New poems … featured by Lagan Press


1 February 2016

Posted on 31/01/2016 In: Showcase
In our latest Poetry Originals, Shelley Tracey brings us two extracts from her prose poem, ‘The Company We Keep’, inspired by Ruth Gendler’s ‘Book of Qualities’ (1967) and “contemporary examples of humanity and inhumanity in Northern Ireland and in the wider world”.


Between resists description and classification. Neither inbred nor outcast, inmate nor outsider, it is genderless, homeless. It has long skeins of words which contort and distort when twisted together.

Between walks quietly through the streets, attracting too much attention because everything about it is alien. It plays an instrument which seems familiar, but the tunes it creates taunt you with dissonance, all ending unresolved.


Guilt has enormous energy. She takes on the impossible tasks of being pilot, air traffic controller, tour guide and steward, all at the same time.

Guilt believes her duty is to make everyone else’s journeys lighter. Guilt wears her solemn boots and bears crueller baggage than anyone needs.

She is too suffused with travel-angst to be able to fly.

Guilt keeps turning back from her longed-for journey, castigates herself for wanting to leave, moves in smaller and smaller circles, is coming to a full dead stop.

Picture for blog story Poetry Originals #10: Shelley Tracey
South African poet and educator Shelley Tracey has been living and working in Northern Ireland for over 20 years. Shelley was Artist in the Community in 2015 (an Arts Council NI award), with an intercultural creative writing project. She feels inspired by the arts scene in Northern Ireland, in particular by visual artists, local writers, her intercultural arts colleagues and adventures, and the participants in her creative writing workshops. Her poems have been published in Abridged, North West Words, FourxFour, Artemis Poetry, Community Arts Partnership anthologies Moment and Making Memories, and she has participated in tenx9 storytelling sessions at the Black Box. Shelley has written many articles on creativity and on facilitating creative writing. With Conor Shields, she researched, co-authored and co-edited Between ourselves: exploring interculturalism through intercommunity creative practice (Community Arts Partnership, 2015).

Her blog on creativity, Creating Connections, is at


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