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Poet Profile: Paul atten Ash

Paul atten Ash is the pen name of Worcester-born poet Paul Nash, who lives in the West Country with his family. His poetry has been published by Boudicca Press, Bristol 24/7, Deep Adaptation Forum, Envoi, Ginkgo Prize, International Library of Poetry (ILP), Luain Press, Oscillations, Poetry School, Raw Edge, Tandem, the6ress, Tiny Seed, Understanding, and Visual Verse. His poem ‘Eryri’ was shortlisted in the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty ‘Best Poem of Landscape’ category of the Ginkgo Prize 2021—as selected by the National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in partnership with Poetry School—and read by Cerys Matthews on her BBC Radio 6 show ‘Escape: Places to Think’; and his poem ‘Tsunami’ won the ILP International Open Amateur Poetry Contest 1999 (Grand Prize Winner). His work has been published in various anthologies, including: Ta DADA (the6ress, 2023), The National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: Best Poem of Landscape Prize Anthology 2021 (National Association for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, 2022); United for Ukraine (Boudicca Press, 2022); Songs of Senses (ILP); and Memories of the Millennium (ILP). As a recording artist and composer he has released music and toured as North Sea Navigator (Blackford Hill, Blurred, Kill Crow), written and produced scores for theatre (Raucous, Sleepdogs) and screen (BMG, Felt), and he is one half of choral/spoken-word electronica duo Holmes + atten Ash (Blackford Hill). As a lens-based artist (Saatchi Art) his work has been published by Deep Adaptation Forum and Oscillations (Blackford Hill). Check out his website here:

Here is his poem, which was performed by Don Harris who has done work for Dublin City FM:

Harbour Coat

A safe house, second womb, you would be there waiting

The concrete playground hard, primitive as granite beneath our feet

I never knew your name, never needed to, just the knowledge that you’d be there

Your coat would open in the beat of an angel’s wings to let me in, always

The honey scent of your long red hair flowing down over my face like summer rain

I would breathe you in, savour the everlasting arm of innocence, its warm embrace

When all the world busied itself running from destiny’s shadow

We buried ourselves in silence, planted our feet like roots in the ground

Then time would trip over; it felt like some great waterfall at the edge of the world

Spilling out into the unknown, taking us with it, falling endlessly, inevitably

Back into the safety of each other’s arms, ice melting in our beating hearts

I felt only the outline of your body, its solidity in real terms as it broke away

Leaving me with a memory, warm in the palm of my hand, a river flowing

Through all eternity, foliated with two autumn leaves, that will find each other

And drift apart relentlessly, passing beneath a canopy of stars

What makes you tick?

I started writing poetry and composing songs from a very early age and have continued

this creative journey all through my life. Ultimately I write for myself for release, and as a

way to try to make sense of the world and existence. For me, seeing one’s work in print

or released as an album is more about the joy of sharing my craft with others than any

sense of affirmation.

Who inspires you?

I draw inspiration from many sources but especially nature, literature (fiction and poetry),

and music. My two children inspire me on a daily basis, and often my creative output is

shaped by my worldview as a father.

What are your plans for the future?/Anything in the pipeline?

Currently I am working on an extended prose-poem piece ‘Voirrey & Ceirt’ and my first

short story ‘Ulfr’, as well as new poems for submissions in 2023. I also have new releases

as North Sea Navigator and Holmes + atten Ash in the pipeline.

Your advice for writers

Write every day to hone your craft/exercise your creative ‘muscle’. Challenge yourself regularly by writing to a theme, especially one that is out of your comfort zone. Read voraciously and actively seek out new vocabulary/forms of expression. Edit your work and read it aloud as part of the drafting process. Don’t try to force a piece to work—come back to it with a fresh perspective; if it still doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to scrap it and move on. Ask searching questions of yourself, such as: ‘Why do I write?’, ‘Who do I write for?’, and ‘What kind of writer am I/do I want to be?’ Ultimately write for yourself and, if you submit work for publication, try not to take rejections personally—they will make each acceptance or ‘little win’ all the more sweeter.

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