Widening participation

Widening participation

Hands off me and my education


Having potential

Judge me fit for retention

Subject of and subject to

Bright and disadvantaged

How dare you

I am differently advantaged

I am different

But I want to join the club

The same as everyone else

I feel unworthy

I feel wrong

But then those tutors

With sparks for eyes

Love me the most

I am passion

I am drive

I am climbing

In spite of life

So thanks for the label

Derogatory discourse

To help me

You harm me

You point to me

You there

Need help?

I’m the success story

Wow a good statistic

Dunce among peers


That will help

Privilege and value

Normal abnormal

Now I don’t fit anywhere.


© Jennifer Winterburn


If I eat cheese

If I eat cheese

And I think

Will this give me cancer

Then just thinking it

Could make it so

And so if it comes back

Must I always wonder

Was it the dairy

The wine

Not enough a day

Of what I should

Too much should not.


© Jennifer Winterburn

Three years old

Three years old

Fists full of dog hair

As I cling mid-wobble

That is my earliest memory

1980s childhood in Bradford City centre

A TV and icicles on the inside

Of my bedroom window

Sticky smiles and my teddy

And then the starving kids in Africa

Just behind the glass

Bellies so large so empty

Eyes so hungry

I could not comprehend

And still cannot

When people starve

And others throw away.


© Jennifer Winterburn

Our roles reverse

Our roles reverse

No invert

Twisted paradoxically

Juxtaposed opposition

It was I confused


Indecisive and derisive

And you who would sooth

And comfort and choose

But now I must manage this between us

Like sporting champions

We are not

A silly ping-pong of life

And I am not skilled at this

And I snip and I snipe

And say stop

Which hurts you

But I see what you’re doing

And it won’t get you far

So I want to shut it down

Knowing the damage it does.


© Jennifer Winterburn

Spider in my shoe

Spider in my shoe

Spider in my shoe

A big hairy beastie

Oh I don’t know what to do!

I dropped the shoe upon the floor

The spider ran towards the door

Then I felt horribly mean

Making that little spider homeless and poor

What would it be like?

To have my home tipped upright?

To fall out of my house

Watch them slide their foot in tight?

That’s my home there on your foot!

Thrown out, kicked out so abrupt

Oh what am I to do?

My home has gone kaput!

If you don’t know what to do

When a beast makes home inside your shoe

I don’t have much advice

You may need a wardrobe review!


© Jennifer Winterburn

Pull myself up

Pull myself up and right out of myself

Who am I?

Not that woman sat on the sofa

Pen in hand

Not a creeping woman

Just unknown

I am alien

Trapped in this body

And I want to go home

But my home was taken from me

In exile from myself

Maps and other scraps of evidence

Torn and shredded

I become adsorbed by jigsaws

Satisfied to piece order from chaos



© Jennifer Winterburn

My rubber dinosaur

Even before she left

My father’s time so precious

When I got some I cherished it

One day we visited

And wooded walked

National Trust

Leaves, acorns, birds

Two kids in wellies

Me and my brother

A treat in the gift shop

Very rare and so exciting

Dinosaurs in soap eggs

Oh we were mad for dinosaurs

Wished we were Diplodocus T-Rex and Pterodactyl

We played dinosaurs all the time

So we were very excited indeed

Dinosaurs in soap eggs

We bathed and washed

We washed and bathed

Slowly revealing the baby dinosaur

Birth! The victory!

We held our little

See-through rubber dinosaurs

And we loved them

I wanted to keep mine

With me all the time

I took it to school

And lost it

I cried and cried

I shuddered and

My heart just snapped



On teachers knee

My best teacher ever

Somehow made it worse

My… D.. A.. Ddy…

Breathe now

G. Got it for m..

The tears soaked us both

He comforted me

Your daddy won’t be mad

Not realising the investment

I had in my little rubber dino

All that washing and waiting

This precious gift

From my father’s precious time

With me

Meant more than anything

And my heart hurt

The same feeling a year later

Only it was my mother

We lost somewhere

After that I was more careful

With my things.


