Michael McHugh

Above Us

illustration by Amy McCartney

The geese
are above us,
the grey afternoon,
to clear from their path
birds of lesser purpose.
Let us through!
they cry,
flying doctors,
healers of winter’s
glinting wounds.



Michael McHugh has made film documentaries for television as a researcher/ scriptwriter and, as a community worker, has addressed the needs of people experiencing social and economic disadvantage. Currently studying the MA in Writing Poetry at Newcastle University. Michael’s poetry has been published in anthologies by Hodder and Stoughton and by Walker Books and in Butcher’s Dog and Here Now.

Opportunities Outside the Mainstream


InkyLab is an independent publisher based in Newcastle looking for submissions for their forthcoming monthly anthology of short stories.

Publishers such as Inkylab are an excellent example of groups actively supporting writers who don’t neatly fit into one genre or style.

As a writer submitting to the wide array of magazines, anthologies, and journals it can be disheartening to receive a rejection based not on the quality of your work, but rather the lack of “marketability”.  This is a great opportunity to have your work published and to support a local, writers led publishers.

If this sounds familiar or you are hesitant to send out a piece for just this reason, check out the Inkylab website for more info.

Diana Cant

Loving Cup 

illustration by Amy McCartney


He’s cheerful when I sit next to him, in the front,
last fare of the evening, then I’m off home

with pride he tells of the new hot-tub in his garden,
and how he and his wife sit, passing a floating dish

of strawberries between them as the sun sinks,
we’ve got our own little piece of paradise

he says tenderly, we’re living the dream:
As he speeds away in to the evening

I can picture the two of them, contented,
and their bobbing strawberry bowl.



Diana Cant is a child psychotherapist and poet, returning to poetry after a clinical career working with severely abused children and young people.She lives and works in Kent, is a student on the Newcastle University/Poetry School MA course, and is a member of the Mid Kent Stanza group.She has been published in various journals and anthologies,including Humanagerie [Eibon Vale Press]; 84 [ Verve Poetry Press]; and Nine Muses [ on-line]


Pantisocracy Poetry: pretentious yet powerful


Newcastle Uni rules! Excellent, now that I have your attention, I can get to the important stuff. Poetry rules! Ah, a noticeably less enthusiastic response. Having said that, I expected as much. Poetry ain’t an American sport; it does not lend itself to thousands of drunken fans swaying arm in arm, chanting their belligerent support. And, frankly, what a relief. We don’t need any more noise in our lives, at least not in an ever-growing city. Nor do we need, sticking with the sports theme, any more competition or irrational, deep-set divisions. Rather, our society is calling out, in a quiet and contemplative voice, for an egalitarian space of, you guessed it, poetry.

Pantisocracy Poetry is a monthly poetry evening that harks back two hundred years to a quest for equality by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey. Now, as you may well have gathered from the current state of the world, they did not succeed – but what do they know? Nowt, that’s what. Or at least, what do they know in comparison to an enthusiastic and talented group of people containing the perfect blend of Geordies and Newcastle University students? Definitely nowt.

The evening itself consists of a tabula rasa of spoken word performances; it’s a free, authentic open-mic night, which means that there are no pre-booked performers, instead, anyone who fancies turning their hand at some poetry at the time and place does so – in a short, sharp gobbet: they rock up and rock it. Yes alright, I hear you: what does this all have to do with equality? Well, granted, not a lot. The idea, though, is that by creating a space where everybody and anybody can take the floor, and that when they do, the audience will be respectful and fervent, that we will manufacture an environment of equality, both empowering and liberating the performers and spectators alike.

I’d like to conclude by saying, no, we cannot promise an impending revolution, and no, we do not have any answers with regards to what makes the perfect poem, but importantly, yes, we can host a peaceful and thought-provoking evening for poets of new and old, coupled with those of us who just love chilling out in a pretty darn-tootin’ rad bar in the toon.

If you’ve been inspired by anything that you’ve just read – it’s a big if I know – then check out our Facebook and Instagram pages Pantisocracy Poetry, and pop along to our next free event at the DrInk Art Bar on Wednesday 24th April.

-Charlie Winn-Davison , Host to Pantisocracy Poetry