Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Generations of literary talent

The final Settle Session of the year offers inspiration from over 100 years of Craven and international history and culture.

Well known local author and poet Jean Harrison will read from her new pamphlet 'The Tilt', set in Ghana. She worked there for eight years in the Sixties, and returned for a visit thirty years later. The work shows the contrasts and similarities as the new country grew.

'Adventus' is writer Sue Vickerman's well-timed new poetry collection for Brexit Britain: what is to come? These twenty-five poems are perennials but may also serve as daily readings from 1st December, leading you through a season of endings and traumas, wistfulness, nostalgia, and anxieties about an uncertain future - with a dash of humour thrown in.
Sue's writings have appeared in The Guardian and TES, her novel 'Special Needs' is in public libraries, and her poems and fiction have been commended by Susie Orbach (a lovely book), Sandi Toksvig (loved it!), the late Magnus Magnusson (a glorious achievement!) and Bloodaxe's Neil Astley (excellent)

Earlier this year, The Tom Twistleton Centenary Festival held a poetry competition for local young people inspired by the poet's work, much of it in local dialect. From a shortlist of nine, winner Max Clarke will read his poem 'The Yorkshire Rose', along with second prize winner Daniel Craig with his poem 'Settle is my home' and commended poet Daniel Gilles with his work 'Summer in Yorkshire.' Freddie Fairweather-Smith came third with 'The Dales'.

The evening will be on Friday 17th November at 7.30pm at The Folly in Settle. Tickets £6, available from The Folly, Cave and Crag or The Courtyard Dairy Lawkland or on the door. More details from

Saturday, 30 September 2017

400 entries from all over the UK

Settle Sessions' 2017 competition drew over 400 entries from all over the UK - and produced a very high standard selection.

The winners were announced by judge Kim Moore at our September evening. Kim said she was very impressed by the quality of entries. She explained that she looks for poems that she herself couldn't write.

We reproduce the poems by the three prize winners with the shortlist of commended entries. We were delighted and a little humbled by the excellent poems entered. Congratulations to the winners and those commended, and thank you to everyone who entered. We'll be launching our 2018 competition next Spring.

You can see a review of the evening at the end of this list. We also thanked Jean Harrison for all who work on Settle Sessions. She started the venture some five years ago and has driven our programmes ever since, bringing top quality poets and writers to Settle.

First Prize:  Caroline Price from Framlingham, Suffolk

(Baby mammoth, Natural History Museum)

You lie so peacefully you could be
sleeping, soundly, on your side
on the white sheet rucked and folded like
the Yamal snows. Your flank
exposed, each ridge and wrinkle in your hide
quite visible, the colour of wet sand or the clay that set
around you when you fell, legs stretched as if you
toppled in mid-thought, still walking, four feet
trampling at the air. Your trunk curled in
protectively, its two soft
flanges of skin preserved, a miracle,
for our speculation: imagining you
thirsty and using them to sweep the snow
into your mouth, flakes spilling, hanging
in a premature moustache. Your domed head
calm, your month-old weight at rest within its
shadow-shape of cloth and foam as it was when you
keeled over in the Siberian wastes and closed your eyes
and died and more snow fell and turned
the mud to ice, encasing you;
and you lay in your bed
for forty thousand years – the time it took for us
to arrive, for the earth with a gasp
to thrust you to its surface as the reindeer herder
and his sons came hurtling past with their sledges and dogs
and tripped on the cracked-open
crust of knowledge and found you.

Second Prize: Vicki Bertram from Kirkby Stephen Cumbria

Stanley, the white cockerel,
motorised helmet plume,
cavalier ruff lifting
at the stiff dance he stamps
to show off his spurs-

Stanley is dead.

He was a gift
with Lucy the goose, inseparable till
her ganders muscled him out and
he found his place in the pecking-order,
chivvier of hens.

No more crowing
and it is the season
for his pre-dawn, drawn-out
over-blown, monotonous

Snowdrops shiver
as wind rakes iced scrub,
seeking his ragged call
to tear spring’s silence,
shake bulbs awake
to poke white through darkness.

No corpse, of course.
A few drab feathers snared in wire.
Remember the girls chasing him,
that comic scoot behind the sycamore?
The crinkly labial scrunch
of his foppish coxcomb?

Our latest loss. Minor, of course.
We closed the door too late.
The bright light of him gone.
Fell and field and walls and rock
pulse absence.
Like a home in early new year,
denuded, or this vista suddenly
dull green again, snow’s white glory
vanquished by rain.

