Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Welcome to the website!

Mike Bartholomew-Biggs ( is a semi-retired mathematician and fully-active poet living in London.

He is poetry editor of the on-line magazine London Grip; and co-organises (with Nancy Mattson) the reading series Poetry in the Crypt.

For further information see About Mike, Mike's publications and Mike's readings

Mike is available for readings and festivals and can be contacted via

Forthcoming events:
No current engagements due to Covid

Michael Bartholomew-Biggs was born in Essex but grew up in Middlesex, near Heathrow Airport.  A youthful aptitude for sums and symbolic manipulation caused him to embark on a mathematical career, first in the aircraft industry and then in research & higher education.  After publishing two text books and many research papers in the technical literature, he retired from full-time academic life in 2008 and is now Reader Emeritus in Computational Mathematics at the University of Hertfordshire.
He began writing poetry in the late 1980’s and found valuable early encouragement at the Toddington Poetry Society.  His work has been widely published in magazines and anthologies and some of his poems can be found on-line at  poetry pf and in the Poetry Library archive.
His work also appears in on-line magazines such as Writer's Hub, Fulcrum, The Bow-Wow Shop, morphrog, Penniless Press, Message in a Bottle and Ink Sweat & Tears and in print magazines including Acumen, Assent, Critical Survey, Envoi, The Frogmore Papers, Interpreter's House, Other Poetry and The SHOp.
He has also been a guest reader at the Torbay and Essex Poetry Festivals.

His first chapbook, Anglicized by Common Use, appeared in 1998.  This was followed by Inklings of Complicity (2003) and then by Uneasy Relations (2007) in which he allowed the two halves of his brain to cooperate and produce poems which link mathematical ideas with subjects as diverse as hill-walking, portfolio theory, sexual politics and the works of Edgar Allan Poe.
His first full collection Tell it Like it Might Be (2008) searches for “what really happened” behind familiar stories such as lovers’ protestations, government statements or the Christian gospels.  His second book was Tradesman’s Exit (2009) which mixes elegy with personal recollection to test the links between who we are, what we do and how we might be remembered.

His latest full collection Fred & Blossom, published by Shoestring Press in summer 2013, is a narrative sequence set in the world of aviation in the 1920s and 30s. A chapbook Pictures from a Postponed Exhibition was published by Lapwing Press in September 2014. This is an “evolution myth” which features paintings by the Australian artist David Walsh.

Although he still has some involvement with mathematical research, Mike now spends most of his time writing, reviewing and editing.  He is poetry editor of the on-line magazine London Grip and, with his wife, the poet Nancy Mattson, he helps to run the Poetry in the Crypt reading series at St Mary’s Church in Islington. 
The following Q & A was conducted for an American magazine but never appeared. So it might as well get an airing here...

1. Before your career as a writer, you had a career in mathematics—first in the aircraft industry and then in research and higher education. How did you transition to a career as a poet? What first interested you in writing poetry?

I had a brief and slightly pretentious flirtation with the work of TS Eliot when I was about eighteen – valuing his writing chiefly because it seemed daringly different from things like ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ that I’d had to learn when I was younger. But I then paid little attention to poetry until my mid-forties when my wife (Lynda Bartholomew who, sadly, died in 1994) took a break from work and went to literature evening classes. This started her on reading poetry – and writing it too, but under a pseudonym - and I’m afraid it was nothing more than vanity and a spirit of competition that made me try to write poetry too! Fortunately there was a very good local poetry group near where we lived; and it was through them and their reading series that I got some essential guidance and measured encouragement.
Mathematics and poetry do have some things in common – they both deal with abstraction and with generalization from specific instances. They both value elegant and concise forms of expression. But mathematics involves precise statements whereas poetry aims for a kind of ambiguity that allows the reader to pick up multiple resonances rather than one intended meaning.

2. Who is your favorite poet and how has his or her work influenced your own writing?

I have always admired the work of Welsh poet R S Thomas for his ability to make very few words say a very great deal and say it in a very surprising way. But, as a Christian, I also relate to most of his subject matter and his troubled, psalm-like conversations with God. Thomas probably remains my overall favourite but there are many other poets I enjoy and whose skills I try to learn from. Some are well-known and others less so – but the list would include (in no particular order) Philip Larkin, TS Eliot, Hugo Williams, Robert Bringhurst, and D Nurkse.

