Kerry Darbishire is the great great niece of the composer Frederick Delius down her mother’s side.  When WW2 broke out her actor parents who were touring England, found themselves out of work and moved north to the Cumbrian Lake District.  Kerry was raised in a quiet village where the mountains, rivers, fields grounded her love of that landscape.  The many artists, writers, musicians and walkers welcomed into their tea garden and household had a profound effect and has since influenced her writing.  Kerry was bound for art school when at eighteen she married Stephen Darbishire, an artist who had entered into the ‘pop’ business, writing and making records.  


When this came to an end they settled back in the Lake District with their two daughters and ran a small holding. Kerry began writing songs and recording.  Elkie Brooks and Hazel Dean were amongst singers covering her songs.  Her career came to a halt to look after her mother; “This time we spent together was very special, we became even closer and I learned so much about her early life.”  After Kay, her mother, died, Kerry began writing poetry and attending local workshops.  She gained a Hunter Davis Bursary to write a biography on her mother’s life (which is still in process.)   In 2013 she was mentored by Judy Brown at the Wordsworth Trust and has since been published with Dawntreader - Indigo Dreams Publishing, The Interpreter’s House, Mslexia, Grace Magazine, Ver Poets anthology, Poetic Republic ebook, Live from Worktown anthology, Forward Poetry ‘A Way With Words’ 2014.  


Her poems were shortlisted in the following competitions: Mslexia 2013,  The Geoff Stevens Memorial Prize 2013, Mungrisdale, The Charles Causley 2013.   Recently Kerry organised a collection of local poetry at The Sheepfest, Sedbergh.  


She continues to find inspiration in her beautiful and wild surroundings.



Kerry Darbishire


A Lift Of Wings


Cover painting Stephen J Darbishire, RBA


ISBN 978-1-909357-59-4


Indigo Dreams Publishing




138 x 216mm


64 pages


£8.99 + P&P UK


November 2014










Rare Photos


I’m fifteen, looking back at the fells

their tops smeared by mist.

Dad is facing the lens, salient, reclaiming his prize.


I remember that day on the lake,

the pull and slip of oars in wide black water.

Our out-of-depth conversation


darted like pike in their dark homes

searching amongst embryonic layers

for each other.  I can imagine how he felt


in those two hours of hire.  I see it now – gold-framed,

his smile as uncertain as the void beneath our feet,

expectation grabbing the stained shore.


I’m wearing the silver leaf-brooch he gave me.  

His paisley cravat is loosely tied inside a blue shirt –

the one he always wore for best.




The Night Dad took me to the Island House


named after beautiful Isabella,

we rowed across the lake

hunched against a January squall

slicing off the fells.  

I imagined her boat



on the moon-full water

easing off inky pebbles in the bay

where winter trees jigged

in the last lap of oars.


  Her cries soft as ribbons

slipped brocade coverlets,

in armoured bedrooms,

floors tapped like oysters  

– iced


  and sash windows

higher than churches

fluttered like wings

amongst bony arms of red velvet

that banned light long ago –


  before naphthalene oozed

from the wardrobe –

bequeathed tweed suits stiffened,

before breath turned

the colour of a moth in winter.



























On Haystacks


After I’d read an extract

from My Family and other Animals,  

I told her about our latest walk – the view

from Innominate Tarn, how mist crumbled

like biscuits in the wind as we sipped tea.

How Lucy dog leaned to sniff

the bite and Buttermere floated

like a white blanket in and out of the sun

towards the sea.  

I doubt Wainwright noticed

how hard it was for young mothers

to push buggies over the rough path

around that lake.   A short walk for some,

for us, the trek of shedding

four brittle years in one day –

as if we could.  

                  We tried

to convince the nurses  

that at home was best, safe,

familiar after fifty four years.  

We nailed down rugs, moved chairs,

taped lino from sitting room to bathroom

an easy route – short – no steps involved.