Third Prize: Kerry Darbishire from Kendal, Cumbria

A Winter’s Night
(after The Song of Wandering Aengus – W B Yeats)
Geese safe inside, I shut the door
and turned into the frosty night,
left settling chatter, rustling straw
four still white wings tucked warm and tight.

The Plough above the sycamore
and Seven Sisters clear to see,
the green and red lights in the north
like sailors’ lanterns on the sea.

Then in a breeze I lifted through
November branches high and bare,
bones needle-thin and shining new
my feathers glided brimmed with air.

The moon a scythe upon my back
and frozen scent of earth below,
my cattle shrunk to mice and rats
as I flew silently as snow.

Though now it seems I’m almost blind
in trodden pathways long ago,
in hope I’ll search until I find
tracks in a land I used to know.

Commended poems
Wish I were here now       John Foggin       Ossett
Witchcraft at Belvoir        Tina Negus         Grantham  
Heatwave                          Mary Jane Holmes     Lunedale
An old man’s reply to Jenny Joseph           Bill Adair     Stirling

Bumble bee                        A.F. Paterson         Poole
The school trip                   Kerry Darbishire   Kendal

Multidrop                           Peter Wyton           Longlevens, Glos

Review of the evening 

Poetic abundance

400 hundred poems winged their way to Settle Sessions during the Summer to take part in their second national poetry competition. Coming from across the UK and covering a variety of styles and subjects competition judge Kim Moore finally selected: ‘Emergence’ Caroline Price’s winning poem which vividly described the finding of a baby mammoth, whilst Vicki Bertram’s second prize eulogised her departed white cockerel in ‘Silkie’ and Kerry Darbishire’s took third prize inspired by WB Yeats in ‘The Winter’s Night’.

Kim continued the evening with new work, drawing from her transition away from 13 years of teaching in ‘Leaving Teaching’ and no longer needing to ‘pull a perfect b flat from the air’ to examples from her new poetry sequence, ‘All the Men I Never Married’, including calling out the sexist behaviour she still encounters.

Calder Valley based poet Carola Luther describing herself as ‘not a jolly poet’ gave a sample of her work with poems blending her former life in South Africa made contemporary with the news of the death of a former friend, her observations of women seeking economic survival through prostitution in ‘Commerce Madrid 2012’ and highlighting the impact of recent flooding in ‘The Rising’. 

Sarah Wiltshire 

The next Settle Session will be on Friday 17th November at 7.30pm (venue to be confirmed). It will feature two well know local writers Jean Harrison and Sue Vickerman. Both published poets and novelists, they will be reading from their latest work. Sue recently spent a year in China and has produced a book of her experiences.

The evening will also include young local poets who took part in the Tom Twisleton Project. This commemorates the centenary of the Settle artisan and dialect poet. The new work is in response to his work and celebrates local life today.

Tickets are £6 available from The Folly, Cave and Crag and The Cheese Centre Lawkland. For more information please see


media information from Veronica Caperon 01729 824537

Friday, 25 August 2017

UK winners for Settle poetry competition

It's been a busy month for Settle Sessions

Veronica Caperon presented a workshop for 8-12 year olds as part of the Tom Twistleton Festival at the Library in Settle. "I was very pleasantly by the standard of work which the children produced" she said. You can see some of the results at the exhibition planned for the end of September at The Folly.

And then there's the excitment surrounding the 2017 SS poetry competiton winners!

Entries from all over the UK were received for the 2017 Settle Sessions Poetry Competition with local poets in the top three prizes.

The winners will be announced at the special evening on Friday 29th September at The Friends Meeting House in Settle. Amongst the prize winners are local writers from Kendal, Lunedale and Kirkby Stephen as well as some from as far apart as Suffolk, Scotland, West Yorkshire and Dorset.

Appearing at the evening will be two leading British poets.

Competition judge Kim Moore, who lives and works in Cumbria, is fast building an admirable reputation for her work. Her first full length collection The Art of Falling was published by Seren in April 2015.  She won a New Writing North Award in 2014, an Eric Gregory Award in 2011 and the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize in 2012. Her first pamphlet If We Could Speak Like Wolves was a winner in The Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition, judged by Carol Ann Duffy.

Carola Luther was born in 1959. She grew up in South Africa and moved to England in 1981. She works in Leeds and lives in the Yorkshire Pennines. Her first Carcanet collection Walking the Animals was nominated for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection in 2004. She was poet in residence at The Wordsworth Trust 2011-12.