© Jennifer Winterburn

I have a thing about elephants

I have a thing about elephants

I like that they are smart and strong

I like their matriarchal community

Where knowledge, empathy, memory, love

Are so highly valued

I love their saggy skin

It looks comfortable

I like their moving noses

Kissing the world as they go

Those eyelashes like rope

Those feet like sandbags

A heart too big for this world

Born to love and so to suffer.


© Jennifer Winterburn


When it happened the J dropped

The J-em J-oy gone

Slowly layers were taken from me

The EN-ergy ouch

Then my mind

That IF of life

That happy wondering

Thinking thought

Words and wisdom

Dreams and desires

And so abrupt

The fur the FER

Lost my coat

Worse than shorn

Eyebrows and lashes

Are human are living

And then comes time


Tick tock

Day month year


Life time

So I start to rewind

The tide of time

And it goes the same way

Easing in

So slow


And so the return

The fur the FER

Looking more healthy

Less weird day by day

The IF is more subtle

Grasping at what…

The EN-ergy is rising

Like a disco hit

I don’t know what’s coming next

But the J is elusive illusive

Aloof and

In hiding

In storage

Safe keeping

But I think that with


Life time

The J will return.


© Jennifer Winterburn

Cardboard Hill

Cardboard hill

The legend

The perfection in geography

Just down from our house

Rough wasteland of frogs and foxes

We called Mile’s Rough

There she was

The perfect hill

Perfect height

Perfect steepness

Perfect short grass

Never mown

Just perfectly grown

Super smooth

And wide enough for races

In summer once she dried out

(no one wanted to fall in a bog)

We took our weapon

Saved that cardboard box

From Dad’s cellar

Gran’s new microwave

It didn’t matter

Just not too small is all

And carried them down

To Mile’s Rough

To our perfect hill

Our Cardboard Hill

Morning two, three kids

By lunch twelve, fifteen kids

Simple really

Climb to the top

Sit on your cardboard

Like a sled on snow

Cling to the edges

Right at the top

Then off you go


So fast almost vertical

Eyes watering

Grass staining

As you tumble at the end

Wow. Who won?

Good fun

In winter we sled but

It was always cardboard hill

Faster harder tougher

No snow to break your fall

Sometimes little kids would need

Walking home from too much fun

Now it’s a site of scientific interest

You should have seen us play.


© Jennifer Winterburn


Welcome to the club

Welcome to the club

Ooh I’ve never

Been in a club before

Unless you count the Weetabix Club

Well, you’re gonna love this then

Why, what’s so special?

Oh it’s very exciting

You won’t know for certain

What may happen next

It could be anything

With the edginess of death

Ever present to remind you

Of your membership

First things first

A taste of mortality

You’re under 30?

Never mind, we take all kinds.

Oh you never felt sick?

We can sort that right out

But before we begin

You must be blessed with the scar

The club badge of honour

Forever at your breast

Surgeon your tools

Oh you don’t feel a thing?

You can get used to that now

You will never again

And now that’s all done

You didn’t plan to be a mum?

Yes. Oh such a shame

Life or birth, could you complain?

We harvest for eggs

While you’re off your head

Then comes the true test

Of your membership in our club

The magic elixir

To make you sink deeper

To forget yourself

And think only of death

As a relief from the pain

That binds us together

And we can judge whether

You suit your hair gone

Oh and most go along

Wearing scarves, wigs and caps

Our proud uniform

Our tortured skin

Welcome sisters, brothers

We welcome all in

Some stay forever

Some only a while

That thought ever present

Hanging off a mortal coil.


© Jennifer Winterburn


These hands

Rode a pony

Learnt to write

Tried to keep

Held books tight

Cut and grazed

Kneaded dough

Tried to play

Plant to grow

Cat’s cradle’d

Pushed ahead

Tried to stop

Tears shed

Struck out

Clenched numb

Tried to stay

Popped bubblegum

Learnt to knit

Conker split

Tried to hide

Let go of it.


© Jennifer Winterburn

October awareness


Badge of honour



Wigs…just think about it

New normal


Not any more.

