on the path to the station
there’s a tree      that marks the seasons
look baby       blossom
look baby       leaves
look baby       autumn
next year I’ll show you autumn    and it will be so beautiful
the world is      so beautiful
I will show you

one day I wake up      and it’s November
bare branches are faulty umbilical cords
failing to implant the sky 


medical students perch around the room
drawn to our rare        and bitter fruit

the consultant sketches     winter branches
in biro blue        to explain what connects

me to you      what’s not getting through

by Natalie Whittaker

This week we are very pleased to share two poems by Natalie Whittaker from her second pamphlet, Tree, which is being published by Verve Poetry Press on 15 March. These two pieces appear at either end of Natalie’s new pamphlet. As some readers will know, we published Natalie’s first pamphlet, Shadow Dogs, in 2018 through our ignitionpress, and it’s great to see Natalie continuing her publication success with this latest, very moving and powerful collection.

Do sign up for the launch of Tree on 31 March, when Natalie will be reading alongside three other Verve poets who also have new pamphlets out with Verve: Hannah Hodgson, Marina Sánchez, and Jamie Hale. We’ll be featuring work by Hannah, Marina and Jamie as upcoming Weekly Poems.

‘Tree’ and ‘Tree’ are copyright © Natalie Whittaker, 2021. They are reprinted from Tree (Verve Poetry Press, 2021) by permission of Verve Poetry Press. You can read more about the pamphlet and pre-order a copy on the Verve website.

Notes from Verve Poetry Press:

In Tree, Natalie Whittaker is writing about her personal experience of stillbirth and the mental illness that can follow such a traumatic event. It is a subject that is still rarely addressed in poetry, writing or conversation. That she is able to do so here, in eighteen intricate, carefully crafted poems, in a way that is engaging, communicative, distressing and yet also beautiful, is a testament to her abilities as a poet, her strong grasp on the power of language and the power of her imagination.

With these powers, she brings a harrowing subject close up and enables the reader to truly feel, to see, to understand, to share. It is a brave and necessary work, wonderfully and heartbreakingly realised. Read more about the pamphlet on the Verve Poetry Press website.

Natalie Whittaker is a poet and secondary school teacher from South East London. Her debut pamphlet Shadow Dogs was published by ignitionpress in 2018. Natalie is one of the London Library’s emerging writers for 2020 / 2021. Her poems have been widely published in UK magazines and anthologies; she was commended in the Verve poetry competition 2020, and won second place in the Kent and Sussex poetry competition 2020. You can follow Natalie on Twitter and Instagram.

Verve Poetry Press is a Birmingham-based publisher dedicated to promoting and showcasing Birmingham and Midlands poetic talent in colourful and exciting ways – as you would expect from a press that has grown out of the giddy and flamboyant, annual four days of poetry and spoken word that is Verve Poetry Festival, Birmingham. Added to this is a colourful pamphlet series featuring poets who have previously performed at our sister festival – Natalie’s pamphlet is the latest addition to this prize-winning series – and a debut performance poetry series, which had seen us working with the brightest rising stars on the UK spoken word scene. We also assert our right to publish any poetry we feel needs and deserves to find print wherever we find it. Verve was awarded the Saboteur Award for Most Innovative Publisher in 2019 and the Michael Marks Publisher’s Award 2019. Find out more about Verve Poetry Press on  the publisher’s website and follow the press on Twitter and Instagram.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.


A chicken box ricochets down the aisle: Hot
& Tasty – just the way you like it! 
the pigeon-shit town washes by, under a cold
and tasteless sky; this place where we’ve wasted
our lives like two spiders circling a sink.
And the plastic seats swing through the streets
and the STOP button shrieks at you to STOP,
but the silver trace of everyone’s day has fogged
the top deck windows, and you dare to wipe
your name in the breath that’s censed a hundred
rain-bedazzled hoods; knowing that the cost
of those letters in condensation – your
wet syllables ghosting sodium light –
is the use of all of those strangers’ breaths.

by Natalie Whittaker 

Listen to Natalie read the poem on our website.

This week we will be sharing two poems from our newest ignitionpress pamphlets which are being launched in London on Thursday (we’ll also be at the Woodstock Poetry Festival on 10 November).

We are delighted to introduce you first of all to Natalie Whittaker, whose pamphlet is called Shadow Dogs. Writing about the pamphlet, John Stammers notes: ‘[t]here is so much to admire in this collection, the reader will surely return repeatedly to the poems to find more to enthral them. The current poetry scene has gained a fresh, exciting voice.’ We very much hope that you’ll be able to join us at the Poetry Café in London to launch Natalie’s pamphlet and Small Inheritances by Belinda Zhawi. We’ll be sharing a poem from Belinda’s pamphlet later this week, and the pamphlets will be available to buy via our online Shop very soon.

Natalie Whittaker is from South East London, where she works as a secondary school teacher. She studied English at New College, Oxford. Her poems have been published in Poetry NewsBrittle StarAesthetica Creative Writing Annual#MeToo: A Women’s Poetry Anthology and South Bank Poetry. Natalie was awarded second place in the Poetry on the Lake short poem competition 2018 and the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition 2017. You can follow Natalie on Twitter.

ignitionpress, based at Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre, is a poetry pamphlet press with an international outlook which publishes original, arresting poetry from emerging poets, and established poets working on interim or special projects. The Managing Editor of the press is Les Robinson, who was the founder and director of the renowned poetry publisher tall-lighthouse until 2011. The first group of pamphlets, by Lily Blacksell, Mary Jean Chan, and Patrick James Errington, were published in February 2018. Mary Jean’s pamphlet, A Hurry of English, was selected by the Poetry Book Society as its Summer Pamphlet Choice 2018. You can learn more about the press and buy the pamphlets on the  Poetry Centre website.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.