Poet and Author


Angela Topping loves words and making things out of them, mostly poetry. Giving poetry to others, no matter what age or walk of life, is her passion. Angela offers readings, workshops for any age group and poets-in-schools work. She is based in Cheshire and was poet in residence at St Luke's hospice. She was awarded a writer's residency at Gladstone's Library for 2013. She has twenty years classroom experience as an English and Drama teacher. She is the author of seven solo collections of poetry and three chapbooks, all with reputable publishers. She has edited and co-edited several anthologies and written two critical books (for Greenwich Exchange). A third of forthcoming, on the poetry of John Clare. She has co-written text books on GCSE poetry and her own poems have been set for A level. Her poems have been published widely in journals including Poetry Review, Agenda and London Magazine, and her children's work has been included in over 60 anthologies. She has appeared at a range of festivals, such as Cheltenham Poetry Festival and Manchester Lit Fest. In 2014, her poetry and art collaboration with Maria Walker was showcased at StAnza, Scotland's International Poetry Festival.

How to Capture a Poem

Look for one at midnight
on the dark side of a backlit angel
or in the space between a sigh
and a word. Winter trees, those
elegant ladies dressed in diamonds
and white fur, may hide another.

Look for the rhythm in the feet
of a waltzing couple one, two, three-ing
in an empty hall, or in the sound
of any heartbeat, the breath of a sleeper,
the bossy rattle of keyboards in offices,
the skittering of paper blown along.

You could find a whole line
incised into stone or scrawled on sky.
Words float on air in buses, are bandied
on street corners, overheard in pubs,
caught in the pages of books, sealed
behind tight lips, marshalled as weapons.

Supposing you can catch a poem,
it won’t tell you all it knows. Its voice
is a whisper through a wall, a streak of silk
going by, the scratch of a ghost, the creaks
of a house at night, the sound of the earth
vibrating in spring, with all its secret life.

You have to listen: the poem chooses itself,
takes shape and begins to declare what it is.
Honour the given, else it will become petulant.

When you have done your best,
you have to let it go. Season it with salt
from your body, grease it with oil from your skin.

Release it. It has nothing more to do
with you. You’re no more its owner
than you hold the wind. Never expect gratitude.

This poem was first published in Troubles Swapped for Something Fresh, edited by Rupert Loydell (Salt 2009) and was subsequently included in her 2011 collection I Sing of Bricks (Salt).