Nicola Warwick has been published in several poetry magazines and anthologies. Her first collection, Groundings, was published by Cinnamon Press in 2014.


She is currently studying part-time for an MA in Creative Writing with the Open University while working full-time in local government.  


She was born in Kent but has spent most of her life in Suffolk, apart from time spent as a full-time student at Anglia Ruskin University where she studied English, and History and the University of East Anglia where she obtained an MA in Restoration and Eighteenth Century Literature.













138 x 216mm


52 pages


£7.99 + P&P UK


ISBN 978-1-910834-48-0












The Knifethrower’s Wishlist explores the nature of love in several guises and the nature of nature itself. Poems take imaginative leaps into the darker side of nature yet retain a light, contemplative touch with detailed and sensitive descriptions of the natural world.


The humans in this world are fallible; brides are too perfect, husbands are occasionally fabulous beasts while fantasy and fairy tale meet in surprising ways.


These are poems of delicate, beautiful language and images that will haunt the reader with their sense of place and mystery.



"To read Nicola Warwick’s haunting collection is to be drawn in like a co-conspirator, attendant on natural and imaginative wonders: “co-conspirators // in a plot, marking a change, / a rite of passage” (‘Dusk’).

Earthed by their precise acquaintance with the physical world, these sensuous, emotionally alive poems relish the unknowable.

Moniza Alvi




The Knifethrower's Wishlist


Nicola Warwick


Winner Geoff Stevens Memorial

Poetry Prize 2016







The Knifethrower’s Wishlist


I will choose her for her skin

which will be so pale

I will see the landscape

of each vein beneath it.


And the atlas of her body

must be such that the glance

of my blade will raise

a rosy lovebite.


I will dress her in sequins

sharp as cut glass

so her fine skin will learn

the thrill of splinters.


She must be sweet and light,

wear heels to make her totter,

her legs constrained

by a mesh of nylons.


Her hair will be fair

with a wave or a curl

for my knife to lop off

on its route from my hand.


See how she quivers as I buckle

her in with rough straps

small as cats’ collars

that chafe her wrists, her ankles.


She trembles to watch

as I put on my blindfold,

the climax of our act,

which I will make her wear


night after night, our finale,

have her wrapped and tied

for our own covert performance,

my steely whispers in her ear.



Crossing to Wonderland


She’s found the key to the dressing-up box.

Words trickle and tumble

down her pinafore in alphabets and anagrams.

She tries spelling her name


in different ways, lengthening

the central vowel to sound exotic

– Alyss, Alysse, Alisse  –

Each time it ends in a hiss.


Swapping her dress for ballerina shoes

and a tutu, she hides her scabby knees

in opaque tights. Look at me,

she says I’m good enough to eat.


Balancing on a tightrope,

she stretches out her arms

so as not to fall. Look at me,

she says, drink me all up.


She won’t look down. Her pale hair

shivers like a cloak. Her face

is daubed with make-up. Look at her.

She’s ready to fly.











You might forget that first time

when we stumbled from the pub

and strolled along the lane

to watch the sunset.


On the bridge we stopped

to look down at the water,

its surface as still as the entrance

to another world.


You laughed when I asked

what offering we should make,

so we stood there, making stories,

gifting each other sentences

but my tongue got stuck

when I tried to say yours were best.

Our voices were soon masked

by the calls of owls


cross-hatching the field;

the mist distorted our vision

until we saw nothing

but each other, co-conspirators


in a  plot, marking a change,

a rite of passage.





As we walked back from the beach

through the little copse, an owl called out

to no-one but itself.


The light had changed to golden, turning

the leaves russet before their time.

Elderberries were ripening, dark as port.


I’d gathered shells along the shore, stashed

them in my pocket where they chime

together, small as fairies’ bells.


You were ahead, your strong, warrior legs

covering the ground like a deer. Behind you,

I sank into the fading light.


And thought of myself as one lone voice,

calling out to something, I didn’t know what,

another me, my own private echo.



When we return to ourselves


After dark, we become animal.

Night brings the need for pelts,

claws, teeth, horns.


We turn feral, stink of beasts,

prowl the streets like outcasts.


Our victims are strangers

who invite us in

with kindness or boldness.


We don’t know how to stop ourselves

shape-shifting in the night, a stark


compulsion for sex and death,

the need for power.


We roam all night, sniffing and taking

what we want, ram-raiding other people’s lives


until dawn, when we go to roost,

retreat into our dreary bodies,

return to ourselves.

Nicola Warwick amend 9781910834480