A mad dog runs the shoreline
in the direction of Venus rising.

Ghost bats play dodge the streetlamp
along the promenade.

Slow motion lovers drift to and fro
as we talk of Paula Rego

and darkness lowers its abdomen
to spin us a bedtime story.

Life has fallen away. I am de-scaled;
calm as the polite lap of a near flat sea

while the distant dog, a dot,
is still running.


Kate Rutter


In her nineties she begins to daydream
shrugging off the rug and velcroed slippers
to dig her toes in the tumbled strandline

of the residents’ lounge. Standing,
she watches while the morning swishes up
around her, noisy with the squawk

of what she thinks are oystercatchers
dressed in black and white
and the long-stretched necks of gannets

cramming food and squabbling. She walks
to the water's edge where clothes are piled
in heaps.  Here are boards, leaning

on the breakwater, and she flicks one upright
with a practised foot, drags it down the beach
to deeper water. The sand's the shade of early morning

tea. She tosses bread into the sky
to get a feeling for the breeze, manoeuvres
so the sail is downwind of the nurses

skimming through the corridor towards her.
Surf's high. She heaves her stern-ward hand
hard against the boom to pull away.


Rosemary Badcoe


Polishing Girls

After Sir William Rothenstein’s ‘Sheffield Buffer Girls’, (1919-1920)

Skirts work – grimed, hair turbaned red,
we stand like salt and pepper pots,
hands unbound, away from the grinding
dolly, oil and sand. With each shift

of our hips, silver rains from our scarves,
grits the floor of the studio. He sets us
like candlesticks, hands heavy
on waists, shoulders askance.

For hours I stare at my sister; the spoon
of her lips, her loose-spilled limbs.
We sup tea in a break, peek in the frame
at her wide-eyed looks, my bladed chin.


Suzanne McArdle


New Year’s Day

You don’t often see a Shetland pony tethered
to a lamp-post on Greenhill Avenue.
We’ll check on the way back – if it’s still there
we’ll phone the RSPCA.
It isn’t – its absence now a worry.
This same morning a rainbow gashes
the sky over the Sheaf.

Afternoon comes and goes. We fret – we should
have done something about that pony.
Early evening there are phone calls –
twins are miscarried, a cousin dies of cancer.
On the News – a good man murdered
on his way to church – a million culled
by winter sickness

and folk speak of how, after months of floods
they are afraid of drizzle becoming deluge,
feel their lives are as flotsam.
In woods the ash withers.


Jan Caborn

Cutting Edge poets are a group of poets who workshop together and occasionally organise events - they are running a writing workshop at the festival.

Kate Rutter lives in Sheffield and works as an actor in film, television, theatre and radio. Her poetry has been published in various journals, most recently in Magma. She co-edited Matter 12, an anthology of new writing published by Sheffield Hallam University. She was shortlisted for the 2010 Bridport Prize.

Rosemary Badcoe is currently finishing an MA in Writing at Sheffield Hallam University. She has been published in various journals and anthologies and in 2013 was shortlisted for the Jane Martin Poetry Prize, Girton College, University of Cambridge. She is co-editor of Antiphon.

Suzanne McArdle is currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University and completing her second novel, a psychological thriller. Her poetry can be found in The Rialto, the Grist anthology 'A Complicated Way of Being Ignored' and Matter.

Jan Caborn has just completed her MA Writing at SHU. She is a founder member of The Word Train now in its 11th year and was a writer in residence at BBC Radio Sheffield in 2000. She has taught creative writing to older people after retiring from teaching in primary school.

The group also includes Suzannah Evans and Margaret Lewis who are featured elsewhere in the magazine and will be reading at the festival.