UEA FLY Festival Short Story Winners (15-18 yrs)


Reading through the shortlist for the UEA FLY Festival (Festival of Literature for Young people) Short Story Competition made it very clear that the next generation have not, in fact, entirely abandoned the world of books for the lure of electronic gadgets and social media. The urgency in the writing, the breadth of vocabulary and the scope of their (often ghoulish) imaginings bode well for the next generation. Yesterday we posted the winners in the 11-14 age group. Today we feature the joint winners – it was too close to call – from the 15-18 year-olds, and once again we begin with the ominous opening conceived by YA writer and co-judge Alexander Gordon Smith (The Fury, the Furnace and Inventors series). 



Who knew that something so simple as falling asleep on the bus could lead to something so horrific…

“Hello?” I shout, making my way down the coach. The seats are empty, except for the coats and bags strewn everywhere. It’s like every single person in my class has just vanished into thin air. The teacher too, although that’s not exactly a terrible loss. Sunlight streams through the filthy windows, making it hard to see anything outside. I could swear I was only asleep for a minute!

I walk to the open doors and squint into the shimmering heat. We’re supposed to be at the University of East Anglia, some festival or other where there are loads of authors. It doesn’t look much like a university out there, though. There are no people, for one, just a long, empty street lined with trees. The only living thing in sight is a rabbit, which eyes me suspiciously as I clamber out of the coach.

Where is everyone?

“Hello?” I say again, my voice trembling. My pounding heart is the loudest thing in the world. “Is anybody there?”

There’s a building straight ahead and the door stands open. I glance left and right at the deserted campus. Then, swallowing my growing terror, I walk inside…






Emily’s ending

… I’ve only taken three steps through the door when I hear it slam shut behind me, leaving me in pitch black.

Suddenly a haunting singing voice floating from above shatters the silence. I feel strangely drawn to the flawless music, yet some instinct deep within me warns me not to trust it. With the unique sound as my guide, I creep through the unfamiliar building, and just as my eyes are adjusting, a blinding light causes me to scrunch them tight shut.

I’m seeing colourful spots when the music ends and an accented voice – Brazilian, like my grandmother? – begins to speak, and I see a female figure gliding along the opulent corridor above towards a wooden banister.

“I thought there was another,” she crows menacingly. “What allowed you to resist my charms, menina?” Before I’ve had the time to wonder what she means, I see everyone from the bus standing behind the mysterious woman. Immediately I know something unusual is going on; they all have oddly trancelike expressions on their blank faces. Somehow this situation reminds me of fairy tales read to me when I was younger, and studying the woman – her jet back hair, ghostly white dress and unnatural appearance – I am reminded of some mythological creature, but I can’t quite place it.

Oblivious to my racing mind, the woman continues “Ah well, I’ll just have to dispose of you, like the others not worth turning.” Cold terror crawls throughout my body, but then – your necklace, Selena. I reach my hand to the silver necklace constantly around my neck. Echoes of my grandmother’s voice reverberate through my mind – never take it off – and it all hits me in such a rush that I almost stumble back.

My grandmother gave me a book on Brazilian folklore, which must be where I recognise the woman – creature – from “You’re an encantado,” I gasp, and despite how ludicrous it sounds, it all makes sense as I remember glimpsing the river Yare on the way here. In the legend, encantados live in a utopic world as dolphins in rivers – the Amazon, originally – they can’t resist a party or festival, have superior musical ability, and their powers give them abilities such as mind control.

“We prefer bato encantado,” she replies, offended.

Then I realise the most important thing. Like lycanthropes, encantados are shape shifters, so perhaps they can be killed in the same way. Silver.

Somehow, without me noticing, the encantado has reached the bottom of the staircase. As she approaches me, a knife in her hand, I tug the dagger pendant on my neck, but nothing happens. The encantado lunges towards me, her knife aimed for my neck. But something stops her, like an invisible force the unknown powers of my necklace protect me, and finally the pendant comes off in my hand, expanding into a full-sized weapon. Without hesitating, I stab the blade into her heart and as she falls, so do my classmates upstairs.

And all at once the spell is broken.




Kristina’s ending


… There is a single door to my right which has been left slightly ajar, and due to the weights near the bottom, should close by itself. But it doesn’t.

