A woman who does not believe in spells by Annette Iles Hysteria 2023 poetry category winner

Annette Iles is the winner of the poetry category in the 2023 Hysteria Writing Competition with her poem ‘A Woman Who Does Not Believe In Spells’. You can read the winning story below as you listen to the recording. It is published, along with the other winners and finalists from each category in the Hysteria 10 anthology, which is published by Crystal Clear Books.

Listen to the recording

Read by Linda Parkinson-Hardman during the Hysteria 10 Anthology Launch.

Read the story

gathers candles, hawthorn, sets a bowl

on the sill in a certain place so that water

can draw moonlight into its centre


she does not believe in this but is broken

by injections, hormones, scans, the pinpricks

of pity in the consultant’s voice feels herself


shrivelled from a person to a failed procedure

the tides of her body were lunar once, might

this huge-bellied moon hold a child in its gift?


she does not believe, but what is a spell except

a different way of asking? the woman

opens the window wide wider


Having grown up in rural New Zealand in the 50s, Annette Iles now lives in a Midlands village beside the Grand Union Canal. She began writing after she retired, introduced to the delights and challenges of poetry through an adult education class. Her work has appeared in a variety of magazines and anthologies; in 2018 she won the West Midlands Poetry on Loan competition.

(Image by magicbowls from Pixabay

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