The History of a Poetry Group – Pimento Poets by Maureen Sutton


    PIMENTO POETS,  By Maureen Sutton


    Long before we acquired the name ‘Pimento Poets’ I organised a poetry group in Lincoln which was an extension of a W.E.A. (Workers Educational Association), creative writing class.   Students were keen to continue their writing between term times and so we met in:  Cafes, Public Houses, and the atrium in Lincoln University.

    The Sun Café (an arts venue) in Lincoln run by Nimiljya Yusuriya was one of one most popular venues and workshops were held there by Michael Blackburn, Paul Sutherland and others; Benjamin Zephaniah called in whenever he was reading in Lincoln. The cafe closed when Nimiljya retired, it’s now a tattoo parlour!

    Noise became a problem, especially coffee machines, people banging coffee jugs, noisy tills, background music and landlords who refused to turn off loud music.  We began a tour of cafes and restaurants with a spare room; gradually making our way from the centre of Lincoln to the uphill area of the city, as Lincoln truly is a tale of two cities.

    In 2011 we settled at the Pimento Tea Rooms on the Steep in uphill Lincoln.  (Now Closed).  We were made most welcome and had the use of an upstairs quiet room, big enough to accommodate 15 people.  (We have between 7 and 10 poets who read every month,  sometimes more). There was no charge for the room but an agreement that we all bought refreshments and/or stayed for a meal.

    We are a diverse group who make people very welcome. We: encourage one another, listen, offer constructive criticism and make suggestions.  Poets come from many areas of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire. One poet lives in Belfast but visits us three or four times a year. Over the years poets have left the area but some keep in touch. Sometimes we will decide on a subject for our next meeting, but on numerous occasions, a few of us have written about the same thing though this has been purely coincidental.  Between the group, we have written the majority of formats:  acrostic, blank verse, couplets, dialect, free verse, haiku, pantoum, quatrain, quintet, refrain, sestet, sonnet, tercet, triplet and villanelle.


    Over the years the way in which our work has been read has seen a number of changes, mainly due to the increasing use of modern technology: paper (where copies are handed out),  iPhone, iPad, other phones and tablets, and laptops.  Knowing the difference between reading and hearing a poem, many of us still prefer a hand-out. (eye to hear is different).


    We have self-published two books, ‘Voices from the Steep’ and in connection with the anniversary of the First World War, ‘Long Time Passing’(a century of wars). Also included are poems of the Second World War. We are now putti

    ng together a third anthology, title to be decided. We have given readings at numerous venues: churches, a literature festival, museum, theatre and universities.  The majority of us have published collections and some of us are currently working on one.

    Our present group includes:  Shirley Bell, Ron Booth, Philip Dunn, Susan Flower, Vernon Goddard, Adrian Hogan, Nic Lance (our secretary) John Malvert, Celia McCulloch, Gerry Miller, Jane Riley, Jane Simmons, Paul Sutherland, Maureen Sutton, Richard Tedstone, and Sue Wallace. We now meet at Stokes Café in The Lawn in uphill Lincoln, we meet on the second Monday of the month at 10.30 until noon.

    A selection of the group’s  poetry

    Doan’t Werrit

    Doan’t yer werrit maate ’e wearn’t be stunt for iver
    Noaa, not least ‘e teks on like ‘is granddad.
    ‘e were stunt as a mell, never would give in, werrited
    ‘is sen to early grave, an all ovver price o’ tates.
    ‘e were mean enough to rob bairns o’ stick o’rhubarb.
    Mind you ‘e were no fool, ‘ave seen ‘im argue ovver
    Owt an’ get ‘is maates that mazzled that none on ‘em ends
    up knowing who’s said what an’ ‘e’s made a bob or two.
    I reckons it were that there lamb trottle tea as to why
    ‘e got ‘is call, gor it were sudden as a lop landing on cat.
    ‘Er as liggers-out found ‘im, reckoned bees was as fell
    As owt but she allus talks doggery-baw, soa, if it wearn’t
    Lamb trottle as tok ‘im it must ‘ave been tiger bacon as
    Was a bit reasty, that’s why bees an mawks was fell.
    He’d gone out that morning to watter ‘is tates, pearls
    An’ rubies, that he paid ovver the odds for an’ he must
    ‘ave dropped like a sack on ‘em.
    ‘is misses didn’t bury ‘im with ‘am, noa maate it were
    Tates, green pig uns at that, an they laid ‘im low and then
    built ‘im up like ‘he were liggin in a tattie grave.
    ‘is grand bain’s gone in fer curly coats an’ a few long wools
    They’ll make a few quid.

