Tag Archives: Peter Street

Peter Street’s Natural World Poetry: Earth Talks

Adviser Peter Street was diagnosed with autism six years ago. At 70, Street believes his incredible life is in large part thanks to his autism. A qualified Arboriculturist and environmentalist who writes on Green issues, his book Trees Will Be Trees was published with Shoestring Press. He launched his last book, Listening to The Dark, at the Albuquerque Lit Festival, where he appeared during a tour of Midwest America funded by Professor Fred Whitehead, retired. Preeta Press published his memoir: Hidden Depths: Life and Loves of A Young Gravedigger. Street was recently interviewed with the BBC “1800 Seconds on Autism” and Readers Digest interviewed him about his work as someone with five successful poetry books with an international readership. John Harris, in his Guardian Weekend stated, “Peter Street was the most interesting person I have ever interviewed.”

Even when Street writes of the wars of men, a strong current of the natural runs through his poetry. Below, are two poems previously published in Thumbing From Lipik to Pakrac, by Waterloo Press.


Trigger Happy

They were trees being trees
minding their own business
on the corner next to the swimming pool
in Lipik

Christ’s sake, just standing
on the corner
until snipers blew
their tops out

target practice,
keeping their eye in
there were trees

and there were bodies
all over the place
you should have seen it

on second thoughts


Dunscar Cenotaph 

                                for Thomas Edgar Street
Pals, all of them
buried there right in front of us
underneath “Keep Off The Grass”,
as if they’ve been carried here
from where ever they fell
for me and dad

who, every time we stand here
on the edge, holds his black trilby
tight to his chest

trying to tell me
about his trench
and something or other
about some gas

I almost lose balance
and stumble
into their sacred ground
on top of them


In his latest collection, Earth Talks (forthcoming by Caparison Press), Peter Street addresses what amounts to a war against the natural world. “The book is about a parliament of flowers coming together to talk about the harm humans have caused over the centuries- but it’s also about the advent of climate change,” says Street. “The plants in the past have been silent bystanders- but now that has come to an end – they think it’s time for action.”

About Earth Talks, Caron Freeborn, poet and university lecturer says, “In some ways, this is different from Street’s other work: more overtly politicized, less filled with people, and yet many of the same things occur: spare, usable language; the sound(s) of natural speech condensed to drive the poetry; attention to the power of white space. Anyone engaging with this book will leave it more informed; as William Carlos Williams said: ‘It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there’. We all die miserably for want of what is found in Peter Street’s deceptively simple yet rigorous work. Everything natural is beautiful and itself and a metaphor at the same time; everything is dangerous and true ‘remembering those poor beetles / who tested the waters and teased the millions of elms into suicide / even then we were still ignored’. This is a book we all need to read.”

Saying No to The Icebergs

Sand Sedge    Carex arenaria 

like all families we have fought

put it behind us
an army is washing
towards us

waves of them
from land of ice and water
we have to be ready

or be washed away

come and stand with us
here next to my triangular stems
shields against their salt-burn

we have to slow those waves down

take the battle to them   here
on these dunes
Sand Sedges are natural warriors

we take root   colonise
safe in numbers
know what we have to do
are you with us

Congratulations to Writing for Peace Adviser Peter Street on the completion of this latest powerful collection, Earth Talks, by Caparison Press. The book and ebook can be preordered for £6, plus postage, by contacting Peter at peter.street3@googlemail.com

Exciting Writing for Peace Publishing News

December 2nd, 2019

DoveTales logoWe are thrilled to announce that, due to popular demand, Writing for Peace will continue the annual tradition of publishing a print edition of DoveTales, An International  Journal of the Arts in addition to our twice annual DoveTales Online. Our 2019 DoveTales Anthology will be available for purchase beginning next week, featuring Guest Editor Patricia Jabbeh Wesley’s One World, One People summer edition, including contributors from all over the globe, and the winners of our 2019 Young Writers Contest. Coming Monday, December 9th, the 2019 DoveTales Anthology makes the ideal holiday gift!

