This poem sprang out of our ‘voices’ Poetry ID workshop at the end of February. Thanks to Luisetta for sifting that topic from the ether that evening.




The first time I heard your voice

it touched me so closely

I almost hung up.

Who was this stranger who spoke to me?

My voice hid in the business of practical detail,

peering out from behind the leaves

newly aware of its nakedness.

Now we converse, sometimes

cloaked in familiarity,

sometimes skin on skin.


Ríonach Aiken

Poetry on the Brain

Thought you might be interested in this research into the impact of poetry.

Ríonach Aiken


Ever since I saw the fascinating BBC documentary a few years ago ‘Why Reading Matters’, I’ve been interested in the impact that reading has on the brain and on human evolution. Liverpool University, whose research was originally featured in that film, has now conducted further pioneering research showing that reading challenging literature ‘acts like a rocket-booster to the brain’ and serves to ‘shift mental pathways, create new thoughts, shapes and connections’.

I was delighted (though entirely unsurprised) to hear that reading poetry, in particular, triggers self-reflection by activating areas within the brain’s right hemisphere associated with autobiographical memory and emotion, ‘causing the reader to reflect and rethink their own experiences in light of what they read.’

“Poetry is not just a matter of style. It is a matter of deep versions of experience that add the emotional and biographical to the cognitive,” said Professor Davis, who argues that…

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No Bells


A poem from our writing workshop last night. Thanks to John Gohorry and the group for coming up with the stimulus.

No Bells

Even though I know what ails me
I push on.
One foot,
then the other.
One short breath.
One more.

Fingers clench, gnawing at each other.
Even my toes curl and squirm.

Across the road, trees huddled
in their winter coats of ivy
fumble in their pockets
for the woodwind notes of pigeons,
a secret code to summon the lost.
Children’s laughter floats
and is swallowed by silence.

There are no bells anymore.
Everything real is melted down
to fuel the virtual.

It’s simple.
Just breathe.
One breath.
Then another.


Ríonach Aiken