Poetry Performances

Marcie Winstanley

My name is Marcie Winstanley, I am a poet, student and community activist. I have lived in the North East all my life and am passionate about peace, poetry and connecting communities through shared heritage and stories.

Footprints in the tapestry of time


Time passes for all whose footprints walk the hills

Beyond. Who saw the fading winter

Morning as they trod softly?


Who watched the rain, light in the

Coming spring or wildflowers

As summers touch unfurled their petals?


Time watched. Watched the leaves drop.

And drift. Summer blown away by a breeze and

The misty twilight firelight where time sits


And remembers. Hestia fireside goddess

Watched and is watching and will watch footprints

Of the firelight shadows and time’s stories

By flickering firelight.


Your myth echoes. Intertwined. Like twisted plants.

And in the firelight, time remembers all whose weaving, whose brush marks, whose

Stitch-work are scattered forever like threads in a

Tapestry of time.

Commissioned by The Hearth Centre, March 2015

' When I was commissioned by the Hearth to write a poem, I was inspired by both history and art, and I chose to combine these in 'Footprints in the tapestry of time.' The historical aspect of the Heath is reflected in the number of lines the poem has; I wrote seventeen lines and split them into five stanzas. The number seventeen is significant because of the fact that the Hearth was used as a place of religious sanctuary in the late 17th century and the five stanzas show each of the centuries that have passed from the seventeenth century to the present day. The reference to the Greek goddess Hestia in 'Footprints in the tapestry of time' is because she is the goddess of the fireside which I feel resonates with the name the Hearth. I was inspired by Ancient Greece because Classics is my favourite subject at school and I have always been fascinated by mythology. Art is also an important part of the Hearth so I tried to reflect this in the poem too, by describing details of time passing as if it were a tapestry that artists were creating, continuing forever through the passage of time.'


Lockdown Flowers

I wonder, when was that

First day that I wandered

Among the primroses

Buds crisp and yellow in the

Mid-march dew


I wonder, when was the first

Face of the wildflowers'

Crowd joined by the bluebells'


How many times, how many hues,

Has the sky changed from grey

To blue?

And with which passing cloud did

The bluebells fade? Which

Bee's hum opened the foxgloves

And, ferns curled amongst

The beeches' bark,

Scrawled the broken and

Tangled the honeysuckle?

And where does the chaffinch's

Call lead

Asking the holly and the

Stream's edge to


A Picture's Music

I remember seeing a picture of a wide heather moor, with purple stretching as if forever, and in the brush strokes I saw the mystery of the land, from grey to violet to the fading blue of the horizon. I could almost hear, in the blurred corners of the stretching sky, the wing beat of a swooping bird and the echo of the wind. In the music of the painted world, I could see the sky turning darker for the night and a solitary star, alone and twinkling on the wide heather moor with the wind still whispering.

Where the gates are always open 


I learn to feel uncertainty 

When everything tells me to think 

Of solutions and ways out of 

A continuous stream of consciousness 

That burns inside to tell me 


Is the time 


To sit and listen is not always 

Still and to speak is not always 

To hear 

What is required 


To sit and feel uncertainty, to

Feel the waves catch your toes in their 

Unknown strength 

And to feel blades of grass on 

Bare feet 

To have faith that in the colours of the sunset 

Is a message to the sunrise 



And in all of your questions 

Seek to know an inner peace 

A place where the lake seems 

Limitless and 

Where the gates are always open 

Ellen Phethean

For some people, Spring can be a hard time of year, and that is the theme of my first poem. The second, Kenneggy, talks about a place I love and where I feel at peace, so two very different poems.

Ellen Phethean’s books include:

Poetry: Wall, Smokestack Books 2007Breath, 2014, Portrait of the Quince as an Older Woman, Red Squirrel Press 2014.

A Young Adult trilogy Ren and the Blue Hands, Ren and the Blue Cloth, Ren In SamaraRed Squirrel 2019.

Ellen Phethean lives, teaches and writes in Newcastle upon Tyne. 

Coming to terms with Spring


Once, I ached and raged

against clueless snowdrops,

felt sun cut like a knife, halving my room.

Warm air laughed, daffodils trumpeted

about nothing, mud obscured my way,

bare trees loitering, stared me out.

What was Spring to me?

I looked backwards, into earth,

sharp green shoots pierced my heart.


This morning the rain on my window

suggested it had retreated.

I sat in darkness, a cup of tea,

in bed, listening to the recycling lorry

smashing glass in the back lane.

I got up and showered,

dressed in green and purple,

put on my gold oak leaf earrings

and noticed my hair was growing.



The table and chair under the tree

nestle by the Cornish hedge,


the last heat of the day

warms my back,


the honeysuckle’s sweetness rises

from the tangle of brambles.


The gin and tonic glass is icy

in my hand,


there’s a tang of lemon on my tongue,

bubbles up my nose.


Over the fields to the cliff

the house on the headland’s


granite walls sparkle in the rays

of the setting sun.


Blue as forget-me-nots, the sea

is as soft as well-washed cotton.


If there’s a heaven,

let it be this


like a long breath out

Stephen Tomlin


For nearly 50 years, since qualifying as a teacher at the Central School of Speech & Drama, Stephen has worked extensively as an actor in television, theatre and radio as well as being a teacher, director, producer, writer/researcher, role player and tour guide. Audio includes many commercial voiceovers, educational narratives and roles in BBC Radio 4’s The Archers, Writing the Century and Home Front as well as various single dramas. Based in Lancaster for most of his career, Stephen also produced promenade Shakespeare and other entertainments at Lancaster Castle from 2000 – 2016 under the demi-paradise banner. Since 2017 he has been happily resettled in the north Tyne valley and now tours live readings of short stories and other writing with his company, The Border Readers.

Readings from;

From The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer

Tall Nettles by Edward Thomas

Home Thoughts, From Abroad by Robert Browning

Young Lambs by John Clare

Sonnet 98 by William Shakespeare

From The Song of Solomon

Linda France


Poetry Podcast for the Hearth’s Kindness through Culture Festival Spring 2021


Poems by Linda France included in the podcast, in order –

‘The Cuckoo and the Egg’:

Poem forthcoming in new collection, set to music and sung by Joshua Green (for Gone Cuckoo touring show)


‘Dawn Chorus’:

From COMPASS, sound installation with Chris Watson at Cheeseburn.  Published in Songs of Place and Time: Birdsong and the Dawn Chorus in Natural History and the Arts, eds. Mike Collier, Bennett Hogg, John Strachan (Gaia Project Press, 2021)



From You are Her (Arc, 2010)


‘Dreaming the Real’:

From Tomorrow’s Moon (Aruna Publications, 2015). Available as free download here


‘Flight of the Swallows’:

From new collection, 2022

‘Lindisfarne Silverweed’, ‘The Oldest Garden in the World’, ‘Haw Medicine’:

From Reading the Flowers (Arc, 2016)


With many thanks to Joshua Green for the music and Chris Watson for the birdsong