3. Do you have a favorite form you tend to use for poetry?

I like to write in fairly regular metrical patterns with stanzas of fairly constant length; but I only make occasional use of recognizable forms. I enjoy working on pantoums when the poem’s subject seems to justify it. I have tried a haiku-like form a few times with mixed success and also the odd villanelle and sonnet. No sestinas yet! One slightly unusual way in which I become involved with form is when I write pastiche versions of well-known poems – there are quite few of these in my recent collection ‘Fred & Blossom’ which contains imitations of John Betjeman and Louis MacNeice, among others.

4. Do you have a favorite theme or topic you like to write about? Has this theme or topic evolved over the years?

In the beginning I followed R S Thomas and wrote a lot of religious poetry. This often took the form of a re-telling of a Bible story in the voice of one of the characters. From this I went on to develop a fondness for writing narrative poetry of all kinds. The narratives may be either factual or fiction; and a political element sometimes creeps in. More recently I have been writing quite a lot of ekphrastic poetry – mostly based on work by artists that I know personally, rather than on well-known paintings in galleries.

5. Your work has been published in a number of online and print magazines. What can you tell us about the publication process? How did you decide which magazines to submit your work to?

Mostly I submitted to magazines which printed a lot of poems I liked! But I was also realistic (or cowardly) enough not to bother submitting to magazines whose contributors seemed mostly to be winners of major prizes! There were no on-line magazines when I started; and when they first came on the scene I was reluctant to submit to them because I thought that print-on-paper was the only proper way to be published … but I have now revised that opinion because there are some very good well-edited magazines on the internet.

6. What guidance might you give to poets who are only just beginning their literary career?

It is very important to read lots of poetry. You should certainly read more than you write! And, if possible, you should go to readings and join a workshop group. In this way your ideas will get broadened and you will begin to discover what kind of poetry you really like and also how it works – so you can try to emulate it. It is important to read contemporary poetry – not because it is ‘better’ than classical but because editors will think your work sounds old-fashioned if your poetic ears are only full of Keats or Tennyson. Having said that, I myself probably still don’t know the classics as well as I should.

7. You’re the poetry editor of the online magazine London Grip. What do you typically look for in the poetry you publish? Are they any common errors/pitfalls in work that is submitted to you that results in rejection?

This is a very interesting question. I have recently been thinking about what my unspoken guidelines are for London Grip submissions. Of course there are no hard-and-fast rules because a good poem can surprise you into liking something you didn’t expect to like. But, in general, a poem that gets into London Grip is likely to be about people rather than a ‘nature poem’; it will probably display some structure and craft rather than being loose and free-form; and it will feature some surprising images and metaphors but will also tend to understatement rather than extravagant or clichéd poetic language. I like poems which display a sense of humour. And I am always sympathetic to poems which make serious political points – but without turning into a manifesto or rant.
Two common ‘errors’ that occur in submissions are: sending in too many poems at once (we ask for no more than three at a time); and not reading the magazine before submitting and hence sending in work that is either wildly experimental or ponderously old-fashioned. It does not create a good impression to send in poems without any kind of covering letter and perhaps a short biographical note. On the other hand a long and boastful biographical note does not create a good impression either!
I try to be a sympathetic editor and will sometimes offer suggestions for improvement if a poem doesn’t seem quite good enough as it stands. In a few cases – typically when there has been an informative covering letter – I will try to offer helpful advice even when none of the poems comes very close to being accepted

8. You’ve also published full collections of your poetry. Was it difficult to transition from single poems to an entire anthology?

