Summer Comes to the Urban Garden

The rambler is putting on white for June

the marrying month, and for the pink New Dawn

climbing a neighbour's fence, while

the blackbird aloft on an ariel

lets fall his aria into the smoky air

and wild campanula has colonised

the crannies between wall and pavement

along the street with its little blue stars

outdoing coltsfoot, dandelion, shepherds' purse.

In the gusty wind the tall plane tree

tosses its head against the telephone wires.

Dandy in rose shirt front, grey jacket white collar,

the wood pigeon begs Betty to mind his sore foot

while his feral cousins burble

in the gutter. Campanula

pitches her seeds past tamed window box

geraniums into backyards

to sprawl at the feet of clematis

fucsia, hydrangea, winding them

in its long green tresses.


Copyright Maureen Duffy 24 May 2020


Arriva l’estate al Giardino Urbano 

Maureen Duffy

Traduzione di Anna Maria Robustelli


La rosa rampicante si sta vestendo di bianco per giugno

il mese degli sposi, e per la New Dawn rosa

che si arrampica sul recinto di un vicino, mentre

il merlo in alto su un’antenna

rilascia il suo verso nell’aria fumosa

e la campanula selvatica ha colonizzato

le crepe tra il muro e il marciapiede

sulla strada con le sue piccole stelle azzurre

che superano la farfara, il tarassaco e la borsa di pastore.

Nel vento impetuoso il grande platano

scuote la testa contro i fili del telefono.

Dandy con il petto della camicia rosa, colletto bianco in giacca grigia,

il colombaccio implora Betty di badare al suo piede dolorante

mentre i suoi cugini inselvatichiti gorgogliano

nella grondaia. La campanula

getta i suoi semi al di là del vaso di gerani

domestici nei cortili

perché si spandano ai piedi della clematide

fucsia, dell’ortensia, cingendole

con la sua lunga capigliatura verde.


Copyright Anna Maria Robustelli 22 June 2020


In Time of Plague

We are the virus corvine 2020,

Spread over the face of the earth,

Silencing the cities, hushing town and village,

Colonising space and time as if

The planet wasn’t enough for our millions

To despoil, denude of leaf and butterfly wing

Until we can no longer look each other in the eye,

Take another in our arms, all bound together

By a lonely death, locked down in our dens by fear

In a half life no longer hardly worth enduring,

And even time has contracted to our prison walls

Let out once a day like a dog on a leash

Freed shortly to walk under the sky,

Then in again to solitude. I think of those nuns

Immured by choice and how they were allowed

‘to make pleasing gestures through a window slot’.

We have no such freedom, can’t refuse our prison,

Shut up in this night like chickens caged safe

From our fox who’s a many headed hydra

With sharp claws to pull us down for all

Our squawks, and attempts at flight, until

We suck it in to colonise our spongy lungs

Giving it safe harbour while it gobbles us up.


Copyright Maureen Duffy 26 March 2020


Nel tempo della pandemia

Maureen Duffy

Traduzione di Anna Maria Robustelli


Sono il virus corvine 2020,

diffuso sulla faccia della terra,

che silenzia le città, mette a tacere città e campagna,

colonizza lo spazio e il tempo come se

non bastasse che il pianeta fosse depredato da milioni

di persone, spogliato di foglie e di ali di farfalle

al punto che non possiamo più guardarci negli occhi,

prendere qualcuno tra le braccia, tutti tenuti assieme

da una morte solitaria, rinchiusi nelle nostre tane per la paura

in una vita a metà che non vale più la pena di essere a stento sopportata,

e anche il tempo si è ridotto alle pareti delle nostre prigioni

lasciati uscire una volta al giorno come un cane al guinzaglio

liberi per poco di camminare sotto il cielo,

poi dentro di nuovo in solitudine. Penso a quelle suore

murate per scelta e a come era loro permesso

di fare gesti di piacere attraverso la fessura di una finestra.

Noi non abbiamo quella libertà, non possiamo rifiutare la nostra prigione,

serrati in questa notte come polli ingabbiati al sicuro

dalla nostra volpe che è un’idra dalle molte teste

con artigli affilati per buttarci giù nonostante tutte

le nostre strida e i tentativi di fuga, finché

lo risucchiamo per fargli colonizzare i nostri polmoni spugnosi

dandogli un porto sicuro mentre ci divora.


Copyright Anna Maria Robustelli 24 April 2020



Maureen Duffy (b. 1933 in Worthing, Sussex) is a notable contemporary British poet, playwright and novelist. She has also published a literary biography of Aphra Behn, and The Erotic World of Faery a book-length study of eroticism in faery fantasy literature.

