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Shortlands Poetry Circle                        

usual venue: Ripley Arts Centre, 24 Sundridge Avenue, Bromley.   google map

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WE NOW HAVE A BLOG - Keep up with what we're up to at ShortlandsPoetryCircle

In 2011 Shortlands Poetry Circle celebrated our 100th year! See: Centenary

Just a few of us:
kneeling & seated, left to right: Maggie Hoyle, Anne Stewart, Wyn Parkinson
heads left to right: Christine Pope, Kathleen Mustoe, Anne Stooke, Bryan Corrin,
Jennie Milnes, Diane Chorley, Alan Smith, Nola Turner, Lesley McLetchie,
Muriel Letman, Sheila Corrin, Patsy Paine, Ann Barlow...
Come and join us when you can!

group photo, SPC Members

13th December 2011 - the final readers' meeting of our Centenary year
photo courtesy & © copyright Isabel Turvey

Shortlands Poetry Circle was established in 1911 by Miss Catherine Punch.  Its aim was to promote the study and appreciation of poetry, and it has been going strong and remained true to that aim ever since.

"Edward VII had died the year before.  Stainless steel had not been invented.  Dylan Thomas had not been born.  Stravinsky was yet to compose The Rite of Spring"  (Christopher Highton, Past President, 1997).

The group continued to meet regularly through both World Wars and, in 1947, it became the North-West Kent Branch of the English Association and is now affiliated to Bromley Arts Council.   The Circle also enjoys long-standing relationships with both the Poetry Society and the Poetry Library at the Southbank.

Along the way, the Circle has given birth to a Drama Group, alas now disbanded, and, soon after the end of the Second World War, a Writers' Group (ages ranging from twenties to eighties), which has produced four anthologies of poetry (in 1971; for the Circle's Diamond Jubilee in 1981; in 1997 and each passing breeze at the start of the Centenary year).

Sweet are the pleasures that to verse belong,
And doubly sweet a brotherhood in song;

"so wrote John Keats to his friend George Felton Matthew"
                                             (Mary Nugent, Past President, 1971).

A friendly and informal group, the reading Circle meets regularly for the reading (never our own, but for one annual programmed meeting) and enjoyment of poetry, followed by a general get-together over tea and biscuits.  Discussions are lively, the topics are wide-ranging (see programme) and the selection of poets' work varies from the old favourites to the newest and less-well-known, with often surprising and exciting choices, often from the Laureate List or local poet list (not comprehensive).

There is a Summer Celebration meeting, where entertainment is provided (ticket sale event), an annual 'Portfolio' reading event run by the Circle's writers, a celebratory Christmas reading, and the group is occasionally involved in collaborative events with other local groups and gives periodic readings at suitable outreach venues (Contact President if you would like to discuss a project).

Visitors are most welcome at the meetings (£2 donation + refreshment - see getting there), as are new and potential members of all ages (see Membership).

The programme is set well in advance so that there is plenty of time to research the poet or topic of the day and make your selections. (see Great places to look for poems)


Meetings are twice a month, on Tuesdays, during the academic year, from 2:30 to 4:30pm at Ripley Arts Centre.

Please feel free to print the programme Summer 2019 and/or Autumn 2019 and pass copies to your friends and colleagues.

We also have a mailing list.  Please let us know if you would like to receive the new programmes as they are published by joining our mailing list

Date                                Poem Topic

 Summer 2019


25 Jun     SUMMER CELEBRATION - ticketed event

                  Guest Poets:   Mimi Khalvati and Myra Schneider
                  (and at poetry p f) Mimi                        Mimi

                 BOOKING ESSENTIAL: details

9 Jul      Poems by Maggie Butt, Wendy Cope, U A Fanthorpe


 Autumn 2019

10 Sep    Open Choice

24 Sep    Poems by Paul Muldoon & Matthew Sweeney

8 Oct       Writers' Portfolio (1 short poem from others present)

22 Oct    Poems by Liz Berry, Jackie Kay & Helen Mort

12 Nov   Topic: Landmarks

26 Nov  Poems by Mary Oliver & Mary Wilson

10Dec   Topic: Fairs, Fetes and Festivals


and diary dates for Spring 2020:    