I step forward, and then stop in confusion. I am wearing school shoes that embarrass you in front of the whole school when you walk up in assembly; the type that, try as you may, can simply not be muffled. Yet not a single scrape of leather resounds on the wooden floor.

Inside, I find a classroom frozen in the perfect moment of a lesson. Yet there are no pupils. Pencil cases are creased in the perfect positions of fingers having rifled through them. Sentences on the screens of the laptops are left unfinished. The chairs are all pulled out as if people just got up to leave. Moving further into the classroom, I notice that the white board has a tiny flashing icon in a corner which reads ‘next page’. There is a sight smear of a fingerprint hovering above it. The teacher’s chair is the only one that has been left tucked under the desk.

Moving towards the window, I look out and start with relief at what I see in the distance.

My class is gathered outside in a huddle! Their voices reach me through the sheen of glass, as if the mute button has suddenly been turned off. I sprint out from the classroom, through the main door, and across the grass to join the welcoming sight of my friends. As I approach them at a run, I take in the flustered and urgent tones of my teacher, and the desperate looks my friends shoot me as they see me approaching. I skid to a halt. Right above them is a colossal slab of metal which droops in the air above the congregation. There is a sturdy ramp protruding from the underside, and I watch in amazement as my fellow students proceed up it. I start to move towards them, but find that although my feet are moving, I remain stationary. The teacher has caught sight of me and is screeching hysterically at me to run. I try with all my might, yet cannot for the life of me move even an inch. The ramp starts to lift with surprising speed for something made of such a heavy material, and my friends’ hyperactive bodies soon disappear. I stare up in horror as the tank of metal rises slowly. The feeling of complete and utter helplessness overcomes me as I am left rooted to the ground with all my friends being whisked away.

A huge screen crackled into life on the underbelly of the huge UFO. And on it, were two sentences that froze the blood in my veins.




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UEA FLY Festival Short Story Winners (11-14 yrs)


Last week, we were privileged to be part of the UEA FLY Festival (Festival of Literature for Young people). Ink Sweat and Tears supported the final event, a superbly enthusiastic POETRY SLAM (with thanks to Luke Wright, Molly Naylor, Tim Clare, Mark Gristo and MC Mixy for making it such an energetic and inspiring occasion and kudos to the kids from Pakefield, City Academy Norwich and City of Norwich School for taking up the challenge so well.) In addition, Kate co-judged the Short Story Competition with the brilliant Alexander Gordon Smith ( The Fury, the Furnace and Inventors series), a favourite festival author, who also wrote the story’s opening. It is featured below with the winning endings from the 11-14 age group to follow.  Prepare to be intrigued.



Who knew that something so simple as falling asleep on the bus could lead to something so horrific…

“Hello?” I shout, making my way down the coach. The seats are empty, except for the coats and bags strewn everywhere. It’s like every single person in my class has just vanished into thin air. The teacher too, although that’s not exactly a terrible loss. Sunlight streams through the filthy windows, making it hard to see anything outside. I could swear I was only asleep for a minute!

I walk to the open doors and squint into the shimmering heat. We’re supposed to be at the University of East Anglia, some festival or other where there are loads of authors. It doesn’t look much like a university out there, though. There are no people, for one, just a long, empty street lined with trees. The only living thing in sight is a rabbit, which eyes me suspiciously as I clamber out of the coach.

Where is everyone?

“Hello?” I say again, my voice trembling. My pounding heart is the loudest thing in the world. “Is anybody there?”

There’s a building straight ahead and the door stands open. I glance left and right at the deserted campus. Then, swallowing my growing terror, I walk inside…





…The receptionist surveys me through wiry spectacles, eyes narrowed and looking incredibly suspicious.

“Yes?” Her voice is as hostile as her expression, ice-cold and disturbing.

“Well… Yes… Um…” I stutter, words tumbling out of my mouth. I notice that my throat suddenly feels dry as the Sahara. I stop speaking, and nervously peer up at her hawk-like face as she glares at me.

It’s not just the nasty looking receptionist which is foreboding about this strange place. The desk she sits behind is in ruins, legs poking out at awkward angles, with a thick layer of dust coating it and her computer, looking about fifty years old. The ceiling is covered by a network of spider webs, and there are huge menacing-looking cracks criss-crossing its surface.

