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Ellen Phethean Hom The Ropes: Poems to hold on to
Ellen Phethean

Welcome to the website of Ellen Phethean, poet, playwright and editor and co-founder of Diamond Twig press. Ellen's first full collection of poetry, Breath was shortlisted for the London New Poetry Award. It is now back in print, from Red Squirrel Press, who also publish her new collection, Portrait of the Quince as an Older Woman.

Ellen talked about Portrait of the Quince... to Laura Fraine in the Journal.

Smokestack books published Wall, Ellen's novel for teenagers written in poems; her second novel, Hom, was published in installments on this website. She says "It's unusual in that it is written in poems but it uses dialogue, monologue and dialect and is meant to read like mini installments of a novel." Read more about Hom here, or use the monthly archives to start at the beginning.

Poster for politics & Poetry event

Politics & Poetry

Comuing soon, the DVD and CD of the Keith Morris Memorial Concert, recorded live on June 7th 2015 at Gateshead Old Town Hall.

Join Ellen for the jaunch at the Jazz Café, 25-27 Pink Lane, Newcastle between 6.00 - 8,00 pm on Friday 27th November 2015.


Free entry, live music, refreshments - all welcome
For more info, contact: 0191 222 9882

Carte Blanche Reading

Join Ellen and other members of the Carte Blanche women's writing group at the Lit & Phil on Wednesday 2nd December between 3,00 and 9.00 pm, for readings of prose and poetry from their anthology, Kindling.

Free event; all welcome!

Inspired by Julia

Diamond Twig Press was founded by Ellen Phethean and Julia Darling: they both passionately believed in encouraging new women writers. With her work and her expansive personality, Julia inspired and encouraged writers wherever she went. April 2015 was the 10th anniversary of Julia's death, and Ellen has asked poets - women and men, new writers and experienced published writers - to contribute a poem to Julia's memory, and write a few words about how she inspired them. These poems are being published online throughout the year in our new Inspired by Julia pages.

Meanwhile Ellen continues her regular monthly selection of a poem that she finds wonderful, interesting, challenging, and fresh: November's poem is Yan Tan Tether by Jane Burn.

Ellen's film, Recollection was shown in 'The Poetics of the Archive: Creative and Community Engagement with the Bloodaxe Archive' as part of the Newcastle Poetry Festival; watch it online. Ellen is also one of the poets who have been commissioned to write a new poem for The Poetry Cure, an event in celebration of Julia Darling's work on poetry and health (to be held at the Great North Museum on 29th May.

More information about Ellen Phethean here.

Portrait of the Quince as an Older Woman

Portrait of the Quince as an Older Woman

Ellen Phethean's Portrait of the Quince as an Older Woman has been picked by New Writing North for their Read Regional promotion 2015. Look out for Ellen at events across the north, throughout 2015.

"I'm absolutely delighted," she says. "This is a great boost for my work and recognition for my publisher, Red Squirrel Press. I look forward to touring the region next year and meeting people who want to hear and talk about poetry and the writing process.

Ellen will also be reading at The Black Light Engine Room (Toft House, Little Theatre Club, Linthorpe, Middlesbrough) on Saturday 20th June, from 7.00 pm. This free event is part of the Crossing the Tees Festival.

In Portrait of the Quince as an Older Woman, she writes about her life in a world made alien with loss and absence. She acknowledges aging but also the pleasure of grandchildren and the recompenses of writing. Her poems explore the older woman's place in contemporary culture.

Ellen has more to say about this, her second collection, on the Read Regional website.

Reviewing the book in his Poetry Talk, Keith Parker wrote: "In many ways her new book is a hymn of praise to the older woman, toughened by the experience of life, but who can be burnished to rose. She exists, a contrast of sugar and pips, capable of enticing new forms, some with the promise of a 'honey kiss'. As you progress through the book so you progress through the stages of life that culminate in this woman of experience. ... Ellen Phethean has indeed the richness of the quince. This collection is generous, varied, intelligent, tolerant. But isn't this the Ellen Phethean we have come to know?"

Read the title poem.

Order Portrait of the Quince as an Older Woman from Inpress.


Breath, Ellen's first poetry collection

Ellen's first poetry collection, Breath, was first published by Flambard Press, and has now been reissued, with a new cover and ISBN, by Red Squirrel Press, and can be ordered from them. This work is largely the result of her part-time creative writing MA at Newcastle University, which helped her through the last few years, after the death of her husband Keith Morris, and Julia, within two months of each other in 2005. To quote the book cover: "These poems explore love, loss and the life that insists we carry on", but Ellen says they also contain candid observation and humour.

Breath was shortlisted for the London New Poetry Award, 2009.

"The core of the book is an extraordinarily brave and painful sequence recording the journey through grief which Phethean travelled after her partner, the composer Keith Morris, was killed by a hit-and-run driver in 2005... great poems by any standard..."

Andy Croft, Morning Star

"The handling of these bereavements, the skillful restraint of words which let the anger and pain just shimmer through, is breathtaking."

Valerie Laws, Mslexia, April 2010

Information about Breath on the Flambard Press website.

Diamond Twig Press

Inviolate, by Sara Park

Diamond Twig is a small press, launched in 1992 by Ellen Phethean and the late Julia Darling to publish vibrant new writing by women in the North East of England. Publications include twenty titles in the Branch Lines series: pocket sized books in stylish black-and-white livery, launching new women writers into print.

In October 2011 the twentieth title was added to the Branchlines collection, Inviolate by Sara Park, edited by Kathleen Kenny from Sara's extensive writings, and published posthumously in her memory. At the same time, Red Squirrel Press published Sara's short story collection, Edith Popkiss Laughed Out loud.

Read more about Inviolate by Sara Park, including information on how to order a copy; or read Liver Sense, a poem from Inviolate which was October's Poem of the Month.

Diamond Twig's previous publication, The Ropes, an anthology of new poetry for young people, was shortlisted for the CLPE Poetry Award. Read Ellen's account of the awards ceremony in her online diary.

Read more about The Ropes: Poems to hold on to, including how to order a copy.


Use the diamonds to find your way around this site: and if you can't find what you are looking for, check the Site Map, which includes a full list of our authors, and our publications, which we hope you'll buy.

Diamond Twig regrets that we are unable to accept new submissions, until further notice.

Diamond Twig publications are supported by lottery funding from The Arts Council England, North East. This website is sponsored by Samara James, diamond engagement rings specialists, Marlows Diamond Rings, and by Purely Diamonds, specialists in Eternity Rings.

Photo © Hogg Photography.

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Last updated 18th November 2015.

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