Emily Harrison: A Selection of Poems

With collages by Holly Smith & Charlotte Hampshaw

Emily Harrison is a poet, theatre-maker and performer based in Cornwall. As a self-professed "loud-mouth Geordie, sick of the patriarchy," we were so fortunate hear to her read her work at Cherry Zest's poetry night 'A Safe Space for Words'. Her stirring poem, 'Ode to South Shields', was immersive and riveting, painting a vivacious picture of the coastal town at the mouth of the River Tyne. If you would like to hear this poem, check out Emily's page in our Cherry directory. The following poems delve into themes like womxnhood, the ocean, desire and self-expression, and are accompanied by collages by Holly Smith and Charlotte Hampshaw. Holly and Charlotte are both poets and artists who use collage as a creative medium to examine the spaces between words and aesthetics. Their work shown here was inspired by Emily's poetry.

'Untitled' by Emily Harrison

And "summer days seem so far away" - a collage by Holly Smith

Almost ready, but not quite there  A tower of strength   With a bowed stare  Dancing pillars.   Frame and enthrall   With provisional support  Till you outgrow them all  Heart split, is two is better than one?  One side looks back  You’re guarded, twisted  Lessening your might  Distorting your wonder   Shying from flight   The enduring fight  Of optimism, pessimism   Goes on for so long  But this womxn is strong, no more like resilient See strength measures weight Heavy lifting's not the aim She enjoys being feminine That’s not the complaint Not maternal, but kind With spindle limbs Supporting strong mind

'The Tides, the Tides' by Emily Harrison

And "but this womxn is strong" - a collage by Holly Smith

The tides, the tides Flow into pastel coloured drives  Jungles of Palms growing neatly and wild The mizzle, the mist, sun graces my skin The greens, golds, pinks, blues of this terrain Our ecosphere, our land Owned and obtained Invaded, cultivated But largely untamed So small yet consuming You’ll never feel so free So many associations, liberation, connotations Not just the nuance of the sea A bubble, a ruse Like petrol filled puddles Pinks turn into dark purple hues

Crisp yellows and browns Reality sets in

Oozing, consuming

Surrounding the skin

Blues turn pale then fade into grey Time overwhelms Yet still, here you stay Bright crimson futures Burning to ash The deceptive warmth Ends with a crash The comfort was

fleeting A false economy The beauty of tinted rose  Snatched from in front of me The tides, the tides Still wane and rise Whilst evergreens and palms 

Stand strong side by side Invaded, cultivated Does that mean free?

So many associations, liberations, connotations Alongside the nuance of the sea

'The Wedding Photograph' by Emily Harrison

And "the wedding photograph: day and night" collages by Charlotte Hampshaw


Weeping willows, roses and ferns  Metal spools, wheels and curves  Sparks flew, to light the engine  Low millage, slowly creeped  till breaks screeched and a knee bent  this was just the beginning   of that classic ‘happy end’  

a white halter neck and flower crown  the snapshot provides a moment  documenting posed smiles all around


Avoided glances, intense stares 

My mouth  Stowed shivers encapsulate breath 

I feel your dark  Your light  Too timid for verse  But I feel you  Piercing  Glaring  Encapsulating Deep thuds surround your touch My mind empties as our dance begins


Words: Emily Harrison

Images: Holly Smith and Charlotte Hampshaw

Editor: Charlotte Hampshaw

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