Fire River Poets is a small group of Somerset poets who share their work in monthly meetings.
We also organise public poetry events and work with schools.
Read more in About Us

Please note, our Guest Readings and Open Mic events will continue on Zoom for the present.

Visit our Event Registration page to register for any of these events and to see joining instructions.

Most of our Guest Reading Evenings allow space for limited Open Mic slots. You can request this when you register to attend. (Only one poem per poet, please, or two provided they fit one side A4.)


July 4th, 2024: PHIL KIRBY

We are delighted to invite Phil Kirby to this FRP Zoom event.

During this period, he ran Waldean Press, publishing pamphlets by the likes of Martin Stannard, Amanda Dalton, Pam Thompson and Michael Bartholomew-Biggs. Consequently, Waldean Press also received recognition and support from East Midlands Arts.

In addition, Phil has taught many adult writing classes through the WEA, conducted residencies in a secondary school and a hospice and judged competitions.

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We are delighted to invite Julie Sampson and Michellle Diaz to this FRP Zoom event.

Julie Sampson’s work is widely published in magazines and anthologies, and has been shortlisted, or highly commended in a variety of competitions (including Survision, James Tate Memorial Prize and Geoff Steven’s Memorial Poetry Prize).
She edited Mary Lady Chudleigh; Selected Poems (Shearsman, 2009) and has three collections: Tessitura (Shearsman, 2011); It was when it was when it was (Dempsey and Windle, 2018); and Fivestones (Lapwing publications, 2022).
Julie has a PhD on writer H.D. (Exeter University, 1997). She researches the history of Devon’s women writers and is preparing publication of a non-fiction book as well as follow up collection to Fivestones, focused on Devon landscapes and family history.

Michelle Diaz lives in Glastonbury. She was made Chaired Bard of Ynis Witrin in 2022 – The Jubilee year. This meant lots of civic and poetic responsibilities.
She has been published in numerous journals, both online and in print ie Candlestick Press, Under the Radar and 14 Magazine. 
She was recently nominated for the Forward prize in the Single Poem category.
Her debut pamphlet ‘The Dancing Boy’ was published in 2019 by Against the Grain.
She is working on her first full collection.

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May 2nd, 2024: GENISTA LEWES

May 2nd, 2024: GENISTA LEWES

Many of Genista’s poems gain something by being read aloud, so as a former actor, she has enjoyed reading her work either solo, or with other members of the Fire River Poetry group in several venues. They include the Exeter Arts Centre (now The Phoenix), Dartington Literature Festival, Wells Literary Festival, The Plough Arts Centre, Black Torrington and others further afield.  Genista has read at monthly readings for many years with the Fire River Poetry Group and guest poets at the Brewhouse Theatre from 2011 and following on from there at the Creative Innovation Centre (CICIC) in Taunton until 2021.  These readings continue on Zoom for the present.

Recent publications: The Page is Printed (Tacchi Morris Arts Centre) for prize winning poems in 2014 and 2015   The Ver Prize shortlist 2014.  Shortlisted for the Wells Festival of Literature in 2014 –  judged by Andrew Motion.
Her first collection, Cat’s Cradle, was published in 2007 by Oversteps Press.

Tonight, Genista will be reading from her second collection, Tightrope (Elms Publishing March 2024).

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April 4th, 2024: LUKE KENNARD

We are delighted to invite Luke Kennard to this FRP Zoom event. .

Luke Kennard is a poet and novelist and professor of creative writing at the University of Birmingham. His 6th poetry collection, Notes on the Sonnets won the Forward Prize in 2021. His work focuses on absurdism, theology, the prose poem and hybrid texts. He is currently working on a poetry collection based on the Book of Jonah as a follow-up to Cain (2016). 

March 7th, 2024: MATTHEW STEWART

Matthew Stewart works in the Spanish wine trade and lives between Extremadura and West Sussex.

His second full collection is
Whatever You Do, Just Don’t
(HappenStance Press, 2023).

‘These poems refuse to be pigeon-holed. Whatever they focus on – matters of the heart, football, the post-Brexit marketplace – their method is concise and yet searching, serious but playful. Their language is (mainly) English, their standpoint European.
By day, Matthew Stewart is involved in the Spanish wine trade. But his commitment to poetry is just as intense. Line by line, he weighs the risks, invests meticulous skill, and finally invites the trust on which everything else depends. He promises much – and he delivers.’

