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Ellen Phethean Hom The Ropes: Poems to hold on to
Ellen Phethean

Welcome to the website of Ellen Phethean, poet, playwright and editor and co-founder of Diamond Twig press. Ellen's first full collection of poetry, Breath was shortlisted for the London New Poetry Award. It is now back in print, from Red Squirrel Press, who also published her second collection, Portrait of the Quince as an Older Woman, and have now published her new book, Ren and the Blue Hands.

Smokestack books published Wall, Ellen's first novel for teenagers written in poems; her second novel, Hom, was published in installments on this website. She says "It's unusual in that it is written in poems but it uses dialogue, monologue and dialect and is meant to read like mini installments of a novel." Read more about Hom here, or use the monthly archives to start at the beginning.

Every month, Ellen selects a poem that she finds wonderful, interesting, challenging, and fresh: in September she travels to Wonderland with Caroline Hawkridge, winner of the 2018 Julia Darling Travel Fellowship.

Ren and the Blue Hands

Cover art from 'Ren and the Blue Hands, by Tessa Green

In a world on the cusp of change, Ren, a Blue Hand dyer, is plucked from the Dye Sheds to become Lady's maid up at Barrow Hall. Excitement turns to uncertainty as her mistress Lady Lilac entangles her in a plot which threatens the Shebble Dye industry that has supported Ren's family and the Islands for generations. When the secret organisation, the Mazards, are exposed, Ren must think and act for herself. Torn between helping the conspirators, loyalty to her roots and her love for fellow conspirator Bark, Ren is driven by passion into danger, where right and wrong are hard to tell, and only a terrible event can help her see more clearly.

Inspired by real historical events, but set in the fictional 16th Century Calico Isles, Ellen Phethean's YA novel, Ren and the Blue Hands, was longlisted for the Times/Chicken House Children's Fiction Competition 2012: "A vividly imagined historical background, and interesting mixture of politics and romance. Ren is a courageous female hero whom readers will empathise with and root for."

Ellen talks about the book in her diary - and she was interviewed by Kat the BookNerd (@Kat_thebooknerd) as part of a virtual blog tour ahead of the 2016 UKYA and Children's Extravaganza.

Ren and the Blue Hands was published by Postbox Press (an imprint of Red Squirrel Press) on 1st November 2016.

More information about Ellen Phethean here.

Politics & Poetry

Keith Morris Memorial Concert DVD cover

The Keith Morris Memorial Concert: Politics and Poetry at Gateshead Old Town Hall won the 'Performance of the Year' award in the Journal Culture Awards 2016.

The concert, on June 7th 2015 at Gateshead Old Town Hall, was recorded live and features dozens of musicians, a brace of poets and a whole lot of politics!

The CD and DVD are now available to purchase online, at £6 each or £10 bought together. Use the drop-down lists to say how many of each you want, we’ll do the sums. There is a flat charge of £1.50 per order for postage and packing.

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Diamond Twig Press

Diamond Twig is a small press, launched in 1992 by Ellen Phethean and the late Julia Darling to publish vibrant new writing by women in the North East of England. They both passionately believed in encouraging new women writers. With her work and her expansive personality, Julia inspired and encouraged writers wherever she went. April 2015 was the 10th anniversary of Julia's death, and Ellen asked poets - women and men, new writers and experienced published writers - to contribute a poem to Julia's memory, and write a few words about how she inspired them. These poems are being published online throughout the year in our new Inspired by Julia pages.

Inviolate, by Sara Park

Diamond Twig publications include twenty titles in the Branch Lines series: pocket sized books in stylish black-and-white livery, launching new women writers into print. In October 2011 the twentieth title was added to the Branchlines collection, Inviolate by Sara Park, edited by Kathleen Kenny from Sara's extensive writings, and published posthumously in her memory. At the same time, Red Squirrel Press published Sara's short story collection, Edith Popkiss Laughed Out loud.

Read more about Inviolate by Sara Park, including information on how to order a copy; or read Liver Sense, a poem from Inviolate which was October's Poem of the Month.

Diamond Twig's previous publication, The Ropes, an anthology of new poetry for young people, was shortlisted for the CLPE Poetry Award. Read Ellen's account of the awards ceremony in her online diary.

Read more about The Ropes: Poems to hold on to, including how to order a copy.


Use the diamonds to find your way around this site: and if you can't find what you are looking for, check the Site Map, which includes a full list of our authors, and our publications, which we hope you'll buy.

Diamond Twig regrets that we are unable to accept new submissions, until further notice.

Diamond Twig publications are supported by lottery funding from The Arts Council England, North East. This website is sponsored by Samara James, diamond engagement rings specialists, Marlows Diamond Rings, and by Purely Diamonds, specialists in Eternity Rings.

Photo © Hogg Photography.

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Last updated 2nd September 2018.

Supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England