          Jan 14 & 28          Feb 11 & 25          Mar 10 & 24


Membership is by annual subscription, with a reduction for those joining after the Spring term.  The current annual rates are:

Full Membership                 £18    (members who expect to attend most meetings)

Associate Membership     £   9    (members who expect to attend intermittently
                                                                  and wish to be kept on the mailing list)

Visitors                                    £   2 donation per visit

Refreshments                         50p

Contact details:

President: Ruth Smith  +44(0) 208 460 3062

Membership Secretary: Christine Pope +44(0) 208 464 9810

Other enquiries initially by e-mail (goes to site-editor, Anne Stewart)


How to get there:

First, let us know you're coming so we can look out for you!  Contact  the Membership Secretary.  Regular Venue: Ripley Arts Centre, 24 Sundridge Avenue, Bromley, BR1 2PX.  Visitors are charged £2 per visit and all attendees pay 50p towards refreshments.

For Ripley Arts Centre, google map has a "get 'there' from 'here' function", for directions by road.  

There are a few parking spaces in the grounds for those with walking difficulties (entry from the North part of Sundridge Avenue), and local street-parking (e.g. in the road opposite and in the West part of Sundridge Avenue).

By Rail:   The nearest station is Elmstead Woods (on the Orpington line).  The walk from there to Ripley Arts Centre is probably at least 15 minutes, along Elmstead Lane and Sundridge Avenue.

Bus:  Number 314 (Bromley to Eltham route).


Great places to look for poems:   

Local Library

Independent and Second-hand bookshops:

The Kirkdale Bookshop, Kirkdale Road, Sydenham;
limited parking in the street outside

Beckenham Bookshop, High Street, Beckenham — if they haven't got what you're looking for, they will usually be able to get it for you within 24 hours

Barely Read Books, The Green, Westerham—we've heard this is a very good second-hand bookshop but not whether it has a poetry section (we'd be glad to hear from you if you know)

On the net:

Ancient:  Bartleby     English Verse     Poem Hunter

Modern:           nth position      Peony Moon     The Poetry Shed (Abegail Morley Blog)
Poetry Magazines           poetry p f        Second Light

Old and New:    Black Cat Poems    Schmoop

We'd love to know your favourites.   If you'd like to contribute, please email the details of your favourite poetry places to the site editor


Laureate List

Ben Jonson and Sir William D'Avenant are considered by some to have been 'unofficial' laureates, but the formal list begins with the appointment of Dryden:

    • John Dryden 1631 – 1700
    • Thomas Shadwell 1642 – 1692
    • Nahum Tate 1652 – 1715
    • Nicholas Rowe 1674 – 1718
    • Laurence Eusden 1688 – 1730
    • Colley Cibber 1671 – 1757
    • William Whitehead 1715 – 1785
    • Thomas Wharton (the younger) 1728 – 1790
    • Henry James Pye 1745 – 1813
    • Robert Southey 1774 – 1843
    • William Wordsworth 1770 – 1850
    • Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1809 – 1892
    • Alfred Austin 1835 – 1913
    • Robert Bridges 1844 – 1930
    • John Masefield 1878 – 1967
    • Cecil Day-Lewis 1904 – 1972
    • Sir John Betjeman 1906 – 1984
    • Ted Hughes 1930 – 1998
    • Andrew Motion 1952 –
    • Carol Ann Duffy 1955 -

Liverpool Poets

“The Mersey Sound”, edited by Adrian Henri and first published in 1967, is still obtainable.
Amazon has it for 1p plus p&p of circa £2.50.
  Beckenham Books have it for £7.99. It should be available through libraries.

the most well-known:

    • Adrian Henri
    • Brian Patten
    • Roger McGough

their contemporaries:

    • John Gorman
    • Mike McCartney (brother of Sir Paul)
    • Liz Ashworth
    • Neil Innes
    • Kate Robinson
    • Andy Roberts

others with Liverpool connections:

    • Elaine Feinstein
    • James McKendrick
    • Peter Robinson

We'll add more if we find them!

Local Poets - just a few of them...

