shaun belcher


Coppard returns…

Like a bad penny this story never dies and after I had this photograph taken yesterday I thought similar and did some more digging and found two new articles on ‘Flynn’ and for those less squeamish that comes from the saying ‘in like Flynn’ about Errol Flynn’s legendary bedding of women.

the full story in Coppard link above but here two new takes on the story..

I came from nothing, and it may be I was never anything more than a contrivance for recording emotions I would fain have taken for my own, but could not– life passed me by

From AE Coppard’s semi-autobiographical My Hundredth Tale written c1930

Graham Thomas an English author living in Tokyo has written a very accurate short life of Flynn available here.


The Pink Glass Ceiling replaces the Blue

I just considered submitting a poem to a journal that I will not name. I did so hoping its strap lines about hybrid work true.

When I got to the submission pages I found out hybrid to them meant a bit of mediocre art and a poem…then I delved deeper and my overwhelming despair about the dominance of mainly well to do white middle class women of contemporary poetry was further strengthened.

In this case there were more ‘editors/readers’ than submissions by the looks of it (three female academics main eds- 20 associate eds five male ) I will not go into the BAME count but it low but just enough to get funding.

It like an extension of book reading clubs for the affluent. My gripe is not gender based I sure lots of working class and BAME male and female writers feel excluded by this new Old Girls Club. It about class.

20 odd years of redressing the perceived white/male/stale balance has led to a situation where the dominance of university educated so-called poets is now complete and I give up. The reason for this simple it costs a lot of money to do a PHD (the entry level requirement for being a poet these days) and to get through BA/MA to get there so only the rich can do it.

Add to this the bias towards tickboxing in funding circles and the fact male entrants have declined and we have probably the greatest number of mediocre young poets of all genders in history but frankly most of it is crap.

The process of submitting to the above ‘poetry club’ was ruthlessly blind and seeing number of readers all of one class and ethnic background it fairly clear where that ‘blind’ acceptance by committee leads to i.e. yet more of the same…with the odd token appointment to preserve a smokescreen of ‘balance’ bit like the BBC.

The old system had many flaws but poetry magazines were usually run by mavericks ( yes almost all male) with sometimes unacceptable views but they at least had views now we have a lack of imagination and a death of individuality…this in turn is driven by the homogenisation of social media policing.

For this reason I refuse to write poetry any more frankly I had enough.

From now on short stories and songs only…

Oh and their cover art was fucking awful no sense of graphic design at all shit art and three different fonts on cover..ha…..usually a warning sign. Makes one appreciate the glory days of Ambit all the more ????There an art section and it full of utter shit…sort of stuff academic poets who know nothing of art would produce. The world is chock a block with mediocre art these days:-)

Oh and technical note they all use wordpress and there are loads of them…..say two mags for each creative writing course in UK I’d say…..thats at least 100 then!

I grew up in a male dominated poetry magazine world.

Apart from Acumen I cannot recall a female editor in those days?

I think there a link between this approach and the 20-30 year old creative writing generation progressing in academia. That is it is encouraged as networking but it becomes an exclusive network in itself is what I concerned about and I feel a door closing as it opens for others.

Sadly the tickboxing is fundamental these days to receiving funding which leads to the targetting ( see Poetry Society) but often without noticeable improvement in those who are targetted prospects in long run.

There is redress and there is creating new glass ceilings just of a different hue which where we are now.

Desert Dust : Firebirds

Desert Dust started out as a poem about Spain as part of a sequence originally published in Fire Magazine read here:


Five years ago we slid across this bridge at dawn
after a long hot drive from Barcelona.
I kept waking up on the back seat to see factories
flaring orange against the black hills.
As we entered Zaragoza I saw the basilica lit up
by floodlights that caught the dust swirling in from the desert.

I woke with that dust in my teeth, sweating
whilst you lay there perfectly cool and calm.
We carry our countries in our blood, habits, instincts
that carry us back to the same places in our dreams.
Now I catch you sleeping again; winter, the Ebro rising,
I’m not sweating but still the air here tastes different.

Every winter for five years we have swung back across the bridge
circling your past through the sparkle of christmas lights.
Words have crept into my vocabulary as I struggle with Spanish
but I still get caught like an uprooted tree on the double r’s,
tongue snagged against the bridge supports whilst you sail away
floating on the native rhythm of your language as I submerge.

I stare at the back of another car doused with torrents of rain
as tail-lights burn in the wet roads and palm trees swirl.
I stare at the roads as they flood easily,
a summer’s dust and dirt clogging the drains.
When we met I was washed away on a torrent of affection.
Now we stand on the bridge five years on
wind catching dust, staring into a flood that moves beneath us.

Then it shapeshifted into a lovely track by Diana Derby on the Trailer Star tribute

Now it here…..version numero 3 based on an Englishman’s attempt to deal with the Monegros desert….

It is said that this territory was once covered by dense forests through which squirrels could cross the country from one end to the other.

Now it is desert dust mostly….no squirrels


Tributaries of Ebro splash through pines,
sand-filled water tumbling by roots
as winter sunlight, bright as an English spring,
dazzles through the Parque Grande fountains.

Re-treading your past like a pond-skater,
spinning around your city, dizzy with language,
I skitter past a bronze statue
of an open-mouthed singer I’ve never heard of.

Grass recovering from the last scorching summer
it is still the greenest space in your parched birthplace.
Spawned amidst a tangle of Thames Valley woods
where even in summer drenched fern steams

I find it hard to take in this dryness.
A dust-blown treelessness that surrounds us.
But amidst the burning sands and buckling rails
the white tracks of the possible extend links

that spread below our circling plane
like cow-spittle dripping away from the water-trough.
Below us sheep and goats cloud remote paths
and baking lorries glint on the auto-pista.