But they failed to believe

that she could manage blind.

                  Just before she slept,

she squeezed my hand like summer

navigating every gully, stream,

ferned rock up there and whispered,

  one day a snow goose reeled through low clouds

as near as I am to you.






I’m in love with this place

  its snow, storms, those promising stars

and the way after last night’s frosty grip

  the stream cuts like steel

between the fell wall and the ash tree.  


The scent of moss drips notes so sharp

  and clear I want to drink.  And here

the smooth pentatonic hum of a bee

  loops and keys into celandines –

rises and falls across the silk blue-violet valley


where one summer years ago I stood

  with my arm around you in belief – swayed green

on singing ground.  But how the ash leans now,

  girth-wide – gravel skin – slow to let go

this season’s prose from ink-stained finger nails.






The scratch of pencil dry

along my jaw


     rocks back and forth.


His sharp blue eyes dart

from me to board to me to board

  like a wren

     searching for a landing.


Books, frames and canvases

are stacked in years

  around this eaved room

     lit only by the north.


Turpentine – spilt, stained and layered

reassuringly deep.  Still

  as a camera I must breathe

     like sleep.


Through the open window,

  I fly celandine meadows,

     jump crackles of becks cupped in moss,

lie in woods, wind flowers, bracken,

  soar through stained-glass blue mountains  

     into endless sky


until sun, sun splits clouds,

props and shifts distance,

  hauls me back here

     to my leaden chair


aching arms and numbness.

Slowly I stand,

  move into his position

     and see myself.




The Spare Room – Dove Cottage


In the event of Coleridge coming to stay,

in order to hold back damp, Dorothy’s solution

was to spread the walls with yesterday’s

news.  I see him, this sweet primrose month

wrapped in The Times, reading by candlelight

before flickering into Black Drop sleep

to dream of dearest Sara this night

when stars fell secretly too deep.

In the visitor hush of this upstairs room

I watch the window’s backdrop of sorrel,

ferns unfurling, poppies in such gloom

craving sun beneath the thickest laurel

in her noon-long shadow – keeper of rain

this April day, his footsteps on the lane.




On that Starry Night


You lay in feathered paleness –

elegant as a swan on the river – gliding

towards the edge of a waterfall.

I waited by your window

  in silenced prayer.  


  Across the valley gold sliced warm curtains,

spilled out conversations – once ours.

I wanted to show you sheep

bedded like boulders in wet grass,

  ebony tracks of startled deer


  and tell you how an owl shadowed pines,

snatched sharp air like food

in the snare of winter

when a lift of wings

  changed everything.











“Kerry Darbishire’s poems combine delicacy with unflinching observation, evoking a Cumbrian landscape rich with memory and finely-sketched characters.  The poet’s fluid and exact language shows childhood and old age in a land which is itself vividly characterised.  This is an achieved and wise first collection, a tapestry of skilful soundwork and image, of fells, family and a struggle to  hold everything in balance – poetry for life.”    

Judy Brown


“The poems in Kerry Darbishire’s ‘A Lift of Wings’ are rooted in memory, but more than this they seem to inhabit the memories that are their starting point, recreating them with perfect detail and delving into them for new meanings.  Rural Cumbria is not only the setting for much of this work it is the fabric out of which the beautifully musical poems are woven.”    Andrew Forster


“Kerry Darbishire’s collection ‘A Lift of Wings’ address grief, loss, memories and love with a touch that is sensitive and lyrical.  Her poetry is both well crafted and musical, never forced.  The title is well chosen and perfectly suits the lift and fall of her work.  The language is close to the earth.  Nowhere is this deep love of place more clearly shown than in the poem ‘The River Brathay’ that runs like a flock of Herdwick. .In ‘Mr Mounsey’  is language Heaney would be familiar with in its strength, clarity and simplicity.  Darbishire’s poems shine luminously in an often dark world that sometimes seems devoid of compassion.”      

Geraldine Green