This page: Lip Reading by Fiona Ritchie Walker Broken Biscuits by June Portlock A Kind of Mink, by Heather Young White Lies by Jeanne Macdonald The Sugar Factory by Ann O'Neill

Cover of Lip Reading

Lip Reading by Fiona Ritchie Walker,
ISBN 978-0-9520090-7-8


It's the tingle of a first kiss, the sizzle of a lit match,
the taste of butter. Better then pistachios or red wine,
on a par with good coffee, that first sip.

It sings like a hymn, strikes a chord,
races up and down my xylophone spine,
lingers on lips, flavouring all the ever afters.

A good poem surpasses sex,
is even better than eating chocolate.

"Lip Reading is engaging and pick-up-able... reassuringly postcard-sized - neither too worthy and intellectual-looking nor (the other danger) too "dumbed-down" ... deliciousness that works for the reader ... It made me think of that entry in Virginia Woolf's diary about "making sense of haddock" .... very inspiring series."

Selima Hill

"Reading Fiona's poetry is to taste the pleasure of words, hear the landscapes she's visited. A delicate yet vivid invitation to the senses."


Fiona Ritchie Walker

Fiona Ritchie Walker

... is originally from Montrose, Angus but has lived in NE England since the early 1990s. As well as her Diamond Twig collection, Lip Reading, her work has appeared in magazines and anthologies, with her second collection Garibaldi's Legs recently published by Iron Press.

Her short stories have now been publisheded in Ellipsis 2, the new three-author series from Comma Press, which also features story sequences from Anne Stevenson and Polly Clark.

Read more about Fiona Ritchie Walker on her own website.

She says:

"Such a lot has happened since Lip Reading was published that it's hard to know where to begin. I've spent a sizeable chunk of the last five or so years writing poetry and sending it off to magazines, competitions and anthologies. A little tip here is to make the sending off your goal. When that's your aim you feel a sense of achievement, you can put a big tick in the book that charts the life of each poem (it's a must to remember where they've been sent and when.) If it gets published or wins a prize, that's a bonus.

Two years on the MA in Writing Poetry at Newcastle University helped me to create enough work for my second collection, Garibaldi's Legs, published by Iron Press. I thought after Lip Reading that the sense of amazement at seeing the poems together as a collection might wear off, but it hasn't.

The concentration on poetry also meant that, at the end of it, I was ready to wean myself back into other forms of writing. Over the last couple of years I've had a go at radio plays, one-act plays for the stage and short stories. My first stage play was performed in Scotland and was an exciting, but unnerving experience. Another tip - find out where the toilets are before you get shown to your seat. The sudden realisation that people had spent months interpreting my sketchy ideas and learning my words meant I soon had my favourite cubicle.

But seriously, Kaims Players, if you end up reading this page, thank you everyone for creating such a fantastic stage set and making the characters so real.

For the last year, short stories have been my favourite form of writing and reading. I received a Northern Promise Award from New Writing North which provided a year's mentorship in short stories with Sara Maitland. It was such a valuable experience and I now have a collection.

After having a short story published in Newcastle Stories 1, I began working with Ra Page at Comma Press who will published a sequence of my short stories in Ellipsis 2, with Anne Stevenson and Polly Clark.

Some people may have noticed that there has been no mention of a novel. Well, a London agent read my short story in the Bracket anthology (Comma Press) and asked to see my novel. While this was a great boost, I had to admit that I didn't have one to send to him - but it has made me think about the possibility of writing one.

Of course, one of the problems is time to write. I still work full-time and rely on an uncomplaining family, low standards in housework and trying to con my husband and sons into cooking more often than me, which often works.

Once I sit down to write, four or five hours can pass without me really noticing. I love my writing world, but I still like to travel, go to the gym three times a week and fit in as many poetry readings, films and the theatre as I can, so life is never dull.

* * *

What's the best and the worst about being published by Diamond Twig? Well, the best must be seeing that familiar black and white format and realising that yes, it's my work that's inside!

"When Lip Reading was published in 1999, it suddenly hit me that I'd released my work in a very public way - especially when it began to be reviewed by people like Sean O'Brien and Selima Hill. Yes, it's great when they like your poems, but ouch! you've got to be ready for criticism that everyone else can read too. Someone who read one of the reviews later wrote in a website discussion group that they would have stopped writing if they'd received feedback like that.

Fiona Ritchie Walker, aged 5

"Other plus points in being a "Diamond Twiglet" (as a friend called me) - having one of the poems published in the Independent and hearing that Lip Reading had sold out and was being reprinted - a first for Diamond Twig!

"And finally, maybe the strangest, the scariest, the totally off-the-wall thing about being published by Diamond Twig is the number of people who recognise me from the cover photo. In case you've not seen it, let me explain. It's me. Aged five. Wearing an old duffle coat. Short, nondescript hair. And I'm pulling a face..."

Two poems from Garibaldi's Legs, Strip and Tie-Dyed T-Shirt, have appeared as Diamond Twig Poems of the Month, as does her poem Inside the Kist.