A Tribute to a major Berwick Poet – Vincenza Holland

Rachel Holland, Vincenza’s daughter, will read from her mother’s new collection of poems at the festival’s Poetry Open Mic session on 19th October 10:00 am – 11:30 am in the Visitor Centre (upstairs).

This is a FREE Event. No booking is required but please note that this session is upstairs and there is no lift available.

Tenancy – a new collection of poems by Vincenza Holland

Rachel Holland writes:

This collection of her poems is being posthumously published to allow Vincenza’s poetry to reach a wider audience and to provide a memorial to her life. My mother was actively involved in the writing and reading community in the North east for many years.

Following her death in March 2018, her poetry archive, writings and reference material were accepted into the Special Collections and Archives held at the Robinson Library at Newcastle University.

I have enjoyed putting this collection together and it is published in association with the Centre for Literary Arts at Newcastle University. I am very proud of my mother’s achievement and I think she would be very glad that this new collection will be launched in Berwick where so many of her friends live and where she and her family lived for so many years.

After Elizabeth

Every day Dante Gabriel conversed

With his beasts, hoping to surprise

The sly particular one who had

Netted and caged her fluttering ghost.

I have been clever (he said), guessing

At such unlikely hosts for your soul.

You were always perverse and so I collect

Aspects of you, feed them, keep them warm.

An opossum is my table’s sleeping centrepiece.

In the scullery an armadillo gouges at lath

And plaster, grubbing for exits.  I take

Laudanum for my pain, trim the raccoon’s claws.

Two owls roost on a high beam,

Their circled eyes devour me, ravenous

For offal, dead mice.  A white peacock

Swoons in the parlour.  My fingers stroke

Its milky throat and breast, press the answering

Pulse.  It has gone to earth under

The sofa.  Chloral helps me sleep…

Soon… I think… it will


Paperback: 66 pages, 36 poems with a short introduction and a biography. Price £6.

ISBN: 978-1-9999357-4-0

Publication date: 19th October 2019.

Praise for Vincenza’s Tenancy

Vincenza Holland’s conversational voice and precise language draw the reader in to share her reflections. Her poems cast a clear, observant eye on life – characters and situations, memories and flights of fancy – with surprising details and flashes of wit never failing to bring her subjects alive.

Cynthia Fuller

I have a photograph of Vincenza wearing a t-shirt she’d had made emblazoned with the words ‘INNOCENT BYSTANDER’. She had another that said ‘MEMBER OF THE PUBLIC’. This is a clue to her style on and off the page – economical, witty, humanitarian, surprising, modest and mischievous. Reading her poems again, I’m struck by the sure-footed elegance of her rhythm, the clarity of every single line. She came late to writing poetry but it seemed to arrive perfectly measured, distilled from years of wry observation and her far-ranging imagination.

Linda France

Mike Fraser