After a tough childhood, Duffy took her degree in English from King’s College London. She went on to be a schoolteacher from 1956 to 1961, and edited three editions of a poetry magazine called the sixties. She then turned to writing full-time as a poet and playwright after being commissioned to produce a screenplay by Granada Television. Her first novel, written at the suggestion of a publisher, That’s How It Was (1962), was published to great acclaim. Her first openly lesbian novel was The Microcosm (1966), set in the famous lesbian Gateways club in London.

Maureen is the author of 34 published works of fiction, including 9 collections of poetry, non-fiction, and 16 plays for stage, screen and radio, the most recent, being Sappho Singing; she is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of King’s College London, and a Vice President of the Royal Society of Literature, as well as President of Honour of the British Copyright Council and the ALCS, and a CISAC gold medallist. She was recently awarded a D. Litt by Loughborough University for contributions to literature and equality law reform. Life Writing is included in her new collection, Environmental Studies, to be published by Enitharmon in April 2013.

Her novel Gor Saga was televised in 1988 in a three part mini-series called First Born starring Charles Dance.

She is said to have been Britain’s first lesbian to ‘come out’ in public, and made public comments during the debates around homosexual law reform. In 1977 she published The Ballad of the Blasphemy Trial, a broadside against the trial of the Gay News newspaper for ‘blasphemous libel’.



A new collection of poetry by ‘one of Britain’s foremost writers’ (Guardian), and ‘a unique literary talent’ (Sarah Walters) forms the The Pottery Press's fifth pamphlet. We travel with the poet on the Wanderer’s terrifying voyage, on exploratory passages to India and Ravenna, on a very English train-ride, to concerts and galleries (and on the journeys of imagination they stimulate), through the gardens and street-markets of London, and to the junkshop of the remembered past. Maureen Duffy describes one of these poems as ‘a kind of elegy to life and love’, the ultimate theme of this brave and passionate collection.

‘Tough poems, made of the rough substance of real lives… a beautiful answering back against the worst.’ (David Constantine)

'so different from much other stuff written on the same subject, it takes up the perspective of the refugees, the homeless...Liz Mathews's design is powerful, here as reads as if it were recorded with a hand-held linguistic camera...What a declaration of love -- love of life! Too good to be true.' (Christoph Bode, Prof emeritus LMU Munich)

For more information please see Journeys of imagination


New poems by Maureen Duffy

48 pages with 31 full-colour images by lettering artist Liz Mathews

ISBN 978-0-9930171-5-5

Published London 2020 

£9.99 from The Pottery Press and selected bookshops

contact potterypress(at) 

Past Present: Piers Plowless & Sir Orfeo

Past Present book coverPast Present: Piers Plowless & Sir Orfeo is the first Pottery Press Pamphlet, with two exciting long poems by Maureen Duffy. The New Vision of Piers Plowless is Duffy’s contemporary riff on the medieval poem The Vision of Piers Plowman by William Langland, which combines social protest and satire with allegory about the pilgrimage of the soul, and a vision of England transformed. In her Forward, Frances Bingham calls the poem ‘a magnificent rant, addressed to fellow-author Will Langland who wrote his protest song for everyman Piers and ‘the fair field of folk’ so many centuries ago.’ And the introduction continues:

‘Her protest against a so-called austerity which causes suffering to the poorest in society while sparing the richest, and tries to silence the arts and deplete learning and libraries, has never been more relevant. But crucially, like her medieval model, there’s robust humour here too – and a breath of hope; a call to arms.’

Sir Orfeo, the companion poem in this volume, is Maureen Duffy’s translation of another medieval poem, with migrates the Orpheus myth to the England of a folktale, and gives it a happy ending; the classical Underworld becomes Elfland under a green hill, the Arcadian landscape an English orchard.

The coupling of the two poems in this book makes a weird and powerful statement about England on the edge; a land with an imagined mythic past, a millennial present and perhaps apocalyptic future.

'Maureen Duffy has inspired many other writers and proved that the English novel… can be fantastical, experimental and political. Perhaps it is her poetry, though, that most fully captures her range as she presses on like a medieval troubadour across barriers of genre, gender, space and time.' TLS

The book also has lettered title pages and 9 full-page colour images by Liz Mathews, a Forward by Frances Bingham and an introduction by Maureen Duffy. For more information please see Past Present at The Pottery Press.

Past Present: Piers Plowless & Sir Orfeo

Poems by Maureen Duffy; images by Liz Mathews

46 pages 9 full-colour images 2 lettered title pages

ISBN 978-0-9930171-1-7

Published London 2017

£6.99 from The Pottery Press and selected bookshops

contact potterypress(at)

Pictures from an Exhibition

Cover, Maureen Duffy's 2016 Poetry Collection 'Pictures from an Exhibition'

Maureen's eighth collection of poetry, Pictures from an Exhibition, was published by Enitharmon in 2016

For Maureen Duffy, pictures are magical creations and recreations - of history, mythologies, landscape, love and death - where artists take risks analagous to a poet's with words. Pictures abound in this collection, ushering the reader from canvas to screen via x-rays and iPhone snapshots, the latter inspiring the closing sequence 'Burdsong'. Above all, Pictures from an Exhibition celebrates the mind's eye, which is its own exhibition gallery: transforming Darlington Station into an upturned ship's hull or a mauled pigeon into a still life, and glorying in the lives, loves and creations of painters from Veronese to Anselm Kiefer.

