Doorway Writing Group January 2017

Happy New Year and happy writing/reading!

A lovely session! Not a cross word was exchanged although the exchanging of crossword clues did play a major role; sorry for the feeble pun – I’ll blame it on an overdose of cracker jokes! So yes, while completing a crossword with my younger son one morning over Christmas – involving lots of head scratching, lots of random and incorrect guesses, and lots of laughter – we decided that I should take a crossword along to the next Doorway writing session. So I did. I shared some clues out between the three main tables where guests were eating and left some spare blank copies of the whole puzzle on the writing group table. Clues were duly answered on all tables and one guest (L) even requested an entire blank puzzle and proceeded to complete it – ‘with a little help from his friends’. And yes, we did mention the Beatles song and its relevance to all of life (and to all of us)!

At the writing table itself, we had – as ever – some fascinating discussions. We spoke about the creative and expressive possibilities offered by inventing words; we reckoned Shakespeare did it, lots of poets do it, and families and groups of friends do it all the time. We also discussed the therapeutic benefits of writing (sending out our SOS/message in a bottle) versus the vulnerability you can feel when you allow others to hear and read what you’ve written. Ultimately we decided between us that the pros outweigh the cons and that sharing our feelings with sympathetic listeners or readers can also help us to understand that we are never alone, others have been there before us and are often journeying with us.

So here then are two written contributions from the session: the first from H, the second from J (whose story from the December blog will be continued very soon; a big thank you to those of you who are waiting eagerly but patiently.)

Happy January!

A poem by H

What has God created us for?

How can we contemplate his thoughts?

Can anybody understand and help each other?

Should we listen or go to live alone on a pole?

Somebody give an answer to life’s pointlessness and darkness

Just give it up and subject all to God and let go of all

There is no point except what he knows and wants for you

But how do I start allowing it?

Free will or a pattern that I can’t get out of?

I hurt God and it makes me punish myself and turn everyone.

Have mercy! Kyrie eleison!


Loose Leaves – a poem by J

The New Year is rising

Like a Phoenix from the cinders

of the old

A time for learning

and leaves for turning

But in my room

all the leaves strewn

are loose leaves

But they say every cloud

has a silver lining

Every book has a binding

And maybe these loose leaves

May be bound to turn.

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Doorway writing group December 2016

Writing group December 2016

We had another great session. We discussed poems: the importance of rhyme and meter as a driving force; the pros and cons of a freer form of poetry. We talked about short stories, stories in instalments, and the role of cliffhangers and suspense. We decided between us that writing, in any form, is the key to life: our motto of the day was something like “just keep writing and everything will be okay!”

RH and J both contributed something for the blog – read on – and J also borrowed a book from our library. M is quite interested and hoping to come along next session.

Two lines written by RH’s daughter (aged just 10)

Let your smile change the world

But don’t let the world change your smile.

A poem by RH

Sick of being on the edge of madness

Full of pain and so much sadness

Tired so tired of all this shit

Sick of looking for my next hit

Hate the taste as it slips down my throat

Tired of looking for my next scapegoat

Scars on my body scars on my heart

So want to recover but where do I start

Always apologising to family and friends

Making empty promises instead of amends

Don’t want to die with everything lost

So I will get better, no matter the cost


Minnie’s Christmas Outing (a Short Story by J)

It was the end of another Christmas visit to my mother’s flat in Gloucester. We waved goodbye and walked out into the bleak late afternoon fog. My mum would have quite happily given me the train fare to Chippenham but owning up to failures was becoming a tedious full-time occupation so I never told her I’d lost my wallet a few days earlier, so I decided to walk home thus keeping my misfortune to myself.

I had Minnie for company, a small short-legged Jack Russell, white with a black head and black spot on her hind quarter, a present from my sister, Claire. I’d kept Minnie from a pup and she was now about 10 years old, alert, intelligent and lively, trotting along beside me. She skipped her balance from one leg to the other.

It was the harshest winter for many years claiming the lives of several homeless people in Glasgow. Overnight temperatures lower than -10° C and snow frozen solid crackled underfoot. I’d lost familiarity with cold winters wearing a light jacket with detachable lining, no hat, no gloves or scarf, my fingers and feet soon became numb as the temperature dropped. Weak whitewashed sky faded imperceptibly into darkness as we trudged uphill to Cotswold edge and saw the lights of Gloucester, Stroud and Painswick below us, the sinuous curves of the Severn nestled in the valley below.