My first two full collections were largely put together from poems that had originally been written as singletons with no thought of making a book out of them. Assembling the collection was largely a matter of grouping these poems by theme (and seeing that I had repeatedly been writing about certain subjects without fully realizing it!) and then arranging them in such a way that each poem had (at least) a tenuous link to the one which followed it.
My third full collection however was planned from the start as a narrative sequence (about two real people and their romance in the world of aviation in the 1920s and 30s). This meant that for three or four years I was consciously writing poems that were connected with one another and with the background reading and research I was doing. It was therefore important for me to be really enthusiastic about my subject

9. Do you have a favorite place to write your poetry? What does your writing process look like?

I am lucky enough to find it quite easy to work at my own desk at home. Unlike some authors, I don’t seem to need to get away to unfamiliar and peaceful surroundings in order to be able really to concentrate on their writing. (Of course, it is possible that I would write better poems if I did go away to somewhere tranquil …)
My poems usually start as a scribbled line in a notebook which is transferred to my computer as soon as I start to build a poem around it. I often finish a first draft pretty quickly – maybe in a few days. That draft will then stay untouched until the next meeting of one of the poetry workshops I belong to. It will then undergo some revisions – perhaps before I share it at the workshop and certainly after I have had some audience reactions. I will probably review and revise it again when I am putting together a magazine submission. In other words my poems are seldom judged to be finished until somebody has published them! And maybe not even then…

10. You’ve participated in several reading series. Do you see a difference between your poems when they’re written and when they’re spoken? What advice can you give to poets preparing for a reading series?

I try to read my poems in a way that is faithful to their layout in the page, respecting the line breaks and stanza breaks. If a poem feels awkward when you read it in this way then it may mean that its form is still not quite right.
When choosing poems for a reading I try to remember that my favourites on the page may not always be the best ones to read. On the page it is possible for a reader to go over a difficult passage more than once; but an audience only gets a single chance to appreciate a poem. If there is too much complicated syntax or if the poem is simply too long then the hearers can get lost and lose interest.
It is important to rehearse for a reading and to be sure to speak clearly and project your voice (or learning to use a microphone if the venue provides one). A common fault is to drop the voice at the ending of a line or a sentence and this can be very off-putting for the audience. Learning one’s poems by heart is an impressive trick if you can do it. But it is just as good simply to know the poems well enough that you do not rely 100% on the book and just look down every so often for a quick reminder of what comes next. You can then make eye contact with the audience and pay attention to the expression in your voice and even a bit of helpful body language.
If I look at the question from the point of view of an event organizer I would say that the single most important thing is that each reader should stick closely to the time that they have been allotted. To do otherwise is very unprofessional and discourteous to your fellow readers. And it certainly spoils the evening for the hosts of the event – so you will probably not be invited again!

Mike's publications


Mike's poetry collections are as follows. (For more information click on the title)

Poems in the Case (2018)
The Man Who Wasn't Ever Here (2017)
Pictures From a Postponed Exhbition (2014)
Fred & Blossom (2013)
Tradesman's Exit (2009)
Tell It Like It Might Be (2008)
Uneasy Relations (2007)
Inklings of Complicity (2003)
Anglicized by Common Use (1998)


Poems in the Case is a genre-bending volume which places an eclectic poetry selection within the framework of a murder mystery and features ten poets caught up in a classic detective story.

When participants gather at a poetry workshop in rural Kent they are looking forward to a preview of a collection of posthumously discovered unpublished poems by the admired and much-missed poet Eric Jessop. Within a few days however tensions have arisen between members of the group—not least over doubts about the collection’s authenticity. When a very public confrontation is followed by two sudden and mysterious deaths will poetic sensibility prove to be of any use in determining what really happened?

For an on line review see The High Window 2019

A poem from Poems in the Case

Jazz and puppetry, she says
are twins. She’s right: harmonic lines
allow as little freedom
as a finger up the spine 
or wires through wrists that push or pull you
into false positions.

I’m a home-made marionette.
She holds the strings. Come here, she calls,
pretending that she doesn’t;
next she’ll brush me with a kiss
or with a lash. I won’t ask which
until I close the door.

Should she cut me loose I’d slump,
a bundle of discordant limbs.
Puppetry and jazz
run risks: alfresco melodies 
divorced from chords collapse, go sprawling
as disjointed notes.

