Appearances and publications 2018

Here’s a round-up of some successes in 2018

February 2018

My flash fiction 1971 was selected for the wonderful live story-telling event, Talking Tales, February 2018 


This story is a piece of historical flash about family secrets, about my great-grandmother’s suicide. I read it out to a packed audience at Stokes Croft Writers.

I won’t post it here as I might want to try it out for one of the larger competitions.

March 2018

  • My prose poem, Sound Scrabble, was long listed from over 500 entries for the 2018 Tongues & Grooves Prose Poem Award 2018. I was invited to read my poem out at The Square Tower, in Portsmouth in March.

June 2018 

  • ‘No such thing as a free lunch,’ flash fiction was selected for inclusion on the Flash Walk on National Flash Fiction Day. in June 2018

No Such Thing As A Free Lunch by Grace Palmer. Performer: Poppy Hocken

The skyline’s full of triangle-topped houses but the breeze is blowing in as the tidal bore rises. Martha skips around the M Shed, hop-scotching the train lines, a fat ice cream in her pink hands.

Martha’s Mum looks at her phone, realises she cannot meet her lover.

Martha’s Dad looks at his daughter and thinks he is unbelievably lucky.

When they get to the bacon-hut they place orders for coffees now the wind is up.

Inside, Dave flicks fat onto his apron, dreams of when it will go right. His regulars are chewing the fat and chewing the rind.

Martha’s Mother pays.

And pays. And pays.

  • I attended the Flash Fiction Festival July 2018 and went to workshops with Vanessa Gebbie, Nuala O’Connor, Ingird Jendrzejewski and Carrie Etter
  • My flash fiction, ‘In 1960…’ was accepted for publication by  Flash Back Fiction Publication date is November 2018
  • A short story, ‘Once the Trees,’ has been accepted for an anthology, Tales from the Graveyard, by North Bristol Writers. Publication and launch early in 2019.

September : 

  • A poem, Rest in Peace, was selected and read out at the Ways to Peace festival at Tintern Abbey as part of the Buddhist Ways to Peace Festival
  • Teaching starts at the Folk House with my Introduction to Creative Writing course.

October: I attended Folk Fiction course with Zoe Gilbert, of London Lit Lab.

November 2018

  • I begin teaching a six week course in flash and short stories for Bristol Folk House.
  • November 13th 2018 My story ‘In 1960’ is published in a major UK e-zine, with FlashBack Fiction, 
  • You can hear author questions, an audio recording of the reading and read the story posted on 13th November 2018 on FlashBack Fiction 

December 2018:

  • On December 8th I appeared at Talking Tales and read Marguerite and the Moon, alongside the launch of To Hull and Back Anthology launch.
  • On December 18th, my story Delicado David was broadcast on BBC Radio Bristol on the Adam Crowther Upload Show.


Flash Stories: It had something to do with…

Overhead conversation:  

I used to get a lacing when I was young. Yeah, a regular beating, because I was on fire, but, you know what? It kept me straight.

One time, brave I was, running around the sofa. Mum went one way and I went the other. There was the big spoon hanging up in the kitchen, as long as my arm, she took that down and had it in her hand, cold as fury.

I was faster than her and she wouldn’t have got me, but Grandma came in and pushed the dusty sofa back so I was trapped in the corner. I tried to vault the back of it  but Mum caught me and thwacked that spoon right down on my knee. Man, it hurt. And that night we went to my Uncles and he said, ‘Why’re you limpin?’ and I said nothing but Mum told him and he nearly walloped me again for getting her so upset.

And, I still limp from that spoon. See, I could’ve been in the first division, I was up for selection to the football team but that knee did for me, burnt my football bridges. She feels so bad about it now, but you know she kept us straight. Taught us the line and what would happen if we went rocking the wrong way.

Prompt from Meg Pokrass for Nanowrimo

Flash stories

Expectations not met

You don’t want to cross Mary when she’s in a mood.

She was polishing bones until they were bleached white and suitable for stuffing into the Damien Hurst. When that was done the waste intestines were thrown into a large plastic drum. They landed like spent Durex, still knotty and silken with unnameable fluids.

Fancying a cuppa she cleared the sink of debris. The trap had collected lumpy gristle and nests of hair. She tugged gently at the waste with a blue gloved finger. Slowly, the tangled fibres came up from their death bed bringing with it a sour stench of drains.

She ran clear water in the sink and anointed the enamel with Fairy to clean the surface before she dared wash her cup.

This was no way for an arts graduate to live.

This story was based on a prompt from Meg Pokrass, and contains the words: tangle, waste, lump, trap, mood.

A cupboard-full

You’re hungry again for knowledge, the sort that will shrink-wrap your tongue, leave your nose in a book for hours, wrinkle your brow, set coffee spoons stirring.