No dairy?

No fun?


Oh to remind me of the blood

Or the scars

Or the chemo in the tube


Paint it black for me.


© Jennifer Winterburn

You all know that feeling

You all know that feeling

First thing in the morning

You open your eyes

Let the day begin

And then you remember

That saddest of things

Sinks in your stomach

Yet the day still begins

That stung realisation

That pain in your heart

You’ll never forget

The loss of that part

That takes your breath away

Rebreaks your heart

Instead of feeling guilty or sad or mad

Think about it hard

Look, look, look

Until it swells and hurts properly

Then say hello

Sadness, pain, suffering, loss

Here you are to greet me

To strengthen me today.


© Jennifer Winterburn


Pain pain pain


Legs arms lame




Where are my words?

Where is my intelligence?

Where is the sense?


Hairblocked drain

Vomit like rain

Blind white pain



Food disgusting



Bringer of life



Bad air bad skin

Sore skin

Mouth sores

Tongue tastes


Cotton wool

Squeaking slow



Sat shivering shaking sinking

Bones scream

Thanks Chemotherapy

A new reality

To feeling bad.

© Jennifer Winterburn

My Dad

My dad

It’s hard to explain

How much I care about him

His life is for mine

He sacrificed

So I would not

He made space and time for me

He made me an equal to my brother

I can do anything because my dad says so

So I do

And it works

And I am because of him

And the sacrifices he made for me

So young when I came along

So brave and hardworking

So strong and silly in equal measures

Made me laugh till I cried

Made me laugh when I cried

Made the pain a little less

Distracted me

Made me fearless

He says he is proud of me

But he should be proud of himself

It was funny when my hair fell out

And I looked in the mirror

Wow there’s my dad!

Button nose, blue eyes

Blinking back

If I can be a parent like my dad

Hard working and strong

The way he keeps growing

Always learning

And if I can give myself

And make my child

Feel so secure

I will be proud

And thank my dad.


© Jennifer Winterburn



After rays and rain

A jungle

I tend

And then

A frog

Sat flat too still

Something wrong

I think

Have I killed you?

I run to my someone

And cry

And shudder

He goes to see

And turns to me


And the frog is alive

It fooled me there

And broke my heart


© Jennifer Winterburn



Near my ear

High pitch hunger

The stab

Midge jab

The tug


Stop eating my blood!

Little bug

Of field and bog

Land of cairns

Rock and ferns

For one so small

Could it hurt at all?

It hurts quite a lot

That little red spot

The smallest swarm

Makes meals of warm

Tasty blood

Would you not prefer

A sweet flower bud?


© Jennifer Wilson

Thank you

Thank you

For thinking of me

When I couldn’t think

Thank you for letting me know

You were there

When I lost my way

And didn’t know where I was.


It has been over a year now

And I still feel your support

That Get Well card

That thoughtful thought

You sent for me

I keep in my heart eternally.


© Jennifer Winterburn

What is left

I have no appetite

I like to stay out of sight

I don’t want to talk

Or go for a walk

I don’t want to see friends

I want not to offend

I’m not worth their time

I tell them I’m fine

I’m grumpy and mad

I stay quiet when I’m sad

I have lost my joy somewhere

And now struggle to care

I wouldn’t care for myself

If not for everyone else

I am sad and alone

I’m in pain and I moan

I’m sick of being me

No sympathy

I try to get back

The happy I now lack

My words come out wrong

The sad is too strong

But everything’s great

So I try to create

A way to escape

The loathing self-hate.


© Jennifer Winterburn

Our relationship is old

Our relationship is old

Yet we are still young

At once trapping us in our youth

Easy to return just looking in your eyes

Yet with room we each have given

Each grown

Growing sharing

Not always easy

But easier to build

With youthful memories full of sparkle

We see where we have come from

And allow a moment to feel how we felt

With you I can always go back

Most of what we say is unsaid

We know each other

Yet we never stop learning things

Surprising one another

Yet so constant our lives are.


