The Blue Nib

The second of our books released in this our final online only issue. This is a collection by Shirley Bell which I had the great pleasure of selecting.


I first encountered Shirley in the summer of 2017 when she submitted work to our then fledgling magazine. I was impressed enough by her work to select her as our featured poet and to ask her to lend some assistance with the magazine. Shirley quickly stepped into the role of Editor-in-Chief and has since then been largley responsible for selecting content. Her attention to quality and  detail become quickly apparent to any who peruse The Blue Nib.

In December 2017 Shirley was kind enough to send me her collected works, Dark is a Way and Light is a Place. which I began to read over the Christmas break. I enjoyed the book so much that I took it with me on my annual writing binge in January and it remained on my bedside locker becoming more dog-eared, in fact over the three months of intesive writing, it was the book I continually returned to.

Shirley’s talent is in her ability to condense a story and turn it into a technically superb poem that resonates with readers on several levels. In her writing she examines life and the struggles she has encountered in such a way as to allow the reader to immerse themselves, to feel the joy and the pain. She is often humourous, sometime self depracating but always worthy.

She writes from the standpoint of a mother, a wife, a warrior and a human. When Shirley asked me to select poems for this collection I had the great pleasure of re-reading the work again and in each reading found more, and learned more, so that the work felt like a skin one could easily slip into. It has been a pleasure to know Shirley both through her work and as a friend.

The Still Room
A collection of new and selected poems, chosen by Dave Kavanagh, by Shirley Bell, a widely published and anthologised poet who edits The Blue Nib, Her poetry is archived in the Special Collection at the University of Lincoln (UK).
“In this collection, Shirley explores life in all its strength and fragility, presented through an eye that observes the unseen detail and in a way that allows the reader to immerse themselves.”
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