Charlotte Wetton, 2018 Recipient

Charlotte Wetton

Charlotte Wetton is a poet based in West Yorkshire. She started writing poetry at 11 in a school creative writing class (a poem about chocolate biscuits) and hasn’t stopped since. She bought out a spoken word album ‘Body Politic’, in 2012, and is published in Stand, Mslexia and Staple. Her first pamphlet ‘I Refuse to Turn into a Hat-Stand’ won the Michael Marks 2017 award. She regularly performs at local and national literary festivals and poetry nights.


I Refuse to Turn Into a Hatstand, Calder Valley Poetry, 2017
Body Politic, (spoken word album), Dead Ink Books, 2012


Selected Poems from Recent Work

Slave Lodge, Cape Town

At the Slave Museum, they have made a column of names
pespex, eight feet tall

Domingo of Bengal
Sijmen Ham van Madagascar
Magdalena Smith

the historians have come with their tweezers and soft brushes

Maria van de Kaap
Mira van Java

newly forged names with a hasp and a hinge
circular names that lead back to the lodge

Moses van Macassar
January of Malabaar

pick up a white man’s story - squeeze it
harder - scour his account books, floor plans, his last will and testament

Maria van Ceijlon
Titus van Mallebaar

crack it open and the smallest Russian doll tumbles out
black female - bequeathed furniture, various household items

Diana van Krankebaar
Cornelia van Nan

the historians are clothing the stripped - their coat-hanger names

Manuel van Negombo
Susanna van Semesia
Johannes van Batavia
unnamed of Madagascar
no name of Angola
no name of Angola


Oxenhope Moor

Up here the wind batters, punch-bag steady,
withers my lips
cradles me skull-cap cold.

The wind wants my bones,
clavicle, fibular, femur.
It’ll flay me, peel and pare me, already white
in the wind-burn gale.
It wants my ribs beached high - to play them
knife-carrying harpist,
wants them whitening, bleached like the grasses,

everything sepiaed, washed out, jaded,
it’s wearing you out,
hunker down, Mammal, the lichen whispers,
see how we cling close, layer ourselves flat,
rock skim, stain spread.
It leaves only the low growing, low built:
causeystones, leats, rail tracks,
leaves the snug-tight, the dug in deep
as a scar: cross-cuts, flues, watercourses
-deeper –
bell pits, shafts, adits,
disembowelled moor-land
hacked up in spoil heaps.

Lie down on this sprung floor, hollow it out,
feel your heat leach, salts depleting,
feel the heather’s tiny fingers knot you down,
rain soft and insidious.
You’re cooling, Mammal,
because the wind is a taker
ventriloquist and trickster
sings tinnitus, spin you away,
it’s a snatcher and a sneak-thief
it takes sheep
hides their bones away
in bog hole soggy, laughing with one jawbone,
ferrets its fingers into small gaps, winkles in and out
searching, always searching
for what it lost
constant faithful prayer.

Because this is how the wind likes it, nothing higher than heather
just the two plates of the firmaments, bird wing stitched.
It likes thin walls, membranes flung up
a cold-water tent gaping the hills, hunger song roaring.
Rain soft and insidious.

It wants gritstone bones: lintels, chimney-breasts
pummelled in slow assault, flattening, beaten,
levelling smelt-mills, chapels, farm-steads;
takes back lodging shops, toll houses, cottages,
breaks the backbone, cracks and caves it
plucking the scurf of stone slates till the flake and fall.
Rain soft and insidious.

Then walls: moss-knit, root-webbed,
a humped up, warp-turf graveyard of somebody’s labour.
Stone enclosures broken
boundaries broken, spilled and tumbled
sheep-tracks trickling, the wind
rubbing out lines on the map,
whole fields, farms, their stone’s slow morph
shape-shift, drift
into grouse-butts, sheep-pens,
cairns collect
constant faithful prayer. 



Other writings:

Video recordings of Charlotte Wetton's work:


A brief comment from Charlotte Wetton about being in Greece, in 2018

My two weeks in Greece were a university education, a writing retreat and a holiday all rolled into one. To have a whole two weeks for your mind to grow is a rare privilege. New people, new places, lectures, museums, historical sites, cultural exchange: to be genuinely open to learning is the most authentic of human experiences. For two weeks I was a weather-vane and a lightening conductor. The kindness and generosity of guides, poets and academics was humbling; as was the genuine warmth and openness of the Greek people. This openness - both to stray jewels of inspiration and to other people - is what I hope to hold on to. And being introduced as ‘our awarded poets’ for a fortnight does no harm to the poetic self-esteem either!