Diana Hendry

Poet and Children's Author

Second Wind

A collection of poems on ageing by Diana, Douglas Dunn and Vicki Feaver (Saltire Society and Scottish Poetry Library. 2015).

The Seed-Box Lantern: New & Selected Poems

(Mariscat Press 2013)


Diana writes:  The Seed-box Lantern  contains a pick of poems

from my five other collections and from about forty years of

work.  All my main preoccupations are here – family, pianos,

Crete, swimming, the psalms.  I want to say ‘love’, ‘wonder’

and ‘mystery’.

A critic (Sally Baker) reviewing the book in The North, said

‘she writes about ordinary life with warmth and wisdom’. 

I’m pleased by warmth and wisdom, of course, then pondered

‘ordinary life’.  It’s ordinary life that is most extraordinary.


‘Diana Hendry’s poetry has a wonderful sense of the author’s

voice, dark and bitterly sweet at the same time, like high-grade

chocolate.’   Janice Galloway.

Poetry Collections

Making Blue, Peterloo Poets, 1995

“...the fresh eye that shines in her children’s novels ...is even more alert in these heart-searching for grown-up.”

William Scammell, The Independent on Sunday.

Borderers, Peterloo Poets, 2001

“Hendry’s poems are a vibrant collections, as vivid and various as a room full of Picassos.”

Sylvia Hill.

Twelve Lilts, Psalms & Responses, Mariscat Press 2003

“...a warmth and sense of deep affection in every line"  Amos Oz.

Sparks! (with Tom Pow), Mariscat Press 2005

“The record of a creative correspondence between two friends – a creative writing source book.”

Late Love and Other Whodunnits,

Peterloo/Mariscat Press, 2008

“a remarkable eye for the truth and the ability to see the otherness of the very ordinary.”

U.A. Fanthrope.

Other work:

Diana has written the libretto for The Pied Piper,  a new composition by Edinburgh composer John Mortimer

For children

No Homework Tomorrow,

Glowworm Books 2003

“...the kind of looking which will not only raise awareness but inform children’s own writing.’  Jill Pirrie, TES

Poems United: A Commonwealth Anthology,

(As editor with Hamish Whyte) Scottish Poetry Library and Black & White Publishing, 2007

“... a superb resource for teaching any age group about poetry and other cultures.” TES

Shortlisted for the CLPE Award

Diana’s poetry books are available from Mariscat Press, Amazon and Peterloo Poets (see links page)


Diana is represented in A Shame to Miss (Corgi);  Kin (Polygon & SPL); New Writing Scotland 26 (ASLS) 100 Favourite Scottish Poems (Luath), 100 Favourite Scottish Love Poems, (Luath); Read Me (Macmillan)  Swings & Shadows (Julia MacRae Books);   The Poetry Book Society Anthology 3; The Thing That Matters Most;  (Scottish Poetry Library); The Works 5 (Macmillan); The Young Oxford Book of Poems (OUP) and many others.

Magazines & Journals

Poems by Diana have appeared in the following magazines and journals:

Ambit, Bananas, Chapman, Causeway/Cabhsair, Chapman, Critical Survey, Critical Quarterly, The Dark Horse, Encounter, Envoi, Gaelforce, The Guardian, The Herald, The London Magazine, Mandeville Press, New Poetry, Nonesuch, The North, Markings, Mslexia, Odyssey, Prospice, Poetry Chicago, Poetry Matters, Poetry Review, The Spectator, Smiths Knoll, The Sunday Independent, Thumbscrew, Writing Women.

Awards for poetry

First prize Housman Society Poetry Competition, 1994

Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship (with Hamish Whyte) 2007

A poem by Diana has been chosen for the Scottish Poetry Library's list of best Scottish poems in 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2014


Dressing Mother

I help roll her stockings over her feet,

then up to her knees. She's managed her dress

but I free her fingers from the sleeves.

Before the mirror she rouges her cheeks,

combs her thin curls, hands me a bow.

It's scarlet and goes on a ribbon I thread

under her collar and fix with a hook.

Over an hour to dress her today.  

Such an innocence stays at the nape of the neck

it fumbles my fingers.  I see her binding

bands of scarlet at the ends of my plaits

and fastening the buttons at my back.

Now look - she's dressed as a child off

to some party.  I straighten her scarlet bow

and don't want her to go,

don't want her to go.

