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Just before closing time in The Phoenix pub, Lisson Grove, London.  An elderly woman nicknamed The Duchess stands up and speaks.       Date: 1938
I feel like we can talk about anything


like 90% of poetry isn’t of any value

like one man especially was attracted to me

like solitude and time alone are unavoidable

like the terrifying reality of Saturday night

like there are people who move in a very humble sphere

like you are whoever they want you to be

like I’m here to prove you can do it differently

like from the first time I set eyes on him

like no one ever challenged me on the dress code

like I prefer the imagination to the real

like there was something truthful behind his stare

like after midnight the pub is a refuge

like what if anything has changed for women

like single is a relative term

like some people hinder me from growing anyway



© Julie Mellor

Picture 10498651, unattributed photograph, 1938



Julie Mellor lives near Sheffield and holds a PhD from Sheffield Hallam University. Her poems have appeared in various magazines, including Ambit, Magma, The North, The Rialto and Stand. Her pamphlet, Breathing Through Our Bones (Smith|Doorstop, 2012), was a winner in the Poetry Business pamphlet competition: ‘Poems with a real ability to own their subject – whether spontaneous combustion or the collective thought of geese – and which remain to intrigue long after reading’ (Carol Ann Duffy). Mellor’s second pamphlet, Out of the Weather (Smith|Doorstop), appeared in 2017: ‘The writing is alert and alive, sensitive to different visions of past and present – the vast landscapes seen by a fly, Edwardians relishing electricity, a bat embryo dissected with light’ (Helen Mort). More recently, Mellor has worked with found texts: ‘I’m interested in the layers of meaning found texts can yield, especially when excerpts are juxtaposed. The interweaving of cut-up texts acts as the scaffolding for many of my new poems.’