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When we decided on the theme of breaks for this issue, we knew some strong poems would arrive in the inbox.  Already familiar with powerful lines like Sylvia Plath’s “I break up in pieces and fly about like clubs” from Elm and Tennyson’s rending elegy Break, Break, Break, we were, all the same, surprised by the extraordinary range of tone and far-reaching subject matter. After poems of great delicacy and eggshells came others of metal and grind. Poems which could make us stride forward, unshakeable and unbreakable were contrasted with those that took us to intimate moments with broken loved ones, to worlds with brittle justice and breaking hearts.

The poems we have selected reach in to bring a new look on a familiar scene, take us to places we have not been before, or show us new ways to be in our sometimes broken but beautiful world. We have selected 67 new poems to share here, and we hope you love them as much as we do. There are stunning new poems from Penelope Shuttle and Mimi Khalvati, joined by new work from Jo Bell, Christopher James, Wendy Klein, Martin Figura and many others with familiar and not-so-familiar names.

In prose, the authors provide salve and stimulation for those who have ever felt broken. For Deryn Rees-Jones poetry is a matter of life and death, as her article deals unflinchingly with the role of writing and terminal illness. Elsewhere, Lorraine Mariner considers contemporary poems which chart the journeys of our broken hearts and break-up blues. John Humphrys draws on his time as a war reporter to revisit a poem from the First World War in this year of centenary commemoration, and Colette Bryce corresponds with a lesser known Northern Irish poet, Padraic Fiacc, in a new poem of her own militarized childhood.

Break this issue open and discover what’s inside.


Abegail Morley Nesting in the Wardrobe
Jo Bell Swans
Charles Leggett Separation Analogy
Rona Laycock Ship Breakers of Bangladesh
William Stephenson Sundowner
Martin Figura How to Make a Family


Cleaning Our Bones In her early poem Advice to a Discarded Lover, Fleur Adcock compares the left lover to a dead bird, “not only dead, not only fallen, / but full of maggots”. The conclusion of the poem advises, “Do not ask me for charity now: / go away until your bones are clean.” One of the first break-up…
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