February 1st, 2024: SEAN O’BRIEN

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Sean O’Brien’s eleventh book of poems, Embark, appeared in 2022. His work has received awards including the Somerset Maugham, the E.M Forster, the Forward Prize (three times), the T.S. Eliot prize, and most recently the Beijing Literature and Arts Network Award for lifetime achievement. His work has been widely translated. Among his own translations are Dante’s Inferno and the poems of the Kazakh national poet Abai Kunanbayuli. In 2023 his chapbook Impasse: for Jules Maigret was published by Hercules Editions and his pamphlet Otherwise by Dare-Gale Press. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he is Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University.


Derek Sellen has been writing poetry, stories and plays over many years. He has read his work widely, in the UK, Italy, Germany, Russia (in better times) and Ireland and has won various poetry awards, including Poets Meet Politics and Poets Meet Painters. He has twice won the O’Bheal Five Words and also twice won the Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year international competition. His poems have been placed or highly commended in the Plough Poetry Competition, Richmond Arts, Sentinel and many other competitions.

His collection of poems inspired by Spanish art The Other Guernica (Cultured Llama 2018) was a finalist in the Poetry Book Award 2020 and was very positively reviewed in Poetry Salzburg, London Grip and other places. His first collection was The Arch and its Shadow (2009). His work has been widely published in anthologies, online, and in magazines.

Timothy Adès is a rhyming translator-poet, with books by Victor Hugo, Robert Desnos, Jean Cassou, Alfonso Reyes, and awards for these poets; a Venezuelan book, a Greek booklet, and three German books coming soon, one to follow. He rewrote Shakespeare’s 154 Sonnets without using letter E. He translated Benjamin Britten’s chosen texts from Rimbaud’s ‘Illuminations’ to fit the music. He runs a bookstall of translated poetry. He is in magazines, on Facebook and YouTube, and his website is http://www.timothyades.com .

Mark Haworth-Booth read English at Cambridge and art history at Edinburgh. He worked at the Victoria and Albert Museum as a specialist in design and history of photography. He moved to North Devon in 2009 and is a Green Party member of North Devon Council. He has published two books of poems – Wild Track (2005) and The Thermobaric Playground (2022). 

Mary Anne Smith Sellen’s work has been recognised in both national and international poetry competitions. She has been widely published, in magazines, anthologies and online, including Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Grey Hen Press, Confluence, Dream Catcher, Beautiful Dragons and Wildfire Words. She has recently completed the manuscript for her first full poetry collection and is currently working on ideas for a new pamphlet. She is a regular reader at events and festivals.

Poetry at Taunton Literary Festival

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Do check out these three Poetry Events (below) at Taunton Literary Festival (BrendonBooks)

Tue 14 Nov 2023, 7 PM
An Evening With the Fire River Poets – The Thought of the Heart – Tickets £5

Sat 18 Nov 2023, 7 PM
Readings from Three Live Canon Poetry Competition Winners: Josephine Corcoran, Matt Bryden and Isabella Mead – Tickets £5

Tue 21 November 2023, 6.30 PM
Kalevala – Land of Heroes with Graham Fawcett – Tickets £12.50

Tickets can be obtained from: Brendon Books, Bath Place, Taunton TA1 4ER, Tel: 01823 337742, email brendonbooks@gmail.com
Or online directly from  TicketSource

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In Memoriam, Derek Power

Derek Power

We regretfully announce the death of our friend and former FRP member, Derek Power, who died in Musgrove on Monday 9th October, following surgery on his hip.

Derek was born in Oldham in 1932, but later moved to Falmouth, where he lived for fifteen years.  Whilst there, he joined Falmouth Poetry Group and became Chairman and Secretary.  Other members of that group, whom Derek got to know include such well-known names as Penelope Shuttle, Peter Redgrove and future Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy.  Later, he moved to Taunton, where he worked as a pharmacist until his retirement.  Derek joined the Fire River Poets in 1989.  At that time and for some time after, the group was meeting at a series of venues, none of them ideal, until Derek took pity on us and offered his home.  From then on, for many years, he and his wife Eileen hosted our meetings and always made us most welcome (drinks were free, until we insisted on leaving a monetary contribution on the table).  We continued to enjoy Derek’s hospitality until early in 2017, when Eileen’s ill health and other factors made it impractical.

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Planned Events

(Click any Event below for further details)