Copyright © 2019 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.

Flora and Fauna, by Peter Street

Peter Street, Writing for Peace AdvisePeter Street’s latest poetry collection, Listening to the Dark, explores war through the point-of-view of wildflowers.

You may not be surprised to learn the assassins of this war are Convolvulus Arvensis (field bindweed), but if you were pleased to see bright yellow blossoms splattered across the neighboring pastures, you may find the true nature of Buttercups Ranunculus acris deeply shocking.




Copperas Lane, Haigh Hall, Wigan, England, 2012

“Plant geneticists are finding that plants can communicate with each other as well as with insects by coded gas exhalations.”
~James Donahue – Living Universe


Rumex obtusifolius

Listening to the Dark, by Peter Street, dock leaves Rumex obtusifolius

Rumex obtusifolius (dock leaves)

Dock Leaves

Dozens of docks
making their way down
through fields
to a meeting place

in the front meadow. Stop
wave and cheer

buttercups and hemlocks
leading lines of wild flowers
down Copperas Lane

towards Haigh Hall
where regiments
of dandelion seeds
are parachuting in……
Taraxacum officinale

Listening to the Dark, by Peter Street, Taraxacum official (dandelion)

Taraxacum official (dandelion)

First To Speak

for all dandelions

I am a dandelion

Yes, one of those who feel
we have more to offer
than this tarmac they like
so much.

It’s why I’m here
to see about a peace deal,
their last chance – so to say

before it gets really serious.
Ok, mistakes have been
on both sides, but while

they are trying to kill us all …..

well, it’s like this:
we are a big family
with lots of friends

who are also losing patience.
This is their last chance

Urtica dioica

Open Floor

for All Stinging Nettles

Honest we have tried
our very best to keep out
of their way

we know and respect
how much they like to be in charge
At first we tried hiding
behind old farm machinery

then it was round the back
of rundown sheds
and in dark corners
but it somehow

never quite seemed enough

So we thought it might
now this is only a suggestion
might be worth getting together

call it a new beginning
with dock leaf as a go between.
What do you think?
Ranunculus acris




Playtime is over

It’s finally come down
to giving them a taste

of who we really are

their sheep and cattle
took notice when we first
burned their tongues
not forgetting their stomachs

they now leave us alone

No it’s gone way past anything
called reasonable
we need to act now before
they destroy us all

so, who will second this motion

for all of our roots
from all of our families
to creep out of sight

just below the
surface of this world
and take over?
Plantago major



Please, listen before you go
getting here has taken
millions of years –
we cannot throw that away.

This is not who we are,
we are the chosen ones
healers – not warmongers

you must say no to this motion.

Confusion is getting around
some of the grasses
are sharpening their blades

the hemlocks are being loaded
with more and more poisons
this is getting out of hand

please don’t second this motion
we are better than this

let’s give them one last chance
Wishful Thinkers
Bellis perennis


to all lawn daisies

We will stand up
and be counted. Yes,
all the daisies in all the world
are making their way here

to this spot crowding this lawn
before Wigan
here at the side of
Banks Street Chapel

where in our hundreds –
thousands maybe we will say
no to war.  If Bolton is difficult

then wherever you are
stand up and be counted
and say no to this madness!
Convolvulus arvensis 

Field Bindweed


You buttercups are all the same
we know you hate
all two hundred and fifty
of our family.

Jealous are we?

