Writers’ Block


Writers’ Block features Derek Healy and Nicholas John, performing short stories and poetry live. Derek has written poetry since the 1970s and has been published in Graffiti magazine and by the Gloucestershire Writers’ Network. Nicholas is a published short story writer.

“We work well together, though we obviously come from different ends of the writing spectrum! Derek is organised and diligent, and he writes every day – I’m not and I don’t!  His poetry is superb, so carefully thought out and structured, a real joy to read and to listen to.”

Derek Healy reading his poem, ‘National Garden Scheme’

Nicholas John reading ‘Waiting for Six’

Born and raised in Cheltenham, Derek Healy spent a career managing mental health services in London, Glasgow and Oxfordshire. He began writing poetry in the 1970s and joined Cirencester based, Catchword writing group in 2013. Derek’s poetry has been published by The Cannon’s Mouth, Carillon, Graffiti, The Lyric (USA) and The Seventh Quarry literary magazines, the Gloucestershire Writers’ Network, as well as in several local anthologies. His poems explore everyday thoughts, feelings and experiences in serious and humorous ways, generally in traditional, formal styles such as the sonnet, the villanelle and the limerick. In the autumn of 2016 he became poetry editor for Graffiti magazine. A first collection of his poetry, Made Strange By Time, is due to be published early in 2018.

   Derek Healy – ‘Why I write poetry’

“I started writing poetry when I was sixteen and I’m still at it over forty years later. I love rising to the challenge of saying something in a demanding form – for example, the 14 line sonnet or the 19 line villanelle, with their demanding rhyme schemes. But it’s far from just being a matter of verbal dexterity, syllable counts and inventive rhyme words: in each poem I want to say something with emotional resonance and truth. I’m inspired often by fleeting moments – a snatch of a tune, a building glimpsed from the corner of an eye, the scent of flowers, a memory of a parent – which are the seeds which develop, with much nurturing attention, into a finished poem.

Sometimes the mood of the piece will be humorous, sometimes reflective and poignant, but always, I hope, there is an emotional truth to the piece with which a reader can identify.

A poem often takes the poet in a direction he or she wasn’t quite anticipating. As the Scottish poet, Don Paterson said of Shakespeare “[he] uses poems as a way of working out what he’s thinking, not reporting that thought.” This is what keeps the writing of poetry constantly exhilarating – searching for truths which lie tantalisingly close yet at the same time far away.

‘Like stretching fingers blind beneath the bed, For toys I’d supposed still mine to salvage From the dust, and dote on as a child again. But they are long since left, or changed, or dead.’