Beneath The Boughs: let the poetry begin!

Beneath The Boughs, Lowther Castle & Gardens, Cumbria

Beneath The Boughs: photo by Katie Johnston

It’s official: Beneath The Boughs is up and running!

…though during the set-up, we were under the sweltering sun as often as beneath the boughs. Now that the weather seems to have cooled off a little, though, the time couldn’t be more perfect for visiting Lowther Castle & Gardens and seeing the project for yourself.

Poets whose work is featured in the installation come from as near as Bampton, and as far as Singapore. The poetry is displayed on a washing line, on pebbles, hanging from the trees, and in a whole host of other ways and places. There are also poems produced in workshops by students at Shap Primary School and Queen Elizabeth Grammar School.

At the entrance to the Gardens, you will be given a map that pinpoints the various parts of the installation, and after that, you’re free to wander at your leisure, discovering great poems as you go.

Beneath The Boughs poetry installation, Lowther Castle, Cumbria

Beneath The Boughs: photo by Katie Johnston

Beneath The Boughs: Teaser Trailer

As I’m sure you’re all aware, there isn’t long to go until Beneath The Boughs goes live!

The exhibition officially opens on July 19th, which is less than a month away (although there’s still time for any poets out there to send in a last-minute submission).

So we thought we’d treat you to a little teaser:


‘winter trees’, by Adrian Rogan features in Beneath The Boughs. To see more amazing poems, come along to the exhibition itself. Details here.

Adrian Rogan: lives on the edge of cumbria, occasionally falls off, writes stories and poetry; currently into Dorothy Wordsworth and Saint-Exupery; likes snow.

‘Cosmopolibackofbeyondism’ – Robert Crawford

‘Cosmopolibackofbeyondism is a creed with a wink in it. Poetry’s obsessions – love, death, God, sound, silence – travel across times and cultures; nothing could be more cosmopolitan. At the same time, verse is a marginal act, operating way out at the back of beyond, at the limits of what can be said. Its centrality and marginality are bonded.

Every poem is an island. To get to a poem requires sailing out from the mainland of routine language. Some poems are close to shore, others much further away; on every island it is possible to feel remote and at home. A poem is defined by the rugged shore of its right-hand margin, cutting it off from prose. Yet just as any poem-island has the tang of the back of beyond, it has, too, aspects, shared speech-forms, political shapes, faiths, which link it to other places. All poems are connected, most simply through the shared cosmopolis of verse.’

– Robert Crawford, Cosmopolibackofbeyondism (2000)

Cafe Poet: Elizabeth Mann

Have no fear, folks! We’re still featuring some of our fabulous Cafe Poets on the site. (For the full list of poets, check out here.)


Featured Cafe Poet: Elizabeth Mann


have sipped the salt-brink,
lived its pitch and precipice.
On my desk they sit domestic
as crockery. Inside I hear whispers
of grit, but little else. There is no
softness left, only the perfect
swerve of their orbits. Yet once
way out in the wild and wet
they rode the tide, brim-full of flesh


Raised in Peterborough, Elizabeth later fell head-over-heels in love with poetry when she lived in Durham castle. She’s now in St Andrews doing the MLitt in Creative Writing and eating copious amounts of baked goods. Elizabeth is also the newest member of the [insert text here] staff.

Cafe Poet: Katie Byford

The physical manifestation of our Cafe Poetry project has come to an end. But don’t worry! We’ll continue to feature the Cafe Poets online, and you can always check out the poets we’ve previously featured via the Cafe Poetry page.

So make yourself a coffee, grab some cake, and sit back and read today’s featured Cafe Poet:


Featured Cafe Poet: Katie Byford


to the letter A

Curling up by the hearth in my throat,
a lock of red hair
reaching round to brush your cheek –
red, always red; now

not a pulse but a root –
strong marble columns resting their foreheads together,
your light architecture
holding my windpipe open
with two straight feet; sometimes

you swim through my lips like an alpha
and thick tail fins scratch their consonant followers
across my tongue,

a spring of liquid vowel
touching dry lips.


Katie is a sixth-former from West London, studying Latin, Ancient Greek and English, with the intention of reading Classics at university. She enjoys music, 50s cinema, and generally any activity not involving a calculator.

The Cafe Poetry Mystery…

Yesterday (Sunday 4th November) was the final day of our Cafe Poetry project, which took place at Bibi’s Cafe, North St, St Andrews.

But never fear! We haven’t quite finished with it yet, as we’ll be continuing to feature some of our Cafe Poets on our website in the coming weeks.

Today’s featured poet is something of a mystery. This morning, on going to Bibi’s to collect the jam jars and the poems they held, I found something rather odd: one of our poems had been removed, and replaced with a handwritten poem, entitled ‘Rain’. On investigating further (turning the piece of paper over), I discovered that the poem had been signed, ‘Anon’.