Because no one would suspect
who we are and what we do –
it’s our beauty you know

from being in the lanes
relaxed, frightened of no one –
this goads you doesn’t it

having to ask us for help

we want to hear it come on
admit – you cannot do
what we do

what we have always done:

your dirty work in choking
the slow death out of all those
you despise because they are

So who is it this time
daises, dandelions, streams
fences who or what?
Symphytum officinale

Comfrey (nip-bone)

Aye many a time
I bandaged myself
around their broken bones

after they had been clog
or bare knuckle fighting
all for  the prize of a crust

no myself and my family
are menders of hurt
we do not do war

maybe yourselves need
some bandaging
why don’t you come

and see us sometime
we are always here
and there’s no charge
Centaurea cyanus


blank spacefor Sue Bell

We gave them blue
as much as they wanted
free for ever with no contracts

then in a wisdom we didn’t understand
they tried to poison or burn us out

but going to war is not who
we are maybe it’s about
starting again another go.

Would showing them
a world without colour help?

We could get some friends round
for a fancy knees up
but with no colour and no fun

because that’s how it would be

no for us cornflowers
war is never an option
Fallopia japonica

Japanese knotweed

No colours no fancy knees up
You’ll have us all crying
we’re talking big boys
stuff now

that’s higher in the scheme
of everything  this is what we do
it’s us or them

Look they have been here
in a flicker of time
and already trying

their best to destroy themselves
and us this is survival
so let’s help them on their way

see we can be generous
and yes
we are going to war
Digitalis purpurea


Hello! Is anyone listening?

Yes, I’m a volunteer steward
on this my first conference
so can you all please calm down

and tell me how else

to get your attention
and yes, I’m sorry
if ringing my bells
nearly burst your eardrums

but how else am I going to get you
all heading down Copperas Lane
in single file
behind the hemlocks?
Epilobium angustifolium

Listening to the Dark, by Peter Street, Epilobium angustifolium (willow herb)

Epilobium angustifolium (willow herb)

Rosebay willowherb (Pioneer species)

Carry on kid bout time
wi had sum yung blood
at these things

bells don’t bother us
in fact nowt at all
bothers us willow herb

bar snotty noses
down in that Haigh Hall
meadow wonting war

wiv sin it dun it
survivd it weer not calld
fireweed fa nowt ya know

wars got us noweer
wots lackin  here
is sum common sense

down theer fa dancin
up here fa thinkin
war indeed

they wont their arses kickin’
weer off wam
is anyone cumin?
Carex arenaria 

Sand Sedge

Saying No To The Icebergs

Like all families we have fought

for all our sakes
that is now behind us
there’s an army washing towards us

waves of them
from their land of ice and water
a taster they’re calling it

in case it’s more than that
like wanting to take back

we are not responsible for this

but we have to be ready –
otherwise we will all
be washed away

none of us will survive.
This where our fight really starts
come and stand with us
Listening To The Dark, by Peter StreetPeter Street’s new collection, “Listening To The Dark”, was just released by Penniless Press Publications.  In his latest collection, Peter reflects on the arguments for/against a war with the humans and their ignorance regarding global warming. Says Peter, “This sixth collection covers my travels in Iceland, my life in and around the north west U.K., and the latest flora and fauna.”

Click here to order a copy of “Listening to the Dark” by Peter Street.

Peter Street, Writing for Peace Adviser

In Peter Street’s new ebook, “Rite of Passage”, published by Natterjack, he writes about his experiences as a grave-digger.

“Grave-digging was hazardous work in the1960s. There was very little machinery: graves were still largely dug by spade. There were no Health-and-Safety rules. Opening up a grave, after however many years, to inter a new member of the family, was anything but healthy or safe.” ~Peter Street

Click here to purchase a copy of “Rite of Passage” by Peter Street.

About Writing for Peace Adviser, Peter Street

Peter Street, Writing for Peace Advisor

Peter Street, National and International Poet, was born in Wigan in 1948. He is a qualified Arborist and has previously worked as a forester, a Mediterranean chef, and gravedigger/exhumer. Street has published five previous poetry collections. His first, Out Of The Fire (spike books) was nominated for the 1993 Forward prize. The same year, I.T.V. television broadcast a twelve minutes Remembrance Sunday Special about his time as a war poet during the Bosnian/Croatian conflict. Learn more about Peter Street here.