The woman tilts her head slightly, as though figuring out what to do with me. From the way she’s looking at me, I guess she’s wondering whether I’d taste nice with sauce.

After what seems like a lifetime, her expression clears as she makes up her mind. I tense, anticipating the worst, but she leans back and jabs a long crooked finger at a door on my left. “Through there,” she says dismissively, and turns back to the rusting computer monitor.

I drag my eyes towards the door she had indicated, and immediately notice that it’s cleaner and better-kept than the rest of my surroundings. I tentatively start towards it.

I reach the door and try to peer through the darkened glass but I can see only blackness. I calm myself, nervously push open the door and step inside…

And am greeted by the face of the receptionist, glaring down at me behind those awful spectacles. I jump back in shock, a terrified yelp escaping from my mouth. I spin around, and where the door I had just come through was I see only a cracked, brownish wall.

Terrified, I turn back to the woman. She’s looking at me with a half-amused expression, and pointing to the door on the left again. It seems to be my only hope of escaping this awful place, so I sprint towards it, yank the door open…

And skid to a halt in front of the reception desk.

The receptionist is laughing. And as she laughs, the walls shift, melting and reforming around me as if they too are laughing at me. But as they morph, I notice a little square of light, a little window into the outside world, open up behind her.

Without a second thought, I charge for the light, knocking aside the startled, squawking receptionist and diving through the gap into the world.

Bright sunshine beats down into my eyes as I lie there and I gasp in the fresh air gratefully. And then a dark shape blocks out that wonderful sunlight, and I see my teacher looking down at me in amazement, my classmates gathered behind him and also staring at me in wonder. “Tom?” my teacher asks. “What are you doing down there?”





…Clothes covered the floor. It was like stepping onto a multi-coloured rug of cotton, velvet and wool. Every piece of clothing I could ever imagine covered the floor; tops, skirts, trousers, jewellery, pants and socks. It was like someone had come and tipped a collection of filled wardrobes on the floor; literally. “Is anyone there?” I called out again nervously. Suddenly a large door creaked open to my right, I turned my head slowly towards it and gulped. Steadily I picked my way through the scattered clothes approaching the door. I quietly lifted up my arm to the door knob and pushed it open, revealing a winding staircase that disappeared into the roof of the building like shapes breathed onto a mirror melting away.

Walking up the sunless, darkened staircase I pondered with myself what had happened. Why had everyone on the bus disappeared? Why was there Clothes all over the floor and where was this staircase taking me? All of a sudden my legs felt heavy… Every step was getting harder and harder to put one foot in front of the other. Finally I reached the top but I couldn’t feel my legs, I looked down “What the hell?” I put my hand under my body, just to check I wasn’t seeing things. My legs had vanished! This day was getting weirder and weirder. The unnatural thing was that I could still walk. “That’s strange,” I thought to myself as I shuffled along the corridor, wondering how I could move. I reached out to open a door but found that I couldn’t feel or see my arm! “What’s happening to me?” I asked out loud. Cautiously, I opened the door peeping into the room before I went in: The coast was clear. As soon as I stepped into the dark room a vivid light lit up the room, almost blinding me. I blinked a few times and then my eyes adjusted to the light. On the wall in front of me were a million people screaming. They were on little TVs that covered the walls. “Help me!” One of them desperately shouted. “Let me out!” Another one called.

“I don’t know where I am…” sobbed a girl sounding hopeless. I went closer to the screen and recognised it as my Best friend Kaitlyn. “Kaitlyn? What happened?” I asked franticly

“Is anyone there?” She called out. She couldn’t hear me; none of them could. They were all screaming in unison now “LET ME OUT! HELP ME! I DON’T KNOW WHERE I AM!” I couldn’t take it anymore. The voices were getting inside my head, messing with my mind. I went to put my hand to my head but I couldn’t find it. I was disappearing from the outside in, rubbed out like pencil on paper…gone for good. All was left of me in the end was a pile of clothes on the floor and a girl screaming, trapped in a TV; forever.





The smell hit me first. The excruciating odour wafted into my nostrils deteriorating my senses for a brief moment. Once I had gained full awareness again I yet again experienced the worst stench I had ever come across in my life – like infant faeces and pungent like rotten food and a musty reek of blood.

