Guest Poets: Sheila Aldous & Pratibha Castle – October 7th, 2021

Sheila Aldous

For Sheila, as for many, poetry is a personal journey and she has experienced highs and lows while learning through life to ‘get back up again’. 
After a career with several newspapers from Liverpool to Bermuda, and in London at the Radio Times, a new journey of discovery opened up. Sheila gained a BA Honours at Anglia Polytechnic University, and an MA in Creative Writing from Exeter University.

Prathiba Castle

Pratibha, at various times a holistic therapist and workshop facilitator, singer, hippy, was born in Dublin and now lives in West Sussex. Though she received some acclaim as a writer at the age of nine, winning a Cadbury’s essay competition, also writing, directing and acting in a school play aged ten, she only turned to writing as an adult aged 60, prompted by her mother’s death.
She graduated from Chichester University with a first-class honours degree in English and Creative Writing, studying further on their Creative Writing MA.

She has won or been placed in several competitions, including the Yeovil Poetry Prize 2016 and  the International Welsh Poetry Competition 2021, and has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize. Her work has been published in Acumen, Orbis, Caduceus, Obsessed With Pipework and others, and is featured in several anthologies.
Sheila’s first collection of poetry is Paper Boats [Indigo Dreams], her second a chapbook Patterns of All Made Things [Hen Run].
It is said she makes the best scones and chocolate cake in England, but that is purely the opinion of her family: she does not claim this accolade for herself.

Joint winner of the Hedgehog Press Nicely Folded Paper Competition 2019, her work appears in Agenda, Dreich, The Honest Ulsterman, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Fevers of the Mind, Saraswati, Reach, The Blue Nib, Words for the Wild, Bonnie’s Crew, Eunoia Review, Panoply Ezine, Poetry and All That Jazz, Fly on the Wall, Lothlorien Journal. Winner of the NADFAS poetry competition age range 13 – 17, 2009, she was Highly Commended in the Sentinel Literary Journal Competition January 2021, Storytown 2020 Poetry Competition, and Hedgehog Press Competition, Postcards from the Hedge: A Bestiary of the Night.She has been longlisted and shortlisted in additional poetry competitions, including the Brian Dempsey Memorial Prize 2021 and her work appears in various anthologies. She is a regular reader on Wilts Radio, The Poetry Place. Though Pratibha loves birds, she has a hard time with the heron who swoops in at dawn, no doubt hoping for a snack of carp.

Comments on her work include:

‘(The) poems (in) Pratibha Castle’s sensual, sacramental debut pamphlet… have a heady perfume and courageous way with a secret reminiscent of Edna O’Brien and Medbh McGuckian – and a subtle incantatory magic all their own.’ Naomi Foyle

‘Pratibha Castle has matched the flow of these poems to the yearning souls they describe. Her light-footed words often slip free in surprising fashion, nimbly breaking the lines and creating unexpected angles onto a fund of timeless material in which souls yearn for release from the grip of bullying belief-systems, and where nature offers its ancient consolations.’ David Swann

‘Castle….with a language recalling Medbh McGuckian…flaunt(ing)s sexual awakening in the Mary Quant generation to follow Edna O’Brien. A superb debut’. Simon Jenner

‘How I have enjoyed reading this collection by emerging poet Pratibha Veronica Castle as she guides the reader into the liminal spaces that rest between love, loss and the spiritual world. Her use of imagery, language and metaphor both informs and empowers her work. A Triptych of Birds and a Few Loose Feathers is a beautiful work of art.’ Raine Geoghegan

‘Pratibha Castle sustains a clear, lyrical voice, but is also not afraid to speak directly to the heart. A great debut collection’. Moyra Donaldson