News Archive

News Archive

Tenth Anniversary Poetry Competition Results

1st – The House in the Middle of Nowhere – Chris Davis
2nd – In the fields she wasn’t scaring crows – Jen Campbell
3rd – All our Loving – Chris Sparkes


Drinking the water of the Nile – Rose Garland
The Equation of Time – Stephen Boyce
Dow the Rabbit Hole – Pat Borthwick
Talk to the Hat – Suzanne Godfrey
Gratitude on the Coast of Death – David Swann
Some Days – Wendy Klein
Surviving – Denise McSheehy
Marsh Marigolds – Mrs C Morris
After the Equinox – Tony Lucas
The Death of Vincent de Groof – John Terry


The Night before your Funeral – Emma Jane Hughes
Finnegan’s Rest – Felicity Kay
Velvet Mole – Helen Larham
The Sweetness of Clay – Amanda Garrie
The Shipping Forecast – John Scriven
Redemption – Denise Bennett
Orthoptera – Richard Peirce



‘From the Fishouse’

You can hear past T&G featured poets, George Marsh, Stephanie Norgate (pending), Maggie Sawkins and Brian Turner reading their work on From the Fishouse, an American audio archive for emerging poets.

New opportunities for published poets

In 2012 T&G Tongues&Grooves is offering a platform to younger emerging poets who are beginning to establish a record of publication. If you would like to be considered please send three published poems along with details of publication to

A Magical Blend of Poetry and Music

Richard Peirce reviews ‘Poetry of Exile’ at The Florence Arms, Southsea. ‘Whoever described Portsmouth as a cultural desert should have been in Southsea last Sunday.’
Download full review

November 2010 : World’s best poetry in Southsea

A local poet shortlisted for the prestigious T S Eliot Poetry Prize appeared at Tongues&Grooves in November. John Haynes’ latest book, You, joined just six collections from a record 123 books submitted by publishers this year. The book celebrates his Nigerian-born wife and their life together. Appearing with John was internationally renowned poet Mimi Khalvati. Founder of The Poetry School (and formerly his tutor!), she has been described as ‘one of the most gracefully accomplished poets writing in English today’.

June 2010: Creative Writing Workshops

A new creative writing project was taking place in collaboration with the Portsmouth Users Self Help Group (PUSH). Workshops for health and well being, funded by a Small Sparks grant, also took place at community venues in Portsmouth, St James’ Hospital and Cranstoun Community Drug Action in Fratton.

April 2010: ‘This Island City’: An Anthology of Portsmouth Poems

Tongues&Grooves announced that full ownership of ‘This Island City’ had been handed to Spinnaker Press. For Spinnaker Press, this freed them up to publish the book later in 2010, while the newly created Tongues&Grooves in the Community could concentrate on securing wider outreach and other funding for other projects in 2011-13.

March 2010: Tongues&Grooves in the Community

Tongues&Grooves in the Community was launched as a separate non profit making body to our poetry and music club. This followed a series of successful community projects, made possible with the help funding from Awards for All and Small Sparks. Membership of Tongues&Grooves in the Community is open to any person or group supporting our aims. Membership is currently free and entitles members to regular updates and discounts on future Tongues&Grooves’ concerts. Thanks to Grassroots funding, we are now offering free places on our programme of writing and voice workshops for people in recovery from mental ill health and/or substance misuse.

February 2010: Grassroots Funding

This year, funding from Grassroots will help us run creative writing workshops for people recovering from substance misuse, and mental ill health; and we hope to run more events in community settings and for detainees at Haslar Immigration Centre, Gosport. These projects will be overseen by a management committee appointed by members.

September 2009: New Free Workshops

Tongues&Grooves announced a new series of creative writing workshops for improved health and social well-being. The workshops were held at The Parlour, John Pounds Centre, Paulsgrove Healthy Living Centre and The Orchards, St James’ Hospital. Advice from Community First and funding from Small Sparks helped make them happen.

November 2009: International poets at exile event

Adnan al-Sayegh, one of the most original voices from the generation of Iraqi poets known as the Eighties Movement, headlined this extremely popular event. In 1993 his uncompromising criticism of oppression and injustice led to his exile in Jordan and the Lebanon. After being sentenced to death in Iraq in 1996, because of the publication of Uruk’s Anthem, a long poem in which he gives voice to the profound despair of the Iraqi experience- he took refuge in Sweden.

Summer 2009: Poems on BBC Big Screen

Ten short films publicising Tongues&Grooves’ planned anthology of Portsmouth poems were launched on The BBC Big Screen in Guildhall Square. The films by University of Chichester students were described by lecturer Roy Hanney as “an excellent opportunity to stretch creatively while working for a real client”. One student group successfully approached Joanna Lumley for a voice over! The films will accompany the anthology’s launch in 2010.

