WILD NATURE POETRY AWARD competition now open.

Kerry Darbishire poet and songwriter has covers including Elkie Brooks and Hazel Dean, ‘They Say It’s Gonna Rain’ was a hit in the mid 80’s.


She grew up in the English Lake District where she continues to live on a Cumbrian fell side with her artist husband Stephen.


Since her mentorship with Judy Brown, poet in residence at the Wordsworth Trust in 2013, her poems have appeared in many anthologies and magazines and she has won several competition prizes including shortlisted Bridport 2017. Her first poetry collection,


‘A Lift of Wings’ was published in 2014 by Indigo Dreams. Her biography, ‘Kay’s Ark’, the story of her mother, was published by Handstand Press in 2016 and has been very well received in Cumbria.


You can follow Kerry on Twitter: @kerrydarbishire





Cover artwork by Stephen J. Darbishire, RBA: When Spring turns to Summer




138 x 216mm


70 pages


£9.99 + P&P UK


ISBN 978-1-910834-89-3


PUB: 17 AUGUST 2018










Kerry Darbishire


Distance Sweet on my Tongue



The Beautiful Village

after Sean O’Brien


The village where everyone knew everyone’s business:

hens lost to foxes, the heaviest fish escaping

once more under the bridge, the little girl

who died from meningitis and my mother


placing snowdrops on her grave

for forty years. Folk clustered like midges

on the corner by the bus stop breathing in

and out chilled air to the rhythm of the river


their bent backs silhouetted against the sun

sliding tangerine light behind the pines.

I’d skirt by unnoticed to catch the crack of lives

I knew, but always too young, the newcomer


amongst real locals whose fathers worked

the quarries and farms that turned into my hoard

of adventures and freedom. At dusk

like woven threads unravelling


they’d slip off round corners through doors

painted green, to suppers ready on the table, nightcaps

by fires. I come back sometimes to hear the river,

see the cottage lamps flick on and off for strangers.




Wild Garden


is the slow fell path we climbed

on honeysuckle evenings

when blackbirds and pipistrelles

  scratched the orange glow off a night sky


your married hand

knuckled warm in mine

etched with land     weather     sheep trails

  threading Beacon larches –


those low implicit trees

clinging to acid soil that knows

the distance roe deer run

  shelter to shelter


in storm and snow.

And on that white-still morning I came here

without you

  two buzzards wheeled and cried


and I could see all the salt way

to Black Combe      Hoad     Heysham

clear as bird wings

  pausing on the tide.




Old Photo          


Where the fold breaks your face from head to chin

sea swells to a rocky shore below Connemara.

A pink skirt drips thrift and shells listening

to skylarks above a deep porch

where you stand arms wide as a sail

hugging me in to search

for tobacco-thick jumpers, letters unsent, tea cold

and staining the kitchen table.


This is not just a photograph

my father’s smile, me running to the swing

of big bones honed by the bay, his eyes

wise as harvest moons pitched in waves –

summers rolling out rolling back

on the mantelpiece – filling a gap.

Wind on Kitmere  


You hoof a track through rhododendron hills

and stride crack willow, untie the harnessed reeds


about my throat then ride roughshod across

my flimsy skin.  Even the Howgills stand back


and bare disturbed at how you trample through

peat-land and hurl the softly flowered path


to tug and hack my sullen grey with silver,

rip moorings from their slimy poles, whip summer


from my bones. Fore-rider of the rain

you breathe like Odin’s steed the way you kindle


northern trees and gap the land I sink

to feed.  You steal safe shelter from roe deer


who stop to drink me year on year.






There are no other days like this

when the first swallows

fly in from Africa.

Oceans, forests and night storms

tugging at their slight wings

like the moss on my steps,  

how it clings in rain,  

trips me when I least expect.


Woken by insistent bells

we lay close as we could

that first morning in Milan.

Streets buzzed

May-warm, café tables dazzled

like pigeons soaring

into a seamless

postcard-blue sky.


We tasted everything in the window:

squid, mondeghini, almond pannacotta,

learned to eat artichokes in butter,

drink limoncello iced and exotic, oblivious

to imperfection. These days

I notice things – the easily broken,  

these travellers appearing through mist

the distance sweet on my tongue.




Summer of ‘63


I never got the job in the coffee bar

to earn enough money for college.

You didn’t walk in wearing denims

and a suede waistcoat. I wasn’t swayed

miming the words to Hit the Road Jack

tapping my fingers while no-one

dropped a coin in the jukebox that jammed all the time.

I didn’t blush or splash sour cream  

across the tatty melamine counter when you

weren’t watching me – watching me the way

snow falls in the night. I didn’t spill

the plastic jug of diluted orange juice

which you didn’t want anyway. No.

I wasn’t nervous, dry-throated as the rivers

that summer, my long hair backcombed and wound

in a French Pleat, in my tight checked pencil skirt

I didn’t think you noticed.

‘These poems deeply rooted in Cumbrian ground, grown over with a cornucopia of mosses and flowers, buth which reach out to the wider world.

In her attention to detail, Darbishire presents a landscape and community moving to their own timeless rhythms. The poems are heady with scent and colour, guaranteed to be sweet on the tongue.’  

Polly Atkin


‘Darbishire’s narrative takes us on a meditative journey from Mallerstang Moors to Connemara, from cobwebbed lives and lost lives, to ones she heaves from the very rocks she stands on. Here, human love is cleaved into bedrock, runs like striations caught in time, and Darbishire deftly unravels them before our eyes.’  

Abegail Morley

Distance Sweet on my Tongue garners a past childhood, people and places from the rivers and mountains of Cumbria to the shops of Milan. Kerry encompasses the sounds of wild geese, scents of Spring and Autumn, young dreams, a love of paintings and her taste for life.

9781910834893 K3 AMEND