From up here the green of the river-plain
is as snicked and trim as any suburban privet.
Beyond the treeless desert and mountains
I think of that squirrel, caught mid-air forever,
never landing.

(Fable has it that Spain was once so densely wooded that
a squirrel could cross the country jumping from tree to tree.)




Poems 1996 – 2000 OXFORD

dedicated to Ivo Charles Belcher (1932-2004)

Firebirds – A Suite for The End of Nature

Birds of Fire Flock Together

Experimenting with poetry and sound….

26 poems related to a damaged ecology 1981-2022

set to some ambient electronic soundscapes.

neither fish nor fowl….

Album cover and here first track based on the Crystal Palace fire as seen above.

The original poem was written in 1982 one of my earliest.

The collection will provide spoken word soundscapes for 26 poems related directly to eco-green political themes I written over the last 40 years.

The tracks are being uploaded to Soundcloud as they completed .

Here first recording..

the great exhibition

two jays in tic-tac spinning
cresting waves of lace curtain and linoleum
two-stepping tarmacadam’s invention
a century’s first mast
the barge of the crystal palace
this gaping hole
where the machinery ploughed into the past
the smell of smoke
of ashes

from ‘The Tithe Machine’ Poems 1981 -84


The playgrounds were strewn with ash
Smoke still billowed from the underpass
Further out in the estuary steam rose
From the tanker now beached and rusting

Lights now only flickered around the estate
On every other day to conserve energy
Milk floats converted to run on steam
Carried bodies of those who froze

Up the icy streets to the crematorium
The one place left they still used gas
The old cylinder gas tanks long since
Deflated like punctured balloons

Horses and cattle roamed the empty fields
Looking for their owners and a bale of hay
But the engines that brought them
Had long since died and started to rust away

No-one now could remember how it started
One day there were fires everywhere
The pylons buzzed in the rain
Then it stopped, silent roads, empty skies

Hands scratching for fuel kept finding
Impressions of leaves and insects in the coal
For a while the neighbours chopped down trees
Built holes in their eco-house rooves

To let the newly built fire-places let out smoke
then the hard winter stopped that
By spring there was no firewood to be had
All the oil and gas had burnt out long ago

Slowly the bones started to appear
Bodies lying in the fields slowly
fading back into the chalky soil
Row upon row of chalky fossils.

My Back Pages

Latest volume Grass Clouds Poems 2002-22

A selection of published and self-published volumes 1992-2022…30 years! I will be reading poems from these various collections tonight at The Organ Grinder with Neil Fulwood.

Here my CV 🙂


(poem here)

Addenda: What I am not.

Shaun Belcher is the author of one out of print slim volume that disappeared into the virtual ether before it was printed via lightning strikes/amazon so qualifies as a work of fiction.
He did not edit any anthology of obscure, unacknowledged legislators nor did he win any prizes, nor should we be specific did he enter any competitions.
He has held no official tenures as a creative writer at any top end nor third rate provincial university and has never reviewed other poets he dislikes for the simple reason of building a profile to get published.
He has never been recommended by friends in the poetry world as he has none and has studiously avoided anything to do with poets or poetry for over two decades.
He is member of no group who look after his publishing and reading interests when his work over time slides into fabulous irrelevancy or simply becomes so bad it an embarrassment.
He has no agenda nor minority axe to grind and has never played on his working class beginnings for pity or favour.
He regards his lifelong devotion to obscurity and keeping some semblance of sanity in a world over-run with poets like a corpse covered in flies that he should not add to other’s suffering by maintaining a steady output of academic poetry which simply done to fulfil research departmental targets.
His earnings from poetry over 40 years accrues to £70 he once got paid for being given a slot at Ledbury Festival by a friend and a commission again via a friend for £500 which works out to roughly £14.25 per annum which a living wage in the poetry world these days.

He is however still a poet if being a poet is none of the above.

He is still alive at time of writing and doesn’t expect things to change radically.

It all depends on a red wheelbarrow apparently and he does not have one.

Happy New Year.


Which one’s Trotsky?

After twenty years chez Nottingham I finally been invited to share my thoughts at a reading.

So if you wish to listen to a couple of bolshy poets tearing down the walls of heartache now’s your chance…

Neil Fulwood been around a bit has some books and generally a good egg….

He will be promoting his new Smokestack Press publication and generally taking the piss out of the Tories which in current climes no bad thing.

I will be ranting as usual……at everything.

I will be reading from this book available until August 2nd as a free pdf download below.

GRASS CLOUDS : 20 years on the poetry bench.

Armitage has been run ragged at left back let’s see what the new boy can do…

I will be offering this as a free download from this evening as it Bastille day.
GRASS CLOUDS contains everything I have written as ‘poetry’ since I arrived in Nottingham in 2002 so about 20 years worth

Contains 80 poems and some illustrations. I will be reading from it on Tuesday August 2nd at the Organ Grinder Canning Circus with Neil Fulwood who celebrating his new Smokestack Press publication.

Includes the following pamphlets and projects:

Drifting Village Poems 2001-2011

Edwin Smith Commission 2014

Burning Books and Buying time 2017 – 2018

My Father’s Things (illustrated) 2019

At the Organ Grinder I shall also be reading from the new volume ‘Substitute’ which due in Fall 2022.

« Older posts

© 2023 shaun belcher

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