                    From: Making Blue (Peterloo Poets)

Psalm Eighty-Eight Blues

Lord, when I’m speechless,

when something – not just sorrow

but under that – a dull, numb, nameless dreich

about the heart I hardly seem to have,

when this afflicts me,

when hope’s been cancelled,

when the pilot light of me’s put out,

when every reflex and response

has been extinguished,

send word, snowdrop, child, light.

               From: Twelve Lilts: Psalms & Responses  (Mariscat Press)               

Big Sister’s Coming on a Visit

Clean whole house, polish shoes,

Here’s the news –

Big Sister’s coming on a visit.

Put on best dress, wait for train,

Pray no rain –

Big Sister’s coming on a visit.

Book the taxis, fly the flags,

Hide the fags –

Big Sister’s coming on a visit.

Buy up florist, shine the town,

Fetch the crown –

Big Sister’s coming on a visit.

Big Sister’s coming with big big case

Big Sister’s coming with smiley face

Big Sister’s coming with big big heart

Big Sister likes playing big big part.

Big Sister coming with little frightened soul

Big Sister nervous as new born foal

Big Sister coming with dodgy knee

Big Sister coming with bravery

Big Sister coming to visit me.

Switch the sun on, banish blues,

Here’s the news –

Big Sister’s coming on a visit.

From:  Late Love & Other Whodunnits (Peterloo/Mariscat)

Watching telly with you

We could go to Paris of course

but not so often. And it might not be quite

as cosy as the sofa, the fire, our slippers,

the zapper.  Sometimes mid-morning

I think about it, hankering a little like

the lovelorn do, for that evening lull,

front door locked, feet up, snugged up,

loved up and watching telly with you.

From: Second Wind (Saltire & Scottish Poetry Library)

The Watching Stair.

(Worple Press 2018)

Buy  from The Worple Press  or  Amazon

The Watching Stair is a delightfully varied collection, writing about family is one of its strengths, especially the mother daughter relationship, although there are fathers, sisters and the next two generations as well as some challenging observations on the ageing process – all adding up to a kind of oblique autobiography.  

But then we’re all over the world with Chekhov, Caroline Herschel, Nigerian beggars, a digital Canada, Portobello beach, with colourful asides on flowers: cyclamen, poppies, nasturtiums.  And all despatched with Hendry’s superb craft, wry humour and just the right tone. If there is an overiding theme, it is perhaps that of watching and waiting and listening

(‘one of the highest virtues’) – as in the title poem and very differently, in the powerfully apposite ‘What We’re Here For’.The train’s mournful hoot in ‘Beyond’ maybe strikes the key note – of yearning, of wanting something more, something further, something ‘beyond’.

‘...a collection of poignant, often wryly humorous and always beautifully-crafted poems that open windows on childhood and old age.’

Vicki Feaver

…accessibly, highly intelligent, wide-ranging poems that have a wonderful psychological truthfulness, particularly about the relations between mother and daughter, but then go beyond the individual situation to become a meditation on meaning in the face of mortality.’


Two Poems from The Watching Stair:

The Watching Stair

The watching stair

Is where I live

I watch and listen there

For I am not a full-grown person yet.

Sometimes the stair

Is not the one that leads to bed

But is the stair inside my head.

Alert, I am intensely good at this

The watching and the listening work.

Though you might think I haven’t seen or heard

I am the brilliant spy of the grown-up world.

In years to come when you’ve forgotten,

I’ll remind you of what you did and said.

I have the detailed records in my head.


Love should be like nasturtiums

shot through with sunshine and fire,

easily available, simply exuberant.


Love should be like nasturtiums

ignoring the obvious season of spring,

waiting until the summer is almost

over then going for it, rampant

running wild, catching on.


Love should be like nasturtiums

able to flourish on the poorest soil,

useful and beautiful, happy

anywhere. Enduring, common.

Earlier Works

Diana Hendry’s Where I Was is her first pamphlet for Mariscat

since her acclaimed Twelve Lilts: Psalms and Responses. This

sequence of poems is a kind of ‘I remember, I remember’ portrait

of the house in the Wirral where she grew up in the post-war years.

The house speaks to the child and the child speaks to the house.

The novelist and poet Elizabeth Cook has described the poems as

‘pungent and mysterious and deeply evocative.’

Purchase from:


ISBN 978 1 9160609 7 5   £6.00

Order by post from: Mariscat Press, 10 Bell Place, Edinburgh EH3 5HT  

or by email: hamish.whyte@btinternet.com

or via the website www.mariscatpress.com

Poetry and Poems