She’s making me negotiate
departures: clean out china/filing
cabinets and clear 
the desktop/bedside diary;
leave notelets for my next/my old

Puppetry works hand in glove
with jazz. My first-choice orchestra
has been marched away
in chains and handcuffs; in its place
a second string quintet rehearses
ersatz hot club music.



The Man Who Wasn't Ever Here from Wayleave Press extends and elaborates the story of Mike's Irish grandfather which began as a poem sequence in his first book Anglicised by Common Use (1998). As the book's preface tells us:

Our forebears leave few traces of themselves, unless they stumble briefly into the roving spotlight of recorded history. Thomas Ovans was born in Ireland in the 1850s but came as a shipyard worker to Middlesbrough, where he changed his name to Evans and got married (one small step towards becoming my grandfather). He later went to sea with P&O as a ship’s engineer; and family folklore, supported by a little photographic evidence, says he formed a shipboard friendship with the opera singer Nellie Melba. It is fact not folklore that he came from the same part of County Leitrim as Seán MacDermott, one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. Thomas himself became a posthumous news item in 1917 when his ship hit a mine in the Indian Ocean.

A poem from The Man Who Wasn't Ever Here ....

Press Reports  
Daily Express Bombay Correspondent, 2 July 1917

A widow takes the roughly scissored column-
inches and unfolds their yellowed story.

The passengers were pleasantly engaged,
with lifebelts off and some were playing quoits.  
At just past noon they felt the first explosion.

The ship went down in only sixteen minutes,
in shallow water, with her masts still showing:
but wireless traffic had already ceased
some time before the incident because
the atmosphere that day was much disturbed.

One gentleman, who had secured a place
on lifeboat ten, descended to his cabin,
in order to collect a sum of money.
Discovering the boat had left without him
he went down again to fetch his watch.

As passengers were saved from utmost danger
a well-known theologian jammed his fingers 
climbing in a lifeboat.  Most of those 
who died were in the engine room – six Britons
and fourteen native crewmen.  Thirty mailbags

have been recovered and the search continues.
Also missing is one Parsee gentleman 
of unknown name.  A passenger's pet dog 
was saved and reached Bombay before its master.
It was at the quay to greet him.


Pictures from a Postponed Exhibition (Lapwing Press, 2014) is Mike's collaboration with artist David Walsh . The poems give voice to the small figures which fleetingly inhabit Walsh's hot, fierce landscapes.
They tell stories that are partly evolution-myths and partly parables about colonization.

Reviews can be found on Emma Lee's blog and in London Grip and Lunar Poetry

A poem from Pictures from a Postponed Exhibition ....

In an arid landscape, slender figures
curved as question marks
enact bewilderment at being
found beneath acrylic sky.

Space is what the sun can burn
and time’s the tallying of drawn-out days
on brittle limbs of stunted trees.

Painted figures cannot speak
but they can mime and want
stiff gestures recognized.

So extract a narrative
from each now in front of you
and a dozen thens remembered

or imagined down the gallery.
Ignore the hundred nevers
missing from the catalogue.

From the blind side of survival
sudden gusts come perfumed with suspicions
groves of foliage were left behind
before there was a word for garden.


Fred & Blossom (Shoestring Press, 2013) is a narrative sequence based on the true story of F.G. Miles and Maxine "Blossom" Forbes-Robertson. Their romance began in an aeroplane and throughout the 1930s they were at the centre of the fashionable world of light aviation. The poems touch on the beginnings of airline travel, the British class system, the Spanish Civil War and early attempts at supersonic flight. They also give glimpses of such figures as Douglas Bader, Joseph Stalin and Peter Pan and let us hear the distant voices of Rudyard Kipling, Louis MacNeice and John Betjeman.

The Fred & Blossom cover image is a detail from a painting by Howard Fritz.