© Jennifer Winterburn

This will not be popular

I hate football

I hate glossy magazines

Fill your head with dross

Keep unthinking

Stay drinking


Talons and tans

Towies, xfactor, soaps

I don’t give a damn

Wash away your brain cells

Ease the pain of living.

You masses of nothingness

You uncaring, unfeeling monsters.

The wonder of humans

Wasted on us

Wasted by us

Such potential

Drug induced normality

Death cars, violence protection

Who cared about you?

So why care about anyone.

I want apartheid between kind and selfish people.

It’s not so simple.

It’s all so tiring.

Why do I need your crap in my face,

Every TV channel.

Music video.

Every website.

Every street.

Vile. Unforgiving. Disgraceful.

Freedom to be a loser. A shit. A creep.

Thanks future now.

Worth the wait?


© Jennifer Winterburn

To the North

I must improve my confidence said North to South one day.

On no, said South convincingly, you’re where the mad folk play.

You don’t think me harsh, cold and barren? Questioned North.

Those are your strengths said South. You are Other. That’s your worth.

Outsiders cannot understand you North, but everyone sees through me,

I am on parade, proud of shallow, centre of the party;

North you are mystical and rough, dangerous and a bit odd.

I like you like that. You make me look good; they say you’re closer to god.

We kind of complement one another too, said South, don’t you think?

I keep on swimming freely, North, as you seem to slowly sink.

But should I North, not try to emulate you South?

The way you praise and flatter yourself?

Maybe then I would get on. I feel I’m letting myself down.

It’s no good North, you cannot change; you are the country clown.

You are as fixed as the heather on the moors. Coal in the earth. Wool on a sheep.

North you are like an innocent babe, at once awake asleep.

But my friends leave me for you, said North. I am not good enough.

They leave, and those that stay feel trapped, finding me too tough,

Locked in a moment of expectation leading to nowhere.

Who needs friends North dear? Said South. What would you have to share?

Enjoy your space, your freedom. If they leave you are better without them.

And if you need a patronising ear I am always here to make you see sense again.

North’s mind wanders, thinking about green hills, small villages, hearty food, and strong

Deep rooted friendships running through the becks with blossom and birdsong.


© Jennifer Winterburn

Welcome to the start of your new life

Welcome to the start

Of your new life

Step inside

Take a ride

I don’t want a new life

I cried

Everything changed

Altered, deranged

Degraded, derailed

All points failed

My life was just fine

My life was all mine

This new one’s imposed

The old door is closed

I’m still me I scream

It’s like living a dream

A nightmare


One that won’t end

But let’s just pretend

It never happened

Not so easy for me

Scarred, crazy

You see that I smile

I can do that a while

But alone

On my own

I wonder where I went

I missed the descent

No rescue party

Somewhere I abandoned me.


© Jennifer Winterburn

Yorkshire (Happy Yorkshire Day!)

Everyone here creates

We feel the urge to express

We can’t get enough

Music, writing, dress

Bling and bingo

Bhajis and barges

Sequins and sheep

Green to burn your peepers


Deep secret forests

Green emerald vales

Amazing landscapes

Make you want to sing

Tell tall tales

To shout and say this is mine

Yorkshire tingles down my spine


Yorkshire means love

Yorkshire means fight

Yorkshire means beauty

Yorkshire means light


Bradford born and bred

Tied by invisible thread

York I learned by your walls

Castleford I thrived on your island,

Then followed the Aire home

But anywhere in Yorkshire is grand

I feel I belong wherever I roam.


Jennifer Winterburn

VW camper Lofty throws a fit – poem displayed to calm him down

Fame 🙂 My poem soothes wild beasts and campervans 🙂


This is one of the busiest times of the year for my work as the charity I work for takes part in numerous outside events and I usually have to set them up and take them down at the end of the day. Last Saturday I was at a local school which raises money for us, and Sunday I was at the Dragon Boat Challenge in York, where we had a fundraising stall. So I haven’t had a lot of time for blogging, or reading the many which I follow.

