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last update:

21st Nov18

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Gill Learner at Second Light

poetry favourites:
Two Rivers Press
Poets’ Café, Reading
Second Light
Grey Hen Press
The Emma Press
Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre
HappenStance Press
The High Window


and in the shop…
collections –
“Chill Factor”
“The agister’s experiment”
Two Rivers Press



this poet is taking part in the poetry pRO project


Gill Learner grew up in Birmingham and soon after her 21st birthday moved to London where she met her husband. They moved to Reading over 52 years ago. Sadly, Trevor died unexpectedly in July 2018 just before his 86th birthday.
In 2001 Gill won a limerick competition in the Independent and part of the prize was Poetry Society membership (the rest was two weeks writing holiday on Skyros, flights included!). Already interested in contemporary poetry, particularly Ruth Padel’s series in the above’s Sunday edition, she began subscribing to magazines and buying anthologies and collections; her book-shelves are packed and sometimes she’s forced to make painful decisions. Having written only prose since school days, she started to write poems. First publication was as second-prize winner in a Writers News ‘found’ poem competition. Quite soon she had a second, in Poetry News, thought she’d arrived and began choosing her desert island discs! Little did she know how many rejections would follow.
However, she persisted and Poetry News has accepted three more, one winning the Hamish Canham Prize, 2008. Her work has also appeared in magazines, and anthologies such as those from Grey Hen Press and The Emma Press. There have been further prizes, most recently in Hampshire Council’s ‘100 words for 100 years’ competition.
In 2011, her first collection, The Agister’s Experiment, was published by Two Rivers Press and five years later Chill Factor followed.
She’s a member of her local Stanza, which now runs Reading’s Poets’ Café where she enjoys reading at the open mic every month. She also co-ordinates a long-established, twice-monthly poetry workshop and values the thoughtful and rigorous criticism there.
Gill loves Radio Three and gardening – her idea of a perfect day is writing in the morning, tending plants in the afternoon and listening to music in the evening.
Chill Factor:

Chill Factor, is a worthy successor to her impressive debut, The Agister’s Experiment (Two Rivers Press 2010), and gives further evidence of her wide-ranging interests and sureness of touch.


David Cooke, London Grip


Her expertise with the unexpected twist, with the concise and pertinent phrase or image is brilliant.


Mandy Pannett, South 55


Her second collection … is robust and clear-sighted, conveying a refreshing, lively independence.


Dilys Wood, ARTEMISpoetry 18


The Agister’s Experiment:

This first collection from Gill Learner displays a confidence usually seen in a much more experienced poet … The poems here fizz and crackle while exploring the vast range of humanity – they are by turns funny, chilling and angry, but are all diverse in form and content. A strong sense of loss pervades these poems, too, and this nostalgia for times past, reflected in poems about motherhood and legends retold, leave a lasting impression on the reader in this excellent debut.


Poetry Book Society Bulletin, Spring 2011


It is rarely that a first collection hits the nail on the head as accurately as [this]. The image is apposite. Key poems relate to the world of small workshops and men working at their craft, an unusual terrain for a woman and one aspect of the impressive universality of her writing. There is a tight focus on concrete detail. She revels in the activities of ‘making’ and carrying out technical operations. … In Myra Schneider’s words, these poems ‘lift off from a base of precise knowledge into the imagination’. They have ulterior motives, drawing us into large topics and feelings which run deep.


Dilys Wood, ARTEMISpoetry 6