Joanna Guthrie

Joanna’s first collection ‘Billack’s Bones’ was published by RIALTO in 2007: available from She’s currently completing ‘Hurricane Season’, a New Writing Partnership travelogue/biography/meditation about the Florida Keys.


Diary 2017

That evening in the garden,
as every evening, our blackbird
in his plum tree
repeated his theme for the summer.

The precisely-weighted net of his five notes
was thrown over the garden
and hung there, waiting
to be hauled in again, cast further next time.

He blew song as if it were bubbles of immaculate glass
and always followed it immediately with a trill of the scale
like a little self-deprecating laugh,
but the call was out there, holding its place
in the emerging green:
I am here, here, here.

Late Spring © Joanna Guthrie

A woman walks alone holding a bag of shells which she will empty into the water. Each one’s immaculate, a white ribbed breast, hollow as a votive cup, a little home for mouths. The waves convulse along the shore, gripping then releasing spray in handfuls. She walks alone, the dot-dash-dot of her footsteps dissolving in the sand, no-one following. Her life a hallway, a long exhaled breath which builds particles in front of her; they crystallise out of vapour as she moves along, so she has something to step on to; the shells in her bag are all the different days in which she’s lived, and she stops just here - empties them all out at once. They toil out into the air then down on the water like a rain of seeds, plinking with brief individual music. The bag is light again - this was its last job for her. She has posted her letters to longitude and latitude and now resumes her work: embroidering seaweeds across her quilts, over hearths she’s raised at the backs of beaches. Her stitches are like uneven signings of love, as thoughtless and constant as breathing.

What The Sea Eats © Joanna Guthrie