I love this book and I love what an obvious labor of love it was... the amazing story, the different forms of poetry, the prose-poems based only on words from articles written at the time. Fred & Blossom, besides having a consistent narrative voice, can also do the characters in different voices. - Murray Bodo

This is stunning ... [I] enjoyed it enormously and feel much better informed about ... history, Englishness, innovation, romance, adventure and much more. [The] choice of poems/forms/found material is wonderful - Jane Kirwan

A great story and tremendously well done. It’s ambitious and beautifully turned, and much of it is masterful. The treated texts are a delight. There was clearly relish in the telling: I do get the sense of a poet enjoying his craft. - James Norcliffe

... gloriously eccentric ... an improbable triumph - Jeremy Page in The Frogmore Papers

... precision of language is what makes Bartholomew-Biggs's volume tick - Deborah Tyler-Bennett in Under the Radar

For an on-line review by Paul McLoughlin see London Grip and another by Afric McGlinchey at Sabotage Reviews

A poem from Fred & Blossom ...

How to make yourselves an aeroplane

Fred can be the fuselage. He’s broad and blunt.
Old cars and lorries earn his living:
in return they get his tenderest attentions.
His touch and hearing can detect
distress in engines, sensing when a thin high note
is pleading for the revs to drop
or warning of a worn-out bearing. He has grown
green fi ngers with machinery.

For wings, use Blossom’s outstretched arms.
Her proper name’s Maxine but she is always Blossom
to her friends – that’s everyone
who’s anyone in London Theatre. From them
she’s learnt to ride on optimism –
or its simulation by that certain magic
mix of attitude and movement
always on the brink of generating lift.



Tradesman's Exit (Shoestring Press, 2009) tests the links between who we are, what we do and why we are remembered, mixing personal recollections with tributes to an array of master craftsmen in fields as diverse as sport, music, art, film and literature.

The book's striking cover image is by Shelagh Hickman .

"Bartholomew-Biggs has a particular gift for witty allusion ... his wit, however, is coupled with judgement." - Glyn Pursglove
" ... sometimes jolting our memories or suggesting something just beyond our knowing" - Barry Cole

An on-line review of Tradesman's Exit appears on Eyewear

A poem from Tradesman's Exit ....

For R.S.Thomas
For years the coal-black priest
tried by the dim light in his head
to reach the surface of existence
where God’s big hand for ever
splits infinity
like slate, His small hand
pointing always to midnight or to noon.
For years he worked as well
at the bone hard face of Huw Puw
who would not tell the time and who cared nothing
for all the spiral wisdom
of the galaxies,
whose hands were only raised
in anger, or to cut another swede.
Can anything be won
from such unyielding ground?
No answer.  He choked on dust
and coughed up blood-streaked poetry.



Mike's first full collection was  Tell it Like it Might Be (Smokestack Books, 2008) which both celebrates and questions the value of human imagination as the source of both grand designs and private fears.

The cover image is a detail from a painting by Howard Fritz.

"This is vigorous and wide-ranging poetry....Here is a book to be welcomed and savoured, by a poet who not only looks but sees"  - Peter Bennet
"If my house caught fire and I had to run out very quickly I would reach for Tell it Like it Might Be - it's serious work from a very able poet." - Other Poetry

A poem from Tell it Like it Might Be ....

     Eleventh Floor

     Candy is my weakness.
     The grey-pink wall around your high-rise balcony
     yielded as my fancy pressed against it
     like nougat to a tongue
     and, stretching into sticky strands, it bulged
     to tilt me slowly outwards
     just before your grip upon the camera failed
     at the instant when the shutter tripped
     and it went plummeting
     to photograph its own destruction
     in a zoom lens shot
     that ultimately missed the lady on the street
     turning pirouettes as laboured as
     a drowsy ballerina
     or a skater in a space suit
     who thought she was concealed
     by sidewalk shrubs that altitude had simplified
     to jumbles of brown smudges, just as if
     the city’s landscape artist
     had rummaged in a box of chocolates.


Mike's poetry has also appeared in several anthologies - among the most recent are

Orni-thology (Poetry Wivenhoe 2016),
Poems for Jeremy Corbyn (Shoestring 2016),
50 Ways to Fly (Rhythm & Muse, 2017 ),
Poems for Stanley Spencer (Two Rivers, 2017)


Mike's full collections were preceded by three chapbooks. 