Prize winners and commended poets will be invited to read their award winning entries. Tickets for the evening, which starts at 7.30pm, are available from Cave and Crag and The Folly in Settle, and The Cheese Centre in Lawkland, or on the door, priced £6.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Enjoyable and Inclusive

Review: Settle Sessions The Folly Settle, 23rd June 2017

If ever there was a chance to see how enjoyable and accessible modern poetry can be, it was at the summer Settle Session at The Folly.

Cumbrian Kathleen Jones has made her name as a biographer, notably of Katherine Mansfield and the Wordsworth's women. On this occasion, her poems conjured up heartache at the departure gate, the angst of being sixteen, and the life - and death - of the Brontes around the Yorkshire moors. The audience was spellbound by the evocative portraits she paints.

A founder member of Lancaster's April Poets, Ron Scowcroft, like Kathleen, has a string of prizes for his work.
It's easy to see why in both cases. From Portugal to his father's phonograph, he brought humour and humanity; his poem on the plight of refugees was moving, as his recollection of chatting to David Hockney was funny.

Irresistible elephants were the subjects in the 'Read Two' open slot with Jean Stevens reading six poems from 'A Poetry of Elephants'. This anthology was produced to raise funds for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa. The images by various poets were amusing, affectionate, heart rending, and always engaging.

Settle Sessions claims to have stories and poems for everyone. These were delivered in spades.

Veronica Caperon

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

A happy and creative time!

Our Next Session will be on Friday 23rd June at The Folly in Settle. 6.30pm drinks reception followed by the programme for the evening - featuring Elephant poems, Kathleen Jones and Roger Scowcroft. See more here

We had a great time at The Festival of Happiness in Settle last weekend. Well done to our friends at Settle Stories for organising it. It was burning hot sunshine in the morning and monsoon-like rain in the afternoon, but hey! this was the May Bank Holiday weekend!

As well as having fun with our own and other people's poems in our half our slot later in the day, we invited everyone during the day to add a line or two to 'Everyone's Poem' - which they did!

Around 40 people, young, old and in the middle came along and added a line or two. The result is this funny, witty, moving, thought provoking poem  - one to be very proud of!

Everyone's Poem!
Here's the first line of our poem today

Just add your own to make it grow

Then everyone young and old can say

"With our happy poem off we go!"


It's great to be here hunting our the fun

Settle for nothing less.

Join in the yoga, meditation Tai-chi

All ways of relieving your stress!

Family and Friends is happy days

best served with sunshine, gratitude and

festival spirit

Look around you let the juices floe

Do it today – there may be no tomorrow

But if there is allow the zeal to grow

So live today as if it were your last

Live in the present – not the past.

Beauty is located in the smallest of places

Keep your eyes peeled for love's delicate traces

Just the shape of a leaf or smile of a stranger

Only Travel miles of smiles...

Here is Settle this doesn't mean danger

Banter and Blessings in Yorkshire's great land

United with the power of a belting brass band 😊

Vibrating Settle, the town with a buzz

Join in, have fun, as everyone does

The Stalls and pub some have buns

Sing and Dance and laugh out loud

On our own or in a crowd

Let down the hair that remains

Tomorrow will not be the same

Seasons come and seasons go

Friends say 'goodbye' and new ones 'Hello'

The cottage that we stay in Settle

has brass, wood and metal

Views over the crag, green and brown

Fireworks light up this friendly town

I've just been to the Fest of laughter

And enjoyed several happy things

But nothing deserved a BAFTA

like when the strollers sings

I like playing on my scooter around the lanes of Giggleswick

I wish I had a hooter and I'm very quick

On my scooter I'm very slick!

I can do a great trick

Happiness is with family and friends

Singing, walking, joy that never ends!

It's a hard rain crashing on the roof

beating the rhythm happiness is truth!  😊

Lightning flashes illuminate ideas

Thunder rolls, drowning out fears

Dance in the storm. Today, every day

Never give in, never give way!

The beautiful caterpillar wiggles across the page

It's been raining cats and dogs

And turned our gardens into bogs

Now the weather is fine and dandy

But 'tis still wise to have t'brolly handy

So with thanks to our creative friends

Now it's time our poem ends!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Reception and prize winning poets

You can see a review for the April Settle Session at this link

Settle Sessions took part in the Settle Stories Festival of Happiness in May. We aimed to get everyone to add a line or two to 'Everyone's Poem' all day which you can find out about here.

