John Foggin lives in Ossett, West Yorkshire. His work has appeared in The North, The New Writer, Prole, and The interpreters House, among others, and in anthologies including The Forward Book of Poetry [2015, 2018].  


He publishes a poetry blog: the great fogginzo’s cobweb.


His poems have won first prizes in The Plough Poetry [2013,2014], the Camden/Lumen [2014], and McClellan [2015] Competitions respectively. In 2016 he was a winner of the Poetry Business International Pamphlet Competition judged by Billy Collins.


He has authored four pamphlets / chapbooks: Running out of Space and Backtracks [2014], Larach (WardWood Publications) [2014] and Outlaws and fallen angels (Calder Valley Poetry) [2016], and two collections, Much Possessed (smith|doorstop) [2016], and Gap with Andy Blackford (SPM Publications) [2017]


Advice to a Traveller was a winner of the Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2017










Cover image by Joan Foye:

“Things we are made of”.





138 x 216mm


36 pages


£6.00 + P&P UK


ISBN 978-1-910834-83-1


PUB: 04 JUNE 2018













Drawing on personal histories, fairy tales and bible stories, John Foggin explores and illuminates

both the tragical and magical in lives affected by shifts in political and social circumstance.

Advice to a Traveller is rooted in the belief that while we cannot live without stories, even the most trusted tales are partial truths at best, and the most reliable witnesses have been silenced; speaking for them is what poetry is for.

“Nothing will be wasted. Nothing will be too small”




“Master of the sense of place in a poem, John Foggin makes a fine travelling companion.”                                                                                                Carole Bromley


"An assured, compassionate voice; John Foggin’s love affair with language continues unabated.”                                                                                                      Roy Marshall


“Modern parables from the north written in a voice as memorable as it is musical.”                                                                                                                Ian Parks






John Foggin


Advice to a Traveller


Winner: Indigo Dreams Pamphlet Prize 2017







St Lucie’s Day


Wrung like a cheese,

a day for the choice of the tallest,

the wisest, the one most foolish,

the one with a limp, the one who casts

runes, the one with the no-coloured eye.

One of them.


Him we will beat, with hammer and anvil,

into the likeness of kings.

We shall crown him with green holly

till blood runs in his beard,

and him we shall dress in the plumes

of the crow, of the tern, of the wren;

we shall stitch him with quills. He will fly into flames.


O this dark St Lucie’s day. You’d wish

you were the Fool of the World. You’d wish

for his flying ship, you’d wish you could fly

to the cities, to the edges of things, to the sea.

You’d wish for a flicker of flame in the spruce.

You’d wish for a crossroads, for three wishes

to foil the old witch and her hen’s-leg house.


Old witch of layers, old doll of a year

and December her small heart.



Local history


Maskell’s: not much of a farm.

That German Shepherd.

You stick to the edges

on the way to the door.

The chain stops him short.

Maskell’s wife will sell you eggs.


That barn by the house; at night

he’ll put his six cows in there.

He doesn’t know how old it is.


God knows. Alpha and omega,

He knows it’s older than Shakespeare,

old as the Crusades. A chapel

or  chantry of the Knights of St John.


He knows that after I’ve grown up

and gone, and Maskell’s dead, no longer

dropping ash from Woodbines

in his churns, He knows the land is bought,

the small herd sold, the dog put down

the house demolished, out-buildings

burned, six small semis built.


He knows the tale from thread to needle.


There’s days I wonder if

it’s only me and Him who know

about the men in surcoats, men with swords,

men who pegged morticed hammer beams

with elm, lived by holy calendars,

lit candles, told out silver coins for Masses

in Maskell’s old cow barn

at the top of our street.

Advice to a Traveller


It is pointless to pack;

if you must, take a loaf.

You will find what you need as you go.


Disregard nothing –

a needle, a handkerchief,

a comb, a pinch of salt, a flask of oil.


You are the youngest of three.

Wait until the older two have left.

They will be well-provisioned

and well-shod. Then you can go.


Listen to all you meet.

They will give you wishes.

Go with a clear heart.


Do not be surprised when:

your bread stays the hunger of wolves,

the comb cast down becomes a thicket of thorn,

the handkerchief a lake,

when the oil unseals the iron gates,

the salt seasons the banquet of a king.


All will be well.    


If you are in the right story.



No dominion


There are villages and towns under the sea.

Churches, manors, farms, hovels. There are bells

tolling dumb in the pull of the tide.


There are gods in the sea. There are selkies

and herring and the bones of the drowned.

And there are the browsers, also:


things in shells, things that graze

their cold salt pastures with patience

and waste nothing.


There’s a god called indifference

who smiles at every accident,

at everything that falls from ships,


who sees how the waters shall cover

the earth, how the silent belfries

of the drowned cities of the plains


shall ring the passing bells for the dead,

of Salamis, of Brunnaburh, of Roncevalles,

of Agincourt, and Mons and Passchendale;


for the unrecorded millions dead

in nameless battles, undeclared wars: dead

of drought, of fire, of falling, of being born.


Nothing will be wasted.

Nothing will be too small.

JOhn LR 9781910834831 york-poetry-comp-2014-john-foggin