Uneasy Relations (Hearing Eye Press, 2007)  contains poems which play with themes drawn from the author's career as a professional mathematician but also touch on myth & fable, the arts of prediction and preventive maintenance, hill-walking, financial portfolio theory and the works of Edgar Allan Poe.

"... elegant and relevant - even to non-mathematicians" - Sphinx

"He poses ... questions that are unanswerable, scary and fascinating" - Bulletin of the London Mathematical Society.

Some of the poems in Uneasy Relations first appeared as space-fillers in two mathematical text books published by Springer -
Nonlinear Optimization with Financial Applications and Nonlinear Optimization with Engineering Applications.

Links between mathematics and poetry in these books are explored in a London Grip article.

A poem from Uneasy relations ...

     Mission statement
     means a quest for best answers
     with the least trouble.
     Optimism means
     believing both objectives
     are achievable.



The poems in Inkings of Complicity (Pikestaff Press, 2003) dip into the undercurrents beneath everyday experience which may - or may not - explain what happens at the visible surface.

"Impressively peopled with detail" - Envoi

A poem from Inklings of Complicity ...

     Criminal tendencies

     I was talking in my sleep to this policeman.
     What it is, he said, is this. You trust your judgement.
     You get real close in up against your suspect
     then you lean on him
     (and here he rubbed his face on mine)
     and you notice his reaction.
     You can always tell the guilty ones.
     Does it stand up well in court?  He didn't answer
     but applied his cheek again and I could feel
     reactions that were asking to be noticed.
     So I made an effort.
     What I want to know, I said,
     is how many of the people
     get to pass your test and walk away?
     None of them, he smiled, and that's the point.
     That's the way we know we've got it right.



Anglicized by Common Use (Waldean Press, 1998) explains the author's tenuous but genuine claim to Irish nationality through a speculative poetic history of the life and times of his grandfather from County Leitrim.

"A superb first collection" - Iota

A poem from Anglicized by Common Use ...


     Grandad drifted
     to Liverpool from Leitrim – changed his name –
     mis-spelled a parent
     on his marriage lines – and last was posted
     Lost at Sea,
     two years younger than he should have been.
     Such evidence
     as this is all there is and barely fills
     the donor’s card,
     that's propped, dog-eared, beside the quart of blood
     which he bequeathed me.
     Yet, like Isaac’s kiss, it does the trick.

     I’ve got the passport
     but I’m waiting for a destination;
     and plaited flex
     is hanging frayed beyond an old exchange
     whose faulty relays
     send silences to haunt my answerphone
     by cutting off
     his calls suggesting that we celebrate.
     If this corkscrew
     he’s slipped into my fist is ever used
     perhaps the past
     will crumble as I draw it back towards me.


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Poetry in the Crypt

Poetry in the Crypt is an occasional reading series which takes place in the crypt below St Mary's church on Upper Street, Islington. (A short history of Poetry in the Crypt can be found here).

From October 2022 these events will take place in the main church and be rebranded as Poetry above the Crypt

Next event: Saturday October 29 2022..... Starting time 7 pm
Caroline Maldonada, Nancy Mattson and Rhona McAdam

There will also be floor spots (sign-up on arrival - numbers may be limited) and free coffee, tea & cakes at the interval.

Admission £5 - all proceeds go to the charity Hospice Care Kenya

For more information contact

Poetry in the Crypt has its origins in a series of informal poetry reading evenings arranged by Graham Claydon, vicar of St Mary’s
church in Islington.   Nancy Mattson and Mike Bartholomew-Biggs took over the running of these events when Graham moved
on to another church.   

Mike and Nancy introduced the idea of inviting one or two guest poets to complement the contributions from church members.
At the same time – and with the support of the new vicar, Graham Kings – they began charging a small entry fee to help raise funds
for “Mary’s”, a project run by Tom & Barbara Quantrill to offer meals and support for the homeless.   In return, Tom and Barbara took on responsibility for providing refreshments at Poetry in the Crypt readings – and thus began the famous “free coffee & cakes” tradition which continues to the present day. 

