Despite knowing – Poems On Addiction

The book brings together poems in response to an open call to poets, some of whom work, or have worked, in the field of addiction, or have had more personal experience of the subject.

Profits from this anthology are to go to The SWAN Project in Bristol, a charity that provides low-cost counselling for anyone in recovery.

Despite knowing – Poems On Addiction
Click Here To Buy This Book

Praise for ‘Despite knowing – Poems On Addiction’

An outstanding anthology, powerfully chronicling the reality of addictions, their origins and their consequences.

Ian Beech

These poems tackle a serious subject with beauty, honesty, inventiveness and occasional humour.  Their voices are united through their shared subject matter, each speaking their truth through well-crafted verse.  A quite wonderful, very necessary and timely anthology.

Robert Garnham

Work from ‘Despite knowing – Poems On Addiction’

for Ali Barnett

The twist began when we were tightly curled
and sharing space behind our mother’s navel.

You jumped head first but I, late starter,
followed you out with this kink in my spine

that antispasmodics and paediatric traction
could only part-way straighten.

Twenty years later you jumped so far
you landed on your feet in Western Aus.,

kicking back for months, though soon enough
battling for space in your new suburban home

with four kids, two dogs and a husband out flat
on his back after downing the wages again …

And though the waters of the womb have turned
to oceans in between the two of us,

from time to time I feel a push and pull
as if from nowhere – bending down

to tug a weed, or tie a shoe, or simply turning
from the sink when the telephone rings –

and the memory inherent in the spine
kicks out the kink that leaves me on my back

as I remind myself it isn’t only me
who’s had to learn to strengthen the core,

to pull the stomach muscles tight
to brace the spine and try to stand up tall.

Andy Brown


I find the edge
of the world

by poking about
with a shit-smeared stick –

even then I press on,
misjudging the boundary:

a crumbling cliff-face
affords no concern.

by ‘magical thoughts’

a smacking wind
sends me

showered by stones –

you should see
the look of shock

as I fall, scrabbling about
for bracken, rocks,

still presuming
I can negotiate

that there’s an edge
at all.

Millie Light

Some Reasons Why

Because of its promise to get you through.
Because its hand is cool on your brow, its voice soft.
Because it slows your rattling brain, moistens your tongue
till your words flow, easy as breath.
Because it enters your veins like warm honey.
Because, for a while, you forget to hate yourself.
Because it leans against the door to the past.
Because it’s a no-wait, as-much-as-you-want
emergency service.
Because you’re afraid of those triggers,
of the bullet in your brain.
Because it helps you forget.
Because whatever accusations are handed you,
it rips them up, closes the case.
Because you’re alone, hobbled by want.
Because it’s the mother or father or lover,
the self you needed and never had.
Because of the one who’s gone.
Because nobody’s paid for it.
Because why should it be you
making the sacrifice, the one to change?
Because, every time, it slips you an anaesthetic for the pain.
Because eventually it shuts out everyone
who would ask you to stop.
Because it will never reject you.
Because what are you anyway,
who would you be without it?

Chrissy Banks

My Daughter’s Habit

A month’s respite doesn’t stop the heart
tilting in its cradle at the knock,

the scene replayed before I open the door.
I know from her expression what it is

she wants, but still she asks, and I fetch
like a dog, hand over the score,

notice once more the half-moon scar
on the bone of her cheek.

The night swallows her shadow,
catches my sigh as she walks away.

I lean a while against the door,
listen as the wind worries the trees,

smother the thought: to press
a pillow against my slipping heart.

Maggie Sawkins

Click Here To Buy This Book