The traffic was light on the A46. Christmas Day had passed and the cold weather kept people indoors in the cosy warm, but here every long, lonely mile dragged on forever and every milestone seemed like a tombstone, the end of the journey nowhere in sight.

To Be Continued…

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Doorway Writing Group November 2016

Another session of our Doorway writing group and lovely it was too!

We had some great conversations about language and writing including the (relative) importance of grammar/rules, and the (absolute) importance of using the written word to help you express your take on the world and what’s going on in your life.

R borrowed a book from our library and hopes to join us next session.

There were some poetic contributions from J and H – see below.

We also created a short ‘collaborative’ poem using some words offered by guests and volunteers.


Collaborative poem:

Life can be terrifying

But I like the company here

It helps me to smile

I like breakfast and dinners here



The night of the hibernator – a poem by J

It was a foggy night

Under the sickly yellow light

The kind of night

To give an old hedgehog

The blues


The streets were empty, cold

And bare

Not a sound was in the air

But the tolling of a lonely

Churchyard bell


The hibernator ate his pea soup

While the others had a knees up

The quiet streets

Were empty, cold and bare

The bear scratched himself

And growled

Too woo went the little owl

And the clock struck three

In the market square


The hibernator went to

The window

Hearing leaves rustling in the street


And saw the insomniac

Staring at the town map

Some routine tourist information

Had caused profound, immense revelation

A little red arrow announcing ‘You are here.’


The hibernator yawned, went back to bed

The insomniac scratched his head

Around the crack of dawn

The tired twosome were snoring

And a new day was busy

Being born


A poem by H

Why do I lose everybody?

Why do I always make a fool of myself?

Why is there no solution?

Why did I break his heart?

Why do I go round in pointless circles?

Why can we not do anything for ourselves?

Why are we lost?

Why do I keep letting God down?

Please help me to survive and not just exist!

Help me get over him!

Help us to stop hurting you!

Give us a purpose!

Help me not to keep feeling rejected!

Help me not to be trapped in thoughts!

Help us not to play games with people!

Help me to be satisfied with your tenderness!

Help us heal the world!

Lord, have mercy! Give us your love!

Lord, let me adore you and not leave your light ever again!

Help me to make sense of you giving us full life but expecting sacrifice!

Help me understand others!

Fill my emptiness!

Bless everyone who loved me!

Heal those who didn’t love me!

Bless You my Father, Friend and Consoler!


My hometown is nobody’s home town – a poem by J

Take any place

Who would call it hometown?

Where people live on the streets

Like sheep.




Desperate, Distracted

Fuelled by fixes

The years rolling by like clouds

Lost sheep

With no shepherd

Waking up in my town

Your town



Is everybody’s business.

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A Poem by a Stranger



Don’t remember me as you last saw me.

I was feeling down, rough; useful life past

and the present cold, hard, edgy. You see


you gave me food, clean clothes, the will to last

another dark, deep night. A tense, sorry sight,

drink, drugs a desperate high to move it fast.


Dawn arrives, feeling crap get in a fight.

Hit, kicked, shit upon then struggle down to

find a friend. Help at hand providing light


at the end of my tunnel… What would I do

if you weren’t there to run to? Help me

please – listen with compassion. Thank you.

Anonymous October 2016

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Writing group October 2016

National Poetry Day – 6th October: the perfect day to restart our Doorway writing group! We had a quiet but sincere and productive session. Using a few visual prompts, we discussed and doodled a few random poem ideas. J worked on some great song lyrics which he is hoping to take along to some local folk clubs soon. Talking about the therapy of channelling your emotions and experiences through writing, and of allowing time for reading too, we launched our little writing group library: starting with a selection of quick reads, short novels and short story collections. Fun, fruitful times ahead! Looking forward to 3rd November already!
Just to close, some last-minute, random ramblings on a (rapidly chosen) random username:
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Adieu, adieu, adieu.

To you, and you and you.