I stepped into the room and felt its icy gesture as the air adjusted around me. Sprawled on the ground and surrounded by a pool of crimson, laid a heap of dead bodies. Quickly, I threw my hand over my mouth before I could let out a piercing scream. My heart beat vigorously crashing against my ribs as I edged slowly closer to the pile of corpses. The body right at the top looked particularly gruesome, with her neck at an odd angle and long slits had been cut from the tips of her mouth all the way up to her hair. Short frizzy back hair. I recognised it. As I peered closer into the face, I finally saw it. It was my best friend, Rachel! I rushed to her, shaking her vigorously seeing if she could possibly be alive but she remained still. I fell to the floor crying and screaming in panic, horror and confusion. Blood was staining my own fresh clothes, but I didn’t care at all. Rachel was showered in the warm blood she was bathing in now. My muscles turned to ice as I tried to put the pieces together but I can’t think of a reason why anyone would do this. The hole in her chest tore wider than ever before. Like lemon juice or salt was being poured into a fresh wound only time could heal.

BASH! Suddenly the door behind me smashed shut. I looked around terrified. It was my turn. I shuffled into the shadows making as little sound as I could, although I swear the whole world can hear my heart beat. The room is dark and bleak. Too bleak to see where I was crouching. Too bleak to understand what was happening but I could just about make out distorted silhouette of an abnormally large and well built man, carrying a sharp jagged knife. He paced around the bodies each step making a loud thud. My teeth clattered as my hands shake with fear, and I look around for a way out of this hell. Finally I notice a door on the opposite side of the room but first I’d have to get the man’s attention with something. I shuffle through my pockets for a small but heavy object to gain me some time to escape. Eventually I decide to yank off one of my badges from my school blazer. After taking several deep breaths and waiting for the perfect moment, I hurled my badge on the wall opposite the large wooden door. Everything happened very quickly then. The enormous man ran towards the sound and started striking thin air with his deadly blade whilst I leaped over the bodies and yanked the door open so hard, it could have come off its hinges. I ran. I had escaped! For now…

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And the Winners of the Ink Sweat & Tears/Café Writers Poetry Pamphlet Commission are…


The standard of entries this year was so high that when it came right down to it we simply could not decide between two excellent poets whose poems and proposals complemented each other so well. Therefore, after securing additional funding, we are able to announce the following winners


Huge Congratulations to Jay Bernard  and Jonathan Morley.


Jay Bernard

We were blown away by Jay’s poetry and excited by the Word & Image possibilities inherent in her skills as a graphic artist. Her proposal revolves around the virtually forgotten black characters in British life and folklore from the pre-Anglo Saxon to the early renaissance although her ‘conceit’ is zero time and her intention to allow these to be ‘sensible’ to each other on the same plane.

The poems will avoid the progression of English History into slavery;  since poems, songs and stories are not just reflections of what we understand but how we understand, this pamphlet defamiliarises the present by re-imagining the past.


Jonathan Morley

Jonathan’s proposal is all about language – we were mesmerised by the language of his poetry and his different voices – and his focus is also from history in the person of Dr Philemon Holland (1552-1637). Holland was the ‘Translator General in his age’, later reviled and admired and now forgotten, who ‘Englished’ the classics and whose handwriting may have been the model for the Baskerville typeface. Jonathan’s use of different fonts in both his poems and proposal opens up a world of Word & Image possibilities.

Lost libraries, half-ruined buildings, the contested hand of the translator, Bardolatry vs. the escape from personality, abstruse texts and dusty reputations – the imaginative possibiities are interesting.


Each poet will receive £2000, a published pamphlet, 100 copies of that pamphlet to do with as they wish and a reading at Café Writers at Take Five in Norwich. We have no strict deadlines or publication dates as yet but plan to keep you informed and publish extracts as the pamphlets are developed.

It is all very exciting.


Finally, we felt that our unsuccessful finalists deserved at the very least to be Commended.


These are

Mona Arshi

Jo Bell

Kiran Millwood-Hargrave & Tom de Freston

David Van-Cauter


Helen Ivory, Kate Birch and (fellow judge) Chris Gribble


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A Selection of ‘Slanted’ Temptations

To mark today’s official launch at The Book Hive in Norwich of IS&T Press’ first publication TWELVE Slanted Poems for Christmas we are posting first lines/excerpts from each of the fine poems featured in it.


