The Lost Book of Barkynge

I was so excited about this week’s publication of my first full collection The Lost Book of Barkynge that I almost forgot to post about it here. Ironic really, as the collection is fundamentally an act of remembering. A foregrounding of women’s voices, lost from the historical record. The book traces the history of Barking Abbey (in what we would now call east London) through the voices of the abbesses, nuns, and local women, who lived there during the nine centuries of its existence. And so, on publication day, I returned to the ruins of the abbey.

As you enter from Abbey Road, with the River Roding at your back, there is a substantial sign orienting you in both time and space, a sign which mentions quite a few prominent men connected with the abbey’s past, some quite tangentially, but which abjectly fails to mention a single one of the many significant women who called Barking home, not even the founding abbess Æthelburh. It is coincidental but fitting, that this book was released during Women’s History Month as there remains a continued need to re-tell women’s history, not least because of the continued forgetting and trivialising of the lives of our foremothers.

At the close of my collection, there is a poem constructed out of the names of the final nuns and abbesses of Barking found in records of pensions granted at the time of the Dissolution, which I recited to the stones and the parakeets. I have a longer essay forthcoming about my journey writing this collection (of which more details later) but for now I’ll leave you with their names…

∞  Elizabeth Badcok  ∞  Margery Ballard  ∞  Elizabeth Banbrik  ∞  Dorothy Barley  ∞  Margaret Bramston  ∞  Agnes Buknam  ∞  Margaret Cotton  ∞  Joan Drurye  ∞  Martha Fabyan  ∞  Dorothy Fitzlewes  ∞  Joan Fyncham  ∞  Matilda Gravell  ∞  Margaret Grenehyll  ∞  Agnes Horsey  ∞  Alice Hyde  ∞  Thomasina Jenney  ∞  Margaret Kempe  ∞  Lucy Long  ∞  Audrey Mordaunt  ∞  Winifred Mordaunt  ∞  Margery Paston   ∞  Katharine Pollard  ∞  Elizabeth Prist  ∞  Margaret Scrowpe  ∞  Gabriel Shelton  ∞  Anne Snowe  ∞  Suzanna Suliarde  ∞  Agnes Townesend  ∞  Mary Tyrell  ∞  Ursula Wentworth  ∞  Elizabeth Wyott  ∞

With huge thanks to Shearsman Books for giving the nuns of Barking a new home.

…at the printers

I have been back in the Paekakariki workshop, preparing this handmade, limited edition of Menalhyl, poems about the last year of my mum’s life. It’s been good fun playing with lead type and uncooperative deckle edge paper! The poems were first published in Long Poem Magazine, and the cover art is by Ezra Waterman-Wiggins. Ezra also illustrated my Paekakariki pamphlet, a handful of string. The print run was only 45 copies, and each comes in its own printed envelope (see final image). All hand-sewn by yours truly.

With huge thanks to Matt:

desk bears

The lovely Irish magazine, Skylight 47 asked me to write an essay for their latest issue about how I came to write Playing the Bear: a sequence of poems about bears, virgin goddesses and women’s resilience in the wild, see here for more:

Sorisomoon – bookshop, Jeju island

Love the name of this bookshop, whose components are sound and rumour. Trying to find it, you could be forgiven for thinking it was indeed just a rumour as you twist down some narrow and seemingly nowhere roads, until you find what looks like a house but which opens its doors onto the loveliest shop, which, though tiny, offers many beautiful books, a desk (topped with a copy of the Aeneid), a reading area, and a wall of wrapped books, whose wrappings give just a flavour but no hint as to their contents: a lucky dip carefully curated by the owners for those days when you just don’t know how to choose…

…gosh, has it been a whole year?

a sudden shower



pixie cups


(red-fruiting cladonia)



(Scots pine in the midsummer half-light, Lui Water)