What is poetry town?

Poetry Town began in 2015 with a weekly poem displayed in the window of Kirkdale Bookshop. Following overwhelmingly positive responses from customers we have decided to partner with Sydenham Arts to build on the idea and fill Sydenham with poetry­ not just by famous poets but by local people, both young and old.
3rd Prize We Could Be Heroes ! Tommy at Seventy by Mantze Yorke
8th August 2018

In appreciation of Harold Gillies’ pioneering work with severely disfigured servicemen


Three score an’ ten.


     Yer’d not ’ave bet on it back then,

me stuck in Sidcup wi’ bandages where shrapnel

took ’alf me face. I never saw me worst: the ’ospital

’id the mirrors so us in there couldn’t see usselves,

but we knew what we was like – we’d see mates

wi’ tubes of rolled-up flesh an’ skin ’angin’ down

an’ pinned where they’d be stretched in place.    


The doc told me me flesh ’d take months growin’

enough to cover me face. ’E was me cornerman,

’is kit better than Vaseline, styptic an’ a sponge:

’e got me fit for fightin’ the next round – doin’

ARP down the old East End.


                          I ain’t ’andsome

like I was, but I ain’t come out too bad, blessed

wi’ a lovely wife and two great kids who’re proud

I did me bit.


             Me mates too ’ad done their bit:

the doc, ’e fixed ’em best as ’e could. Some stayed in;

some went ’ome but then just ’id, afraid o’ bein’

gawped at wi’ their patched-up looks. Most got nowt

for going through ’ell – no medals, nor an ’int o’ fame –

but I’m tellin’ yer, an’ I’ll bloody well tell yer again,

they was ’eroes all the same.