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Congratulations to our long-time Chair and coordinating committee member Helen Reid who won second prize in the Chapbook Contest 2020 for her beautiful poetry!

Below are two of her poems – one starring a variety of familiar winged West Oxford residents, the second effortlessly capturing the cognitive dissonance experienced by many around the climate crisis.

You can purchase the pamphlet for just over £7 on the Chaffinch Press website.

Well done Helen, well deserved!

The Suburban Ornithologist

Heron, Osney Bridge


Still, in the archway

knee cocked, Cleopatra eyes,

she is poised to strike


The Charm


A flock of dandies

studs the newly budded ash,

bright with diamond song.


Oatlands Road


Pigeons are mating

on the TV aerial

during peak viewing.


The Botley Road


Screech of swifts cutting

through hopeful smoke signals from

English barbecues.




By the path, unseen

a living leaf waits.

The unassuming dunnock.


Flood Flowers


Black headed gulls bloom

on the wildflower meadow.

First flood of winter.




Midwinter morning,

the birdbath has frozen.

Indignant robin.

Wedding Algae

We’re all just an algal bloom,

he explains, and a rapid expansion in numbers

like this will result in, and he pauses to slice

through his lamb, a dead sea.

Is there no hope at all,

I enquire, but he swallows my question,

with a glug of the red, and cheerfully waves,

at his tiny doomed sons, who with dozens

of other small children, are swarming around

the sad slow dissolve of two love birds of ice.


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