Ellen Storm

Writing the White and Purple Coats

February 3, 2013
by Ellen

Birth Poetry: Sharon Olds and The Language of the Brag

Last week the Saturday Guardian published an interview with the US poet Sharon Olds (1), who has just won the TS Eliot prize for Stag’s Leap: a collection of poems about her divorce. I first encountered her work in an anthology of poems about birth and motherhood (All the poems you need to say Hello, Picador 2004) edited by Kate Clanchy. The poem was The Language of the Brag and it remains the best birth poem I have read to date. Continue Reading →

Mango Cantaloupe Whip

November 13, 2012
by Ellen

Mango-Cantaloupe Whip and Poetry on a Plate

Recently found this slim anthology – Poetry on a Plate – published in 2004 by the Poetry Society to mark National Poetry Day. That year the theme was food, and the book contains a selection of recipes (submitted by poets and chefs) and food-related poems (written by poets, not chefs). It appears that a series of poetic/gastronomic events were held at the Poetry Café in London (1) to mark the occasion. The authors note that poets frequently, although not always, also love cooking, and the blurb on the back suggests some similarities between these two activities: Continue Reading →

November 11, 2012
by Ellen

An Occasional Poem

Armistice Day


A café falls silent, apart

from one small child, sat in a pram.

He babbles like an upland brook:

polishing vowels like turning pebbles

rushing to grow

bigger, broader, stronger.


It strikes me, the work

to come before he gets there:

loving, tender, joyful – yes

but eighteen years of effort.

Behind him a young woman,

invisible in the tea queue.

November 7, 2012
by Ellen

Blogging Doctors and a few Thoughts on Professionalism

Blogs written by doctors seem to be few and far between. Here are two good examples:



Why aren’t there hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs by doctors? Maybe there are – it’s easier to meander through the ever expanding blogosphere than to search for specific blog subtypes, particularly those written by a particular subcategory of author that may or may not choose to identify him or herself as such – but it doesn’t seem to be the case. What does exist is an article on the use of social media by doctors published in the Lancet in August 2012 (1), the GMC’s draft guidance Doctor’s use of Social Media (2) and an earlier Lancet comment (3).

The general principles seem to be as follows: Continue Reading →

November 4, 2012
by Ellen

A Peculiar Pleasure

A little “workshop poem” from a recent Poetry School Saturday Session:


A Peculiar Pleasure


It was a peculiar pleasure, but

she repeated it – again and again –

the next night, and the next.


It was meant to be a stir-fry:

a bit of brown rice – a few veg –

quite bland really. Healthy.


It was only when she felt the fire

licking up her nose – exploding –

behind her eyeballs


that she understood: she had made

red jungle curry – extra hot –

with three organic chillis. Unlabelled.

November 3, 2012
by Ellen

Poetry, Powerpoint, and Visual Learners

Yesterday the Poetry Society posted a link on Twitter to an essay by Linda Besner for Random House of Canada suggesting that poetry should be displayed in museums, as a means of increasing its accessibility to the public (1). As someone who has played quite a lot with the idea of displaying poetry visually, and frequently thought about how great it would be to have an exhibition of poems (as well as, or perhaps even instead of, the much sought after small volume), this seems like a good idea to me.  Art galleries though, rather than museums, please: poetry is an art form, not a relic. Continue Reading →