However, I said in my most recent post that Lofty, my VW camper, had not only insisted I reblogged a poem – Campervan – penned by Bradford’s blogger the Optimistic Pessimist, but that I printed it out and displayed it in his window. That I had not had time to do.

View original post 228 more words

To the Veins

You know I would never

Intentionally harm you

If we don’t do this the doc says

We’re through

No more pumping for you

No future to look to

This we must do

We must attend

We must bend

To their will

And their want

I know you can’t

Take much more

One arm to go at

Veins brittle and flat

Sinuous and tough

I know they seem rough

And they won’t let you rest

But they’re doing their best

Just one more time now

We made the end somehow.

© Jennifer Wilson

The Veins

Jen not again

Please we beg you

Stay home safe and warm

Don’t go to that hospital again

You know what will happen?

I can recall anyway,

Though you forget me,

Your little secret

Internal magic motorway

Don’t even think about it

We your veins say NO WAY!

We will hide, and give no pressure.

Had enough, left the office early today.

We’re off on our jollies,

We just want to play.

It’s just too much, we are so tired,

We love you, we are sorry, goodbye.


© Jennifer Wilson

Breast Cancer

What a nice topic?

What a heartbreaker.

What fun to endure?

What choice is there?


Be brave

Be strong

Be calm

Be and keep being.


Why now?

Why me?

Why this?

Why here?


Now what?

Now continue

Now keep going

Now look ahead



Epirubicin and Cyclophosphamide


Hair loss nausea


Pain pain pain

Sweat and shakes



Sterile? Woman?

What then?

Live again.


© Jennifer Winterburn

Saltaire Roundabout



Foot down

Fling round

Horns sound


That’s sixteen

Twirling swirling lanes

One mini moundabout


Ahh they say

Saltaire roundabout

Easy to get madabout

People shout

Get out get out

Of my way

I’m late for the day

Fly on fly off

Close my eyes

And they’re off

Near misses

Car kisses

Millions daily

Racing or hesitating

What’s your style?


Cut in late?

Please calm down

We can all get round

Be agile as the trout

Careful, don’t jut out

Or have a blowout

Just a smooth burst out

To avoid a clout

Without a doubt

It’s Saltaire roundabout


© Jennifer Winterburn

Henry Moore

Henry Moore

I found you

In Castleford

And saw your strong

Vulnerable women

Your human form

In landscape

Reflected by the rivers and canal

Feeding urban life

Mounds and reflection

Growth and nurture

Flows and feeling

Feeding the fields.


© Jennifer Winterburn

If I was a bee

If I was a bee

Where would I be?

Flying free

A breeze carrying me

Or sat near a tree

By the old factory

Looking down on the flea

Envious of me.


If I was a bee

What would I be?

A worker endlessly

Toiling restlessly

Until the end of me

Diseased horribly

Dying painfully

Farmers forgetting me.


If I was a bee

How would I be?

Magic maker me,

Sweet creativity

Feeding everybody

Damaged chemically

Who will protect me?

You will miss my honey.


© Jennifer Winterburn

Chemo Ward 15 (Happy Birthday NHS)

Human pin cushion

Sick of being sticked

My veins hide

Oh they know what’s coming

Hand in hot water

Force them to surface

Medicine is good for you

Then why is it poison?

Dried up veins

Dried up husk

Body clings on

Wants to fight

But how long?

NHS I love you

Happy 65th birthday

It’s today!

I love you

I love my surgeon

She is sweet and kind and knows my name

She kneels down in front of me

Like a mother.

Bad, bad cancer.

I am so small she says

She looks sad

I’ll be ok

But I am small and young and it all shows through

But without you what would I do

My NHS, I love you.


© Jennifer Winterburn

My mad me

Silly things

Like hair pins

To tidy bugs wings

Like roller skates

For snakes

And custard pies

Instead of eyes

Like jellied bikes

And steering wheel spikes

Like pea sandwiches

And ticklish itches

Like washing books

And licking cooks

These things confuse

But I refuse

To do what’s right

Do what I like

They stand and stare

What do I care?