The Mary’s project came to an end in 2006 when St Mary’s crypt was closed for extensively redevelopment.  This meant that, for a couple of years, Poetry in the Crypt became Poetry “in” the Crypt  and took place in the Neighbourhood Centre next door to the church.  At the same time, Tom and Barbara decided, reluctantly, to withdraw from refreshment duty.  In their place, Mike and Nancy were able to recruit a team of “poetry elves” who take it in turns to help with creating a welcoming poetry cafe and bookstall. 

With the closure of the Mary’s project, Poetry in the Crypt switched to providing support for two members of St Mary’s congregation, Paul & Claire Furbey, who went to work with HIV-affected women and children in a refuge at  Purnata Bhavan in India.  Money from Poetry in the Crypt was earmarked for a fund which enabled Paul and Claire to provide birthday treats and outings for the children in their care. 

In 2009 Paul and Claire’s work at Purnata Bhavan came to an end; and Poetry in the Crypt  (by now back in the crypt again) began supporting Hospice Care Kenya  (with whom St Mary’s  has a connection through congregation members Liz Salmon & Sally Hull).

Thanks to the ongoing support of the St Mary’s leadership and the current vicar Simon Harvey, Poetry in the Crypt has now been running for more than ten years – as can be seen from the list below which shows all the events since 1998.  There are usually four or five events a year, mostly taking place in spring and autumn.  The present format of a Poetry in the Crypt evening involves three guest readers, who each have about 25 minutes of reading time (In two slots either side of the interval), together with some (very good) readers from the floor.  Audience size varies of course – for instance when an Arsenal home fixture disrupts local transport – but is usually between thirty and fifty people.  The audiences are always very attentive, appreciative and willing to buy books.  This last is important because guest poets agree to forego a reading fee and it is good to see them go home with some material reward as well as applause ringing in their ears.

Poetry in the Crypt at St Mary Islington since 1998

1998 November                    Christmas/Advent theme - no advertised readers

1999 November                   Graham Claydon (at Camden Head pub)

2000 November                   Christmas/Advent theme – no advertised readers

2001 May                            Ascension/Pentecost/Spring theme – no advertised readers
2001 November                  Graham Kings, Peter Daniels, actor Tom Mannion (reading Shakespeare &
          Edwin Morgan), Rhona McAdam

2002 February                      Actor Janet Henfrey reading Elizabeth Jennings
2002 June                             Carol Hughes, Nell Keddie, Philip Wells (The Fire Poet)
2002 October                       Sarah Lawson, Godfrey Rust, Caroline Wright
2002 November                   Micheal O’Siadhail (from Dublin)

2003 May                             Michael Bartholomew-Biggs, Cahal Dallat, Jehane Markham
2003 November                    Homegrown theme – no advertised readers

2004 May                        Shoestring publisher John Lucas introduces Ann Atkinson,   Michael Bartholomew-Biggs,
  Malcom Carson, George Parfitt & Deborah Tyler-Bennett for Take Five 04
2004 July                              Mario Petrucci
2004 October                       Martyn Crucefix
2004 November                   Donald Atkinson (from Hebden Bridge), Sue Hubbard

2005 March                         Stephen Watts, Tamar Yoseloff 
2005 June                            Perse Peett, Jo Roach 
2005 October                      David Loffman, Micheal O’Siadhail (from Dublin)

2006 February                      Leah Fritz, Angela Kirby
2006 March                         Anne-Marie Fyfe, Paul McLoughlin
2006 June                            John Weston, Carol Hughes
2006 November                  Nancy Mattson, Rhona McAdam (from Canada)
2006 December                   Shoestring publisher John Lucas introduces Nancy Mattson, Ruth O’Callaghan
      and Rosemary Norman for Take Five 06

2007 March                           Peter Bennet (from Northumberland) & Chris Beckett
2007 May                              Martha Kapos & Kathryn Maris
2007 November                    Myra Schneider, Jacqueline Gabbitas, Katherine Gallagher, Valerie Josephs & Sue Rose
     from Images of Women

2008 May                              André Mangeot & Robert Vas Dias
2008 June                              Mimi Khalvati & Alice Major (from Canada)
2008 October                        Siobhan Campbell & Robert Seatter
2008 November                    Mike Bartholomew-Biggs, Graham Kings, Hugh Underhill

