New Beowulf Poems, A Reading, and A Margery Interview

At the end of last year I was absolutely delighted to have two more of my Beowulf poems published! The first, Her Wordhoard, was published by the marvellous online literary journal Bad Lilies: you can find it in issue ten Remembrances here. (The opening of the poem is in the screenshot below).

from ‘Her Wordhoard’ by Laura Varnam

I was also thrilled to have my poem ‘An Aefter Anum’ published in issue fourteen of the literary journal Banshee Lit. The opening of the poem is in the image below and it was inspired by thinking about grief as the emotion which is shared by all the women in the poem- the queens and, importantly, Grendel’s Mother.

from ‘An Aefter Anum’ by Laura Varnam

The title is taken from a line in the Father’s Lament passage in Beowulf which is beautifully translated by WE Leonard as ‘the lone one for the lost one’ (an means one / alone / sole and aefter means for / because of). It strikes me that despite Grendel’s Mother’s isolation in the poem, her grief binds her to the other women who also lose loved ones as a result of feuding (whether she knows it or not).


This month I did my first ever public poetry reading from my Beowulf Poetry collection at the Gender and Medieval Studies conference at Birkbeck, University of London. I’m enormously grateful to the lovely audience, the GMS committee for having me (Isabel, Elma, and Kierri), and my partners-in-crime Laura Kalas and Robert Shearman for their support and encouragement. Here I am ready to perform!

Thanks to my friend Teresa for the photo! (I’m clearly living my best life!)

If you’d like to read more of my published Beowulf poetry, there are links here.


At the conference I also gave a paper on a wonderful modern poetry sequence inspired by the fifteenth-century mystic Margery Kempe: ‘margerykempething’ by Pattie McCarthy, from her book Wifthing. I’m very grateful to Pattie for her generosity in chatting to me about the collection when I was writing my paper. I really recommend Wifthing, it’s a fascinating reading of Margery Kempe and her Book and I hope to write more about it in the future!

This week also saw the publication of Victoria MacKenzie’s new novel inspired by Margery Kempe and Julian of Norwich’s meeting in 1413: For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy on My Little Pain (Bloomsbury, 2023). I was so pleased to interview Victoria about the novel for the Margery Kempe Society website. You can read the interview here and I really recommend the novel!

I’ve also been writing poetry about Margery (and Julian) as part of a new creative-critical academic project and I hope to be able to share some of it soon!

Thank you for reading and to everyone who has been so supportive of my poetry. It means such a lot to me!

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