Adcock * Frances Horovitz * Gillian Allnutt * Gillian Clarke * Gwyneth Lewis * Hannah Lowe * Helen Moore * Imtiaz Dharker * Jackie Kay * Jackie Wills * Jane Duran * Jane Griffiths * Jen Hadfield * Julia Darling * Kate Bingham * Katrina Porteous * Linda Black * Lorna Thorpe * Marie Naughton * Marita Over * Martha Kapos * Maura Dooley * Menna Elfyn * Pascale Petit * Pauline Stainer * Phoebe Hesketh * Polly Clark * Rebecca Goss * Róisín Tierney * Ruth Fainlight * Selima Hill * Sinéad Morrissey * Siobhan Logan * Susan Wicks * Vuyelwa Carlin

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Mary MacRae ‘Access to Poetry’ Memorial Fund

Second Light is pleased to continue management of this fund, whose purpose is to assist members on low income, and their travelling companions if required, to attend Second Light events by way of providing a modest sum towards travelling costs. The fund was started with a generous donation from the family of Mary MacRae, a fine poet and, until her death in 2009, an enthusiastic and supportive member of Second Light. For more details or to apply, see Second Light Mary MacRae ‘Access to Poetry’ Fund.

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A few photos from our Autumn Festival, 2008, where…

… a great time was had by all, sell out readings and workshops. Romanian participant, Elena Nistor, had her camera to hand…

Joan Waddleton, Maggie Norton

Maggie shows Joan how the coat fits …

Anne Ballard (speaker), Daphne Schiller, Anna Avebury

"and in this one here, look…"

Anne Stewart, Administrator

Something funny this way comes?

Pat Earnshaw and Hilary Llewellyn‑Williams

Discussing the finer points…

Penelope Shuttle, Kay Cotton

Cornwall meets Normandie; Penelope and Kay talk shop

Elena Nistor, Katherine Gallagher, Anne Stewart

Katherine takes the throne… Elena (on her right) directs the shot

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