'Maureen Duffy has inspired many other writers and proved that the English novel...can be fantastical, experimental and political. Perhaps it is her poetry, though, that most fully captures her range as she presses on like a medieval troubadour across barriers of genre, gender, space and time.' TLS

In Times Like These

Cover of Maureen Duffy's 2013 novel, 'In Times Like These'‘A new novel by Maureen Duffy is always an important event. She’s one of the most honourable and interesting writers we have.' Rose Tremain

Maureen's latest 'playful, political new novel'* In Times Like These is out now in paperback and for Kindle.

*Maggie Gee

Available from

A Searing Political Fable: In Times Like These 

Political conspiracies are rife and Britain’s Constitution is faltering. Scottish Independence looms. It threatens to radically change the lives of Londoners Terry and Paul. As they become victims of a series of sickening attacks rooted in tribal bigotry and intolerance, Terry and Paul must fight for their professional identities, their relationship and their lives. 

Other stories interlace with Terry and Paul’s struggle to form an exploration of current social and political attitudes, investigating ideas of nationhood, cultural heritage and political ideals to remind us sagely that the world is our country.  

Environmental Studies

Maureen's new collection of poems, her seventh, Environmental Studies, was published by Enitharmon on May 6th 2013 and is available from Amazon.

Maureen Duffy’s latest poetry collection is centred on environments – human, insect and animal – some experienced personally, some observed, some imagined. Though strictly contemporary in her concerns, she reaches back in her poetry to childhood, and beyond that in her imagination to cultural figures of the past – John Donne, Edward Elgar, Ralph Vaughan Williams, bringing them lucidly and vividly to life. 

There is a strong sense of compassion and fair play in her poems, reflecting Duffy’s lifelong support for progressive social and political movements, and a beautiful lyricism and technical skill derived from her love of the classical world and Old and Mediaeval English. As so often in her work, London past and present provides the backdrop to her real and imagined life stories: of love and loss, forebears and friends, the humorous and sometimes painful experiences of old age.

'Maureen Duffy deserves serious acclaim as a poet, as much as an original novelist.' --Elaine Feinstein, The Times


The Orpheus Trail

The Orpheus TrailWhen a child is found dead among the charred remains of a pier fire, surrounded by the old-fashioned toys of the Greek god Dionysus and a ritualistic fire basket, Detective Inspector Hildreth calls in the local museum’s curator, Alex Kish, to help him decipher the mysterious symbolism.

Soon afterwards an ancient Saxon amulet is stolen from the museum and the dead bodies of other young boys begin to turn up arranged as grotesque works of art with components of the gold amulet around their necks. The enigmatic Detective Inspector draws the curator into a strange web of ancient secrets, pagan ritualism, and the illegal trafficking of young boys.

Have the boys been murdered? How have they got there? What is the meaning of the symbols? And most of all who is responsible and why? The Orpheus Trail is a tense thriller where Hildreth and Kish are caught up in a race against time to interpret these ancient codes and clues before death claims another young life.

ISBN: 978-1-906413-05-7




Maureen’s agent is:
Jonathan Clowes Ltd, 10 Iron Bridge House, Bridge Approach, London NW1 8BD, Tel: 0207 722 7674

Go to for the availability of the these titles.


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That’s How It Was (1962)
The Single Eye (1964)
The Microcosm (1966)
The Paradox Players (1967)
Wounds (1969)
Love Child (1971)
I Want to Go to Moscow (1973)
All Heaven in a Rage (1973)
Capital (1975)
Housespy (1978)
Gor Saga (1981)
Londoners (1983)
Change (1987)
Illuminations (1991)
Occam’s Razor (1993)
Restitution (1998)
Alchemy (2004)


Lyrics for the Dog Hour (poems) (1968)
New Short Plays: No. 2 (1969)
Venus Touch (poems) (1971)
Evesong (poems) (1975)
Memorials of the Quick and the Dead (poems) (1979)
Collected Poems, 1949-84 (poems) (1985)
Pool: New Fiction from Liverpool John Moores University (2001)
Family Values (poems) September 2008

Non fiction

The Erotic World of Faery (1972)
The Passionate Shepherdess: Aphra Behn, 1640-89 (1977)
Inherit the Earth (1980)
Men And Beasts: Animal Rights Handbook (1984)
A Thousand Capricious Chances: History of the Methuen List, 1889-1989 (1989)
Henry Purcell, (1659-95) (1994)
England: The Making of the Myth from Stonehenge to Albert (2001)

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