Carole Bromley

Carole Bromley

‘I like to imagine you there in your green shirt
lighting a cigarette, the quick, brave flare of it in the dark.’


Carole Bromley lives in York where she is the Stanza rep and runs poetry surgeries for The Poetry Society, One to Ones for the Arvon Foundation and is a mentor for The Poetry School. She is an Arvon tutor and also runs workshops in schools.

Twice a winner in the Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet competition, Carole has two pamphlets (Unscheduled Halt and Skylight) from Smith/Doorstop as well as three full length collections, A Guided Tour of the Ice House, The Stonegate Devil and Blast Off! (a collection for children).




She creates her emotional effects by wringing pathos from ordinary and familiar facts.' — Andrew Motion

'A sort of Elizabeth Bishop atmosphere I felt very much at home in.' — Selima Hill

'She gets under the skin of her subject in an impressively direct and imaginative way.' — Don Paterson

'The getting of wisdom, for Bromley, has not meant self-satisfaction or the blunting of perception: her poems are wry, funny, cleanly-written, and, especially when their perspectives are long, startlingly fresh and new.' — Kate Clanchy

'Poignant, wise, and sometimes deeply affecting, A Guided Tour of the Ice House is collection which can be warmly recommended. Carole Bromley is a poet to buy, keep and return to.' — David Cooke


'Like the ice described in its title poem, A Guided Tour of the Ice House brims with an accessible yet brittle fragility, combining the past and present into one well-whittled whole. These are poems to enjoy indefinitely, displaying an admirably-crafted lyricism, an eye for personal details grounded in our moment, and thoughts and feelings that bear the qualities of timelessness.' — Dominic Hale, The Cadaverine


‘An engaging collection, infused with the wit and pathos of the everyday. There is something undeniably very attractive about Bromley’s understated approach and clear-eyed focus. The ordinary is what makes her special.’ — Kathryn Gray, Magma


‘The directness and alternate indirectness throughout make Bromley’s many and many-faceted acts of remembrance — as opposed to a simpler (more happenstance) reminiscence — a subtle take on memory and muse, not a glib one; though pellucid throughout, there are suggestions also of subversion and irony. Indeed, the first poem’s second person address has hints of Browning: the dramatizing of the tenuousness of accurate (re)presentation; the medium, thus, questioning the medium; the potential dilemma of melting ‘ice’.' — Omar Sabbagh, Warwick Review


'Carole Bromley's A Guided Tour of the Ice House has family as its focus. It arrives sporting acknowledgements and prizes garnered during its ten year gestation... It is death and the vanishments associated with transience that dominate the collection but Bromley's best poems are located on the flip side of this, less in grief than in moments of vivid experience picked from the terrifying flux, a process imaged as testing the air 'like one of those fallow deer at the edge/ of the lake, sensing danger' ('In Another Life'). Many poems here give pleasure by knowing when to hesitate. And they promise successful evolution in collections to come.' — Martyn Crucefix, Poetry London


‘Intriguing, alarming, Bromley’s poems make excellent travelling companions. She is an irreverent Time Lord. Charlotte Bronte - with ‘a Laptop’ moans about ‘that curate’: a good joke, darker if readers recall that bearing his child will kill her. Some of Bromley’s boldest journeys are imaginary, including a trip to a “glittering ice-house(...) If I’d been Santa Claus.” Her poetry celebrates change. She declares no nostalgia for displays of fifties kitchenware: “it’s time to move on”. Family poems display astringent honesty. Her lively poems about grandchildren proclaim no guiding wisdom, but “desperate measures, dancing/ to Venus in Blue Jeans”.
         ...her best poems have a beautiful clarity of pattern. In ‘Unscheduled Halt’, the words “midnight” and “new moon” encircle a brief poem, with love at its centre. Her blank verse, confidently accented, moves energetically:

                       “the men who
hacked ice from the ornamental lake
and dragged it here were starved with cold.”

The collection closes with mysterious news, snow-lit:

                    “So soft
each flake touched
the window, as if
it had never been.”

Simplicity startles, in delicate sympathy. Bromley’s strong, courageous work can carry
readers to unexpected, transforming destinations.’

— Alison Brackenbury, Poetry Review


'Not Wrong, Just Different' is a wonderful poem which looks at how people from different places can call the same thing a different name. In this poem, it is whether the fruit is called a blackberry or a bramble, offering plenty of possibilities for sharing ideas and valuing regional differences. 

