The Stare’s Nest has been in operation for two months now and every day we have delivered at least one poem that fits our general theme: political and social engagement, reflections on what really matters, something hopeful from time to time to refocus us away from the dreadful news that fills our screens day after day. At the outset we said “Tell us how it is. Tell us how it could be” and poets have sent us their versions of the examined life, to prove to ourselves and others that poetry is relevant, that it engages with the real world and its concerns. We’ve had poems about Gaza and Northern Ireland, Greece, America, and Chile; poems about family, friends, neighbours and strangers, about war, trees, toilets, and shopping. All human life is here.
When I started up the Stare’s Nest I wasn’t sure if anyone would send us anything at all, but I worked on the principle “build it and they will come”, and so far they have. I’m grateful to some very experienced and well-published poets such as George Szirtes, Philip Gross, Carrie Etter, Jenny Lewis, Ian Duhig and Tamar Yosseloff (aha! the last two of those are coming up soon!), to some of the rising stars of British poetry, to members of Jo Bell’s excellent fiftytwopoetry group (of which I am proud to be a member); to poets I didn’t previously know from the USA; to poets I know personally from Reading, Oxford and London; to poets I’d never met but who found us via word of mouth, and to a few who have had their first ever published poem appear here. I’m also most grateful to our first two poets, Hilda Sheehan and Martin Malone, for the poems that kicked off the site, and to the inimitable Cathy Dreyer, who co-edits with me and who was utterly indispensable when I was in the middle of moving house and had no broadband for ten days.
What I am most proud of right now are the comments made by two poets whom I value immensely. Sarah Wedderburn is a friend from Roddy Lumsden’s classes at The Poetry School. She sent us the amazing “A Word on Killing” which was published on August 30th. The first stanza is so revealing:
I’ll only say this once. Then I’m going back to writing about home,
journeys, everyday events and minor breakages—even they send
fragments far and wide.
When she sent this deeply personal poem she told me:
“I have written this expressly for The Stare’s Nest, recognising that with this website you have provided a context where such a subject might have a place.“ I’m thrilled that she picked up her pen and wrote something so true because the Stare’s Nest was there for it to find a home.
We’ve also had great support from Fran Lock, whom I don’t know personally but whose poems I really admire. She has sent us an elegy for a good friend, written in her usual beautiful, intricate style, but that still manages to convey a raw emotion. It’s coming up soon. She said:
“I’m tentatively submitting the attached poem to The Stare’s Nest because it is the only place I’ve seen where (if anywhere) I think it might belong… I’m still not sure (from a poetry point of view) if it is ready to see the light of day, but I think if it is, The Stare’s Nest is the place I would like it to be. Your beautiful site has inspired me to set it down properly and find a place for it.”
This is what I wanted to achieve! As well as the funny poems, the angry and the polemical, a safe place for such delicate work that really comes from the heart.
Thank you all! Let’s keep going. Send your honey bees to fill the empty nest of the Stare!