This is what [insert text here] is all about. We loved it that our project inspired someone to write something, and we loved it even more that the mysterious writer chose to share that poem with us. The poem itself also gave us a bit of a giggle.

Mystery Cafe Poet: if you’re reading this, please get in touch! We’d love to hear from you!


Featured Cafe Poet: Anon

Anonymous Cafe Poet: we’d love to know more about you, and what you thought of our project. Thank you for your poem, and we really hope to hear from you soon.

And, just in case anyone had trouble with the handwriting, here’s the poem below:


On the days when lack of
clean underwear
leads me to wear
a dress (after all, no one
can see you go commando
if you’re wearing tights)
it rains
everyone sees my bum
and I lose all casual
Oh rain.

Thank you so much to our mystery Cafe Poet!

Cafe Poet: Sonority Turner

Morning all!

Only two more days to get yourself down to Bibi’s Cafe on North Street, St Andrews, to check out our amazing Cafe Poetry. Alternatively, here’s today’s sampling for you right here:


Featured Cafe Poet: Sonority Turner

My life

This is my heart take it.
This is my art you can take it.
You can take my laptop. Take my iPhone,
take my camera and my headphones.
You can take my money. Take my time,
take the clothes off my washing line.
You can take my job. Take my bike,
Take my bus pass if you like.
You can take my bed. Take my desk,
Take the sofa where I rest.
You can take my things. Take my mess,
Take the contents of my treasure chest.

Take my mother. Take my father.
Take my sisters and my brothers
and my friends and their friends
Take my beginnings leave me loose ends.
Take my money. Take my time,
take my freedoms with your fines.

But you can’t take my smile.
I got my mouth, my teeth and my lips.
You can’t take my voice.
And you can’t take my music.
I got my hands, my feet and my lungs.
You can’t take my speech.
I got my heartbeat.
You can’t take my life.


Sonority Turner is a Poet and Creative Artist. For more info check out

Cafe Poet: Will Tyas

This is the last weekend to see the beautifully presented Cafe Poems in situ at the lovely Bibi’s Cafe!

But have no fear, because we’re still featuring the poems on this site, with another poetic treat for you today:


Featured Cafe Poet: Will Tyas

Pull ups in Secondary School, 2004

Our arms were frantic.
Our arms were standing to attention
and holding onto cold bars
and our feet were swinging.

The hollow steel was singing
with unbroken voices
under our fingers
and we sang back

with virgin flushed lips
and slipping finger tips
and awkward elbow shifts
before falling.

We imagined ourselves as pistons,
fists clenched on metal ice,
but each time we fell
with our arms twitching

like dying birds.


Will Tyas writes songs and poetry. He is currently involved with Lonely Robot Theatre Company and acoustic band Luna & The Curious. He is also involved with The Barbican Young Poets’ scheme and hopes to complete a pamphlet later this year.

Cafe Poet: Alex Zhang

It’s raining today in St Andrews, but that’s all the more reason for people to duck into a coffee shop and read some fabulous poems.

Unfortunately, we don’t have any poems about ghosts and bats and vampires. So today’s featured poet won’t be all about unexplained hauntings or witches’ spells. Sorry. Eat pumpkin while you’re reading it, if that puts you in a more Halloween-y mood.


Featured Cafe Poet: Alex Zhang

when i read

I like to imagine
that you
are sprawled out in
front of an open

where there is a slight
and white sun
and light cloud

but you don’t notice
in t-shirt
and jeans
cradling a
in one hand
and gripping your
naked feet
in the other

and I can see
your head pressed into
a pillow propped up
against the wall
with your legs
mounted on a desk

and can feel
all the spaces
between the chair
and the curve
of your back.


From Tucson, Arizona to London. Studies philosophy. Writes. Has a pet sourdough starter named Amy.

Cafe Poet: Samantha Emily Evans

Day 9 of our Cafe Poetry project, and here’s another tasty treat for you to feast your eyes on:


Featured Cafe Poet: Samantha Emily Evans


He wears thrift store sweaters
and has drum stick blue eyes
the light reflecting off tambourine hair

He knows emily bronte and wuthering heights
and wants to write a novel
to study the humanities

He travels, is adventurous, to spain,
and goes alone, i am not the only one
the photos sporadic and without asking.

He asks me to coffee, kind of, I think.


From Los Angeles, Samantha Emily Evans is almost a west coast hipster, and attends University of St. Andrews. She has been published in the Moorpark College Literary Magazine, and founded the youth poetry program at the Boys and Girls Club of the West Valley. She is a Girl Scout, and believes that the perfect date is dinner and a play.