Featured poet

Peter Phelps


Peter Howard Phelps was born and educated at Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Although his principal interest in the arts is painting and associated work, he has written poetry of varying style spasmodically since childhood - most not retained, although more recent items have.

Peter's varied career began with Office Management / Accountancy and then changed to 'people orientated' work in Youth Service, Community Centres, Adult Education and Leisure Management.

He has written and produced plays for young people, taught art at Farmhouse School near Wendover for two years, and lectured on art appreciation within the Adult Education services of several local authorities and the WEA.

From 1968 to 1972 Peter managed a large Teesside leisure centre called the Thornaby Pavilion, and founded the Pavilion Poets. This group met regularly, staged public readings and published the work of members.

His final post was Director of Leisure Services for 16 years for a large Borough in South Wales. The area included the towns of Bridgend, Porthcawl and Maesteg, three valley communities, and the Heritage Coast - so there was no time for his own practical work! In 1982 he was elected GB President of the Institute of Municipal Entertainment - which covers Local Authority concert halls, theatres, and arts.

Peter is now retired and settled in Higham Ferrers. He joined the FPAA early in 2007 and later was privileged to serve as President for two years. He is a founder member of the FPAA Poetry Group.
» Visit Peter's website

Peter talks about his poetry...

I don't write very much poetry, as my principal activity within the arts is painting. While the two subjects have connections, they differ in the amount of personal input that becomes evident to the reader or viewer. A painting will reveal what the artist thought or felt about the subject by means of reaction and presentation, in the hope that this will be conveyed to the viewer. A poet's work will also reveal these same elements - but additionally, will give more insight into the personality or nature of the poet because he (or she) uses everyday items (words) in a different manner from their everyday use.

The words of a poem usually appear in stanzas (verses) in a particular format (such as sonnet, ballad, riddle, limerick etc.), or they may be 'free form' - which is poetry with no obvious rhyme or metre (although there is often an underlying pattern). There are, indeed, many variants.

In my case I write poetry because I enjoy exploring and utilising words with their singular or collective capability - which is not as simple as might be thought. Its point, or purpose, may be to draw attention to something, to give a personal view, to transmit feeling, to inform or to question - and for me, the key to all this is WORDS. With poetry, the problem (and the fun) is - as Coleridge famously said - to achieve 'The best words in the best order'.

Regarding my own poetry, I can only say that I allow the subject or content to determine the style. For instance, a limerick will set its own format (there was a young lady from Rhyl... etc.). I usually allow a poem to 'grow' from initial ideas, and often regard the first attempt as a draft to be revised later - sometimes much later - when I might change only one word. Amendments may also spring from sudden 'eureka' moments, which can happen 'out of the blue', day or night. Many artists always have a sketch book handy - and for the same reasons, poets will often carry a notebook to record their thoughts.

Poem Growing

A useful poem as introduction at readings - especially non-poetry groups - as it mentions humorously effort and disappointment.

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This is not a poem decrying the validity of ownership; it deals with the current situation and habits. Also it bears in mind that we enter this world, and also leave it, with nothing - at any rate, nothing tangible. The end of the 5th stanza leads into a declaration of the worthlessness of material possessions in any other plane of existence. The poem concludes that we cannot possess people - even those that we love.

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Baron Road

A non-rhyming poem utilising a play on words

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Young Love

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The Big Bed

A 'pattern' poem.

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