Seren Poetry Festival


I’m really looking forward to reading at the Seren Poetry Festival in February. What a fantastic series of readings and lectures. I’ll be reading at the Mslexia Poetry Pamphlet prizewinners lunch on Sunday 10th and am excited to meet the prizewinners from other years. You can book tickets from the above website.

Well that was fun!

The poetry workshops at Sidmouth Folk Week  were so much fun. We wrote poems about Great Grandfather’s violins, dragon mountains, Brexit, the inventor of the shopping mall and of course the seagulls The quick and hungry Gods of the Church of the Webbed Feet.  It was such a great experience to lead the sessions with people of all ages and backgrounds and they worked so hard and with such energy and enthusiasm, despite some of them being up to the early hours singing and dancing and maybe having a little drink or two. The performance on the main stage of the Ham marque was amazing and a several of the participants joined me in reading our collaborative Sidmouth poem which had people laughing out loud as well as bringing a lump to the throat as someone in the audience told me later.

So thank you to all of the people that came to the workshops over the week, to the Folk Week organisers who took a chance and incorporated poetry writing into the festival line up and to all the kind comments from people who came up to me afterwards and said how much they’d enjoyed the poem. Special thanks to Jan Dean a very special local poet and friend who came to some of the workshops and contributed the line in the collaborative poem which sums up the joy and feeling of Folk Week – Folk Week is Sidmouth with it’s corsets off!

And the best thing?   They’ve invited me back next year, so we can do it all over again!


Poetry at Sidmouth Folk Week

SidmouthAfter the success of the Kimpton Folk Festival poetry workshop, it’s on to Sidmouth Folk Week 3rd- 10th August. I’ll be holding five poetry writing workshops from Sunday to Thursday at the lovely Royal Glen Hotel, 11.30am – 1pm. These are stand alone workshops so you can come to individual ones or even better all five.   We’ll be reading poems about the sea and ballads about doomed lovers ( always a popular folk theme!) and then using these and other writing prompts to write our own poems. There’s also a chance to read poems written during the week at the Friday showcase concert.  It’s the first time there’s been poetry at Sidmouth, so a chance to show how poetry fits in anywhere. You can also swim in the sea, eat lots of ice cream, dance the night away as various ceilidhs and listen to some of the best folk music in the world, how exciting is that!


Kimpton Folk Festival Update

Good news, due to some extra funding the workshops at Kimpton Folk Festival are now absolutely free! The weather is set to be perfect, so what better way to spend a day; a poetry workshop at 2pm, then relaxing with a drink on the village green listening to some amazing music, a story or two, then going to a ceilidh or a concert. Sounds perfect to me, see you there!

Poetry comes to Kimpton Folk Festival!

Poetry is being added into the mix of music , dance and storytelling this year and I’m delighted to be running a poetry workshop in the afternoon. Kimpton Folk Festival is a lovely one day festival in the village of Kimpton in Hertfordshire. There’s plenty to do and see including dancing, a variety of workshops, open mic concerts, real ales, artisan street food, crafts, children’s games, buskers, storytellers, ceilidh- and a full day of free concerts on the village green.
Come along and try your hand!

Poetry at Sidmouth Folk Festival

First exciting news of 2018! –  Sidmouth Folk Festival the amazing week long celebration of music, song and dance that has been part of the festival calendar since 1955 is introducing poetry workshops this year and I’ll be running them!  The festival in Devon is known for featuring established stars of the folk scene as well as emerging artists and has a huge range of  concerts, sessions, ceilidhs, talks, story telling and spectacular dance displays as well as over 200 workshops.  Accompanied by the sound of seagulls and Morris dancers, I’ll be showing you that anyone can write a poem, all you need is a pen, some paper and your imagination.

Come and Join me at Ouse Muse on Wednesday

I’ll be reading from my pamphlet The Dogs That Chase Bicycle Wheels and also some new poems on being a vet, a mother and a stepmother. Come and find out what ‘Grunting Up’ means and how life sometimes just feels better when you’ve heard a poem about pigs!

Starts at 7.45pm.  Open mic slots too

Auction Room, 1 Duke Street, MK40 3HR Bedford, Bedfordshire,

Hippocrates Initiative for Poetry and Medicine

The Thief came from the experience of visiting my father in hospital after he had had a stroke. Those months before he died seemed to consist of moments of panic and impossible decision making and hours and hours of sitting by his hospital bed feeling helpless. One day when we came home from visiting him, there was indeed a magpie that was trying to steal a blackbird fledgling from a nest in the garden and the outcome seemed like another hopeless inevitability. The final line sums up some of the frustration of the whole experience and I guess not wanting my father to die. 058

Poem-a-Thon for Médecins Sans Frontières 

Come and join us! 50 poets will be in a non stop relay to raise money for Médecins Sans Frontières at Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre Pub in Walthamstow on 12th November 2pm-10pm. Each poet will read for 8 minutes and we’re hoping to raise £5000. I’ll be reading at 6.10pm. If you feel you could sponsor me, even for a small amount, it’ll be hugely worthwhile and I’ll be overwhelmed with gratitude!

Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is the world’s leading emergency medical humanitarian aid organisation. They provide emergency assistance to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics and natural or man-made disasters, without discrimination and irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation. They work in over 60 countries and go to the places where others cannot or choose not to go.


Here It Is!

No two days as a veterinary surgeon are the same and nothing can prepare you for the constant upheaval in your emotions.  I’ve sat on the floor with a distraught drug addict unable to come to terms with his dog’s terminal illness. I’ve been spat on, sworn at and threatened. I’ve also been trusted, respected and loved. I’ve seen cases of cruelty and neglect but also moments of extreme tenderness and dedication, I’ve known people go without food so they can afford medication for their pets and I’ve known people whose only reason for getting up in the morning is their animals. The consulting room is a privileged place and consulting effectively is an art as well as a science. The ability to draw out the back story and to get to the heart of the matter is a skill that is learnt over time. The farm is also a unique environment and farmers have that particular mix of bluntness and practical capability, there’s a roughness there but a gentleness too. The beasts they look after have an honesty and in the case of cattle and horses a majesty as well, which I still find awe inspiring. Seeing people’s interactions with their animals is a window into their own emotions and whatever secrets people have they can rarely conceal the truth where their pets are concerned.

This is an extract from an article I wrote for Poetry News earlier this year.



The Dogs That Chase Bicycle Wheels

In November 2015, local Mercer and Hughes vet, Ilse Pedler, won an international poetry competition run by the woman’s writing magazine Mslexia. The prize was publication of her poetry pamphlet, The Dogs That Chase Bicycle Wheels. The poems draw on her 25 year career as a vet and her deep knowledge and understanding of animals. They reflect her experiences as a veterinary student at Cambridge University, modern farming methods and the often poignant, sometimes comic events in her surgery. A secondary theme is secrets; those we keep from others, those we keep from ourselves and those that nature keeps from us. The poems have a variety of forms from a traditional sestina to prose poems and the pamphlet ends with a tender sonnet, an elegy to Peter Klein, a local architect and friend.

Seren books, the publishers say   Pedler has a careful, empathetic eye for the characteristics of the animals she comes across, humans and their secrets are also observed with a sharp wryness but also with a characteristic gentleness.  The Dogs that Chase Bicycle Wheels introduces us to a thoughtful, lively and distinctive new talent: the Vet/Poet Ilse Pedler.

The pamphlet is available through Seren