January 26th 2017

How much worse could it get? We may actually be going to hell in a handcart. I’m too disgusted with the world to say much more. I would rather you said it. Send me your poems.

September 7th 2015

I was going to close this site down after the General Election, thinking the country might have come to its senses. But after the results were announced, such howls of anguish and desperation came from the poets that I kept the Nest open to pick up their responses. Poetry seems to very much a left-wing concern, or the left seems to be a poetry concern, it is hard to tell which. I have two theories about this:

  1. Poets tend to have day jobs in the arts, social services, and teaching. This puts them in contact with the most vulnerable in society and they can see first-hand the results of cuts and the general disparity between what a government does and what it says.
  2. Poetry is a profound insight into the mind of another person. Reading and writing it helps us to step into another person’s shoes. That act in itself, repeated on a regular basis, tends to build empathy – and what is the political left if not a place that cares for the struggles of others? We certainly don’t see much empathy from the Other Lot.

The whole point of the Stare’s Nest has been to tell stories about what it is like to be ourselves, in all our variety and with all our experience. I think we have achieved it. We have stood with the poets in grief and exile and poverty, we’ve seen the anger and hopelessness of not being able to do enough, and the little things that make life worth living. It’s been great. We acquired 192 followers on WordPress and 743 on Twitter, and hundreds of visitors to the site every week.

But now, other poets have taken up the baton and it is time to move on. I’ve got other projects ongoing, not least, since the Stare’s Nest began I’ve become a Labour Party member and been elected treasurer of our local Branch. There’s work to do in the wider community.

So, thank you for reading and thank you for writing. There are 360 poems here for you to enjoy. One day there could be a “Best of the Nest” book. One day the Nest might be open to a whole new swarm of honey bees. But for now, The Nest is having a rest.

With best wishes,

Judi Sutherland – editor.

November 7th 2014

People seem to be liking The Stare’s Nest! It is building a bit of momentum now; there are 123 people getting a daily poem direct to their inbox and over 200 are following us on twitter @thestaresnest. Readers are predominantly in the UK but we also have a number of people every day reading from the USA, Italy, Spain, New Zealand, Japan, Slovenia… I hope we can keep this going. We have now posted 124 poems and will need a lot more if we are to keep going with a daily “poem for a more hopeful world” until the UK General Election in May.

Some people think they are not good enough poets to send a poem. To that I would say that we have accepted some beautifully crafted poems and also some that are a bit more… raw… if they are packed with feeling and reflect the spirit of the site. They stand up pretty well. There are also poems that reflect a unique view of the world that could not have been written without the poet’s specific lived experience. Anyway, all the poems start to look rather slick when they are posted on to the site.

So, whether you are a newbie, or a seasoned Famous Poet with many collections behind you, or something in between, there’s a good chance that something you write, as long as it fits our remit, may find a home on the Nest. And if you have already had a poem or two accepted, please don’t be put off sending a couple more.

Keep writing and keep reading – thank you!

September 4th 2014

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 Yoseloff (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!

Judi Sutherland

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