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Shropshire Butterflies – poetry & art anthology



Shropshire Butterflies was launched on July 23rd 2011, during Save Our Butterflies Week

Hardback 124 pp + 4pp; full colour throughout  245 mm height 170 mm width , 80 mm spine
Cover designed by Georgina Pensri, Front Cover Image by Ellen McBride
Edited and project managed by Nadia Kingsley
69 images, 75 poems, 66 contributors
First published July 2011
ISBN 978 0 9568275 0 0

£13.50 (includes p&p)


A matt hardback book 170 x 245 mm, 124 pp, containing 75 poems and 69 images, from sixty six contributors including poems by Gillian Clarke, Roger Garfitt and Mario Petrucci.

There are also prose pieces on habitats, and butterflies in Shropshire by butterfly experts and authors such as Katherine Swift, Eleanor Cooke, Paul Evans, Adrian Riley and Matthew Oates.

Edited by Nadia Kingsley:

“When I had the idea for this book, in November 2009, I knew almost nothing about butterflies except that they were very pretty, and I always felt happy when I caught sight of one. Fifteen months on and I have seen almost all of the butterflies in Shropshire, can identify them, some just by their flight pattern, have visited some extraordinary places in Shropshire; have learnt so much about wildflowers, conservation, and their habitats, and have got in touch with the child within, who is not embarrassed to be seen madly racing, twisting and turning, after a small colourful flying insect in the hope of getting a better look.

This book will take you through a year of butterflying in Shropshire. Starting in early spring with the species that have over-wintered as butterflies like the  Small Tortoiseshell, Brimstone, and Comma butterflies we meet each of the species as they emerge. Many people reveal their personal encounters, in poetry and in images. You’ll find acrylic and watercolour paintings, prints, glass, computer-manipulated images and also sculpture. There are many types of poems, but what they all have in common is an expression of how unique each of the thirty nine Shropshire butterfly species are, and how it can be when we connect with them. The caterpillars (larvae) and eggs (ova) are not forgotten, for even when we can’t see any butterflies they are always there, in one form or another – and long may it continue to be so. The book ends in winter, but with the thought of the next Spring and the next year’s butterflies in the minds of us all. I understand the language of science. But for me, and many others, nothing speaks the truth more clearly than poetry and art.

I had so many wonderful moments with butterflies last summer. What amazes me is that they were there all the time. I just hadn’t looked before.”

The Poets in Shropshire Butterflies are:

Jean Atkin, Rita Carter, Keith Chandler, Gillian Clarke, Jane Dards, Pat Farrington, Simon Fletcher, Paul Francis, Roger Garfitt, Mavis Gulliver, Marilyn Gunn, Peter Holliday, Nadia Kingsley, Chris Kinsey, Alwyn Marriage, Chris Morgan, Pauline Morgan, Patricia Newland, Miriam Obrey, Nick Pearson, Mario Petrucci, Emma Purshouse, Jane Seabourne, Ruth Stacey, Jeremy Stretton, Bill Thomas, Janet Vernon, Tom Wentworth, Charles Worth

The Visual Artists  in Shropshire Butterflies are:

Rhys Bevan Jones, Ann Bridges, Paul Brooks, Frances Carlile, Tim Clarke, Giancarlo Facchinetti, Lynette Forrester, Katy Goutefangea, Barbara Gunter-Jones, Julie Horner, Sheilagh Jevons, Ellen McBride, Paola Minekov, Lis Molzahn, Adrian Moule, Linda Nevill, Wendy Newhofer, Robert Offord, Hilary Portman, Kim Stephens, Carl Thompson, Debs Thurkettle, Ben Waddams, Jamila Walker, Neil Webb, Lynn Wheeler, Christine Wilcox-Baker, Kiran Williams

The Ecologists  in Shropshire Butterflies are:

Sarah Bierley, Peter Boardman, Eleanor Cooke, Paul Evans, Jenny Joy, Adrian Miles, Matthew Oates, Adrian M Riley, Katherine Swift


Richard Lewington (illustrator of many butterfly and insect books):

This book is an absolute feast of butterfly imagery, with every imaginable visual celebration, intermingled with poetry and prose to make a wonderful tribute to the butterflies of Shropshire

Carol Ann Duffy (England’s Poet Laureate):

This is one of the most delightful ‘green’ poetry projects I have heard of in recent years.

Mike Dilger (Naturalist, TV presenter):

The beauty, sense of freedom and rarity of many species of butterflies has certainly mesmerised me ever since I was able to pronounce the word ‘buddleia’!
If it is a butterfly field-guide you are after then look elsewhere,  as this charming little book aims to help us rediscover our passion for butterflies in a totally novel, yet utterly charming way … by letting them fly inside our minds!

Jean Atkin (poet):

New from Fair Acre Press is this extremely lovely hardback anthology, which provides keenly poetic and sometimes scientifically observant glimpses of each one of the 39 species of butterflies wise enough to take up residence in Shropshire .
This book celebrates them richly in poetry and original artwork, including artist-created prints, drawings and sculptures.
The book is arranged in the form of the butterfly year, so the 39 species appear in the order in which you’re most likely to encounter them. Slightly unusually for an anthology, ‘Shropshire Butterflies’ is presented without any poets’ or artists’ names beside their work. In the end I rather liked this, as I kept one finger in the back of the book for its comprehensive index and biogs, and so zig-zagged back and through, discovering many delightful things to alight upon.
There are wonderful poems in here by much published and award-winning poets of the calibre of Mario Petrucci, Roger Garfitt, Mavis Gulliver, Alwyn Marriage and Gillian Clarke, but there are also wonderful poems by poets I discovered for the first time.
A book for all your butterfly seasons, to flit through again and again.

