OFFICE CLOSED 21/12/18 - 02/01/2019


Deborah Harvey lives and writes in Bristol.  Her poems have won several prizes, including the 2010 Wells International Poetry Competition, the 2011 Dor Kemmyn Poetry Competition, the 2012 Pre-Raphaelite Society Prize and the 2013 Buzzwords Gloucestershire Prize.


Deborah’s first collection of poetry, Communion, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2011. Her novel, Dart, about life on Dartmoor during the Black Death, was published under their Tamar Books imprint in February 2013.  Map-Reading for Beginners is her second poetry collection.


Deborah is a trustee of Poetry Can, the poetry development agency for the south-west of England.   In her free time she indulges in extreme rambling with her border collie, Ted.  


She is particularly interested in folklore and the social history of the middle ages and the early modern period.  She is often to be found loitering in ancient buildings, country lanes and churchyards.  















Illustration by Dru Marland



Deborah Harvey


Map reading For Beginners


ISBN 978-1-909357-54-9


Indigo Dreams Publishing




138 x 216mm


76 pages


£7.99 + P&P UK


September 2014










Narcissus Goes Shopping


He breaks his journey home at Wells,

dishevelled and out of sorts,

dressed in yesterday’s

socks and shirt, his overnight bag

on his kitchen table

where he left it.


She tries to distract him

with offers of coffee, a stroll

down what was once Grope Lane,

or around the impossibly romantic moat

to witness the mute swans ringing and ringing

the bell for bread crumbs.


As he checks his reflection

in plate glass windows, she inhales

spilt Merlot, the salt stains

of last night’s songs,

mapping his warm and secret creases,

his hidden hollows.


Beyond the cubicle curtain

he fastens buttons, lustred shell slipping

smooth and cool between his fingers.

He emerges pristine from his chrysalis.

By their cars as they kiss, she can hear

an evening bell echo.                                      




Tipping The Balance


Let winter steal this March on spring

falling backwards into snowlight,  

its blinding victory.  


It’s not about green and yellow,

the glow of celandines or whether

miserly beeches are still pocketing their coppers


We’ll measure the turning year in light,

throw the wolf and lion into the balance,

let afternoons trickle into evening,


evening out the hours of dark

and as night comes

hurtling into morning,


wake to the beating of wings

warm as migratory kisses  




Broken Water



The floating harbour is dark

beneath its lustre.  September

slumbers into dusk.


The people around you drinking coffee,

that girl lounging on the pontoon

(the one in jeans


the pink of ice cream),  

her friend, and the doggedly

jogging man will soon


be making their journey home

to whatever awaits them.  

And you too will leave this moment,


return to the pieces of a life

that can never fit back together  

the way they did before.  


But for now sit. Watch the wind’s

fingerprints smudging the surface

of the Reach.


Resolve to remember

the mutable beauty

of broken water.










The Poet And The Boatman



Tidal here and salt

the final turn of Teign

before its fretful merging with the sea

creates a harbour in the lee of land,

this curved blood-coloured beach.


Through mist that lifts like linen wraiths

I glimpse the poet stripping off

his white ballooning shirt and britches,

bathing in a manner

far from gentlemanly


the water’s cold, he’ll catch a chill


while over here a boatman’s sanding smooth

a newly mended hull.  

He’ll check the caulk is watertight

before he ventures out to rescue souls

condemned to airless death.


Both men are bright-faced,

close in age,

yet they’ll never share a jar

for by the time the boatman’s posted here,

John Keats is twelve years dead.


no one could have saved the poet

from drowning in his blood


Instead the boatman heads for breakfast,

and John is gone with a flap of his red-stained shirt

to flirt with the sleep-soft girls

stirring in their beds

above the bonnet shop.




Driving John Home


for JT


If we’d set out with intent, licked a finger,

held it up to tell which way the equinoctal

wind was blowing,


hunkered under midnight’s coats

out of range of those long, preternaturally

sensitive snouts


If we’d adopted some disguise,

engaged the complicity of trees,

my hair dishevelled, snagged on twigs


the cap you’d have donned to stymie

moonshine wreathed with ghosts

of broken leaves  


If we’d watched a warrior tribe creep

circumspectly from its sett,

rootling for worms in fern


and raking grubs from bark with iron claws,

such an encounter couldn’t have been

any more extraordinary


than our glimpse of badgers

momentarily frozen to the tarmac

of Parry’s Lane,


who trot into view

when I close my eyes,

fossick through my dreams.

I should not be astounded.  

Brocks are native to these parts,

their pads remember lost obliterated tracks.


Yet in that instant, with hairy serendipity

they were moon-snared Muses

excavating poetry.





Map Reading For Beginners


Put the sat nav in the boot.

Follow your own arterial route,


the tunnelling lanes that take you down

to where the stories first began,


where fox and hare listen in bracken,

ravens chat across the silence of the sky.


In the moss-dark holy well

a nadder bites its stripy tail,


completes the circle.

Your turquoise tracery of veins


espaliered branches

mapping skin,


a buried poet

with a fruit tree growing through her,


whose fractal dreams are carved

by beetles under bark.






for GC


The horse is white, not grey. Not

a runaway from a field. Nobody here or hereabouts

owns a white horse.


What’s more, your dog, the Kerry Blue,

is doing what dogs do when they chance

on the uncanny,


standing motionless and staring

at the shore where Saint Columba

made his landing.


This horse is whiter than any dove,

so bright it stings your eyes

like salt,


sears itself into your mind,

drags your hesitant feet

towards the brooding Sound,


as it surges over shingle, rocky skerries,

vanishing behind sheer cliffs,



When you reach the tideline

the beast will be gone.

You’ll see no hoof prints in the sand


and you’ll question the memory of a horse,

dreamt from spindrift,

beating its ancient bounds,


even as your dog  

explores and sniffs, barks for you

to throw her sticks.



“An authentic sense of travelling through history as well as through the complexities and ironies of place illuminate this confident new collection.  Deborah Harvey’s use of language is clean and fresh, and she draws with energy and purpose on archival material, such as the records of the Bristolian topographer William Wyrcestre mapping the city in 1480, or the wreck of the SS Nornen off  Berrow Flats in 1897.  Her voice remains however contemporary and deeply responsive to the beauty and vulnerability of the natural world.  Highly recommended.”

Penelope Shuttle


“Deborah Harvey’s … poems are raw and true. She is the real thing.”                                      

Hugo Williams


“Imagine a raven skilfully playing upon the air above a lonely Dartmoor tor, and you might get a sense of her subtle, dark and beautiful, glistening poems.”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Colin Brown

Poetry Can







9781909357549 Map Reading amend 2 Publicity photo amend2 262962_260135437345492_2561010_n 9781909357549 9781909357549