Cupboard’s not bare; there’s beans; lots. A rind of cheese and flour. Christmas pudding if you’re desperate to entertain.

The garrett is stirring with hope and itchy fingers.Get set for your Masters. Freedom to write and confidence to be.

No monthly pay-cheque to worry over, squander or save. Bills now scythe through your bank account. Something will happen; cupboards full, keyboard’s busy.



A late Valentine

Roses he supposes are for love; chooses thornless plastic-sheathed ones for his love. Purchases three chocolates in a box lined with William Morris design.  Hadn’t guessed she hated flock; what she wanted was meadow-sweet, a finger-tip trace on her face, garlic’s starry flowers.

Gadgets she imagines so his oil stained fingers can work through sweet grooves of tin, something practical to put in his pocket, to turn over and hold in his palm. He looks at it. Nods and places it on one side. Wonders why women never understand. Pats her back to steady her.


Redcliffe Future Way Story Walk

As part of Redcliffe Future Way Story Walk, writers were asked to imagine a future Redcliffe:

3 linked short stores of mine about Redcliffe were accepted as part of the trail. The stories are all linked by a sense of smell and this first story takes the point of view of a fox.

You can follow the trail and find the QR trails around the harbourside. (Unless the codes have been taken off – they will gradually fade away……)


Fox stops by the lamp post and sniffs the air on the cool night breeze. He smells man, rancid and sweet from the meat that’s been eaten. Again, he sniffs, nose high; there’s food beginning to turn. He trots to the gates surrounding the flats; too many lights. The pavement is hard on the pads of his paws. The food is in there. He pushes against the gate but there’s no give, no space for digging either. He can’t get in.

Seagulls squabble over-head arching over the harbour. Restaurants and high rise flats block out the stars, the light begins to thin at dawn, he needs to hurry. He turns towards the stink of man’s piss and checks a yellow polystryrene box on the ground. He nudges it and is rewarded with the soft pap of a burger. He hears a rat skitter away, sees a silver scaly tail drape into a hole.

He trots to the back of a building on the water’s edge. Next to a big red box lie some stinking black bags. He rips them open and rummages amongst the stuff to get to the food  – finds a whole cooked chicken. He cracks the bones and gnaws, then pads back to his den in the caves next to The Ostrich. Rich pickings these days.

Grace-Palmer-by-He-Smells-ManJudy Darley and David Rodgers stories also feature on QR codes on objects around Redcliffe.

Judy writes an excellent blog at Sky Light Rain and her description of the trail is here:

David Rodgers is a sci-fi novelist and his work features on the trail too. His latest novel, Oakfield is a taut, creepy and frightening.

A video poem created from my daily tweets @wordpoppy #traintweets

I’m working on a new piece of work – in a genre I’ve only just discovered – video poetry.  Not the same as a podcast, or just a poet speaking to camera, but the fusion of words and images ( I think!).  I was a bit sceptical at first.  I mean if you’re a poet don’t you paint with words? Won’t the visual aspect of the film overpower the language? But I’ve found some beautiful examples of words and images working together to create a powerful effect. See for some lovely examples of film makers and poets coming together to create  something new.

I decided to use my traintweets project on twitter. Briefly, at the start of May I set myself the task of writing a line of poetry in 140 characters a day on my daily train commute to work. You can follow me on @wordpoppy or find my tweets by using the hashtag #traintweets.

Once I had all these little gems I wondered if I could make something out of them, so this videopoem consists of my daily tweets. It’s a type of poetic journalism I suppose. I’ve made myself respond to the landscape daily. In some ways being limited by the daily journey has been liberating. The train window has become my frame

Finally I’ve finished the video  – there were lots of technical difficulties – and it took ages to sync the visuals and audio together. Then I wondered if syncing is desirable as the visual will usually overpower the language, and make the language more redundant. But I’m quite pleased with the result.

So, here it is. My first videopoem.

#traintweets by @wordpoppy. A poem devised from daily tweets as I commute to work


Please let me know what you think – I’d love to know, especially as I’m entering a competition with this, and this is very much, a first attempt.


Poem from the Credit crunch series

Glinting, in the glass cabinet,
a silversmith’s ring –
well crafted, clever
like a frou frou skirt
the  silver slices 
remind of waves,
 or the petals of a rose 
It catches the light, transforms –
wants a hot dress date 
wants to join up with jeans
It’s my leaving present.
The vouchers sat in a draw for nearly a year
redundant, like me
but I found the ring without trying
as if it was meant to be.
Idly tried it  like Cinderella
amazed by the fit as if
only made for my finger
Now the ring wears me,
Reminds, with its weight
leaving has
beautiful compensations
I’ve moved on.

Stunning, not stunned.