Nigel Kent

Nigel Kent is a twice Pushcart Prize nominated poet (2019 and 2020) and reviewer who lives in rural Worcestershire. He is an active member of the Open University Poetry Society, managing its website and occasionally editing its workshop magazine.

He has been shortlisted for several national competitions and his poetry has appeared in a wide range of anthologies and magazines. Some of his work has been translated by Mariana Zavati Gardner for the literary journals, Banchetful and Pro Saeculum

In 2019 Hedgehog Poetry Press published his first collection, ‘Saudade’, following the success of his poetry conversations with Sarah Thomson, ‘Thinking You Home’ and ‘A Hostile Environment’. In August 2020 Hedgehog Poetry Press published his pamphlet, Psychopathogen, which was nominated for the 2020 Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlets and made the Poetry Society’s Winter List, 2020.

You can follow him on Twitter @kent_nj or find out more by visiting his  website:


There’s a kindness in cataracts 
that wraps a veil around
this creased and crumpled face
and loses this wasted frame
in cloud of mist that will not lift.
In the mirror in my head
the light’s still sharp and bright:
it is summer and I see
a young girl’s made-up face
framed by a chestnut bob,
her lips miming to ‘Sweet Caroline’,
volume cranked up to nine, 
taking sips of Babycham
and swinging hips in perfect time.
She floats across the floor 
and places both hands flat
against the silvered glass
as though it were a window
she might push open,
and hitching up her skirts 
climb through to join me.
Yet no matter how hard she tries
she stays locked inside. 

Seeking the genie

When her parents bought her
her first pair of pointes,
she wouldn’t let them out of  sight: 
She’d go to sleep each night
stroking their silken sides
as though that might free 
the genie trapped inside.

Yet despite the many hours she tried 
he would not materialize  
and show her how to glide 
like the swan upon the lake;
she feared she’d forever be 
the ugly duckling 
splashing in the shallows.

Until the day her friend prised 
them from her hands
and despite her protestations
and calls to hand them back,
smashed the shoes against the wall,
and bent the shanks until they cracked.
She called it ‘breaking in’,
said, ‘It’s what real dancers do’
then tossed them back to her.

Afterwards they proved 
compliant partners 
with whom she learned at last
to float across the floor,
but they’d lost their lustre in her eyes
and it could not be revived
for something had died that day
in the wreckage of those shoes.

The power of flowers

He finds an old brogue, 
brittle and fragile
as a chrysalis shell, abandoned
fifty years ago this week, 
when he’d walked barefoot
across the seething fields;
when his lungs had filled with 
hope, as though it were
the sweet-smelling smoke
that curled and coiled
from the lips of the crowd
rippling with the rhythms
rolling from the stage;
when the mastery of Jimi’s riffs
had muzzled the call of duty
howling in his head;
when he’d learned to fashion 
flowers from Old Glory’s stars
which he’d placed, smiling,
behind protesting ears;
when he’d lain down to watch 
those psychedelic shapes unfold 
on the grey drapes of dusk,
drawn tightly against 
the window to the East,
where two million butterflies
shrivelled in the flame-filled skies

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