For those learning about the Tudors, 'The Six Wives' offers a fun way of remembering the wives of Henry VIII and their fates. This poem would make a brilliant performance piece, being quick and easy to learn in sections. Children could also try to write their own versions.
Towards the end of the book, there are several alternative versions of fairy tales and traditional stories. I particularly like 'Snow Queen'; it's opening line Nothing like Elsa... immediately draws attention to the fact that the interpretation of this story now so well known has little to do with the original. Lots to discuss and think about!
A great collection of poems, full of imagination and humour, to be enjoyed again and again.'

— North Somerset Children's Book Award review


'With its blast of myriad themes and forms, this collection really does live up to its name!' 

— Alison Kelly Poetry Zone


'I liked the chorus poems that she did and it made me happy. Most of them reminded me of when I was younger -- especially the one where they made a cardboard rocket because I remembered when I used to make cardboard trains. I liked the activities because it let me do poems and it just felt really nice'

— Charles aged 8, Park Wood Primary, Keighley


'I liked the chorus poems because I didn't know you were allowed to have choruses in poems and that was really good to know. I liked Carole too!'

— Subhaan, aged 9, Park Wood Primary





Review of Carole Bromley’s The Stonegate Devil

in London Grip:

in Sabotage:



An interview with Carole







I lit a candle today, one of those night-lights
it’s difficult to get a flame going on.
Felt a fool but had to do it anyway,
having gone in. January, and the Minster
emptied of chairs, the nave an echoing expanse
where school parties were shepherded
from Rose Window to roof bosses upside down
in a mirrored trolley. The whole of the East end
was a mass of scaffolding, workmen taking out
panes, shouting down to one another as if
they were fitting PVC. And me,
in the middle of it all, thinking of you.
Not praying exactly for how could I in that place?
You might as well try to be alone with God
in Newgate market, or the fruit and veg aisle
in Tesco’s which was where I was standing
when you rang. You said you were not ready
and I said I should hope not, and afterwards
stood with my phone, my list, my half full basket.
A man reached across for bananas
while his wife steered round me and sighed. 




Carole on her work

I wrote my first poems for a dragon of an English teacher who didn’t think much of me and always gave me B+ so I stayed up all night writing a poem and finally got an A (It was about Russ Conway. You wouldn’t want to know...) She did introduce me to the poems of DH Lawrence, however. This was in a 60s grammar school. I went to 6 schools in all and at each an English teacher would hand out inky purple copies of his/her favourite poet. That’s how I met Larkin and also Milton and Wordsworth. I got to know them better at Reading University where I did a BA in English Literature with French and fell in love with Yeats and Baudelaire. I then got married, taught for a while, had four children, did an MA in Women’s Studies at York University and went back into teaching. I took my sixth formers on a number of Arvon weeks and wrote alongside them with some great poets, including Carol Ann Duffy and Don Paterson.

These days my favourite poets are many and varied. I admire Ashbery, Bishop, Frost, Hughes, Plath, Heaney but I also love Collins, Duffy, Armitage, O’Driscoll, Olds, O’Hara and William Carlos Williams. I learnt so much about line-endings from poems like The Red Wheelbarrow and so much about how to turn experience into poetry from lines like these:


‘Somewhere on the other side of this wide night

and the distance between us,  I am thinking of you.

The room is turning slowly away from the moon.’ 


I usually write in the back room which is really a box room the youngest always had to make do with till someone moved out. Or mostly I sit there staring out of the window thinking how I really should be dusting the TV.

Putting together my first full-length collection, ‘A Guided Tour of the Ice House’ was a fairly long process. I began it on an MPhil at Glamorgan in 2001 and a few of the poems written at that time are included in it but mainly it was a case of gradually adding to the pool until I had enough strong poems to go for it. In the final stages I was helped by a year of mentoring with Mimi Khalvati funded by the Arvon/Jerwood scheme. It’s interesting to see how many of the poems in the collection started life in Poetry Business Writing Days or on various Arvon courses and retreats. Recently I have been visiting writers’ homes and this shows in a group of literary poems. The most recent is ‘A Haworth Triptych’ which contains two poems based on objects in Haworth Parsonage Museum. Unusually for me, I decided to use my notes to attempt a sonnet which seemed to fit the subject matter and this involved even more tinkering than usual until I was satisfied with the result.

I write about anything and everything: love, family, death, birth, paintings, books. I would like to write more poems about writers and definitely more poems in traditional form. I have twelve grandchildren and often write for or about them. At the moment I am working on a poem about stained glass, one about my great-grandfather’s grave and a found poem based on Dorothy Wordsworth’s journals.

Titles by this author

  Blast Off!
Blast Off!


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