I look and laugh

To show I have

No care for them

And their brain phlegm

I care not

Not one jot

Who what when

But wonder then

What have I not

That they have got

Makes them so dumb

So mean and numb

And me so silly

So forgiving and willing.

Am I wrong and are they right?

They feel like day, I feel like night.

I do not fit

I don’t care a bit

I am sorry

If you think I’m off my trolly

I still can’t care

Do what I dare

Make them feel something



© Jennifer Winterburn


Box of dreams

Wardrobe to other worlds

Part of the gang

We wave at our own

Like crazy people

Because we know

We share the joy

Perfect joy

Of freedom

On wheels

Where every day is perfect

Every meal the most amazing

Every moment with you

In that perfect little place

To keep us together

Trapped in the same room

Never bored

Always happy

Happy like

You can’t remember

What sad feels like

Just filled to brimming

With joy.

© Jennifer Winterburn

Heavy like

Heavy like I can’t move the pen

The pain is in the telling

Can’t lift my hand

Can’t lift my gaze

Swallowed crushed

You’re gone

You are

No more

Crushing lungs squeezing chest

I gasp I cannot contain this feeling

I miss you already. I miss.

You so much.

Know I love you.

Know I miss you.

I am glad you feel no more pain.

Missing you will go on forever.

Loving you will too.


© Jennifer Winterburn


I wish my mother was strong. Like Boudica or Athena,

Like Aphra Behn or Margaret Cavendish.

Self-possessed and brave.

With meaning. With character. With passion.

I would accept those in place of love.

A mother connected to her surroundings,

Sensitive to her emotions and open and willing

To share herself. A mother I could be proud of

Who may not be proud of me but a strong woman,

Fearless, whom I could look up to.

Like a dream, with long strong hair, firm, metal enmeshed

Breast and armoured thigh plates on the biggest

Bravest silent steed.

A woman to defend me, rescue me, help me be a woman.

I have her. She is mine. I am hers.

She is all this good.

She is not my mother. She is my best friend.

My other. M-other. My M.

I am a woman now. Brave and strong.

Gone is the sadness of my loss.

Can I become mother? Will I be good enough,

Brave enough and strong enough to defend myself and my child and my lover,

My family?

Yes. Because my M-other tells me so.


© Jennifer Winterburn


Your skin so sallow

Your eye socket hollow

You shuffle with sorrow

No people to follow


You cannot run zombie

The people smile with glee

They know you cannot see

The way to climb that tree


But you can wait and wait

You feel no frustration or hate

Just long for brains on a plate

That is your victims’ fate.


© Jennifer Winterburn

Geek // Another Retraction THE VIDEO

Geek the band (Bradford)

In their own words…

Filmed in one-take of ground-breaking Quadro-Vision, the latest Geek video is a slab of existential cinema verite which bravely explores the tender relationship between art and idiocy, effectively juxtaposing the mass availability of technology with the downfall of artistic skill and talent. The result is a harrowing damnation of the slick commercialism of 21st century Britain.



Out one day

Alone always

The frogophant

Looked around dismayed

How will I meet

A friend with these feet

So big and floppy

Green and stompy

One great BIG hop!

There goes the swamp

One great grey hump

Amphibalump Pachyjump

Who made me

This wrong strange beast

Webbed with wrinkles

Trunk of green pimples

But I’m jealous

Said the little tick

Nestled by his ear

I think you’re a marvellous creature

Who else can hop

On land so far?

And swim so deep?

And crush a car?

And breathe through skin?

And suck things in?

And not forget

The smallest thing?

To listen to

A little tick

Who thinks you’re just fantastic

I hope you see

A small true friend

You have in me.

Frogophant smiled and

Stretched his trunk

Up to his ear

And told the tick

Well listen here

You live off me

An oddity

You cause no pain

And don’t complain

When I hop and crash and splash

We are not right

Both you and I

For we would make

The children cry

They would be scared

Of our strangeness

But some are stranger let’s pretend

So friends we are

And the best of friends

Because of our difference.

© Jennifer Winterburn