'Behind the shadows' by Stuart Buck is Write Out Loud Poem of the Week

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The new Write Out Loud poem of the Week is ‘behind the shadows’ by Stuart Buck. Stuart is a former chef. His debut collection, Casually Discussing the Infinite, was reviewed by Laura Taylor on Write Out Loud earlier this year. It is the second time that Stuart has won Poem of the Week. In his replies to our questions Stuart said he loved the feedback he received from posting poems on Write Out Loud: "It's changed the way I think about my writing, about myself and about what I feel I can achieve as a poet.”



How has your poetry changed since you began posting and sharing your work?

It has changed greatly, I would say. When I started writing, about three years ago, it was a very cathartic experience which I used to help me through a time of great stress and anxiety. I wrote would I would call confessional poetry, in that it was very raw and emotion-driven, often about me personally. It was a great way to get feelings out of me and somewhere they could be seen, something I think men in general struggle with.

Since then I have developed a lot as a writer, I believe. I have begun using my exhausting imagination a lot more, and have broadened my horizons in terms of theme and structure. I also feel the general quality of my work has steadily increased, as you would expect for someone who has written 1,300 poems in three years.


 What advice would you give to an aspiring young poet?

Read poetry. Consume as much art and culture as you can. Don't forget the classics, they are classic for a reason, even if they seem daunting and difficult to understand. Keep a notepad by your bed and try to record your dreams, even tiny fragments of them. Get your work out there. Take the plunge and perform, even if you are a shambles like I was for the first year. You will get better. Try to write haiku, tanka and other forms of Japanese poetry. They help with the discipline of words and phrasing. Oh, and don't be ashamed to write about things you think are embarrassing/taboo. The general consensus seems to be that poetry is stuffy and rigid, but read any modern poetry anthology and you will find it’s quite the opposite.


What do you consider to be your best poem to date, and why?

Definitely 'Festival of Lanterns'. It has everything I like about my writing, it’s dreamlike, creepy and ends with an almighty crash. It's the one poem I feel I got right. Like all of my writing, it happened within five minutes. I don't edit my work at all, never have, so once it is there on the page that is it, it has happened and for better or worse it will stay as it is. I felt like that poem belonged on the page as soon as I wrote it, and it is the first one I chose for my second collection (tiny self-promo alert).


Which of your poems has received the best response either at an open mic or on Write Out Loud?

I have had some amazing responses on here and live. I would say my previous POTW winner - 'Take me to Tokyo where the Lights may Blind me' received the best feedback, as it was on the front page. Having someone say they like your work, or that they think you are a good writer, is everything a poet wants. I adore the feedback I get from this site. It's changed the way I think about my writing, about myself and about what I feel I can achieve as a poet. I take my writing very seriously, and there is no better way of boosting someone’s self-confidence than leaving a little sentence or two on their work.

In terms of live, I did make two people cry once, so that was a success, but I am far from the finished article. So I would say my best is yet to come!


You can have four people around your dinner table (living or dead). Who would they be and why?

Bill Hicks - I think he was the one person who truly knew what life was and how to live it. He was hilarious to boot.

Charles Bukowski - I loved the guy’s poetry and the way his mind worked.

Tom Waits - If I could only listen to one person’s music for the rest of my life it would be his. Fascinating character and a true one-off.

My mum - We would need someone to keep order - and she makes nice chips.




by Stuart Buck


for those three days you were the crow that

picked at my bones with pin sharp teeth

then as soon as you flew, you became noises

like the chirrsome sigh of the penultimate step

the crushed leather wheeze of the corner chair

a soft tinkling as soot fell down the chimney

disturbed by a nesting swallow, perhaps a swift

could it have been a crow?

a flicker of light that spat floaters across my vision

perhaps an afternoon shaft, burning a sliver of gold

on the dust ridden carpet, motes circling in the glow


they talked to me then, those tiny flecks of what you were

told me of the secret places you had been

they told me to break down my cardboard boxes

to stick them up at the windows so no one could see in

so i could not see out

they told me to stop feeding the fish

they told me to smash my phone

they told me to dig

to dig down beneath the house

to scrape away the wet earth under the boards

until i found the beautiful crystal caverns

pulses of green and blue and purple

under the calm glow were clouds and ghosts

the ancient ruins, crumbling to dust

the statues of you decorated with tiny mosaic

the glistening tiles picked out your gorgeous eyes

the flow of your hair, like a waterfall






◄ Tony Walsh to perform 'This is The Place' at reopening of Manchester Arena

Write Out Loud at Stockport art gallery tonight ►


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Cynthia Buell Thomas

Thu 28th Sep 2017 13:57

Sorry I missed this, Stu. It is hugely interesting, and demanding of scope, like most of your works. All your poems - sometimes baffling, always challenging, and therefore, very worth reading.

I had a bit of a bad period for a few weeks there, but all is well now. I missed September's SALE WOL entirely! And somebody was guesting whom I really wanted to meet - can't remember who. But I'll sort it out in due course.

You are an erratic but inspirational writer. I like the scope of your ideas and imagery, the bizarre connections of ideas. Exactly like LIFE! Nothing exists in limbo.


Thu 14th Sep 2017 11:04

Good work.Thanks for sharing.

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Stu Buck

Wed 13th Sep 2017 12:48

thanks graham! funnily enough, the other poem i wrote that week, 'rapture' was the one i was happier with. it brings up an interesting lesson in what i am looking for in my writing against what others find pleasing. i think thats a great lesson for me as a writer.

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Graham Sherwood

Tue 12th Sep 2017 08:53

I'll just re-post my initial comments when it first appeared on the blog section.............

Well I can't cut and paste the whole bloody lot can I?

These are just superb!...........

"you became noises

like the chirrsome sigh of the penultimate step

the crushed leather wheeze of the corner chair

a soft tinkling as soot fell down the chimney

disturbed by a nesting swallow, perhaps a swift

could it have been a crow?

a flicker of light that spat floaters across my vision

......... Definitely one of your finest Stu!

Great work!

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Stu Buck

Tue 12th Sep 2017 08:03

thank you patrick. same to you!

patrick D Ortiz

Tue 12th Sep 2017 03:43

congrats and well deserved I love reading your work.

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Stu Buck

Mon 11th Sep 2017 17:28

cheers guys! going to give this one its live debut in a couple of weeks in liverpool. lovely to be chosen again, oh what it does to ones self-esteem to be showered with lovely praise

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Wolfgar Miere

Sun 10th Sep 2017 21:17

Great stuff Stu,

many of your works are worthy of POTW and this one is a pearl.

Well deserved.


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Colin Hill

Sun 10th Sep 2017 19:40

a worthy WoL winner any day of the week. Well done Stu.

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Sun 10th Sep 2017 18:31

There are so many layers of thought in this that it is difficult to separate the skeins - you need to enter slowly and work through the vivid dreamlike quality of the piece.
Wonderful work as ever Stu. I enjoyed your page here and what it reveals! I'm so glad you won POTW. It makes complete sense.


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Martin Elder

Sun 10th Sep 2017 18:03

With out a doubt this richly deserves to be POTW it is an absolute cracker. I agree whole heartedly you are going from strength to strength. Keep them coming buddy

patricia Hughes

Sun 10th Sep 2017 11:37

A fantastic piece of work as always.

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