Pennine Poets

Pauline Kirk

Pauline Kirk is an author, poet and critic. Seven novels and eleven collections of her own poetry have been published. Her latest collection, Time Traveller, was published by Graft Poetry (ISBN 978-0-9558400 £8.50).

Four of her novels have been written with her daughter as PJ Quinn (see below) and three have been published under her own name: Waters of Time (Century Hutchinson), The Keepers (Virago/LittleBrown), and the most recent, Border 7 (Stairwell Books). Border 7, was launched at the York International Women's Week and Literature Festivals. The Keepers is now available as an e-book on Kindle as are Foul Play and Poison Pen (written as PJ Quinn) See

Pauline is editor of Fighting Cock Press, and has also edited local history books and biographies, including her uncle’s wartime RAF letters, Thinking of You Always: The Letters of Cpl. Hill 1941-1945 (Stairwell Books/Fighting Cock Press ISBN 978-1-939269-36-2). Her poems, short stories and articles have appeared in a wide range of journals and anthologies. Born in Birmingham, she moved to York in 2002, via Australia, Essex, Berkshire and Leeds. As a performance poet, she has appeared at venues throughout the country, and broadcast on local radio and podcast. In 1996 she received a 'New Beginnings Award' from Yorkshire Arts to give up her 'day job' as a Senior Officer with Leeds Social Services. She now works as a writer and editor and leads creative writing groups, being shortlisted for the York Culture Award in 2018.

An audio book of Border 7 recorded by Pauline herself is available on Amazon Audible. In this companion novel to The Keepers, she captures the stark reality of a world that is not too far away: England isolated and alone, an overcrowded planet, dwindling resources, dominant corporations controlling food, medicine and work ... Jude is a skilled member of the Safe City's security force, but even she is beginning to doubt the benevolence of the omnipotent corporation she has sworn to serve till the day she dies. To survive, she has to learn to trust, and win the trust, of people who have every reason to be suspicious of her...

If you are joining Audible with Border 7 please use this link. Pauline will get a bonus!

Hear Pauline talking about this and her other novels, editing Fighting Cock press and also reading some of her poetry, from Wordspace Radio Episode 6, Leeds Trinity University:

PJ Quinn

Pauline also writes under the name of PJ Quinn with her daughter Jo Summers. Jo is a lawyer who writes text-books and for the legal press. She challenged her mother to write a crime novel and somehow ended up writing it with her. The result is a series of detective novels featuring DI Ambrose and Chalk Heath, set in the 1950's, a period of great change that seems like an era ago. Foul Play was published by Stairwell Books in 2011 and is now also available as an e-book on Kindle, as is Poison Pen (appeared in (published 2012). Close Disharmony came out in 2014; Poetic Justice in June 2018. Successful launch events for all four novels have been held in Yorkshire, London and Surrey, and at the York, Saltaire, and Malton Literature Festivals. For details see: and

Foul Play: a DI Ambrose Mystery, by PJ Quinn, Stairwell Books, 2011, ISBN 978-0-9833482-0-7, Price £8.95 UK / $12.95 USA.

Poison Pen: a DI Ambrose Mystery, by PJ Quinn, Stairwell Books, 2012, ISBN 978-0-9833482-8-3, Price £9.50 UK / $14.95 USA

Close Disharmony: a DI Ambrose Mystery, by PJ Quinn, Stairwell Books, 2014, ISBN 978-1-939269-19-5, Price £9.50 UK / $14.95 USA

Poetic Justice: a DI Ambrose Mystery, by PJ Quinn, Stairwell Books, 2018, ISBN 978-939269-77-5, Price £10.00


Selected Poems

Urban Foxes

His shadow crosses
the street, a Pictish invader
colonising daylight.
Grown old and unwise,
he trots between council estate
and curry shop, bold as the rats
whose runs he follows.
A rust-red silhouette,
he scents Ma Harris� tea.

Sitting in his unlicensed taxi,
Ted, Ed, Fred (whatever name
he is today), watches him pass.
He has his own cunning -
knowing the rat runs between
supermarket and station -
respects cunning in others,
is wise to the lad
who vaporises past his window.

Ratfaced Nick, still barely fifteen,
sensing he is watched,
pulls his cap back over hair
as red as any fox, and melts
into privet hedge.
Five minutes later, an alarm wails,
ignored. By then, Ted and Nick
are no where, and the fox
crosses an empty street.

© Pauline Kirk

(to be released on a CD , 'Tales of the Fox' for National Poetry Day)

Walking to Snailbeach

My past walked lanes like these,
Through fern and celandine
Seeking work. Small and blackened men,
They mined the coal from pit to pit,
Following change as a fly follows meat.
I am at home here.

Yet the images are strange, negative.
Along these hills a leaden white has hardened
Since Roman times; set into furnaces and roofs,
Ruins bleaching in fields barren of grass.
Here men shovelled stone
Or burrowed under a paradise of flower,
Ghost-white, destroying as they went.

Why do I know this place?
Some memory not my own calls me:
Ghosts of ancestors passing through.
I am not myself alone, but many,
A continuum, a rusting chain.
My links were forged between coal and cars
Among Black Country voices. Sweating women
Hammered my iron in backyard shops
(Brick bicycle sheds now); my beginnings are broken.

I have my legends of course,
Stories told me by ancient aunts
Knitting time in endless scarfs.
Bathed her husband in bread and milk
(His skin was stubborn to heal, burnt crisp
in a flashback.) Their son swam flooded stalls
And died. Somebody's cousin, brilliant with a piano,
Tried a career playing to the Movie Halls
The year Talkies came out.

I come from a long line of failures
But they changed a nation,
Walked from the Middle Ages into now,
Carrying a whole society.
In this silent place, amongst the spoil heaps
And columbine, my ghosts may stand with dignity.
Waiting my arrival, they watch,
White against white.

© Pauline Kirk

The Night Café: Vincent Van Gogh, 1888

Drinkers slump in corners, harsh lights
dazzle above a monstrous table;
a man in white watches.
Bilious yellow - the nausea of night
caught in swirling strokes ...

The image is familiar.
Reduced to postcard respectability,
it lurks on gallery shelves, coffee tables,
examination rooms, yet still it shocks.
Biographies give time and circumstance

but do not prepare for such casual,
commonplace despair. The floor escapes
its frame, sliding towards us. A clock
is fixed forever at twelve fifteen a.m.
Most of us have passed a night here,

though in other cities, other times.
Even in faded print, Vincent's nightmare
touches ours. Stare, and dimensions blur,
until we, too, plunge towards that gaping,
curtained, room beyond.

© Pauline Kirk

« Back
© pennine poets 2016