    Werrit is to worry.  Iver means ever.  Noaa means no. Teks means takes.  Sen means self.  Bairns are children.
    Maates are his friends.  Mazzled is puzzled. Lop is a flea. Doggery-baw is rubbish / nonsense. Mawks are maggots.  Liggin is to lay down. A tattie grave is a pile of potatoes covered over with straw, to protect from frost. In the Lincolnshire dialect we drop aitches as in His / ‘is but where there isn’t one we put one in as hoil meaning oil.

    Maureen Sutton

    Appeal to A House Sparrow
    for Farrah

    Sparrow, Sparrow – they’ve taken my granddaughter away from me

    Quick Little Phillip – they’ve taken my granddaughter away

    In the bare thicket of a hedgerow the rain’s trickling down

    You chirp away, on your own today, chirruping half the day

    My Settled Spuggie – you gone quiet, and now is only rain

    Trickling winkling down through the thickset of a hedgerow

    Homely Cheeper – I’ve spent a lifetime or more to you listening

    Sailor of the Eaves – if you big ears, tilt your head listen to my plea

    If you A Lost Soul Catcher, you biggest wings, bring her safe to me

    Bird of Far Arrival – they’ve taken my granddaughter away from me.

    Paul Sutherland


    The Fox Husband

    You are used to his absence.  It is how you know
    him.  Escape and evasion are his expertise –
    you will never quite run him to earth.
    It’s true he occasionally empties the bin,
    but not in a good way.  You know him well
    by his sideways grin.  You know him by his smell,
    the trace of him that all his cunning cannot
    hide.  You are familiar with that stare that tells you
    nothing.  Age has weathered you;
    but it has hardened him.  A touch of mange,
    maybe; some grey around the chops;
    but there’s that air of menace still.  The teeth
    that kill are sharp as ever, wits sharper yet.
    In Winter you are woken by his cough, to see the even
    stitching where his prints scarper across
    the whitened yard.  In Spring it’s fight and flight;
    a sliding glance; a fast exit.  In the Summer
    he’s deployed, to stake out and destroy distant
    warrens and roosts.  But sometimes, as the leaves
    fall, he’ll just turn up, with Autumn’s camouflage
    for his disguise.  It’s then you see the panic of the hunt
    behind his eyes;  all those close calls, kills and skirmishes
    replaying on some endless loop.  It’s then you can tell
    it’ll be hell in the hen-coop tonight.

    (Published in Effigies by Susan Wallace (2018) The Leveret Press)

    3 Sea View Terrace

    Our house nestled itself along the beach
    Right down to the gentle waved sea.
    Buoyed up with Yankee images
    Foreign ways,
    We pirated ourselves in gangs of dubious kinds.
    Playing havoc,
    Hop scotch,
    Or someone’s Blind.
    We knocked on knockers,
    Told jokes, some raucous, unkind.
    Rode bikes over mountains
    Down dangerous Dunes
    Til the call of the Tribal Chief
    And the call of the moon.

    Next day, it started
    Where others laid off,
    With dangerous liaisons
    Kites, swimming, the lot.
    You be a Superman, I’ll be the joker
    Let’s fence, let’s capor let’s dance the polka.
    Lollipops for thrupence,
    Fallen apples for less
    We trundled, meandered through
    Life’s long caress.

    Vernon Goddard.