Factory Spirit by Bobby Parker


Tell your dad you are close to the beautiful

poem, living in a makeshift moon, running from evil



Masterchristmas by Ira Lightman


This Christmas, I miss us. On the speaker

I can hear your voice. In both ears. You are not here

for me to say in person you’re precious.


Winter       by Penelope Shuttle


is its own lonely scarab

no one doubts it

as cold days


into winter-april

sheepfarm hours…


Broken by Julia Webb


At Christmas Sun Daddy started smashing glass


he started in his bedroom,

then swept tornado-like through the house…


Watch by Luke Wright


Like my Dad, my Christmas job, it seems,

is balling wrapping paper into bags.


Angels by Moniza Alvi


They fold their wings

over the wings of the house.

Over the Dementia Wing.


Finishing The Mill on the Floss on Christmas Eve by Carrie Etter


Minutes, I suppose, later, I raised my wet face,

blinked to sharpen the blurry

kaleidoscope of colour and form.


In The Bleak Midwinter by Bethany W Pope


At the ragged edge of the old year, when the dead

Thorn-spiked branches thrashed in the wind, I lived in a tree.


Spent by Andrea Holland


The days before that late day in December

are the dreadful tunings of instruments.


Room at the Inn by Tim Turnbull


Three Boxing Days in a row, scurrying across the Valley Bridge –

and this long before they put up screens to stop

the seasonal depressive lemming-fest…


Mother Goo by WN Herbert


McGueegueg smoothed the lacquered sneer of his quiff

and slid a harpoon-like forearm along the seatback,

rippling the russet leather billows of his Ford Peyote.


The Norwich Version by George Szirtes


After the dancing ladies and their ever-leaping lords

Christmas ran out of music, lost its melodies and chords…



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To Celebrate National Flash Fiction Day, Some Flash from its Director, Calum Kerr.















Smells as Sweet



He said it with flowers: one dozen red roses to smother love and patch a broken heart. It wasn’t enough. A thousand roses wouldn’t have been able to stem the pain that he caused.

But that was twenty years ago. I was a different woman when Facebook told me that Roger Smith had sent a friend request.

It came as a shock, seeing that name on my computer screen. I didn’t even have a computer when he left me with nothing more than a handful of thorns.  Seeing his name appearing like that, as though it was just any other name, caused me to draw in my breath and bite my bottom lip.

I stood up from the desk in the front room and walked through to the conservatory. I gazed out, over the order of the trimmed lawn, past the disused but still-loved climbing frame and swing, to the deep rose-beds at the back. They were in full bloom: oranges and yellows mixed with purples and whites. No reds.

I thought about Bill and the kids, and the way that time passes. It doesn’t heal wounds, like they say, it lays plasters over them. And all it took was a name on a screen to rip the plaster off and restart the bleeding.

Well, I decided. I wasn’t going to allow this.

Back at my computer, I searched for what I needed. And before I clicked on the ‘Ignore’ button, and the ‘Block’ button, I made sure I’d posted a picture on his Wall of a suitably bloody bouquet.



Calum Kerr is the author of 31, Braking Distance, Undead at Heart and many short stories and flash fictions. He is a lecturer, an editor, and is the Director of the UK’s National Flash-Fiction Day. His new flash-fiction collection, Lost Property, from which Smells as Sweet is taken,  is out now.  Order your copy here

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Andrea Holland – The Cafe Writers Norfolk Commission with IS&T


The Café Writers Norfolk Commission was established five years ago by the Norwich-based writers network Café Writers, in collaboration with  Ink Sweat & Tears, under the patronage of Kate Birch and Dominic Christian, and published by Gatehouse Press.

Every year, Norfolk poets are invited to submit a proposal for a new body of work that responds to Norfolk in some way. Andrea Holland’s winning proposal Broadcasting focussed around the war effort in Breckland and what particularly interested the judges was that Andrea wanted to explore almost-forgotten local history.

Andrea writes on her website: ‘The names of villages and the people who had to leave their homes in July 1942 became real to me after my second visit to the Thetford STANTA (Stanford Training Area) military base in May 2012. In a chilly Nissan hut I spent hours staring at black and white photos which had been donated to STANTA by ex-residents; each wall of the room had the name of one of the villages above it: Stanford, West Tofts, Sturston, Tottington, Buckenham Tofts.