  • Steve Aylett (1967 -        ), born in Bromley, still publishing in the UK, US & Spain
  • Aphra Behn (1640 - 1689), born near Canterbury
  • Enid BLYTON (1897-1930) Lived in Beckenham. Book of verse:  'Child whispers' (1922)
  • Robert BRIDGES (1844-1930) Born at Walmer
  • Alan BROWNJOHN (1931-) Taught Beckenham Grammar School
  • Geoffrey CHAUCER (c1343-1400) Made Knight of Shire of kent in 1386 & then probably lived in county till his death
  • Richard CHURCH (1893-1972) Lived many years in Kent
  • Dinah Maria CRAIK (1826 - 1887) Lived in Bromley from 1864
  • Keith DOUGLAS (1920 - 1944)
  • Ford Madox FORD (1873-1939)  Settled in Kent 1894
  • Christopher MARLOWE (1564-93) Born at Canterbury
  • J(eremy) H(alvard) PRYNNE (1936-)  Born in Kent
  • Vita SACKVILLE-WEST (1892-1962) Born Knole, lived Sissinghurst
  • Siegfried SASSOON (1886-1967) Brought up in the Weald
  • Philip SIDNEY (1554-86) Born at Penshurst
  • Christopher SMART (1722-71) Born near Tonbridge
  • Thomas WYATT (1503-42) Born at Allington Castle near Maidstone
  • and you may be able to find The Scarpfoot Zone, an anthology of Contemporary Poetry from Kent published in 1996, featuring 35 poets, including Ted Walter (1933 - 2012), who was for many years an associate member of Shortlands Poetry Circle.

and Circle members:

Isabel BERMUDEZ           Lesley McLETCHIE           Jennie MILNES         

Christine POPE          Jane SHARP           Ruth SMITH          Anne STEWART



Letters of Congratulation from:  
R V Bailey:   Letter   Poem written to Shortlands Poetry Circle
Mimi Khalvati     Pascale Petit     Anne Stevenson     Stephen Stuart-Smith
Miriam Valencia - Saison Poetry Library


What a year! It's all behind us now, including the painstaking archiving of the year's records... Who knows what our successors will be looking for in 2111!

It has been tremendous fun and I think we'll still be talking about our Centenary Lunch, with our wonderful guest poet, Alan Brownjohn, when we're putting our next set of celebratory events together, whenever that may be. Meantime, a selection of our photos are gathered here.

Tues 15 Mar 11: launch of celebratory anthology "each passing breeze"
at the Beckenham Bookshop, with readings by Lesley McLetchie, Wyn Parkinson,
Christine Pope, Janet Ryan, Alan D Smith & Anne Stewart

7th May:  Spring Into Summer
Members gave a r
eading at St George's Church, Beckenham
as part of
the St. George’s Arts Festival.


17th June: Members gave a reading at The Croft Tearoom, St Mary Cray
Food, Poetry & Music with a French flavour...


28th June:  Centenary Lunch at the Bromley Court Hotel
attended by The Deputry Mayor of the London Borough of Bromley, Mr Reg Adams
and Chair & Deputy Chair of the Bromley Arts Council,
Mr John Williams & Mr Christopher Town
Plus reading from our very special guest, Alan Brownjohn.


8th October:  We invited 5 modern poets to give us a 'Poet Taster' at the Beckenham Bookshop.

Michael Bartholomew-Biggs, June English, Katherine Gallagher,
Nancy Mattson and Graham Mummery

Each poet gave a short but impressive reading of 12 minutes - and each so different!

Lesley McLetchie read from the Writers' celebratory anthology for the centenary, each passing breeze, and Maggie Hoyle read poems from the 'Schools Portfolio' - poems written by the students of local schools, who were invited to take part in our Centenary 'Schools Poetry Project'.



Shortlands Poetry Circle wishes to thank Enitharmon Press for their generous
donation of books for fund-raising towards the Centenary Celebrations

Enitharmon Press are publishers of poetry and high quality art books:

and a special thank you to local schools for taking part in our Schools Poetry Project,
especially the students who contributed poems.
How wonderful for us to have a Portfolio of your poems to hand down
through the generations...