2009 January                         Brian Docherty, Anna Robinson, Hylda Sims
2009 March                           Shanta Acharya, Maggie Butt, Danielle Hope
2009 May                              Judi Benson, Todd Swift, David Perman
2009 September                    Anne Berkeley, Cahal Dallat, Siriol Troup
2009 October                        Claire Crowther, Wendy French, Maurice Riordan

2010 February                       Linda Black, Andy Croft, Deborah Tyler-Bennett
2010 March                           Joanna Boulter, Phil Kirby, Katrina Naomi
2010 April                             Alan Brownjohn, Peter Daniels, Mary Michaels
2010 October                        Murray Bodo (from the USA), Sue Rose, Susan Utting
2010 November                    Tim Dooley, Rosemary Norman, Penelope Shuttle

2011 January                         Philip Hancock, Allison McVety, Samantha Wynne-Rydderch
2011 March                           Mike Barlow, John Lucas, Jane Routh
2011 May                              Wendy Klein, Jeremy Page, Anne Stewart
2011 October                        Martin Figura, Helen Ivory, Eve Pearce
2011 November                    Jane Duran, Jane Kirwan, Ales Machacek, Cristina Viti, Stephen Watts

2012 March                           Elizabeth Cook, Glyn Maxwell, Cheryl Moskowitz
2012 May                              Liz Berry, Jenna Butler (from Canada), Nancy Mattson
2012 October                        David Black, Murray Bodo (from the USA), Sheila Hillier
2012 November                    Pat Borthwick, Martina Evans, Norbert Hirschhorn

2013 February                       Peter Daniels, Jacqueline Saphra, Lesley Saunders

2013 March                          Tamar Yoseloff (substituting for Ian Parks) and Robert Stein

2013 April                              Maggie Butt (substituting for Maria Jastrzebska), John Godfrey and Jane Yeh

2013 September                  Sharon Morris & Maitreyabandhu

2013 November                   John Greening, Maria Jastrzebska and Pauline Stainer

2014 March                         Clare Best, Robert Chandler and Jean Sprackland

2014 May                             Rebecca Goss, Hannah Lowe and Alan Murray

2014 October                       Peter Daniels ( presenting Vladislav Khodasevich),
                                    Emily Jeremiah (presenting Eeva-Liisa Manner & Sirkka Turkka) and Paul McLoughlin (presenting Brian Jones)

2014 November                     Yvonne Green, John Harvey and Lorraine Mariner

2015 May ...............................Katie Evans-Bush, Kate Foley & Michael McKimm

2015 October ........................Fiona Moore, Allen Ashley & Roisin Tierney

2015 November ................... Barbara Marsh, Kit Wright & Ian McEwen

2016 March ........................... Derek Adams Alison Hill & Christopher Reid

2016 April ........................... ....Matthew Caley Sarah Doyle & Vishvantara

2017 March ........................... John Freeman, George Szirtes & Ruth Valentine

2017 April ........................... ... Don Atkinson, Lynne Hjelmgard, Kay Syrad

2017 November ...................... Hilary Davies, John Mole, James Norcliffe

2018 March .............................John McCullough, Kate Noakes, Clare Pollard

2018 May .................................Martyn Crucefix, Alwyn Marriage, Will Stone

2019 April .................................MJohn Clegg, Sasha Dugdale, Geraldine Paine

2022 October (after Covid) ............Caroline Maldonada, Nancy Mattson, Rhona McAdam


London Grip is an on-line cultural magazine, originally founded and edited by Patricia Morris in 2007. 

In September 2011 the magazine was re-launched with a new look, under Stephen McGrath as managing editor, and Mike took over the poetry editorship from Robert Vas Dias.

The latest posting of London Grip New Poetry can be seen at

London Grip also features reviews of recent collections and anthologies at

Submissions for London Grip New Poetry are most welcome.  Please send up to three poems plus a brief CV to poetry@londongrip,
Mike is also very happy to receive offers of poetry reviews.