June 2009: Writing poetry to discover your inner self

A Tongues&Grooves ‘poetry for self-discovery and healing’ workshop was held in Southsea on 26 June. ‘The Elephant in the Broom Cupboard’ focussed on those memories that we push into the smallest room in our heads, the broom cupboard. It was open to those interested in developing their own writing skills and teachers, therapists and health care professionals, who could use poetry as a way of helping people unlock themselves. Similar workshops had already helped produce some notable new poets, and to stimulate interest in this art in Portsmouth.

May 2009: Guest appearance by award-winning musician

All-British Champion and runner-up World Champion accordion/melodeon player Sam Sloan played Tongues&Grooves on Sunday 31st May. Sam joined London-based, The Jones Boys for a special theme night of Irish poetry, music and song. Also guesting were Janelle Hanna, Tony Buckley and Bernard MacDonagh from acclaimed Irish music band Feckless.

March 2009: US war poet in Portsmouth

An acclaimed American war poet was guest at a special Tongues&Grooves event to mark the 5th anniversary of the start of the Iraq war. Brian Turner, who served in the US Army for seven years, read his work at a Tongues&Grooves poetry and supper event at The Florence Arms, Southsea.

Brian Turner’s poems were included in a Voices in Wartime Anthology published in conjunction with a feature-length documentary film. His book, Here, Bullet (Bloodaxe, 2007) was first published in the US in 2005, where it earned him nine major literary awards and fellowships. His work has been described as ‘powerful poetry of witness, exceptional for its beauty, honesty and skill’.

September 2008: Birthday Concert for Festival

Tongues&Grooves celebrated its 5th birthday with a special concert for Havant Literary Festival following an earlier successful concert at The New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth in 2006.

Headlining the Havant Arts Centre concert were veteran Glastonbury poet and singer/songwriter Rory Motion and internationally acclaimed poet and translator Donald Gardner. Also on the bill were Costa Poetry Prize Winner, John Haynes, Chichester based poet Stephanie Norgate, and acclaimed pedal steel guitarist Nick Evans and Denis Reeve-Baker – both former members of Reet Petite and Gone.

July 2008: Portsmouth in Poems

Tongues&Grooves announced plans for an anthology of poems as the first ever collective poetic definition of the city. ‘Cities such as Liverpool, Glasgow, Hull and Brighton have a distinct poetic personality,’ said Maggie Sawkins of Tongues&Grooves, ‘but Portsmouth doesn’t – as yet. We aim to fill that gap.’

Tongues&Grooves sought poems that bring Portsmouth to life by showing the city as it is and what it means to the people who live here. ‘They can say ‘I love Portsmouth’ or ‘I loathe it’ about any aspect of the city’s diverse character – living on a small crowded island, the sea and its moods, the navy, dogs, parking problems, the sense of community or lack of it, drunks and yobs, anything. The poems can have any main subject, but Portsmouth must always be a presence.’

‘Tongues & Grooves hopes to include new or budding poets as well as established voices. Anyone can submit a poem for consideration. They can be in any form – serious, funny or sad – so long as they say something vivid and meaningful about Portsmouth.’

November 2007: Zorba Night for Poets

Tongues&Grooves offered performers whose first language is not English the chance to entertain an audience. In a first ever opportunity, contributors could read their own poem in their native tongue or one by a poet of their culture.

‘The sound of other languages in verse, with some translation, promises to make it a very special evening,’ said Maggie Sawkins of Tongues&Grooves. ‘We already have a line up to include Russian, Spanish and German poets – but there is still room for contributions from a wider world’.

Musicians from other cultures were equally welcome. Special guest was singer, accordion, flute and guitar player, Hannah Rose Tristram, whose repertoire includes traditional songs from other cultures. Hannah runs Arundel’s Breath of Life Singers and taught alongside folk legend Frankie Armstrong.

‘This is no ordinary poetry and music club’, she said. ‘It’s not unknown for the audience to discover their inner ‘Zorba’ and throw caution to the wind, let go of the security of their seats – and dance!’

June 2007: Trail open for Poets

On Sunday 1 July Portsmouth’s Culture Trail offered local poets the chance to hone their skills with award-winning poet, Jacqueline Gabbitas. In the evening participants had the chance to read their work at Tongues&Grooves Poetry and Music Club.

‘Tongues&Grooves has provided a regular platform for poets and singer-songwriters since 2003’, said co-founder Maggie Sawkins. ‘For some it has been a springboard to greater things. We combine an evening of quality poetry and music with opportunities for talented newcomers to share the microphone. New performers are invited to read or sing for between five and ten minutes. Some have gone on to perform at national venues and festivals’.

Tongues&Grooves’ successes have included song writing between a lyricist and a musical composer, Irish folk and rock musicians forming a successful local band, and poets being published in national journals and appearing at London venues.