2020 is a Crust

(written Nov 2020)

2020 is a crust

that has formed over me

and muffles my mind in

a foggy shroud of rising numbers

numbed by tepid tea

and wine poured thick against injustice

and meagre human contact.

I long to share a silence

un-cushioned by a squinting screen

to slough this shushed skin of


and pierce my body into freezing water fresh with

glass-sharp thoughts

and words that dart around like silver moonlit fish.

© Charlotte Oliver 2020

Dream Catcher 42

My poem ‘To be the Sea’ has been given a home in the beautiful Dream Catcher 42. Getting my contributor’s copies through the post certainly brightened up a(nother) dreary lockdown day.

Poetry Commission for BBC Radio York

It’s been another quiet month of lockdown but I did have a lovely commission from BBC Radio York to write a poem to celebrate their Make a Difference campaign which connects people who need help with the huge numbers of people offering help across North Yorkshire. The launch day involved a chat with the excellent Georgie Spanswick on the Breakfast Show as well as some lovely comments from friends and strangers. You can see it here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p08g4l2v

BBC Radio York again, SJT First Draft and more…

Life has been a joyful whirlwind recently. The lovely Harry Whittaker invited me back onto his Radio York show, this time to read some of my family life column, Home Sweet Home. It was another fantastic evening and I’ve had some great feedback – just need a permanent home for the column now…Then I was invited to be part of the company reading for First Draft, the platform for the Stephen Joseph Theatre’s script writing course. Always a fun night, this was particularly good – interesting scripts and many old friends. I am currently researching a feature for the Dalesman which requires a lot of time spent poring over old photographs and accounts of Scarborough in the mid-19th century – definitely the place I would choose to time travel to, given the choice! I am also working on various poems (dusk is particularly magical at the moment), various drafts of short stories, lots of feature ideas and a couple of scripts. And I am desperate to paint a picture of the sea; it is shimmering this morning and the seagulls are gliding victoriously above it. What a life!

Autumn Garden

The trees surrounding our house have not forgotten what time of year it is, even if the weather hasn’t yet caught up. The sky-reaching line of horse-chestnuts takes pride of place in heralding the turning season; I love to sit next by the lovely draughty leaded windows in our sitting room, and watch Autumn arrive. Each year the colour moves in the same way; the orange embers begin to smoulder at the furthest tree and creep quietly along the row, catching the odd leaf in turn with a spark which will slowly gather fuel from the starry nights and morning chills, until the entire row becomes a loud blaze of orange Autumn joy.

This colour is echoed across the garden at this time of year. The abundant clusters of holly berries which hang low over the path like party decorations for the Autumn solstice are currently the same beautiful orange en route to their Winter scarlet. My new patch of Chinese Lanterns (Physallis) reflect the same hue in their waxy pumpkin-shapes, having their own private celebration amongst the rapidly fading roses.

Even the last stragglers on my tomato plants have conformed to the seasonal dress code, bright orange against their browning leaves. A robin hops around the border, his rusty breast bridging the gap between Autumn’s orange and the deep reds which emerge as this season progresses.

The apple tree is utterly magnificent this year, though struggling to stand proud with its heavy harvest. An enormous spider, which has kindly taken it upon himself to keep our kitchen free of flies, grows fatter by the day. One last flower decorates my trusty Clematis Montana, whilst the white Cosmos flowers glow against the darker mornings.