    Spirit of Summer

    The swifts screech through the streets,
    Perform their teenage stunts
    With careless breakneck grace –

    Dipping suddenly,
    Grazing a head,

    Peeling off.
    They reappear without warning,
    Thunder by, ascend an invisible scarp,
    And dissolve into the summer sky.

    Jane Riley



    Overactive mind
    Can’t go to sleep
    Would be nice to nod off
    But can’t

    Turn on the DAB radio
    The music’s too lively
    Overactive mind
    Can’t go to sleep
    Would be nice to nod off
    But can’t

    Puff up the pillow
    Toss & turn
    It’s no good
    Overactive mind
    Can’t go to sleep
    Would be nice to nod off
    But can’t

    Flip over to
    BBC World Service
    A continuous loop
    Of depressing news
    Every half hour
    Switch off the radio
    Wish I could switch off
    Overactive mind
    Can’t go to sleep
    Would be nice to nod off
    But can’t

    Hear an owl hooting
    I think of all the people
    Out there
    Fast asleep
    Tucked under their duvets
    Dreaming & snoring
    Overactive mind
    Can’t go to sleep
    Would be nice to nod off
    But can’t

    Go over the latest episode
    Of Borgen
    The cut and thrust
    How politics and the press
    Are all mixed up
    The way their lives intertwine
    My mind goes into overdrive
    Can’t go to sleep
    Would be nice to nod off
    But can’t

    Too tired to sleep
    Give up & get up
    go downstairs
    and walk about
    Overactive mind
    Can’t go to sleep
    Would be nice to nod off
    But can’t

    Feeling peckish
    Eat a banana
    Wide awake
    I’ve blown it now
    Lost my sleep pattern
    Hyperactive mind
    Can’t go to sleep
    Would be nice to nod off
    But no way will I nod off now!

    Nic Lance



    I thought of other days,
    long working days
    with malevolent mornings,
    and hemlock afternoons
    that encroached upon
    the nocturnal paths of evening.

    Thinking of today now gone,
    I casually inserted the comma,
    the apostrophe, the hyphen,
    the semi-colon, and the exclamation mark –
    allocating each
    to its appropriate place,
    until the précis was complete.

    But other elusive days crept in
    with hodge-podge situations
    that required explanations,
    not forthcoming –
    when I had watched both bee and butterfly
    settle on the same flower head
    tolerating each other’s right to nectar.

    I sighed, heavily,
    thinking of my greedy, selfish world
    of inverted commas,
    brackets, various apostrophes,
    an asterisk or two –
    and I wondered about the inevitable
    full stop.

    John Malvert



    I clutch a conch shell in one small blue fist,
    Place it to your ear, hear my cry!
    For shelter, warmth, food, water,
    Dry clothes, a bed to lay my four year’s burdens.
    A firm land that rocks me only with a mother’s hand.
    Not bomb blasts, gun shots, all reverberations,
    The ceaseless shallow recriminations of war.

    Now leave me,  foreigner, to your peace,
    Pink dawning skies, white beach, calm sands,
    Stranded far from Syria, exhausted by our drowned dinghy.
    I grasp in my other hand the shimmering rainbow
    That is Europe, its pot of gold our refuge.
    Carry me above these turbulent grey waters,
    Lay me down gently, safe in your nurturing hands.

    Susan Flower



    Little moves here but by the wind.

    Grasses bend, poppies shudder,

    a plastic bag balloons and skates.

    A discard from the Ely Standard flaps . . .

    flaps, as if to mock the heron in the cut.


    The rocket tails of drain and ditch,

    the rutted, weeping tractor tracks,

    lie straight as steelyards here, etching lines

    of pewter, intaglio, in the green,

    where they near and meet and vanish.


    Reeds round here must grow ten feet

    before they top the field’s edge.

    A sweep of the horizon meets

    no real resistance; barely house

    or hill to slow the curious eye.


    Stunted by distance, willow and poplar

    lend a smudged perimeter

    to this prostrated topography.

    Land that cannot rise, even to its knees,

    under the majesty of such skies.


    © Philip Dunn



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