When I started writing this, my last official Doorway Writing Group blog, I was in the throes of moving and was surrounded by removal boxes and piles of bed linen and blankets. And I was so tired! All that packing and cleaning! I could have slept for a week.  I never thought I would be ready. And when I came to look for the poems I wanted to feature in the blog—horror of horrors—I couldn’t find them. I was in despair. This had never happened before and I became convinced they had somehow been packed up with all the rest of my life.

Well, a few weeks later and I am relieved to report that the move went pretty smoothly and I found the poems—just where I’d put them in my laptop case. So now this blog can see the light of day and I can sign off, late but with everything present and correct. I am glad to report my last writing group was its usual interesting self. Not hugely productive but with a feeling that everything is simmering away ready to come to the boil. Most of our joint attentions lately have been taken up with preparing an anthology of all the poems and lyrics we have produced. It’s coming along, slowly but tenaciously, and I’m hoping will be ready later this year (September??) Watch this space.


Here are some recent poems from J and one from the enigmatic Z.


Sleeping Out

Pause the night!

Make the sun rise!


Senses pinched

By bone-penetrating-




Shut-down humanity slumbers

In silence

Curtains drawn tightly against the cold

The night surprises; voices in doorways

tyres screeching; the passing of sirens.


But we’ve been here before

Just never thought I’d be back again

Me and the midnight minstrel

Pacing the streets

While the moon

Glides among the frozen stars

We are waiting for the first

Grey wash of dawn.

by J







Living on the Side of the Road

It’s a hard type of living, living on the

side of the road.

In the town or the country

living on the side of the road

nobody knows me, I’ve got no place to call my own.


Walking along just my dog and me

following footsteps just my dog and me

sharing the load and company.


Don’t know where I’m going

Can’t remember where I’ve been

but we must be going somewhere

some place I’ve never seen.


Walking along just my dog and me

following footsteps just my dog and me

sharing the load and company.

by J



Kings of Atlantis

Palm trees swaying in a hurricane

Reeds whispering in the Sargasso Sea

Tropical sunsets and the Bermuda Triangle

Nobody is missing the Kings of Atlantis.


Persecuted, the pilgrims flee their homes

Shivering children quiver in the unknown

Before the boat capsizes they lift their gaze

Before the unseeing eyes of the Kings of Atlantis


Still I hear that you made it home

To a seaweed crown, a cold basalt throne

Making a connection with the floor below

Which shifting groans, the song of Atlantis.


The coastlines crumble while the tides decide

Predict a landslide

For the Kings of Atlantis.

by J

This poem, The Kings of Atlantis, was written as a response to the murder of the MP Jo Cox. It has been suggested that the perpetrator carried out this senseless killing because he believed in the ideology of ‘Britain for the British’, a conception based on a myth, not unlike the stories of the drowned island of Atlantis or the Bermuda Triangle. The poem weaves these myths with the realty of the plight of refugees fleeing conflict in over-crowded, unseaworthy boats.



I saw Lyonesse today

with my own eyes

Lyonesse out there

breaking the horizon


In dappled light

under wing under cloud

in plain sight



setting this loose

wording the way

letting me live

Lyonesse today


You were waiting

out at sea

watching there

Lyonesse for me

for me

by Z

A mythic lost world also inspired this poem. Lyonesse is the name of a drowned world off of Land’s End, and the writer and poet Thomas Hardy used it in his writing as his name for Cornwall (as he used ‘Wessex’ for the area of the West Country his novels are set in). If you have the inclination check out Sylvia Plath’s poem, Lyonesse. It is a much more sober work that makes an acute commentary on collective mythologies, not unlike J’s Kings of Atlantis poem.

Although I have left Doorway I am pleased and relieved the writing group will carry on. In the autumn it will have a new facilitator who I am sure will give it the renewed impetus that it needs. So, three cheers for Doorway Volunteers! Three cheers for Doorway’s Staff (so they don’t feel left out). And three cheers for Doorway guests who are so inspired and inspirational.


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Doorway Annual Review 2015 – 2016

The front page of this year’s Annual Review shows a word cloud created by members of the public who follow the Doorway Facebook page. They were asked to describe our work in one word…

Doorway Annual Review Word Cloud

Click below to download the pdf file:-

Doorway Annual Review 2016

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