A summer of poetry at The Leopard

The next Poetry Society Stanza at The Leopard pub in Burslem is on Tuesday 17th June at 7.30pm. It’ll be a read-around with opportunities for feedback and critiques.

Jo Bell reading at The Leopard

Jo Bell reads at The Leopard

Jo Bell and Caroline Hawkridge were our guest poets on 20th May and it was great to hear them read and also discuss their writing strategies. Some excellent input from them both too, during the read-around session.

Caroline’s poem, Peregrine, evoked much discussion and you can read it here on the website of the marvellous Dark Horse poetry magazine where it was published in 2012, with some insightful comments by editor Gerry Cambridge.

Caroline Hawkridge reading at The Leopard

Caroline reads for us

A previous guest poet, James Sheard will be reading from his pamphlet, Facing the Garden which resulted from his poet-in-residency at The Dorothy Clive Garden. The reading and book-launch will take place at 6.15pm on Monday 9th June and includes a drinks and canape reception. You can find full details here.

There’s also an opportunity to enter the Poetry Society’s Stanza competition which this year takes as its theme, Neglect. The competition is judged by Les Robinson and you can find full details here.

On the subject of competitions, Leopard regular Karen Schofield was among the commended entrants for this year’s prestigious Hippocrates Poetry Prize. The Hippocrates is an international competition which receives hundreds of entries so a place in the commended category is a superb achievement.

You can read Karen’s commended poem below:


The temperature spikes madly on the chart,
the gasps and wheezes signal the despair
of both lungs near to their expiry date,
unable any more to process air.
A mask is like a shell clamped on your face
which softly hisses gas delivered from
a cylinder bolt upright on a stand:
its valve is set at twenty four percent
but such precision makes no difference
to the purple hue of your lips and hands.
In secret, behind the floor length curtains,
away from the busy nurses’ station,
I touch your cheek, lift up the mask and blow
a little extra air into your mouth,
willing my kiss of life to make a change
and boost your oxygen saturation.
Then thought of when we scrambled up the hill
and you ran on ahead to reach the top;
when I caught up you tried to speak until
I silenced you, a kiss to make you stop.

You can read more about the commended entries here.

Karen’s poem appears with the winning and shortlisted poems in this year’s Hippocrates Anthology.

Jenny Hammond brought this striking poem to The Leopard on 20th May.


He loved gardenias; their exotic perfume;
their snow-white purity.
They balanced his life with a reminder
of glamour, leisure, pleasure —

cigarettes smoking in holders between fingers,
nails manicured, buffed to a shine;
chauffeurs; a Flying Lady poised
upon the polished bonnet of a Rolls Royce.

His memories bright as he whistled
tunelessly beneath a bristly moustache,
flung coins into the air for his grandchildren;
drowned their shrieks with a hearty guffaw.

He spent each working day at his bench with
a view across the sea to The Gwineas rocks,
and Menaese Point with traces of ancient fields
dotted with sheep and grazing cows.

An ancient Anglepoise illuminated his work,
magnified by prismatic binoculars
strapped around his head and,
with home-made tools in his craftsman’s hands,

he engraved gold and semi-precious stones
into cameo’s alter ego. A family crest
on green carnelian, Aries the Ram on black onyx,
a personal motto on crystal.

Long before, when quill dipped into inkwell
scribed missives of love; when nib pen scratched
crosses on certificates of birth and death;
when the idea of gummed envelopes nestled like

seed in the brain of some unborn inventor;
letters written at desks hiding secrets,
sealed with wax melted over a candle’s flame,
bore the trappings of wealth in their Coats of Arms.

In old age he reminisced, proud and
satisfied with a legacy linked to the past,
aware of technology already
replacing his skills with clicking keys.

So he withdrew, filed away his memories,
and with the nostalgic tears of old age
spent his last years and hours
with the perfume of gardenias.

We hope to see you on 17th June for more poetry at The Leopard – and don’t forget Alsager Poems & Pints hosted by Phil Williams at The Lodge pub, Crewe Road at 8pm on Thursday 3rd July.

Leopard sig (small)


About theleopard66

I am a member of the Stoke Stanza of The Poetry Society and run a bi-monthly Poems & Pints event in Alsager.
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