The Write Out Loud Poem of the Week is ‘Potential’ by Rich

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Rich is starting 2019 by winning our Poem of the Week accolade for the first time with his muscular piece Potential. This poem is a treat for the senses. You can feel the winter cold, smell the fuel in the forest air, hear the chainsaw as it fires into life. It's a reminder that poetry is everywhere around us, if you choose to look.


Our thanks to Rich for his responses to our Q&A, and to the adult education class which brought him – eventually – to poetry, and to Poem of the Week. We hope you enjoy his answers to our questions, and his poem, and that it inspires you to go away and write your own.


What got you into writing poetry?
An adult education creative writing class introduced me to flash fiction, which lead to me blogging the odd piece online.  The Flash fiction morphed into poetry, after a friend of mine told me a piece I’d written would make a really good poem.  After a while, I just really enjoyed the task of writing a poem every now and again.


How long have you been writing?
Creative writing at school was something I always really enjoyed.  I never did an A Level in English or anything, and didn’t follow it up until years later; I’ve been writing now for maybe 14 or 15 years.


Do you go to any open-mic nights?
I’ve done a couple of open mic nights, and recently I’ve started running some myself.  A friend and I run poetry and spoken word events in our local area, under the guise of SeahavenPoets.  We’ve got our second ever literary festival coming up in February, which is keeping us busy.


What’s your favourite poet/poem? 
My favourite poet is Dylan Thomas, and I don’t have a favourite poem – but the start of Under Milk Wood never fails to blow me away.  I have a vinyl copy of the Richard Burton version, that my Grandmother passed on to me, which she used to listen to in between singing hymns with her friend.


You're cast away on a desert island. What's your luxury?
There’s masses I could pick, but there’re two candidates for the honour,  one is my small collection of fountain pens, and the other is a particular tropical fruit called a rambutan.  Given rambutans are tropical fruit, they might already grow on the desert island (fingers crossed), which would mean I could take my pens.

by Rich


Grey light.  Cold trunks.  Leaf litter in the damp
morning.  Chainsaw gloves smell of oil, petrol,
wood shavings and exhaust.  Gloves stiff with cold,
infused with toil and woodland management.
A deer crosses, silent stealth, picking soft
through the green-tinged, spring-poised coppice.  March is
in touching distance, harvest will cease while
flowers grow.  No one sees the deer, none care.
Kevlar boots, thick and languid, grip feet – firm,
sturdy, toe caps; tools themselves: an investment –
compress feet in slight, comfortable pain.
Legs flex, fingers twitch, breaths hang in clear air.
Silence is transitory: a car revs
past.  No traffic here, only folk who mean
to pass or visit on purpose come by;
few stop, less mean to arrive and take breath.
Trance broken, two-stroke slosh-glugs fuel tank
full, starter cord-rip cough-chokes engine to
life, gut-revving blue smoke; clearing to a
putting, chink-kick exhaust.  Teeth blaze-cut wood.


◄ Multilingual classrooms, problem or poetry?

Write Out Loud at Stockport art gallery tonight ►


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Thu 24th Jan 2019 17:35

Thanks everyone for all your comments - it's really encouraging, so thank you. ?

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Martin Elder

Sun 20th Jan 2019 13:53

There are some beautiful lines here Rich.
well done

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Sat 19th Jan 2019 11:02

An effective use of a staccato style , the reverse of flow. Conjures up the mood of the season. Congratulations Rich


Big Sal

Thu 17th Jan 2019 12:23

Nice piece!

Frances Macaulay Forde

Thu 17th Jan 2019 04:48

Huge congratulations, Rich. Well done! Very atmospheric and rooted in the real. Most enjoyable.

jennifer Malden

Wed 16th Jan 2019 18:15

Really outstanding - one can really be there on the freezing morning with the various smells, and can hear the chainsaw working. Liked spring-poised coppice.

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john short

Wed 16th Jan 2019 16:00

Good poem. There are some spot-on images here that take us right into the scene. I liked breaths hang in clean air. Well done.

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Alan Travis Braddock

Wed 16th Jan 2019 12:34

Pastoral poetry brought up-to-date by a chain-saw of all things!
Nice one.

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John F Keane

Wed 16th Jan 2019 11:33

Reminds me of Walt Whitman in its freshness and immediacy.

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Tim Ellis

Tue 15th Jan 2019 13:41

Nicely appropriate poem for me because I’m just about to fire up my own chainsaw and spend the afternoon doing some coppicing for a customer. I can tell you do a lot of this work too. Well described!

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Jon Stainsby

Tue 15th Jan 2019 05:43

Congratulations, Rich.

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Brian Maryon

Mon 14th Jan 2019 13:11

Rich congratulations!

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M.C. Newberry

Mon 14th Jan 2019 13:05

Clearly a connection here with woodland and those who cherish
and maintain it. Good use of description to conjure up a scene of
work amongst the trees.

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Greg Freeman

Mon 14th Jan 2019 10:06

Admirable poem that places you right in the spot. Fine blend of the mechanical and the natural. Well done, Rich.

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