I knew that I would have to write about both real and imaginary villagers who gave up their homes and their land, for what would have been described as ‘the war effort’. So in that cold Nissan hut at STANTA, many of the villagers in photos stuck on the walls began to talk to me…’


Here are three poems from Broadcasting, which is launched this evening at Cafe Writers, Take 5 in Tombland, Norwich.




  1. Mousehall cottages are asleep with bramble,

the pin pricks of a fierce witch riding on the wind.

A wasp knocks at the window, cracked chimneys

whistle in the like of a farmer for his dog.

The bricks shift in their sleep, remembering kitchen

fires and children. The dog at the heels

of an orphan lamb.

  1. Birds and weed sew seed in the crop-less field,

hand-stitched into sleep: white bryony, nettles,

fat hen and night shade. We are broadcasting

with them. We are rooted in the sestina of sleep

and seed. The ring of pines which line the fields

watch over thirteen-thousand sheep who ignore

the trees’ summons, come by, come by.




for breakfast, a little gritty off the bone

but meat is meat and the rest is for

the chickens and dog.


Cold rabbit for lunch and windfalls

a blessing, for afters.


Rabbit for supper in a grey stew,

propped up by fat parsnips and potatoes

knuckled with gout.


Sinew, pelt, claw and bone: the trap

as provider, above churn or chicken.


The black skins of rabbit lie

across Nana’s knees as the fire

darkens down.


The rabbits dream of warreners,

legs jerking as if already caught by the black

toothed arch.

The warreners dream of rabbits,

fingers jumping as if to ready for the snap

of each small neck.



Five Prepositions at the Village School




five bicycles of seven in the racks

need oil in the chain. Just before playtime,

the roof shakes under machine gun strafe

like freak hail.




the shale-coloured slate the school walls

tremble: They learn the German for punish

is strafe, as in Gott Strafe England.




pale lidded desks, amongst inkwells stained

with the knowledge of blue, children continue

their sums: Adding up and subtraction is easy,

division is more difficult for some.




the cloakroom door, a boy touches the waist

of a nervous girl; his father is in France,

in six weeks time their house will be empty.




the playground, boys count empty casings

and girls cartwheel home, both firmly

located in space and time.





Andrea Holland’s first collection Borrowed was published by Smith/Doorstop Press.  She was a runner-up for the 2010 Mslexia poetry competition. She also writes short stories and has been commissioned to work with visual artists for several collaborative projects, including for the Norfolk & Norwich Festival, and for Creative Arts East. Andrea teaches Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia and works as a freelance editor, as an Editor for The Poetry Archive and tutor in writing and English as a second language.




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Statement Regarding Recent Plagiarism


On Friday, US poet Charles O Hartman (current Professor and Poet in Residence at Connecticut College) contacted us to let us know that the poem ‘Dead Wife Singing’, posted on IS&T on 8th April, is virtually identical to ‘A Little Song’ which he wrote more than three decades ago and subsequently published in his collections of 1982 & 2008.

We quickly removed the poem from the site and have also sidelined any further contributions from the plagiarist (who, to his credit, has apologised) after it was revealed that his practice was widespread. We will do the same to any contributor found to have committed extensive plagiarism even if IS&T is not initially affected.

We do not take plagiarism lightly. Actions like this devalue our webzine, hurt the reputation of poetry in general and are an affront to the creative efforts and emotional experiences of the plundered poets. As frustrating as it may be to be at the end of constant rejection slips and emails, please believe that your worst poem is far better than a cut and paste version of someone else’s. And there are any number of residential weeks, courses, surgeries and on-line feedback services (including our own) to help hone your craft.

From now on, we will be conducting random checks on accepted submissions. However, we cannot catch everything and we therefore encourage anyone who suspects that one of our posts may be ‘borrowing’, in whole or in part, to let us know immediately.

Professor Hartman’s original, emphatically superior and quite breathtaking  ‘A Little Song’, can be found in his collection The Pigfoot Rebellion archived in the Contemporary American Poetry Archive (CAPA)


Kate Birch Publisher IS&T 

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