The next Session will be on Friday 23rd June at 7.30pm at The Folly in Settle with prize winning poets Ron Scowcroft and Kathleen Jones. It will also be the group's AGM and reception.

The evening begins at 6.30pm with a drinks reception followed by a brief AGM.

Then the main event begins at 7.30pm 

Read Two is a special this time, devoted to poems about Elephants taken from A Poetry of Elephants, compiled by Rebecca Gethin. She and a group of poets make the book a reality and the publisher ValMor gave their services for free. 100% of the proceeds from book sales will go to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which is one of the most successful conservation organisations for wildlife and habitat protection in East Africa.
Ron Scowcroft
Ron Scowcroft's poems have appeared in many literary magazines, prize winners’ anthologies and literary websites. They have also featured in exhibitions by artists Jayne Simpson and John Morrison and been adapted for video by Morph Films. His pamphlet ‘Moon Garden’ was published by Wayleave Press in 2014. He was awarded joint first prize in the McLellan Poetry Competition (2013) and has been highly commended in The Yorkshire Open (2012) and Magma (2011) competitions, as well as being longlisted in the National, Strokestown and Bridport competitions. Ron is a founder member of Lancaster based April Poets
Kathleen Jones was born and brought up on a hill farm in Cumbria and now lives with her partner, sculptor Neil Ferber, on the edge of the Lake District. She has been writing since she was a child and has published fourteen books including eight biographies, a novel and a collection of poetry. She lived for several years in Africa and the Middle East, where she worked for the Qatar Broadcasting Corporation. Since then she has written extensively for BBC radio and contributed to several television documentaries. Kathleen was appointed as a Royal Literary Fund Fellow in 2008 and is currently also a Fellow of the English Society. Her two most recent biographies are ‘Katherine Mansfield: The Storyteller’ (published by Penguin NZ and Edinburgh University Press) and ‘Norman Nicholson: The Whispering Poet’, (published in 2013 by The Book Mill). She is also the author of two novels, The Sun's Companion and The Centauress.
More details at,

Flying start for 2017

Settle Sessions got off to a flying start with the first event for 2017 in front of a cosy fire at The Folly, Settle.

The audience responded warmly to a variety of poems from six different readers, some local, others from further afield. The evening kicked off with two readings of two poems each from poets from Middlesborough and Kendal, evoking the life of very different places.

After this Veronica Caperon from Lawkland got the audience laughing and listening with poems full of warm feeling and humour.

The second half began with more humour, when Joan Butler from Austwick read us an encounter between a gushing American tourist and a laconic Dales farmer. We were then taken into deeper water by Maggie How describing the struggle to get through to a close family member suffering from dementia.

We were never far from the everyday world, though looking at it from new angles. The other main reader was Ann Pilling from Hawes whose work held us in deep attention with its musicality and sense of deep relationships.   

 Jean Harrison

Monday, 27 February 2017

Music and words combine to lauch Settle Sessions 2017

April 21st 7.30pm at The Folly in Settle 
The Bousfields (postponed from 2016) and Veronica Caperon

Christine Bousfield is interested in psychoanalysis using dreams and free association in her own poetry and in the workshops she runs. She is fascinated too by the music of poetry, and how it often works unconsciously. Her poetry often borders on song (its original purpose) and is widely published in magazines, anthologies, on CD, DVD and radio. John Bousfield plays with the poetry/jazz group ‘Nightdiver’, enhancing and developing the musical implications of poetry.

Poet, playwright and photographer Veronica Caperon launches Two Left Boots her first collection of poems published by Fisherrow Press.
In Two Left Boots you'll find her natural funny, touching and instinctive style.  The subjects of her poems range from hair to heaven, love to libraries in a variety of forms and an easy, open style.

What the reviewers say: Lively, varied, tender, humorous, full of affection yet never sentimental (Carole Bromley)....much to enjoy and to ponder, in these carefully wrought, yet always accessible poems - love, loss, landscape, laughter – what more can we ask? (Ann Pilling)...This pamphlet packs a great deal into a small space (Jean Stevens)....It's brought tears to my eyes, made me laugh in parts, lifted my heart in others. It's a book to treasure (an 'ordinary' reader).

The ‘Read Two’ open mike spot, prize winners from the 2016 Setyle Sessions national poetry competition will read a couple of poems each – Kerry Darbishire, Maggie How, David Smith and Andrew Knowles.

Tickets £6, are available from Cave and Crag, The Courtyard Diary and The Folly.