Louise Gray from The Daily Telegraph 17.07.2011 Gardening Section:

‘I wasn’t bullied for being into butterflies,” says Patrick Barkham. “But let’s just say I didn’t brag about it.”
When the self-confessed “butterfly geek” was at school in the brash Eighties, it just wasn’t cool to don your anorak and dive into the nearest hedge in search of insects. In fact, wandering around the park with a pair of binoculars was very likely to get you stared at, if not arrested.
But that was then. Now we are in a more eco-aware age, when people no longer need to “come out” about an interest in nature.
Barkham recently published a book about his obsessive quest to track down all 59 species of butterfly in Britain. The Butterfly Isles was the second bestselling non-fiction book this year for its publisher, Granta Books, and the author’s three events at the recent Telegraph Hay Festival all sold out.
OK, he still gets funny looks walking around Hampstead Heath with a pair of mini-binoculars, but he is also approached by people who want to know more about the hobby.
“My friends are calling me up to report a sighting of a dingy skipper,” he says, with some pride and not a little surprise.
A new social trend has quietly emerged from its chrysalis. Whisper it in the pub, but butterflies are cool.
Like “birding”, which was transformed in the Seventies when the RSPB picked up more members than all the political parties combined, “butterflying” has gone mainstream.
The charity Butterfly Conservation has recorded a rise in members from 1,000 or less 30 years ago to more than 16,000 today. Interestingly, the proportion of women is also rising, to 38 per cent this year.
The charity represents serious lepidopterists, but there are also lots of non-experts interested in butterflies. The Big Butterfly Count, supported by Marks & Spencer, asks people to spend 15 minutes spotting butterflies in parks, woods or their own gardens over the next two weeks (July 16-31). To help identify different species, The Daily Telegraph is giving away a free interactive poster today.
It’s the second count of its kind, after 10,000 people took part in the inaugural event last year, recording almost 250,000 sightings of butterflies in Britain. The cabbage white came out on top, followed by more colourful species such as the small tortoiseshell, peacock and red admiral.
B&Q and M&S have seen a rise in the number of people buying “butterfly-friendly” plants such as buddleia and lavender, and book shops are selling more guides.
EasyJet, Samsung and Laura Ashley are all using butterflies in their branding. John Lewis says sales of butterfly products have increased by 160 per cent compared to last year. Products range from a Jasper Conran blue butterfly Wedgwood set to butterfly fairy costumes for children. The most popular item is a photo album decorated with butterflies.
Butterflies are quite literally everywhere, from Matthew Williamson dresses to Muse album covers. Now the sun is out you will notice butterflies on biceps, cleavage and even bottoms. Cheryl Cole, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears and Fern Britton all sport butterfly tattoos.
The very British obsession with butterflies is nothing new. The first book about butterflies was published here in the 17th century and the Victorians were obsessed with collecting drawerfuls of pickled insects to show their dinner guests.
But why have butterflies become as fashionable today as they were in the 1890s? Much of the attraction, especially for women, is new technology. Butterflies can now be captured with a digital camera rather than a net and a rather vicious pin – or even with a shotgun, as some of the Victorian collectors preferred.
As modern life moves away from the countryside, urban dwellers are increasingly keen to reconnect with nature. Programmes such as BBC’s Springwatch have reminded the public about the wonders of nature on our own island, as opposed to abroad.
Perhaps, like Winston Churchill, who wound down from wartime politics by sitting in his butterfly house at Chartwell in Kent, people find it a good way to relax.

Nadia Kingsley, a poet who only started butterflying in her forties, represents the growing number of female enthusiasts. She has just helped compile Shropshire Butterflies: A poetic and artistic guide to the butterflies of Shropshire.
“I was just overwhelmed by how gorgeous and inspiring they are,” she says.
Sadly, climate change and the destruction of key habitats mean there are fewer butterflies around. Butterfly Conservation estimates three quarters of the 59 species found here are in decline and nearly half of them seriously threatened.
Like birds, butterflies are a key indicator of the health of the wider environment, and one of the best ways to monitor this is to ask the public to help. The Big Butterfly Count is an opportunity to monitor numbers of butterflies across the whole country, rather than just the nature reserves where surveys are traditionally carried out.
After all, what better place to begin the metamorphosis into a “butterfly anorak” than your own back garden?
Matthew Oates, the National Trust’s butterfly expert, says butterflies are perfect for beginners because it is relatively easy to spot common species such as tortoiseshell and peacocks.
Meadow browns, fritillaries and skippers are all on the wing now and this summer is set to be a bumper year, thanks to the warm spring which allowed for multiple broods.
“Forget the mortgage or the bank statement for a few hours and get involved with butterflies instead,” says Oates. “Be warned though, for the pursuit of butterflies can be highly addictive – it is a deep magic far beyond the dawn of modern human experience. This is far more than the simple relief of stress and release of serotonin, the happiness chemical.
“We all need a conduit into nature, we need our hand holding – and butterflying can fulfil that need.”
Having once been dumped by his girl friend for spending most of the summer chasing insects, Barkham can appreciate the addictive qualities of butterfly hunting. Happily though, they are now back together and Barkham will soon be a father.
He says one of the main reasons his old school friends get back in touch with him to talk butterflies is because they are rediscovering the wonders of nature through their own children.
“Adults might go through phases but children will always love butterflies,” he says. “So they will never go out of fashion.”
The Butterfly Isles by Patrick Barkham (Granta, £9.99) is available from Telegraph Books at £9.99 plus 99p p&p. Call 0844 871 1515 or visit


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