Writing for Peace News

Writing for Peace Young Writers' ContestThe Writing for Peace 2014 Young Writers Contest is officially open! Deadline is March 1st, 2014. Our prestigious Judges Panel includes Robin Black, fiction; Dinty W. Moore, nonfiction; and David Mason, poetry. Check out our complete guidelines here.

Our 2013 contest reached students in 21 countries, we hope to double the number of entries in 2014. (Meet our 2013 winners here!) Help us spread the word to schools across the globe. Email editor@writingforpeace.org to learn how your school can receive free bookmarks for participating students.

Call for Submissions!

DoveTales, a publication of Writing for PeaceWriting for Peace is accepting submissions for our 2014 Issue of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. The theme of our second journal is contrast. Check out our submission guidelines here. Purchase a copy of our 2013 “Occupied” Issue here.

Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.


Tourist Attraction, by Peter Street

Sam Hamill, Writing for Peace AdviserCommemorating Ten Years of Poetic Resistance, PAW Post No. 25

During the month of February, Writing for Peace  commemorates the Tenth Anniversary of Poets Against the War with Daily PAW Posts from a host of contributors.

*Parental Guidance Warning –The poets featured during our February Daily PAW Posts write of war and its effect on the human heart. Writing for Peace has not censored these poems, and we encourage parents to review the content before sharing them with children.

To purchase a copy of POETS AGAINST THE WAR from Powell’s independent bookstore, click here.

Small Writing for Peace logo

Tourist Attraction

by Peter Street

We are sheep or slaves
walking in a long line,
towed by a man on his tractor
to a Police Station with its face
blown off.

He shouts “Stay on the tarmac –
everything else is landmined!”

We chug past without looking:
bright red swastikas and dicks
painted on white walls where family life
once sang out its parties, now piled up
in the front garden.

He points to Serbian cannons.
There’s a silence we’ve never heard before:

no birds, no cats, no dogs.

Peter Street, Writing for Peace AdvisorAbout Writing for Peace Adviser, Peter Street

He has published five previous poetry collections. His first, Out Of The Fire (spike books) was nominated for the 1993 Forward prize. The same year, I.T.V. television broadcast a twelve minutes Remembrance Sunday Special about his time as a war poet during the Bosnian/Croatian conflict. Street has also been seen on Zoom T.V.,  Rundrunk, Munich, Germany and Nederlandse programma Stichting ( NPS Holland).  His poetry has been broadcast on the World Service and he was poet in residence for B.B.C.’s Greater Manchester ” Who Cares?” and also the B.B.C. G.M.R. Arts program.  He won the Poetry Society’s Fish and Chip Placement. Street has been Writer-In Residence in many schools, colleges and prisons and at the International Youth Camp. In 207 Street wrote a series of poems for the highly successful Tony Bevan Catalogue. He is a qualified Arborist and has previously worked as a forester, a Mediterranean chef, and gravedigger/exhumer. Street is a recent recipient of a Royal Literary Fund Grant.


February Writing for Peace News:

All during the month of February, Writing for Peace is commemorating the Tenth Anniversary of Poets Against the War with a Daily PAW Post. If you are interested in arranging a reading this month in honor of Poets Against the War, please contact us with the details at editor@writingforpeace.org, and we will be happy to share your information on our site.

2013 Young Writers Contest

Contest Deadline is March 1st! The Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest is in full swing, with entries coming in from all over the globe.  The contest is open to writers of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction, for ages 13 to 19. Spread the word to young writers everywhere! You’ll find contest guidelines here.

DoveTales,  An International Journal of the Arts

The first issue of DoveTales will be released this month, featuring poets, writers, artists and photographers from all over the world.  We are also looking forward to seeing the winners of our 2012 Young Writers Contest in print. Watch our posts for news of the journal’s release. The new submission guidelines will go up on March 1st. Thank you for your support!



Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.


Our Writings Can Make a Difference, Poetry by Peter Street

Peter Street, Writing for Peace AdvisorOur Writings Can Make a Difference

by Peter Street

I think some people may mistakenly believe our writings cannot make a difference – well they are so wrong- my dear lord they are wrong.

I was so desperate to join Writing for Peace. It was something I had to do. It almost  seemed as important as breathing itself. Ok, that may be a little over the top, but I seriously believe writers can make a difference – that  is writers from all levels, and children. Yes, children – I went back to Croatia in 1996 to write for Scouting Magazine (over 21’s) and for the United Nation’s Refugee Agency about the therapy camps set up for children who had witnessed, among other things,  executions.  While we as adults didn’t get much from them in the way of conversation,  they were eager to talk to other young people from all parts of Europe. It was a case of young people talking and writing for young people who had similar experiences.

One of the reasons I went to the war as a poet was to write about the women and children there, because very few t.v. networks ( if any) were saying much about them. Here are three poems from my time in the Bosnian/Croatian conflict.


Thinner than thin, sexless,
no breast to milk her babies with,
the ones she’d pushed five miles
up through Sniper’s Alley

to this hotel (for Dignitaries),
her face gaunt, towards death,
floral dress a shroud.

In one hand she gripped
a plastic bag of custard, spuds,
chewed bones, while with
the other she begged for more
in good English.

I gave her ten Deutschmark,
two pounds of rice, a tin
of pilchards. She dropped
to her knees, sobbing.



Our wagons rock, jerk
through lines of pot-holes
a foot deep in a cinder path
where children walk barefoot.

It’s a ride down
into something I don’t understand;
a dog shelter where at least
one hundred families live,

who beg out their hands
and cough loud barking coughs.

Naked kids swapping boredom
for disease under a tap
that’s splashing cold silver
into mud pies.

Our interpreter – an English Lit. student, his family wiped out, is talking of Shelley in a waste land such as Eliot never saw.


Bomb Damage

Something was itching my eyes to stare
over at the machines.

Only I seemed to hear the bleeping
yet my whole family was standing there
and everyone who had ever lived,

the whole universe even,  all screaming
not to look. Yet the bleeping seemed

to bounce off every childhood picture
and get-well card
in the Zagreb hospital:
like a ball to my feet.

Then I made my mistake
and looked at a face,
a kind of no-face with holes for eyes
nose, mouth,

legs missing from the knees down
still stuck to all those bits of shrapnel somewhere, which banged her life   apart.
A little girl, bandaged

in mummy,  almost pretty.
Some nurse had taken an age
getting each lap perfect
so proud that when we look

we might still see a person,
someone whole.

Listening To The Dark, by Peter StreetPeter Street’s new collection, “Listening To The Dark”, was just released by Penniless Press Publications.  In his latest collection, Peter reflects on the arguments for/against a war with the humans and their ignorance regarding global warming. Says Peter, “This sixth collection covers my travels in Iceland, my life in and around the north west U.K., and the latest flora and fauna.”

Click here to order a copy of “Listening to the Dark” by Peter Street.

Get Involved:

Call for Submissions: The Writing for Peace Literary Journal, DoveTales is accepting poetry, fiction, essays, photography, and art. Find Submission guidelines here.

2013 Young Writers Contest: Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction divisions, ages 13-19. Find guidelines here.

Volunteer as a Writing for Peace Mentor: Learn more and apply here.


Next time…

Veronica Golos, Writing for Peace Advisor

A Word from Veronica Golos

Don’t miss our next post, when we’ll hear from Writing for Peace Adviser, poet Veronica Golos. Veronica Golos is the author of Vocabulary of Silence (Red Hen Press, 2011), and winner of the 2011 New Mexico Book Award.

Learn more about Veronica here.

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Copyright © 2012 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.