Transportation Press: Featuring the Nottingham Writers’ Studio

Brenda Baxter
Image from the Book “Urbanislands” by Brenda Baxter

An excerpt from ‘Urbanislands’ a short book by Nottingham writer and artist Brenda Baxter.

Arriving in Nottingham from the station walk towards the city centre. Soon it will be possible to circumnavigate the island’s perimeters and explore its centre. You’ll notice the street names and other aspects of its geography speak of a past island life. The buildings are bound by an interlocking system of roads and traffic lights where it’s still possible for the traveller to walk with some ease of entry and exit. The flow of traffic is both predictable and relentless, like the tides and estuaries. Soon you will come to know them and even take comfort from them.

There is a struggling island community and one that can be similarly experienced in islands in the North West of Scotland or Ireland. George Pett built here in 1914 and that building still stands. Many of its inhabitants have long since fled to other shores to make a living. Rumour has it that the Owner of the island has abandoned islanders and that there is little hope for their future livelihood. Maybe you will be able to encounter them on walking the island and maybe you will share a conversation for they have become shy and uncertain, wary of strangers, suspicious of tourists with cameras and fine talking ways.

Ocean is the place to meet the islanders. It’s one place that welcomes strangers. Tales are exchanged and those who congregate on its steps or in its doorways invite flights of fantasy and gruesome stories of the past. I’ve come here to understand the nature of things here and to find a way to escape the prospect of this island disappearing.

We’ll be posting video works by multi-media artist and writer Brenda Baxter in the following days.

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Transportation Press: Featuring the Nottingham Writers’ Studio

Major Oak by Major Hayman Rooke 1970
Major Oak by Major Hayman Rooke, 1970

Grace Darling at Alnwick Castle – after the Forfarshire

by Kathleen Bell

‘And there was no more sea.’

Inland tastes of chaff and honey.

The earth is rich with grain.
Pigs, sheep are humble. Silent, the soft-eyed calves
tender their docile necks to the farmer’s knife
and streams run sweet.

By night the seals swim close
pushing through nightmare in a moment’s grace
till they slide, laugh, clap – bloated mistakes
disturbing dreams.

The taste of salt is gone.
I am made soft as soil. My task is set:
obey the ladies, watch, give answer to their
endless questions.

‘Books and my father schooled me –
I learned the Bible, sermons, tales of peoples,
countries elsewhere.’
Read polish clean write cipher –
oceans and words.

‘Always busy at home,
we harvest the sea. Cormorant, sea-weed, eggs
are good for food.’
Seals we must skin and salt,
which we take, eat.

The woman flapped like a bird
when we rowed to Harcar. ‘Spray was fierce, hit hard’
at her closed and stone-dead sons whom we took, laid
limp on black rock.

‘But surely suffering saves?’
Riches do not ennoble. I have been carried
far from my work and set among ladies –
dull, indolent, useless,
wicked as seals.

Writer’s bio:

Kathleen Bell’s recent pamphlet at the memory exchange (Oystercatcher, 2014), was  short-listed for the Saboteur awards. She has poems in the current issues of New Walk, PN Review and Under the Radar, and has recently been included in the anthology A Speaking Silence, literary magazine Hearing Voices and the on-line poetry magazines The Stare’s Nest and Litter. She writes fiction as well as poetry, and teaches Creative Writing at De Montfort University.




Transportation Press: Featuring the Nottingham Writers’ Studio


Nottingham Loves

by Bridie Squires

I rise to the sound of the City Ground chanting,
runs and Raleigh bike rides,
riverside gathering
festivals and hissing geese,
rowing blokes’ megaphones,
the prickling of summer heat.

I get to the bus stop,
funds a bit low, so
I tick a quid off the shop
until tomorroh.

I clock Notts bop by,
hear cars rockin’ beats
from the cracked window
that causes all the beef.

Old biddies titter about
tram works and price drops,
we pass the back of Broado and
‘Ooh! This is my stop!’

We swing
of the jungle bus,
say ‘Cheers!’ to the driver
because we are a humble bunch.

Outside Viccy Centre,
gotta cross the road,
red man signals us to stop
but we don’t do as we’re towd.

A mum tells her kid to ‘HARK IT!’
while eating cobs on Viccy Market.
I skip the fish and buy some ham –
I get me cockles from Dave Bartram!

I make my way down Clumber Street,
shout ‘Ayup’ to maybe two or three
mates whose face I haven’t seen
since Macy’s.

I visit a few places:
The Corner, Confetti, Laser Quest, Library.
From Wilford Pond to Wollo Park,
it’s clean and it’s tidy.

The phone rings,
my mate’s been tryin’
to meet at the left lion
so we dip toes in the square’s fountain rain,
remembering the good old emo days.

We go Arb to take in the scenery,
the budding, fresh-cut greenery
packed with sounds of laughter laced
with love that comes quite easily.

We visit Forest Rec,
it’s filled with ducks and youths,
Goose Fair and the carnival
have joined to set the mood.

with toffee apples and live art,
rides and local music.
We’re churning creamy talent
so we nurture it and use it.

Even Whycliffe pops along
to sing a little tune
of how our city whispers ‘Nowt
is impossible to do.’

We make tracks to the Olde Trip,
sing songs among the caves,
when a text message shares tips

It’s the final hour of the eve,
I nip and see me mam,
drink cups of tea while eating three
Yorkshire puds with jam.

We talk brash, but warm and honest
from West Bridgford to Sherwood Forest.

From Silverdale to Hyson Green
and all the places in between,
we’ve built a city full of treats
on grounds of creativity.

For Nottingham, I’d pinch the throne
’cause there’s just no place like home.

Writer’s Bio:

Bridie Squires is a Nottingham enthusiast who loves to put pen to paper. As a family member of arts and culture magazine LeftLion, and of the spoken word collective Mouthy Poets, she enjoys brandishing a big gob all the same.