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Jeff Phelps

Jeff founded Bridgnorth Writers’ Group in 1991. His short stories have appeared in London Magazine and Critical Quarterly. His novels Painter Man (2005) and Box of Tricks (2009) were published by the award-winning Tindal Street Press. Box of Tricks was acclaimed by Robert Edrick as: ‘Seaside theatricals in all their seedy, flamboyant, tawdry, extravagant, innocent and heartbreaking glory’. In 1991 he was first prize winner of the Mail on Sunday novel competition judged by Fay Weldon and the late John Mortimer.

His poetry has been widely published including in London Magazine, The Rialto, Envoi, Stand, Orbis, The Interpreter’s House, Poetry Bus and Acumen and anthologised in The Everyday Poet (Michael O’Mara Books), Dear Dylan (Indigo Dreams) and in Offa’s Press publications. His poetry booklet, Wolverhampton Madonna, and his first full collection, Falling and Flying, are published by Offa's Press.


He has appeared at festivals including Wenlock, Ledbury and Bewdley often with his musician son, Dan Phelps, and has featured on Ledbury Poetry Salon. His poem River Passage was second prize winner in the Stand open poetry competition and is produced as a CD with Dan’s original piano music backing.  Since 2017 he has been one of the Poetry-on-Loan Postcard Poets. He has mentored at Newman University, Birmingham, has run many workshops and has been judge of the International Rubery Book Award.

Recent publications include: poems in Orbis #204, summer 2023 and given joint first prize in readers' award, and a poem in Under the Radar issue 32, The Journeys issue, winter 2023.


Twitter: @jeff_phelps  

Photograph: Beverley Fry               

Ledbury Poetry Salon:


Psalm for Musicians


Praise to musicians

who set up in small rooms,

who travel with playlist

and guitar case and hope for

venues that hum with expectation.

Praise to the weary dad roadies

who wear pride on their sleeves

for this is the life they once

wished for themselves.

Praise to damp corner pubs,

empty at seven o’clock

on a Wednesday evening,

to sauce bottles still on tables,

to barmen who say:

Are you the music?

You can set up anywhere.

It’s normally busier than this.

Praise to the couple

just finishing their drinks

who stay because

it would be rude to leave,

to amps, cables and speakers,

to obsessive tuning.

Praise to the songs unheard

over chatter from the bar,

to: this one’s for Melanie in the corner,

to feedback and the valiant

first to clap, to requests,

duff notes and laughter. 

Praise to all musicians

who stand up and sing it anyway

and have no concern

for who is listening or why.

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