Participating Schools: Valley Primary, Highfield Junior,
Langley Park (Boys & Girls schools), Newstead Woods School for Girls


A Selection of Photos from Shortlands Poetry Circle Events


Centenary Lunch, Bromley Court Hotel, 28th June 2011

Photos courtesy & copyright © Isabel Turvey

Alan Brownjohn and Deputy Mayor Mr Reg Adams

Honoured Guests:  Alan Brownjohn & Mr Reg Adams, Deputy Mayor of the London Borough of Bromley

Anne Thomas, John Williams, Patricia Kennedy

Member Anne Thomas
Honoured Guest Mr Tony Williams (BAC)
Guest Patricia Kennedy

Reg Adams and Anne StewartChristopher Town

Honoured Guest Mr Reg Adams
and President Anne Stewart,
Honoured Guest Mr Christopher Town (BAC) 

Wyn Parkinson and Pat Jacobs

Member Wyn Parkinson
and Past President Pat Jacobs 

Nola Turner, Alan D Smith, Tom Ryan

Members Nola Turner and Alan D Smith
Guest Tom Ryan 

Shirley Coupland, Sheila and Bryan Corrin

Members Shirley Coupland, Sheila and Bryan Corrin

Alan Brownjohn

Alan Brownjohn, signing member Diane Chorley's copy of Ludbrooke and Others 


Lesley McLetchieAlan Brownjohn, Elizabeth Ward, Diane ChorleyMuriel Letman and Christine PopeJanet Ryan

(excluding Alan Brownjohn): Members Lesley McLetchie, Elizabeth Ward, Diane Chorley, 
Muriel Letman, Christine Pope and Janet Ryan


Poet Taster reading, Beckenham Bookshop, 8th October 2011

photos by & copyright  © Maggie Hoyle & Anne Stewart

June English, Michael Bartholomew-Biggs, Maggie Hoyle, Katherine Gallagher, Nancy Mattson, Graham Mummery, Lesley McLetchie

Our Readers, left to right front row: June English, Maggie Hoyle,
next row: Michael Bartholomew-Biggs, Katherine Gallagher, Graham Mummery, Lesley McLetchie,
behind Katherine: Nancy Mattson
and both sides of the central bookshelves: a small but exceptionally appreciative audience!
with glass raised: Kelly, owner of the Beckenham Bookshop

Anne Stewart

‘Now you're all going to stand riiiiight... here’
Presenting (and completing the ‘pink’ parade): Anne Stewart


photos from the launch of the Writers Group anthology,  "each passing breeze"

at Beckenham Bookshop on 15th March 2011

Photos courtesy & copyright © Isabel Turvey

Beckenham Bookshop readers and audience

Beckenham Bookshop - preparing for the reading

Tom Ryan, Janet Ryan, Alan D Smith

Tom Ryan & Poets: Janet Ryan, Alan D Smith

Anne Stewart

President of Shortlands Poetry Circle,
Anne Stewart

 Lesley McLetchie 

Lesley McLetchie

 Wyn Parkinson

Wyn Parkinson

 Christine Pope photo

Christine Pope

 Janet Ryan

Writers Group Secretary, Janet Ryan


Getting into the Centenary spirit...

photos from the "Interiors & Exteriors" reading on the 8th February 2011

Bryan Corrin

Bryan Corrin

Patsey Paine, Rosemary Pratt, Elizabeth Ward

Patsy Paine, Rosemary Pratt, Elizabeth Ward

Anne Stooke, Diane Chorley, Nola Turner

Anne Stooke, Diane Chorley, Nola Turner

Anne Stewart, Alan Smith, Elizabeth Friend

Anne Stewart, Alan Smith, Elizabeth Friend

Diane Chorley, Patsy Paine, Maggie Hoyle

Diane Chorley, Patsy Paine, Maggie Hoyle


Shortlands Poetry Circle, 2006

just a few of the members

Shortlands Group photo, 2006

Left to right: Ann Barlow, Lesley McLetchie, Joyce Remmett, Patsy Paine,

Bryan Corrin & Wyn Parkinson,

Elizabeth Sibsey, Dorothy Clift, Alan Smith, Pat Jacobs & Maggie Hoyle


Past President: Elizabeth Sibsey
(holding newspaper article)
Past President:  Pat Jacobs

Member: Alan Smith
(reading one of his chosen poems)
Past Secretary:  Maggie Hoyle

President, Elizabeth Sibsey

Alan Smith photo


2006 photographs by Katharyn Boudet

included by kind permission of Kent Messenger Group



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